An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
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24-06-2017, 12:53 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 07:49 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  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.

Thanks for your modifications! I agree that the analogy is bad on many levels. This was just as far as I could go to express it using language.

Regarding definition,
I didn't know of any "correct" definition of elephant when I started my journey and I still don't and I don't think I'll ever need one. I'm finding evidences one by one, gradually gaining more knowledge of the elephant, yet I don't now its definition and when I finally find it a definition would be useless!

About proving/disproving,
Since I don't have any definition for the elephant, I think it's meaningless to try to prove it or disprove it, I guess you need to define something before you want prove it or disprove it.

Quote:How would we even begin to search for knowledge at all?
If you are interested, find someone who claims he knows how this knowledge is obtained and you can trust him.

Quote:At the very least, we need that filter. Something that would cause us to reject belief in untrue gods,
I didn't find it necessary in my journey. I rejected all the versions of the elephant that people were describing for me, and the guy how showed me the way didn't make any attempt to describe the elephant. He just told me there is an elephant and I won't be disappointed to start searching for it. I trusted him. Although I haven't found the elephant yet, right now the journey itself is enough for me to continue and not be bothered by the thought that "what if I never see the elephant"
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24-06-2017, 12:56 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 12:53 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I didn't know of any "correct" definition of elephant when I started my journey and I still don't and I don't think I'll ever need one. I'm finding evidences one by one, gradually gaining more knowledge of the elephant, yet I don't now its definition and when I finally find it a definition would be useless!


I didn't find it necessary in my journey. I rejected all the versions of the elephant that people were describing for me, and the guy how showed me the way didn't make any attempt to describe the elephant. He just told me there is an elephant and I won't be disappointed to start searching for it. I trusted him. Although I haven't found the elephant yet, right now the journey itself is enough for me to continue and not be bothered by the thought that "what if I never see the elephant"

And this affects us how exactly?

See, I got a really bad concussion because of an elephant once and much rather go looking for zarks, if you don't mind.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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24-06-2017, 12:56 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 11:53 AM)sea_tiger Wrote:  
(24-06-2017 11:22 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  ....Then you see other children who are being praised for reading those notes. You feel very humiliated and wish you would have tried it. That is hell and no one is throwing you in it.

. . .some children read the notes and came to different conclusion than mentioned in the notes, some didn't agree with its content , some . . . .

All of them will be praised for their effort. Maybe. The more their attempt the more is the praise.
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24-06-2017, 12:57 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
That's funny... the "you must believe it and then you will see it" argument was one of the factors in causing me to leave religion, because I had just heard someone tell me that you can't see faeries (e.g. leprechauns) unless you first believed in them, and that they were invisible to those who refused to believe in them.

How convenient. Dodgy

Can't think of a better way to sell snake oil than this: "Of course my snake oil didn't work when you tested it! You have to believe it will work, and THEN it will. Because you were skeptical of the snake oil, it didn't work for you. But my snake oil is worth every penny I'm selling it for, to believers!"

Seriously, dude. Do you honestly not recognize how bad this argument is? How it's designed to fleece the gullible?

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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24-06-2017, 12:59 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 12:56 PM)Vera Wrote:  
(24-06-2017 12:53 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I didn't know of any "correct" definition of elephant when I started my journey and I still don't and I don't think I'll ever need one. I'm finding evidences one by one, gradually gaining more knowledge of the elephant, yet I don't now its definition and when I finally find it a definition would be useless!


I didn't find it necessary in my journey. I rejected all the versions of the elephant that people were describing for me, and the guy how showed me the way didn't make any attempt to describe the elephant. He just told me there is an elephant and I won't be disappointed to start searching for it. I trusted him. Although I haven't found the elephant yet, right now the journey itself is enough for me to continue and not be bothered by the thought that "what if I never see the elephant"

And this affects us how exactly?

See, I got a really bad concussion because of an elephant once and much rather go looking for zarks, if you don't mind.

If you know what is a zarks there is no point in going after it. Since you have already known it. Just refer to your memory whenever you missed it.
If zarks is the same as my elephant, which is indefinite. That's fine. Go after it and don't stop.
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24-06-2017, 01:01 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 12:53 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  If you are interested, find someone who claims he knows how this knowledge is obtained and you can trust him.

How do you know that you can trust this guy?

Quote:I didn't find it necessary in my journey. I rejected all the versions of the elephant that people were describing for me, and the guy how showed me the way didn't make any attempt to describe the elephant. He just told me there is an elephant and I won't be disappointed to start searching for it. I trusted him. Although I haven't found the elephant yet, right now the journey itself is enough for me to continue and not be bothered by the thought that "what if I never see the elephant"

So you're just gullible and you don't even see how elephant hunter/priest is using you. Seems entertaining story is more important than truth to you.

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, 01:02 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 12:56 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  All of them will be praised for their effort. Maybe. The more their attempt the more is the praise.

So, Satan is going to pat them on the shoulder before dumping them back in the boiling tar? How good of him. Or does god visit hell occasionally, to praise, maybe give a candy or two to the kids who did make an effort but didn't quite make it to Heaven?

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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24-06-2017, 01:04 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
I never cease to be amazed that this argument isn't transparent to people who've been fleeced by woo-peddlers. They do a little song-and-dance about "seeking" and how one must believe in their heart before searching for evidence (confirmation bias), and by the time they're done, you're handing over your wallet voluntarily. It's the biggest scam in history. But they just keep on tap-dancing, and there are always new suckers born every minute to come flocking to the sound of their music. Angry

"It's seven in the morning
And you lost all of your money
To a fat lady singin'
Boogie-woogie, chilly, honey!"
- Volbeat, Sixteen Dollars

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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24-06-2017, 01:08 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 12:59 PM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  If zarks is the same as my elephant, which is indefinite. That's fine. Go after it and don't stop.

See, I'd rather not waste the ONLY life I'm ever gonna have, running in circles, chasing some non-existent vague crap in the desperate hope I'm gonna get a much, much nicer eternal life after this one.

But to each their own. Your (brain's) funeral, not mine.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderĂ²."
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24-06-2017, 01:13 PM
RE: An Alternative: Knowledge instead of Belief
(24-06-2017 10:58 AM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  
(24-06-2017 06:06 AM)nosferatu323 Wrote:  I'd sum-up my religious view as "knowledge of God is possible".

Yeah, I spent over two decades on that assumption myself. No useful results.

Essentially, you are arguing for an esoteric concept of God -- a God who can only be perceived by mystics after traveling the necessary distance. You should ask yourself, "Why should anything supposedly important as God be as hidden as the elephant in this analogy?" If God really were that obscure, how could he be relevant at all? Relevance must be a two-way street. The distance between us and God proposed by the esotericists means their God is irrelevant. The only thing such a concept is good for is as a rationalization of why we don't perceive God much more easily. And that's apologetics, not an explanation.

I'm sorry that you didn't have any useful results. That's surprising for me.

Go and check those mystics. I've done that and they told me their god is evident for everyone. In fact they say their god is the only thing that is evident. The journey is necessary for "realization" not "discovery".
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