Junaman thread – Empiricism vs. Rationalism – Pt 5

The formatting always gets lost in translation… even with html. Bleh.

The tags are a good indicator of what this thread’s about (maybe will work on a summary later).

A: It’s fine, I suppose. But the longer it takes, the more disingenuous your pursuit of “exposing incompetence”, as it were, will look (recent post(s) nonwithstanding).

J: You put a bit much weight on a tagline…

That’s not just a tagline… it’s also the title of your blog.

…How is this conversation exposing incompetence.

Well, that one should be obvious. The incompetence comes in the form of dogmaticism regarding the “ultimate truth” of science, which is implied from your For Christians page.

The real incompetence is not whether you believe in a god [or not], but what you use that belief for, what objective you try to achieve with that belief.

I can agree if you’re referring to “amoralism”, e.g. in the case of Hitler and Bush. I don’t think proselytising necessarily bring you to the same conclusion.

And perhaps the Dawkins idea, that any ignorant belief of this kind safeguards extremism.

Yes – this is just a a restatement of the dogmaticism idea – it should be categorically avoided. But at times it is not possible.

I’m sure that you agree that your beliefs differ from most other people of your faith (in my experience, at least), and there is no incompetence in a rational conversation…

In the US, I’d say yeah. There is (fortunately and unfortunately) a greater tradition of evangelical fundamentalism dating back to the colonial period which arose as a counter-revolution to the Age of Enlightenment.

A: … and modern atheists tend to call it the “opiate of the masses”. Key word there is “masses”: have you ever heard of a “mass hallucination”?

I put the quote back in to say that this was more a reference to first century Christianity than mysticism in general. The next quote was moved to provide context:

A: Take a look at the genesis of first century Christianity (comment from another site | Acts and letter to Corinthians. Then the explosive growth).

J: What do you intend to prove with bible quotes? You can see the inconsistencies in the bible in the same place where you started this discussion.

6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

I would argue that “inconsistencies” in the verses, first of all, are the improper application of hermeneutics, if at all. Secondly,

J:First of all, not all religious people claim they have “seen” or “experienced” god,

A:This is true, but…

J:secondly the ones who have can all claim they saw different things,

A:…this is a generalization, which leads you to inaccurately conclude…

J: no one’s belief is truly identical to another’s, hence is it really a “mass hallucination”, or just different people hallucinating different things.

Mass hallucination?

As I said above, people can be manipulated… doesn’t mean they all saw the exact same thing in a hallucination…

…in the case of first century Christianity, the verses prove that it was indeed a “mass hallucination”: specifically, the belief was that, to the >500 people who ate, drank, spoke, and/or touched Jesus after his crucifixion, that he had in fact resurrected from the dead. The belief was in fact identical… similarly, “Jesus never existed” or “God is dead” is another belief which can be made identical.

Of course, if you’re talking about belief systems, that’s obviously another story. In the case of Christianity, I think uniformity is a good indication of dogmaticism/brainwashing. I think it can be deduced through the New Testament letters that such a condition didn’t exist.

Diversity (uniqueness) of good/godly practice, in true Christianity, comes as a result of a living God residing in you – the Holy Spirit. But diversity of beliefs come as a result of improper hermeneutical (rational) application.

I still think that no two beliefs are completely identical… they may be made to conform to a common one, and some are more easily swayed than others, but I think that the mind is capable of producing unique thought…

The mind is capable of producing uniquely good thought (incarnated by practice) in the context of different belief systems, simply because no two real-world situations are alike. So the question becomes, can they produce consistently good, unique thought, loving and serving others, taking no credit for themselves; or, do they revel in serving others for their own ends (like politicians)? Clearly we’ve seen more the case of the latter (as opposed to the Judaic ontic assertion that humans have all sinned).

A: “‘idea’ of god”: rationalism:: Evolution: theory (refer to my comment halfway down). See here why “theory” is the appropriate scientific relegation for evolution.

J: What do you mean to say by this?
Yes, evolution is a theory, but is god a “proven hypothesis”?

Evolution is a proven hypothesis, not a scientific law. God is also a proven hypothesis – but not using the scientific method. Instead a different rubric – rationalism – is used.

A: It’s a counter to the [read: your] basic idea [read: what seems to be your understanding] that empiricism (vs. the “rationalism of science”) is inherently fallacious. It also serves to demonstrate your level of understanding since I first used the terms in the thread.

J: Perhaps it is not inherently fallacious, but I feel that empiricism can, and has been, used as a tool to manipulate people. That is why knowledge obtained through it can be dangerous.

Yes, but you cast “manipulation” in a negative light far too often. It happens all the time in one situation which you probably don’t think of too often (or if you do, also in a negative light) – parentage.

Do you think the mother who raised her child as a baby now disciplines him to bring him/her to a state of despair or self-destruction? No! (Unless you’re speaking of familialism, which is another matter altogether). Instead the mother, more often than not, does this for the social benefit of her child, as if to paradoxically protect him. This is the result of parental love (often guided by empiricism).

So manipulation isn’t wrong by default. Parental discipline is the result of love, which is understood empirically. Manipulation where people act as if they are God is where the problem lies – which is why teachers have such a great responsibility.

By their fruit you will recognize them. Matt 7:16a

A: To explain: “rational” means, basically, “consistent with or based on or using reasoning” (reference). “Knowledge”, on the other hand, can be defined as […onwards]

J: Fair enough

Obviously your knowledge and understanding of epistemology far outweighs my own…

You shouldn’t look at it that way. Most of the understanding of the nature of rationalism and empiricism can be done inductively. It’s a matter of willingness on your part to go through and empirically analyze some of your most deeply-held beliefs.

Believe it or not, you’ll find that some (or maybe a lot) of the things you believe are actually a reflection of faith in your teachers (a priori/a posteriori knowledge), and perhaps little of your own rationale.

Go through some of your stuff and see if you can identify what epistemic category your ideas fall under (you too, Christians). And lastly, see if you can form an exemplary model from them to live by.

I think you will find that Jesus overwhelmingly meets all the above criteria.

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6 thoughts on “Junaman thread – Empiricism vs. Rationalism – Pt 5

  1. Hi Albert.

    Could you kindly direct me to the article where you proved that rationalism could explain the existence of god? Maybe im just not looking at the right places. I sincerely want to see how you’re going about this. Peace.

    Reply
  2. Hey Ben,

    I don’t have it specifically in an article; it’s a proof, akin to an equation. Colloquially, it’s really just called “common sense” or “logic”. So, for an example of a purely rationalist proof, look at comment #33 of your post. It says:

    Let’s assume one of the properties of God is absolute objectivity. By this property, it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe he exists, he just does.

    Since an “absolute objectivity” is totally outside the realm of our existence/sensory capacity, whether or not we believe has no inkling on his existence. Now, if you’re a functional materialist, like my acquaintance Brett Keller, you might eliminate that assumption, but then you run into the problem of such scientifically hypothesized existences such as dark matter and mirror particles.

    Reply
  3. Let’s assume one of the properties of God is absolute objectivity. By this property, it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe he exists, he just does.

    I feel that is too broad a statement to justify god in rationalist terms.
    I mean really it could apply to anything:

    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in invisible pixies, they just do.” Or
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not I believe there’s an invisible machine gun wielding maniac in my room, he just does”
    Or most frighteningly:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in a magical omni[insert word] being who demands you sacrifice all your money and your whole family to him, he just does”

    I don’t see this as proof of god…

    So manipulation isn’t wrong by default.

    Not by default but in the majority of situations…
    I think it will suffice to say that (practically) every war has been caused by manipulation of sorts…

    …in the case of first century Christianity, the verses prove that it was indeed a “mass hallucination”: specifically, the belief was that, to the >500 people who ate, drank, spoke, and/or touched Jesus after his crucifixion, that he had in fact resurrected from the dead. The belief was in fact identical… similarly, “Jesus never existed” or “God is dead” is another belief which can be made identical.

    Yes, but the bible says many things… It was written by man, making it flawed, was it not? Hence also leading you to question which parts you should believe in or not?
    Or is everything you believe perfect, and everything you don’t caused by human error?
    (Sorry if that sounds offensive).

    Anything could be written in the bible. Saying that 500 people saw god at once could be one guy making this up, or Chinese whispers being played by 500 people.
    Also, the limit of what people will do to conform is astonishing…

    That’s not just a tagline… it’s also the title [only category] of your blog.

    Only because I can’t be bothered re categorising everything…

    Sorry for the not linear order of the arguments

    Reply
  4. A: Let’s assume one of the properties of God is absolute objectivity. By this property, it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe he exists, he just does.

    J: I feel that is too broad a statement to justify god in rationalist terms.

    That’s what makes it rationalist, as opposed to rational empiricism. In paganism, God is an abstract entity with no interest in human affairs. I think my example was a good exemplification of that.

    J cont’d: I mean really it could apply to anything:

    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in invisible pixies, they just do.”
    Or
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not I believe there’s an invisible machine gun wielding maniac in my room, he just does”
    Or most frighteningly:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in a magical omni[insert word] being who demands you sacrifice all your money and your whole family to him, he just does”

    Not quite – the rhetoric is a far cry from a rationalist proof, which I’ve demonstrated.

    I don’t see this as proof of god…

    Define “proof” so that we can be on the same page.

    A: So manipulation isn’t wrong by default.

    J: Not by default but in the majority of situations…

    I think it will suffice to say that (practically) every war has been caused by manipulation of sorts…

    But the main idea is that you say you subscribe to “objectivity” when the real issue at hand is “Truth” (that which is absolutely true/inerrant, which in turn colors beliefs of origin, afterlife, the metaphysical, etc.).

    The example of love from a parent to a child is often comes in the form of positive manipulation (from the parent’s perspective). The parent who goes to the extreme to sacrifice his/her life for the child demonstrates the extent of her love… similarly, I think the extent to which you genuinely love people is also demonstrated by this extreme. Jesus overwhelmingly meets this criteria.

    A: …in the case of first century Christianity, the verses prove that it was indeed a “mass hallucination”: specifically, the belief was that, to the >500 people who ate, drank, spoke, and/or touched Jesus after his crucifixion, that he had in fact resurrected from the dead. The belief was in fact identical… similarly, “Jesus never existed” or “God is dead” is another belief which can be made identical.

    J: Yes, but the bible says many things… It was written by man, making it flawed, was it not? Hence also leading you to question which parts you should believe in or not?
    Or is everything you believe perfect, and everything you don’t caused by human error?
    (Sorry if that sounds offensive).

    It depends on what your definition of “flawed” is. If you see “flaw” as being, say, “written in an inebriated state”, then no, it’s has no flaw. If, on the other hand, your assertion deals with minor grammatical/typographical issues in the copies, then I can agree with you. But the major themes, ideas, etc. are not lost whatsoever.

    Addressing your second and third questions: “which parts should you believe in or not? Or is everything you believe perfect, and everything you don’t caused by human error?” Well, to be concise, Christianity is at its core not a matter of “believing the Bible”; it is a belief in Jesus as a problem to the dilemma of demonstrably recurring sin. Incarnated, it is a lifestyle, a process – not a matter of dogma or seat of judgement. The righteousness is ascribed, not achieved. [Rom 5:17, 10:4, et. al]

    It is a process which at its genesis is a change of heart, which is guided and becomes further refined by the Spirit. [ref: Gal. 5:22]
    It is also imperfect – we never get to see the finished product (not here, at least). [ref: 1 Cor 13:12] This is where human error becomes a factor (the belief is wrong or person is driven by impure motives, whereby the practice is wrong).

    This is why the Christian should be in the continual process of refinement – being not God, we must strive after the example of Jesus as much as humanly possible.

    J: Anything could be written in the bible. Saying that 500 people saw god at once could be one guy making this up, or Chinese whispers being played by 500 people.
    Also, the limit of what people will do to conform is astonishing…

    Apply that test to Shakespeare and see if you get the same result. Did he really exist? How many of the plays did he really write? Why are there such marked difference between the manuscripts, etc.

    Regarding your last comment, I think Jesus was probably the furthest from conformity as could be possible. I myself am a non-conformist (take a look at my apocalypse or conspiracy tags). (Jesus espoused these as well, to varying degrees).

    A: That’s not just a tagline… it’s also the title [only category] of your blog.

    J: Only because I can’t be bothered re categorising everything…

    The point is proven regardless – one which you didn’t address in your response:

    J: …How is this conversation exposing incompetence.

    A: Well, that one should be obvious. The incompetence comes in the form of dogmaticism regarding the “ultimate truth” of science, which is implied from your For Christians page.

    J: Sorry for the not linear order of the arguments

    That’s fine. I’d appreciate it more if you responded to more of the points, though.

    Reply
  5. I didn’t disable pings so I don’t know why that didn’t come through…

    J cont’d: I mean really it could apply to anything:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in invisible pixies, they just do.”
    Or
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not I believe there’s an invisible machine gun wielding maniac in my room, he just does”
    Or most frighteningly:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in a magical omni[insert word] being who demands you sacrifice all your money and your whole family to him, he just does”
    A: Not quite – the rhetoric is a far cry from a rationalist proof, which I’ve demonstrated.

    How so? The rhetoric is exactly the same as what you used to describe this “god”, so why can’t god be a pixie, or a flying spaghetti monster?
    I mean the same rhetoric applies to everything that does exist, like this chair would exist regardless of my belief in it. So how is the unnatural any different? Specifically how is god, any different from any other being I described?

    A: Let’s assume one of the properties of God is absolute objectivity. By this property, it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe he exists, he just does.

    Referring back to your original statement, it really begs the question “why Christianity?” and not agnosticism, for example…

    But the main idea is that you say you subscribe to “objectivity” when the real issue at hand is “Truth” (that which is absolutely true/inerrant, which in turn colors beliefs of origin, afterlife, the metaphysical, etc.).

    We both know that our world is far from inerrant… And subscribing to objectivity often has better consequences than being an idealist.

    The example of love from a parent to a child is often comes in the form of positive manipulation (from the parent’s perspective). The parent who goes to the extreme to sacrifice his/her life for the child demonstrates the extent of her love… similarly, I think the extent to which you genuinely love people is also demonstrated by this extreme. Jesus overwhelmingly meets this criteria.

    Sure, Jesus may be full of love, and have great teachings, but how does this make him god?

    It depends on what your definition of “flawed” is. If you see “flaw” as being, say, “written in an inebriated state”, then no, it’s has no flaw. If, on the other hand, your assertion deals with minor grammatical/typographical issues in the copies, then I can agree with you. But the major themes, ideas, etc. are not lost whatsoever.

    How about flawed as in direct contradictions to other verses?
    How about “god” advocating things, which today are considered absurd? If god is perfect then isn’t the time frame irrelevant?

    Addressing your second and third questions: “which parts should you believe in or not? Or is everything you believe perfect, and everything you don’t caused by human error?” Well, to be concise, Christianity is at its core not a matter of “believing the Bible”; it is a belief in Jesus as a problem to the dilemma of demonstrably recurring sin. Incarnated, it is a lifestyle, a process – not a matter of dogma or seat of judgement. The righteousness is ascribed, not achieved. [Rom 5:17, 10:4, et. al]

    Alright, so you’re saying that Christianity is not about believing in the bible, and then directing me to a bible quote to back that statement up… Come on…
    Your only source about not believing in the bible comes from the bible itself…
    Same thing with Jesus. If it’s not about believing in the bible, all your references to Jesus are gone…

    Apply that test to Shakespeare and see if you get the same result. Did he really exist? How many of the plays did he really write? Why are there such marked difference between the manuscripts, etc.

    Shakespeare’s work is usually classified as fiction, mainly due to just those questions. If I could find the bible in the same section of my local library I would have no problem with anything in it…
    People don’t “worship” Shakespeare, or follow his works… What he writes is irrelevant really…

    Regarding your last comment, I think Jesus was probably the furthest from conformity as could be possible.

    Jesus perhaps, but his followers, especially those a bit later on are another matter…

    Reply
  6. J: I didn’t disable pings so I don’t know why that didn’t come through…

    I think it might be because it was already pinged. In any case…

    J cont’d: I mean really it could apply to anything:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in invisible pixies, they just do.”
    Or
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not I believe there’s an invisible machine gun wielding maniac in my room, he just does”
    Or most frighteningly:
    “It doesn’t matter whether or not we believe in a magical omni[insert word] being who demands you sacrifice all your money and your whole family to him, he just does”
    A: Not quite – the rhetoric is a far cry from a rationalist proof, which I’ve demonstrated.

    J: How so? The rhetoric is exactly the same as what you used to describe this “god”, so why can’t god be a pixie, or a flying spaghetti monster?

    You allude to God as a metaphor for wishful thinking and myth. The rhetoric I use is specifically logical rationalism.

    I mean the same rhetoric applies to everything that does exist, like this chair would exist regardless of my belief in it. So how is the unnatural any different? Specifically how is god, any different from any other being I described?

    Again, a “chair” is a far cry from an absolute objectivity, which by definition is outside the plane of our existence. Flying spaghetti monsters and pixies, sadly, fail this test as well.

    A: Let’s assume one of the properties of God is absolute objectivity. By this property, it doesn’t matter whether or not we believe he exists, he just does.
    J: Referring back to your original statement, it really begs the question “why Christianity?” and not agnosticism, for example…

    The rationalist proof wasn’t meant specifically to support the Judeo-Christian God, but it can apply nonetheless.

    A: But the main idea is that you say you subscribe to “objectivity” when the real issue at hand is “Truth” (that which is absolutely true/inerrant, which in turn colors beliefs of origin, afterlife, the metaphysical, etc.).
    J: We both know that our world is far from inerrant… And subscribing to objectivity often has better consequences than being an idealist.

    I’m not understanding what you mean by “inerrant”. When I used the term, it was in the context of a absolute metaphysical reality – an unchanging Truth.
    Scientific objectivity can be a great tool for understanding the world, but it still has serious shortcomings – especially in the realm of moral imperatives. To say that it “often has better consequences than being an idealist” is to ignore post-Nietzschean social and geopolitical history.

    A: The example of love from a parent to a child is often comes in the form of positive manipulation (from the parent’s perspective). The parent who goes to the extreme to sacrifice his/her life for the child demonstrates the extent of her love… similarly, I think the extent to which you genuinely love people is also demonstrated by this extreme. Jesus overwhelmingly meets this criteria.
    J: Sure, Jesus may be full of love, and have great teachings, but how does this make him god?

    Okay, so you passively admit that manipulation isn’t wrong by default.
    Jesus being God is the subject of many books, but basically:
    1. virgin birth
    2. his own admittance
    3. miracles
    4. resurrection
    5. fulfillment of prophesies
    6. eyewitness accounts (transfiguration, post-resurrection, miracles, et. al)
    7. failure of lunatic and liar arguments
    There might be a couple others I’m forgetting.

    A: It depends on what your definition of “flawed” is. If you see “flaw” as being, say, “written in an inebriated state”, then no, it’s has no flaw. If, on the other hand, your assertion deals with minor grammatical/typographical issues in the copies, then I can agree with you. But the major themes, ideas, etc. are not lost whatsoever.
    J: How about flawed as in direct contradictions to other verses?
    How about “god” advocating things, which today are considered absurd? If god is perfect then isn’t the time frame irrelevant?

    Is that the only rubric you’re using?
    “Direct contradictions” are often the case of misapplied hermeneutical approach (i.e., not paying attention to context, literary device, lacking reference from whole to part or part to whole, ascribing human characteristics to God, et. al – part and parcel to using the hermeneutical circle).
    Your second reference is just one example of that. I’m assuming you’re talking about the slaughter of the Canaanites during the Israelite wandering years in the desert.
    1. first off, pre-emptive war was justified because God had given them the land, which had previously belonged to a squatting Abraham.
    2. the Canaanites were also by and large a wicked, unrepenting people (meaning they were unlikely to submit to the authority or justice of God on earth).
    3. the Canaanites were not utterly defenseless, meaning that they were legitimately defeated.
    4. God himself sought to create a holy society that would be a beacon to attract outsiders to his presence.
    5. this followed that the society would initially have to be pure – in the Aryan sense.
    6. as a result, God said to take nothing captive, including livestock in some cases.
    7. this also meant that God wanted them to clear the land.
    8. land was claimed by power struggles.
    9. in one instance that I can remember, God sent a spirit to destroy an invading group’s army
    10. some members of the army were left who went back and told their leaders, who stopped their pre-emptive attack.
    There’s more:
    1. To create a holy society, God also killed his own people
    2. the people had complained twice about the different kinds of food they got for free

    A: Addressing your second and third questions: “which parts should you believe in or not? Or is everything you believe perfect, and everything you don’t caused by human error?” Well, to be concise, Christianity is at its core not a matter of “believing the Bible”; it is a belief in Jesus as a problem to the dilemma of demonstrably recurring sin. Incarnated, it is a lifestyle, a process – not a matter of dogma or seat of judgement. The righteousness is ascribed, not achieved. [Rom 5:17, 10:4, et. al]
    J: Alright, so you’re saying that Christianity is not about believing in the bible, and then directing me to a bible quote to back that statement up… Come on…
    Your only source about not believing in the bible comes from the bible itself…
    Same thing with Jesus. If it’s not about believing in the bible, all your references to Jesus are gone…

    The Bible didn’t exist when Jesus was around.

    A: Apply that test to Shakespeare and see if you get the same result. Did he really exist? How many of the plays did he really write? Why are there such marked difference between the manuscripts, etc.
    J: Shakespeare’s work is usually classified as fiction, mainly due to just those questions. If I could find the bible in the same section of my local library I would have no problem with anything in it…
    People don’t “worship” Shakespeare, or follow his works… What he writes is irrelevant really…

    No, it is very relevant. The comparison is made because of the integrity of the manuscripts. Shakespearean manuscripts were known to have major disparities that changed both the meaning of his monologues as well as the words (typography) themselves.
    NT manuscripts typographical mistakes are minimal, and do not change the overall meaning.

    A: Regarding your last comment, I think Jesus was probably the furthest from conformity as could be possible.
    J: Jesus perhaps, but his followers, especially those a bit later on are another matter…

    Jesus was his own example of how religion should be practiced. All else is subject to the rigors of heresy.
    But I agree with your last point. The Crusades were an especially dark age in Christianity that other Christians must learn from (especially American preachers like Ted Haggard and James Dobson).

    Reply

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