God is "dead"

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Saint, Dec 3, 2013.

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  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    One could argue that the whole of virtue epistemology is just one big ad hom, despite it being officially recognized as a branch of study and given its own page in SEP.

    It's not clear why you take issue with virtue epistemology to begin with, though, given that you yourself and most others here, regularly refer to a poster's honesty/dishonesty, integrity/lack of integrity (and bias, delusion, mental deficiency and a few select other personal qualities) and link these with their ability to know things and to participate in rational discussion.

    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If you would be on the board of university directors who would choose candidates for lecturers of advanced mathematics, would you consider it an ad hom to reject an applicant who has no PhD in mathematics?

    If you would be a car mechanic with your own car repair shop, and you'd be looking to employ some new mechanics, would not hiring someone who has no experience nor education as a mechanic be an ad hom?

    If your goal would be to marry someone you love and someone who loves you, would you consider it an ad hom to reject someone who doesn't love you?

    When some children are sent to special education facilities because they are found to lack the mental and/or physical abilities to attend ordinary education, is that an ad hom?

    IOW, it's about a person's qualifications. Not everyone is fit for everything. This is just how it is. Becoming aware of this may hurt, yes.

    And while people generally do accept that qualifications are required to be considered fit for a particular position or role, many take umbrage at the proposition that matters of religion and spirituality operate on similarly selective and demanding criteria.

    Nobody expects to learn to play piano or complete a college education within a day. Generally, people accept that it requires a number of qualifications to be fit to be considered as a candidate for a leadership position, or for any job for that matter.

    But when it comes to religion and spirituality, many people seem to think they are fully qualified to understand everything about these areas of knowledge, that they are fully qualified right now, as they are, and that no further work or other effort of any kind should be required ...
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Candor - good one! Even a rude, lowly person can be communicated with easily enough - as long as they speak openly, with candor.

    Actually, I think it's a matter of enabling, in the negative sense of the term.

    Some of us here are at least occasionally playing mummy and daddy to some of the atheists, and it's not helping.
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  7. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    It is always better to confront ignorance with definitions, like the one you provided above, than with insult.
  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    and how do you suggest one confronts feigned ignorance?
  9. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Some characteristics, like intellectual honesty, are empirically and individually demonstrable, like when using obviously fallacious arguments. And my use of such is not a dismissal of their propositions, only a rejection of a specific fallacious argument. I still address their non-fallacious arguments.

    If you can demonstrate that the individual or group actually, empirically possess such characteristics, fine. If not, it is unfounded ad hominem, and has no place here. I will not broach further discussion on the topic, which may derail this thread.
  10. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Ignore it, or repeatedly address it to shame and discredit the person. Both are preferable to insult.
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member



    child·ish (chldsh)

    a. Marked by or indicating a lack of maturity; puerile: tired of your childish pranks.

    Here's a quick look at LG's role model..lol!

  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    You can't discipline childishness out of a child.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    With overwhelming force.

    Of love, or like drops of water on stone for centuries. Other times, fire is to be fought with fire - the way they extinguish fires in oil wells with controlled explosions.

    But what can one do who neither rouses fear by one's anger, nor confers a favour when one is pleased? Such a person can neither control nor protect.
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    IOW, you prefer a traditional approach to solving the theism vs. atheism problems; an approach followed by many for millennia, tried, tested, and suffered.
    That's your prerogative.

    Like they say, people tend to prefer to stick old suffering, even though it is suffering - because at least they are familiar with it ...
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    One can, however, raise a child not to become childish as he or she grows up.

    It's telling you think so.

    My first thought was - "Poor kid! First they get him hooked on tv, then they take it away from him, and when he has withdrawal symptoms, they blame him!"
    Managing an addiction is a demanding task even for adults, what to speak for children.
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    One can try to impose over the child an adult model of behavior that goes against his own nature as a child. Training that conditions the child with pain, threats, fear, reward, and deprivation of pleasure. But then we're talking what the natural state of the child is aren't we? Selfish, bratty, tempermental, vindictive, cruel, hedonistic. That's what children are without any training for adulthood. Is that what theists want to be like?
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    That was just an insult. I'm an atheist, so you seem to have been suggesting that you believe that I am personally envious of and feel threatened by theists and their ideas. I don't think that's true at all. I've made hundreds of posts here on Sciforums that were friendly towards, thoughtful about and supportive of theists. I've defended them when I thought that they were being treated unfairly. I just don't share their beliefs. Sometimes I write a little about what my own views are and give some reasons why I think as I do.

    In other words, this little theist vs. atheist jihad is something that's occurring inside in your own head, not in mine. As I've written many times, I'm very comfortable in a social environment where a great diversity of religious belief exists. Given the way that history seems to be trending, with large-scale population movements and instant worldwide communications, that kind of environment will probably be increasingly prevalent as time goes on.

    That might arguably be true, if we are talking about arguments from authority. But if we are looking for authority in religion, somebody whose word we just want to simply accept, we still face the problem of separating the real authorities (assuming that they exist) from the pretenders. If a person claims to possess special knowledge of higher and divine things, it's reasonable to ask how they acquired that knowledge and whether that method seems credible. So we are right back at the epistemological problem where we started.

    I agree that when we are seeking religious teachers, a prospective teacher's compassion, equanimity, thoughtfulness and empathy tell us a lot. They still don't answer the epistemological question, they don't tell us whether the teacher's doctrinal claims are literally true. But if the teacher doesn't display these kind of humane virtues, then that teacher's path might not be worth following. At the very least, it doesn't seem to have much effect in the teacher's own life.

    But do you really want to think of atheists as your prospective religious teachers? I think that atheists would typically deny that they are religious teachers and advise you not to think of them that way. Some (certainly not all) atheists will likely try to convince you that you don't need a religious teacher at all. But that's not the same as pretending to be one.
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Don't forget that technically, I am an atheist too.

    Noting that one is feeling envious of and threatened by theists is not insulting, though.
    Noting that one envies a tiger his strength or that one feels threatened by an impending earthquake is not insulting. It's just noting what's there.

    Same here.
    The question is how pure this friendliness is. I know, you'll probably find this inquiry too personal. I think it is pertinent, though. We can talk about it in general terms.
    Is this a friendliness based on pure intentions, pure goodwill? Or is it a friendliness born out of fear? Is it a variation of the Stockholm Syndrome? Is it interspersed with a sense of martyrdom?

    If that were so, then why do you sometimes resort to strawmaning? Why are you completely closed off to some ideas about God? Why do you insist on that old, unproductive way of dealing with the whole theism vs. atheism spat (the whole "Show me evidence of God and I'll believe it")?

    Were it not for envy and feeling threatened, arguing about the existence of God would be redundant.
    And that's not an insult.

    The question is, how far does this comfort extend? It looks like it doesn't extend to the 309 definitions and titles of God I linked to earlier.
    Most people are comfortable with religious diversity - as long as things are kept superficial and polite. Actually reading the religious texts - that's another matter.

    Enter virtue epistemology.
    Virtue epistemology was developed precisely to deal with such old problems that appear impossible to solve in any other way.

    Continue with virtue epistemology as it pertains to the prospective knower, ie. oneself.
    Like they say - one cannot know whether a dharma is true unless oneself is true.

    The simple fact of the matter is that many atheists step forward and claim to know better than the theists. That theism is just Bronze Age superstition or some such.
    So to those atheists, I say: "Okay. Let's see then what you've got."
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Tend and befriend as a response to stress/threat:

    Move over "fight-or-flight"--there's a new paradigm in town, the first new model to describe people's stress response patterns in more than 60 years.
    The model, called "tend-and-befriend" by its developers, won't replace fight-or-flight. Rather, it adds another dimension to the stress-response arsenal, says University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Shelley Taylor, PhD, who, along with five colleagues, developed the model.
    In particular, they propose that females respond to stressful situations by protecting themselves and their young through nurturing behaviors--the "tend" part of the model--and forming alliances with a larger social group, particularly among women--the "befriend" part of the model. Males, in contrast, show less of a tendency toward tending and befriending, sticking more to the fight-or-flight response, they suggest.
    One of a repertoire of responses
    Although the tend-and-befriend model emphasizes gender differences, the researchers reject the idea that gender stereotypes are written in our genes. Indeed, Taylor doesn't see biological models of behavior as inherently constraining--rather, they help tie human behavior to other species and provide a framework for general behavioral tendencies. The fun, she says, will be teasing apart how our biological predispositions unfold in the context of real-life experience.
    Both Collins and Cacioppo hope that means researchers will examine social context to figure out which situations may promote tend-and-befriend and which might, instead, promote fight-or-flight or even as yet undiscovered stress responses.
    In fact, tend-and-befriend may be just as adaptive for men as for women in certain contexts, says Collins, whose research finds no gender differences when examining how often husbands and wives seek support from their most intimate companions--for example, each other.
    "Perhaps these gender differences are adaptive with acute stressors," says Collins. "But when you think of longer term stressors, such as hunger, it doesn't make sense to have these gender differences. Men and women need social networks to work it out."
    The most adaptive system would be one in which men and women select from a repertoire of responses depending on the specific stressor, she says.
    Adds Taylor: Mainstream stress researchers "have been very quick to study behaviors like aggression and withdrawal and have failed to notice very important behaviors like affiliation. We think it's cute when women call up their sisters when they're under stress. But no one has realized that that is a contemporaneous manifestation of one of the oldest biological systems. Our focus on fight-or-flight has kept us from recognizing that there are systems that are as old as fight-or-flight that are tremendously important."

    Tend and Befriend
    Biobehavioral Bases of Affiliation Under Stress
    In addition to fight-or-flight, humans demonstrate tending and befriending responses to stress—responses underpinned by the hormone oxytocin, by opioids, and by dopaminergic pathways. A working model of affiliation under stress suggests that oxytocin may be a biomarker of social distress that accompanies gaps or problems with social relationships and that may provide an impetus for affiliation. Oxytocin is implicated in the seeking of affiliative contact in response to stress, and, in conjunction with opioids, it also modulates stress responses. Specifically, in conjunction with positive affiliative contacts, oxytocin attenuates psychological and biological stress responses, but in conjunction with hostile and unsupportive contacts, oxytocin may exacerbate psychological and biological stress responses. Although significant paradoxes remain to be resolved, a mechanism that may underlie oxytocin's relation to the health benefits of social support may be in view.


    IOW, just because one doesn't fight someone, nor flee, nor freeze, doesn't yet mean that one doesn't feel threatened.

    For an educated, classy, older person, fight, flight and freeze don't seem like suitable responses to stress (due to threat); but tend-and-befriend sure fits.
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Or at least it can be interpreted so as to justify ad-hominems, which is almost certainly one of its weaknesses.

    I think that virtue epistemology is plausible when it's addressing justification (as in the definition of 'knowledge' as 'justified true belief'), provided that the "virtues" in question are intellectual virtues, relevant epistemological faculties (vision etc.) and cognitive processes. In other words, a justified belief is a belief that was arrived at by virtue of use of appropriate faculties and cognitive processes. That isn't a tremendous departure for epistemology, which has always been basically asking 'how can somebody know that?' Of course it gets more complicated in real life, when we are called upon to specify the appropriate intellectual virtues that are appropriate in particular cases, particularly in problem cases.

    Others have tried to broaden out the idea of 'epistemological virtue' to include moral and psychological qualities of the knower. Such things as 'open-mindedness' and 'imaginativeness' do seem to be epistemologically relevant, but an argument that any belief that's merely the result of open-mindedness and imaginativeness and so on must therefore be considered justified would seem to me to fail. These kind of qualities, while arguably virtuous, seem to be too weak to do what they are being called upon to do.

    In this thread, there seems to be an implicit argument percolating under the surface that only theists have the appropriate religious virtues (faith, trust, devotion and whatever), that in religion religious virtues are epistemological virtues, and hence that theists' views must be considered fully justified merely because they are theists' views. I don't find that kind of argument plausible at all.
  21. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Which of Gods virtues allows him to interact with those who go poop. Knowledge?
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Nobody here argued that.

    And yet nobody here argued that.

    Since you have some Buddhist background, I assumed the approach of virtue epistemology would be esp. close to you, as Buddhism works with a variation of virtue epistemology - in that it proposes that in order to know (and attain) some things, one must develop particular virtues (such as generosity, goodwill, discernment, non-violence).

    I think this is true, though, at least on principle.
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Bullshit it isn't. It's your typical attempt at psychologically reducing atheism to "unwholesome motives", as if atheists are too immature to take their position objectively and rationally based on its own merits. It's your way of dismissing valid arguments because somehow atheists are not properly motivated to make them.
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