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Consistency of Belief

2002-05-02 10:37:33+00 by Larry Burton 12 comments

My friend, tom, pointed me to this test to check the consistency of your beliefs. I took a couple of direct hits on my beliefs but I would argue their definitions on a couple of things that resulted in this.

[ related topics: Religion Games ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 14:06:38+00 by: Pete [edit history]

It's bullshit.

Earlier you agreed that it is rational to believe that the Loch Ness monster does not exist if there is an absence of strong evidence or argument that it does. No strong evidence or argument was required to show that the monster does not exist - absence of evidence or argument was enough. But now you claim that the atheist needs to be able to provide strong arguments or evidence if their belief in the non-existence of God is to be rational rather than a matter of faith.

The contradiction is that on the first ocassion (Loch Ness monster) you agreed that the absence of evidence or argument is enough to rationally justify belief in the non-existence of the Loch Ness monster, but on this occasion (God), you do not.

No, I didn't.

If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist.

As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality.

Those are not in opposition to each other because faith and belief are not equivalent. Declaring a belief is different from claiming knowledge, which is different from faith. I believed I'd make it to work without getting ticket. Now that I've done it, I know.

Similar problems are found elsewhere in the excercise. They really ought to get their shit correct before trying to lecture other people.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 14:13:39+00 by: ziffle

Well, I had to look!

I scored right except I missed this one; BUT I do not agree with their assumptions.

The question was:

"If God exists she would have the freedom and power to create square circles and make 1 + 1 = 72."

There are no definitions for this god, whoever she is, so using the popular one, that is, a god who can do whatever they want, I answered true. There are no gods of course, so the question is nil, but because they said if god exists[Wiki] then...

They replied:

"In saying that God has the freedom and power to do that which is logically impossible (like creating square circles), you are saying that any discussion of God and ultimate reality cannot be constrained by basic principles of rationality. This would seem to make rational discourse about God impossible. If rational discourse about God is impossible, there is nothing rational we can say about God and nothing rational we can say to support our belief or disbelief in God. To reject rational constraints on religious discourse in this fashion requires accepting that religious convictions, including your religious convictions, are beyond any debate or rational discussion. This is to bite a bullet."

They err here. Because of the form of the question, which builds in a presumption of answering within the context of the extistence of a god, there can be no answer other than True. Mixing a plea for rationality within the context of a god, is to ask for what is not. Even the relgious types say its faith. Faith is the renunciation of reason. Reason applied to reality is rationality. The two do not mix. You may use attempt to use reason normally and then use faith to justify your convictions, but then you have a contradiction. There are no contradictions. Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification. Things have identity. Reality exists, and we are conscious of it. (unless you believe in god)

There is another issue here. "Square circles" Circles are a concept- an abstraction - an identification of essential properties - that of being circular[Wiki]. Abstractions are identifications which drop measurement[Wiki] attribute. This process can only be accomplished by rational beings, such as humans. To propose "square circles" then is to undercut the concept of "circularity". To propose a contradiction of a concept by using the concept itself is an example of a stolen concept[Wiki]. Its purpose is to undercut the rational faculty. So the question itself is framed to undercut the fact of rational faculty, and as such is silly. As I think it through I find most of the questions to be similar.

They said:

"You took zero direct hits and you bit 1 bullets. The average player of this activity to date takes 1.29 hits and bites 1.06 bullet. 37399 people have so far undertaken this activity."

Their argument:

"You have to bite a bullet if your choices have an implication that most would find strange, incredible or unpalatable. There is more room for disagreement here, since what strikes many people as extraordinary or bizarre can strike others as normal. So, again, please do not get too upset if we judge you have bitten a bullet. Maybe it is our world-view which is warped"

Further starting at question 3, there was no answer possible, true or false.

Example: Queston 4: "Any being which it is right to call God must want there to be as little suffering in the word as is possible."

This question is non answerable. There are no beings which are right to call god; and some religous doctrines say that people are[Wiki] here to suffer. Who gives children cancer anyway?

Ths morning, I was asked by the waitress if I thought that it would rain upon Fillin Finley today? I answered, "Its gods will." She laughed!! I laughed too!

So if it rains care to speculate on the evasions that will be presented to justify their gods behavior?

One of the proponents of Fillin is a former Promise Keeper proponent. Remember, they want you to follow[Wiki], and they want to be your leader[Wiki]. There is a reason they call them commandments, not guidelines. They do not want you to think. Since thinking is what sets humans apart from the lower life forms, you have to ask yourself, what do they want? We are so fortunate that we have a constitution that keeps these types at bay. Too bad they can vote.


#Comment made: 2002-05-02 15:29:25+00 by: Shawn

The test is flawed - primarily because it makes flawed assumptions. I was doing fine until I got hit with the same bullet as Pete. And I also disagree, although for a slightly different reason:

The test's assertion that I am inconsistent is based on the assumption that [I believe] atheism is a philosophy based on rational reasoning. I have never claimed such a distinction. In my opinion, atheism is as much a faith as any religion. To a certain extent, rationality is involved - but the same could be said of a religious person for whom every sick person they've prayed for has gotten better. But when we reach the point where a thing can neither be proven nor disproven, rationality becomes useless.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 15:39:01+00 by: TheSHAD0W [edit history]

There's a serious problem with the test. I suppose a "test for consistency" is an appropriate title -- if by consistent, you believe that apples and oranges are consistent with each other, because that's what the test is comparing.

One of these days I'll have to go back and pick it apart, but not right now. I suspect a full refutation of that test would be thesis-level material.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 15:48:13+00 by: Shawn

And the next one:

Earlier you said that it is justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of this conviction. But now you do not accept that the rapist Peter Sutcliffe was justified in doing just that. The example of the rapist has exposed that you do not in fact agree that any belief is justified just because one is convinced of its truth. So you need to revise your opinion here. The intellectual sniper has scored a bull's-eye!

They're painting the term "justify" with a rather broad, and changing, brush. Just because I think somebody's beliefs are justified, it does not follow that I think their actions are - even if those actions are based on their beliefs.

And, of course, I got hit by the same one as ziffle. If an all powerful god (were one to exist) can't redefine the laws of physics/nature/logic then they're not really all powerful, are they?

And then back to the rapist:

You claim that it is justifiable to believe in God based only on inner-convictions. But earlier you stated that the serial rapist, Peter Sutcliffe, was not justified in believing, purely on the basis of inner-convictions,

No I didn't. I said that his actions were unjustified, based on his (justified) beliefs.

I'm not impressed with these folks' logic. It reminds me of an argument I had with somebody (who believes in god) a few years back, wherein he played what he thought was the athiest trump card: "You walk into a diner and see a hundred dollar bill on the counter. No one is around and you are guaranteed that no one can see you. If there is no moral dictum from a higher power, then why don't you take the money?" At this point, the questioner generally looks smug and will not entertain any thoughts that there might be a flaw in their logic. And there is - namely the assumption that, in the absence of enforced morality, human beings will be reduced to [personally] opportunistic animals. The questioner fails to see that this assumption [also] is a construct of religion, and therefore inaccurate to any but those for whom the argument is unecessary.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 16:13:40+00 by: Mars Saxman

Shawn, that's a sadly common line of approach. It makes me sad, really, that someone can't step outside of their worldview long enough to even ask a question that makes sense to someone who doesn't believe the same things they do. This weakness is encouraged by an all-too-common fundie-Christian belief that everyone, deep down, really does believe the same things they do, and they only say otherwise as an act of rebellion against God.


#Comment made: 2002-05-02 17:27:19+00 by: Shawn

Mars; the funny thing was this guy was about as far from fundie as you can get and still believe in god. In fact, he was generally distainful of mainstream religion entirely (and he looked kinda like The Kurgan to boot). But he was absolutely unwavering in his personal faith.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 21:41:14+00 by: Dan Lyke

Shawn, it took me several lessons to learn that someone who would ask such a question is someone who, in the absence of an entity that I believe to be fictional, would take that $100 bill off my desk if they didn't think they'd get caught.

And it flagged me for the same question: If we've established that someone has beliefs different from mine, then asking if those beliefs justify a given set of actions seems to me to be a question of internal logic, not a question about whether I approve of those actions.

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 22:02:40+00 by: Shawn

And it flagged me for the same question: If we've established that someone has beliefs different from mine, then asking if those beliefs justify a given set of actions seems to me to be a question of internal logic, not a question about whether I approve of those actions.

... I don't follow...?

#Comment made: 2002-05-02 22:19:20+00 by: Dan Lyke

I had the opposite answer to the murderer question. The murderer thought the voices were God, and the voices told him to go kill, was he justified in thinking God told him to go kill? Since I'd already answered that I didn't believe in god, and Mu or Null was not an option, I figured they were asking if the belief in god lead to thinking it was right to murder based on voices in your head. Seemed logical to me.

#Comment made: 2002-05-03 00:50:04+00 by: meuon [edit history]

I bit the bullet on the 'Rapist/Murderer' question as well, as an agnostic theist, I also could see the point of view I was asked to see as possible, even if I did not agree with it. Score: Zero hits and 1 bullet. Mix their test and This one together.

#Comment made: 2002-05-03 18:56:52+00 by: dexev

The whole s/God/Loch Ness Monster/g thing bugs me. As far as I know, nobody is granting Nessie omnipotence or following her 'word', so the standards of proof (for or against)are a little different. Eh?