attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
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24-04-2011, 11:00 AM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Hey, No. J.

The question isn't what is the value of people believing what they want (which is another conversation entirely) the question is, if people aren't allowed to believe whatever they want, who is the arbiter of what is acceptable to believe and how are those decisions enforced?

Quote:My questions are: (I added numbers to this quote for referencing)
1 - "Why do we have to believe anything?"
2 - "Why can't we just accept the fact that we don't know everything?"
3 - "Why can't we leave our minds open to learning?"
4 - "Why do I have to respect anyone who refuses to be open to learning?"
5 - "Why do I have to respect people who have a profound influence over my life, yet they are going to close their minds to reality?"
6 - "Why do I have to respect people who benefit from science every day and would be totally lost without their scientifically created devices and medicines, yet they attack science and claim that scientists don't know what they are talking about?"
7 - "Why do I have to respect people who claim to believe in the bible. yet they don't do what the bible tells them to do, they don't believe the parts of the bible that they don't want to and they interpret the bible to suit their own personal beliefs?"
8 - "Why do I have to respect anyone who lies to try to prove his truth?"
9 - "Why should religion be allowed to say whatever they want to and not be compelled to support what they say with verifiable evidence or proof? Until such verifiable evidence or proof is provided, why should I respect them or what they say?"

1 - It's part of the human experience.
2 - That's an odd question because the idea that people are or are not allowed to believe what they want is not related to whether we can accept ignorance. Is there a point I missed?
3 - We can and we do. But all systems, including belief systems, are resistant to invasion. That's just how it works.
4 - I would venture that it's not about being open to learning, but being open to accepting what you believe is acceptable to believe. And even if they aren't open to learning, does that invalidate them as a human being so much that they no longer deserve your respect?
5 - You don't have to respect anyone. But what kind of person are you if you don't? What they believe is none of your business. Your issue isn't that they're "closing their mind to reality" it's that their beliefs are different from yours and you're in a power struggle with them. If they opened their mind to reality, ie, if they became like you, there would be no conflict.
6 - What they believe is their business. Why should you be respected if all it takes for you to not respect others is a difference of opinion?
7 - See previous.
8 - See previous.
9 - I started answering these questions because I actually wanted to offere thoughtful replies to your questions. But the more I read, the more I realised that you weren't asking questions so much as saying, "these people are terrible and I don't like them or agree with the way they live and for that I do not respect them or their right to be different."

It strikes me that what you have set up with your questions is a situation where they are only permitted to believe what they want if they can justify their beliefs to you. That would be a fine argument if they were trying to make you believe what they believe (and in some cases, that's exactly what's occurring) but that is a different issue from whether or not people are allowed believing whatever they want. This question isn't just about Atheists and Theists, it's about Europeans and aboriginal people. Straights and gays. It's about whether or not cultural diversity is a good or whether cultural homogeneity is a good.

By definition, you are going to disagree with people who hold different beliefs than you.... I don't know. I'm trying to engage with your questions and ignore the fact that they were rhetorical, but I just have to accept that they were.

Anyhoo, I would like to hear your answer to my question.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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24-04-2011, 06:03 PM (This post was last modified: 25-04-2011 12:26 AM by MasterRottweiler.)
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
(24-04-2011 11:00 AM)Ghost Wrote:  6 - What they believe is their business. Why should you be respected if all it takes for you to not respect others is a difference of opinion?

Yes, I agree that their beliefs are their business, but the problem I see here is when people is harmful to other people just because they hold certain belief, I think its not just a matter of diferent opinions.

Why should I respect religious people and their way of thinking and acting if they make harm to others? Like:

- The pope and the people who agrees with the condom issue.
- People who are willing to segregate and/or erradicate gay people.
- People who agree that things like the inquisition must return in order to restore and impose the faith.
- People who murder doctors working in abortion clinics.
- People who are willing to blow hospitals, schools, public centers, etc., just to prove that their religion is the only truth.
- Parents who force their little daughters to the torture of female circumsicion in african countries just because their beliefs say so.
- People who are willing to let their children and loved ones die just because their belief system is against blood transfusions.

Should I respect those beliefs? Do I have the moral obligation to respec this? Is this just a matter of diferent opinion? Am I wrong if I find this as something absurd and immoral?

As I said before, I respect people as human beings, but if their ideas are immoral and absurd I do not see why should I feel morally compelled to respect such ideals IMO.

Peace.

"The tendency to turn human judgments into divine commands makes religion one of the most dangerous forces in the world.”
-Georgia Harkness.

"La fe es patrimonio de los pendejos. (Faith is patrimony of the dumbfucks)."
-Diego Rivera
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24-04-2011, 07:55 PM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Hey Ghost

Read MasterRottweiler's last post. Every point he makes is an example of a result of people "believing exactly what they want". Belief affects action and action affects others. I believe in live and let live but I, and almost all other people, are being negatively affected by people who chose to "believe what they want" with no regard for facts, evidence, reality or rational thinking.

Who should be the arbitrator. Everyone with common decency. Allowing people to use religion as an excuse for power is a result of believing in that religion or allowing that religion to say what it wants and not force it to prove what it says.

If people who believed in god(s) just kept it to themselves, stopped trying to shove their doctrines down our throats (see inquisitions, WBC, mormons, etc), stopped trying to gain control of the government and school systems, stopped child indoctrinations (see jesus camp), stopped lying about science (and evidence and proof), stopped sending out missionaries to force their dogmas on unsuspecting cultures, stopped creating doctrines that cause the preventable deaths of people (see condoms in Africa etc.) I wouldn't have a problem with what they believe.

As far as straights and gays goes, I don't discriminate against gays. They aren't shoving their way of life on me or anyone else for what I can tell.

As far as Europeans and First Nations People, the majority of the problems where started by the Europeans. I am of European descent. I like their traditional respect for nature. If earlier white people had treated them fairly, they would be better adjusted and better contributors to western culture.

Since I have said the details of this last paragraph before in this forum, either you forgot, you didn't read that post (unlikely) or you are chosing to ignore what I had posted earlier. I am attacking unfounded beliefs and the negative effects of such beliefs on others. You have read enough of my posts to know that.

My questions to you are:

- "Why should anyone be allowed to affect anyone else without justifying their reasons for doing what they are doing, and if beliefs are a part of it, then why should their beliefs not need to be justified, too?"

-"Why should those being negatively affected by the ignorance of others, repect the beliefs of those who are negatively affecting them when those beliefs are the reason for their ignorance?"

-"Why should people with a good sense of decency, not put peer pressure on people to stop them from believing in things that are provably false?"
(Don't bother with the universal negative. You want to believe in a god, believe in one that don't have to create a bunch of lies about. On top of that, religions are always putting peer pressure on people to make them believe in things that are provably false, and you know that.)

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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24-04-2011, 07:56 PM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
There's a difference between respecting someones right to believe what they want and respecting their beliefs. I respect Joe Christians right to believe in Zombie Jesus. What I don't respect is him trying to teach my children that his fantasy is reality. When something harms someone, I don't have respect for it. A persons right to believe is not harmful. It only becomes harmful when they USE their belief to cause harm.

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24-04-2011, 08:03 PM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Unfortunately, when people believe things that are not verifiable, it is highly likely that sooner or later it will be used in a harmful way.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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25-04-2011, 05:52 PM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
I have a fundamental question that is being dodged. This thread is called "attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument". If the premise of that argument is being attacked and the alternate argument is being made that people can't believe whatever they want, then that creates a very specific situation in which some beliefs are acceptable while others are not.

So I'll ask again.

If people aren't allowed to believe whatever they want, who is the arbiter of what is acceptable to believe and how are those decisions enforced?

And I'd like something a little more comprehensive and a little more actionable than “everyone with common decency”.

(PS: I wanted to answer your questions, No. J. Straight up. But I found them incomprehensible. If you’d like to reformulate your questions, I’d be happy to take another stab at them.)

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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25-04-2011, 06:30 PM
 
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Well Ghost, a straight up simple obvious answer is, it would be impossible to enforce the notion that people can not believe whatever they want, so an arbiter is a non-issue.

Even in the most fascist State, thought would be impossible to monitor or police. So people could keep their beliefs to themselves and still sustain their faith.

And just as that is a matter of the obvious, so too is the answer to the OP. Of course people can believe whatever they want. However, their faith is not entitled to trespass, presume or infringe on others right to be free of it.
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26-04-2011, 01:07 AM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
(25-04-2011 06:30 PM)GassyKitten Wrote:  And just as that is a matter of the obvious, so too is the answer to the OP. Of course people can believe whatever they want. However, their faith is not entitled to trespass, presume or infringe on others right to be free of it.

Thanks GK. That was worded better than how I was thinking of phrasing it.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Richard Dawkins comes to me, speaking words of reason, now I see, now I see.
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26-04-2011, 09:48 AM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Neither of those responses were honest.

A Sam Harris video was posted in this thread that said that we shouldn't respect the beliefs of Theists and people here agreed. So don't tell me "of course people can believe what they want" when No. J, Master Rotweiler, Hotrodmike, BnW and sano showed either their support for Harris' position or their disdain for Theists and their beliefs.

I also think that it is incredibly important to separate whatever actions someone might take to deal with the harmful behaviours of some groups from whether or not people have the right to their own beliefs. Actions taken can be discussed, scrutinised, reviewed, punished, whatever. But once we start saying that there are limits to what beliefs people are allowed to possess, we start deciding which cultures are allowed to exist and the historical record on that is clear. It's disaster waiting to happen.

Of course there are beliefs that are harmful. I once met the local Grand Dragon of the KKK when I was in Kentucky. Didn't particularly want to hang out with the dude. The idea that one people's way is the one right way and that all others need to be converted to that way is a dangerous idea. The idea that the planet belongs to us, that we can do whatever we like to it is dangerous. The idea of unlimited growth is dangerous. The idea of linear production cycles is dangerous. The idea that our markets and our lives should be driven by the desire to maximise profits by whatever means necessary is dangerous. There are a lot of ideas that are dangerous. Then there are the ideas that people just think are dangerous. That Native Americans should live traditionally instead of as good citizens of the state. That same-sex marriage should be allowed. That the mixing of the races should be allowed. That the state providing services to the citizenry at the cost of preventing investors from making money off of those services is a good thing. When we say, we get to decide what your culture is allowed to believe, it invariably ends in disaster.

Accepting that people have the right to their beliefs and the right to live as they see fit is not a weekend retreat. It is a way of life. And it's difficult because those people that see the world so differently than you are in competition with you. And being in competition means that sometimes you have to compromise and that sometimes you just lose. And accepting that is the true difficulty of the matter. It also means accepting that culture is in a constant state of evolution and that it must be left to this evolution. What would have happened if a foreign power had swooped into the US at the height of slavery and forced "regime change" because of how abhorrent slavery was? We wouldn't have the US we have today, a country that still has many flaws, but that has contributed some incredible things to humanity. People have been complaining about the Arab world for years and how backwards they are and how they need to be shown the errors of their ways. Now look what we see. Dictatorships across the Arab world falling like houses of cards.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to be true to your own beliefs and defend your beliefs and point out the problems with other beliefs. But when your opinion of beliefs clouds your opinion of humans, there's a problem. When eradicating an idea means eradicating a people, there's a problem. When people say, sure people can believe what they want but the moment that means they want to take from me then all bets are off, there is a problem.

Some ideas are dangerous. Some ideas harm. Some ideas will take down the entire human race. But we deal with these by moving forward together.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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26-04-2011, 12:07 PM
RE: attacking the "people can believe whatever they want" argument
Ghost they were honest. They are saying don't respect the beliefs in action. That doesn't mean anything about thought crimes, it means that a belief should not be given respect within the context of reality. It means that you can feel using protection is an immortal sin, but we also know that if you don't use it then this horrible disease that's spreading will not be contained. It means that when there are facts of what happens in a situation a belief should not just be respected as contrary to that fact in all cases. It means if you want to avoid medicines because your beliefs say they are harmful have a nice life without them, but if your baby who is not old enough to decide this at all is being made to live a life that is demonstrably more dangerous then you're placing a belief against a fact.

Cultural diversity is very important, a homogeneous culture can only grow towards excess as if everyone agrees with the same things then it will become something done too often. There is nothing wrong with diversity and differences no one is attacking people being different. They are attacking acts being done without being called what they are. If it is obvious that the use of condoms has a strong chance of lowering the spread of aids in Africa, yet missionaries travel there to warn African citizens that the use of condoms will damage their immortal soul, then there is no reason not to say these missionaries are ensuring the spread of aids in Africa, by preventing known answers from being widely used.

Their argument is that a religious belief is allowed to trump medical facts about things. And that more often then not this is carried well beyond the person who believes it. They are saying that if a senator states to the public that they can use all the gas they like, because the world will end soon anyway he should be reprimanded for this statement. Statements with no merit or proof behind them are often given a large amount of weight simply because they are seen as religious. That is the argument presented with Sam Harris's video and those discussing here. They are not saying you can't believe something, they are saying you can't act upon beliefs. I have beliefs which are opinions I've came to for myself, through thinking and do not have a lot of hard evidence for. I do not generally expect these things to have to be right for everyone. Many religious do.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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