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    Thread: The Power of Faith and the Need to "Know"

    1. #1
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      Arrow The Power of Faith and the Need to "Know"

      This is going to be a long-winded post, but if you're an atheist or skeptic I urge you to read it and consider my points and maybe show me the error of my ways?


      For most of my life I was a hardcore militant atheist. My dad is so, and I was primarily raised by him, so that is why. Materialism was my dogma, and anything that hadn't been proven and accepted by the mainstream scientific community was hogwash. If it couldn't be explained by science, it couldn't BE, and there was no room for any ultimate reality beyond the reach of our ability to observe/conceptualize.

      Experiences with entheogens opened me up to other possibilities, and the first step it took to do so was to reveal to me this:

      People experience OOBEs, Astral Projection, Channeling, this, that and the other thing. Magick, the occult, religious fervor, 'conversations with god' and the feeling of God's presence. People have experienced these things from the dawn of history. People see ghosts, get abducted by aliens, dream they're being contacted by dead loved ones.

      Old me would say, "They're all hallucinating, it's all in their head." Old me would immediately point to this or that lack of evidence, or attack whatever the source was. Then one day, one trip, I had a strange experience of my own, and I realized this very important thing: It doesn't MATTER if it's all in your head. EVERYTHING ABOUT EXISTENCE IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD. You can never experience anything that isn't "inside your head." So, if you BELIEVE you can see ghosts, and you EXPERIENCE a ghost sighting, then for you, in your universe, ghosts exist. It doesn't matter if they don't exist, or haven't been proven to exist, in the "objective" universe, because we can never ACCESS that objective universe except through subjective experience.

      For people who believe in God, or aliens, or ghosts or goblins or fairies or spirits of any kind, THOSE THINGS EXIST, and they have personal experiences OF THESE THINGS. These personal experiences enrich their lives, so who cares if they are actually true? All that matters is the experience and the enrichment. This isn't even to say those things AREN'T true. I don't even like the concept of 'truth' anymore, anyways, but I digress...

      Old me used to determine the things I would accept and the things I would reject based on this tenant: What is the most OBJECTIVELY TRUE? (More deeply, it was closer to, "What requires the least faith/effort to accept/integrate?")

      But why do this? Why does this actually matter? Why not, instead, accept/reject based on this: What is the most enriching, interesting or uplifting? Why do we need to feel like we are "right" in our beliefs? Why can't we just embrace them for what they give us and forget about misplaced notions of certitude?

      For me, I found that the reason I filtered my worldviews based on so-called "objectivity" is because I possessed a TREMENDOUS amount of self-doubt. Essentially, I could not risk accepting anything that wasn't EXTREMELY SECURE because I was so insecure myself. Being right was an ego prop. No matter what I disliked about myself, my life, the world or my relationship to it, I "knew" that *I WAS RIGHT*, and everyone else was WRONG. I possessed absolute truth, and it made me feel secure to think so. My biggest fear was to be made a fool of, because my certitude was all I really had.

      This was the first step. The next step was recognizing that, in fact, there is no way to logically/reasonably justify the use of logic/reason. It is actually UNREASONABLE to suggest that we are capable of fully understanding the nature of the universe just because we WANT to be able to. It is, to me, no longer reasonable to suggest that only that which can be observed and documented can be true. It makes no sense. Who are we to presume there is nothing else going on? Why do we have to be able to tell ourselves there is nothing else going on?

      This post didn't come out exactly how I pictured it, and I'm not sure I made exactly the point I meant to make. However, if people read this and reply, I suspect the ensuing conversation will evoke the points I meant to make quite nicely.

      So, what are your thoughts on this? If you're a skeptic, why? Do you feel you 'need' to be correct, and if so, why? If not, what do you think drives your skepticism? What is stopping you from choosing a set of beliefs and simply following them? If you're a believer, why? Do you possess ultimate conviction in your beliefs, and do you suffer any dissonance between doubtful thoughts and feelings of conviction?

      I guess my point is that I am neither skeptic nor believer. I am anti-dogma and anti-certitude. I now see that it is silly to ever believe that I know what is going on, that anything is ever finalized, or that I can truly grasp ultimate reality. Our beliefs are only MAPS of reality, but maps are never the territory. My problem with Scientism and excess skepticism is this apparent need to believe that the map IS the territory.

      Quote Originally Posted by Kurt Vonnegut
      Tiger got to hunt,
      bird got to fly;
      Man got to sit and wonder, 'Why, why, why?'

      Tiger got to sleep,
      bird got to land;
      Man got to tell himself he understand.
      Last edited by ThisWitheredMan; 08-11-2012 at 02:41 AM.
      "Less of a young professional, more of an ancient amateur."

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      I understand your points, but I see several problems with that line of thinking.

      First off, no one lives in a vacuum. Humans by their very nature are social creatures, and so while there is no real problem with living in your own little fantasy world, you will have trouble interacting with others if you do. We seek the truth, because we can all experience and see the truth together. It binds us together in a common reality, and that is why it is important to know that objective truth.

      Secondly, you seem to have some flawed ideas on logic. You make a huge leap from, if we use logic then we have to believe there is nothing outside what is already know. Which is silly. With logic we will eventually be able to understand everything in the world, however we do not already know everything. You shouldn't throw out logic because you think there is something logic is missing. Instead you should be using logic to try and see what you couldn't see before. You don't give up on finding evidence, because something hasn't be observed yet.

      As for me, I am a skeptic for many things, because its dangerous not to be. I try to understand the truth, because I seek a greater understanding of the world. I wish to influence the world and to have my influence do what I wish I need to understand that world and what is true and what is only an illusion. You can influence the world based on a lie, but that influence will not likely have the result you want, since it will be unpredictable. If something is only in your head, then there is no way to know what it will do.

      It is like flying an air plane. You want the perfect air plane designed in someones head, by a person who knows nothing about reality? Or do you want flyable plane designed in someones head who has a strong grasp of reality and how the world works? The first will probably get you killed and end all your experiences. That is why truth is so important. There are few things I can claim to know absolutely in this world, but the fact I don't want to die is one of them. Which is why I am never going to strap my self on to some crazy persons wild idea that only ever existed in his head. I have a lot of faith in people, but not people who live only in their own minds.
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      Lucid and intelligent.

      Further reading I reccomend to you:

      Here follows some psycho-metaphysics.

      If you are not hot for philosophy, best just to skip it.

      The Aneristic Principle is that of apparent order; the Eristic Principle is that of apparent disorder. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of pure chaos, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.

      With our concept-making apparatus called "the brain" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us.

      The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently.

      It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T) True reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept.

      We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The order is in the grid. That is the Aneristic Principle.

      Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be true. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the Aneristic Illusion. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.

      Disorder is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.

      The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion.

      The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.

      Reality is the original Rorschach. Verily! So much for all that.
      —Malaclypse the Younger, Principia Discordia, Pages 00049–00050
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    4. #4
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      Most atheists/skeptics (as far as I'm aware) don't feel a need to know and are quite comfortable with ambiguity. Those with a strong need for closure or to feel like they know the answers generally turn to religion or some similar belief system that doesn't require a factual basis but provides comforting answers.

      To the OP - It seems like you're basically a person with strong religious tendencies who was raised rather atypically to believe that atheism/skepticism is some kind of dogma. People who understand the scientific process don't claim that anything not already proven by science is false.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Most atheists/skeptics (as far as I'm aware) don't feel a need to know and are quite comfortable with ambiguity. Those with a strong need for closure or to feel like they know the answers generally turn to religion or some similar belief system that doesn't require a factual basis but provides comforting answers.

      To the OP - It seems like you're basically a person with strong religious tendencies who was raised rather atypically to believe that atheism/skepticism is some kind of dogma. People who understand the scientific process don't claim that anything not already proven by science is false.
      Well, he never really made that suggestion, or any other, about atheists in general, only about his own personal beliefs during that time.

      And besides, I've known some atheists to be quite dogmatic.

      EDIT: I will add that the wikipedia article illustrates the reason that certain things are accepted as axiomatically true, otherwise every attempt at logic would end in such an infinite loop (although I suppose you could then argue that this points out an imperfection in the practice of accepting certain things as axiomatically true, and if I continue this train of thought any further we will, in fact, end up in an infinite loop, so let's move on). What you propose immediately afterward however, independently, I must agree with.
      Last edited by Supernova; 08-11-2012 at 05:41 PM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      Well, he never really made that suggestion, or any other, about atheists in general, only about his own personal beliefs during that time.
      I know he wasn't saying all atheists are like that, I didn't mean to imply that he was. It was just my setting up for the next part I was about to say.

      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      And besides, I've known some atheists to be quite dogmatic.
      Oh definitely! That's why I said "people who understand the scientific process.."

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      There's just a few points I'd like to give some points on in your post ThisWitheredMan It is not meant as attacks by far but simply points you should consider From what I've read in your post there seems to, as Alric already pointed out, some flawed logic in the way you used to think. That is to the extreme of "either we already know if it, or it simply does not exist". This is by far what science and the scientific method is about, as Darkmatters already pointed out. I'm pretty sure it simply shows a misunderstanding in what it is all about. I will quote several parts of your post and give a response, and you are of course allowed to correct me if my arguments comes from misunderstanding what you meant

      I am an atheist myself, and skepticism should be a big part of everyone's life simply because not being skeptic is dangerous for both your health and wealth; there is so many people out there who wants to persuade you into different ways of thinking for exactly these reasons. Being skeptic does not by any means make you close-minded!

      Materialism was my dogma, and anything that hadn't been proven and accepted by the mainstream scientific community was hogwash. If it couldn't be explained by science, it couldn't BE, and there was no room for any ultimate reality beyond the reach of our ability to observe/conceptualize.
      I believe, and agree with you, this is a sad way of thinking. And this is not one embraced by science, by a long shot. One of Carl Sagan's quotes sums up the idea of science in one beautiful sentence:
      "We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both. We will not be afraid to speculate, but we will be careful to distinguish speculation from fact. The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature."

      "Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."

      The points here being that we should not just be narrow in thinking; science thrives on new ideas and as crazy as they can be. After all, it's the human imagination that have driven us forward for all this time, and what will be the driving force for the future. The important point here being that while we will speculate a lot, we will come up with crazy ideas using our awesome imagination, and some of them will turn out true and most of them will turn out to be false. We have to filter the good from the bad, or how, else, are we supposed to progress towards a bigger "truth" or at the very least a more defensible position on a given issue? Of course there is something "beyond" what we already know, and hopefully we can uncover it with time

      But why do this? Why does this actually matter? Why not, instead, accept/reject based on this: What is the most enriching, interesting or uplifting? Why do we need to feel like we are "right" in our beliefs? Why can't we just embrace them for what they give us and forget about misplaced notions of certitude?
      The misconception I'm spotting here is that skepticism and science is not supposed to be about the need of feeling "right", actually that would be the total opposite of what science really is. Of course there is always the unfortunate human pitfall that it is hard not to get clouded by personal affection to what an idea we might like ourselves. Nevertheless it is not a part of science or skepticism. In science you do not put yourself in a position where you know with absolute certainty that you are right, this would be a complete contradiction to the very nature of it. What you do is that you put yourself in the position of a certain issue which is at the current time is supported by the best and strongest arguments. You realize with absolute certainty that it might actually not be correct (actually it it most probable that it will be incorrect). Most of scientific claims throughout history have actually been proven false or incorrect in future studies, and a whole lot of more scientific claims now and in the future will be flawed or incorrect as well. Science and skepticism is absolutely not about having to be correct or know anything with an absolute certainty, it is actually the very opposite. This is also what makes it so great, because it always allows us to correct ourselves and progress toward a bigger truth.

      It is, to me, no longer reasonable to suggest that only that which can be observed and documented can be true. It makes no sense. Who are we to presume there is nothing else going on? Why do we have to be able to tell ourselves there is nothing else going on?
      This is very true, so it is actually a good thing you arrived to this conclusion Without this, science would never progress.

      For people who believe in God, or aliens, or ghosts or goblins or fairies or spirits of any kind, THOSE THINGS EXIST, and they have personal experiences OF THESE THINGS. These personal experiences enrich their lives, so who cares if they are actually true? All that matters is the experience and the enrichment. This isn't even to say those things AREN'T true. I don't even like the concept of 'truth' anymore, anyways, but I digress...
      Because unfortunately there is a whole lot of gullible people out there that many people enjoy taking advantage of. If you were to ultimately view the world as you just described, it would - in my opinion - leave us in a position where there would be no point in trying to search for any kind of collective truth about anything, where everyone was more or less right. This doesn't really seem to be practical or constructive, after all we do have all the technological advances today because people before our time and now have tried to describe some objective "truth" which we can all use to predict things about the world we live in. I believe this to be extremely important.

      I believe these points also answered your final questions on the issue I do not feel any need to be right, what drives my skepticism is simply due to the humble fact that you will have to make decisions in your life and choose positions, and the most reasonable way to do this, I believe, is to look at what position is the most well formed argument at the current time. If it turns out I was wrong in the future, then great, and I will accept the new position put forth in light of new evidence. I also see a lot of people who use the fact that scientific claims is wrong now and then as a negative thing which shakes its credibility, which of course is ironic seeing as it would be absurd to believe any first claim will be correct forever just because we like it. We are only humans after all

      I hope the post can be of some use
      Last edited by SomeDreamer; 08-11-2012 at 07:16 PM.

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      "somehow we get by without ever learning,
      somehow no matter what the world keeps turning"

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      Quote Originally Posted by ThisWitheredMan View Post
      This is going to be a long-winded post, but if you're an atheist or skeptic I urge you to read it and consider my points and maybe show me the error of my ways?


      For most of my life I was a hardcore militant atheist. My dad is so, and I was primarily raised by him, so that is why. Materialism was my dogma, and anything that hadn't been proven and accepted by the mainstream scientific community was hogwash. If it couldn't be explained by science, it couldn't BE, and there was no room for any ultimate reality beyond the reach of our ability to observe/conceptualize.

      Experiences with entheogens opened me up to other possibilities, and the first step it took to do so was to reveal to me this:

      People experience OOBEs, Astral Projection, Channeling, this, that and the other thing. Magick, the occult, religious fervor, 'conversations with god' and the feeling of God's presence. People have experienced these things from the dawn of history. People see ghosts, get abducted by aliens, dream they're being contacted by dead loved ones.

      Old me would say, "They're all hallucinating, it's all in their head." Old me would immediately point to this or that lack of evidence, or attack whatever the source was. Then one day, one trip, I had a strange experience of my own, and I realized this very important thing: It doesn't MATTER if it's all in your head. EVERYTHING ABOUT EXISTENCE IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD. You can never experience anything that isn't "inside your head." So, if you BELIEVE you can see ghosts, and you EXPERIENCE a ghost sighting, then for you, in your universe, ghosts exist. It doesn't matter if they don't exist, or haven't been proven to exist, in the "objective" universe, because we can never ACCESS that objective universe except through subjective experience.

      For people who believe in God, or aliens, or ghosts or goblins or fairies or spirits of any kind, THOSE THINGS EXIST, and they have personal experiences OF THESE THINGS. These personal experiences enrich their lives, so who cares if they are actually true? All that matters is the experience and the enrichment. This isn't even to say those things AREN'T true. I don't even like the concept of 'truth' anymore, anyways, but I digress...

      Old me used to determine the things I would accept and the things I would reject based on this tenant: What is the most OBJECTIVELY TRUE? (More deeply, it was closer to, "What requires the least faith/effort to accept/integrate?")

      But why do this? Why does this actually matter? Why not, instead, accept/reject based on this: What is the most enriching, interesting or uplifting? Why do we need to feel like we are "right" in our beliefs? Why can't we just embrace them for what they give us and forget about misplaced notions of certitude?

      For me, I found that the reason I filtered my worldviews based on so-called "objectivity" is because I possessed a TREMENDOUS amount of self-doubt. Essentially, I could not risk accepting anything that wasn't EXTREMELY SECURE because I was so insecure myself. Being right was an ego prop. No matter what I disliked about myself, my life, the world or my relationship to it, I "knew" that *I WAS RIGHT*, and everyone else was WRONG. I possessed absolute truth, and it made me feel secure to think so. My biggest fear was to be made a fool of, because my certitude was all I really had.

      This was the first step. The next step was recognizing that, in fact, there is no way to logically/reasonably justify the use of logic/reason. It is actually UNREASONABLE to suggest that we are capable of fully understanding the nature of the universe just because we WANT to be able to. It is, to me, no longer reasonable to suggest that only that which can be observed and documented can be true. It makes no sense. Who are we to presume there is nothing else going on? Why do we have to be able to tell ourselves there is nothing else going on?

      This post didn't come out exactly how I pictured it, and I'm not sure I made exactly the point I meant to make. However, if people read this and reply, I suspect the ensuing conversation will evoke the points I meant to make quite nicely.

      So, what are your thoughts on this? If you're a skeptic, why? Do you feel you 'need' to be correct, and if so, why? If not, what do you think drives your skepticism? What is stopping you from choosing a set of beliefs and simply following them? If you're a believer, why? Do you possess ultimate conviction in your beliefs, and do you suffer any dissonance between doubtful thoughts and feelings of conviction?

      I guess my point is that I am neither skeptic nor believer. I am anti-dogma and anti-certitude. I now see that it is silly to ever believe that I know what is going on, that anything is ever finalized, or that I can truly grasp ultimate reality. Our beliefs are only MAPS of reality, but maps are never the territory. My problem with Scientism and excess skepticism is this apparent need to believe that the map IS the territory.
      We will die at some point. It seems to me that this is the end of things. Believing in ghosts, spirits, gods and afterlifes seems to me to be a way of not facing this reality. If you don't face this reality you will never fully appreciate your life while you have it, in my opinion at least.

      Also, while some beliefs may seem benign, they can grow into much more malignant beliefs. For example just believing in god may not seem very harmful but it can cause people to crash planes into buildings.

      I don't really think being a skeptic is being absolutely certain about this. These things might be real, but that doesn't mean that you should believe something without evidence for it of some kind. You can hope for something, keep an open mind about something, but don't get your hopes up. Don't live your life based on it.
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

    10. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Alric View Post
      First off....
      There are 'fantasy worlds' that many people subscribe to, and thanks to the internet it is not difficult to connect with like-minded people. Living in Orange County, California, I have most of my life had difficulty connecting with most of the people around me. I don't mind disconnecting from mainstream society because I frankly can't stand what our society has become. I do not believe that many people are bound together in a common reality, nor do I believe that all people see the same truth. From what I have seen, people have various dimensions of commonalities within their realities, but in a holistic sense see a reality unique to themselves.

      Quote Originally Posted by Alric View Post
      Secondly....
      This is not what I meant. What I meant is that many people who I would dub hyperrationalists seem to think that, or behave as though logic is the *only* approach to knowledge, thinking or truth. It seems logical to many people that, for example, lucid dreaming or astral projection are all in your head, and so they completely discount the possibility (the ones I know would even scorn the use of the word possibility) that it is NOT all in your head. They actually have no idea, but they scoff at any such notion without really having enough evidence to do so. I do not necessarily believe that Occam's razor must always apply. It doesn't strike me as all that reasonable to presume that because we see much use for logic, it is the only way.

      As for the rest of your post, it's important to distinguish that I do not deny logic its place, I just don't think it is necessarily the end all be all.

      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      Lucid and intelligent.
      Further reading I reccomend to you:
      Thanks for the post, that quote was very interesting. Got any more?

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Most atheists/skeptics (as far as I'm aware) don't feel a need to know and are quite comfortable with ambiguity. Those with a strong need for closure or to feel like they know the answers generally turn to religion or some similar belief system that doesn't require a factual basis but provides comforting answers.
      The acceptance of ambiguiuty is only within the framework of their worldview. They may not lay awake at night wondering what dark matter is, but they need to know that we will ultimately find a logical explanation for the mystery. Indeed that every mystery HAS a logical answer.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      To the OP - It seems like you're basically a person with strong religious tendencies who was raised rather atypically to believe that atheism/skepticism is some kind of dogma. People who understand the scientific process don't claim that anything not already proven by science is false.
      By dogma I mean only that it is seen as absolute truth. The vast majority of atheists/skeptics I have seen absolutely behave as if they possess absolute truth (or, more specifically, the absolute best system or ONLY system for reaching truth). It is not that they would necessarily claim that anything not proven by science is false, but rather the attitude they would take towards things that have not yet been proven or disproven, or things they perceive as being unfalsifiable, is one of dismissiveness and oftentimes mockery. It does not take much browsing of these forums to find many posts from people commenting on the possibility of dreams not being 'just inside your head' in which they very confidently state that it is nonsense or ridiculous. This is what I mean by the "need to know." They can't simply say, "I have no idea if dreams are just inside your head, I have no idea if ghosts or aliens exist/have visited, etc." They have to be able to tell themselves that these things have simple, logical explanations. They need to think they understand.

      Quote Originally Posted by Supernova View Post
      EDIT: I will add that the wikipedia article illustrates the reason that certain things are accepted as axiomatically true, otherwise every attempt at logic would end in such an infinite loop (although I suppose you could then argue that this points out an imperfection in the practice of accepting certain things as axiomatically true, and if I continue this train of thought any further we will, in fact, end up in an infinite loop, so let's move on).
      But that's precisely the point. You can't justify having the axioms. The point is not that logic becomes useless in the face of this infinite loop business, but only to demonstrate that logic is only useful WITHIN ITS OWN TERMS. Logic can only explain the LOGICAL side of the universe, but it cannot explain the illogical side, and it is impossible to justify logic as the only approach to full understanding of the universe. Ultimately, you are taking the idea that the entirety of the world can be explained by logic ON FAITH, because you cannot logically prove logic's ultimate reach.

      Quote Originally Posted by SomeDreamer View Post
      Being skeptic does not by any means make you close-minded!
      Thanks for the reply, SomeDreamer. Here goes: I should clarify then, that I only mean closed-minded skeptics. Obviously, you have to be skeptical about much in the world. Especially in this world, where so much of what we are told and sold is complete bullshit. My point was that it isn't reasonable to me that we should discount unusual concepts automatically.

      Quote Originally Posted by SomeDreamer View Post
      I believe, and agree with you, this is a sad way of thinking. And this is not one embraced by science, by a long shot. One of Carl Sagan's quotes sums up the idea of science in one beautiful sentence:
      I think you may have misunderstood me, or I have misunderstood you. I did not say, 'anything that HASN'T been explained by science can't be,' but rather, 'anything that CAN'T be explained by science can't be.'

      Do you still disagree that most scientists don't feel this way? It seems to be they do. Someone in this very thread has claimed that eventually we will understand everything in the world through logic. Why presume this? Why presume that there are not unknowables, that there aren't aspects to existence that cannot be understood?

      Quote Originally Posted by SomeDreamer View Post
      Most of scientific claims throughout history have actually been proven false or incorrect in future studies, and a whole lot of more scientific claims now and in the future will be flawed or incorrect as well. Science and skepticism is absolutely not about having to be correct or know anything with an absolute certainty, it is actually the very opposite. This is also what makes it so great, because it always allows us to correct ourselves and progress toward a bigger truth.
      And yet so many atheists and skeptics treat spiritual and religious concepts as though they were fairytales, when we ultimately have only a tenuous MAP of what is going on, they make conjectures about what is going on in the unknown territories and subscribe to those conjectures with certitude. Atheism is indefensible to me now, it seems the only logical stance is agnosticism. To make the leap from "There's maybe a God or something like it," to "There IS NOT a God or anything like it," requires a leap of intuition, which requires faith in your intuition. Atheism is undeniably a form of faith in my eyes.

      Quote Originally Posted by SomeDreamer View Post
      This doesn't really seem to be practical or constructive, after all we do have all the technological advances today because people before our time and now have tried to describe some objective "truth" which we can all use to predict things about the world we live in.
      I've basically covered this in my responses now already, but I'll repeat it: I did not mean to imply logic is USELESS, only that its reach is limited to its own territory.

      Quote Originally Posted by SomeDreamer View Post
      you will have to make decisions in your life and choose positions, and the most reasonable way to do this, I believe, is to look at what position is the most well formed argument at the current time.
      That is your filter. You have chosen to lean towards what you perceive as being the most 'objectively true', or at least the ideas with the strongest supporting arguments in terms of objective truth. That is much of the nature of my question with this thread. Why lean towards what you perceive as objective truth instead of leaning towards what you perceive as the most uplifting/enriching?

      Quote Originally Posted by StonedApe View Post
      We will die at some point. It seems to me that this is the end of things. Believing in ghosts, spirits, gods and afterlifes seems to me to be a way of not facing this reality. If you don't face this reality you will never fully appreciate your life while you have it, in my opinion at least.
      It seems presumptuous to me to claim that all people who believe in these things are simply afraid of death. It is not because of a fear of death that I believe what I believe, but rather because of personal experiences/experiments that have confirmed them for me. For myself, believing that "this is it" flies in the face of my own experiences, and also is in fact incredibly limiting on life. I see this in my father and many people who flock to the secure. It is risky to chase one's dreams, or to engage in many enriching/enjoyable behaviors. An overattachment to this life seems to create paranoia and excess caution, from what I can see. Believing that this is not it, that I will persist in some form after 'death', frees me to do precisely whatever I please without concern for 'wasting my only chance'.
      Last edited by ThisWitheredMan; 08-13-2012 at 03:53 AM.
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      Thanks for the reply, SomeDreamer. Here goes: I should clarify then, that I only mean closed-minded skeptics. Obviously, you have to be skeptical about much in the world. Especially in this world, where so much of what we are told and sold is complete bullshit. My point was that it isn't reasonable to me that we should discount unusual concepts automatically.
      Agreed Unusual concepts should not be completely discounted.

      I think you may have misunderstood me, or I have misunderstood you. I did not say, 'anything that HASN'T been explained by science can't be,' but rather, 'anything that CAN'T be explained by science can't be.'

      Do you still disagree that most scientists don't feel this way? It seems to be they do. Someone in this very thread has claimed that eventually we will understand everything in the world through logic. Why presume this? Why presume that there are not unknowables, that there aren't aspects to existence that cannot be understood?
      Aha, I see; it was a misunderstanding on my part then. If anything in this world can - and will be - be comprehended completely through scientific means I am not sure. Science only deals with explaining the natural world, that which we can observe and measure. The physical world around us. In the case of aspects that can't understood, well it's going to be hard to ever reason them anyways I am not saying that means you should rule out the possibility of something simply not being able to be understood, I'm just saying in that case it could never become a part of the scientific body since, well, it would have to be explainable. I think this is why you will find scientists rejecting it since that's all you can do in a scientific context. In the same way I could ask why one would presume that there is ultimate unknowables? Something that can never come within the grasp of reason.

      Atheism is indefensible to me now, it seems the only logical stance is agnosticism. To make the leap from "There's maybe a God or something like it," to "There IS NOT a God or anything like it," requires a leap of intuition, which requires faith in your intuition. Atheism is undeniably a form of faith in my eyes.
      Indeed. Perhaps I should have been a bit more clear in what way I define myself as an Atheist, since when it comes to all those fancy terms it seems many people have different ideas of what it means I am what many people would call an agnostic atheist. I usually use the "scale" which Richard Dawkins described in his book "The God Delusion". I do not by any means flat out reject the existence of a god or gods. What I am doing is placing myself on what I guess you could call a probability scale. From evidence we have gathered through the ages - and if you consider the thousands of different religions out there with their own gods and rituals - I find it more probable that there is not a god than there exists one. I do not deny that one could not exists. If any sound evidence ever were to pop up I'd change my mind.

      That is your filter. You have chosen to lean towards what you perceive as being the most 'objectively true', or at least the ideas with the strongest supporting arguments in terms of objective truth. That is much of the nature of my question with this thread. Why lean towards what you perceive as objective truth instead of leaning towards what you perceive as the most uplifting/enriching?
      I will answer this question later in the day as I have to get going I will make the reply as a separate post.
      Last edited by SomeDreamer; 08-13-2012 at 08:00 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by ThisWitheredMan View Post
      It seems presumptuous to me to claim that all people who believe in these things are simply afraid of death. It is not because of a fear of death that I believe what I believe, but rather because of personal experiences/experiments that have confirmed them for me. For myself, believing that "this is it" flies in the face of my own experiences, and also is in fact incredibly limiting on life. I see this in my father and many people who flock to the secure. It is risky to chase one's dreams, or to engage in many enriching/enjoyable behaviors. An overattachment to this life seems to create paranoia and excess caution, from what I can see. Believing that this is not it, that I will persist in some form after 'death', frees me to do precisely whatever I please without concern for 'wasting my only chance'.
      I'm not saying that everyone that believes in these things is afraid of death, but I do think that the vast majority of people have not really faced their own mortality. This is more true of people who believe in these things because of religious dogma, which is to say most people in the US, where I live.

      Who is it that goes on living in the next life? In my experience I seem to be a different person from who I was even 5 minutes ago, let alone 10 years ago. Who is the real you?
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

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      That is your filter. You have chosen to lean towards what you perceive as being the most 'objectively true', or at least the ideas with the strongest supporting arguments in terms of objective truth. That is much of the nature of my question with this thread. Why lean towards what you perceive as objective truth instead of leaning towards what you perceive as the most uplifting/enriching?
      I believe I've already stated most reasons for this answer, but I'll try my best to clarify or make it more descriptive The bottom line towards this was as I already stated in the previous post:
      This doesn't really seem to be practical or constructive, after all we do have all the technological advances today because people before our time and now have tried to describe some objective "truth" which we can all use to predict things about the world we live in.
      Now, to this part you replied that logic is not useless but that is has it limits. And yes, the scientific method does of course have the limit of being able to explain "what is", things that is in some way graspable to us, it has to be observable or at the very least measurable. Does this mean that there might be things that is in some way out of our reach, something which can't possibly be comprehended by us? It might be so, yes, I won't deny that at all; instead it does raise some questions. And that is, does it then make sense to try and make statements about it at all then? And how would you justify something as even being unknown to begin with?

      If there is some ultimate unknowns, how would you even start to justify what would be taken as such? For example, I have seen many arguments in the past from religious people that simply ended a discussion saying that God can't be proven scientifically because he is something beyond the natural world, but that their personal interpreted experience apparently was enough evidence to show his existance. When you go up against something like this, discussion or any type of reasoning immediately becomes a useless exercise exactly because someone states that something is never going to be within our reach (no idea how they could even reason their justification for this), and then at the same time state that they are right.

      My point is, from a scientific point of view, these kind of unknowns would simply be pointless because, well, they would be unknown. Does some might exist? Maybe, maybe not. By their very definition no one would ever know, so the illogical part here becomes going from knowing nothing to then making a personal belief about, for example, the existance of some being simply because it makes you happy in some way. I won't deny any person the right to do so, and indeed some people have a personal belief because it gives them some kind of hope.

      So why do I choose to lean towards this collective truth? Mostly due to doubt and the never lasting need for understanding. A big part of me is questioning the world around me. I simply can't tell myself some soothing or pleasent story just because it would make me feel better, to me it simply feels like lying to myself. To me, this scientific search towards bigger knowledge for human kind is uplifting and enriching! When I look at history, from what we came from to what we are today, this one unified enterprise that takes place all around the world with the goal of pushing human knowledge forward is just amazing. Due to our human curiosity coupled with a certain respect for facts, we have now been able to land Curiosity on Mars, or the fact that I can take a flight in a plane on my way to holiday. I also do consider myself spiritual. As Carl Sagan said, science and spirituality does not have to be two completely separate entities. When I think of the fact that I sit here as part of this massive, mysterious, and wonderful universe and are lucky enough to be part of a, so far, short and humble part of the human history, to be able to experience all of this, that in itself gives me more joy and driving force in my everyday life than any other thing I myself am a software developer, so I have also recently just begun to study the history of machines. How lucky I am to be able to be a part of all this.

      I hope I was able to express myself better in this post Any further questions are of course always welcome.

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      Quote Originally Posted by ThisWitheredMan View Post
      Thanks for the post, that quote was very interesting. Got any more?
      Hmm...we'll, there's the book it was quoted from:

      Amazon.com: Principia Discordia, Or, How I Found Goddess and What I Did to Her When I Found Her: The Magnum Opiate of Malaclypse the Younger (9781559500401): Malaclypse The Younger, Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst: Books

      PRINCIPIA DISCORDIA

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      It makes me happy that Principia Discordia is on sacredtexts.com
      157 is a prime number. The next prime is 163 and the previous prime is 151, which with 157 form a sexy prime triplet. Taking the arithmetic mean of those primes yields 157, thus it is a balanced prime.

      Women and rhythm section first - Jaco Pastorious

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      I just feel like most of the posters here just don't get what the withered is saying.........Everything you experience......Everything you experience is in your head!! ALWAYS AND ALWAYS!!

      Materialistic people are always trying to tell those who have had some sort unexplained experience "well, well, well, you just hallucinated! nyah!". But they don't have any evidence that it was just hallucination except that they didn't experience it. And whats a hallucination anyways? Its when a scientist can see via brainwaves that someone is experiencing something that isn't there. And they conclude that something isnt there because they, the scientist, didn't see it!! *whether by eyes or machine*

      Our definition of whats real and whats hallucination is a comparison of who experienced what. And who barks the loudest. Skeptics have been so cruel against the human experience that most people are unwilling to share their unexplained experience to anyone, for fear of being insulted. Do you have any idea just how many people experience ghosts? Just how many people will have an NDE before they die? Or see aliens, or fairies or who knows what?

      For the NDE experience, were not talking thousands were talking millions in the USA alone. NDE researchers have even suggested the reason why it isn't more common is because 99% of the population isn't near death.

      How many people have to experience something before its no longer.......just a hallucination? 10% of the population? 20%? 30%? 50-60-90%? You think objective proof defines reality? Hah. Its always been consensus.

      We have no objective proof that dreams happen. None. We can't measure dreams. We can't record them. We can't give a sample of a dream to a scientist to analyze. Nothing. All we've got are brainwaves that scientists can look at while people sleep. Why do they conclude it relates to dreaming??? Because they, the scientists, experience dreaming while sleeping, duh.

      All they did was look at what happens when we sleep and make the most logical conclusions knowing that dreams are real - as in dreams really do happen. Wanting to understand this universal human experience has led to some amazing research.

      But what if everyone dreamed but scientists?? What would scientists tell us about our delusional nights of hallucinations? That we just HALLUCINATED that we dreamed when we woke and made a false memory of dreaming upon waking?

      What about NDE researchers? Hasn't that been considered fringe science? Based on whos experience of reality? Scientists have concluded that because you can stimulate this area of the brain and a person has an NDE, that an NDE must be a hallucination. But thats like saying if you stimulate the visual cortex to see, then its evidence the visual cortex just hallucinates.

      Were really missing the point here.

      These scientists are trying to tell us that there is an organ, an actually physical biological, encoded in our DNA organ - responsible for the experience of NDEs. And that this simply concludes its a hallucination? What? Thats not how biology works.

      Hallucination means the brain messed up. Having an actual organ in our brain responsible for it doesn't sound like a hallucination, it sounds like a legitimate function in the brain!! Why do we have it? What does it mean if the NDE is a natural human experience? How can we begin real research when all we do is demean others for experiencing something that challenges our perception of reality?

      Some people are trying to drag religion into this. Its got nothing to do with religion. Religious people btw are just as skeptical of ghosts, aliens, NDEs and anything else strange as any other atheist. These experiences challenge dogma from either end.

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      I think its unnecessary to collect information because you believe it's correct. Information only means anything because it directs action, and if you're basing decisions on logical information or supported information through an effort to discover objective truth then your decisions are more likely to deliver promising results. But the result is always a mystery, and claiming to know objective truth is like claiming to know which side the coin will land on. We're gambling no matter what we do, we never know the future no matter how much information we obtain. We can only estimate probability.

      Some people find experiences that lead them down a rabbit hole to a world where they can no longer think the same way as others or see things the same way. While it's true no one lives in a vacuum, the fact is the different ways people can interpret the same reality is astounding. We don't all see the same world, the shape of our head and neural networks transforms the reality we see to an incredible degree. And people will lose their ability to relate to each other easily, the more different they become. They end up speaking a new language, more or less, as they specialize in their belief system deeper and deeper. I prefer exploring everything I can up to the point where I am forced to invest anything more than my attention. Once I reach the point where I must buy into an idea to continue, I stop. This gives me the ability to orbit around the mainstream paradigm of beliefs while simultaneously reaching out to those who exist on planets of their own. While many advocates of the contemporary paradigm might find me a bit odd or eccentric, I'm still within communication range on a wide variety of issues. Some people I know are not, they're surpassed the ability to talk about geology without talking about the hollow earth, or talk about history without talking about conspiracy. While my interests include anything scoffed at by mainstream materialists and dogmatic zealots, I enjoy retaining the ability to communicate between belief systems which have become too distant between themselves to do so.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Most atheists/skeptics (as far as I'm aware) don't feel a need to know and are quite comfortable with ambiguity. Those with a strong need for closure or to feel like they know the answers generally turn to religion or some similar belief system that doesn't require a factual basis but provides comforting answers.
      You have not made one fact-based statement here, and my back-door statisticians disagree with yours. Plenty of people turn away from religion precisely because the answers aren't comforting enough for them, finding a materialist, nihilist atheism 'truthier' and therefor more effective at putting unpleasant topics out of mind. Endorsing the claim "logic is good" doesn't make a person rational. Atheists are just as capable of opting for received wisdom from what they see as authoritative sources. Average atheists, like average Christians, are average.
      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



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