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Offline magicmiles

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Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« on: August 15, 2012, 05:28:00 PM »
Note to moderators: Please move this thread to a more appropriate area if you feel its warranted. I wasn't sure where to place this.

Warning to Screwtape: This post contains an analagy

This thread is a follow up to "If not God, how was the universe created".

In the other thread I asked the question "How was the universe created", and the concensus amongst you was pretty much 'we don't know, but we 're getting closer to knowing, and you can't logically say it was God'.

I then asked 'is it possible there is some intelligence behind the universe' and the consensus seems to be 'it's possible, in the sense ANYTHING is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely'.

I pretty much expected ths, given I have been on the forum long enough to have a reasonable insight into what most of the regulars believe regarding such matters. But, I thought it polite to ask anyway.

For a few weeks now I've been thinking about the nature of truth and logic, and the role our brain plays in this. I've been discussing it privately with a couple of members via email, just to get some viewpoints which might differ from mine.

In a nutshell, here's whats been troubling me:

There are varying degrees by which we can validate the truth of something. For instance, we can be told that there is a wardrobe in a room. We might believe this even without validation, if we have no obvious reason to doubt the person telling us. We could ask somebody not privvy to the conversation to walk into the room and tell us what it contains. If they say " a wardrobe ", we can pretty much take that to the bank.  Or we can validate it 100% by walking into the room and seeing it for ourselves.

Thats just a basic example, and If I thought long enough and had the time I'm sure I could come up with an example where there were 10 or more ways of validating something, with a progressing level of certainty leading up to the point of 100% validation.

At what point, then, is it possible to consider somebody 'foolish' for believing something to be true? If person A is convinced at point 4, and person B is convinced at point 6 or 7, but nobody has gotten to point 10 ( 100% validation ), then is person B really entitled to act all superior, as if they are more rational?

Leading on from that, I have been wondering this: if person A is convinced to their satisfaction that something is true, wouldn't they be acting dishonestly if they gave up on that belief simply because person B wasn't convinced, or if person B thought the available evidences led to a completely different conclusion?

Which led me to thinking about the role our brain plays in all this, and how much we can rely on it. If one assumes that the human brain has no external intelligence behind it, as you all do, then how can you ever say that the beliefs you form are more valid than those formed by somebody else, using their brain? In other words, how can you trust your brain to be interpreting things correctly? What is correct, what is true, ultimately? How could you say for sure?

It seems to me the answer lies with what we experience. That seems to me a good validation of truth. Our brain might tell us one thing, when experience tells us different. So doesn't it make sense to go with what you personally experience, even if your experience is at odds with somebody elses, or seems contrary to what somebody's elses brain tells them?

And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet. If that happens, how the hell can somebody tell you that you're wrong?

The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

You're telling me that your brain, and presumably your expereince, tells you that God does not exist.

But if you can't point to some 100% validation, and if you can't demonstrate that the product of your thinking is somehow more valid than mine (remembering that your brain has no external, ultimate intelligence backing it up) then can you really claim the high ground in our differences?

Appreciate your thoughts, but I'll be a few days off the forum now.

« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 05:36:15 PM by magicmiles »
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 05:37:36 PM »
Measurement.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Nam

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 05:43:28 PM »
Theists use religion, for the most part, to validate the existance of their deity. We, as atheists, challenge the religion and point out the flaws of said religion to show, even based on the supposed "perfection", that that particular deity doesn't or perhaps, most likely, doesn't exist based on such criteria. The Theist use their religion and scriptures written of said religion to prove they are correct. That's biased. An atheist would not only use their religion but also outside factors, of an unbiased and neutral viewpoint to show their stance holds little to no water.

Pretty much: we use reason, and they don't.

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« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 05:58:00 PM by Nam »
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Offline jetson

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 05:49:06 PM »
It is not individual thinking and conclusions at stake here.  It is scientific consensus, which does not measure 100% certainty on things.  It simply approaches the best explanations over time.  When it comes to individuals, and their "beliefs" about something, we are no longer talking about anything scientific, necessarily.  We are simply espousing personal beliefs.

But, when I connect my brain to the current consensus on evolutionary science, I am more correct than anyone who has doubts (with the exception of any scientist, or group of scientists who have yet to publish a falsification that renders the consensus invalid).

At that point, I have no choice but to concede, and recognize that connecting my brain to that consensus actually led me down the wrong path.  And while it may be disconcerting, or even hard to do, I am not in any way emotionally tied to believing the current theory of evolution.  I believe it because the smartest people on the planet who spend their lives studying, experimenting, and explaining, are telling me that they believe it to be the best explanation.  They have more facts and evidence, and predictive power to support their conclusion than anyone else with a different idea.

Remember, the earth was flat until we discovered it was not.  However, flat-earthers are not trying to legislate morality using their wrong beliefs, while fundamentalist Christians are.  Dangerous, and must be stopped.

People who believe there is a god are not wrong, they are just much further away from the reality of there being no gods.  They believe there is a god for reasons that have no basis in facts or evidence, and they are emotionally connected to that belief, to the point that they refuse or find it otherwise impossible to concede.  Oh well.



Offline Tinyal

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 06:13:50 PM »
MM, regarding the portion of your post that I've copied below:

"And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet."

This is one area where you are incorrect.  It is not absolute validation when our brain tells us one thing, and (our personal subjective) experience match up.  This is an example of the way we used to think long ago in our human history - 1000's and 10's of thousands of years ago, before we aquired the scientific tools and methods of questioning/experimentation/data gathering etc that broadly (I'm greatly simplifying here) make up science & logic.

For instance:  in prehistory, a Shaman would have said 'Pray to the god Ooogabooga or it will not rain, our crops will die, and the End will be near!!'
Those in the tribe who pray will wait for rain - if, due to natural forces, it starts to rain the next day, then the Shaman's statement embedded in our brain and our subjective experience match, causing many (if not most) of the tribe to believe in Ooogabooga.  See - it matches!

But this is no longer (it never was) an accurate way of modelling reality.  This is (others will correct me if I'm wrong - which I frequently am!) confirmation bias, where the brain see's what it has been lead to believe it expects to see - we count the hits (pray then it rains!) rather than the misses (we prayed last year for months and it never rained).

 If a person goes through life this way - as, apparantly, 70+ % of the American population does - then they will never experience an accurate image of reality.  They end up living in a fantasy, and it's only through education or some powerful life shock that they begin to think differently. (What I mean by life shock is, for example, praying for your spouse to live and she dies, or other very, very unpleasant experience).

I may reply more later, but had to start somewhere :)
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Offline HAL

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 06:21:27 PM »
The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

What experience? How did you justify your perceived knowledge that the experience was true? Maybe you are in a delusional state and the experience is not a valid representation of reality? Demonstrate to us your experience is valid.

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You're telling me that your brain, and presumably your expereince, tells you that God does not exist.

I never said a god does not exist. I do not know. I am very disappointed you made a statement like that.

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But if you can't point to some 100% validation, and if you can't demonstrate that the product of your thinking is somehow more valid than mine (remembering that your brain has no external, ultimate intelligence backing it up) then can you really claim the high ground in our differences?

Protip - use the scientific method.

Quote
Appreciate your thoughts, but I'll be a few days off the forum now.

You are going to be swamped with replies.

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 06:32:57 PM »
At what point, then, is it possible to consider somebody 'foolish' for believing something to be true? If person A is convinced at point 4, and person B is convinced at point 6 or 7, but nobody has gotten to point 10 ( 100% validation ), then is person B really entitled to act all superior, as if they are more rational?

One could consider someone foolish to believe something when they believe it at point 0 (on your scale) as theists do. It is foolish to believe something that has absolutely zero sound evidence or sound arguments to support it. Your belief that your God is real falls into this category.

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It seems to me the answer lies with what we experience. That seems to me a good validation of truth.

I suspect you are using the word experience here to mean nothing more than your internal feelings and imagination.

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And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet. If that happens, how the hell can somebody tell you that you're wrong?

The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

Given that you say you are 100% convinced that your belief in your God is validated, you should have no trouble going to this thread and providing the information requested. I have directed you several times now to go there and respond, but you’ve evaded every request. Last time you complained that the link I provided only took you to the main forum page. I provided you with explicit directions to the topic, but I see you still haven’t responded there (unsurprisingly, nor has any other theist). You can either click on the link above or go to General Religious Discussion and scroll down to the topic: Please validate your belief in your God. You claim your belief in your God is validated, but for some reason you appear unwilling to go to that thread and prove it. Why is that, I wonder?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 07:10:33 PM »
It seems to me the answer lies with what we experience. That seems to me a good validation of truth. Our brain might tell us one thing, when experience tells us different. So doesn't it make sense to go with what you personally experience, even if your experience is at odds with somebody elses, or seems contrary to what somebody's elses brain tells them?
At the end of the day, you seem to be claiming that truth has a substantial subjective component.  I've always felt that one of the key features of truth is objectivity.

Does what you say imply that desire and sheer force of will are sufficient to increase the actual probability of the truth of a claim?  Or is this more of a pragmatic look for purposes of utility, like putting better odds on claims that give you a better instinctual feeling (you know, that dark forest looks creepy/maybe I shouldn't run in there after my apple kind of feeling)?
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Offline inveni0

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 07:40:56 PM »
It is perfectly okay to believe someone when they tell you there's a wardrobe in a room.

It is not perfectly okay to believe someone when they tell you that there's a magical bunny rabbit in a room.

How does this relate to the origin of the universe?  I suppose that we take a lot of things about physics "on faith".  The difference between taking someone's word for it when it comes to "quarks" and taking someone's word for it when it comes to "god" is that you can validate the probable existence of quarks by doing a little math.  You can't reach number 6 or 7 with god, because god can not be tested with something infallible...like math.

So believing scientists when they say, "We found Higgs!" is acceptable, because we can validate their findings with math.

Believing a priest who says, "We found God's will!" is not acceptable, because we can not validate their findings in any measurable way.  (No, the way Jesus touches your "heart" does not count as measurable.)
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Offline Barracuda

Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2012, 07:55:15 PM »
Quote
Which led me to thinking about the role our brain plays in all this, and how much we can rely on it. If one assumes that the human brain has no external intelligence behind it, as you all do, then how can you ever say that the beliefs you form are more valid than those formed by somebody else, using their brain? In other words, how can you trust your brain to be interpreting things correctly? What is correct, what is true, ultimately? How could you say for sure?
Because of the methods used to generate our beliefs vs. their beliefs, the consistency of beliefs with the outside world, analogies, etc. If you are going to use this game to say we can't say for sure our atheism is more rational than your theism, you must also accept that all beliefs are equal. So, for example, if your friend tells you he wants to swerve into oncoming traffic with you in the passenger seat, because he doesn't believe it will cause harm, you might as well say "well, I can't trust my brain's beliefs to be superior to his..." .

I don't see how any external intelligence would change this. Who's to say this external intelligence would necessarily favor accurate brains over inaccurate ones, what would you possibly know of such a being's wills, capabilities, and interests? There is also the obvious question of, how can you trust the external intelligence to be representing things accurately?


Quote
But if you can't point to some 100% validation, and if you can't demonstrate that the product of your thinking is somehow more valid than mine (remembering that your brain has no external, ultimate intelligence backing it up) then can you really claim the high ground in our differences?
I can demonstrate that my thought process is superior, which in turn demonstrates the superiority of it's products.

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2012, 09:09:57 PM »
And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet. If that happens, how the hell can somebody tell you that you're wrong?

The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

Allowing yourself to believe that an unvalidated feeling, idea or situation is true is self-deception.

The first thing we need to do is determine exactly what it is you believe in so please provide a factual description of your God’s characteristics and abilities so that we can be sure that we will know it when we see it. Try to be as specific as possible to avoid ambiguity. We need to be able to differentiate your God from other phenomena. So, for example, claiming that your God is love or the universe or is all around us is not helpful in the least. Claiming that your God is supernatural or beyond the natural, observable universe is also not helpful. If your God is beyond the observable universe then how could you possibly have observed it to conclude that it is real? So again, please provide a factual description of your God’s specific characteristics and abilities.

If you cannot provide a factual description of your God then please provide enough sound evidence and sound arguments to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is real. I’m assuming that no intellectually honest person would use unsound evidence or unsound arguments to reach a conclusion. Try to avoid using misapprehensions, fallacies or misrepresentations as evidence or arguments. Bare assertions or assumptions are not useful. Please provide evidence and arguments that can be tested and verified.

If you cannot provide a factual description of your God or any sound evidence or sound arguments to support your belief then please explain what distinguishes your belief from imagination. Imagination is forming a mental image of something not present to the senses. Something imaginary exists only in imagination; it lacks factual reality. Subjective notions such as internal personal experiences or feelings are indistinguishable from imagination. If you couldn’t turn to people next to you and ask, “Did you see/hear/smell/feel that?” and expect them to say, “Yes” then whatever it is you experienced was likely imaginary. You need to provide something objective that we could all perceive to detect your God and verify that it is real. We need to distinguish objective reality from a subjective reality in which people believe things are as they want or imagine them to be rather than as they are.

Now, if you have provided a factual description of your God or sound evidence and sound arguments to prove that it is real then you have established the truth or validity of your belief. Otherwise, it is more likely you are simply deceiving yourself.

Offline jetson

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2012, 09:22:14 PM »
I moved into a new home six weeks ago.  This past saturday, I changed the filter in my AC unit.  It stopped working from that point forward.  The AC repairman said that the HVAC fan motor (variable speed) was a goner.

My brain could not seem to stop correlating the new filter with the blown motor.  But they are not linked at all.  The motor blew because the filter had not been changed in a very long time, and when we moved in, we used the AC more than it had been used in a long time,  and it just gave out.  It just happened to stop working after I changed the filter.

As much as I have gone over this in my brain, I simply cannot link the blown motor to the event that preceded it, my changing the filter.

We cannot rely on our brains and experience alone to manage truth or reality.  We have to rely on repeated experiments, evidence, facts, data, and models that help us differentiate possible causes or scenarios in those things we want to understand.  As expected, some things don't really require as much information - such as gravity.  Most humans will not walk off of a tall building, because they are very well aware of the effect of doing so.

Anyway, yeah, the brain is an incredibly amazing result of evolution, but it certainly is not the greatest tool for ultimate truth (what is ultimate truth anyway?).

Offline Garja

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2012, 09:26:56 PM »
It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.


Everyone else has pretty much covered what I would have said to your post, which by the way I do respect you for posting.  I am sure going into the gaping maw of atheism is intimidating, as ive mentioned in other threads, I would not have done it when I believed.  However I found this throw-away line the most troubling.  To me, it means you've stopped thinking.  You were given the "easy" yet factually weak answer of "God" and you no longer looked for another more plausible answer.  Keeping in mind that the majority of atheists in the other post were willing to say "yes there is a chance", the implication being that they would examine evidence should it be presented.  You however seem to be either intentionally or unintentionally building a confirmation bias (I think someone else mentioned that).  You are looking for facts (and I use that term loosely)that support your preconceived notions and disregarding those that contradict them.
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Offline LoriPinkAngel

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2012, 09:32:59 PM »
bm
It doesn't make sense to let go of something you've had for so long.  But it also doesn't make sense to hold on when there's actually nothing there.

Offline Garja

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2012, 09:33:08 PM »


As much as I have gone over this in my brain, I simply cannot link the blown motor to the event that preceded it, my changing the filter.


Was it a 3M filter?  I have heard their is a correlation between replacing old filters with 3M brand filters and AC motors blowing out.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Offline jetson

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2012, 09:33:25 PM »
You however seem to be either intentionally or unintentionally building a confirmation bias (I think someone else mentioned that).  You are looking for facts (and I use that term loosely)that support your preconceived notions and disregarding those that contradict them.

Not directed at magicmiles, but I have experienced this with believers as well.  And it was in personal, face to face conversation.  It struck me as very odd to have someone claim that I was not willing to consider their god, while simultaneously telling me that they were 100% certain their god was the one true god.  the thing is, I had just finished stating that I was open to any evidence, for any god, at any time. 

Here's what I think happened.  They know I am an atheist.  They know I do not believe any gods are real, and they dismissed my admission that I would accept the possibility of their god being real - provided there was evidence provided that made a compelling case.  They dismissed it because they are literally afraid to examine their own beliefs, but they desperately wanted me to accept them.

Offline jetson

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2012, 09:38:07 PM »


As much as I have gone over this in my brain, I simply cannot link the blown motor to the event that preceded it, my changing the filter.


Was it a 3M filter?  I have heard their is a correlation between replacing old filters with 3M brand filters and AC motors blowing out.

Well - I suppose that remains a possibility, if you're serious?  It is possible that the AC fan turned on after I changed the filter, realized it was dealing with a 3M filter, and then the motor said to hell with it, and blew.  I really believe the motor never came on after I changed the filter, but I cannot confirm that fact, I just assumed.  If it did come on, and the 3M filter did it's thing and sent motor-blowing material into the squirrel cage fan, it could be the cause.

The AC guy saw my filter and didn't say a word to me about the 3M brand.

Or is this one of those urban myths?

Offline Dante

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2012, 09:40:51 PM »
Miles, you seem confused about the difference between subjective and objective truths. You should know better.

Being colorblind does not objectively change the color wheel. The truth doesn't give a shit about your feelings. The truth is the truth, regardless of anyone's beliefs. The truth is not in your head.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Garja

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2012, 09:41:13 PM »
^ Jetson,

Yeah, and I GET it, its an extremely human thing to do.  I just know that when I started to seriously question my beliefs, I HAD to know one way or the other.  I studied the hell out of it, and semi-coincidentally was taking a class at university on the history of the Protestant Reformation... Certainly when I started looking I WANTED God to be real, I didn't want to waste over 30 years believing in unicorns.  Turns out I wasted a lot of time and a moderate amount of money.



 The truth doesn't give a shit about your feelings.

Totally using that.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2012, 09:45:29 PM »
^ Jetson,

Yeah, and I GET it, its an extremely human thing to do.  I just know that when I started to seriously question my beliefs, I HAD to know one way or the other.  I studied the hell out of it, and semi-coincidentally was taking a class at university on the history of the Protestant Reformation... Certainly when I started looking I WANTED God to be real, I didn't want to waste over 30 years believing in unicorns.  Turns out I wasted a lot of time and a moderate amount of money.


Move on, and start to feel the freedom of dropping the delusion!  Funny, I was never much of a believer despite going through the Catholic Sacraments, etc., but when I decided to call myself atheist, I never felt better inside.  It was a feeling of freedom from one of the strongest lies ever perpetrated on humanity, and one that continues to cause grown ups to cower in fear at the very thought of questioning any of it.  And sadly, many of them know deep down that it is all imaginary. 

Offline Dante

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2012, 09:46:48 PM »
 Yeah garja, great line. I stole it from plethora, a long time member here.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline kin hell

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2012, 10:19:42 PM »
The brainlock, is not a good sign. :)

Nor is it a good description. It implies a capacity to be unlocked when in fact you are saying that it cannot be unlocked, because you KNOW (see original thread).

Brain bar would be a better term. (No, not the drinks bar, but more damaging to the effectiveness of braincells than mere soaking in alcohol)

Mate, you spent a significant chunk of this OP describing in detail the open mindness (and willingness to learn/change position via new evidence) of the atheists who'd answered  your "if not god..." thread.
Can you not see the brain lock is the antithesis of this?

Here's part of what we don't get. And will never get.
Where/when does your rational brain stop considering the inconsistencies and illogics, and somehow ignore them? so you can contentedly just believe?

Given you are smart, educated and rational, where is your internal editor when presented with questions that just don't seem to leave you with a rational position to stand in.

3O God  +omnibenevolence  .....creates evil?

3O God  ....................................creates us, knows everything including our fate,before we are created     ....says we have freewill?

christianity ...............................your believe this version of theism, not because of considered appraisal of all the alternatives, but because of geographical lottery.

how lucky are you? ........lucky enough that the religion that you KNOW is true, just happens to be the same one you follow.

etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.


So as far as the level of your perception legitimising your beliefs, and so denying us unbelievers a right to address the apparent paucity of intellectual honesty required for your belief system to be embraced, it doesn't follow.
 

Essentially you are asking rationalists to award "faith" a real credibility as a knowledge defining tool. I don't think so Magic

"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline Garja

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2012, 10:37:19 PM »
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

-Benjamin Franklin

Offline The Wannabe

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2012, 06:31:11 AM »


Leading on from that, I have been wondering this: if person A is convinced to their satisfaction that something is true, wouldn't they be acting dishonestly if they gave up on that belief simply because person B wasn't convinced, or if person B thought the available evidences led to a completely different conclusion?

Person A shouldn't worry about what person(s) B-Z think, person A should weigh the evidence for themselves and then come to their own conclusion.  If the objective truth of our reality (that is constantly being unveiled by scientist across the globe) doesn't conform to person A's belief system, should not person A discard this belief system and adjust his world view accordingly?  I believe that an individuals beliefs should be fluid and open to change, not fixed and intellectually stagnant.

There are thousands of religions, philosophies and ideologies in the marketplace of ideas that are all vying for space in your head.  How do you personally delineate between them?  Do you believe in Christianity because it's true, or because it was the first belief system that crossed your path?  What evidence do you see in favor of Christianity?  If you were born in India, would it be more likely that you'd be a Christian or a devout Hindu?  Have you truly examined your religion and compared it against the worldviews of others, and more importantly, the objective evidence that is continually being laid bare for all to see by science? 

 

Which led me to thinking about the role our brain plays in all this, and how much we can rely on it. If one assumes that the human brain has no external intelligence behind it, as you all do, then how can you ever say that the beliefs you form are more valid than those formed by somebody else, using their brain? In other words, how can you trust your brain to be interpreting things correctly? What is correct, what is true, ultimately? How could you say for sure?

Our brains have been engineered, through the evolutionary process, to assist in the survival of genes.  While this design plan has gotten us this far, and the brain is a marvelous and complex cognitive machine, it was not designed with the procurement of ultimate truth in mind.  The human mind is unstable and has many deficiencies, which is exactly what you'd expect from a brain with an evolutionary origin.  You can think of skepticism and the scientific method as intellectual prosthetics that have allowed mankind to surmount the evolutionary handicaps of credulity and superstition, handicaps that have plagued humanity for tens of thousands of years.  Science and secularism is the best we've got, magicmiles, the alternative is North Korea. 

It seems to me the answer lies with what we experience. That seems to me a good validation of truth. Our brain might tell us one thing, when experience tells us different. So doesn't it make sense to go with what you personally experience, even if your experience is at odds with somebody elses, or seems contrary to what somebody's elses brain tells them?

And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet. If that happens, how the hell can somebody tell you that you're wrong?

Quite simply, you're brains interpretation of what you experience could be wrong.  Like i said before, our brains are imperfect cognitive machines that have been "designed" by evolution and natural selection to aid in the survival or our genes.  Our brains can misfire, an individual can develop schizophrenia and begin to hear voices that do not find their origin in outside agents. 

We are truly confined by what we cognitively experience.  A boy can be locked in a closet all his life and not know of the existence of anything beyond the cruel confines of his domestic prison.  That is why humanity did not know of such realities as bacteria or spiral galaxies until brave individuals began to pierce the pitch black darkness of ignorance and superstition with the illuminating light of rational thought and free inquiry. 

Most atheist acknowledge how infinitesimal our understanding of reality truly is.  We are only now beginning to know what we don't know about the universe.  It is the religious who claim that they know the singular answer to everything, no human being should be that arrogant. 

The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

You're telling me that your brain, and presumably your expereince, tells you that God does not exist.

But if you can't point to some 100% validation, and if you can't demonstrate that the product of your thinking is somehow more valid than mine (remembering that your brain has no external, ultimate intelligence backing it up) then can you really claim the high ground in our differences?


I for one don't know by what means you came to the conclusion that God exists, so i can't begin to assume that my thinking is more valid at this point, but i think it might be a safe bet to say that you've grown up going to church and have been a Christian most of your life[1]

Anyways, if i was to claim any sort of high ground, it would be that i no longer operate under a world view that is so clearly influenced by wish fulfillment.  I consider the reality of an expanding universe that might end in heat death not because its existence somehow appeals to me, but because of the evidence that has been presented by the scientific community.  And i have no emotional or personal attachment to the existence of an expanding universe, if the evidence shows otherwise then my worldview will change accordingly.  Can you say the same when it comes to the existence of God, magicmiles?  Do you believe there's any correlation between wish fulfillment and your Christian beliefs?  Is fear of death a factor in your belief in the existence of an immaterial soul?  Would you stop believing in Yahweh if all the evidence available to us thus far points away from such a beings existence? 
 1. Please correct me if i'm wrong
"I would believe only in a God that knows how to Dance."  -Friedrich Nietzsche

Offline HAL

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2012, 07:38:41 AM »
I want to preface this by saying that I predict we're wasting our time, but by the slim chance we're not I'll contribute this much more.

And finally, it seems to me the absolute validation of truth is when what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true meet. If that happens, how the hell can somebody tell you that you're wrong?

Because what your brain tells you is true and what experience tells you is true don't always "meet".

Look at this picture -



It looks like the long lines are not parallel, but in fact they are. If I were to go by what my brain is telling me is true, I'd be flat-out wrong. But experience tells me to measure things to make sure I know what is really going on. If I did that, I'd find out that my brain was initially wrong. Because I have used validated instruments cross-checked with others to check on my initial assumption, I know that I can over-rule what appears to be true with what actually is true.

At what point, then, is it possible to consider somebody 'foolish' for believing something to be true?

If you accepted that the lines were not parallel in the picture and shunned verification of that fact I would then consider you foolsih for believing it to be true.

Now of course I believe you probably knew what we were going to tell you in this thread. Your religious delusions (sorry but that's my opinion of them) and your acceptance of them as a truth cause you to go along with what you want believe, just as a person who accepted that the lines in the picture were parallel and refused to accept a burden to justify that "knowledge". As that person is being stubborn, so it goes with theists. You think you have knowledge of something but we would argue it's not properly justified knowledge.

In other words, to use the analogy above, you tell us you are experiencing lines which are not parallel, and we ask you to show us the lines so we can see the same truth as you do. That's the problem. You can't even show us the lines so we can both observe it together. And, even if you could show us the lines (the "experience" or "belief" or whatever you want to call it") you don't seem to have any means to justify this belief as knowledge.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2012, 08:31:18 AM »


It looks like the long lines are not parallel, but in fact they are. If I were to go by what my brain is telling me is true, I'd be flat-out wrong. But experience tells me to measure things to make sure I know what is really going on. If I did that, I'd find out that my brain was initially wrong. Because I have used validated instruments cross-checked with others to check on my initial assumption, I know that I can over-rule what appears to be true with what actually is true.

At what point, then, is it possible to consider somebody 'foolish' for believing something to be true?
When someone starts to make claims that the lines are parallel, that they're not parallel, that they're colored blue, or colored purple, or any other claim without being able to see the picture in the first place.


HAL, that's always been one of my favorite brain-failure pictures.
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."
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Offline Bad Pear

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2012, 01:34:46 PM »
Thats just a basic example, and If I thought long enough and had the time I'm sure I could come up with an example where there were 10 or more ways of validating something, with a progressing level of certainty leading up to the point of 100% validation.

At what point, then, is it possible to consider somebody 'foolish' for believing something to be true? If person A is convinced at point 4, and person B is convinced at point 6 or 7, but nobody has gotten to point 10 ( 100% validation ), then is person B really entitled to act all superior, as if they are more rational?

If either person A or person B claim to be 100% convinced at either point along the spectrum then they are both being irrational. Within the framework of this [understandably] very simplistic example a rational person could only be expected to be as certain as the level of evidence to which they have access to and are able to comprehend; e.g. person A should be approx 40% certain of any given position and person B should be 60-70% certain of any given position. If one claims a level of certainty above that which they have evidence to support then one would be making an irrational claim.

Quote
The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

Do you see where that puts you?
Atheism is not a mission to convert the world. It only seems that way because when other religions implode, atheism is what is left behind

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #27 on: August 16, 2012, 03:25:39 PM »
Locked up in a bank vault?
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Your brain, logic and ultimate truth
« Reply #28 on: August 16, 2012, 03:55:18 PM »
The conslusion I reach? My brain and my experience convince me 100% of God's existence. It's a lock, for me. I took it to the bank years ago.

Not trying to be mean, but Bertrand Russell has something to say to you... "The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt." 

When you say you are 100% sure that God exists, you can never allow yourself to examine whether or not you're right.  There are many, MANY very good reasons to doubt God's existence, and you've been on this website long enough to know that.  The arguments from the atheist side are very good and logically far more compelling, but only if you start from a neutral standpoint.  When you start from a position of full on faith like you have, then of course the logical arguments are not going to be compelling.  The reason?  Because your faith isn't based on logic.  Logic doesn't penetrate faith unless you give up the notion that you are 100% right to begin with. 

Do you really think you can objectively assess the arguments for and against the existence of God without first abandoning your certainty that God exists, starting with the question 'does god exist?', and letting the evidence lead you in the right direction?     
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT