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Old 01-10-2018, 04:35 PM   #1
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Default Knowledge, Belief, and Proof

Got the idea from this thread of DanRode's: A Vegan Atheist Walks Into A Bar

The intent of that thread was to discuss why atheists seem to relish any opportunity to interject their lack of belief in god(s) into discussions about various and sundry subjects having nothing directly to do with spiritual or divine matters. It quickly segued into a discussion on atheism, theism, knowledge, proof, and belief as these things often do; aided in no small part, it must be said, by the typical wind-baggery of yours truly, lol.

But it got me to thinking about the larger issues and I thought it might be useful to have a separate discussion on the concepts of knowledge vs. belief, faith vs. fact, proof vs. revelation - more specifically where the burden of proof lies for any given claim or set of beliefs or ideals.

It was pointed out to me by Morfz that belief ought to be separated from knowledge, and divine matters from scientific ones. It's a point well taken. But then if they're separated how do we assign relative value to each when they appear to contradict each other or at least when they make competing statements? For example the notion that a god created this planet for our use and our care that it will always provide sufficient resources for us and that it will not "end" until god plans for it to end... ergo climate change need not concern us. That's in direct contradiction to the assembled evidence that human behavior impacts the environment and the climate and that we should attempt to do something about it. How do we decide the relative value in planning the course forward between one man's scripture and another man's scientific evidence?

I guess my issue has always been not so much the fact that people have fervent belief in certain concepts that can't be "proven" in the scientific sense. I'm not wired that way myself but I don't judge those that are. My question has always been... what should those beliefs be worth to others? How much weight and credence should they be given when we discuss issues of law and morality? Do you feel like a criticism of your beliefs is inherently a criticism of you as an individual?

So what do you guys think? How important is "proof" to the development of your opinions? Can something "unproven" still serve as a valuable moral guide? Can a moral statement still be TRUE (like that murder is wrong for example) even if reasonable people can disagree about the ultimate SOURCE of the statement?
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Old 01-10-2018, 04:50 PM   #2
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Here's my take. I want there to be some benign intelligence that makes the universe fair and cares about us. Instead of just dying, I want there to be some utopian afterlife where life is great and I can see dead relatives and friends again. Or maybe just a transition to some other state of being. It's a beautiful idea. If I get to choose, I probably don't want all the fires of hell and damnation type afterlife, tho.

I want this stuff to be true but I have zero evidence that there is anything other than the universe as we know it from science. I can't prove anything one way or another. I like to see evidence and repeatability before I get fully onboard with an idea.
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Old 01-10-2018, 04:57 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by DanRode View Post
Here's my take. I want there to be some benign intelligence that makes the universe fair and cares about us. Instead of just dying, I want there to be some utopian afterlife where life is great and I can see dead relatives and friends again. Or maybe just a transition to some other state of being. It's a beautiful idea. If I get to choose, I probably don't want all the fires of hell and damnation type afterlife, tho.

I want this stuff to be true but I have zero evidence that there is anything other than the universe as we know it from science. I can't prove anything one way or another. I like to see evidence and repeatability before I get fully onboard with an idea.
It IS a beautiful idea and I can understand 100% why people want for it to be true. BUT... absent any "proof" as you say, how heavily should we weigh this concept of a designer or an eternal universal justice and fairness when we're making concrete decisions in the material world in the present time?

What I mean is, if there's a very vocal group that believes god will provide, and another very vocal group that can show evidence that we're poisoning the planet - whose voice should carry the day when we try to set actual policies about how much carbon to release into the atmosphere, how much mercury to release into fresh water, how much plastic and other refuse we bury in the earth?

My thing I guess has always been that we can use what we "believe" as a guide for how we conduct ourselves personally, how we raise our kids, how we regard our neighbor, etc. But when we're deciding matters of law and policy - knowledge should win over faith or belief whenever there's a perceived conflict between the two.
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Old 01-10-2018, 05:00 PM   #4
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Here's another one: can there be a universal justice or "equilibrium" let's say, without the presence of a prime mover or overseer? Is morality still morality without an enforcer?
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Old 01-10-2018, 05:20 PM   #5
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Do dogs have morality? What drives the behaviour of fish or ants or flowers?
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Old 01-10-2018, 05:27 PM   #6
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Here's another one: can there be a universal justice or "equilibrium" let's say, without the presence of a prime mover or overseer? Is morality still morality without an enforcer?
Seems to me that if an enforcer of morality exists, s/he has been conspicuously absent during all of recorded history. If s/he exists, then s/he is more of a punisher than enforcer - the way I see things.

Nothing erks me more than to hear a gubment official claim a conversation with the almighty as a basis for a decision in their official capacity.

I personally don't believe the gubment should be in the morality/fairness business, and should therefore be capable of going about the people's business without the need to call upon a deity for guidance.
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Old 01-10-2018, 05:40 PM   #7
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I see where your going and yes, people tend to have trouble with accepting anything they didn't 'see' or experience themselves. Why do some need proof more than others? Hard to know.
What does a person even accept as proof?
Then a conundrum... 'IF' a person wants to at least intelligently analyze what the bible says (since were talking about God a lot in this stuff), the whole premise is He wants people to have faith so apparently went through the trouble of making sure there isn't solid enough proof laying around that people would see that and believe instead of going by 'faith'. Why would He want us to go by faith and not by proof? Interesting...

Now on the supernatural stuff, the 'other stuff' kinda thing. I myself experienced scary 'proof', I don't know WHAT, but I did experience it. People would call it ghosts, but I can't say that was what this was, but it was real, it was more than once and we moved out of that house I tell ya.
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Old 01-10-2018, 05:44 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BobF View Post
Seems to me that if an enforcer of morality exists, s/he has been conspicuously absent during all of recorded history. If s/he exists, then s/he is more of a punisher than enforcer - the way I see things.

Nothing erks me more than to hear a gubment official claim a conversation with the almighty as a basis for a decision in their official capacity.

I personally don't believe the gubment should be in the morality/fairness business, and should therefore be capable of going about the people's business without the need to call upon a deity for guidance.
Right..
God, NOT enforcer
Morality NOT what it seems. All the 'morality' things are actually for the good of the person, not a 'rule'. Monogamy lowers STD's, in fact, would abolish them if it was practiced for all people for several generations. Every 'rule' , analyzed, can be seen as a safety rule. Like a kid being mad his mom says don't play by traffic, why mom, why, cause she knows it might cause the kid injury, or death.

Yes, and people who act like that, and try to TELL people what to do, are by that nature disobeying God, that's what causes the biggest issue. The bible says DO NOT JUDGE, yet tons of 'Godly' people judge and pass judgment, which ends up making people NOT like them or God.
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Old 01-10-2018, 06:18 PM   #9
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Really interesting subject. I think about this a lot. I agree about how religion can be misleading and also false as we know it. There is a lot of stuff in the bible that is, if you arent delusional, just plain wrong. One being the creation of earth in 7 days...this is why I dont like to call myself religious.

I believe in something unknown, that we cant explain in any way at all. I dont believe that whatever it is, is inherently good or evil. So what would that make me? I dont know. But that makes me as similar to islam as to christianity regarding belief. However I still celebrate christian festivities, but I guess thats just my culture, as it has nothing to do with belief. I dont know, im just thinking out loud.

I guess what im thinking about is that belief only contradicts science if its a certain kind of belief. For example creationism. Obviously it contradicts what science has discovered. There are plenty variants of belief that dont contradict science. Believing in christianity doesnt either have to contradict science. It can however if you go strictly by the bible.
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Old 01-10-2018, 06:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morfz View Post
Really interesting subject. I think about this a lot. I agree about how religion can be misleading and also false as we know it. There is a lot of stuff in the bible that is, if you arent delusional, just plain wrong. One being the creation of earth in 7 days...this is why I dont like to call myself religious.

I believe in something unknown, that we cant explain in any way at all. I dont believe that whatever it is, is inherently good or evil. So what would that make me? I dont know. But that makes me as similar to islam as to christianity regarding belief. However I still celebrate christian festivities, but I guess thats just my culture, as it has nothing to do with belief. I dont know, im just thinking out loud.

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Really? (please don't call me delusional, that's a matter of prospective )
Now just think of this, if there was a being that could create a whole physical universe, couldn't he create the earth in 7 days (which would actually be slow even)? couldn't there be a gap theory? (how long ago 'was that 7 day period) Or couldn't He make to where it looked like it had been around longer? Or how long 'was a day' since there actually weren't 'days' before there was an earth to rotate and define a 'day'.

Also, religion and belief in God are two separate things.
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