Author Topic: How can we trust our reasoning?  (Read 3879 times)

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Offline Brando

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How can we trust our reasoning?
« on: March 22, 2015, 10:15:10 PM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.

Offline Nam

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2015, 11:12:24 PM »
That is the stupidest thing I've read today. Of course, it's just 11 minutes into today.

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2015, 11:19:20 PM »
Your argument does not follow.  Why does the fact that the process of reasoning was refined through billions of years of evolutionary filtering mean that it shouldn't be trusted?

By that reasoning, we shouldn't trust our legs, either.
I always say what I mean. But sometimes I'm a sarcastic prick whose tone can't be properly communicated via text.

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2015, 11:30:05 PM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.

You're missing a critical factor, Brando:  We are the survivors.  We have acquired a collection of impulses that works.  Our very existence in the here-and-now is directly attributable to our ancestors' ability to make correct judgments in crisis situations.

Quote
  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.

And yet the religious, despite their beliefs and the supposed influence of their particular gods, can be so incredibly unreasonable that it boggles the imagination.
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Offline Ron Jeremy

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2015, 12:12:33 AM »
If Christianity is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning was developed by an arbitrary and capricious god, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Evolution offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: evolutionary survival instilled us with the ability to reason.
If your god cannot physically appear before us, then it is imaginary.

It's as simple as that.

Offline natlegend

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2015, 01:17:24 AM »
^^^ Snap!
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2015, 03:39:23 AM »
Quote from: penfold-to-Nam-in-smite
If an argument is stupid then have the decency to explain why.

Does that not also imply that if an argument is stupid, then the one who wrote it should have had the decency to make it less stupid, or to refrain from posting it at all?
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Online One Above All

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2015, 03:55:10 AM »
How can we trust our reasoning that we can or can't trust our reasoning?

(Solipsism is self-defeating)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2015, 05:13:03 AM by One Above All »
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Offline Merlin

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2015, 05:41:04 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, <snip>
Brando, "If" is a very weak foundation upon which to build your belief system.  :-\
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2015, 06:26:08 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.
Basically, your argument is that millions of years of evolution is not as good as some invisible being doing magic...

I don't think that's going to run...
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2015, 08:29:45 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.
Let's look at this from a different angle.  There are a large number of cognitive defects that all humans suffer from[1]; confirmation bias, in-group bias, gambler's fallacy, post-purchase rationalization, neglecting probability, observational selection bias, status-quo bias, negativity bias, bandwagon effect, projection bias, current moment bias, and anchoring effect.  Using theism as an explanation, meaning humans were created like that, then those defects in our thinking were caused by said god; it calls the god's capability and judgment into question and makes it less likely that we can trust our reasoning.

Whereas, if our reasoning was developed through evolutionary processes, then these cognitive biases have a relatively straightforward explanation; they tend to promote survival in a harsh world, and as such, make our reasoning more trustworthy rather than less.  That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be accounted for, of course, because anything can be detrimental if it's taken too far, or if you're not aware that you're doing it.  But the point is, it's much easier to explain these cognitive defects using evolutionary theory than by proposing a god created us.  Not to mention that you don't have to try to justify the god's incompetence (not knowing that the defects were there) or maliciousness (not caring about the defects being there).
 1. http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational
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Offline Jag

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2015, 08:48:01 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.

We trust our reasoning in every area of our lives. I don't believe that you stop and check in with God before you cross a street, instead you look both ways for traffic and reason out whether or not it is safe to cross, just like everyone else.

This line of argument is not going to get you anywhere useful.
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Offline xyzzy

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2015, 09:56:26 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.  Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.[1]
 1. Bold mine.

Stork Theory shares a lot in common with your OP. It offers a trite and simplistic explanation for where babies come from. Shall we, then, accept that as our basis for the understanding of reproduction?

Further, your brand of theism requires faith, where faith is itself an abdication of reasoning. So, nice own-goal there Brando.

Now, seeing as you are here on the subject of reasoning. You have yet to explain your reasons for selecting Christianity from all the other religions. It would be appreciated if you'd show us how you got from zero to that version of theism, and why.

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,28402.msg657447.html#msg657447
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2015, 10:20:17 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?
We shouldn't.  Now what?

Quote
Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.
While that is a response to the question 'why can we trust our reasoning', it is in no way an explanation.  It has the same explanatory power as the response 'Mxyzptlk instilled us with the ability to reason' or 'Metareason instilled us with the ability to reason'.
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Offline wheels5894

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2015, 11:49:53 AM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.

I see you are more into philosophy than experience, Brando. I'm sure you are right about not being fully able to trust anything we come up with in our minds, but, fortunately, we have more going for us than minds. Using our senses we can discover things about the world in which we live.

Now, of course, I'm sure you will be thinking that this is all very well but I have no idea what you see when we both look at the same object (assuming you think there is a world at all of course!). Yet we have come up with a way of dealing with this because we have language so you can tell me what you can see and I can tell you what I see and, if our descriptions are close, we can reasonably conclude that the object is out there and not in our heads. Still, you were talking about reasoning weren't, you, but we are getting there.

So, we have seen how we might agree on on object being in a particular place and even the description of it. So let's do some reasoning. Let's say we get someone to drive at a constant speed down a road. We can use our reasoning to work out when the car will arrive where we are and then observe to see if it does. Let's say we can manage the arithmetic and we get it right and then we try it time after time and keep being right. At what point can we take it as read that our reasoning in this regard is accurate and trustworthy? now we are not short of other examples of this happening are we? You, Brando, posted on your computer / tablet / phone a message for others to receive and respond to. Do you no realise that you are trusting the reasoning of many, many people for this to actually happen? From the production and distribution of electrical power to the design of the Internet and this forum software - all of them are built based on human reasoning and, guess what, they all work (well most of the time.)

So whilst we have evolved to our present state and we evolved thinking powers, it would seem very odd if the basis of our society today, our reasoning, was in serious doubt given than none of it would be possible without our reasoning and, more importantly, all the people who devised the systems and products we buy each day. So, as a philosopher, you can sit on, well, maybe not a couch and tell us that our reasoning is not reliable, I think it fair to say we have all done pretty well with faulty reasoning - you included.

 
Quote
Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.

Ah, I wonder where we were going with this. I thought it would get to this point where reasoning looks it weakest. Let's examine this a bit. We discussed above how we rely on the reasoning of other for our material environment and so forth. We have unprecedented knowledge of many parts of the material world and are even getting close to understanding the Big Bang. All of this is done on the back of careful reasoning by many, many people who carefully check their reasoning against the real world to make sure they are right. When we do that the results are amazing.

Yet here we are, with all this, and you want to bring in a cause for this reasoning. You want to introduce another actor as the responsible being for al we know and do. Yet you don't even attempt to show there is such a a being. Indeed, from as far back as we can go, people have proposed the idea of gods and yet, thousands of years later, we are still lacking evidence of gods. What we have, are believers - people who say they experience a god though they rarely agree on which god and just what that god is like or what it wants. Indeed, more often than is reasonable, believers find that their god wants just what they themselves want! How can that be?

the best explanation I have found is that, for each believer, the idea of a god exists in their brains and than over lots of sessions of praying and study of holy books and so on,the brain seems to give them the impression that they are hearing the voice of their god. Thus they become convinced that they are hearing the voice of a living god and this is where the reasoning ability of humans falls over. Rather than compare gods, so to speak, with others, they join together to praise whatever god is in their own heads. The fatal lack of comparison, together with a failure to check the idea out be making predictions that more than one person can observe (remember the car above?) means that they choose to believe the reasoning in their own heads - the reasoning that can easily be faulty if not proved to be right by checking the real world with others.

So, I agree our reasoning can be faulty, that we can correct for that by testing predictions of our reasoning and, finally, that failure to test predictions leads to failed reasoning. At which point we need the help of a medieval philosopher, William of Occam. he is most famous for his Occam's Razor put by a one John Punch as
Quote
entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity
So, how does this apply here/ Well, we have a perfectly good explanation of the world and how it works, (well a bit incomplete but the gaps in our knowledge are shrinking!) and even an explanation of how some people think there is a god. So, adding a god "adds and entity we don't need". So,

Slice goes the Razor and god is eliminated. Theism fails to provide and answer for anything as long as the gods it proclaims are in the heads of believers only and nothing more. Post again, Brando, if you think you can show that a god exists.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Brando

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2015, 12:23:35 PM »
Quote
You're missing a critical factor, Brando:  We are the survivors.  We have acquired a collection of impulses that works.  Our very existence in the here-and-now is directly attributable to our ancestors' ability to make correct judgments in crisis situations.
You are forgetting one thing: it is not the belief that allows things to survive in evolution, but the behavior.  If we once held the belief that everything larger than us would eat us, that would promote a good behavior (i.e. running from potential predators), but that statement is far from the truth.  Cows, horses, and giraffes definitely do not want to eat us.  Just because a belief evolved, that does not mean that it is true.


Quote
Further, your brand of theism requires faith, where faith is itself an abdication of reasoning. So, nice own-goal there Brando.
There are many verses in the Bible that claim that reasoning is the basis of faith. 1 Peter 3:5 says to defend the reason for our faith.  In Acts, the apostles give evidence for their belief.

Quote
We shouldn't.  Now what? (In response to my question)
How can we trust the reasoning that we can't trust our reasoning?  It's self-refuting.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2015, 01:32:12 PM »
How can we trust the reasoning that we can't trust our reasoning?  It's self-refuting.

k that just sorta gets us back to 'we can't trust our reasoning'.  Ok, we can't trust our reasoning.  Now what?

I guess to shortcut this a bit: why should I trust the statement "God instilled us with the ability to reason."?  I can't reason my way to that statement, as per our "can't trust our reasoning" conundrum.  So how do I get to that statement, and why should I trust it?
"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 jdawg70

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2015, 01:35:18 PM »
Also, could you explain, as best as you can, what reasoning is?

I just want to be clear by what you mean when you say "God instilled us with the ability to reason."
"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 jaimehlers

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2015, 02:00:46 PM »
You are forgetting one thing: it is not the belief that allows things to survive in evolution, but the behavior.  If we once held the belief that everything larger than us would eat us, that would promote a good behavior (i.e. running from potential predators), but that statement is far from the truth.  Cows, horses, and giraffes definitely do not want to eat us.  Just because a belief evolved, that does not mean that it is true.
And this is one reason we can generally trust our reasoning - because it lets us figure out under what circumstances a given behavior makes sense to do.  Instinct doesn't let us do that, reflex doesn't let us do that.  But reason does.  And as such, it promotes survival, because we don't waste time and energy applying a behavior on automatic even in the situations where it isn't necessary.

However, that doesn't mean that reason works as well in all situations.  In a situation where there is solid objective evidence, reason works extremely well.  However, when it comes to subjective impressions, which applies to every branch of theism, reason is easy to short-circuit.  That's why faith isn't reasonable; you can't reason your way into faith.  Once you have faith, it's easy to rationalize, but that doesn't make it reasonable.
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Offline kcrady

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2015, 02:35:51 PM »
If materialism is true, then why should we be able to trust our reasoning?  If it is true, then our reasoning developed through evolutionary processes, and should not be trusted because it is a by-product of impulses.


This looks like a very abbreviated version of Plantinga's argument against naturalism (the one with the silly "I wanna be eaten by a tiger so I'll run away!" thought experiment).  The answer is: we shouldn't, not fully.  Consider this list of logical fallacies or the compendium of cognitive biases Jaimehlers provided:

Let's look at this from a different angle.  There are a large number of cognitive defects that all humans suffer from[1]; confirmation bias, in-group bias, gambler's fallacy, post-purchase rationalization, neglecting probability, observational selection bias, status-quo bias, negativity bias, bandwagon effect, projection bias, current moment bias, and anchoring effect.
 1. http://io9.com/5974468/the-most-common-cognitive-biases-that-prevent-you-from-being-rational

In short, all of this stuff means that human cognition is not automatically accurate and infallible.  We don't get to just "go with our gut" like Captain Kirk and be right every time.  This fallibility is why we're bothering to reason in the first place.  Now consider the fact that people were able to discover, identify, and explain all of these ways in which people could be wrong.  How is that possible?  Again, the short answer: by appealing to external reality.

Reality is truck-like, and, given the chance, it will run over false beliefs.  Like that time you were sure you put the keys in the drawer, and were shocked to find, upon opening it, that the keys were not there.  You could have tried to close the drawer and faith really, really, really hard in hopes that enough presupposition can make the keys be there.  Odds are you didn't do that though.  Instead, you searched and searched, perhaps frantically, until you found them in the pocket of the pants you wore yesterday.  The reality of the keys' location trumped your certainty in where you thought they were, whether you liked it or not.

Reality is especially good at running over false beliefs if we stick them out in the middle of the road and dare reality to smash them if they're wrong.  This is basically what scientists do when they set up an experiment to test a hypothesis.  The goal is to set things up so that, if X is true, the experiments and/or observations will turn out one way, and if it is false, the experiments and/or observations will turn out some other way.  Then: do the experiments and observations.  Rinse, lather, and most importantly, repeat, since we can also make mistakes in our experiments and observations. 

Those compendiums of logical fallacies and cognitive biases are toolkits we use to make sure we're not putting a thumb on the scale or otherwise attempting to deny reality or make the results come out the way we wish they would, rather than the way they would if reality just had its say.  Our most effective systems of truth discovery (science, the courts, democratic governance, the marketplace of ideas and the economic marketplace) operate on the basis of reciprocal accountability.  That is, we set things up so that if we're wrong, somebody else can point it out and be rewarded for doing so.  But guess what: these aren't perfect either!  The most powerful players in any given arena will always face the temptation to try to cheat and immunize themselves from reciprocal accountability.

Which means, we have to operate with skepticism, critical thinking, rationality, and empirical verification of claims as a permanent practice.  It's not good enough to just say, "I'll presuppose that whatever I happened to have been taught in Sunday School comprises the Eternal Truths of the Universe and call it a day."  We have to be willing to regularly scrutinize our own beliefs, and change them when we're wrong, instead of using the tools of cognitive skullduggery (faith, denial, fallacy and bias) to cling to them no matter what.

So, what people here mean when they say they "trust their reasoning" is that they've made their beliefs run a gauntlet of reality-testing and reciprocal accountability while keeping a wary eye on their own tendencies toward cognitive bias and fallacy.  In short: we trust the beliefs that manage to weather the storm of our distrust, i.e., our practically-applied skepticism and the reciprocal accountability provided by our fellow human beings.  And we're still ready to give them the boot if we're provided sufficient reason to.

Theism offers an explanation as to why we can trust our reasoning: God instilled us with the ability to reason.

That's not an explanation of anything.  It just punts the question ("where does rationality come from and why should we trust it?") to some inaccessible "supernatural" realm and leaves it unanswered.  Where would a deity get reasoning from, and why would it need reasoning in the first place?  Why should a deity trust reasoning, instead of some other method like divination or Mystical Insight?  Why would it give us reasoning instead of infallible impulses like Captain Kirk?

To try and make this a little more clear for you, consider: if I had (instead of writing this long post) just said, "Oh, I trust my reasoning because the Goddess Ma'at instilled us with reason!" would you have been impressed?  If not, why not?
"The question of whether atheists are, you know, right, typically gets sidestepped in favor of what is apparently the much more compelling question of whether atheists are jerks."

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Offline eh!

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2015, 05:31:48 PM »
I am nearly 50yo, my reasoning has stopped me getting run over by trucks, falling off cliffs, kissing rattle-snakes, getting mugged, drinking poison and enabled me to get a job and keep it, bought me a house and land, kept me healthy and alive.....etc, etc.

why shouldn't I trust it?

what should I trust instead of my reason?
some skepisms,
1. "I have not seen God. I have felt the invisible presence"
2. What if there is a rock in the middle of a road, a blind person is speeding towards it, ...they say that they can't see it.   Would you recommend him to keep speeding?

Offline The Gawd

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2015, 06:58:14 PM »
I am nearly 50yo, my reasoning has stopped me getting run over by trucks, falling off cliffs, kissing rattle-snakes, getting mugged, drinking poison and enabled me to get a job and keep it, bought me a house and land, kept me healthy and alive.....etc, etc.

why shouldn't I trust it?

what should I trust instead of my reason?
Magic. Silly...

Offline Astreja

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2015, 10:50:23 PM »
You are forgetting one thing: it is not the belief that allows things to survive in evolution, but the behavior.

Yes, but in higher-order animals, beliefs frequently drive behaviours.  IMO, when an animal becomes capable of abstract thought (e.g. some corvids and the great apes) it is no longer 100% committed to an instinct/behaviour loop and has moved into the realm of reasoning and belief, and can access these for decision-making.

Quote
If we once held the belief that everything larger than us would eat us, that would promote a good behavior (i.e. running from potential predators), but that statement is far from the truth.  Cows, horses, and giraffes definitely do not want to eat us.  Just because a belief evolved, that does not mean that it is true.

Perhaps at one time humans did believe that big = dangerous.  Beliefs, however, are subject to change as additional information comes in, and now we can clearly see that lions are more dangerous to us than cows.
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Offline Nam

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2015, 10:53:06 PM »
You ever smell a cow fart? Trust me -- though tasty, cows are more dangerous.

;)

-Nam
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #24 on: March 24, 2015, 07:14:39 AM »
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You're missing a critical factor, Brando:  We are the survivors.  We have acquired a collection of impulses that works.  Our very existence in the here-and-now is directly attributable to our ancestors' ability to make correct judgments in crisis situations.
If we once held the belief that everything larger than us would eat us,
We didn't.
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Just because a belief evolved, that does not mean that it is true.
You have summed up the irrationality of religion.

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There are many verses in the Bible that claim that reasoning is the basis of faith. 1 Peter 3:5 says to defend the reason for our faith.
No. 1 Peter:3:5 says
1Pe:3:5: For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
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In Acts, the apostles give evidence for their belief.
But you have just said that believing something does not make it true...

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How can we trust the reasoning that we can't trust our reasoning?  It's self-refuting.
All this "Oh woe is me! How can we know anything? We are lost sheep!" is just so much garbage: you know what to buy at a supermarket, don't you?

We operate with what we've got: that's how it's always been and we cannot change it, so we should live with it.

However, there is a general consensus that the contents of existence that we see are real.

I give you the example of the Mantis Shrimp that can see far more colours than us: there is no point my explaining the colour of my shirt with reference to a Mantis Shrimp's visible spectrum - it is enough to avoid errors if I use normal colours. (Of course, I can use wavelengths, but here it is not helpful.)

So, we see the world as it is because we can explain it that way and our explanation works as defined by our environment.

If we could make no sense of our environment then we would not have progressed as everything would seem random. As it does not, it seems we are right.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 07:18:38 AM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Brando

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #25 on: March 24, 2015, 06:24:06 PM »
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1 Peter:3:5 says
1Pe:3:5: For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
I'm sorry about that typo, I meant to say verse 15.

Here is a video explaining the evolutionary argument against naturalism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpQ1-AGPysM

Online One Above All

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #26 on: March 24, 2015, 06:32:40 PM »
How can we trust our reasoning that we can or can't trust our reasoning?
Care to answer this question, Brando?
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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #27 on: March 24, 2015, 06:33:59 PM »
Here's a thought: stop apologizing and reply to peoples posts. Are you scared? Is the poor little Christian scared of the big ol' atheist?

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Re: How can we trust our reasoning?
« Reply #28 on: March 24, 2015, 07:33:23 PM »
If your reason tells you that there is a god and the bible is true, can you trust that?

Especially considering everything besides your reason (other religions, science, common sense) tells you your reason is wrong on god and the bible? When do you go with your reason alone, even against other evidence, and when do you decide your reasoning is flawed?

In other words, how can you tell when you are crazy?
When all of Cinderella's finery changed back at midnight, why didn't the shoes disappear? What's up with that?