Why do you desire truth?
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12-05-2017, 07:12 PM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
(12-05-2017 03:31 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  This is perhaps one main area of confusion for you. It’s not truth that’s valuable here, but behavior and actions. In terms of thought, it’s not even truth, but beliefs, and the ways in which beliefs are conducive to any particular behavior beneficial to survival in a given environment.

Secondly natural selection favors efficiency, favors that which produces behaviors conducive to survival that requires the least amount of work, hence why factors like negativity bias are selected for. It favors competency more so than comprehension. Your cells don’t need comprehension to perform the variety of complex task set out before them. Biological beings with our level of comprehension, are one-off, and the one’s with moderate levels of comprehension are still a rarity. If comprehension was as favored as you seem to suggest you’d expect to be more common. In fact lifeforms with little to no real comprehension might be the ones to outlive us.

To put it another way, evolution only cares about movement, your physical response to an external threat, and not what you believe. If you acquire the truth, but it doesn’t motivate your actions accordingly, you’re dead. If man fed a lie does, he’s alive.

In fact if we consider all religions as false, from a historical perspective the role of religions are far from inconsequential. Having played a crucial role in forming communities, common purpose, values, aims, moral outlooks, societies and culture, etc… all contributing factors to survival. Evolution has historically favoreds human mind receptive to religious worldview, than one’s that are not. But perhaps you believe our future history will be much different than our past history. That natural selection from this day forward will favor those whose worldview is true, and weed out those whose worldview is false.

Beliefs influence behavior, true and false beliefs influence behaviors. Some behaviors positively contribute to survival and reproduction. Rather than acknowledging true and false beliefs can contribute positively to survival and reproduction, you seem to want to suggest a sort of absolutist position that only true beliefs can contribute positively. Which is historically false, and is bit faithist like to hold.

It sounds like you are conflating biology, psychology and sociology here.

Religion is a product of society, not evolution. Had you been born in India you would be worshiping Ganesh. The rapid rise of secularism in much of the world over the last century cannot be attributed to evolution.

As creatures that have evolved we have a lot of baggage in the form of biases and tendencies that aren't necessarily functional anymore. That terror of public speaking for instance. That doesn't mean that you are evolved to be incapable of public speaking, just that certain instincts that were once useful may now give you the jitters during a presentation.

One of these tendencies is based in the fine tuning of your ancestor's flight reflexes. Animals that didn't flee soon enough when the tall grass rustled tended to end up lunch sooner or later. Animals that fled too soon and too often starved or were exhausted when the lion finally pounced. Assuming that the lion didn't simply lie with its mouth open waiting for some flighty critter to fill that gaping silence. The result is a flight reflex tuned by evolution that reacts to enough false positives that you aren't eaten but not so many that you're useless. Combine that with a pattern seeking brain and you have a beautiful recipe for a predisposition to superstition.

In an animal that lives for the moment that's all well and good but our species has learned to plan and scheme. Our capacity to think beyond the moment gives us the ability to mortgage the present for a better future. That talent requires reasonably accurate information to prevent you from mortgaging the present for a worse future. "I will live thriftfully and invest a portion of my income for my retirement." is a reasonably sound course of action assuming you've chosen your financial adviser wisely. "I will live thriftfully and tithe to the church." is less productive. Unless you're clergy, in which case it's brilliant.

As our technological abilities have grown, so has our need for factual information. The application of such information is obvious. One cannot build the computer that you are reading this on based on superstition. The use of that technology because of superstition is all too easy and with obvious and dire consequences. A species that has the capacity to rain thermonuclear destruction across the face of the planet with the push of a button cannot afford to jump at sounds in the bushes.

We want the truth because we have learned that the alternatives are not better.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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12-05-2017, 07:41 PM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
I'm not sure he's arguing that lies are more valuable than truth; what I read from that is that it's not always the case that knowing truth is more valuable than a productive lie. In the specific example of religion, we know that religion often has useful (in a Darwinian sense) contributions that it makes on a tribal species level, in giving a uniform set of behavioral expectations and a sense of unified purpose that may give them an edge over less-homogeneous groups. This would be true even though not all the religions can be true (assuming any of them are at all, which I doubt), meaning that those false religions nevertheless convey an advantage and are thus useful in an evolutionary sense. Likewise, President Trump appears to have lied his way to the top, to success in both business and politics, without even appearing to have much of a clue, himself, about anything true-- self-delusion and an ability to delude others may well convey certain social advantages. [Edit to Add: I would argue, as Paleophyte just did, that in the age of modern technology and global society with nuclear-armed nation-states, the superstitious/religious roots that gave tribes an advantage are now a major potential liability.]

In the example Tomasia gave, of the successful religionist who gained several social "leg up" advantages from his acceptance of and conformity to the religious norms of his culture, it is irrelevant whether or not the belief system to which he conformed himself was a True Belief™ or not.

I disagree that "natural selection" will weed out those with false religious beliefs, however, for the reason I stated above. Every Christian on the planet agrees with me that Hindus have false religious beliefs... doesn't stop the BILLION of them from continuing on as they have done for almost 4000 years, quite successfully.

"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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12-05-2017, 07:57 PM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Now on other hand knowing the age of the earth, the shape of the earth, whether evolution is true, is of no real personal consequence for someone looking to eat healthy.

I do not agree. Don't you think the Earth's age is related to the health of soil, or that natural selection can help humans artificially select for more abundant, healthy, plants to eat?

I don't think we will ever know in advance which facts, if any, are of no real consequence. It seems to me that it would be a real shame to never discover something valuable by accident ever again.

Calculus is not of any real personal consequence to a social worker. Should social workers decide not to accept calculus?

(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  If we concede, that reality is aimless, intrinsically meaningless, has no intrinsic value, as a result neither does truth. It’s more a tool, that can be used for any variety of aims, and goals, positive and negative, and neutral.

I don't think reality is aimless, meaningless, or has no value. Life is valuable and meaningful to me. Like you, I have a variety of aims and goals. The quality of my experiences always remind me life is worth living. I hope yours do to.

Have you ever heard someone say that people should live their lives as though today was their last day on Earth? Have you ever wondered why most people would wring every last drop of happiness and love out of that day? Why would they bother to visit their loved ones, or watch the sunset for the last time? Why would you believe you need God to value life, when people already live and love with passion?

If you were to discover right now that the life you have lived has only the purposes of love and happiness, would you really think it hasn't been valuable, or worth living? If I am right, you have cared deeply for the truth, just like all of us, and it mattered, even without God.

(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  If one’s ultimate goal is to be healthy and happy, the bulk of the beliefs that separate theist and atheists, are entirely irrelevant to the goal here.

I don't agree. I think Theism is harmful and immoral. I believe that happiness and health, especially of the mind and emotions, is under a significant threat from Theism.

(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  There seems to be some derision by atheists directed at individuals who might prioritize their health and happiness over truth, but the exact nature of why that is it’s never clear, nor why these individuals themselves would prioritize truth over their own health and happiness.

I can understand there is some flexibility here. For example there is optimism and stoicism. Although the stoic is choosing to face the truth as accurately as possible, I can understand the value of choosing to believe things will get better soon. It's probably not rational to always believe in the best possible outcome, but I think it can be emotionally healthy.

However, optimism is different from delusion. An optimistic single person might believe they will get a date soon, even if their last one didn't go well. A delusional single person might believe they are already in a relationship, but it does not really exist. Does it really matter how happy this ill person is? They certainly aren't healthy.

In the case of religion, I think it is a delusion, not a harmless exercise in emotional encouragement.

(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Of course you’ll disagree, but you know what, even if I was wrong, so what? It’s not going to improve my overall health and happiness one bit.

I strongly disagree. I think you would have two major improvements in your life upon giving up your belief in God and religion. You would become more mentally and emotionally healthy, and more moral. I am afraid the stakes are high for believers too. If it turns out Atheists are right, you will have wasted priceless days of your one life engaged in meaningless and immoral rituals. How great would that be for your health and happiness?

(11-05-2017 07:42 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  Now think about the value you place on truth. Do you value truth as an end in and of itself, or do you value truth as a means to an end? What end is that? Which end ultimately matters here for you, if it’s not your health and happiness?

I think I take it both ways. I try to be healthy and happy, as well as grateful for the precious life I am living. However, I won't stoop to delusions, even if life weren't half as good. If I were to do that, I would be jeopardizing the clear headed problem solving I would need to change that world for the better.

That is my answer. When you have to deny or ignore facts to be happy, it's not healthy, and it won't help you forge a better world.

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.

-Karl Marx
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12-05-2017, 07:57 PM
RE: Why do you desire truth?


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12-05-2017, 08:08 PM (This post was last modified: 12-05-2017 08:24 PM by Cosmo.)
RE: Why do you desire truth?
Quote:I'm not sure he's arguing that lies are more valuable than truth; what I read from that is that it's not always the case that knowing truth is more valuable than a productive lie.

You're right. Sorry I hope my position was clear in earlier posts. I also don't think he's arguing that lies are more valuable than the truth. I think he was arguing that they were equally viable tools of survival under certain circumstances.

I still think that's quite a concession for a Christian to make, however.

Quote:In the specific example of religion, we know that religion often has useful (in a Darwinian sense) contributions that it makes on a tribal species level, in giving a uniform set of behavioral expectations and a sense of unified purpose that may give them an edge over less-homogeneous groups.

This I can agree with. My only problem is the actual concepts which religious groups have ended up unifying around over the course of human history.

Quote:This would be true even though not all the religions can be true (assuming any of them are at all, which I doubt), meaning that those false religions nevertheless convey an advantage and are thus useful in an evolutionary sense.

Again, this I can 100% agree with. Smile I just think, in this day and age, people are going to unify around a body of actual knowledge, rather than spiritual theory and conjecture more and more.

Quote:Likewise, President Trump appears to have lied his way to the top, to success in both business and politics, without even appearing to have much of a clue, himself, about anything true-- self-delusion and an ability to delude others may well convey certain social advantages. [Edit to Add: I would argue, as Paleophyte just did, that in the age of modern technology and global society with nuclear-armed nation-states, the superstitious/religious roots that gave tribes an advantage are now a major potential liability.]

I have an entire thread on this.

That's why I'm saying knowing the truth is infinitely more valuable than engaging in superstition for the sake of mental comfort. What was baffling to me is how he actually tried to come back and argue that lies still have some form of advantage in this day and age, from a Christian worldview. Totally baffling. Not even necessarily that he argued in favour of lying, but just from the Christian perspective.

Quote:In the example Tomasia gave, of the successful religionist who gained several social "leg up" advantages from his acceptance of and conformity to the religious norms of his culture, it is irrelevant whether or not the belief system to which he conformed himself was a True Belief or not.

I disagree that "natural selection" will weed out those with false religious beliefs, however, for the reason I stated above. Every Christian on the planet agrees with me that Hindus have false religious beliefs... doesn't stop the BILLION of them from continuing on as they have done for almost 4000 years, quite successfully.

The way you described that made me think of some horror flick about having to be brainwashed or being forced into squander, for some reason.

I think Christianity will inevitably fade into the black just as the religions of all of the most powerful societies of antiquity did. I'm not talking about the physical culling of people in terms of natural selection, as I said earlier. When I was talking about evolution, I was implying that oftentimes evolutionary theory can be applied to more than just biology; areas like economics, and sociology. When I say natural selection within the context of ideas I just mean that ideas which are no longer adapted to the informational environment that they are in, will likely begin to be viewed as decidedly false, until they no longer exist. This is just my personal opinion but the only people that would willingly conitnue to live in a religious lie after knowing that it is such are the deeply brainwashed. If I had the choice between knowing the truth about a particular situation, and knowing a nice lie about a situation, I would always want to know the truth. That's just how I feel I guess.

Smile

~ The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you ~
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13-05-2017, 01:41 AM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
(12-05-2017 07:30 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  A value is what we give to something, not something intrinsically possessed by the object itself. Values are subjective. Reality is not a value, reality is just what is. We give any component of it value.

Agreed. For me, truth is reality

“I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.” ~ Oscar Wilde
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13-05-2017, 02:21 AM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
I'm still not grasping the point of this.

Even if there are some situations where not having the truth might be beneficial, I'd like to see anyone live their life with a total disregard for the truth. You simply wouldn't be able to function if you had no preference between good models of reality and bad ones.

Go ahead and try it. I'd argue that in a sane person, it's pretty much impossible to turn off the instinct to search for truth. Your brain is constantly being flooded with information and accessing memories. How exactly are you going to tell it to stop processing things properly and to just "believe whatever"? No need to worry about what your name is, how doors work or how to use your legs to walk.

I suspect this is all an attempt to level the playing field between beliefs based on evidence and arbitrary fantastical beliefs.

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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13-05-2017, 02:43 AM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
There's also a weird kind of irony here. To be aware that it is beneficial to not have the truth in a particular situation, you have to already know what the truth is, and know the truth about how the truth impacts that particular situation. This is ultimately another quest for truth. And by the time you have that information, you'd then have to somehow brainwash yourself into not believing the truth, for your own benefit. Just trying to be wrong about something, or not caring if you're right, on the off chance that it's beneficial to you, is like guessing "the ace of spades will be the top card" rather than "it will be something other than the ace of spades". Even when the ace does come up every so often, it was still a bad choice probability wise since you couldn't have known what would happen.

People can get away with not knowing the truth, or in fact believing total horse shit, when it comes to things that don't directly impact their lives. For example, it makes no difference what I believe about how reality came to be, since I must live in it regardless. I don't have to know how computers work in order to use them. In fact, I can believe they work by little magic pixies if I want. As soon as these false beliefs start to overlap more with practical everyday reality, they become problematic. Religion tends to overstep its bounds in this regard, and can cause people to make decisions that are bad for them and those around them.

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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13-05-2017, 04:41 AM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
Even in the case that "truth has no intrinsic value so we shouldn't care about it", it's a truth statement that "truth has no intrinsic value" and therefore we shouldn't care that truth has no intrinsic value.

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13-05-2017, 04:50 AM
RE: Why do you desire truth?
(12-05-2017 07:57 PM)big green mouth Wrote:  


I watched the TED video. The lecturer Donald Hoffman made sense until the end, when he jumped to all sorts of unsupported conclusions.

Yes, our perceptions of the world are constructed. Yes, we process the constructed information by symbol manipulation. Yes, we are cuing from reality for our own selective purposes.

That still doesn't mean our admittedly partial information doesn't come from reality itself. Nor does it mean our brains are not causal. In fact it means the reverse. The reason our brains are causal is exactly because they are selective. We introduce our own selective purposes into the world to change the world in ways that benefit us.
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