Is there an afterlife? (Civility please?)


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Sovereign Court

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There's a growing number of people who espouse to flat-earth theories and hollow world theories because they are questioning the data that has been presented thus far. Not saying they are right, just saying that a lot of info people consider fact these days have been given to them by the media and/or books with very little info gathered directly by people these days (increasingly relying on what's given to them and taught to them). Some people will even refuse to read history books published in countries that are not their own, for example...


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Those people also believe those things because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the science they're trying to use to support their point. And a core point of those theories is there is a scientist cabal dedicated to convincing everyone the world is round. For what purpose? Who knows!


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And that's largely because there is a large cabal dedicated to convincing people that various other forms of science aren't true - Evolution and Climate change being the obvious examples.

Once you break people's trust in science in some areas, it fails in others as well.


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@Irontruth: For some reason, this comes to mind.

But more seriously... to put it in Pathfinder terms, since we're here on Paizo's board, science generally has an Intelligence focus. Religion tends to have more of a Wisdom focus, but despite human failure along the way... it's actually more supportive of scientific exploration than you might think. For example, Proverbs - which is essentially the Christian Bible's advice column - has quotes like "Every prudent man acts out of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly" (13:16), and "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps." (14:15)

I don't see anything here suggesting we should be blind followers or avoid thinking things through.

That, and while we may feel God has all of the answers... the fact that they're generally not shared with humanity makes it fundamentally irrelevant on the practical level. If you want to design a house, God probably isn't going to tell you the best way to maximize square footage on the property - you're gonna have to do that yourself. The same goes for the development of medicine, the implementation of laws, and so on. I don't think my faith has the answers for every subject - that would be silly. Some things just aren't under the purview of faith, and I think it would be strange to pretend they were.


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Yeah, those aren't theories. They're lies, and calling them theories lends them credibility they don't deserve -- a theory is something that's survived repeated experimentation and lots of other scientists trying to prove it wrong.

For some of these things, you don't need to do any personal reading -- you just have to observe the world. Don't believe the world is round? Get the best telescope you can get ahold of, set it down on a dockside, and watch the biggest ship you see 'sink' into the ocean as it leaves. Think the world is hollow? Let me know when your tunnel drops out into that hollow space.


Azih wrote:
BNW: I think this is a question of Epistemology. Are there aspects of reality beyond the reach of the Scientific Method?

If there are, no one has yet identified them. And there's a very convincing argument that there aren't. Anything that has an effect on the observable universe can be studied scientifically.

I'll use your example:

Quote:

No afterlife. No justice.

I choose to believe there is justice. So it follows that I believe there is an afterlife

Granting this for the sake of argument, the first obvious question is what, specifically, you mean by those terms. (I could turn that argument over to an ontologist and she'd have a field day with it.) But assuming that you're using something close to the common dictionary definitions,....

Can you detect justice? I don't mean can-you-build-a-multizillion-dollar-justice-o-meter, I simply mean can you, personally, distinguish between something that is just, and something that is unjust? Can you do so reliably (i.e., are you consistent in your distinctions)? Are your distinctions commonly shared (i.e., will others consistently make the same identifications that you do)? Does this still hold true when we're talking about people of radically different cultures? If so, then I'll be more inclined to believe you when you talk about something called "justice" even if I don't recognize it myself. And by your own argument, this proves the existence of an afterlife.

.... but you know what we're doing here? We're doing "science." We're starting with a hypothesis -- "no afterlife, no justice." We're developing a method of investigating that hypothesis, and we're running an experiment (in this case, a cross-cultural survey) to find-or-not evidence related to that hypothesis. This is actually very similar to how medics study pain-killers; they give people drugs and ask them how they feel, and they find, for example, that people consistently report less pain when they take opiates than when they take sugar pills under identical conditions. Hence "pain," which is even harder to define than "justice," can be studied scientifically.

The only way something could fail to be studied like this is if it has no effect at all on any observable aspect of the human condition, including on self-reportage.

Sovereign Court

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Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
There's a growing number of people who espouse to flat-earth theories and hollow world theories because they are questioning the data that has been presented thus far. Not saying they are right, just saying that a lot of info people consider fact these days have been given to them by the media and/or books with very little info gathered directly by people these days (increasingly relying on what's given to them and taught to them). Some people will even refuse to read history books published in countries that are not their own, for example...

So? Numbers are meaningless, ad populum argument. Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large masses.


Irontruth wrote:


Can you point to a self-correcting nature in religion? If there is an incorrect belief about God, how is it shown to be incorrect due to the inherent nature of religion and a more correct belief put in its place?

(One of) the standard answers to this, from a Christian perspective, is the "continuing revelation" that I mentioned above. I'm not familiar with any major denomination that doesn't believe in the efficacy of praying to the Holy Spirit for guidance, including in theological matters. The trick, of course, is that God's answers are dependent not only on the questions that you ask Him, but also on how you understand what has already been revealed to you.

This is the typical explanation, by the way, for why very few sects believe in Biblical literalism any more. it's not that they were convinced by atheist arguing about blatant errors in the Bible (such as the value of pi being three, or insects having four legs, or the Moon radiating light, or the stars being small enough to fall to Earth) [oh, no! :rolleyes:] but instead the Holy Spirit guiding them (and their pastors) to realize that the problematic passages were not meant to be taken literally.

Similarly, the problematic passages about slavery in the Bible can be resolved by the Holy Spirit pointing out that "well, if you're going to have slaves at all, you need to treat them well [and, in fairness, the Old Testament actually outlined a reasonably good treatment of slaves by contemporary standards], but it's much better to eliminate slavery. Now, you (and by extension the rest of humanity) have achieved sufficient moral insight that you can take the next step."

Of course, QL doesn't have this out, since he objects to progressive revelation.


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Orfamay Quest wrote:
Azih wrote:
BNW: I think this is a question of Epistemology. Are there aspects of reality beyond the reach of the Scientific Method?

If there are, no one has yet identified them. And there's a very convincing argument that there aren't. Anything that has an effect on the observable universe can be studied scientifically.

I'll use your example:

Quote:

No afterlife. No justice.

I choose to believe there is justice. So it follows that I believe there is an afterlife

Granting this for the sake of argument, the first obvious question is what, specifically, you mean by those terms. (I could turn that argument over to an ontologist and she'd have a field day with it.) But assuming that you're using something close to the common dictionary definitions,....

Can you detect justice? I don't mean can-you-build-a-multizillion-dollar-justice-o-meter, I simply mean can you, personally, distinguish between something that is just, and something that is unjust? Can you do so reliably (i.e., are you consistent in your distinctions)? Are your distinctions commonly shared (i.e., will others consistently make the same identifications that you do)? Does this still hold true when we're talking about people of radically different cultures? If so, then I'll be more inclined to believe you when you talk about something called "justice" even if I don't recognize it myself. And by your own argument, this proves the existence of an afterlife.

.... but you know what we're doing here? We're doing "science." We're starting with a hypothesis -- "no afterlife, no justice." We're developing a method of investigating that hypothesis, and we're running an experiment (in this case, a cross-cultural survey) to find-or-not evidence related to that hypothesis. This is actually very similar to how medics study pain-killers; they give people drugs and ask them how they feel, and they find, for example, that people consistently report less pain when they take opiates than when...

Of course, there's an argument here that things like "justice" are pretty much out of the scientific realm and yet remain important. Forget the afterlife and the theological questions and just consider justice.

Do we decide the concept is unimportant and should just be dismissed because we can't use science to approach it? Similarly for many ethical and political questions.
Once we decide what our goal is, we can use scientific methods to see what approach might be best at getting there, but setting the goal itself is often outside the realm of science.
Or art? Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?

Dammit, I was trying not to get involved in BNW's "science is the only thing" derail, but I failed my will save.


thejeff wrote:
Of course, there's an argument here that things like "justice" are pretty much out of the scientific realm and yet remain important. Forget the afterlife and the theological questions and just consider justice.

Well, there is,.... but it's pretty obviously a fallacious one, since I outlined a method that not only can be used but has been used to study "justice" using the scientific method.

Basically, if you're attempting to make that argument, you're standing in the middle of a cow pasture, surrounded by several tonnes of hamburger-on-the-hoof, and telling me that cattle don't exist. I'm not sure I'm going to believe you.

Quote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?

Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
This is the typical explanation, by the way, for why very few sects believe in Biblical literalism any more. it's not that they were convinced by atheist arguing about blatant errors in the Bible (such as the value of pi being three, or insects having four legs, or the Moon radiating light, or the stars being small enough to fall to Earth) [oh, no! :rolleyes:] but instead the Holy Spirit guiding them (and their pastors) to realize that the problematic passages were not meant to be taken literally. .

Is it actually true that "very few sects believe in Biblical literalism any more"? If so, when was the high point?

Catholics didn't, back when Catholicism was Western Christianity. Nor, I believe, did the Orthodox.

I'd actually thought fundamentalism and literalism were on the rise. At least in the US.

Of course, there's also a distinction between number of sects and number of believers. You can have many sects with few believers each or a small number with far more believers between them. That might play a role?


Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Of course, there's an argument here that things like "justice" are pretty much out of the scientific realm and yet remain important. Forget the afterlife and the theological questions and just consider justice.

Well, there is,.... but it's pretty obviously a fallacious one, since I outlined a method that not only can be used but has been used to study "justice" using the scientific method.

Basically, if you're attempting to make that argument, you're standing in the middle of a cow pasture, surrounded by several tonnes of hamburger-on-the-hoof, and telling me that cattle don't exist. I'm not sure I'm going to believe you.

Quote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.

But the answer you're coming to, if I understand you, is that justice doesn't exist and great art doesn't exist.

Sovereign Court

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I don't know, from a Christian biblical sense there can't be justice. If a priest were to rape a lot of children but then repent and ask for forgiveness supposedly he would be forgiven and be absolved of his sins. If he doesn't pay for his sins in life then he gets off scot free in the afterlife. It's also worth noting that I could live the life of a veritable saint, but being an athiest, when I die I would suffer the endless hellfire and torture for all of eternity because I didn't die with [insert religious figure here] in my heart.

I think the statement should be: I believe in Justice, therefor I believe there is no afterlife.


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thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Of course, there's an argument here that things like "justice" are pretty much out of the scientific realm and yet remain important. Forget the afterlife and the theological questions and just consider justice.

Well, there is,.... but it's pretty obviously a fallacious one, since I outlined a method that not only can be used but has been used to study "justice" using the scientific method.

Basically, if you're attempting to make that argument, you're standing in the middle of a cow pasture, surrounded by several tonnes of hamburger-on-the-hoof, and telling me that cattle don't exist. I'm not sure I'm going to believe you.

Quote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.
But the answer you're coming to, if I understand you, is that justice doesn't exist and great art doesn't exist.

Oh, goodness, no. "Justice" obviously exists, in the same sense that "pass interference" exists in the NFL; it's, at a minimum, a social construct defined by the rules we are playing The Game by. We as a society have agreed that certain things are just, certain things are unjust, and there's a certain amount of wiggle room in between as is expected when you don't have clear-cut principled definitions for things. This, again, is pretty well-understood scientifically.

The question at hand is whether or not "justice" has any meaning beyond [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_of_flowers]a simple social construction, and in order to investigate that, we need to have a (proposed) meaning to investigate. So far, no one's come up with one, and philosophers continue to argue about what justice actually entails. Heck, the NFL continues to argue about what 'pass interference" actually entails, which is why they're continually tweaking the rule book.

i suspect it will end up being firmer than "pass interference," but not by much, and it will end up in the arms of the evolutionary psychologists. They've done some nice work on "beauty," for example, and they've identified a few aspects of beauty that appear to be universal. Facial symmetry, for example, and clear, unblemished skin. For females, a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 appears to be associated with beauty irrespective of culture. This, of course, all makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as they indicate youth and health, which are advantageous if you're picking a mate for reproductive success. Oddly enough, bust size (again in females, obviously) doesn't appear to be a universal indicator of beauty, whether we're talking about large, small, or in-between -- but again that makes sense from a mate-selection perspective.

I would not be at all surprised if scientists could isolate a few principles of "justice" that make sense from the evolutionary standpoint of "these helped tribes of chimpanzee-like apes maintain social harmony." But if and when we encounter talking shark people from the planet of Ichthyopolous Beta, I'd be surprised if their notion of "justice" were similar to ours. That, however, is a prediction and a hypothesis -- obviously, we'll need to wait a while to run that experiment (and start by looking for Ichthyopolous Beta).

And, yes, i'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that, at the end of the road, both "great art" and "justice" will turn out to be culture-specific.


Guy Humual wrote:
I don't know, from a Christian biblical sense there can't be justice. If a priest were to rape a lot of children but then repent and ask for forgiveness supposedly he would be forgiven and be absolved of his sins.

It's been a bit since I was immersed in Roman Catholicism, but it was explained to me by a local pastor that it didn't work like that. Certainly, the individual has to fully acknowledge their full crimes and be truly remorseful, not just deluding themselves because of the fear of damnation looming. But even that wasn't enough, because God's forgiveness also requires deliberate heartfelt efforts by the individual at restitution and attempts to repair the damage wrought. Dying before the individual can do that doesn't let the person off the hook; they must still complete those efforts in the afterlife before they would be admitted into Paradise.


thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
This is the typical explanation, by the way, for why very few sects believe in Biblical literalism any more. it's not that they were convinced by atheist arguing about blatant errors in the Bible (such as the value of pi being three, or insects having four legs, or the Moon radiating light, or the stars being small enough to fall to Earth) [oh, no! :rolleyes:] but instead the Holy Spirit guiding them (and their pastors) to realize that the problematic passages were not meant to be taken literally. .
Is it actually true that "very few sects believe in Biblical literalism any more"? If so, when was the high point?

Late 19th century, if I remember correctly. Literalism was an outgrowth of fundamentalism, which in turn was a reaction to the Enlightenment, which in turn was an outgrowth of the rejection of Catholic magisterium in the sola scriptura phase of the Protestant reformation.

It was on the downswing by the mid 20th century.

And please don't confuse it with fundamentalism; even most fundamentalists are not Biblical literalists. If you want a quick check, drop by a set of services and see whether all the men in the congregation are wearing huge Grizzly Adams beards. (Lev. 19:27)

Fundamentalism is indeed on an upswing (although not as high as it was in the 19th century), but it's mostly a very selectively and politically-aware fundamentalism focused on the social issues of today. For example, they're very much against gay marriage, but I've never seen anyone complain about tattoo parlors. (Lev. 19:28)


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Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
I don't know, from a Christian biblical sense there can't be justice. If a priest were to rape a lot of children but then repent and ask for forgiveness supposedly he would be forgiven and be absolved of his sins.
It's been a bit since I was immersed in Roman Catholicism, but it was explained to me by a local pastor that it didn't work like that. Certainly, the individual has to fully acknowledge their full crimes and be truly remorseful, not just deluding themselves because of the fear of damnation looming. But even that wasn't enough, because God's forgiveness also requires deliberate heartfelt efforts by the individual at restitution and attempts to repair the damage wrought. Dying before the individual can do that doesn't let the person off the hook; they must still complete those efforts in the afterlife before they would be admitted into Paradise.

Well, this opens a real theological can of worms, one that was a problem as far back as the scribes and Pharisees who debated Jesus. How the hell can God forgive sins committed against other people?

I mean, let's say that you steal my wallet, blow the money at the track, run up thousands of debts on my credit cards, destroy my credit rating, and then finally, in a fit of remorse, go to Jesus and say "Jesus, I screwed up, and I'm very, very, sorry."

What the heck can Jesus say to make my credit whole again? How can He give me back the vacation I couldn't take because I didn't have the money? How can He give me back the house I couldn't buy because I couldn't get a mortgage from the bank?

Or, as an extreme example, as Inigo Montoya said to Count Rugen, "I want my father back, you son of a b~%~@!"

Some people have suggested that this proves that justice itself is impossible, because there are some wrongs that can never be righted, and some amends that can never be made. Other people have suggested that justice is possible, but it requires you to deal with the person you've wronged directly, and to get THEIR forgiveness before God will deal with it. (I think this is close to the traditional Jewish view.) Others say that God can somehow make it all okay, but only in the afterlife.

So Jesus going around randomly telling people "your sins are forgiven" was radical at the time,.... and to many people, bordering on lunacy.

Sovereign Court

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
I don't know, from a Christian biblical sense there can't be justice. If a priest were to rape a lot of children but then repent and ask for forgiveness supposedly he would be forgiven and be absolved of his sins.
It's been a bit since I was immersed in Roman Catholicism, but it was explained to me by a local pastor that it didn't work like that. Certainly, the individual has to fully acknowledge their full crimes and be truly remorseful, not just deluding themselves because of the fear of damnation looming. But even that wasn't enough, because God's forgiveness also requires deliberate heartfelt efforts by the individual at restitution and attempts to repair the damage wrought. Dying before the individual can do that doesn't let the person off the hook; they must still complete those efforts in the afterlife before they would be admitted into Paradise.

Well according to John 1:9

Quote:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

However if we sin against the Holy Spirit, which is usually what an atheist does:

Mark 3:29 wrote:
but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.

So let me reiterate this: child rapists can get into heaven, I cannot. Doesn't seem like a particularly just afterlife.


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Guy Humual wrote:

However if we sin against the Holy Spirit, which is usually what an atheist does:

Mark 3:29 wrote:
but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.
So let me reiterate this: child rapists can get into heaven, I cannot. Doesn't seem like a particularly just afterlife.

I wonder if I can use that against those trying to convert me?

"Sorry, I'd be interested, but I've blasphemed the Holy Spirit and I can't be forgiven. No point in wasting your time."


@Orfamay: A lot of that comes down to the idea of God in His role of judge - to wit, an authority figure who has the right to determine and administer punishment for wrongdoing. This is fairly similar to the way our existing criminal justice system works - whether you agree with a Court's verdict or not, trying to take vigilante justice on someone tried and sentence means you are in the wrong. Indeed, Romans chapter 12 is fairly clear that we shouldn't seek vengeance, or repay evil with evil, but instead generally try to live peacefully and respectfully with others. Incidentally, Christianity also has the concept of Judgment Day, when all people will be held to account for the wrongs they've done. o wo/ So it's not like it's something that gets totally ignored.

@Guy: Actually, I don't think most Christians would agree with your interpretation there. It's important to consider the context of that line - as in, when a group that had just witnessed a miracle attributed it to evil even after it was pointed out why such a thing made no sense and would be self-defeating. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is best understood as something along the lines of "willfully rejecting the very concept of forgiveness when shown direct and obvious evidence" - God isn't going to force forgiveness on people who don't want it. Some feel that it's not actually possible to commit this kind of blasphemy today, given the lack of obviously divine events.

Sovereign Court

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I'm looking at this from a former Christian, atheist perspective, and from my point of view, best case scenario for an afterlife is that the religious texts are screwed up. Supposing there is a god and an afterlife at some point in human history the books that we base our religion on got misinterpreted, maybe the Torah was edited while it was still an oral law, maybe the oldest written versions we have were reworked to fit the then modern sensibilities of the time. Maybe the prophets couldn't fully comprehend the message to pass on their followers, or made stuff up when asked about things not foretold to them by god.

Usually I just suspect that all religions in general were just a good stories for entertainment that got out of hand once they were turned into money making businesses. When I get very cynical I think it was always a scam and most religious leaders know it. However there are plenty of preachers out there that seem sincere in their beliefs and most local pastors aren't getting rich. I don't have the answers here and if you're asking the question is there an after life the most definitive answer I can give is that I've seen no evidence of one. If your case is that there is an afterlife my statement is really not a strong condemnation against your beliefs.

Also, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here. I don't believe but if you're not trying to force your beliefs on others I have no bone to pick with you. I'm not looking to de-convert anyone.

Sovereign Court

thejeff wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:

However if we sin against the Holy Spirit, which is usually what an atheist does:

Mark 3:29 wrote:
but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.
So let me reiterate this: child rapists can get into heaven, I cannot. Doesn't seem like a particularly just afterlife.

I wonder if I can use that against those trying to convert me?

"Sorry, I'd be interested, but I've blasphemed the Holy Spirit and I can't be forgiven. No point in wasting your time."

You'd think that, but I suspect that they'll know of some loophole.


thejeff wrote:
Dammit, I was trying not to get involved in BNW's "science is the only thing" derail, but I failed my will save.

Well, it is an is question, not an ought question. So I think science is the toolkit to use.


Guy Humual wrote:
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
I don't know, from a Christian biblical sense there can't be justice. If a priest were to rape a lot of children but then repent and ask for forgiveness supposedly he would be forgiven and be absolved of his sins.
It's been a bit since I was immersed in Roman Catholicism, but it was explained to me by a local pastor that it didn't work like that. Certainly, the individual has to fully acknowledge their full crimes and be truly remorseful, not just deluding themselves because of the fear of damnation looming. But even that wasn't enough, because God's forgiveness also requires deliberate heartfelt efforts by the individual at restitution and attempts to repair the damage wrought. Dying before the individual can do that doesn't let the person off the hook; they must still complete those efforts in the afterlife before they would be admitted into Paradise.

Well according to John 1:9

Quote:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

However if we sin against the Holy Spirit, which is usually what an atheist does:

Mark 3:29 wrote:
but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.
So let me reiterate this: child rapists can get into heaven, I cannot. Doesn't seem like a particularly just afterlife.

I didn't say I believed it, just that I had asked and was given an answer.

There was also the bit about you couldn't get into Heaven if you died as an infant before baptism. (It wasn't supposed to be Roman Catholic canon but I still picked up somewhere in church or CCD classes.) Perhaps otherwise-good atheists would go to Limbo instead of Heaven, as the consequence for disbelief being eternal separation from God? I'm not saying I believe this or think it just, only that current RC thinking may lie along this path; if atheists suffer some eternal punishment, I'll be right there with you.


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Guy Humual wrote:

I'm looking at this from a former Christian, atheist perspective, and from my point of view, best case scenario for an afterlife is that the religious texts are screwed up. Supposing there is a god and an afterlife at some point in human history the books that we base our religion on got misinterpreted, maybe the Torah was edited while it was still an oral law, maybe the oldest written versions we have were reworked to fit the then modern sensibilities of the time. Maybe the prophets couldn't fully comprehend the message to pass on their followers, or made stuff up when asked about things not foretold to them by god.

Usually I just suspect that all religions in general were just a good stories for entertainment that got out of hand once they were turned into money making businesses. When I get very cynical I think it was always a scam and most religious leaders know it. However there are plenty of preachers out there that seem sincere in their beliefs and most local pastors aren't getting rich. I don't have the answers here and if you're asking the question is there an after life the most definitive answer I can give is that I've seen no evidence of one. If your case is that there is an afterlife my statement is really not a strong condemnation against your beliefs.

Also, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here. I don't believe but if you're not trying to force your beliefs on others I have no bone to pick with you. I'm not looking to de-convert anyone.

So the Abrahamic religions have picked up all these extra patches/workarounds and funky plotlines/retcons... like the Star Wars Expanded Universe before Lucasfilm/Disney threw it all out? :)

Sovereign Court

Rednal wrote:


@Guy: Actually, I don't think most Christians would agree with your interpretation there. It's important to consider the context of that line - as in, when a group that had just witnessed a miracle attributed it to evil even after it was pointed out why such a thing made no sense and would be self-defeating. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is best understood as something along the lines of "willfully rejecting the very concept of forgiveness when shown direct and obvious evidence" - God isn't going to force forgiveness on people who don't want it. Some feel that it's not actually possible to commit this kind of blasphemy today, given the lack of obviously divine events.

So if god hasn't shown me direct and obvious evidence then my rejecting religion isn't a sin against the Holy Spirit? Well that means nothing to me but if you're correct I'm sure there are millions of souls, tortured and murdered though out history for the so called sin of blasphemy who are now very awkwardly sharing heaven with the souls of the people who tortured and murdered them.


Guy Humual wrote:
Rednal wrote:


@Guy: Actually, I don't think most Christians would agree with your interpretation there. It's important to consider the context of that line - as in, when a group that had just witnessed a miracle attributed it to evil even after it was pointed out why such a thing made no sense and would be self-defeating. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is best understood as something along the lines of "willfully rejecting the very concept of forgiveness when shown direct and obvious evidence" - God isn't going to force forgiveness on people who don't want it. Some feel that it's not actually possible to commit this kind of blasphemy today, given the lack of obviously divine events.
So if god hasn't shown me direct and obvious evidence then my rejecting religion isn't a sin against the Holy Spirit? Well that means nothing to me but if you're correct I'm sure there are millions of souls, tortured and murdered though out history for the so called sin of blasphemy who are now very awkwardly sharing heaven with the souls of the people who tortured and murdered them.

Thousands, maybe.

Sovereign Court

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AdmiralAckbar wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:

I'm looking at this from a former Christian, atheist perspective, and from my point of view, best case scenario for an afterlife is that the religious texts are screwed up. Supposing there is a god and an afterlife at some point in human history the books that we base our religion on got misinterpreted, maybe the Torah was edited while it was still an oral law, maybe the oldest written versions we have were reworked to fit the then modern sensibilities of the time. Maybe the prophets couldn't fully comprehend the message to pass on their followers, or made stuff up when asked about things not foretold to them by god.

Usually I just suspect that all religions in general were just a good stories for entertainment that got out of hand once they were turned into money making businesses. When I get very cynical I think it was always a scam and most religious leaders know it. However there are plenty of preachers out there that seem sincere in their beliefs and most local pastors aren't getting rich. I don't have the answers here and if you're asking the question is there an after life the most definitive answer I can give is that I've seen no evidence of one. If your case is that there is an afterlife my statement is really not a strong condemnation against your beliefs.

Also, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here. I don't believe but if you're not trying to force your beliefs on others I have no bone to pick with you. I'm not looking to de-convert anyone.

So the Abrahamic religions are like the Star Wars Expanded Universe before Lucasfilm/Disney threw it all out? :)

As I've often said: thankfully nobody has died because of the Kirk/Picard schism in the Star Trek fandom, but I could say nobody has died due to the 4,5,6 / 1,2,3 schism amongst Star Wars fans. The first Council of Nicaea (325 AD) had to get that Jesus fandom nailed down for their future books.


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AdmiralAckbar wrote:
So the Abrahamic religions have picked up all these extra patches/workarounds and funky plotlines/retcons...

Pretty much. It's not surprising. There's not much source material, and most of it is a pretty confusing mess that does not admit of "obvious" interpretation -- or if it does, half the time it's contradicted by something else elsewhere in the same confusing mess. (Tell me again about Jesus' family tree, Pastor!)

Just as many more words have been written about Tolkien, or about Shakespeare, than were ever written by them, similarly several times as many words have been written about the Bible than in it. (This is just one example; a 300 page book on eight "chapters" in the Letters to the Thessalonians.)


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Give it a few thousand years and we'll probably have priests with phasers shooting at ones holding light sabers.

Sovereign Court

Orfamay Quest wrote:
Guy Humual wrote:
Rednal wrote:


@Guy: Actually, I don't think most Christians would agree with your interpretation there. It's important to consider the context of that line - as in, when a group that had just witnessed a miracle attributed it to evil even after it was pointed out why such a thing made no sense and would be self-defeating. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is best understood as something along the lines of "willfully rejecting the very concept of forgiveness when shown direct and obvious evidence" - God isn't going to force forgiveness on people who don't want it. Some feel that it's not actually possible to commit this kind of blasphemy today, given the lack of obviously divine events.
So if god hasn't shown me direct and obvious evidence then my rejecting religion isn't a sin against the Holy Spirit? Well that means nothing to me but if you're correct I'm sure there are millions of souls, tortured and murdered though out history for the so called sin of blasphemy who are now very awkwardly sharing heaven with the souls of the people who tortured and murdered them.

Thousands, maybe.

Thousands for in the Spanish Inquisition alone.

Sovereign Court

Ambrosia Slaad wrote:

I didn't say I believed it, just that I had asked and was given an answer.

There was also the bit about you couldn't get into Heaven if you died as an infant before baptism. (It wasn't supposed to be Roman Catholic canon but I still picked up somewhere in church or CCD classes.) Perhaps otherwise-good atheists would go to Limbo instead of Heaven, as the consequence for disbelief being eternal separation from God? I'm not saying I believe this or think it just, only that current RC thinking may lie along this path; if atheists suffer some eternal punishment, I'll be right there with you.

I didn't mean to imply that you believed that, I was trying to hammer home the flaw I see in the justice proving an afterlife argument. Now if you believe anything god does is just then that argument "I believe in Justice, therefor I believe in an afterlife" then you have no conflict, but if you're using our human understanding of justice then the afterlife doesn't seem very just at all. I'm glad you brought up the Limbo thing, I'd completely forgotten about that, and it's another great argument against a just afterlife. Not all Christians have limbo though. It may just be a RC thing, I'm not sure.

Sovereign Court

We didn't have it in the Anglican church either.


*Deleted his post* Actually, that's something I'd really need to discuss in more detail. Like many afterlife things, it's... complicated. XD Suffice to say that I don't think unbaptized infants who die are in any particular trouble.


Some things I would like you to consider, BigNorseWolf, that could be of interest to others too.

You said that :

BigNorseWolf wrote:
You [Quiche Lisp] are not going to convince me that science has a problem by citing problems in psychology. I consider it a very soft science...when I'm feeling generous.

It seems you don’t think the study of the mind by the scientific method (i.e psychology) is really working.

You’re really dubious about it.

But this contradicts your following assertion:

BigNorseWolf wrote:
When presented with the unknown, Science says "lets science the heck out of this". Science has a very good track record of finding things out

Science has a very good track record of finding things out… except in matter of psychology ?

Is that what you’re saying ?

The human mind has been studied, and discussed, by philosophy, mysticism, religion since… forever.

Have final answers been found about the human mind since it has been studied by philosophy, mysticism and religion ?

I don’t know.

But there is a trove of reflexions about what being human - sentient, mindful, moral beings - means, in all those texts steeped in philosophy, mysticism and religion, which you’re so easily dismissive of as shown by:

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Which means that the track record of "we don't know something, therefore it is beyond science, use religion/mysticism/philosophy is equally terrible.

What do you propose we do, as human seekers of truth ?

Since you seem to consider the scientific study of the human mind by science is bullsh1t - and affirm mysticism, religion and philosophy are inane,- should we cease to study the human mind altogether ?

Is the human mind of little interest to you ?

Would you prefer not to study the human mind at all, so as to be on the safe side of knowledge, i.e not knowing anything at all ?

Will you not read or see any interest in the texts about the human mind in philosophy, mysticism and religion because…
their track records are terrible ?

As terrible as the track record of science regarding that very same subject of the human mind ?

You wrote

BigNorseWolf wrote:
It [the track record of figuring things out with philosophy, mysticism and religion] retreats every time science discovers the undiscoverable and undermines the argument that it's ever found anything in the first place.

I don’t see the humbling retreat you speak of.


@Orfamay Quest

TheJeff wrote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.

So the total sum of those experimental results is telling us that art is subjective ?

Impressive.

Now I'll go re-read Plato, Aristotle and Ruskin for other thoughts about art, more vast and inspiring (to me).

Ho, there's another bit:

Orfamay Quest wrote:

They [evolutionary psychologists] have done some nice work on "beauty," for example, and they've identified a few aspects of beauty that appear to be universal. Facial symmetry, for example, and clear, unblemished skin. For females, a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 appears to be associated with beauty irrespective of culture. [...]

And, yes, i'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that, at the end of the road, both "great art" and "justice" will turn out to be culture-specific.

So you're comfortable with the concurring ideas that beauty is universal and "great art" is culture-specific ?

Yeah, that's not counter-intuitive at all.

...

Now I'd like to point you to other people's take re: aesthetics, art (3d paragraph) - and justice (2nd paragraph), vis a vis science.

Yes, I know it's argumentum ad verecundiam. And you know it isn't inevitably a fallacy.


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Quiche Lisp wrote:

@Orfamay Quest

TheJeff wrote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.
So the total sum of those experimental results is telling us that art is subjective ?

Nope. I'm disappointed in your inability to draw the correct conclusions even from so simple an experiment. Especially since I literally wrote the correct conclusions down for you, meaning all you need to do is fail to misinterpret what you read.

Quote:


Impressive.

Science isn't supposed to be impressive. It's supposed to be correct.

Quote:
Now I'll go re-read Plato, Aristotle and Ruskin for other thoughts about art, more vast and inspiring (to me).

... and probably misinterpret them, too.

That's the problem with answers-you-make-up-as-you-go-along.

Quote:


Orfamay Quest wrote:

They [evolutionary psychologists] have done some nice work on "beauty," for example, and they've identified a few aspects of beauty that appear to be universal. Facial symmetry, for example, and clear, unblemished skin. For females, a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7 appears to be associated with beauty irrespective of culture. [...]

And, yes, i'm perfectly comfortable with the idea that, at the end of the road, both "great art" and "justice" will turn out to be culture-specific.

So you're comfortable with the concurring ideas that beauty is universal and "great art" is culture-specific ?

Yeah, that's not counter-intuitive at all.

Science isn't supposed to be intuitive, either. It's supposed to be correct. Sometimes it's intuitive, sometimes it's mundane, sometimes it's dramatic to the point of life-changing, but it's always supported, and if you don't trust the findings someone else got, you can go back and (try to) reproduce them.

----

I really am quite serious about your inability to understand even this simple an experiment. It's not surprising that you dismiss scientific understanding in favor of dramatic, sweeping, woo-woo practices,.... but you also completely undermined any chance you had to present a challenging, critical argument against the hegemony of science, because it's obvious that you don't understand "argument" well enough to be either challenging or critical.


Orfamay... we are discussing metaphysics. By definition, that is where science does not reach. I understand you, but you are aiming at the wrong target.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Quiche Lisp wrote:

@Orfamay Quest

TheJeff wrote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.
So the total sum of those experimental results is telling us that art is subjective ?
Nope. I'm disappointed in your inability to draw the correct conclusions even from so simple an experiment. Especially since I literally wrote the correct conclusions down for you, meaning all you need to do is fail to misinterpret what you read.

Is there some huge obvious distinction between "no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art" and "art is subjective" that I'm missing?

I guess it could be that you're only referring to "great art", not art in general. Or just that "no evidence" doesn't actually lead to the conclusion. But I suspect neither of those is what you're talking about.


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Sissyl wrote:
Orfamay... we are discussing metaphysics. By definition, that is where science does not reach.

Shrug. Then you have a poor dictionary that offers lousy and misleading definitions. Here's a better one (from Mirriam-Webster):

Quote:


1. a (1) : a division of philosophy that is concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being and that includes ontology, cosmology, and often epistemology.

Given the number of computer scientists working on ontology, the number of physicists working on cosmology, and the number of logicians working on epistemology, I'd suggest that nothing about metaphysics is beyond science's reach. The key point -- and it's an epistemological one -- is that anything that has an effect on the observable is an appropriate subject for science.


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thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Quiche Lisp wrote:

@Orfamay Quest

TheJeff wrote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.
So the total sum of those experimental results is telling us that art is subjective ?
Nope. I'm disappointed in your inability to draw the correct conclusions even from so simple an experiment. Especially since I literally wrote the correct conclusions down for you, meaning all you need to do is fail to misinterpret what you read.
Is there some huge obvious distinction between "no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art" and "art is subjective" that I'm missing?

Yes. Huge, obvious (to a properly skeptical scientist, anyway), and quite possibly one of the most important ideas in the history of science or philosophy.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Quiche Lisp wrote:

@Orfamay Quest

TheJeff wrote:
Can science tell us what painting is best or what pieces of music are great and which aren't?
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. It's roughly the same experiment, in fact. The experimental results are "there is no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art for any of the definitions offered (and studied)," which is, in fact, a significant finding.
So the total sum of those experimental results is telling us that art is subjective ?
Nope. I'm disappointed in your inability to draw the correct conclusions even from so simple an experiment. Especially since I literally wrote the correct conclusions down for you, meaning all you need to do is fail to misinterpret what you read.
Is there some huge obvious distinction between "no evidence supporting the idea of objective greatness to any form of art" and "art is subjective" that I'm missing?
Yes. Huge, obvious (to a properly skeptical scientist, anyway), and quite possibly one of the most important ideas in the history of science or philosophy.

Perhaps you could spell it out, since I have no idea what you're trying to say.

It would be nice if you could do it without the insults too.


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thejeff wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes. Huge, obvious (to a properly skeptical scientist, anyway), and quite possibly one of the most important ideas in the history of science or philosophy.
Perhaps you could spell it out, since I have no idea what you're trying to say.

It's the point that the supported conclusions can't go past the actual implications of the experimental results, no matter how badly you want an actual answer, which, as I said, is one of the most important ideas in the history of science and philosophy.

Sir Ronald Fisher formalized this idea as the "null hypothesis" in the 1920s; the idea, of course, is that while you can easily find evidence to disprove the null hypothesis (assuming it exists), there's no way to prove the null hypothesis (because any set of data is also consistent with other hypotheses, including an effect that exists but that is too weak to show up on your particular setup). In the 1930s, Sir Karl Popper generalized this into the falsification framework. But of course, in broad terms, it was known to the ancients under the name "the false dilemma"; the idea that any evidence against one particular theory must therefore prove the other theory.

QB's issue is particularly apparent in the post he responded to, because I outlined at least two alternative hypotheses -- one, that "justice" is entirely culture-bound (like "pass interference," but also that there are aspects that are universal (like "beauty") that we've not yet found. What the data show is that the aspects "offered (and studied)" (note that very important hedge -- I can't speak to definitions that haven't been proposed, let alone examined) do not show any evidence supporting their objectivity (and by extension, universality).

But "we found no evidence to disprove" is not "we found evidence to prove," despite what some extremely bad editors have suggested over the years.

But, even if one gives him a pass that particular extension, rejecting complete objectivity does not iply complete subjectivity, because that's an obvious false dilemma, as the examples in the post indicated.

And this gets back to one of the most important things about science that QB also has a problem with, which is that sometimes you don't have answers right now because more evidence is needed. "I don't know" is one of the most powerful phrases in science, and his philosophical worldview rejects that in favor of certainty-at-the-expense-of-correctness.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

AFAIK Philosophy is definitely not a science. So the definition given above for metaphysics, which makes those a division of philosophy, implies that metaphysics are not a science either

What definition of science are we using BTW ? I am not sure all posters share the same one

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I would be greatly interested in knowing how science explains the prevalence of religious beliefs in modern human beings


The Raven Black wrote:
AFAIK Philosophy is definitely not a science.

Er,.... no. Or, perhaps, "if you're going to make such a blatantly controversial statement, you better support it."

"Science" is a method of inquiry. To use an example from the philosopher Robert Pirsig, when an auto mechanic tries to honk the horn to see if the battery works, he's doing science. To use another example, when a baker adds some almond extract to her poppy-seed rolls to see how they come out, she's doing science.


The Raven Black wrote:
I would be greatly interested in knowing how science explains the prevalence of religious beliefs in modern human beings

You might find this a good start. Unfortunately, it's a little long to retype into a Paizo forum post, and it's under copyright as well.


Quiche Lisp wrote:


Now I'd like to point you to other people's take re: aesthetics, art (3d paragraph) - and justice (2nd paragraph), vis a vis science.

Yes, I know it's argumentum ad verecundiam. And you know it isn't inevitably a fallacy.

Actually, it is "inevitably" a fallacy, but that's only because I know what the word "fallacy" means. But in this case, it's not merely that you're being fallacious, but that your source is actively wrong.

Your source, for example, suggests that science doesn't deal with aesthetics, but of course, not only is that wrong, but I've described some of the experiments and findings from those experiments in this thread.

Similarly, your source states that science doesn't address questions of the supernatural, when in fact, it's been doing so for more than a hundred years and continues to do so to the present day. Whatever "God" may be, He's not the one many people were told about at Sunday School who answers petitionary prayers, for example, by granting long life and healing.

So what you're telling me is that "science" doesn't (and can't) do things that it has been well-documented in the literature as doing for more than a century. As I expressed it earlier, "you're standing in the middle of a cow pasture, surrounded by several tonnes of hamburger-on-the-hoof, and telling me that cattle don't exist. I'm not sure I'm going to believe you."

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