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Posts posted by Achilles

  1. So you think I'm dishonest? I presume then you believe yourself to be honest, and you're hoping others will "side with" you for this. Am I missing your tone there?
    Yes, you are. My assertions was that you are not here to debate in good faith. In other words, your mind is already made up, you are closed to (new) evidence, and no amount of sound reasoning will persuade you.


    Not the same thing as saying that you are dishonest (though some might argue that pattern of behavior I described above fits the definition of "intellectual dishonesty").


    Resolving the question of God's existence and whether atheism is a good foundation for one's life won't be resolved in a single thread, and we both know most readers have already made up their mind before they read anything.
    I guess I don't see why such a thing shouldn't be possible. In fact, something as substantive and "obvious" as the existence of a supreme being shouldn't require a great deal of evidence at all (as no other reasonable explanation should exist). To argue that one would need much more than a few bullet points on a single powerpoint slide seems like overkill.


    This is a debate thread, but where's the debate here?
    Great question.


    Great. Full disclosure: I have a bachelors degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Theology (actually "Divinity" which adds courses more akin to pastoral ministry), accredited. That course work includes one in sociology and one in philosophical anthropology, but apart from a course taught by an anthropologist (on Islam), I didn't take any courses strictly on anthropology as a social science. That doesn't make me an expert by any means. I too have been known to dabble and study on my own outside of this, as many people do.
    This is actually very helpful. In our past exchanges, it seemed to me that you had a vested interest in maintaining your position at all costs. Now I understand why.


    It is not merely "the love of wisdom," but an actual field of study and discipline, (to quote dictionary.com a bible of internet debates) "the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct" which of course includes natural, moral and metaphysical respectively. Despite colloquial usage, it is not limited to laboratory work or "musings" on deep subjects.
    I see "rational" in there, but just for clarity: how do you see concepts such as "logic" and "critical thinking" relating to "philosophy"?


    By "straight answers" I hope you don't mean "short answers." ;)
    Nope. Straight answer = not posting 15 lines of word-salad without addressing the question (especially if the question is in a quote box at the top of the post).
  2. It shouldn't be too difficult to read a few posts up, Kurgan. Here, I did it for you (and it didn't even hurt):


    Interesting. If there was no god, how would you know it? If the answer to the question of god's existence was unknowable, would you still be able to find happiness? Neither of these are rhetorical.


    Before we go on...we won't be "going on". I've known you too long to think for one second that you're here to debate in good faith. My sole purpose for responding to your posts is to help new readers figure that as well.


    However, if you truly wish to have a go at it, here's the deal: straight answers are going to be a currency between us. Each of us will have to maintain a balance with the other in order to "make a withdrawal". So...


    No, I do not hold any degrees in philosophy, theology, or anthropology. I do hold both graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business. Course requirements for both included study in ethics/moral philosophy, law, history, and critical thinking - all of which I've continued to study outside of the classroom because I find them interesting. I've also completed coursework in anthropology and sociology and I continue to study those topics as well.


    Straight answers balance: Achilles +1


    Kurgan, before we go on, please operationally define "philosophy".

  3. According to philosophy, we can know (to a reasonable degree of certainty of course) through reason, we don't need to simply perceive the lack of a special revelation (or denial of all alleged revelations) to be disconfirmation of the god hypothesis. Just out of curiosity, is anyone reading this thread a philosophy major or have a degree in it?


    The atheist is either presuming lack of evidence is proof of absence or else is convinced by a philosophical exploration of the question, so I don't see there's any getting around it there. We would never give credit to a creationist who believed evolution was false, simply because he never met a scientist who could adequately convince him of it, especially if he had no understanding of science himself.

    I'm not seeing an answer to either question here.
  4. We are pretty close to the point (if we haven't crossed it already) where we are arguing in circles. I'm going to make one last-ditch effort to make my point and then we'll see where it goes from there.


    A primer on causality:


    A) the sun rises

    B) the rooster crows

    C) the farmer's alarm clock goes off

    D) the farmer wakes up


    Someone with a flawed understanding of causality may argue that A causes B, which causes C, which clauses D.


    Someone with a better understanding of causality understands that A causes B, nothing in this sequence causes C, and while B could be a cause for D, in this example C is the actual cause of D. A and B have a causal relationship. C and D have a causal relationship. There is no overlap between the first causal relationship and the second.


    Now, to bring it home:


    A) Humans are pro-social mammals

    B) Pro-social mammals gain benefits from normative behaviors

    C) Religion provides a framework of normative behaviors

    D) Humans gain benefits from religion


    B happens because A is true. D happens because C also just happens to be true.


    Your "argument" is simply to assert D over and over again. My point is that you can replace the word "religion" in C and D with any other thing that satisfies C and you will get the same result. You seem to think that this constitutes a good reason for thinking that the christian god exists. This cannot be the case if "the thing" in question is your weekly cribbage tournament. "Christianity" is one degree shy of being completely arbitrary at that point. This is why there is no causal relationship between the specific belief in the christian god and happiness; the thing causing the happiness isn't the belief, it's the framework. You're confusing the two.


    Moving on.


    Regarding your sources: They are garbage. I started to make an honest attempt to address the very serious problems with each of them, but honestly, I can't shake the feeling that I would be wasting my time. Not to be insulting, but anyone who posts a Psychology Today link probably isn't going to understand why that's a bad idea, even if it's explained to them.


    If you want the tl;dr version: poor methodology or no methodology provided, blatantly biased samples, no explanation of how results compared to other groups when other factors were controlled for (I've called you out for this last one in other posts. The fact that you didn't acknowledge, counter-argue, or change your tactic is a contributing factor to my assumptions about you above - just in case you try to accuse me of judging you unfairly).




    Let's take a look at christianity. What differentiates christianity from other religions (or what makes christianity "christianity")?


    It's jesus, right? Ok, who is he? Why is he important? Let's talk about that.


    A) christianity is a religion based on the belief that jesus christ is "the savior" (can't tie this back to god - two other religions lay claim to the same abrahamic deity. The thing that makes christianity "christianity" is christ...it's right there in the name).

    B) Acceptance of jesus christ is required for salvation ("salvation"? Salvation from what?)

    C) Salvation is the absolution/forgiveness for one's sins (okay, sounds important, but this doesn't answer my question. What am I being saved from?)

    D) Absolution/forgiveness is required for entrance into heaven in the afterlife (please? the answer to my question now?)

    E) Those not granted into heaven go to hell (sounds...fun. What exactly happens in hell?)

    F) Hell is a lake of fire in which the souls banished there will enjoy an eternity of never-ending torment.


    TL;DR - jesus is only way to not be subjected to the worst possible torture imaginable.


    BTW, god never sleeps, can read your thoughts, and will seriously **** your **** up if you even think about slipping. But he loves you. So much so that he invented hell just so that you could have a place to go if you can't prove that you love him back enough.


    This is just the most fundamental example of what I mean when I say, "belief in christianty comes out of the box with several negative implications which result in a net loss of happiness". If you really need more examples, we can talk about christianity's views on topics such as womens' rights, slavery, homosexuality, minority rights, science education, environmentalism, etc. Still feeling like I'm making stuff up?


    Almost finished.


    To draw attention to the meta-argument for a moment, I'd like to point out a couple of things:


    1) To the question, "What good reason is there to believe the christian god exists?" your only response has been to assert that the belief (apparently in anything) makes people happy. Is this really the only arrow in your quiver?


    2) Your sources (and to a certain extent, your argumentation) keep referring to spirituality. You do realize that "spiritual, but not religious" is a thing, right? Or that muslims, hindus, buddists, jains, hari krishnas, etc, etc, etc all consider their pursuits to be "spiritual", right? Are you arguing that spirituality is a good thing or are you arguing that there is a good reason to think the christian god exists? The former is really a non sequitur (and all I see you doing). The latter is the actual topic of the thread.

  5. If one asks for a reason to believe in God, and another says "happiness equating healthiness is a good reason", and you say that it is the social function rather than the spirituality itself that is the "secret sauce" or "pudding", or whatever other food stuff you'd like, then you have, in fact, questioned the second part of my post, or rather all of my posts on the topic.
    Good reason. The title of the thread is "What good reason is there to believe the christian god exists?"


    You offered a reason, but as I pointed out it isn't a good reason because 1) the relationship between belief and happiness isn't causal, 2) a positive correlation between belief and happiness would be applicable to any religious belief and therefore not a supporting argument for the christian god specifically, and 3) belief in christianity comes out of the box with several negative implications (for oneself and for others) which result in a net loss of happiness.


    The second part of your post specifically said:


    So! Is it possible to have a happier, healthier, life while still believing that a Christian (or other) God exists?


    Yes. It absolutely is possible. If I've said otherwise in this thread, please show me where.


    What I have not said is that this is a good reason for believing that the christian god exists.


    The belief that Santa is going to bring me a Tesla Model S tomorrow may bring me intense joy, but that joy doesn't make my reasoning sound. Even if I managed to convince my neighbors that this was a thing and they too adopted this thinking, it still wouldn't be good reasoning. If we started getting up early on Sunday mornings to dress in our best clothes and gather together to talk about the immense satisfaction that came with knowing that "tomorrow" Saint Nicholas would be bringing us fancy electric cars, it still wouldn't be good reasoning. Even if this belief system somehow spread into the global water supply and every man, woman, and child all came to believe (and found bone-shattering ecstasy in the acceptance) that in the morning, there would be a shiny Model S waiting for them compliments of Kris Kringle, not a single one of us would have come to that belief via good reasoning.


    If the question instead, is "is there any rock solid evidence of a Christian God?" (I didn't read that anywhere. Maybe I should have read between the lines?), I'd have to assume a person who is as intelligent as you seem be, is trolling, while we're on the subject of poor arguments.
    Title of the thread: "What good reason is there to believe the christian god exists?"


    Not sure how being able to stick to the argument constitutes trolling.

  6. Yeah, that isn't the argument that I was making. I was using extreme examples to support the argument I was making. Apologies for adding confusion where I was trying to add clarity.


    Re: the second part of your post - I don't think anyone has questioned that such a thing was possible. It's possible to find bliss in any number of things (some of which immoral). The question I thought we were trying to answer was whether or not we had good reasons for thinking the christian god exists.


    "Because some people believe that believing makes some people happy" continues to be a poor argument.

  7. I see a very common claim by professed atheists online that they are happier people, even that they are better people, because of their worldview.


    Theoretically I could imagine that as many of these people appear to have come from fundamentalist (or otherwise strictly conservative) religious upbringings, they now report this satisfaction because they resent rules being imposed upon them that caused them moral upset (at not being able to do the things they wanted, that their religion frowned upon).


    Now on the other hand, a person who considers what their religion teaches to be true, would probably be more happy adhering to that lifestyle and ideology, thinking they are "doing the right thing." After all, most of us seem to want to "do the right thing" and derive satisfaction from that.

    In the interest of being consistent, I'll repeat my earlier argument that ideology (in and of itself), tends to be a poor indicator of happiness. An extroverted atheist who spends a lot of time hanging out with like-minded secular people, doing volunteer work, etc is going to be more happy than an introverted jehovah's witness who sits at home, hating himself for being a sinner. Likewise, someone who is moderately religious but goes to unitarian church every Sunday to hang out with like-minded theistic people is going to be happier than the anti-theist sitting at home crossing "god" off his dollar bills with a sharpie.


    Furthermore, religions that are more fundamentalist in nature don't give a crap about "doing the right thing". They care about adherence. Islamists who are cutting off the heads of journalists and aid workers aren't doing it because they feel that their actions are contributing to maximizing human flourishing, they are doing it because they have a very strict interpretation of their doctrine.


    So yeah, you could argue that this person (or these persons) are individually happier because they feel they are doing "the right thing", however they are increasing suffering while doing so. Hardly a "good reason to believe".


    The difficulty with atheists usually is that they throw off their old worldview and then go in search of something to replace it. Generally it seems like people end up modifying a few things (like related to sexual morality, drugs, dancing or whatever it was that their previous religion restricted more than they wished... others even cite things like being annoyed at having to attend weekly religious services) but hold to pretty much what they did before. Otherwise accept a radically different worldview, but it still gives them the sorts of things they desire... how they should live and a goal to work for in life (even if it's something like "be happy" or "help people").
    I don't agree that this is categorically a difficulty that atheists usually have. I do find a couple of things interesting/telling here:


    1) you seem to only think of athiests in terms of former theists who deconverted. While it probably fair to say that some significant number of people who identify as athiests (especially those you encounter in North America) probably fit the bill, a lot of your commentary falls apart the moment we try to apply to people who were raised secular. This includes entire countries.


    2) if the "secret sauce" is religion, then why would these people "desire" goals, such as "being happy" or "helping people"? Before you answer, the question was rhetorical.


    The "I'm better than you" mentality of some atheists (which to be fair, is a common complaint from atheists about Christians and other traditional religious people online) is that they're adhering to "the truth" as they see it, and doing things "for the right reasons."


    It would be interesting to see some data on that. I generally tend to imagine people will appreciate the polls and studies that confirm their own bias and dislike the ones that go against it.

    The mechanism you're looking for here is "confirmation bias".


    But the idea of a God being something that will make you happy really doesn't seem that important if one places a premium on the truth above happiness. If there is no God, I'd want to know it. If there is a God, I'd want to know it, in either case I'd be "happier" to know the truth than just happy to have an idea I like as my accepted worldview.


    Interesting. If there was no god, how would you know it? If the answer to the question of god's existence was unknowable, would you still be able to find happiness? Neither of these are rhetorical.


    The atheist will argue not having a God means more freedom. The Christian will argue having a God gives one a foundation for objective morality and a goal to shoot for (eternal happiness for loyalty to God).
    Objective morality isn't dependent upon a god existing (let alone the christian god). Is eternal happiness for loyalty to god the only reason to be moral?


    The evolutionary argument can go a number of different ways. If we were programmed to believe in deities for the sake of our survival, why would we suddenly think that certain individuals are born (mutants?) who lack this programming and that these people will somehow pass this on to the "next level of human evolution" which is atheism which is best for our species survival.
    There have been non-theists for at least as long as we've been recording history. One could say that they are more prominent now (though that it could be possible that this is simply a function of how human percieve the times they live in). The shortish answer might sound something like this:


    You're right to invoke evolution here. The landscape has changed and we, the social mammals, have evolved. We don't need "the group" the way we once did. The mix between individual yearning and group adherence has changed. It's not that "atheists are better than non-theists" or vice versa. We still have moral obligations to each other. Using a 2000 year old book and bronze age superstition is not the best way to navigate that conversation though.


    Trouble is, "evolution" isn't concerned with ideas or memories, but our physical makeup. Where is the "religion gene"? Do atheists lack this? Did they lose it when they became atheists (do they gain it back again when they convert to theistic religions?). I think people misuse the term (saying "evolution" to mean "better ideas or lifestyle" rather than a change in biology over generations).
    Our brains are part of our physical makeup. Religion is fairly universal. There are two explanations for this: 1) religion is right or 2) we all have brains with religious centers in them. Evolution accounts for #2.


    If religion was really going to wipe us all out, why is it bigger now than ever before and the human population is bigger than ever before (and technology is as advanced as it has ever been)?
    More people, more free time, more interaction between ideologies. 2 million people, split into tribes and spread across the globe with little contact and no means to communicate don't have religious conflict.


    Atheists will say all the technological progress is due to the freedom given by atheists, but they have to recall that they stand on the shoulders of giants. The foundations that they are building upon were established by religious people... theists, including Christians (and others who benefited from their discoveries and research). And by the same token Christians benefited from (monotheistic) Jews and (polytheistic) Greeks & Romans for a lot of things. Muslims took from the same sources and prior to Al Ghazali were pretty pro-"science."
    Yeah, I spend a lot of time around atheists and I don't think I've ever heard any one of them say anything like this. I think anyone who knows even a little bit of the history of science is well aware of how things have gone down.
  8. I turned off the Y-axis inversion, and I still can't get past the stupid lockpicking mini-game!
    Wish I could help you. FWIW, you can use EMPs on the locks too.


    Skyrim I have played well over 100 hours. I just can finish the main quest.
    According to Steam I've spent 2142 hours in northern Tamriel. Is there a "shame" emoticon?
  9. Has anyone ever played this - er, excuse me, TRIED to play AP on PC? I am having such a hard time with it. The controls are so clunky and awkward, especially for using guns, and I can't even get past the first lock picking game.


    Are there any mods that can fix this, or did I just waste 15 bucks?

    I've finished it a couple of times on PC. Admittedly, I didn't even try to monkey with the keyboard and mouse, as I was used to playing on the 360 so used the controller instead.


    And because Mimi can never hear it enough: if you genuinely can't figure out the hacking, put a point or two in the tech skill and use EMPs instead. :D

  10. You seem to be under the impression I've missed some points along the way. I have not. You also seem to have skipped over the bit where I mentioned that not everyone who considers themselves to be spiritual, engages in social functions relating to said spirituality, and yet still enjoy less stressful lives among other health benefits. A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin touched upon your suggestion that it's simply healthier mentally and physically to be active socially, but it was not the only factor, and sometimes, isn't a factor at all, as evidenced by people who meditate, or pray, etc, minus attending church.


    Again, the "secret sauce" isn't being spiritual. Studies that prime subjects via secular cues (such as voting, or other civic-related institutions or activities) show the same results. When these studies controlled for other factors (the sequence in which you make your arguments above makes me think you aren't considering this as part of your analysis) they consistently find that religion/spirituality just isn't a factor.

  11. That would be up to each person to decide.

    No, there is sound argument to be made.


    If there are multiple ways to accomplish X, some are inherently going to be better than others (which means some are going to be worse than others). The only room for real debate here is whether or not you agree that doing things, like indoctrinating children to believe that an invisible man lives in the sky, can read your thoughts, and will send you to a lake of fire to burn for all of eternity if you don't love him enough, is a "bad thing".

  12. I'll try this again a slightly different way.


    What you are arguing (whether you realize it or not), is that there is a causal relationship between spirituality/church attendance/what have you and happiness.


    The point I am trying to make is that the causal relationship is between pro-social behavior/pro-social cues and happiness. That some people get this from religion and/or spirituality is nice, but there are lots of ways to get there. My larger point (made elsewhere in this thread and others, but not this exchange) is that spirituality/religion is actually one of the least optimal ways to get there.

  13. the correlation between spirituality and happiness, which seems to me, a pretty good reason to believe God exists.


    Ah, some things never change.


    Closer examination of said studies, along with an understanding that correlation does not equal causation, tends to support an alternate hypothesis. Specifically, that the actual "secret sauce" is pro-social behavior, which church-going people just happen to get from spending time around their in-group. Same measures of happiness and satisfaction can be found in people that have completely secular means of scratching that itch, such as chess clubs or cup-stacking tournaments.

  14. Regarding the Willy Wonka meme of "can you come up with somethin better?" ...people don't have to.
    I agree. I do however think there's a difference between saying "I don't like the ending" and "the ending could have been better". I'm inclined to let the former stand (because it's someone voicing their opinion...which all of us have the right to do) whereas the latter is begging to be challenged with "how?".


    But in terms of Mass Effect 3. After all this time I'll say this about it. It's not a BAD game (Metroid: Other M is a BAD game). It's a bad RPG, It has a bad ending, and it gave me no motivation to go back and replay the trilogy over again so I could play through an entirely alternate take of the three games because there was no point to doing that. So while it's not a bad game purely for the sake of being a bad game... it did diminish the impact and purpose of the games before it and that's why I don't like it.
    Just because I want to understand: FPS only have to be fun, however RPGs have to have high replay value?
  15. Space child does look an awful lot like...




    That was what I was meaning.

    Indeed he does, but that's not because they are the same entity. At several points during Legion's mission, it's pointed out that things are being represented in ways that are familiar to Shepard's consciousness simply to make them more "comforting". Since this child is heavy on his mind, the AI chooses that form to "interface" with him.


    From a narrative perspective, it may be there in an attempt to draw closure to that sub-plot or it could be that the boy has come to represent the war (in it's entirety) to Shepard. We can debate whether or not it's clumsy (I'm inclined to agree that it is), but it's also not the big "WTF?!" that a lot of people make it out to be.


    I think it definitely could of been done better :p
    As do I, however if I'm going to proceed with any degree of honesty, I have to retire to your Willy Wonka meme. Will you be there too?


    For me, you go back to ME1, and Soverign (sp) talks about the Reapers being far above human understanding and how humans cannot understand their motives, when you can actually explain it in a sentence, that I found highly frustrating.
    Well, considering that Bioware had to release DLC + an Extended Cut to explain it and some people still don't get it, I think you might be over simplifying.


    It's not so much evil for evils sake as the motives behind it at least being more complex than what was explain in ME; I think thats my gripe was ultimately the explanation was simple.
    I guess on that point we'll have to part ways, agreeing to respectfully disagree. I think there was more nuance than the game gets credit for.
  16. why was space child at the start and end of the game, why was Sheppard dreaming of space child?
    The "space child" was not at the beginning of the game.


    As for why the "space child" was at the end of the game, see the Rannoch mission with Legion in ME3 (or 1997's Contact, starring Jodie Foster).


    Could that have been done better? Probably. Was it completely unexplained and/or out of left field? No.


    The indoctrination theory is the only one I would have to explain that personally.
    I'm only cursorily familiar with this. Based on my understanding of it the indoctrination theory would make both existing ending even more meaningless. Am I wrong?


    I hate that really I think the Leviathan DLC is required to explain the essential question
    Did you mean From Ashes?


    Leviathan explains

    why the Reapers look like giant cuttlefish, where indoctrination comes from, and how the cycle started



    From Ashes, on the other hand

    provided the foil for Shepard, and by extension, this cycle. All the other cycles took the Javik route (i.e. one dominate species over all others), whereas Shepard was able to unite species, help them to work past their insurmountable differences, build trust where no one else could. In other words, he did what no other organic was able to do in the history of the universe: bring the galaxy together. This is how he showed the Reapers that they were wrong and forced the recalculation of their directive.

    You can still figure this out without the DLC, however it certainly helps to show, rather than tell.


    Personally I think leaving the Reapers motives more unknown would of been better, I do realize of course Achilles for example disagree's with me.
    Meh. I suppose it would have been possible to write a story that was interesting, engaging, satisfying, etc without revealing the motivations of the Reapers, however antagonists which are "evil for evil's sake" tend to be boring. While the whole

    AI takes instructions a little too literally, resulting in mayhem for the organics it was intended to protect

    schtick may be a little thread-bare, it does afford a little umph for the modern tragedy.


    Whenever I see this one, I wonder if the person who made/the person posting it either doesn't get that it's wrong or conveniently pretends not to get that it's wrong for the sake of the lolz.


    This one I like :)
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