The God Delusion - Chapter 2

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otseng
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The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Not a whole lot of action in chapter 1 so far. So, I'll go ahead and start up chapter 2. Discussions can still continue in chapter 1, but hopefully by starting chapter 2 more people will want to get involved.

I'll repost McCulloch's proposed questions:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?

I'll also throw in some other questions:
- Is agnosticism impoverished?
- What exactly does Dawkins have against Michael Ruse?

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Post #31

Post by mbl020980 »

otseng wrote:I would agree that authority based on blind faith (absolutely no evidence) could be bad. But, authority based on faith (as defined by lack of a logical proof) is commonplace and would not be considered bad. And if we are to judge on "reasonable faith", then it would be too subjective to make any kind of objective judgement.
Please give an example of "authority based on [not-blind] faith" that is commonplace. In fact, I think it would be a good idea for all of us to cite references or at least provide an example whenever we posit an assertion like the one above. By not doing so, a seemingly reasonable argument could be built upon a single specious premise.

Having said that, I also take exception to your distinction between "blind faith" and "faith." In the first place, I've never seen this distinction posited elsewhere. But irregardless, you use the term "no evidence" in your definition of blind faith and "logical proof" in your definition of faith. Are "evidence" and "logical proof" are synonymous? If they are, then your argument is a non sequitur. If they are not synonymous, then your burden is to differentiate between the two for your audience. You need to show how a "faith" could be based on "no evidence" but still be supported by "logical proof." We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.
Are you perhaps confusing "faith" with "trust?"

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Post #32

Post by Greenbeard »

mbl020980 wrote:...you use the term "no evidence" in your definition of blind faith and "logical proof" in your definition of faith. Are "evidence" and "logical proof" are synonymous? If they are, then your argument is a non sequitur. If they are not synonymous, then your burden is to differentiate between the two for your audience. You need to show how a "faith" could be based on "no evidence" but still be supported by "logical proof." We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.
Are you perhaps confusing "faith" with "trust?"


I agree that this seems like an ad hoc distinction and needs an explanation. But I'll even add to the confusion. I like to make a further distinction between "faith based on no evidence" and "faith in spite of, or in the face of [opposing] evidence." In modern debates, the first is found in the form of the god of gaps as still championed by "Nature's Destiny" and the like, in that the faith is based on some item not yet explained scientifically and therefore automatically assumed to be supernatural; whereas the faith in the teeth of evidence is of the sort that still clings to young-earth creationism, trying to explain away data with diluvian concepts, etc.

But at first glance, I don't see any distinction in these three 'faiths' when it comes to using them as a basis for ideas or authority. They still fall short of deserving the attention of non-believers.

Matt

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Post #33

Post by otseng »

mbl020980 wrote:Please give an example of "authority based on [not-blind] faith" that is commonplace.
OK, I'll give one example. The Bush administration undertook a preemptive strike against Iraq without having proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Though they had some evidence (and very weak at that), they did not have any proof.
Having said that, I also take exception to your distinction between "blind faith" and "faith." In the first place, I've never seen this distinction posited elsewhere.
Just because other sites do not make the distinction does not mean it cannot be made here.
But irregardless, you use the term "no evidence" in your definition of blind faith and "logical proof" in your definition of faith.
In the thread I quoted above, the second definition provided of faith is "belief that is not based on proof".
Are "evidence" and "logical proof" are synonymous?
No, it is not synonymous.
If they are not synonymous, then your burden is to differentiate between the two for your audience.
A logical proof is to show something is an incontrovertible fact. For example, I can prove that the sum of the angles of any quadrilateral is 360 degrees. There is a zero percent chance that it is not 360 degrees.

Whereas evidence only provides a certain probability that something is true. All jury trials work this way. The prosecutor doesn't have to prove a defendant is guilty, but just have to convince the jurors that someone is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.
That is what I'm trying to be.

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Post #34

Post by Greenbeard »

otseng wrote:
mbl020980 wrote:Please give an example of "authority based on [not-blind] faith" that is commonplace.

OK, I'll give one example. The Bush administration undertook a preemptive strike against Iraq without having proof that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Though they had some evidence (and very weak at that), they did not have any proof.


First, you say evidence and proof are not synonymous, but then you confuse or conflate evidence and proof. Although you again separate them semantically above, in your first statement only blind faith had to do with evidence, and the merely myopic faith had to do with logical proof. Keep in mind that even massive supportive evidence would not be the logical proof that you mentioned in the previous post. It is supportive evidence. Beyond that, even the original premise & conclusion (that, if he has weapons, we should attack - a definite non-sequitur) could be questioned despite the presence of incontrovertable evidence.

Secondly, the basis of Bush's authority is not any evidence of anything, but that he was voted into office by the amazing people of this country.

As to the illegal invasion of a foreign country, this is a decision by someone in authority, not the authority itself. Some would argue that he had no authority to do this (me). Even in looking for a basis for decision-making there are many alternative explanations, only some of which have to do with evidence. It could be that Bush just wanted to invade and implement "the final solution" concerning Saddam Hussein, and that he either was grasping at any available excuse, or lied outright (or both), and then abused his elected authority to justify an illegal action. This seemed the most likely to me right from the start (and I'll go with both). After this did not pan out, he just claimed that god instructed him to invade Iraq. I think this would also qualify as a faith-based reasoning. Either way, very poor 'reasoning' indeed.

I was going to go further, but it is obvious that, at least for me (since it's a touchy subject) Bush's Operation Enduring Freedom (can you believe that one?) is a red herring, leading far afield. But it does provide a perfect example of why faith of any kind is a poor basis for anything: legal authority, decision-making...

In summary: 1) is evidence synonymous with proof?; 2)Bush's authority is different than Bush's decision (he is the decider); 3) Although Bush's illegal act is a big red herring, it does demonstrate the inadequacy of faith as a basis for anything.

Matt

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Post #35

Post by otseng »

I think we need to first come to a consensus on what exactly is meant by "faith". I've reiterated the definition "belief that is not based on proof". What exactly does everyone else mean by "faith"?

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Post #36

Post by Cathar1950 »

otseng wrote:I think we need to first come to a consensus on what exactly is meant by "faith". I've reiterated the definition "belief that is not based on proof". What exactly does everyone else mean by "faith"?
It would be nice.
I tend to like the idea of faithfulness.
Usually faith is treated like a proposition where I think trust is a better idea.
Did Abraham believe in God or did he trust him?
Was he made right or did he count it as doing right?

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Post #37

Post by McCulloch »

otseng wrote:I think we need to first come to a consensus on what exactly is meant by "faith". I've reiterated the definition "belief that is not based on proof". What exactly does everyone else mean by "faith"?
To me faith is applying a greater probability to the truth of a proposition than is warranted by the evidence. For instance, the faithful have a sure and certain hope for a future resurrection, yet at best, the probability of a future resurrection based on the evidence is less than one.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #38

Post by mbl020980 »

otseng wrote: OK, I'll give one example. The Bush administration undertook a preemptive strike against Iraq without having proof (my emphasis) that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Though they had some evidence (and very weak at that), they did not have any proof.
Are you using your definition of "logical proof" here or another new one? By your definition, logical proof would be "an incontrovertible fact" with "zero percent chance" of error. That's a standard of proof that most would agree is unreasonable in the context of such a decision. Did you perhaps mean to say “evidence” instead of “proof?” I’m trying to apply the definitions you supplied, here.

At any rate, “authority based on blind faith” (absolutely no evidence) would still describe any authority granted to religious institutions.
mbl wrote: Having said that, I also take exception to your distinction between "blind faith" and "faith." In the first place, I've never seen this distinction posited elsewhere.
otseng wrote: Just because other sites do not make the distinction does not mean it cannot be made here.
Yes, and I suppose we can all start making up terms and defining them to suit our arguments, but I think the only way we’ll make progress here is if we eschew semantic games and conduct an honest, forthright debate.

mbl wrote:We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.
otseng wrote:That is what I'm trying to be.
Nice try.

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Post #39

Post by mbl020980 »

otseng wrote: OK, I'll give one example. The Bush administration undertook a preemptive strike against Iraq without having proof (my emphasis) that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Though they had some evidence (and very weak at that), they did not have any proof.
Are you using your definition of "logical proof" here or another new one? By your definition, logical proof would be "an incontrovertible fact" with "zero percent chance" of error. That's a standard of proof that most would agree is unreasonable in the context of such a decision. Did you perhaps mean to say “evidence” instead of “proof?” I’m trying to apply the definitions you supplied, here.

At any rate, “authority based on blind faith” (absolutely no evidence) would still describe any authority granted to religious institutions.
mbl wrote: Having said that, I also take exception to your distinction between "blind faith" and "faith." In the first place, I've never seen this distinction posited elsewhere.
otseng wrote: Just because other sites do not make the distinction does not mean it cannot be made here.
Yes, I suppose we can all start making up terms and defining them to suit our arguments, but I think the only way we’ll make progress here is if we eschew semantic games and conduct an honest, forthright debate.

mbl wrote:We need to be very precise in our definition of terms if we are to conduct a rational debate.
otseng wrote:That is what I'm trying to be.
Nice try.

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Post #40

Post by FinalEnigma »

I think ill take a shot at definitions here. Maybe the ones from my philosophy 101 class would work :) (with the same examples, because im terrible at descriptions)

Faith-acceptance of one outcome or another of a given question without having truly sufficient evidence to support either one.

Example- your best friend tells you that they thought they saw your significant other kissing someone at the mall, but they didn't get a really good look.
Your response- You must have been mistaken. My significant other wouldn't cheat on me.

Blind faith-Acceptance of one or another outcome of a given question completely regardless of any and all evidence either way

Example- Your same best friend brings you clear pictures of your significant other kissing someone at the mall in a very intimate manner, along with an incriminating tape-recorded conversation between them.
Your response-Those must be fakes. Theres no way they would possibly cheat on me. You must be lying, or it's a set-up.

Those definitions work?


I dont really see where a definition of faith would be possible where you include said faith to be in something for which you have any kind of significant, unchallenged evidence. I dont even know what christians mean when they say faith anymore because it doesnt seem to make sense. Believing/accepting(possibly cautiously) something that has all kinds of evidence pointing toward it,(though without actual 'proof) is not faith by my understanding. its being reasonable.

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