Fourteen rants about religious argumentation - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#61 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Quote:
I guess I'm out of my depth. I was thinking that if Christianity is a logical worldview, as you say, it would be simple for you to explain. I gather that's not the case! Maybe that's why I've never heard anyone make this argument before?
Hehe--sorry, not trying to put you off! It's mostly not simple because there are a fair few technical terms, or terms which sound 'normal' but are used in a technical sense, so if you're not familiar with them it takes a bit of groundwork just to make sure we're on the same page. But like I say, I'm happy to do it if you like.

A lot of Christians favour an evidentialist approach to apologetics, which is probably largely why you haven't heard presup. arguments before; also, the education system (in schools and churches) isn't really geared towards teaching logical thought these days, but that's another rant.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#62 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 08:10 PM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
So do you believe that the law of, say, non-contradiction did not exist until it was thought of, or that if nobody in the world believed it any more it would cease to exist? That a turkey sandwich could be both a turkey sandwich and a not-turkey sandwich at the same time and in the same sense? Humans formulating or expressing an idea is not the same thing as humans creating a concept. If the human race had never existed, logic would still be logic (just as, I suppose, maths would still be maths).
I think I wasn't clear on my point. I agree with you that there is an objective reality *out there* that we discover and call math, or logic, or quantum physics or whatever. My point is that our understanding of that reality, the rules of logic and math and physics etc, is necessarily limited and may or may not be an accurate description of that reality. This is easily seen in science, where old orthodoxies are being overturned all the time by new empirical observations.

The rules of classic physics are a good example. In the early 1900s, Newtonian physics were considered as iron-clad as anything could be. They were the "laws of nature", things like gravity and motion, etc. When qm came in (and it's not a terribly new science, it's been around for about 80 years) it turned physics on its head because it was empirically demonstrated that the laws of Newtonian physics simply do not apply at very small scales (quantum physics) or at very large scales (cosmology). Scientists came up with new, apparently illogical rules which they didn't understand but which accurately predicted results in experiments. Things like particles being in two places at the same time, or having a probability of being rather than actual being. Newtonian physics is still true at scales of size that we routinely deal with every day, but quantum rules apply at different scales of size. The reality the scientists were studying has always been the same, but scientists have had to revise the rules they use because of our imperfect understanding of that reality.

In the same way, while I agree with you that there is an objective order in the universe (which I think is what you mean by logic?) I am open to the possibility that we do not know everything there is to know about this order and that we may find that different rules apply in different situations. It isn't reality that is changing; it is our understanding of that reality. I know that in everyday matters logic applies, which is why I am as annoyed as you are by people who hold inconsistent religious ideas without realizing it; but when it comes to things like proving the existence of God I am less inclined to think it is useful. Ultimately it may only say more about how our minds work than actual ontological reality.
Thao is offline  
#63 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 08:28 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
'The Lord came to me this morning as I was shaving and told me that from now on, we should eat nothing but tomatoes'.
Oh, you've met my mother?!

But, seriously, you are seeing people come to illogical conclusions in their own theology, right? I'm just saying that the "logic" argument isn't going to carry much weight with them if they beleive that they got their interpretation straight from the source, kwim? I'm not arguing correct and incorrect....just making observations from the outside.


Quote:
Ultimately unless you have good cause to believe we are missing something, the question is simply special pleading. It is, quite literally, nonsensical to believe that something we are missing could turn logic into absurdity, unless you believe there is some mental principle (not scientific, as that's based on mental principles) more fundamental than logic, which can overturn it and at the same time be communicable, replicable and well... logical.
My guess is, many people believe their personal experience with religion to be that "something".

I am a familiar enough with the apologetic argument to know it starts with logical evidence of a deity (Absolute law), and then continues with logical evidence that the deity can only be the Christian deity, because it is the only deity that fits the bill (trinitarian, for one thing). I don't remember all the other details. I'm guessing that, from there, it shows that many of the teachings in the Bible are logically consistent. And then the argument is that, since the Christian faith is logical, and other religions have serious logical problems (starting with not being trinitarian), then any reasonable person would have to accept the Christian God as the one true deity. Did I get that basically right?

One problem I have with this process, right off the bat, is that the Christian Bible has fundamental differences from the Jewish Bible (Torah) that apparently can not be fully understood without in depth study of the oral and written Torah (in the original language), so I wonder if the whole logical argument isn't built on a shaky foundation?

But accepting that the foundation is sound, and you genuinely have logic on your side--people's experiences with religion will ultimately matter more than logic. If a person has experienced great peace, joy, and comfort through their religion, they won't care if it is illogical. When I asked my mother about inconsistencies in her (our, at the time) faith, she would simply answer that some things were not meant for us to understand....and that God works in mysterious ways. And that was that
sunnmama is offline  
#64 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 08:53 PM
 
carriebft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6,947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Do you really feel that Wiccan or Buddhism is trendy? That seems a little condescending. Or did you mean that section of the rant in a different way than I am reading it?

"Parents are simply trustees; they do not own the bodies of their children"-Norm Cohen  Martial arts instructor intactlact.gifhomebirth.jpgnak.gif and mom to 4: DD1 (1/05) DS (7/06) DD2 (5/08) DD3 (2/11)
carriebft is offline  
#65 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Thao: Again, you seem to be equating physical laws with logical laws. But they are not ontologically similar. Physical laws, as you point out, are not absolute; they're simply an expression of the best way we can explain phenomena. It won't cause an epistemological rift to decide that, say, the theory of relativity needs to be changed. However, if we ever decide that the laws of logic can be overturned, we will have an immediate breakdown of all communication and chaos will ensue. (Actually we probably wouldn't, because humans are logical despite themselves. We would probably happily argue the 'new logic' using the old principles of logic, and continue blithely assuming that our lunchtime tomato was a tomato, not a tomato-and-a-not-tomato-at-the-same-time-and-in-the-same-sense (yummers!).).

The statement 'logic is not absolute' is self-refuting. One must accept logic as absolute in order to have any kind of communication. Once you start saying 'logic doesn't apply in X circumstance', you have the problen: well, if it isn't absolute, how do I know in what situations it's applicable? Obviously you can't use logic to determine that, because that would be begging the question; so again... ultimate breakdown of communication and indeed, thought itself.

Now, it's certainly possible new, subtle logical laws will be discovered. But if so, they will have been there, unrecognised, all along; and they will not contradict previous logical laws.

Quote:
Oh, you've met my mother?!

But, seriously, you are seeing people come to illogical conclusions in their own theology, right? I'm just saying that the "logic" argument isn't going to carry much weight with them if they beleive that they got their interpretation straight from the source, kwim? I'm not arguing correct and incorrect....just making observations from the outside.
LOL! Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

Quote:
I am a familiar enough with the apologetic argument to know it starts with logical evidence of a deity (Absolute law), and then continues with logical evidence that the deity can only be the Christian deity, because it is the only deity that fits the bill (trinitarian, for one thing). I don't remember all the other details. I'm guessing that, from there, it shows that many of the teachings in the Bible are logically consistent. And then the argument is that, since the Christian faith is logical, and other religions have serious logical problems (starting with not being trinitarian), then any reasonable person would have to accept the Christian God as the one true deity. Did I get that basically right?
Pretty much, although the logical evidence of a deity part can happen in different ways (argument from reason, argument from morality etc). I'm impressed you know about the Trinitarian thing! But apologetics, as I stated before, doesn't expect people to come to faith through logic alone; that requires the Holy Spirit.

Quote:
One problem I have with this process, right off the bat, is that the Christian Bible has fundamental differences from the Jewish Bible (Torah) that apparently can not be fully understood without in depth study of the oral and written Torah (in the original language), so I wonder if the whole logical argument isn't built on a shaky foundation?
Christians don't recognise the oral Torah as God's word, as Jesus was pretty scathing about the 'traditions of men' and additions to the written Law. But I'm not quite sure what you're saying. Certainly study of the Bible is necessary to working out a decent theology, and the more one knows about the Bible in its original language, Hebrew thought patterns etc, the better.

Quote:
When I asked my mother about inconsistencies in her (our, at the time) faith, she would simply answer that some things were not meant for us to understand....and that God works in mysterious ways. And that was that
See... that annoys me. It's sort of sweet, but 'faith' in the Bible does not mean 'touchingly accepting things that make no logical sense'; the word (pistis in Greek) implies some level of examining the evidence. And 'mystery' in the Bible did not mean 'loophole that allows two mutually contradictory things to exist simultaneously', but 'revealed (not hidden!)truth from God'. So... yeah.

Quote:
Do you really feel that Wiccan or Buddhism is trendy? That seems a little condescending. Or did you mean that section of the rant in a different way than I am reading it?
I feel that it's considered trendy by a lot of people I know. Christianity is perceived as boring and backwards, Buddhism or Wicca are considered somewhat daring or enlightened or avant-garde. That's just something I've noticed in my circles in NZ, YMMV! My Wiccan friends get 'Cool, tell me about that!'--I get 'Oh'.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#66 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 09:05 PM
 
carriebft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 6,947
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
oh ok I get it now!

thank you for the post; even as an atheist I appreciate it. I don't post here but I read a lot and I think we all benefit when reasoning is questioned.

I post on another friend-run board that only allows logical, well reasoned arguments with evidence when necessary. Sometimes it can be a bit much when you just want to chat, but it's awesome when you get into real debates.

"Parents are simply trustees; they do not own the bodies of their children"-Norm Cohen  Martial arts instructor intactlact.gifhomebirth.jpgnak.gif and mom to 4: DD1 (1/05) DS (7/06) DD2 (5/08) DD3 (2/11)
carriebft is offline  
#67 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 10:02 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
I'm impressed you know about the Trinitarian thing!
Don't be. I only know that part through pm-ing with your dh a while back Although I am impressed with myself that I basically understood it!

Quote:
Christians don't recognise the oral Torah as God's word, as Jesus was pretty scathing about the 'traditions of men' and additions to the written Law. But I'm not quite sure what you're saying. Certainly study of the Bible is necessary to working out a decent theology, and the more one knows about the Bible in its original language, Hebrew thought patterns etc, the better.
In my understanding, before the Old Testament was the Old Testament, it was the Jewish written Torah. If there are differences, I assume that the written Torah would more accurately represent God's words and meaning. People who understand both the Torah and the Old Testament report that there are differences, but I have to take their word for it as I have not studied the Torah (and don't know Hebrew).


Quote:
See... that annoys me. It's sort of sweet, but 'faith' in the Bible does not mean 'touchingly accepting things that make no logical sense'; the word (pistis in Greek) implies some level of examining the evidence. And 'mystery' in the Bible did not mean 'loophole that allows two mutually contradictory things to exist simultaneously', but 'revealed (not hidden!)truth from God'. So... yeah.
Believe me, I grew up with it and I agree
But, again, if you believe that your understanding came straight from The Man Himself, why let a little contradictory evidence stand in your way? If there is a contradiction, what is more likely to be the source of the error: a book interpreted by man, or the direct revelation from God?
sunnmama is offline  
#68 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Quote:
Don't be. I only know that part through pm-ing with your dh a while back
Ahhhh, I'd forgotten about that!

Quote:
In my understanding, before the Old Testament was the Old Testament, it was the Jewish written Torah. If there are differences, I assume that the written Torah would more accurately represent God's words and meaning. People who understand both the Torah and the Old Testament report that there are differences, but I have to take their word for it as I have not studied the Torah (and don't know Hebrew).
As far as I know the OT is just a translated version of the Torah, but I'd be interested in seeing some evidence to the contrary. Are you saying the texts actually differ? Do you mean the pseudepigrapha, or... ?

Quote:
But, again, if you believe that your understanding came straight from The Man Himself, why let a little contradictory evidence stand in your way? If there is a contradiction, what is more likely to be the source of the error: a book interpreted by man, or the direct revelation from God?
I realise you probably meant this rhetorically, but I'll just point out that even 'direct revelation' would need to be interpreted. If God says 'You must be a tomato' you still need to process that information and come up with 'Ah, God wants me to be a tomato!'. Epistemologically this is just the same as reading 'You must be a tomato' in the Bible and processing the info. There's no 'get out of jail free' card when it comes to interpretation--somewhere along the line, it's gotta happen!

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#69 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 10:35 PM
 
zinemama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: from the fire roads to the interstate
Posts: 6,569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
The Torah is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Not the entire thing. The oral law is something else.
zinemama is offline  
#70 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 11:47 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Here is a "little thread" that discusses the differences between the Torah and the Old Testament.
sunnmama is offline  
#71 of 288 Old 06-22-2008, 11:48 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
oops double post
sunnmama is offline  
#72 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 01:16 AM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
The statement 'logic is not absolute' is self-refuting. One must accept logic as absolute in order to have any kind of communication. Once you start saying 'logic doesn't apply in X circumstance', you have the problen: well, if it isn't absolute, how do I know in what situations it's applicable? Obviously you can't use logic to determine that, because that would be begging the question; so again... ultimate breakdown of communication and indeed, thought itself.
Hmm, I can't figure out how to put this so we understand each other. I've never said "logic is not absolute". What I'm saying is that the laws of logic that we've developed may not be absolute. You seem to be collapsing the laws of logic developed by Aristotle et al and the underlying reality it is describing (i.e. the order in the universe) to be the same thing. To me, they are two different things, just as empirical reality and the laws that we make up to describe empirical reality are two different things. The reality is absolute, but the laws may or may not be. When quantum physics came along and scientists learned that the law of gravity as it had been described by Newton did not apply to very tiny particles, we did not suddenly start flying off the earth's surface because the law of gravity had been proven to not apply in all situations. The underlying reality that there is a force which sticks us to the Earth's surface did not change. We just found we had to start searching for new formulations of the law that would apply to both the macro and the micro scales.

But you are right, I'm approaching it more as a scientist than as a philosopher, so maybe what I'm talking about is not possible in logical terms? I am interested in learning more about it, particularly the logical proof of the triune God, as I've never heard of that (the other proofs you mentioned I studied back in college but that was a loooo-oooong time ago so I don't remember much I'm afraid). I don't have the time to read a book but if you have some good links I'd love to surf some web pages.
Thao is offline  
#73 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Sorry; Tanakh, not Torah.

I read through the first four pages of that 'little thread' and it started to get pretty repetitive, so unless I missed something major in the last three pages, it doesn't sound like the problem presented is anything that can't be rectified. There are numerous literal, annotated and dynamic translations of the Bible available now online, which have a high level of scholarship and are not simply taken from the Septuagint. Sure, it's best if scholars can read Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; but it's not like you're absolutely dead in the water if you can't. Commentaries, histories, interlinear Bibles etc are all there to help. I'm not sure how the fact that the OT/Tanakh is complex and sometimes difficult to understand makes the Christian first principle 'dodgy'. There's no actual epistemological problem.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#74 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 02:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Thao: Are you saying we might need to rethink knowledge because of new mental evidence, or new physical evidence? Either way, I see a problem.

If the latter, that means you're altering a mental law on the basis of physical evidence, even though physical evidence requires those mental laws in order to be perceived, recorded, communicated, made sense of and so on. And that's nonsensical.

If the former--ie, if a great philosopher discovered something new about the nature of logic which required rethinking the six basic axioms of classical logic--then you will have to explain how this is possible. There aren't that many logical laws, after all, and to rethink them is to violate them; but at the same time, thinking at all requires them, and by doing so implicitly affirms them! I'm afraid that by the rules of the game, logic cannot be 'improved upon'--although as I've said before, it's not necessarily impossible that someone could not come up with a subtle, complex logical law as yet not understood, which however would have to fit with the other logical laws. But no mental discovery could ever alter the law of non-contradiction or the law of excluded middle. They are what is called 'necessarily true', in that to deny them is to affirm them.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#75 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 04:07 AM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Umm... I'm thinking by the seat of my pants here, since I don't have the background in logic.

The latter, I think. Although not so much that new evidence comes up (as in the case of science) but rather because we have never really had empirical evidence for the existence of any one particular God. By its nature, God cannot be put through replicated experiments like objects of scientific study can.

Thus, the arguments for God rely on presuppositions which may or may not reflect what is really there. For example, doesn't the transcendental argument basically say that God is perfect and good and thus concepts such as perfection, goodness, morality etc all stem from God (I'm sure that's poorly stated but hopefully its the main idea). Well, right there you've got a presupposition that God is perfect and good. You have a presupposition that God exists at all. You can't test those presuppositions, they are just there. While the argument that flows from those presuppositions may be flawlessly logical, I don't consider it "proof" because the presuppositions remain unproven. If I started with the presupposition that humans evolved an instinct for religion and morality as a social cohesion adaption and followed that presupposition to its logical conclusion, I would come up with very different answers.

I realize this is a little different from what I said in my last post, where I was talking about the rules of logic ("rules of the game", as you call them) rather than the presuppositions. As I said, I'm thinking out loud here. Just based on my knowledge of scientific knowledge and how it relates to reality, I tend to keep an open mind about all "rules". I use them, apply them to daily life, but don't think it would be the end of the world if a rule of logic was shown by some new empirical evidence to be incorrect. Because ultimately the rule is a manmade construct, not the reality itself.

You mentioned in an earlier post that you believe the presuppositions can be tested and proved to some extent. I'd be interested in reading more about that, if you have any links.
Thao is offline  
#76 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Ahhh, I get what you're saying. Yes, I agree; ultimately any belief rests on presuppositions (which is really a fancy word for assumptions), and those presuppositions cannot be tested, because that would lead to infinite regression. That's why I said in an earlier post that it's very, very hard to prove something is true. But first principles, despite all being unprovable presuppositions, are not all created equal. They can be checked for internal consistency, and they can be examined to see if they contain the necessary data for constructing a complete worldview.

F'rinstance, do you really believe that morality evolved, or was that just an example? I was discussing that very issue recently with someone on another board. I think that as a presupposition, it's flawed and can be demonstrated to be so; but I won't go into it if you were just using it as a random example, because this thread's getting tangential enough as it is!

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#77 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 12:05 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Sorry; Tanakh, not Torah.

I read through the first four pages of that 'little thread' and it started to get pretty repetitive, so unless I missed something major in the last three pages, it doesn't sound like the problem presented is anything that can't be rectified. There are numerous literal, annotated and dynamic translations of the Bible available now online, which have a high level of scholarship and are not simply taken from the Septuagint. Sure, it's best if scholars can read Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; but it's not like you're absolutely dead in the water if you can't. Commentaries, histories, interlinear Bibles etc are all there to help. I'm not sure how the fact that the OT/Tanakh is complex and sometimes difficult to understand makes the Christian first principle 'dodgy'. There's no actual epistemological problem.
Oops, I thought Tanakh was the Hebrew word for Torah

I am trying to wrap my head around something....

The Jewish and Christian interpretation of the shared text is obviously very different, in very key ways (oneness of God vs triune God and Jesus fulfilling the prophesies of the messiah, for example). That would mean that at least one is wrong. The Christian apologist asserts that, since the Christian interpretation is more logically sound, then it must be the correct interpretation. But the Jewish apologist would assert that the Christian interpretation is based on translation errors, so it is not the true word of God--logical or not.

How do Christian apologists respond to the differences between the Jewish and Christian interpretations? It is not enough, to me, to simply say that the Christian interpretation is logical and the Jewish interpretation is not logical, if the Jewish interpretation is truer to the original language and intent of the text. That, to me, goes back to an unknown logical explanation for the Jewish interpretation. A logical, fictional story is still fictional, kwim?
sunnmama is offline  
#78 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 02:40 PM
 
~sweet pea~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Boston
Posts: 212
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Ahhh, I get what you're saying. Yes, I agree; ultimately any belief rests on presuppositions (which is really a fancy word for assumptions), and those presuppositions cannot be tested, because that would lead to infinite regression. That's why I said in an earlier post that it's very, very hard to prove something is true. But first principles, despite all being unprovable presuppositions, are not all created equal. They can be checked for internal consistency, and they can be examined to see if they contain the necessary data for constructing a complete worldview.
Okay, diving in here with a few questions and pleading patience because I'm totally out of my league on the philosophy and religious studies front.... but also totally fascinated :

First, I want to make sure that I understand the above quote.

1. First principles are unprovable assumptions.

2. To the extent that there are different "sets" of first principles underlying different belief systems, the sets can be rated, or compared to one another, on the basis of
(a) whether the first principles are internally consistent using the laws of logic, and
(b) whether the first principles contain the necessary data for constructing a complete worldview.

My initial questions...

(1) What constitutes the "necessary data for constructing a complete worldview"? What data is necessary, what data is not, and how does one determine that distinction?

(2) Am I correct in thinking that the laws of logic as referenced in this thread are the same as/derived from the greek tradition?

(3) Do other cultures outside the western tradition have an argument/reasoning process that is similar to the laws of logic?

Where I'm going with this: I think you were arguing that Christianity is based on a set of first principles which can be rated higher than other sets of first principles because they meet the two criteria of internal consistency and containing necessary data. I'm at a loss to evaluate the necessary data portion because I don't know what that means. But I'm also thinking that Christian thought has developed and evolved over the past two thousand years in a culture that was heavily steeped in the western/greek tradition. This would give it an advantage in meeting "internal consistency" over a religion that emerged outside of a tradition that emphasized logic. And isn't logic itself a first principle which assumes that contradictions/absurdities are not truth?

If I am misusing "logic" here :, please explain.
~sweet pea~ is offline  
#79 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 03:31 PM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,250
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
F'rinstance, do you really believe that morality evolved, or was that just an example? I was discussing that very issue recently with someone on another board. I think that as a presupposition, it's flawed and can be demonstrated to be so; but I won't go into it if you were just using it as a random example, because this thread's getting tangential enough as it is!
I'd be interested in knowing how you think it is flawed. From a scientific perspective, it's very rational.

I am inclined to believe it, although not 100%. I'm basically agnostic about these things, not in the sense that I don't care but that I don't think we can really *know*. I am comfortable exploring all the different options without feeling that I have to choose one. So while science makes the most sense to me, I would never say that there is no God.

Let the tangents begin! :-D
Thao is offline  
#80 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 05:26 PM
 
Trillian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 635
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
I'd be interested in knowing how you think it is flawed. From a scientific perspective, it's very rational.
I am interested also. I do believe that morality (as well as all other aspects of our psyche) evolved to be as they are today.
Trillian is offline  
#81 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
sunnmama: That's a question that can only be answered by studying each instance of an alleged mistranslation. Certainly some things in the Tanakh/OT were historically mistranslated, and I'm sure there are still Christians who still believe some of the mistranslations. But many alleged mistranslations have now been corrected, and other alleged mistranslations are the product of much scholarship and debate--after all, just because someone Jewish says it's a mistranslation doesn't make it necessarily so, any more than I can claim utter dibs on the true meaning of Heavenly Creatures just because I live in NZ and am familiar with the culture in which it was constructed. You know? Being Jewish gives a valuable insight into the text, but not infallibility. On some translation issues, I believe the Jewish interpretation is simply wrong; but that is something you'd have to research for yourself. There are oodles of commentaries and lexicons out there which can help.

sweet pea:
Quote:
(1) What constitutes the "necessary data for constructing a complete worldview"? What data is necessary, what data is not, and how does one determine that distinction?
'Complete' is unfortunately a fuzzy term, but basically the criteria is: can the worldview provide the tools for discovering as much as we can about the nature of things (ontology)? For instance, if a worldview's first principle denies or does not allow for the possibility of scientific inquiry, it obviously isn't a very complete worldview. If it has no explanation for basic questions about humanity, such as death, life, morality etc, it is not very complete (people are going to think about these things, and if their worldview can't provide the answers they'll look to some alternative worldview). Logic is inherent in any worldview which makes the slightest sense, but even though it tends to be presupposed by the presupposition (because of being a) fundamental to our natures and b) necessarily true), a good first principle ought to encompass the concept of logic within itself.

Quote:
(2) Am I correct in thinking that the laws of logic as referenced in this thread are the same as/derived from the greek tradition?
Pretty much, although Greek logic had a lot of add-ons about rhetorical style and so forth. The six most basic, axiomatic laws of logic are:

--the law of noncontradiction
--the law of excluded middle
--the law of identity
--the law of commutativity
--the law of distributivity
--the law of associativity

Quote:
(3) Do other cultures outside the western tradition have an argument/reasoning process that is similar to the laws of logic?
Because those laws of logic is necessarily true, every society will have an intuitive understanding and acceptance of them to a large extent. Ye olde bushman, Inuit or ancient Egyptian would all look at the sun and know that it's the sun, not the sun and the not-sun at the same time and at the same sense; and if you tried to convince any of them that they should let your conquer their nation because blue fish happy twig ffffff4846737, they'd look at you as though you were nuts because you weren't making sense.

I don't know whether the system was formalised in non-Western cultures, though.
Quote:
I'd be interested in knowing how you think it is flawed. From a scientific perspective, it's very rational.
Out of curiosity, does this mean there's actual scientific data supporting it--one fossil which is slightly more moral than the last, as it were? A 'morality gene' which has been shown to have evolved? In my discussion of this on another board my opponent (an atheist) didn't present any evidence of this (I did ask); she seemed to think morality simply must have evolved because she denied any other possible source for it, ie. God. She wasn't the brightest star in the heavens though, so she may have been missing some data. Anyway.

To start off with (and correct my understanding of evolutionary theory if I'm wrong, this is way out of MY league!): the way evolution works, traits which contribute to survival win out. Usually only one or a few individuals starts off with this advantageous mutation, not the whole group.

Unfortunately, morality as we understand it is very often not conducive to survival, especially when not all the members of the group share the same morals. If Stereotypical Caveman 1 and Mutant Moral Caveman 2 are after the last succulent gazelle on the block, Mutant Moral Caveman 2 isn't going to survive to pass on his mutant moral genes if he sits back and says 'SC1, you have it; I'm really not hungry'. If he has any survival sense whatsoever, he'll club his neighbor on the head and eat the gazelle himself. Possibly followed by the caveman, if he's into that kind of thing.

Yes, that's a crude example. But really, morality is just not that conducive to survival! Morality is stopping to help your fallen comrade; survival is running the heck away from the tiger. Morality is not sleeping with your best friend's wife; survival is spreading your seed around as many women as possible (well, not these days, but you know). Morality is saying 'We don't have to fight'; survival is sucker-punching the other guy before he knocks you out. Morality is 'Let's divide the spoils equally'; survival is 'I get the good stuff'. Heck, even today, unscrupulous UAVs get ahead in life, and morality is often an encumbrance to success; how much more so in a more 'primitive' age, in which survival depended on a cave or a woman or a piece of fruit which you and the other guy wanted?

So the very nature of morality precludes it being developed as a survival trait.

A further and more basic problem, though: if you define 'morality' as 'a trait which contributes to survival', which is the only way it can be described under a purely evolutionary worldview, you lose all morality in the word 'morality'. If a man, or a group of men, finds it is conducive to his survival to rape, how is that not morality? Saying 'because it's wrong' is using a non-evolutionary framework to define the word--it implies there is an objective standard of rightness and wrongness against which an action can be measured.

Or, if a man or group of men finds it is conducive to survival to eat Goji berries, how is that not morality? 'Well, it's not about.... morality...'. See? Again, to define the term, you have to use the terms 'right and wrong' (or 'good and evil' or whatever), which presupposes a non-evolutionary worldview. To put it simply, the word 'morality' itself loses all meaning under a strictly evolutionary (naturalistic, purposeless) worldview.

Thirdly, defining morality by evolutionary terms means that an action is only 'wrong' insofar as it does not contribute to survival. At an individual level, killing 80% of the world's population might be very good for survival, as it would free up resources for the killer. At a group level, killing off the weak/deformed/sick/old/barren might again benefit survival for the group. Not for the individuals killed, of course, but evolution is about survival of the fittest--under an evolutionary worldview there is nothing sad (or happy either) about the deaths of the weak; they just are. Working under strictly evolutionary terms, which deny purpose and meaning, one cannot say that anything we consider evil is 'evil', or even that anything good is 'good'. Indeed, the purposeless of evolution is such that even the survival of the species cannot be described as 'good'--in logical terms, that is called 'deriving an ought from an is', and is a fallacy. 'If I cure cancer my species will survive' does not logically imply 'Therefore I should cure cancer'. You need a second proposition--'My species surviving is a good thing' in order to achieve a valid syllogism, and the evolutionary worldview prevents that. It was not 'good' or 'bad' that the dinosaurs died out, they just did; it would not be 'good' or 'bad' if all Australians were killed through genocide, it just would be.

Whoa, that was long...

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#82 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 09:36 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Out of curiosity, does this mean there's actual scientific data supporting it--one fossil which is slightly more moral than the last, as it were? A 'morality gene' which has been shown to have evolved? ..
You don't have to look to fossils---you can just look at other animals:

[edit] Examples of animal altruism
Dogs often adopt orphaned cats, squirrels, ducks and even tigers.[6]
Dolphins support sick or injured animals, swimming under them for hours at a time and pushing them to the surface so they can breathe.[citation needed]
Wolves and wild dogs bring meat back to members of the pack not present at the kill.[citation needed]
Male baboons threaten predators and cover the rear as the troop retreats.[citation needed]
Gibbons and chimpanzees with food will, in response to a gesture, share their food with others of the group.[citation needed]. Chimpanzees will help other humans and Conspecifics without any reward in return[7]
Bonobos have been observed aiding injured or handicapped bonobos.[8]


There are more, but I am not surprised that most of the example are from "higher evolved" species like primates, canines, and dolphins. I see examples of animal altruism in my own home--my dog (I had to type that 3 times, as I kept typing "god"....can anyone say Freudian slip? ) would risk his life for us.

I think the missing factor in the morality debate is Love.
sunnmama is offline  
#83 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 09:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
The existence in animals of altruism doesn't show where it came from, but OK; how do you account for this altruism given my last post? If your dog risked his life to save you, he would not be acting according to evolutionary principles, in that he would not be acting to further his own survival. Quite the contrary.

Quote:
I think the missing factor in the morality debate is Love.
Okay; how do you account for the existence of love under an evolutionary framework? How do you define love under such a framework?

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#84 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 11:00 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
The existence in animals of altruism doesn't show where it came from, but OK; how do you account for this altruism given my last post? If your dog risked his life to save you, he would not be acting according to evolutionary principles, in that he would not be acting to further his own survival. Quite the contrary.


Okay; how do you account for the existence of love under an evolutionary framework? How do you define love under such a framework?
Hmm...my first thought (and I've had a glass of wine, so it might not be my best thought ) is that love is a feeling of connection to, and caring for, others. In an evolutionary framework, I imagine that love could develop out of advanced communication....leading to deepening relationships. That would make sense for the animals in the example above, too, as those species have higher levels of communication than many other species.

There are a lot of theories within evolutionary biology about altruism. There are a few paragraphs on the subject on wikipedia under both altruism and morality, although I read them while getting ds to sleep and am too lazy to link atm. This discussion does remind me, though, of Maslow's heirarchy of needs, which might help to explain why moral behavior appears as societies evolve and simple survival become less of an immediate concern.
sunnmama is offline  
#85 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 11:18 PM
 
zinemama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: from the fire roads to the interstate
Posts: 6,569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I guess I'm still waiting for an explanation of how it's at all logical to believe that - as one Christian book I read put it - "an obscure, crucified Jew" was really God.
zinemama is offline  
#86 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Quote:
I guess I'm still waiting for an explanation of how it's at all logical to believe that - as one Christian book I read put it - "an obscure, crucified Jew" was really God.
Why--what logical law do you believe this violates?

sunnmama: I don't think I can respond to your argument until you define what love means within an evolutionary worldview. (I'm talking about a purely evolutionary worldview here; theistic evolution avoids some of the philosophical problems).

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#87 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 11:48 PM
 
~sweet pea~'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Boston
Posts: 212
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I'm not sure that the caveman example firmly establishes that morality is always incompatible with survival (but it's a nice Lockean reference, with cavelife being nasty, brutish and short and so forth).

See sunnmama's post noting altruism as one of a range of possible behaviors that animals can exhibit. Rather than being completely incompatible with survival, it might be the sort of trait that could be compatible depending on the survival context, much like melanin in human skin: good in the mediterranean, not so good way up in the artic circle.

Some of the noted altruistic behavior occurs in animals whose survival depends on a social structure, e.g., the wolves bringing food back to the pack. At some point in the evolutionary chain of wolves, pack formation became beneficial for the species as a whole . A trait which ensures survival at a species level would be favored evolutionarily even if it did not ensure survival on the individual level. Example, if pack loyalty requires all twenty wolves in a pack to put themselves at risk defending the pack from a predator (instead of running off and saving themselves individually), and two wolves lose their lives, while the remaining eighteen go on to perpetuate the species, then the altruistic trait enhances the survival of the species despite the fact that two died.

In other words, evolution isn't only analyzed on the basis of the costs and benefits to an individual of the species. A trait will be favored if the benefits to the species outweigh the costs to the species. So if certain altruistic social/behavioral codes enhance the species' survival at the expense of the survival of one or two members, evolutionary theory would favor the trait. As such, I don't see why it cannot be a trait that has evolved. Humans could well have inherited that trait, and, with the advantage of a larger and more complex brain, expanded upon it much like we have with language.

In any event, there might be some other reason why morality could not be an evolved trait, but a lack of connection to survival would not seem to be it.
~sweet pea~ is offline  
#88 of 288 Old 06-23-2008, 11:50 PM
 
sunnmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: surrounded by love
Posts: 6,447
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
sunnmama: I don't think I can respond to your argument until you define what love means within an evolutionary worldview. (I'm talking about a purely evolutionary worldview here; theistic evolution avoids some of the philosophical problems).

I'm not sure what you are asking.....do you mean how love promotes survival? A glance at a mother and her young could illustrate that....
sunnmama is offline  
#89 of 288 Old 06-24-2008, 12:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
Smokering's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 8,610
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
No, more basic--I mean, what does the word 'love' mean in an evolutionary context? An instinct to protect? The reflection of Divine attribute? A wish to have another survive at the expense of oneself? I need a dictionary-type definition.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

Smokering is offline  
#90 of 288 Old 06-24-2008, 12:21 AM
 
lolalola's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,006
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
No, more basic--I mean, what does the word 'love' mean in an evolutionary context? An instinct to protect? The reflection of Divine attribute? A wish to have another survive at the expense of oneself? I need a dictionary-type definition.
What about Attachment theory? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory
lolalola is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off