Atheism & Intelligence

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by garbonzo, May 21, 2013.

  1. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    As I've pointed out before, there are two kinds of faith. Rational faith is based on evidence. My dog has loved me every day for eight years, so it is rational of me to have faith that he will continue to love me.

    But irrational faith is based on nothing but hope, or even sheer desperation. Many people are dejected by the idea that when they die their life is over. This was especially common in earlier times, when life was tough and many people were unable to grasp more than a few days of joy out of it; but even today there are people who just don't manage to make much out of their lives for a variety of reasons, and feel cheated. So these people like to believe that when they die they won't really die, but will be whisked away to an imaginary universe where they'll be greeted by all the loved ones they've lost and spend their days playing lovely harp music. This hope is of course rational, because it keeps them going. But the faith is irrational, because not only is there no evidence to support the belief, but on the contrary there is a significant body of evidence showing that death is, indeed, terminal.

    If you mean events that can only occur if the laws of nature are violated, such as a man rising from the dead, then no. But if you mean that something that has a very tiny probability of occurring actually does occur, well sure. It happens all the time. But of all the highly unlikely things we can think of, only a very few of them will occur. That may seem miraculous to some, but those of us who studied statistics call it "an ordinary day."

    Just because we don't have an answer today, doesn't mean that we won't find it tomorrow, or that the people who come after us won't find it in the 22nd century. In 1796, no one could explain why exposing humans to cow pox made them immune to smallpox. Today that is explained to teenagers in high school biology classes, and vaccination is one of the major reasons for the decline of infant mortality in the 20th century from 80% to a fraction of one percent.

    You keep making statements of this nature, and I keep asking you why you believe that, and I keep not getting a good answer. Science is nothing more or less than a search for the truth. To say that there are some truths we will never find sounds a lot more like religion than science.

    Now if you want to say that there is an asymptotic limit, meaning that with each truth we conquer, the next one will be more difficult, so our progress will slow and the very last one will take until infinity... well okay. But I'm pretty sure that is not what you're saying.

    Then how do you observe him? How do you even know that he exists if not with your senses? Does he pipe Muzak directly into your synapses so you wake up singing Handel's "Messiah"?

    We don't have to. First you have to deliver solid evidence of a miracle, and you have never done that. So far all claimed "miracles" turn out to be just some weird crap that puzzled somebody. Like the scorch mark on a tortilla (one out of billions cooked this year) that is said to be the likeness of a biblical figure of whom no portraits exist against which to validate it.

    Huh? Humans are unique in having a forebrain so large that it allows us to override instinctive and reactive behavior with learned and reasoned behavior. This is how we can skydive, when every instinct tells us not to step into an abyss! Can you at least try to present a phenomenon that isn't quite so easily explained? This one is a no-brainer. People overcome histories of adversity every day. On every Bell Curve there's going to be somebody way out at the extreme end, and this is our guy.

    Same phenomenon. Holocaust survivors are dying off (while Holocaust deniers unfortunately seem to give birth to a new generation every 20 years, multiplying like the cockroaches they are), but there are still a few who are in good health and speak to us. A few remind us with a wink that Jews have been overcoming adversity for thousands of years, so what's the big deal about this time?

    Atheists convert to religion every day, just as believers become atheists. Every now and then, one of them is going to be a brilliant and persuasive author, just like another one is going to be a politician or a chicken-plucker. Duh?

    And how do you know that? C.S. Lewis's life is well documented, mostly by him. Have you read all that material and still have no clue? What do you say about the people who are "touched" so as to change from believers to atheists. Rather ironic that a supernatural creature or other force would nudge someone in the direction of not believing in the supernatural, doncha think?

    As I said earlier, the common reason for people irrationally holding onto religion is that something's missing from their life and religion promises to deliver it after they're dead. This would certainly appeal to many an irreligious person too. If your life sucks, you'll grasp at straws. Nothing to lose, eh?

    Some people say the same thing about the experience of killing another person.

    Not today, but who knows what kinds of instruments our descendants will have in 100 years. 100 years ago, nobody could have predicted many of the things we can figure out with today's science and technology.

    Proof of what? I don't understand the question. That combination of words is meaningless, and it also lacks rhyme, rhythm and alliteration, so it's very likely that no one, even a drunken poet, would have stumbled onto it. I don't understand why you think this is remarkable.

    If you put together a random string of one million characters (I'll even let you limit yourself to characters that resemble writing rather than odd symbols), I'll be happy to wager that it has never been written before. You don't seem to put much value in probability theory, and I don't understand why.

    I don't understand the question, sorry. Probably because I only spent three years there, then got a degree in accounting instead.

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  3. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    As a Singularitiarian (and of course agnostic/atheist) I often wonders if my beleif in a Technological Singularity and eventualy human mind uploading is a religion, sure my beleifs are based on sciences as we know it, but there is no garuentee that it will happen, for all I know WW3 will come and human civiliation will regress a millenium, or worse it may in fact prove impossible to simulate a human, that a soul may infact be real, I'm open to being wrong about all this, which gives me comfort that I'm not delusional like a thiest.
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  5. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Special pleading.

    Science has explained many so-called miracles and found them to be natural phenomenon, either that or nothing. So far there hasn't been any evidence that has left scientists baffled.

    Sure it can. Being happy is a pleasurable state, and people seek pleasure and avoid pain.

    That doesn't mean that only believers in God survived the holocaust. In fact, the holocaust caused many Jews to become atheists.

    What's to explain? Be became irrational and wrote a book, it's nothing new. Science does explain how superstition arises.

    It's called delusion. Science has several plausible explanations for this including the evolution of infantile gullibility.

    You obviously haven't really looked into science then. If the Sun and Earth weren't within a certain range, no one would be here to discuss it, just like all the other planets that are lifeless. It's called the anthropic principle. Just like a puddle of water will always find itself in the exact shape of the hole, life will always find itself in a unlikely set of circumstances that allowed it to come about through natural causes.

    It's no explanation at all, in fact it is the opposite of explanations, it's making due with an answer that makes you feel good, but doesn't reflect the truth because it isn't based on evidence.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Singularitarianism does not seem to satisfy the definition of religion. It has no god, and indeed no other supernatural trappings. In fact it is based entirely on science.

    Singularitarianism is predicated on one hypothesis (that science and technology will allow us to create... uh... "something" with superior intelligence) that is hardly remarkable, and on one warning (that we had better start paying attention so that this "something" will be of benefit to humanity rather than regarding us as vermin and cleansing the planet of us) that is hardly unreasonable.

    The probability does not have to be 100% for it to deserve our attention. It's the zero-percenters that we ignore.

    Yes, the Singularity prediction might not come true, but it also might come true. As for WWIII, that seems unlikely. Surely the only place that it can be imagined is in the Middle East. Israel and Pakistan are the only countries in that region with nuclear weapons, and they are both unlikely to use them. Of course if Iran develops one, all bets are off.

    That seems even more unlikely than WWIII.

    A tip: Please slow down and check your spelling. This stuff is not easy to read. It's difficult to convince people to take you seriously as a scholar if you can't communicate well.
  8. elte Valued Senior Member

    I just see the mind working in ways that one might guess it could. I see no sign of supernatural influence.

    I think your explanations to Wegs here are very good, indeed.
  9. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Yes sure unlikely, improbable, but not impossible. The faithful beleive something is true, that they there is no chance they are wrong, an agnostic beleives very little if anything is certain, that they maybe wrong about anything, everything, improbable, but not impossible. Most Atheist beleive a god is improbable, but admit it is not impossible, this is why atheism is not faith.
  10. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    @ Fraggle Rock;


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    First, I appreciate your candor. I want to reply properly as you took the time to reply to me.
    And I will later.

    Just one thing, I don't care for the word "duh." It could very well be unintentional, but it comes across as u think I'm a simpleton. And I'm not.

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    Other than that, I appreciate your thoughts and I want to learn more about irrational and rational faith. I found that very interesting. I don't think I've heard that in my whole life.

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    I will reply later.

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  11. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    Instruments will still not make it possible due to the probabilistic nature of events.
    At best we will ever be able to say "probably".
    "Probably" is not proof.
    Your response to the claim that science can not prove everything was "I don't find that "fact" anywhere. From what scientific authority did you learn it? I'm surprised that they didn't bother to teach us that at Caltech."
    I am just offering an example of something you can not prove.
    You can offer a mathematical solution that shows how it is unlikely, but science can not prove it had never been uttered before.
    Yet it is a wager that can never be paid out since it can not be proven one way or another.
    Simply put there are things outside the realm of science.
    Such theories / claims are most oft identified as being "unscientific".
    These "unscientific" claims can not be proven.
    I am not suggesting that they can be proven by another discipline: I am suggesting that they can not be proven. Period.
    Many would say that science is not something that concerns itself with proof at all, which is left to maths and logic.
    You seemed to imply that the only reason you didn't accept something was 'cos Caltech didn't tell you it was the case.
    I was therefore wondering if you needed Caltech to have told you for you to accept or understand it?

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    And why on earth an Accountancy degree?

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  12. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Do you believe in God, baldee?
    I'm just wondering.

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  13. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I wanted to add something off the beaten path a bit.

    I feel melancholy upon reading this thread. Not because ppl offended me. I have heard a variety of similar things from my atheist friends. No...I feel sad because you all have answers to so much. How should I say are certain as to why you do this or that. I believe in God. This isn't about God. It's about how I admire the fact that you all have answers to so much that I can't answer.

    How do you know these answers? You don't learn this in college. Lol it is different than that.

    How do you know?

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    where did your world view come from?
    How did u become so certain about so much?

    I am uncertain about so much ...I wish I could think like some of u.

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    With such certainty. There is purity of heart in your certainty.

    I mean this sincerely.
  14. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    I think it's just knowledge about the world, in which we can have degrees of confidence based on whether the idea has been refuted to one's satisfaction.
  15. billvon Valued Senior Member

    One of the things I have discovered is that the more you learn, the less you realize you really know. When I'm teaching I am always worried when a student decides they know everything (which happens to college students somewhat regularly at the second year.) Once they get to the point where they start saying "wow, this is hard! What about X and Y? How can you account for Z?" I know they're starting to really understand the topic.
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Wegs, to any serious thoughtful person of good will, the majesty of the universe and its almost miraculous expressions (including consciousness) is inspiring in itself. From all the discussions and debates, a truth often emerges, a new way of looking, yet not losing sight of the Wholeness.

    Scientists are very passionate about their science also..........

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  17. quinnsong Valued Senior Member

    Well said.
  18. elte Valued Senior Member

    I can relate to the melancholy. I hoped for the longest time that I would find slam-dunk evidence that there really is a true religious faith. As it turned out, I haven't found any evidence at all that holds up to examination. All of my observations that I thought could indicate divine activity eventually narrowed down to personal experience, and that has also failed because I realized I was suffering from confirmation bias.
  19. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    3,368 say dear things, sometimes, brian.

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    yes, that makes sense. ok, thank you for that.

    you are one of the people i had in mind when i posted this. there is an innocence about you, in your certainty. like it's not a know it all certainty. it's a certainty that explores the reality of things. the evidence of things. i read your explanations, and you don't give up until someone else understands. the fact that you're a teacher, is a good thing, and not at all surprising. ((hugs))

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    ok. this made me cry.

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    in a good way.
    why am i so weepy today. ugh.
    but you know, this is good. this is enlightenment.
    you know, everyone. i hvae been on christian sites. and i have met nice people. but i have met some very rigid, mean people as well.
    and you have all welcomed me here. and i think that with my own friends offline who are atheists. and you all. in christian circles, atheists are so damn misunderstood.
    i have some christian friends who get angry that i have friends who are not christian. honestly, it is mind numbing. lol
    it's a shame, really. because my friends who don't believe in God, are so awesome. you know? they would do anything for me.
    i tell them it's because of God.

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    and they laugh. but we have that kind of respect now.
    there doesn't have to be this dramatic line in the sand. you know?

    i mean, i don't agree with some of what you all believe as to why you feel there is no God. (for those who feel this way) But, the way you explain it. You are kind about it.
    i love science. and came to this site looking up something ...and didn't know what to expect.
    but there's a lot of kindness and hospitality here. and knowledge! haha certainty of knowledge.
    there is an innocence in standing by what you believe. even if you don't believe what i do.
    anyways, thank you. i hope i can be as positive for some of you, too.

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    yes. most definitely.

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  20. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I'm starting to think I live in a bubble. I'm not familiar with the confirmation bias theory.
    Thank u for posting that.

    It is interesting how we all are the same, yet different.

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    May I ask...did you hope for "evidence" (objective) of a Creator and this is why you are somewhat saddened?
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Confirmation bias usually stems from emotional investment.

    As Khalil Gibran so eloquently stated, "We weep for that which was once our delight"
  22. absols Registered Member

    u dont sound honest at all to me, but u r not stupid and that is why im gonna answer this point not for u but for the point itself

    things about existence are absolutely, so it might b u or oneself and everything else but then without anyone

    this fact confirm existence being true, the fact without u nor anything else move

    and this is what is mostly abused, for genders divisions to profit of true existence in max ways, for opposites speculations to profit of any reaction possible to bring back existence to its fact again ....etc

    ur question confirm that fact, u as a girl feels frustrated to not have what they do as boys

    u have only u n urself so very limited perspective on what could b happening outthere, but this is the present existence reference bc u r aware

    them dont have themselves so they see absolutes in mind coming n going as the present, so they know more wat is right and wat is wrong objectively, but being none it is nothing for them but games and more about wat can b done with so inventions make them happy, or also anything positive out of it that would make them think getting to b for fun

    all wat i said here, doesnt matter at all, bc truth is not there, this is to evil insistence to abuse true existence thinkin that it cant get caught back when puting existence that far in reaction mode

    truth is where beings are not genders, bc they act being true and not expectin smthg of being

    so where self objective realisations is a random thing, so any self statement is easily in touch with everything else n with the truth of its own self means or wills

    and where objective perspectives are supported positively as being the right essence, so reality would constantly seem being the source of positive individual free right sense

    so u have no excuse bc that is true, and a lot of people are aware of doing it

    i could b the only individual being that means it absolutely right for truth superiority rights but what i did and do in my life constantly is done by a lot of others same ways, simply bc they are not evil and act as being

    so people like u keep sitting to get anything while passing time by pretending lovin others on the net to share their subjective states is all a lie and it is obvious

    when u can communicate with others through words only, talkin about oneself cant b, u cant but point objective thing first

    my ways are through true superiority, joinin the self state and objective end at one true superior existence, proving truth existence being objective

    anyone care mostly about himself especially me which confirm the rule, existence is through individuals freedom, real
    surely bc truth is objectively existing so all is already known clearly

    but the thing is, in what noone cares about conscious obligations and else rights except me, which is absurd and only of evil life that rule everything

    go to hell u n ur lies u n ur gods

    me matter to me only, but truth is of course always the only beginning of ends reality so the only reason and source of anything
  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I do not have belief in the existence of God.
    But that is not to say I can prove the non-existence of God.
    I consider God an unscientific concept.
    And outside the scope of scientific inquiry (although specific aspects might be within) due to unfalsifiability.
    Much like Russell's teapot.

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