An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
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24-06-2017, 06:06 AM
An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
Hey all,

This is my first post here! Shy Just a brief introduction:
I'd sum-up my religious view as "knowledge of God is possible". I was raised in a religious environment, but I wasn't religious except during my childhood. I can't say I converted, I just took the issue of God serious at some point in my life which led me to experiences that convinced me "knowledge of God is possible". English is not my first language, so excuse me for anything wrong in my English.

This is a talk about an alternative way to approach the issue of God. Which does not start with belief but starts with knowledge. I would like to know what you think about it. What I talk about is based on my personal experiences and some relevant religious traditions and philosophical views. Hope we can learn and express ourselves in a meaningful way in this thread.

I start it with an analogy, suppose elephant is an extremely exotic animal that is unique in every aspect. I haven't seen an elephant in my life, some people come and try to somehow describe the elephant. Very few people have seen it from very far distances and just describe it vaguely, someone has encountered it in darkness, he only talks about its voice. But 99% of them haven't seen the elephant, they just pretend that they have seen it and they just talk about their fantasies.

Irritated by these people ignorance, some day I decide to start the journey and see the elephant my self, to see if it really exists. But I don't know the way. I have to trust someone who claims he knows the way. Many people claim they know the way, but I know I must be careful, most of these people are outright delusional. I search for a long time for someone, there is a guy who tells me he has seen the elephant, but he doesn't say any nonsense like the others, in fact when I'm asking him questions he doesn't give me answers, he just says I've to see it myself and tells me he's ready to show me the way whenever I want. His words and overall wise character convinces me to give it a try and trust the guy.

We start moving. The journey starts to get tough, the guy gives me hope and tells me I won't be disappointed. I keep persist and move on. Just when I'm ready to give up and return to my life, we see very strange footsteps. The guy claims this is the elephant's footsteps. This is the first time that I know something about the elephant before this moment all that I knew was a bunch of nonsense that I had heard from people. But now I'm seeing an actual weird footstep. I say to myself: "this is something!" I believe that this is elephant's footsteps. Very motivated, I continue my journey. After years we keep finding new evidences: nails, a broken tusk, at some point we even see the remains of a dead elephant!

The journey is long. In fact I'm not sure if it is ever gonna end! The guy gives me hope, he says it's gonna end. But it doesn't really matter. It just gets more interesting, every day I'm discovering something new. My previous life seems too boring when I look at it. I have no intention to return even if I know I'll die here and never see the elephant.

There are several points in the analogy that I want to emphasis on:

1. I didn't let the nonsense from 99% percent of the people around me who falsely claimed they have seen the elephant lead me to forget about the elephant altogether. Very few people who seemed somehow wise to me, convinced me to give it a try and not reject the elephant as a total fantasy.
2. I actually started moving, I wasn't convinced at all that the elephant exists. But I gave it a try anyway, mostly because of those 1% who didn't seem to be outright stupid in their belief and my own curiosity.
3. I trusted someone, I had to do that. Otherwise I didn't know where to go. But I was very careful with who I'm going with, because the 99% ignorant were all claiming that they can show me the way. I spent a lot of time to find that person.
4. The journey was a bit tough, some persistence was needed!
5. After a while, I could actually see some actual evidence and know about the elephant, this greatly encouraged me in my journey.
6. I believed in the existence of the elephant only after I saw the footstep. So I first needed the knowledge before believing.
7. At the end although I have hope that I will see the elephant, I have no intention to return to my previous life. I prefer to be in journey my whole life rather than returning to my previous life.

Sorry for the long post! I'm looking forward to know what you guys think about it. Rolleyes
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24-06-2017, 07:26 AM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2017 08:23 AM by Vera.)
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
Easy:

[Image: 1rfvqf.jpg]

If you have knowledge, share it with the WHOLE world and save them from the loving treat your loving god has prepared for those who weren't so lucky to find the elephant, a footprint, or, much more probably, a huge pile of dung (elephant dung, of course Drinking Beverage ) - eternal torture. I mean, if you have knowledge of god and you don't help others avoid Hell, you'll be just as guilty, as those poor lost souls, wouldn't you.

Also, why would a loving creator/parent make the "journey" to him so hard? If you have/had children, would you let them stumble through life, leaving cryptic notes in languages they don't speak around the house and then beating them bloody for not understanding those notes?

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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24-06-2017, 07:31 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
Welcome to the forum Smile

I see where you're going with the analogy. But the first problem is to define what a god is. Everyone I talk to, if they even define it at all, says something different. Contradictory accounts, quite often. And that's just telling me what it's meant to be.

And again, almost always, it's defined so that there can never be any evidence for it as it's outside the realm of observation. Any knowledge they claim to have is therefore bogus.

My more fundamental question though is what does it matter? I never see what relevance these weird concepts have.

I have a website here which discusses the issues and terminology surrounding religion and atheism. It's hopefully user friendly to all.
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24-06-2017, 07:48 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
You still haven't found any evidence for an elephant. The tracks you saw were of your own making. You traveled so much, wasting your time that you retraced your own path creating what appeared to be something else. The man you trusted has been lying to you this whole time. He's been using you, manipulating you and in the process, gaining more people that want to follow him.

You have no knowledge of a god.
If a god exists outside of space & time, it has no knowledge of you.
If a god is supernatural, then it has no connection to the natural world and is unknowable.
Everything ever invented about a god was created by humans.

You are gullible.

Wake the fuck up and stop wasting your time on all this bullshit, so I can stop wasting my time trying to get you to use your damn brain.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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24-06-2017, 07:48 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  There are several points in the analogy that I want to emphasis on:

1. I didn't let the nonsense from 99% percent of the people around me who falsely claimed they have seen the elephant lead me to forget about the elephant altogether. Very few people who seemed somehow wise to me, convinced me to give it a try and not reject the elephant as a total fantasy.

My first question would be why are you interested in find this elephant? (other then curiosity I guess) Up to this point whether or not this elephant exists has no real effect on your life.

(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  2. I actually started moving, I wasn't convinced at all that the elephant exists. But I gave it a try anyway, mostly because of those 1% who didn't seem to be outright stupid in their belief and my own curiosity.
(My bolding)

You must to be more convinced then not. You wouldn't start on this long journey if you didn't first believe that the elephant is likely to be real. I would never start on a journey to find leprechauns because I am starting from a belief that they are not real.

(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  3. I trusted someone, I had to do that. Otherwise I didn't know where to go. But I was very careful with who I'm going with, because the 99% ignorant were all claiming that they can show me the way. I spent a lot of time to find that person.
Part of why you trust who ever you find to "guide" you is based on the fact that you believe the elephant is real. I would not trust someone who told me they could guide me to where the leprechauns are because I didn't think they are real, and I would immediately assume they were lying to me.

(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  6. I believed in the existence of the elephant only after I saw the footstep. So I first needed the knowledge before believing.

See me answer to point #2.

(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  7. At the end although I have hope that I will see the elephant, I have no intention to return to my previous life. I prefer to be in journey my whole life rather than returning to my previous life.

Why? Up to this point the elephant's existence has had so little impact on your life, that you still can't be sure if it exists or not.

I mean even now for real I know that elephants exist, and yet I barely give them a second thought, they have absolutely no effect on my life.

A friend in the hole

"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard
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24-06-2017, 07:49 AM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2017 08:23 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Hey all,

This is my first post here! Shy Just a brief introduction:
I'd sum-up my religious view as "knowledge of God is possible". I was raised in a religious environment, but I wasn't religious except during my childhood. I can't say I converted, I just took the issue of God serious at some point in my life which led me to experiences that convinced me "knowledge of God is possible". English is not my first language, so excuse me for anything wrong in my English.

This is a talk about an alternative way to approach the issue of God. Which does not start with belief but starts with knowledge. I would like to know what you think about it. What I talk about is based on my personal experiences and some relevant religious traditions and philosophical views. Hope we can learn and express ourselves in a meaningful way in this thread.

I start it with an analogy, suppose elephant is an extremely exotic animal that is unique in every aspect. I haven't seen an elephant in my life, some people come and try to somehow describe the elephant. Very few people have seen it from very far distances and just describe it vaguely, someone has encountered it in darkness, he only talks about its voice. But 99% of them haven't seen the elephant, they just pretend that they have seen it and they just talk about their fantasies.

Irritated by these people ignorance, some day I decide to start the journey and see the elephant my self, to see if it really exists. But I don't know the way. I have to trust someone who claims he knows the way. Many people claim they know the way, but I know I must be careful, most of these people are outright delusional. I search for a long time for someone, there is a guy who tells me he has seen the elephant, but he doesn't say any nonsense like the others, in fact when I'm asking him questions he doesn't give me answers, he just says I've to see it myself and tells me he's ready to show me the way whenever I want. His words and overall wise character convinces me to give it a try and trust the guy.

We start moving. The journey starts to get tough, the guy gives me hope and tells me I won't be disappointed. I keep persist and move on. Just when I'm ready to give up and return to my life, we see very strange footsteps. The guy claims this is the elephant's footsteps. This is the first time that I know something about the elephant before this moment all that I knew was a bunch of nonsense that I had heard from people. But now I'm seeing an actual weird footstep. I say to myself: "this is something!" I believe that this is elephant's footsteps. Very motivated, I continue my journey. After years we keep finding new evidences: nails, a broken tusk, at some point we even see the remains of a dead elephant!

The journey is long. In fact I'm not sure if it is ever gonna end! The guy gives me hope, he says it's gonna end. But it doesn't really matter. It just gets more interesting, every day I'm discovering something new. My previous life seems too boring when I look at it. I have no intention to return even if I know I'll die here and never see the elephant.

There are several points in the analogy that I want to emphasis on:

1. I didn't let the nonsense from 99% percent of the people around me who falsely claimed they have seen the elephant lead me to forget about the elephant altogether. Very few people who seemed somehow wise to me, convinced me to give it a try and not reject the elephant as a total fantasy.
2. I actually started moving, I wasn't convinced at all that the elephant exists. But I gave it a try anyway, mostly because of those 1% who didn't seem to be outright stupid in their belief and my own curiosity.
3. I trusted someone, I had to do that. Otherwise I didn't know where to go. But I was very careful with who I'm going with, because the 99% ignorant were all claiming that they can show me the way. I spent a lot of time to find that person.
4. The journey was a bit tough, some persistence was needed!
5. After a while, I could actually see some actual evidence and know about the elephant, this greatly encouraged me in my journey.
6. I believed in the existence of the elephant only after I saw the footstep. So I first needed the knowledge before believing.
7. At the end although I have hope that I will see the elephant, I have no intention to return to my previous life. I prefer to be in journey my whole life rather than returning to my previous life.

Sorry for the long post! I'm looking forward to know what you guys think about it. Rolleyes

That is a reasonable approach to the pursuit of knowledge, when knowledge does not come easily. But here's some modifications to make it more reasonable.

1) You didn't really need to trust someone on the point. If you'd encountered someone who said "there's an elephant graveyard HERE" while pointing at the map, you could go to that place fully skeptical of what you'd find. You'd still find the evidence needed to believe as their claims were proved out.

2) The nonsense from 99% of people, far from being a deterrent, can be a motivation. It can tell us, "here is a likely myth that needs dispelled", or, "here is something with a kernel of truth about which a lot of people are confused". Someone who cares about the truth can be motivated to look into such things and attempt to enlighten the world.

3) It is important to maintain skepticism. Not to absurd and absolute levels, but at least to the point where we can filter out falsehoods. This is how we eventually conclude that elephants are real (having seen their purported footprints, bones, etc) while at the same time NOT being convinced that Bigfoot is real (despite having seen their purported footprints, blurry photos, tufts of fur, etc). It's also how one sorts out the true facts about elephants (size, prehensile trunks) from the nonsense about elephants (perfect memory, fear of mice). It's important to have a filter that lets in the good AND keeps out the bad. That means, there must be some amount and type of evidence possible that would lead you to conclude that elephants are NOT real, or at least that they are most likely not real.

4) You should probably set a time limit of some sort on your journey. If your guide's leading you around for thirty years, charging you by the hour, and you've seen nothing but footprints and some bones, it is at the very least time to find a new guide. That goes double if your guide is charging 10% of your income. After all, if 99% of the people believe nonsense about elephants, who's to say your guide isn't one of them?

Here is how it is not the same thing as pursuing knowledge of a god.

1) We don't have a record of elephant beliefs that are dominated by demonstrably false elephant beliefs. No one was claiming a herd of elephants living atop Mount Olympus prior to our ability to scale the mountain and check. No one was claiming that elephants caused the stars and planets to move through the heavens until we invented telescopes and figured out how gravity worked. While there have been false sightings and some myths, by and large most beliefs about elephants have been objectively verifiable. Those that haven't been, by and large have been disprovable. This is not the case with god beliefs.

2) Most of the accounts about elephants have been consistent or at least fairly reconcilable. We don't have one large swathes of proponents saying that they're green and another large swathe saying that they're orange. Contrast with a god for which one large swathe of believers say (as just one of myriad examples) that he is infinitely merciful to the point of putting aside just vengeance, and another that he is infinitely just to the point of not being merciful.

3) The evidence you are talking about for an elephant -- footprints, corpses, etc -- are objectively verifiable. The evidence usually put forward for a god -- personal experience, faulty logical arguments, ancient legends -- is not.

4) It would be nice if we had a clear idea of WHAT WOULD EVEN COUNT AS AN ELEPHANT. Otherwise we might spot a giraffe and think, oh, hey, elephant found, our work is done. We don't have a clear definition for what would or wouldn't count as a god.

5) The elephant proponents aren't trying to harness a zillion known cognitive biases to get us to believe that elephants exist. They also aren't trying to get us to vote how they say, give them lots of money, or change what we do when in bed. They aren't trying to get us to murder gays, slaughter albinos as witches, toss proven science out of the classroom to teach children demonstrated lies instead, subjugate women to a subservient, chattel role, and they aren't trying to call all of this love. That there's a lot of myths out there is one thing. That those myths have extremely damaging consequences should, at the very least, cause us to proceed very cautiously and believe very slowly, simply to avoid harming others should the filter fail and let through a false belief. But this isn't an issue with the elephants.

6) The existence of elephants wouldn't demand us to ignore, or at least carve out exceptions to, a thousand scientific principles that have already been tested and verified. While such exceptions to already-thoroughly-tested facts have been found before, they are generally rare and should be proven extensively before being believed.

7) Your typical atheist WAS ONCE A BELIEVER. Your typical atheist has, at one point in life, been convinced that a god existed and of being in a personal relationship with that god. THIS IS NOT THE CASE WITH ELEPHANT-DISBELIEVERS.

8) Knowing that 99% of the beliefs out there are clearly nonsense and mutually contradictory should, at the very least, convince us that this is a subject that it's very easy to draw very false conclusions about. That should make us believe very slowly.

All in all, this is a bad analogy on many levels.

So, let's start with the basics.

First, definition. What counts as the sort of god that you're looking for, and which you presumably would like us to look for. Would a deistic creator that never intervenes in the universe past the moment of creation count? How about an unthinking moral force like the Tao? What about an animating spiritual force like in most animistic religions? A revered god-king like the ancient pharaohs, even if the supernatural beliefs attached to that reverence proved false and they were just men? The imperfect and ultimately mortal deities of the Norse pantheon, many of whom were NOT creators of the universe, many of whom were not benevolent, none of whom were omnipotent or omniscient, and none of whom counted as a source of objective morality? Define what exactly you mean when you use the word "god". Otherwise, your proposal is literally meaningless.

And second, what would count as objectively verifiable evidence of this sort of being? What would we see only if your type of god existed? What would we surely see if it didn't? How would we prove it? How would we disprove it? How would we even begin to search for knowledge at all?

At the very least, we need that filter. Something that would cause us to reject belief in untrue gods, while still letting us believe in true ones. And I have yet to see a single believer approach that filtration process honestly, without hypocrisy, without rigging the game to favor the god-belief they already hold, and without carving out an exception for their predetermined choice of a god.
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24-06-2017, 08:19 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  Hey all,

This is my first post here! Shy Just a brief introduction:
I'd sum-up my religious view as "knowledge of God is possible".

Certainly. Knowing what characteristics people ascribe to multiple made up deities is possible, one just have to study religions and their history.

Quote:This is a talk about an alternative way to approach the issue of God.

God isn't issue at all being ill defined non-existing something, it's people who claim to know what this alleged god want and trying to force their superstitious nonsense onto society are problem.

Quote:Which does not start with belief but starts with knowledge. I would like to know what you think about it.

I think that all this issue of god start with childhood indoctrination and then people don't bother to examine this outlandish tale seriously cause they need their security blankie or opiate.

Quote:Sorry for the long post! I'm looking forward to know what you guys think about it. Rolleyes

I think that you want think god into existence dressing such desire in clothes you deem reasonable. There is no evidence for existence of something called god, no matter how many indoctrinated people feel otherwise.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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24-06-2017, 08:22 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief



There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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24-06-2017, 09:02 AM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
I hope at some point your guide will give you a refund. Maybe you wouldn't deserve one, since it sounds as though your whole quest for a god arose out of boredom--maybe your guide earned every penny. It's a pity that you chose such a puerile idea to chase after, rather than something interesting and of value.

I imagine you will be coy about what it is that lets you claim knowledge instead of belief, but on the chance that you'll be honest about it: what is it?
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24-06-2017, 10:27 AM (This post was last modified: 24-06-2017 10:38 AM by Clockwork.)
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
I get your analogy, but a couple things come to mind:

1. You're still assuming there's an elephant. You're not actually searching for proof, you're looking for proof of your already established belief you will find an elephant. You're trusting these strangers along the way because you're desperate to prove to yourself that, yes, there is in fact an elephant at the end of your journey. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. It's your confirmation bias, and not an actual journey.

2. You're not allowing the possibility elephants don't exist. You've already said it does, and now you're going to find it. What if there is no elephant? What if what you think is an elephant is in fact what others call a horse? (Basically, what if there is no god or the god you want to find is actually Brahma.) Again, your confirmation bias isn't letting you see the truth. You're getting input and cherry picking what you want because you so badly want that elephant to be waiting for you.

3. What if, along the way, you see an Asian elephant. Then you meet someone who has gone on the same journey but found an African elephant? You're both right from your own perspective. Your new friend says their ears are huge, but you know that their ears are small. Again, you both will claim you're correct. Chances are, you'll become enemies because you're convinced the other one is delusional.

4. What if you never find the elephant? Will you admit that maybe there is no such thing as an elephant? Because after all, people claim dragons and unicorns are real. They've never seen them, but they're still searching for them. At what point do you admit that maybe you're wrong and there are no elephants.

I went on a similar journey, too. I wanted to find that elephant. I figured somewhere there was an elephant that most just hadn't really seen. Along the way, I talked to and read from people who had said they knew the truth about elephants, donkeys, horses, eels, dragons, and two-headed humans. But in the end, all I had was one hell of a journey and a new understanding of how their stories were all fantasy. Nice stories, but none were real. Instead of a zoo, I got children's stories about talking animals.
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