question for all non-theists

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jmac2112
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question for all non-theists

Post #1

Post by jmac2112 »

I'm looking for definitions or accounts of "truth" from anyone who holds the view that nothing exists beyond the natural world, or that at any rate we cannot know whether anything exists beyond the natural world. I'd appreciate it if you could distinguish between "theoretical/factual" truth (A is B) and moral truth (i.e. matters of good/bad, right/wrong, what "should" be done).

Thanks!

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Post #31

Post by jmac2112 »

The main problem I see with this view is that there seems to be no reason to stop at the assertion that we have no free will. Why is not ALL of our mental activity equally determined, including our (seeming) attempts to gain knowledge through reason?

If two people presented with the same data come to different conclusions concerning some question, it can't be because one or the other (or both) of them has failed to see the "truth". There was never any question that each of them would reach the conclusion that he did in fact reach. It can't be the case that some people have "better" brains than others, since that would mean that we are measuring their "truth"-reaching capacity against some absolute, independent standard, when "in fact" (notice all the irony going on here?) the "truth" is that each of us has a brain that has been "programmed" to react in certain ways when presented with certain stimuli. To the extent that one brain is different from another, it will reach different conclusions, but the "fact" is that no brain can be "right" or "wrong" about anything--it can only reach conclusions that are either the same as or different from the conclusions reached by any other brain.

The only way in which we could say that B.F. Skinner reached the "truth" is to say that his thoughts were "true" to themselves, which is to say that they were identical with themselves. His thoughts were certainly different from those of the majority of people in his day (or even today, for that matter), but some people who have come in contact with his ideas have come to think the same way that he did. This was not by "choice", of course, but by necessity.

So, it seems to me that people such as B.F. Skinner are trying to persuade me of the “truth� that there is no truth, and that notions such as “persuasion� and “demonstration� (to say nothing of “responsibility�) are illusions. The mind reels under the strain of cognitive dissonance….

Does that make "sense"?
:-k

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #32

Post by wiploc »

Goat wrote: WHen someone talks about 'moral truth', I back away, keep my hand on my wallet, and my back against the wall, cause they aren't trustworthy.
This seems a self-refuting position. Anyone who accepted your claim would have to believe that you are untrustworthy.

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #33

Post by Goat »

wiploc wrote:
Goat wrote: WHen someone talks about 'moral truth', I back away, keep my hand on my wallet, and my back against the wall, cause they aren't trustworthy.
This seems a self-refuting position. Anyone who accepted your claim would have to believe that you are untrustworthy.
Excepting, I don't speak about 'moral truth'. My reaction is not a 'moral truth', but rather pure self interest. There in lies the difference.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #34

Post by wiploc »

[Replying to post 33 by Goat]

It seems to me that you're claiming that the nature of moral truth is such that only unreliable people talk about it.

If that's not your point, if you aren't talking about the nature of moral truth, then what? Are you pointing out a statistical implausibility, like, "By a weird fluke, only short people like chocolate chips"? Because that's the only other interpretation of your post that I can see: "This has nothing to do with the nature of moral truth. It's just a weird coincidence that only unreliable people talk about that subject."

Either way, it seems like a self-defeating position. I don't see how you escape your charge that you are unreliable.

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #35

Post by Goat »

wiploc wrote: [Replying to post 33 by Goat]

It seems to me that you're claiming that the nature of moral truth is such that only unreliable people talk about it.

If that's not your point, if you aren't talking about the nature of moral truth, then what? Are you pointing out a statistical implausibility, like, "By a weird fluke, only short people like chocolate chips"? Because that's the only other interpretation of your post that I can see: "This has nothing to do with the nature of moral truth. It's just a weird coincidence that only unreliable people talk about that subject."

Either way, it seems like a self-defeating position. I don't see how you escape your charge that you are unreliable.
If you continually wish to misrepresent my position, that is your prerogative. On the other hand, that does cut down on the opportunity for discourse.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #36

Post by wiploc »

Goat wrote:
wiploc wrote: [Replying to post 33 by Goat]

It seems to me that you're claiming that the nature of moral truth is such that only unreliable people talk about it.

If that's not your point, if you aren't talking about the nature of moral truth, then what? Are you pointing out a statistical implausibility, like, "By a weird fluke, only short people like chocolate chips"? Because that's the only other interpretation of your post that I can see: "This has nothing to do with the nature of moral truth. It's just a weird coincidence that only unreliable people talk about that subject."

Either way, it seems like a self-defeating position. I don't see how you escape your charge that you are unreliable.
If you continually wish to misrepresent my position, that is your prerogative. On the other hand, that does cut down on the opportunity for discourse.
Well that's frustrating. Goat claims that people who talk about moral truth are unreliable.

[quote = Goat]WHen someone talks about 'moral truth', I back away, keep my hand on my wallet, and my back against the wall, cause they aren't trustworthy. [/quote]

Then he said that making this claim doesn't make him unreliable, because he isn't talking about moral truth.

What is he talking about then?

These are interpretations that he rejects:

- He says he isn't saying that the nature of moral truth is such that only unreliable people talk about it.

- He says he also isn't saying that this some statistical fluke such that it's only a matter of chance that only unreliable people talk about moral truth.

He declines to clarify himself, though he has been offered the opportunity.

Can anybody else offer a third interpretation of Goat's claim?

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #37

Post by Tired of the Nonsense »

[Replying to jmac2112]

Truth can be found the the complete and accurate description of an event or a physical condition. Everything else is an opinion.
Image "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." -- Albert Einstein -- Written in 1954 to Jewish philosopher Erik Gutkind.

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Re: question for all non-theists

Post #38

Post by Jashwell »

jmac2112 wrote: I'm looking for definitions or accounts of "truth" from anyone who holds the view that nothing exists beyond the natural world, or that at any rate we cannot know whether anything exists beyond the natural world. I'd appreciate it if you could distinguish between "theoretical/factual" truth (A is B) and moral truth (i.e. matters of good/bad, right/wrong, what "should" be done).

Thanks!
(This is an example, I disagree with premise 1, there are scenarios in which it is false)
Premise 1: Death ought be avoided
Premise 2: Murder leads to death
Conclusion: Murder ought be avoided

Moral truth is a form of logic whereby one or more premises establishes a desired modus operandi such as "Death ought be avoided", "Death is bad", and all other premises are based on physical claims that are scientifically verified.

Of course, the nature of the premises such as "Death ought be avoided" is one that cannot be established independent of a core belief.

If by subjective, one means "dependent on which person is asked", then this need not be subjective.
For instance - there are core beliefs that all humans share, by psychological necessity, such as "A is A". This is an example of core belief that cannot be evidenced or proven - but it is clearly justified as it is not possible to think otherwise.

What someone desires is what they believe ought be achieved.
A desire is a goal.
People desire increased happiness for, at the very least, themselves.
It would not be happiness if it was not partially desired.
Though it should be noted that what we think we want and what we actually want often are in misalignment.

Given this, by definition we ought to seek the maximal level of happiness. (at this point, for ourselves)

But, in order to reach a maximal level of happiness, we must take into account empathy and game theory.
Empathy shows us that our own happiness may be inextricably linked to the happiness of others.
Game theory shows us that what seems like an obviously beneficial choice may not be as beneficial as we think. Often, one must take other goals into account in order to increase their own goal.

(It's possible that game theory could lead to empathy)

Given empathy, seeking happiness for ourselves leads us to seek happiness for others.
We could also desire the happiness of others for miscellaneous reasons.

Given game theory, something that temporarily gives ourselves the maximal level of happiness might not give us the maximal level of happiness for longer durations of time.
An example is a dictator - it might seem like this logically follows from seeking maximal happiness for yourself, and potentially even if you have limited empathy for family and friends (whom you might privilege), but often happiness emerges from conflicting or limited resources. Wealth is an example. Freedom is another.
So in order for other people to achieve happiness - which they will attempt to do - they may seek to remove your happiness, if it is "in their way".
The more you privilege yourself, the more people you turn against you.
Given this, the best way to live is to generally maximise the average amount of happiness.

But you might get the impression that this could link to privileging a specific group. However, this is rarely the case. Often, the best way to maximise the average amount of happiness is simply to make a system fair for everyone.

The happiness a group of people might find in persecuting someone often won't outweigh the problems caused by persecution. If, for example, we allowed discrimination against atheism by public services, then it sets up a standard for potential discrimination against other theological positions.

Generally, the best way to think about what ought be achieved, is to consider the veil of ignorance. The basic principle is that in order to make a system that is as good for everyone as possible, we should pretend we do not know any of the features that distinguish us from one another. For example, our religious beliefs.
It is described by John Rawls that "no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status; nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength, and the like"
Under this, the idea of religious persecution is not a good one - we might think in our veiled thought experiment, "I don't know if I am an atheist or a Christian - is it better for me to persecute atheists, Christians, or neither?" - the best answer is of course neither.

Effectively, moral truth works not in the sense that it would be true "independent of what any and all persons believe to be the case", but this does not put in the position "dependent on what an individual believes".

It is dependent on the shared values of everyone. Many of which could be said to depend on merely being a person, and we are all people.

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Post #39

Post by Hatuey »

My biggest issue with "moral truth," is that most people who claim it exists also claim that their own god (who provided it) is exempt from it. They say, "God made 'moral truth' and it's always the right thing....except when god violates it....then it's ok.....because.....well.....you know.....he's really big and mean and he can slaughter people and torture them forever in lakes of fire if he wants to.....he's kinda exempt from 'moral truth' because he's so mean and scawy to people who don't talk good about him at least twelve times a day...."

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Post #40

Post by Robert Baird »

I have not seen the New Thread icon in the upper left. I would create a new thread but this might serve well, because though I believe NOTHING (it is closure) I would say I am a non-theist despite having the opinion science and spirituality can or soon will explain Gaia).

The Three Wise Men


Bucephalus was a smart horse and the importance of the horse to the Kelts is very evident in many of the burial kurgans or tumuli. I liked the story of this horse when I read about Alexander as a pre-teen.

I think Aristotle received a Bardic peryllat education just as Pythagoras did not long before his time. However, it is said that he was a person who went along with the Greek program against women so I could be wrong. Like Thales we find Pythagoras had a Phoenician parent.

The practice of making a ship's company, military, commercial enterprise, or even missionary effort into a hodgepodge of 'brothers' from all manner of ethnic groups made communication difficult. Yet, the songs of various people would find group enjoyment and build togetherness. In cases where the separate genders were involved this also made for a mingling the egalitarian Kelts encouraged. The more sinister aspects of this policy may have developed in later times. The secret projects and trading enterprises including drug manufacture and the potions passed off as helpful, needed to be done so that the 'bosses' or elite who made the lions share of the profit didn't have to worry about anyone getting all the knowledge. That might put common people in a position to make challenges, to the control of the elite. It also made it so that the powers that be could cut one or more persons out of their just rewards and have less compunction or concern about a backlash. For example the man who changed his name to Juan de Fuca and whose name is associated with the Pacific Northwest, was a Greek sailor named Apostolonos Valerianos and the Spanish Government never paid him for his efforts.

When Did Education Become A Tool of Deceit?

Insular is the English language in its formative stages which was developed in Ireland according to the unbiased research of University of Colorado Professor of Library Sciences J. D. A. Ogilvy's Books Known to the English. Uncial is the script used in writing Bibles and other dogma in early Christian times while Ireland seems to have been used or part of the deal with Rome; in return for not being attacked as viciously as they would have been. I have seen some other scholars mention this deal, but how can it be proven?

The Kelts (Phoenicians) were very interested in helping heal the people of their community. They taught wholistics and herbal remedies and tried to make people into informed consumers of all knowledge. They had the first hospitals, but most importantly they had the best university or educational system including scientific research. The incorporation of knowledge into the languages and alphabets included the harmonics we now are beginning to understand as a result of quantum physics. People had a real spiritual education just through the rhythm and voice of their everyday sharing through talking and singing. Beyond that they were encouraged and enabled as a complete society.

The Greeks and others were making it illegal and worse for women to get an education. They felt women were dangerous and should be guarded against due to their superior intuition (through training this need not be a gender advantage). It wasn't until the 20th Century that anything close to a fair and liberal education system for all people was instituted and by that time the spiritual was beaten out of us. Needless to say there are large parts of the world where the matter of educating women is still worse than merely feudal. How can a man learn all the wonder of life if he engages in this treatment of his sister? Who really believes in an immortal soul if they do this to other humans? We are not just male or female, here or in the hereafter. This is known in the Tao and in all adepthoods throughout time.

Pythagoras learned much from or under the direction of Abaris (Rabbi) the Druid from Hyperborean or Scythian (northern regions) places. Hecateus identifies Abaris as a Druid, and that he was, even if he was a 'kapnobatai' from Thrace. Hecateus himself was a Basilidae (Might include the highly political recent find called the Yingpan Man; he has a Greek appearance and burial mask and is another of the Red-Heads.) who much later became the Basilian Fathers of the Catholic hegemony. Pythagoras' travels in his educational process indicate all the other Druidic influenced or associated schools. In Egypt at the Great Pyramid, he learned to surpass all the local priests. Some say he even met Zoroaster in person. The Magi of Zoroaster are in the 'peryllat' or alchemic mold of the Druidic and shamanic studies. Their Taoist and Sarman through Dervish and Yoga influences are what make the Enneagrams so interesting. His involvement with the Orphic School is most closely associated with the Bairds of the Druidic structure. Again, names can confuse either intentionally or just through the nature of languages and cultural differences, but the knowledge is very similar. The Foundation, Builders, Atlanteans, or what I call the Phoenician Brotherhood kept the knowledge pipelines open before Empire became ascendant. Mani was a Zoroastrian who later tried to recreate the ethic of brotherhood by joining it and Christianity. He was stabbed in the back by one of his own - Augustine!

Some modern scholars take the words of Pythagoras' detractors who would have us believe he was a misogynist or prejudiced against women. But I think he was a progressive. It is certain women were allowed to be educated with his other students when he relocated to Croton (Bruttium), Italy. Here the knowledge of the Great Pyramid was able to flourish and grow. He is acknowledged as a great sage through all time. However, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates who followed him are just as important. As students of history and man's culture we must understand the impact these great people had on our current society. You will see why, if you do not already. Clearly education was a tool of programming or propaganda and Socrates would not 'toe the line'. He probably wasn't the first to drink hemlock or go against the priestly politicos but his story is inspiring to people like me.

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