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Any person can comment on this post, but it's geared towards Christians (Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.) Anyone can post the first subject of conversation. Just discuss issues about the religion (Heaven, evangelism,etc.) :rolleyes:

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How strongly should one hold the conviction that people should be open minded? Personally I hold that conviction as one of my strongest. Yet in this series of discussions, I am exploring the contingency that I could be wrong.

Very strongly indeed. But as the saying goes; one should not keep their mind so open that there brain falls out. :lol:

It always bears repeating: Keeping an open mind does not mean refraining from even strongly held opinions, even convictions. But simply always keeping enough in reserve to be open to new information and possible correction. A Reasonist should indeed positively welcome any such opportunity - every time one is 'proven' wrong, this represents an improvement of understanding.

If there's one thing I hold more dear than open-mindedness it is the value of balance (the outcome of practical wisdom and the goal of critical thinking). I'd like to continue to explore the landscape that balances critical thinking with blind acceptance, or, if you will, Reasonism vs. 'revealed religion'.

Being a finite data processing facility, the human mind at any moment in time accepts blindly things that it has evaluated previously through reason, even though the assumptions underlying the acceptance may no longer be valid.

I must start my disagreeing with the concept of "Blind acceptance."

For example; accepting something based on prior reasoning, means that that acceptance IS NOT blind. But is merely less than perfect. Yes there are practical reasons to leap to conclusions without utilising the full reasoning process, there often simply is not enough time. This itself is a rational response to a given situation ("I only have somuch time to decide and act, so much go on prior, hopefully related, information")

A good exampe is a canard I was told as a child (by a preacher, when I believed) and only a few days ago online: That one sits on a chair without thinking about it; as a matter of Faith. One could replcase "Faith" with "blind acceptance."

But no; what one does (what I do anyway) is rely on the less than perfect means of Inductive reasoning. Which over time one comes to realise what chairs are for, and how they are almost always reliable for sitting upon. Practically every chair I have sat upon, and every instances I have observed of others doing so, have borne my/their weight. from this I can reach the rational conclusion (accepting it's less that perfect nature) that I can safely sit without doing any on-the-spot reasoning.

* There is also the correlation between the work of reasoning and the risks of being in error to rationally consider. "Is it worth my time to go through a lengthy reasoning process for this potential amount of gain?" ;)

By extension, we accept blindly the findings of people we 'trust' as experts in areas of reason/science that we are not capable of understanding.

Well we shouldn't.

But what we can do is, understand the methodology by which such espertise derives. An appreciation of the levels of their expertise. Science being a perfect example; science has a self-correcting system, it's "scientific Method" by which errors in reasoning tend to be weeded out. And importantly the views of any individual scientific expert is not enough, it has to go through the processes of peer review, repetition etc. before becoming considered of any real value. And THAT is why such things can be accepted (as the best scientifically derived explanation, not as the unquestionable TruthTM) even without any personal understanding of the specific science involved. But one should always keep in mind the way in which that conclusion was accepted - taking the word of an "expert" based on not understanding, but that expertise, should render your acceptance that little bit more guarded. And thus leading to a somewhat greater openness to being swayed away from that conclusion.

This acceptance is critical to humanity's social structure. We switch on our computers and head off through cyberspace to Brain Den without understanding every process going on within the network of 'little black boxes' that provide us with this connection.

True. But this is not blind acceptance. We do know what works and what doesn't. I don't have to understand the inner workings of a computer, let alone an international network, to undertaking what this forum does, and what I can do with it. But nor do I have to believe or accept anything about it either. I could believe that they are all controlled by little demons, it wouldn't really matter.

We do not simply blindly accept that those experts know what they are doing. No, instead we have the evidence that they do - because my computer works. I also recognise it's flaws (I ham on Window Vista at the moment for example :angry: )

There is, and has been especially for the past century or two, the need to specialise, to rely on the expertise of specialist in various areas, as opposed to requiring a full understanding of everything currently understood. Human knowledge has simply grown far to large for that to be feasible any longer. But that does not mean that we abandon our reasoning fully to those experts. We can (and often do) still critically examine the results. We do however then have to rely on the experts to do something about the observed faults, as they are beyond the skills of the rest of us.

Functionally, the Bible and the 'Complete guide to computers and the internet' are identical in the following sense: they codify, in frozen (dogmatic) form, a set of rules that we choose to accept blindly because we don't have the time or resources to revisit the experiences (experiments) of our predecessors.

Not at all. In both cases we can apply them (or even just think upon what is written) and see how they work. Does the "complete guide" correctly enable me to preform the function I want, or not?

Does this moral command from the Bible actually lead to less harm and more good, or does it not?

Furthermore, in the practical experience of users of these two manuals, they are identical in that not everything in them works right, but in general they do us some good and increase our quality of life.

:thumbsup: And from that we can (and should) assess the overall, and specific, value of that text, can't we? That is why we know that some computer guides are better than others - more or less accurate information, and more or less helpful language (can the layman get what they need out of it?)

That recognition is our reasoning, not our blind acceptance.

Of course what one SHOULD do is only consider accepting that which has been shown to be reliable in a text, and dismissing that which has not. Some computer-use textbooks for example are known to be string in some areas and weak in others.

For example in at least one of the Information System Papers I took we used two textbooks, even though one of those textbooks included work on all the relevant material. It was just deemed too weak in one area, leading to the selection of another test for that area.

We can't figure out why Brain Den's forum 'Other' category front page suddenly shows up with no topics, and we can't figure out why God didn't cure our uncle's cancer. Both are imperfect and occasionally glitchy. But both serve their adherents.

What we recognise is a problem, as reason to distrust the source to a certain degree. An understanding that things go wrong etc.

But in the former case we could not rationally conclude that there is therefore no Brain Den, could we?

But we could potentially do so on the nature of God.

Because the reasoning involved is different. All evidence can tell us something a little different.

The two dogmas differ in that reasonists readily accept changes to the 'complete guide' but many religionists refuse to accept ammendments to their religious canon. The two dogmas often also differ on the origin of the basic tenets or foundation (first principles) on which they base their canon.

Indeed. Except that accepting changes (even to the extent of complete dismissal - some guide books are complete rubbish) is the complete opposite of "Dogma."

Wikipedia: "Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization: it is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or from which diverged."

SO yes; the difference is that the one involves reasoned acceptance that one cold be mistaken, of allowing for new information and correction. Of keeping an open mind, even while generally accepting what one has.

So this leads me to the question: What would be the functional difference between a religion that eagerly accepts change to their belief system as new information becomes available (including the underlying first principle assumptions), and the practice of the reasonist?

The main difference is that a Reasonist values reason BEFORE any other doctrine. She uses reason to establish what one believes. He does NOT believe something first, and only then allow reason to correct from there. In as much as this is possible of course, we all form beliefs before our reasoning capacity even fully kicks in, and one often becomes a Reasonist some time after the fact - thus NOT starting with a blank state. Such a reasonist therefore critically examines (as best as they can) their existing beliefs (as I did on my Christianity) and tries to find out if those beliefs were/are warranted (I found that those of mine were not.) And would dismiss them as not-worthy-of-of-belief, NOT only if they can be reasonably concluded to be false, but if it can be established that one simply does not have a sufficient reasoning to believe in the first place.

In my case for my Christianity; I found that my beliefs were based on appeals to authority, emotion, and similar indoctrination. I didn't need any positive reasons to believe it to be false, to realise that my beliefs simply were not rationally justified, unfounded - "Castles built on the sand" ti use an apt metaphor. So I dropped them (not nearly as easy as that sounds of course.)

Science has demonstrated that children who have imaginary friends tend to develop socially more effectively.

Really? I bet there is more to it. Children without real friends for example. And as a demonstration of imagination etc. And I would strongly suspect that it is only those children to realise (at some point) that those friends ARE imaginary. :lol:

...

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The imaginary friend provides them with 'practice'. Dreams serve the same function in people of all ages.

As does imagination in general. A vastly valuable tool.

Humans respond to anthropomorphic symbolism better than to dry logic.

That is true. And as with all things; that has certain advantages, as well as potential ways to go wrong. As all habitual algorithms (simplified tools to reach conclusions quickly) tend to do. The less one relies on reasoning, and resorts to shortcuts- yes the more rapidly one can reach conclusions and act, but also a corresponding increase in the probability of error.

That does not mean that one should avoid such algorithms entirely, that would be irrational (as sometimes they are needed,) but that one should recognise the inherent dangers in their usage, and included that added data in one's assessment.

That is part of the point behind my analogy with the 'hydrogen hydroxide' and 'God's Elixir of Life'. Both are identical things, one is packaged for more effective delivery.

If exactly the same, and just water; then the latter simply involves LYING in order to pus a product.

Yes it is true that bullsh*t sells. That one can be abuse the less than stellar reasoning skills of people to manipulate them into giving you their money. From that all I get is that we need to teach critical thinking far more and far earlier. Most people can reason at least a darn sight more than they currently do. Even if not all can reach the highest levels of reasoning.

Reasonism isn't the goal of life any more than religion ought to be. Instead, both are only ultimately useful if they are means toward improving the individual's day-to-day life. Bottom line: Reason and blind acceptance operate in a give-and-take balance in the real world. ImHO it would be a mistake to favor or belittle either one of these yin-yang partners.

You are suggesting a yin and yang between reason, actually thinking about the reliability of truth claims, how they measure up to reality, and the abandonment of reason.

Sorry; NO! Not everything is a compromise, nor should it be. Should one compromise between eating a lot and no arsenic? Having a lot and no cancer? Should we aim for a balance of both, perhaps eating just a moderate amount of arsenic, and having just touch of cancer? No.

It is true that irrational appeals work, that people buy into flashy but rationally empty hard sells. But it is generally recognised that what we should then do is try to educate people better to SEE THROUGH such cheap shams and scams. We should recognise the part "blind acceptance" plays in peoples lives, and endeavour to correct their flaws in, and failures to use, reason.

If we use the power of evangelical conviction to package the best known practices of pure naturalism (as evaluated using reason), the message becomes more powerful, and can compete for the attention of more people.

A tactical approach that I strongly disapprove of.

It involves abandoning and abusing reason in order to promote it. That's just insane. And would teach people logically fallacious tools as if they were the proper way to assess truths. The ONLY ultimately reliable way of promoting rational assessment of what is, is by applying that reason, and sticking to it. And through doing so demonstrating that it works (and pointing out how its abandonment often does not.)

Science itself is a prime example of that; by dropping irrational notions as far as possible, whenever they are uncovered, and strictly sticking to rational processes of discovery only, real tangible progress has been made. And ALL of those examples where "science has failed" (made mistakes) has either been through the possession of insufficient data OR through abandonment of proper reasoning.

I'm claiming this is what religion has done all along (take practical wisdom and package it with a good compelling story).

The problems is that religions have then tended to translate those early conclusions into Dogma. And have thus become positively resistant to further revision. Religion (Christianity) has been DRAGGED kicking and screaming in the distant wake of science and rational understanding. It has been improved IN SPITE of itself, in spite of it's methodology.

And the reliance of those fanciful stories have done a great deal to undermine anything positive that may have come out of that "practical wisdom." Science (and philosophy) has only made progress by dropping those stories and actually examining the facts and those "practical wisdom" invariably improving upon them greatly. Something those stories, nd the dogmatic sticking to them have positively existed.

Who would deny the wisdom contained in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount?

I would, Matt Dillahunty (a former evangelical Christian turned atheist) would:

Sermonon the Mount.

It contains a few nice things, drowned in a lot of empty and just plain wrong drivel, and certainly that is in reality anything special.

Reason, without the use of the fallacy of guilt by association, must accept this ancestral wisdom, not discard it because of the irrelevant hype.

Sorry, what?

Guilt by association?

No, one does not, should not just accept ancient wisdom. One should access its truth value, with the greater amount of information now available, to see what still works and what doesn't. This is of course a never ending process.

This IS not discarding it (at least not without good reason) but re-examination of it to see if it holds true, or not. One SHOULD discard 'Bad' ancestral wisdom, and use/keep 'Good' wisdom, no matter what it's age.

A guy reincarnated 2000 years ago is a story. Newton's Apple is a story. The underlying practical knowledge, when accepted on blind faith and applied, affects people's lives regardless of the particulars of the story.

Yes it does. And that is a mistake, if accepted on blind Faith. A resonist realises that it doesn't matter if the Apple fell or not, if Socrates was a real man or a character created by Plato, but focuses on what those stories convey. And doesn't accept any of it blindly.

The reincarnation story is just ridiculous though. What of any value does that really convey? That Scape Goating works?!

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My anecdote about the 'hydrogen hydroxide' (dry, purely scientific description of the product) and 'God's Elixir of Life' (same product creatively labeled to attract users) is meant to highlight the difference between how reason would be used to neutrally identify an item (or a set of behavioral norms) and how someone with an evangelical conviction about the same item might attempt to actively promote it.

Right. How some are willing to LIE in order to sell their product. How winning/selling/converting is more important to them than the truth. :angry:

Sadly many fall for such things. But others may be led to dismiss as false, what is ultimately true, because the promoters have been exposed in a lie. It goes both ways.

There may be real beneficial properties to bottled water (any evidence I have seen suggests otherwise when compared to filtered water from the tap) and if these were promoted (as opposed to just givin it it's chemical name :duh: ) may well sell it better in the long term, as it negates any possibility of being caught out in a lie.

And more importantly; It's actually true, it fits in with reality! Therein lies it's real value!

The impersonal reasonist's perspective is: "describe the proven attributes of the item and let reasoning people make their choice."

Not really. Reasonism is about ASSESSING truth, not promoting products. Not about what sells, but what it is reasonable to accept as true.

The conflict is between Reason and Faith.

Not what you seem to be talking about, which seems more like that between Honesty and Whatever-it-Takes.

The evangelical approach is: "people don't live by reason alone - it is balanced by blind acceptance (trust). So to get them to choose the Elixir you have to 'sell, sell, sell'."

Sadly this is to commit the Naturalistic Fallacy, and saying "It is a fact that people don't rely fully on reason, they are often prone to believing thing on ore irrational grounds" Now this IS a sad fact, but it is hardly promoting that this is a GOOD thing, at all.

And then you add the 'evangelical' position that one should THEREFORE use and abuse this failure in the human condition in order to MANIPULATE people into accepting whatever it is you want them to. This is simply atrocious!

No sorry, I a mnot yet that ready to give up on people, as too stupid and irrational to be reasoned with, and thus to instead manipulate these 'fools' to have them accept that which I do. :(

Now I have to admit that bottled water was a poor example. It would have been better to have the two companies marketing some newly discovered item. I'll try another example:

The potato came to Europe around 1570. But its leaves are poisonous. The potato was no more than a botanical curiosity in Europe for two centuries, until the 1780's, when it revolutionized life and triggered a population boom.

The scientific authorities of the time (e.g. the Royal Society, London, 1662) recommended cultivating the potato as a solution to the frequent famines during those centuries; but the superstitious population refused to accept these findings; and some churches condemned the potato because it wasn't mentioned in the bible.

The course of history may have been very different if some enterprising scientist had developed a real passion for this vegetable and had begun an evangelical promotion campaign. He might have become a larger-than-life folk hero if his followers were spared a famine that devastated neighboring villages, for example. His personna may have been elevated far beyond reason.

That hero worship is irrelevant to the real tangible value of his evangelism; but the story of how he saved his followers from certain starvation would become the promotional tool that spread the word far and wide across the continent.

Did that help?

No, not really. We are talking at cross purposes. What you speak of is not reason (or Reasonism) at all, but honesty verses dishonest manipulation of the masses. Not about why and how one should reach and hold conclusions, but about methodologies of getting others to accept that which one has already accepted as fact (or simply wants others to believe whether one believes it themselves of not!)

What the Reasonist perspective represents here however is the promotion of the ability to SEE THROUGH such dishonest tactics.

I remember my "Critical Thinking" paper (an introduction to formal logic course essentially) most tellingly leading me to spot such tactics in television advertising for instance. To now easily see where a presenter is trying to manipulate the viewer while offering no real substance. THAT is what Reasonism is all about; honing the skill ability to tell the difference between your two hypothetical salesmen, to see what is really being sold, and what actual truth-reality-value they have.

The true Reasonist is the smart shopper, the savvy consumer, not necessarily the best salesman. ;)

An example from advertising. One I remember when this first came up:

A product is advertised with the tag line

"Now containing (extra) Niacin!!"

The non-critical thinking consumer may (and evidence bears this out) be impressed and buys the product.

Sadly the same consumer would most likely have been JUST as impressed with this tagline:

"Niacin Free!!"

Because such a consumer simpler hears the spin (language used) and assumes that Niacin is in the first case good to have, and the second; bad/harmful.

The critical thinker, the Reasonist, asks herself "What the Hel is Niacin?! Do I want any (more) in my cereal or not - beneficial, harmful, irrelevant?"

And many therefore go out and research this (and perhaps find that yes Niacin is good, but we have more than enough already such that the addition to it in our cereals is a waste of time, as is the largely case with antioxidants, and in fact that an overdose could be positively harmful.) But research of not; would NOT rush out and buy the product, or buy it at all, based on that information-light tag-line.

Likewise the theist (hardly all, but one demographic for the means of example) may read the line "Thou Shalt not Kill" (don't you find it amusing how so many still use that 16th century language?) and just take it for granted (and thus envelops abortion and euthanasia under that assertion.) But the Reasonist reads the same line, and asks "Is it? Always, in every situation? Let's think about this..." And from there a more nuanced ethical framework can be built up. Especially when this is done though multitudes of people over generations.

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Reasonism is about ASSESSING truth, not promoting products. Not about what sells, but what it is reasonable to accept as true.

The conflict is between Reason and Faith.

Not what you seem to be talking about, which seems more like that between Honesty and Whatever-it-Takes.

The position I am hoping to represent is that it is possible to be entirely truthful and faithful to the tenets of Reasonism, and still be evangelical and promote one's point of view with conviction.

I am indebted to you for patiently responding to my posts. To me, your diligence demonstrates the very conviction, even evangelism, that I'm addressing. Here in universe A, ADParker chooses to say publicly 'I strongly advocate Reasonism'. In parallel universe B, ADParker, might simply quietly accept Reasonism and might never post on Brain Den or elsewhere.

Why promote one's point of view? What answers does science offer to that question? I promote my position because I believe it will help people lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life. This is not merely altruistic - it also provides me with a sense of worth and satisfaction. Reason doesn't have a lot to do with that. It's a gut feeling - a 'warm fuzzy'.

Every day life is not primarily a process of executing rational decisions. Social dynamics involve psychological processes that science gamely tries to address. But science falls far short of the skillful art of human interaction as practiced in politics and ministry, for example.

Reasonism as a tool for living is eminently laudible; but is also woefully incomplete. 'Hydrogen hydroxide' is cold hard reason. 'Jesus wants you to drink this pure high quality water in glass bottles because he loves you' is entirely truthful regardless of who Jesus is (assuming Jesus does indeed endorse the drinking of pure water). A good thought exercise is to replace the name Jesus with one's favorite role models, heroes, villains, etc. Another is to replace the term 'because he loves you' with your favorite emotionally charged motivating or derogatory phrase.

Instilling inspiration in another person does not require any lying or misrepresentation. And Reasonism does provide one with arguments for instilling inspiration in people.

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Hello! I just read page 30 and 31 of this high-quality and interesting topic. Before that I read an interesting old topic called "Destiny vs Free Will - there can be only one!" started and dominated by octopuppy. A link in his profile (recent posts) brought me here. I was looking for a good live topic so I could join in a discussion. I hope I don't negatively disrupt the course of the wonderful posts that I just read.

First, ADParker, thanks for what you have written, I found it quite educational.

Such a reasonist therefore critically examines (as best as they can) their existing beliefs (as I did on my Christianity) and tries to find out if those beliefs were/are warranted (I found that those of mine were not.) And would dismiss them as not-worthy-of-of-belief, NOT only if they can be reasonably concluded to be false, but if it can be established that one simply does not have a sufficient reasoning to believe in the first place.

In my case for my Christianity; I found that my beliefs were based on appeals to authority, emotion, and similar indoctrination. I didn't need any positive reasons to believe it to be false, to realise that my beliefs simply were not rationally justified, unfounded - "Castles built on the sand" ti use an apt metaphor. So I dropped them (not nearly as easy as that sounds of course.)

I'm very curious, when did you realize that your Christian beliefs were false?

Some background info on me: I'm 18 now and realized that the Catholic beliefs I was being taught weren't true around the time that I was realizing what the beliefs actually meant (~10 years old). So I never was really brainwashed. I got out of it as soon as I realized I was being put into it. My family isn't deeply religious and I think my situation in particular (and the situation of my siblings) helped cause us all to not be religious despite the fact that we went to church regularly when we were younger. After that I became interested in religion when I made friends with smart people who were religious. Luckily for my intellectual growth they enjoyed debating as much as I did and that sparked a great interest in philosophy in me.

Yes it is true that bullsh*t sells. That one can be abuse the less than stellar reasoning skills of people to manipulate them into giving you their money. From that all I get is that we need to teach critical thinking far more and far earlier. Most people can reason at least a darn sight more than they currently do. Even if not all can reach the highest levels of reasoning.

We should recognise the part "blind acceptance" plays in peoples lives, and endeavour to correct their flaws in, and failures to use, reason.

I like this very much.

View Postseeksit, on 09 May 2010 - 12:54 AM, said:

If we use the power of evangelical conviction to package the best known practices of pure naturalism (as evaluated using reason), the message becomes more powerful, and can compete for the attention of more people.

A tactical approach that I strongly disapprove of.

It involves abandoning and abusing reason in order to promote it. That's just insane. And would teach people logically fallacious tools as if they were the proper way to assess truths. The ONLY ultimately reliable way of promoting rational assessment of what is, is by applying that reason, and sticking to it. And through doing so demonstrating that it works (and pointing out how its abandonment often does not.)

Science itself is a prime example of that; by dropping irrational notions as far as possible, whenever they are uncovered, and strictly sticking to rational processes of discovery only, real tangible progress has been made. And ALL of those examples where "science has failed" (made mistakes) has either been through the possession of insufficient data OR through abandonment of proper reasoning.

I think seeksit has a good point. Is it really that insane to use a little bit of the advertising to help promote reason? If you don't use any at all then being a role model of reason alone may never prevail in face of the evangelism.

That's all I'll say for now.

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The position I am hoping to represent is that it is possible to be entirely truthful and faithful to the tenets of Reasonism, and still be evangelical and promote one's point of view with conviction.

At least hypothetically, yes. Iff one's evangelical views are purely based on one's reasoning (to the best of ones ability.) If that point of view fits within strict Reasonism, then all the better for that view. A "true" Reasonist would not however promote that view through deception however, as that would be counter to their Reasonism.

I am indebted to you for patiently responding to my posts. To me, your diligence demonstrates the very conviction, even evangelism, that I'm addressing. Here in universe A, ADParker chooses to say publicly 'I strongly advocate Reasonism'. In parallel universe B, ADParker, might simply quietly accept Reasonism and might never post on Brain Den or elsewhere.

Why promote one's point of view?

I don't so much actively promote it, so much as react with it's promotion when discussion, either about reason or in a discussion where I see it abused etc., comes up.

By that I mean that I don't start arguments about Reasonism, but only join in discussions already in progress.

I promote reason, and the valuing thereof, because I consider it extremely important. One of my fondest wishes for existence is that "Philosophy for Children" be promoted and enacted in as widespread a manner as possible. That reason and critical thinking, the very tools for learning, be taught to people as early as reasonably possible.

What answers does science offer to that question?

Science? Well science works. It has produced, and continues to produce, real and tangible results. Science is therefore a beautiful demonstration of the value of reason. Time and time again it has shown, with tangible/verifiable/repeatable, supporting evidence, that prior assumptions and beliefs (including of course; earlier scientific and philosophically derived ones) were flawed, and offered more probable answers, so all kinds of things.

Technology is generally the most recognisable and considered example. That is somewhat missing the greatest discoveries, but does highlight that; Radio, television, film and 'I-Pods'... are themselves impressive, but the understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum (among other things) they represent is simply astounding!

Nuclear weapons...Oooooh scary! And one of the negatives some use to argue of the "evils of science." But think of the understanding of the underlying structure of the universe, of th ebuilding blocks of atoms themselves...I mean; WOW!

That's all Reason baby!

I promote my position because I believe it will help people lead a more satisfying and fulfilling life. This is not merely altruistic - it also provides me with a sense of worth and satisfaction. Reason doesn't have a lot to do with that. It's a gut feeling - a 'warm fuzzy'.

And me too.

I want to live in a world where people think rationally - which by no means has to be cold and personal. And don't we all? Don't we wish that people would think a little more before acting? Before they otherwise chose to do the stupid thing they just did? To park that car there, to place that item there, to...

That undoubtedly would lead to a better quality of life for everyone, myself included.

Seeking positive feelings, gaining the "warm fuzzies" IS perfectly rational. Some people often make the mistake that Reason divorces itself from emotion, that it becomes cold and uncaring. But on the contrary proper reason Governs emotion and imagination, drives it to better ends. If anything it enhances and maintains them.

The Warm Fuzzies can be best maintained if they are based on the real, it's hard to maintain them when things don't go as one imagines it should. For example if one (irrationally) thinks that you taking whatever you want will make you will sooner or later come up against people who take a dim view on you taking their stuff. But if you try to make the best life you can, through assessment of what is most likely to achieve that (reason it out in other words) then you are more likely (not with full certainty of course) to maintain the warm fuzzies for that much longer. :D

Every day life is not primarily a process of executing rational decisions. Social dynamics involve psychological processes that science gamely tries to address. But science falls far short of the skillful art of human interaction as practiced in politics and ministry, for example.

You seem to be placing reason on too high a pedal-stool. Reason is not just the extremes of science and philosophy, asking the hard questions and doing the difficult and often technically confusing maths and logic. But it is also the common old variety thinking about things that most of us do every day. We consider whether drinking a liquid before us is a good idea or not (will it refresh or poison?) based on what we actually experience, on the evidence, not on preconceived notions. - You have already thought that sometimes no we don't, haven't you? Right! Well Reasonism is a overriding value of reason such that one tries to avoid basing decisions on unfounded assumptions.

This comes in two primary forms:

1. Trying NOT to rely on assumptions, but assessing the evidence as one comes across it. But this is usually infeasible, and anyway in most of our day to day actions we just forget to do so. Which brings us to;

2. Trying to critically assess our assumptions, our foundational beliefs (one major part is in uncovering that which we are assuming,) and to judge how reliable they are. Dismissing or adjusting as deemed appropriate. So that we CAN with some degree of safety, act without in-depth thinking/reasoning. This includes the reassessment of those held foundation from time to time as new information (life experiences etc.) can change things.

In my experience religious beliefs (this may well not be a universal, but I have yet to see anything that suggest otherwise) tend NOT to be reliably or rationally founded. Childhood (pre rational) indoctrination is most common, in both direct and indirect, overt and covert, knowingly or unwittingly, bluntly or subtly. There is a reason that people by-in-large tend to take the same religion of their parents and that of the culture they are brought up in. And these beliefs are rarely honestly critically challenged from within, that is from the one believing themselves. And innumerable mental tools are often built up to prevent such introspection.

Reasonism as a tool for living is eminently laudible; but is also woefully incomplete.[/quote

It's really not. Because Reasonism isn't something that dismisses (throws away) anything else, but is a governing principle. With which the very best reasoning is to use all the tools available. To ignore the emotional consequences, for example, is to fail to apply ones reasoning fully, and to ignore any realm of available data is more likely to lead to poor results.

'Hydrogen hydroxide' is cold hard reason.

It's one pitifully narrow description.

If it's (honest) claim is that the bottle contains nothing but H2O, thus no additives. Then that is a selling point. And even a reasonist can promote that, and do so in exciting ways "No additives!..." without abandoning reason or making claims that are not rationally verified etc. A reasoist in no way has to be cold and clinical. I love science for example, and the beauty to be found there fills me with so much awe and wonder, probably as much as any theist at times. (I once spent a good half an hour simply engrossed in the evolutionary 'design' of a single seed pod.) And it is all made that much MORE wonderful for me, because I understand (to some varying degrees) just how likely it is to be true, and the simply astonishing work and dedication, and yes loveand passion (of the seacrh etc.), that went unto that understanding!

That we know that water is comprised of those three elements, and those of their own mixes of subatomic particles, and what they potentially means about the very fabric of the cosmos! Wow! Cold and hard? It's stunningly beautiful and poetic is what it is!

'Jesus wants you to drink this pure high quality water in glass bottles because he loves you' is entirely truthful regardless of who Jesus is (assuming Jesus does indeed endorse the drinking of pure water).

And does love you...

IF one is then playing games and says that, while referring to some other Jesus (Pronounced "hey-zeus" perhaps) while knowing full well how people wil ltake it, is being grossly dishonest and manipulative.

And it may well be true. But so what? It says nothing about he product whatsoever. It is an appeal to authority ,and emotion. It's pure manipulation.

Again we are on honesty versus dishonesty. Better I feel, to make honest appeals to the products qualities than to make irrelevant appeals to entice. But more importantly; better for consumers to respond to REAL appeals than rationally worthless ones. And as a consequence of that the seller will soon learn to promote honestly, as it is then that which would sell.

A good thought exercise is to replace the name Jesus with one's favorite role models, heroes, villains, etc.

I am not really the fan-boy type myself.

But so the Hel what if... a name doesn't even spring to mind :lol: ... Gary Oldman (good actor in my opinion) prefers Pepsi to Coke - I still choose Coke, because of it's taste. and if he acts in a lousy film ,or himself performs poorly, then I would dislike the film/acting accordingly. The Appeal to authority is a known logical fallacy for a reason.

And once a gain the Reasonist is one who tries to see beyond such fallacious ways of thinking. If someone I respect (say a famous scientist I like) does/endorses/likes something, I would not automatically follow suit. I might however be that more encouraged to check it out...but then form my own opinion, which may or may not concur.

I do, for instance, go to see/read some movies/books because someone I like/respect etc. is involve, and tend not to for those I do not. But I do not base my opinions on those things based on that reason to look. And my opinion of them may well change as a result of having done so.

Christian (and other) apologists do this all the time of course, form their own views independent of their idols. They are presented with a passage or fact that their own ethics/views may find troubling, so they try (sometimes desperately) to twist it to their liking. In an attempt to maintain their hero worship and conflicting views.

Another is to replace the term 'because he loves you' with your favorite emotionally charged motivating or derogatory phrase.

Appeals to emotion. Also logically fallacious if used to claim a matter of ontological fact.

There may well be emotional reasons to buy that drink, such as you like the persona selling it, and wish to please him, help him do well, and so on. I know that I buy some of the things I do from one store, rather than some others (even if a little more expensive) because I would rather give my money to the owner than some other stranger. Nothing irrational about that.

But on the other hand such a emotionally charged phrase may be misleading. What if there are two products, and one simply states a few reliably facts that basically say that it is of some slight value/use to you, and the other makes nothing but emotional appeals without foundation ("If you don't then you are a fool!" "Will make you/your loved ones... happy!") Which one to buy? Well in my book only one has given any tangible reason in it's favour. The other; nothing but flash and pizazz, no substance - you may well be just throwing your money away for nothing.

Instilling inspiration in another person does not require any lying or misrepresentation. And Reasonism does provide one with arguments for instilling inspiration in people.

Indeed. And it inspires confidence.

What it does do is encourage one to really care about what is true, and make the effort to find out and judge truth from fantasy, and flash from substance.

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I'm very curious, when did you realize that your Christian beliefs were false?

COMPLEX QUESTION! (Logical fallacy.)

Heh! Only playing. But technically it is, as your question ssumes that I did realise that my beliefs where false.

What I actually did was realise that my beliefs were "Castele built on the Sand" (I love that saying!) That they were not rationally supported. Basically that I believed for simply parthetically poor reasons. I had been indoctrinated (not forcibly or anything, just the culture of being raised as a Christian, not even a hardline single sect of Christianity, just a run of the Mill protestant really) to just accept it prettmuch as a given, o just accept what my parents, the ministers, preachers of all levels (Church, Yourth Groups, Boy Brigade...) told me, without really questioning.

My story is basically pretty tyical. One of reaching the "age of Reason" - that of a teenager, when one becomes "rebelious" (I never really did in any real sense) that is the age of beginning to question and make those first real stumbling steps of reasonning things out for oneself. Where one realise that what one "elders and betters" say ain't neccessarily so, and that one can in factmake ones on decisions and have ones own opinions, even if hey differ.

There was a trigger event that I recognise in hindsight, that got me to start thinking about those particular foundational beliefs (which otherwise tend to go unexamined. at least closely.) And it happened to come from a religious source (of if they only realised what hey had done! :lol: ) It was a Boy Brigade Leadership course - I was 15 I think, and part of that was religious lessons. This one involved us each taking a piece of paper with a time-line going from disbelief (or doubt or some-such), through a star/explosion of a revelation event, and through the other side. And I realised that I had n t had reached that revelation point as others appeared to have done (by their markings.)

That got me to thinking about what I believed and, how and why. With the aim of becoming a better Christian and reaching that desired point. But what I found was disappointing. That the problem wasn't really with me (I fist assumed that I had been given the right tools and information, but had simply failed to apply the properly) but with what I had been taught. Over time I asked questions and so forth, more and more realising that nobody seemed to have anything of any real value. And worse that they believed, and sometimes vehemently, based on the very poor foundations I had recognised! And that those few who would voice the nature of their revelation and "intimate relationship with God/Jesus" (many kept deliberately vague or avoided the topic entirely) gave such woefully insufficient explanations, of interpreting wildly and the like. No substance once again.

As religion was not a HUGE deal in my immediate family, and we moved further away from my extremely "devout" grandparents, and nor is Religious that in-your-face in this country/area as it is in others, it was no big deal and I basically drifted away, lived a secular life and didn't think about it too much.

But I did have a passing interest in religion as a phenomenon of peoples and societies. And that is why I picked up The God Delusion, when I saw it in a book store. And from there started to discuss it more. Starting on Richard Dawkins own Forum, as pointed to from that book - But even that was almost by accident. I joined because I saw it has philosophy and science sections, which interested me, and I thought would interest me more. But I checked out the religion/atheism sections as well, and found a horrendous amount of simply horribly flawed arguments being spouted by religious apologists to defend their varied beliefs.

I just had to join in and argue, from the perspective of one who cares if an argument is being put forward properly. In other words my main emphasis always seems to be pointing out where people went wrong in their arguments. I rarely start out by saying that their belief/position is wrong, but that their argument is invalid in some way.

And that is really my main gripe with religion (in general); how it displays such an over the top, greater than the norm, amount of just plain bad reasoning. And even worse; too often an open willingness to abandon reason entirely, to dismiss it's very value.

I have heard religious people mock others (atheists generally) for valuing and trying to stick to reason. And even an American "Religious Right" politician refe, in a most derogatory fashion, to we secularists as "The reality based community." Seriously! Some make it clear (a loud minority I am well aware) that when tehy worship and value the "Transcendent" they mean that which 'transcends' all common sense.

None of my other immediate family members have been all that devoutly religious, and all I think believed on a kid of general habitual level. Except from my father who believed but had a distaste for religious indoctrination due to the extreme religious fervour of his mother. And my Step Father who basically had his religion knocked out of him by being stuck in a religious boarding school. Funny how that can happen eh? But have all since, in part due to my greater understanding of the paradigm I think, and giving them food for thought, as well as reasons to think about their habitual beliefs a bit more, have all pretty much drifted away from that mindset entirely. I am the only "Militant Atheist" of the family though. (that term always makes me laugh! When did voicing ones opinion suddenly become militancy?! :lol: )

Luckily for my intellectual growth they enjoyed debating as much as I did and that sparked a great interest in philosophy in me.

And it was my passion for philosophy that really got me into discussing religion. Go figure. Man I love philosophy (and science; super-sized philosophy!) Even got myself a degree in it!

I like this very much.

Thanks. It really is the key.

I think seeksit has a good point. Is it really that insane to use a little bit of the advertising to help promote reason? If you don't use any at all then being a role model of reason alone may never prevail in face of the evangelism.

Not at all.

But it hardly pays to abandon of abuse reason (by distortion or irrational appeals etc.) in order to promote reason, does it? That is like promoting the value of a good fire brigade by starting fires. But worse, it sends a mixed message. Like Ted Haggard railing against the "Evils of homosexuality" them heading off to avail himself of the services of a male **********!

What does it convey? "Hey reason is great folks, but if you really want to sell something then lie through your teeth, abuse reason as much as it takes, so long as it works!" No I say, no. That sends quite the wrong message. And I don't happen to think it is at all necessary.

Reason (and science) can be promoted and advertised in an exciting and even intoxicating way, while keeping to it's own maxims of reason and honesty. It is a mistake to assume that just because it is reason that it is necessarily cold and dry. (Look at Neil deGrasse Tyson waxing poetic on astrophysics as a prime example - in the "Beyond Belief '06" event If I recall correctly - he sounds like a preacher, but with no need for padding or baseless assertions.)

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COMPLEX QUESTION! (Logical fallacy.)

Heh! Only playing. But technically it is, as your question ssumes that I did realise that my beliefs where false.

:lol: When I first wrote that question I almost stopped and rewrote it because I noticed that it was flawed. But, realizing that most people wouldn't have a problem with the poor wording (they would understand the meaning, as I know you did, and wouldn't bother to correct the flaws) I decided I was too lazy to change it. You, however, wouldn't let it pass! Now I am reminded that just because most people don't have as high standards doesn't mean I should write in that quality just because most people would be fine with it. I'll try to step it up!

I am the only "Militant Atheist" of the family though. (that term always makes me laugh! When did voicing ones opinion suddenly become militancy?! :lol: )

I would say the same about me. While all of my siblings are atheists and possibly my father too, none of them is the militant atheist type except me. Like you, I find philosophy very exciting and interesting and am very intrigued by the phenomenon of religion--that there are such intelligent educated people out there who believe such silly things due to the fact that they have been indoctrinated to accept those things since birth. One of the most fascinating examples to me is my friend who is the valedictorian of my class of over 200 people in a school that is far above average compared to most other public schools. He's very smart, logical, etc, on all subjects except religion. I find it very amazing that he can be so smart and yet still think that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve and Noah who survived on his ark. He's very good at math and science, getting the best scores on every biology exam and yet he doesn't believe what he learned in the class! He doesn't think that humans share a common ancestor with other animals. He does think that species can evolve, but he doesn't think that they can evolve into new species. He knows all about "divergent evolution" and I'm sure that if there was a question on it on today's AP Biology exam (which he took today... I took it last year) that he got it right. Yet, he doesn't agree that it is correct because of his religious beliefs! It's people like him that make me so interested in religion. That, and I also think that it is a terrible thing that parents continue to brainwash their children. Too few people make a fuss about this. Where are all the pro-reason activists? Not even activists... where are all of the people who are slightly hostile to the idea that parents raise their children to believe in things that are not real? I know many nonreligious people who are perfectly fine with religious brainwashing because they see the positive qualities that their religious beliefs can give them. But, still, do those positive effects (e.g. the ones of the "good Christian," etc) outweigh the fact that you're indoctrinating your children into believing in things that have the basis in logic and reason? I don't think so, which is why I am a "militant atheist." Reason all the way. Having said that, I have told my friend who is the brainwashed valedictorian that I think he is brainwashed and that hasn't hurt our friendship. He's different than a lot of other religious people I know in that when I ask him if there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark or not he actually stops and tries to think of a good answer for me. Of course he doesn't succeed and often says that he just doesn't know. He has even once quoted one of the Bible's commandments at me saying "Thou shall not test the Lord" when my questions have been too telling. Yet still, he holds his same Christian beliefs despite how irrational they may be. I think this brainwashing aspect of religion is probably the most enlightening thing (in that it enlightened me when I found out about it) that I have come across in the past couple years of my life (I'm 18 now, so...). It's very mind-boggling that such intelligent and rational people can stop being rational all together when their religious beliefs are in jeopardy. I think it's the evangelism that got to his young brain. Nobody, no matter how smart, is able to defend his mind from such indoctrination for such a young age. If I was raised by his parents I would most likely be brainwashed too. Anyways, I'm starting to repeat myself a lot in this tangent. That's because I find it mind-boggling :D .

And it was my passion for philosophy that really got me into discussing religion. Go figure. Man I love philosophy (and science; super-sized philosophy!) Even got myself a degree in it!

I was interested in philosophy before I became the militant atheist. My brother (who is four years old than me) asked me a thought-provoking question about free will when I was about twelve years old and I think that started my great interest in philosophy. I think my philosophical musings on topics such as consciousness and artificial intelligence, etc, in particular helped make me into the militant atheist as soon as I realized that my religious friends held extremely different views than I on these subjects.

But it hardly pays to abandon of abuse reason (by distortion or irrational appeals etc.) in order to promote reason, does it?

...

Reason (and science) can be promoted and advertised in an exciting and even intoxicating way, while keeping to it's own maxims of reason and honesty. It is a mistake to assume that just because it is reason that it is necessarily cold and dry. (Look at Neil deGrasse Tyson waxing poetic on astrophysics as a prime example - in the "Beyond Belief '06" event If I recall correctly - he sounds like a preacher, but with no need for padding or baseless assertions.)

Tyson is great! I have seen him make science very interesting to wide audiences in various PBS and Nova episodes. And I do now understand the difference between dishonestly making reason attractive and honestly promoting the importance of reason in an exciting way. There is such a thing as a very good advertisement that is entirely honest and in no way deceptive. It is the type of advertisement that would actually make me want to buy the product.

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32190_125556804126171_100000155555759_370122_7197921_n.jpg

That's an honest statement, actually, but I'm not so sure whether it would have an honest rational effect on the religious people reading the sign. I'm actually not sure what the point of it is. Are there really people in that church who are so brainwashed that that statement enforces their beliefs? Or is this a joke? Could it possibly be that someone against the religion put that statement up on the church sign for the irony? I'd bet that's it.

Edited by Use the Force

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That's an honest statement, actually, but I'm not so sure whether it would have an honest rational effect on the religious people reading the sign. I'm actually not sure what the point of it is. Are there really people in that church who are so brainwashed that that statement enforces their beliefs? Or is this a joke? Could it possibly be that someone against the religion put that statement up on the church sign for the irony? I'd bet that's it.

that's actually a pretty good idea. Maybe one of these upcoming days in june or something we should each go out and change a sign to say something not super offensive or rabblerousing but subtly scandalous haha

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That's an honest statement, actually, but I'm not so sure whether it would have an honest rational effect on the religious people reading the sign. I'm actually not sure what the point of it is. Are there really people in that church who are so brainwashed that that statement enforces their beliefs? Or is this a joke? Could it possibly be that someone against the religion put that statement up on the church sign for the irony? I'd bet that's it.

The sign is from a church in rural Arkansas. Baptists are usually very fundamentalist. I've had evolution arguments with a baptist minister in my area, and it gets nowhere. He just tries to convert me to Jesus :rolleyes: I think the sign is real, but in any case ...

Yes, I agree that it is an honest statement. Contrast it with ADParker's signature tag "Reason over Faith" - another honest statement. My prime directive is balance, and I see this as a fundamental yin-yang conflict in which both sides have equal claim to essential truths about reality as humans experience it, and both sides have woeful inadequacies.

Just yesterday, my 87 year old father (devout Presbyterian, PhD scientist) jokingly said: "God's biggest mistake was creating reason." I jokingly responded "Reason's biggest mistake was postulating God."

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I would say the same about me. While all of my siblings are atheists and possibly my father too, none of them is the militant atheist type except me. Like you, I find philosophy very exciting and interesting and am very intrigued by the phenomenon of religion--that there are such intelligent educated people out there who believe such silly things due to the fact that they have been indoctrinated to accept those things since birth. One of the most fascinating examples to me is my friend who is the valedictorian of my class of over 200 people in a school that is far above average compared to most other public schools. He's very smart, logical, etc, on all subjects except religion. I find it very amazing that he can be so smart and yet still think that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve and Noah who survived on his ark. He's very good at math and science, getting the best scores on every biology exam and yet he doesn't believe what he learned in the class! He doesn't think that humans share a common ancestor with other animals. He does think that species can evolve, but he doesn't think that they can evolve into new species. He knows all about "divergent evolution" and I'm sure that if there was a question on it on today's AP Biology exam (which he took today... I took it last year) that he got it right. Yet, he doesn't agree that it is correct because of his religious beliefs! It's people like him that make me so interested in religion. That, and I also think that it is a terrible thing that parents continue to brainwash their children. Too few people make a fuss about this. Where are all the pro-reason activists? Not even activists... where are all of the people who are slightly hostile to the idea that parents raise their children to believe in things that are not real? I know many nonreligious people who are perfectly fine with religious brainwashing because they see the positive qualities that their religious beliefs can give them. But, still, do those positive effects (e.g. the ones of the "good Christian," etc) outweigh the fact that you're indoctrinating your children into believing in things that have the basis in logic and reason? I don't think so, which is why I am a "militant atheist." Reason all the way. Having said that, I have told my friend who is the brainwashed valedictorian that I think he is brainwashed and that hasn't hurt our friendship. He's different than a lot of other religious people I know in that when I ask him if there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark or not he actually stops and tries to think of a good answer for me. Of course he doesn't succeed and often says that he just doesn't know. He has even once quoted one of the Bible's commandments at me saying "Thou shall not test the Lord" when my questions have been too telling. Yet still, he holds his same Christian beliefs despite how irrational they may be. I think this brainwashing aspect of religion is probably the most enlightening thing (in that it enlightened me when I found out about it) that I have come across in the past couple years of my life (I'm 18 now, so...). It's very mind-boggling that such intelligent and rational people can stop being rational all together when their religious beliefs are in jeopardy. I think it's the evangelism that got to his young brain. Nobody, no matter how smart, is able to defend his mind from such indoctrination for such a young age. If I was raised by his parents I would most likely be brainwashed too. Anyways, I'm starting to repeat myself a lot in this tangent. That's because I find it mind-boggling :D .

Yes, I often have a hard time getting my head around such indoctrination too, but a lot of extremely religious people live a very insular life in childhood. The parents don't think they are getting the "appropriate" religious teaching at public schools (or even worse, the public schools are complicit :mad: ), so the parents either home school the kids or put them in a private religious school. Sometimes they even go to "Bible Camps" in the summer (instead of something useful like soccer camp :P ). In doing so, they prevent outside points of view from even being offered to their children.

You might say that should be upsetting to outsiders, and it is for many people I'm sure, but it's difficult to decide what should be done about it. Maybe Atheists represent the silent majority, I'm not sure. But they are generally going to be more peaceable about it than the people with religious fervor. How often do you see people protesting with signs: "Let's all be reasonable!"?*

But regardless of the numbers, in the US, at least one major political party is driven by the religious wing, so everything gets couched in religious terms. The Protestants were afraid of letting a Catholic be President since he would undoubtedly be beholden to the Pope. (Their fears seem somewhat unfounded since Kennedy did become President and I don't think anyone has been forced to kiss the Pope's robes as a result. ^_^ ) But it is still the case that you probably have to be a Christian (at least in name) to win the election. I'm not sure which is more likely to occur first, a Muslim President or an atheistic one, but because such a motivated voting bloc insists on Christian representatives, it is hard for atheists to gain traction in the political sphere. And as long as policy is being dictated (at least in large part) by theists, it will be unlikely to change in this country.

One solution would be to break up these insular groups, but there's no legal way to do that. It would break a lot of libertarian principles and create a dangerous precedent if the government could mandate public schooling. There would undoubtedly be cries of "Indoctrination Camps!", ignoring the ones that already exist. :rolleyes: It would prevent these insular societies from forming in their current form, but it might just drive the local school boards in insane directions like the Texas State BoE, which is currently working on a set of outrageous high-school textbook standards (which could affect a large portion of the country since Texas has such a large market share, meaning that textbook manufacturers tailor their content to districts like Texas and California :( ).

It's also hard when one side can claim (however erroneously) that without their god, morality is gone. If atheists stood up and tried to explain their position in reasonable terms, the religious people can stand up and say that the atheist is advocating for debauchery and immorality and a large segment of the population will run away screaming, since we all know that "all morality comes from God." :dry: So anyone offering a counter position to the religious one is currently fighting an uphill battle in many communities simply for pushing something different from the norm (the oldest problem in the book).

I guess the most insidious way (in that it might pass under the religious crazies' radar) would be to instill an interest in reason and critical thinking skills (CTS) in children at a young age, like ADP is advocating. I'm very much in the the CTS camp and that's one thing that a lot of these really smart religious people lack. They are unable to look at the world from a perspective outside their own, so they wind up "knowing" that they are right and everyone else is wrong. If we can change school curricula to focus on CTS and problem solving, then it might open a lot of people's eyes. It still wouldn't help the die-hards who go through private educations, but it might open the eyes of a few of the moderately religious who go through public school and it might start changing the dynamics of the situation. But with so much of school curriculum dictated at the state and federal level, it's hard for the local districts to change things (and it would requires a concerted effort on the parts of the Reasonists, who operate largely in small cells ( :ph34r: ) without centralized organization, so there's no coordinated effort there either).

* Actually, the infamous "Westboro Baptist Church" recently protested in my hometown. There was some play opening about a gay man who gets lynched or something like that and the WBC go around protesting events relating to gays (however tangentially :angry: ) and some people I know were participating in a counter protest. They brought signs with them like: "I think everyone here is Cute!" and "Everything is pretty Okay, actually!" So it does happen. :lol: I wasn't there, so I don't know how the protesting went...

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My prime directive is balance.

Cool (to a point.) Balance, "the mean", moderation etc. has long been a philosophical standard position, not to mention the basis of a lot of the teaching/preaching of Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.) But one should remember that the mean is not always the best course. That sometimes "right" or "the best" is skewed in one direction over the other, or even at the one extreme. ;)

Sometimes between two opposing views; one of them is just wrong (sometimes both) for example.

Intentionally extreme example: should you seek a balance between murdering no one and murdering everyone?! :unsure::P

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* Actually, the infamous "Westboro Baptist Church" recently protested in my hometown. There was some play opening about a gay man who gets lynched or something like that and the WBC go around protesting events relating to gays (however tangentially :angry: ) and some people I know were participating in a counter protest. They brought signs with them like: "I think everyone here is Cute!" and "Everything is pretty Okay, actually!" So it does happen. :lol: I wasn't there, so I don't know how the protesting went...

Heh, the Westboro Baptist Church, don't you just 'love' those guys?! :lol:

Your story reminds me of that KKK group:

Some university student learned that one could join, and form one's own chapter of the KKK, all online. So a group of them did. Their membership included homosexuals and 'people of colour', atheists and so on. And they fashioned their KKK robes in a lovely shade of Pink!

They lasted for a while, until they decided to go to one of the national meeting/camp things. Where they were promptly disavowed and kicked out. Go figure. :lol:

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One solution would be to break up these insular groups, but there's no legal way to do that. It would break a lot of libertarian principles and create a dangerous precedent if the government could mandate public schooling. There would undoubtedly be cries of "Indoctrination Camps!", ignoring the ones that already exist. :rolleyes:

I guess the most insidious way (in that it might pass under the religious crazies' radar) would be to instill an interest in reason and critical thinking skills (CTS) in children at a young age, like ADP is advocating. I'm very much in the the CTS camp and that's one thing that a lot of these really smart religious people lack. They are unable to look at the world from a perspective outside their own, so they wind up "knowing" that they are right and everyone else is wrong. If we can change school curricula to focus on CTS and problem solving, then it might open a lot of people's eyes. It still wouldn't help the die-hards who go through private educations, but it might open the eyes of a few of the moderately religious who go through public school and it might start changing the dynamics of the situation.

I wouldn't want to force people to not brainwash their children, but rather, like you and ADParker, I think that we should promote the use of reason and critical thinking skills in our education system. I'm finishing up at a public high school right now and I am realizing that I haven't needed to think critically or use reason too often to do well. All that is required is a good memory. Even in math and science classes if you have a good memory then you can follow the set methods for how to solve specific types of problems.

It wasn't until this year that I have been given a problem on a test that I hadn't already been told how to do previously. This happened in my physics class when my teacher simply taught us the basic things we needed to know and then we were left to try and apply our knowledge to solving complex problems of types that we had never seen before on the test. I would argue that this type of thing should be done in math classes and all other classes as well. In math classes I have been told how to solve a few types of problems. I memorize how to solve these few types of problems. I take the test and receive problems exactly like the ones I just did for homework. I solve them in the same way that I solved my homework problems. I get a 100 on the test. How does this teach a student to think critically at all? It doesn't. It's just memorizing set procedures for how to get to the answer of a particular type of problem. There's no critical thinking required. Having said that, it helps to have good critical thinking skills because it means you don't have to do all of your homework problems. You learn the basic concepts and your critical thinking skills are enough to allow you to figure out how to solve all of the problems on the test. People who are good at math are good at the logical reasoning and have the critical thinking skills to figure out on their own how to solve problems of types that they have never seen before. I realized that this was true in my physics class. On the first test of the year the class average (in an intelligent honors physics class) was an F. I got a 98 (one person got a 100). It was a test on one-dimensional motion. I did well because I understood the basic concepts and was able to apply them using by critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities to solve the complex problems on the test. I had never solved problems like them before, but because of my reasoning abilities I was able to figure out the answers... much easier than many of my classmates.

I'm not sure if the critical thinking skills for solving math/physics/science problems in school are the same critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities that we are talking about in this discussion (Are they the same? What do you think?). If they are the same then surely public schools ought to notice this and work harder to promote the critical thinking skills in the classroom, starting as early as possible. I remember in elementary school when two other students and I (in a class of 20ish people) were in an "advanced math" group. We were given a packet of higher level math to teach ourselves (and ask questions if we didn't understand) while the rest of the class sat and watched my teacher explain how to do the regular math. The majority of the class just watched and saw how my teacher solved problems (e.g. lattice multiplication) and then the class took their turn and tried solving the problems on their own. I realize now that all that they were doing was following the set procedure to solve the specific type of problem. They weren't increasing their critical thinking skills or reasoning abilities to try to think outside the box. Why not, though? This is elementary school. Shouldn't as much as it as possible (of the math part of elementary school) be geared towards increasing these thinking abilities and CTS? Perhaps a lot of it was, but most of my memories thinking back on it all was set procedures that students memorize to solve specific problems. Anyways, that's one thing to improve. And if we can promote these critical thinking skills not only when solving elementary school math problems, but also when solving the real life elementary school problems (e.g. Sally goes to the store and wants to buy some apples and bananas...) then surely children will learn to be better thinkers and will be better off for it?

I realize that all of what I wrote is essentially a rant and isn't really related to religion as much as it is towards my public education not making me think (and thus I'd be less inclined to use reason to realize that my religious beliefs are not rationally supported, etc), but I'll post it anyways.

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I'm not sure if the critical thinking skills for solving math/physics/science problems in school are the same critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities that we are talking about in this discussion (Are they the same? What do you think?).

To a large extent they are, yes.

That in fact is why I think I did so well in the Formal Logic papers I took (over my fellow students, who like me were philosophy majors.) My "leg up" if you will was my grounding in mathematics. Which was my minor before I switched to a joint degree (two majors, no time for minors!) Formal logic is kind of like the mathematics of philosophy. The more advanced you go, the even more so.

There are a lot more generalised critical thinking skill things of course. But they too tend to have at least a correlation to maths; rules to follow/learn, such as Logical fallacies. Judging if arguments "add up" - almost literally - "do these premises lead to that conclusion?" Is much like examining if a math problem was solved correctly.

So a lot of correlations, definitely. Especially in how one approaches a question or problem.

If they are the same then surely public schools ought to notice this and work harder to promote the critical thinking skills in the classroom, starting as early as possible.

Absolutely. They are the tools for learning itself.

Come on educational systems! Teach our kids HOW to learn first! It will make all that follows all that much easier, for everybody!

I remember in elementary school when two other students and I (in a class of 20ish people) were in an "advanced math" group. We were given a packet of higher level math to teach ourselves (and ask questions if we didn't understand) while the rest of the class sat and watched my teacher explain how to do the regular math. The majority of the class just watched and saw how my teacher solved problems (e.g. lattice multiplication) and then the class took their turn and tried solving the problems on their own. I realize now that all that they were doing was following the set procedure to solve the specific type of problem. They weren't increasing their critical thinking skills or reasoning abilities to try to think outside the box. Why not, though? This is elementary school. Shouldn't as much as it as possible (of the math part of elementary school) be geared towards increasing these thinking abilities and CTS? Perhaps a lot of it was, but most of my memories thinking back on it all was set procedures that students memorize to solve specific problems.[/quote Anyways, that's one thing to improve. And if we can promote these critical thinking skills not only when solving elementary school math problems, but also when solving the real life elementary school problems (e.g. Sally goes to the store and wants to buy some apples and bananas...) then surely children will learn to be better thinkers and will be better off for it?

Unfortunately most education systems get bogged down with focussing on teaching "the material" - usually involving too many topics/subjects to achieve by year end, that there is just no time (or none put aside) for teaching the REAL fundamentals. This includes critical thinking as well as the hows and whys of appreciation - especially in the sciences. You learn all these facts and little experiments etc. But not what is so wonderful and valuable about the science etc. About what that which is being taught can, and has been, and might one day, lead to. About why it is important and significant, and why we the students whould take an interest in, and develop an appreciation, of it. Whether we wish to take up a career in it or not. That kind of thing.

At lesat something of a BACK TO BASICS approach is needed I fear. Something politicians and administrators (and even societies as a whole) are often far to fearful of enacting ; it's "too big a change."

I realize that all of what I wrote is essentially a rant and isn't really related to religion as much as it is towards my public education not making me think (and thus I'd be less inclined to use reason to realize that my religious beliefs are not rationally supported, etc), but I'll post it anyways.

Never mind; I love a good rant!

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Heh, the Westboro Baptist Church, don't you just 'love' those guys?! :lol:

Your story reminds me of that KKK group:

Some university student learned that one could join, and form one's own chapter of the KKK, all online. So a group of them did. Their membership included homosexuals and 'people of colour', atheists and so on. And they fashioned their KKK robes in a lovely shade of Pink!

They lasted for a while, until they decided to go to one of the national meeting/camp things. Where they were promptly disavowed and kicked out. Go figure. :lol:

Yes, but not the way they go about things. :P

I being an Independent Baptist, am disappointed in the way that they go about preaching God's Word. While we are told to go and preach the word, we are not supposed to act like we are so much better than anyone else. The way that I view it is we are supposed to go out and preach God's word, and whether or not they choose to believe is between them and God. While I don't think that homosexuality is right, I will not try and make those who are, feel like they are worthless beings who are not deserving to live.

Unfortunately this is a problem with all religious/non-religious groups, there is always one person or group that tries to put down those who don't think like they do.

I could probably and will try to come back with something that sounds somewhat coherent and that was somewhat better in terms of explaining what I am trying to say tomorrow.

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Yes, but not the way they go about things. :P

I being an Independent Baptist, am disappointed in the way that they go about preaching God's Word.

Westboro Baptist Church is NOT a Baptist Church (so conflating all Baptist churches would be a greater mistake than it is anyway.)

I think that Phelps was initially a Baptist, but when he formed his own little Cult/Church he just took that label without any endorsement or real connection to the Baptist Church as a whole. His doctrines and Dogmas are his own. ;)

While we are told to go and preach the word, we are not supposed to act like we are so much better than anyone else.

Westboro have their own weird agenda: They preach that America is evil - through the means of attaching homosexuality to all Americans; essentially that 'you' are all complicit in homosexuality, by the country allowing it at all - but have no real interest in conversion, or in saving souls. It's like a public service announcement:

"You are all DAMNED!!"

"...So what can we do about it?"

"Nothing, we are just pointing that out, we have no interest before that."

The way that I view it is we are supposed to go out and preach God's word,

Or what you have been told by those you take as authority figures TELL you is God's word. :P

and whether or not they choose to believe is between them and God.

And there lies a foundational problem for many of us; some of us can't (not anymore) just CHOOSE to believe anything. We need sufficient evidence/reasoning, if we have it then like it or not; we will accept that claim.

While I don't think that homosexuality is right, I will not try and make those who are, feel like they are worthless beings who are not deserving to live.

Good. And there is nothing even remotely immoral with being homosexual by the way. Primarily due to it not being a "life choice" anyway.

But that is a whole thread-level argument in itself.

Unfortunately this is a problem with all religious/non-religious groups, there is always one person or group that tries to put down those who don't think like they do.

Interestingly:

In science that promotes argument, examination of the evidence, and then change (if appropriate.)

In religion for the most part that promotes argument, and then schism. :rolleyes:

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Intentionally extreme example: should you seek a balance between murdering no one and murdering everyone?! :unsure::P

Absolutely. The human body murders harmful microbes constantly. Billions of them. :D

Oh ... and one of my most fundamental tenets about balance: It is dynamic. True balance balances balance with imbalance.

Edited by seeksit

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Or what you have been told by those you take as authority figures TELL you is God's word. :P

Not really, and I really don't appreciate being called Brainwashed. Our Pastor, tells us that he is preaching his beliefs and we don't need to just accept it blindly and we need to take what the Bible has to say and form our on beliefs on what we have read.

And there lies a foundational problem for many of us; some of us can't (not anymore) just CHOOSE to believe anything. We need sufficient evidence/reasoning, if we have it then like it or not; we will accept that claim.

That is part of the problem with most things not just religion, but also in most other things as well. People today are smarter, but yet it seems like we hear people doing less and less smart things. People can no longer just take things at face value anymore (me included sometimes). I get trying to find the answers. But there are times that we should just accept what is told (i.e. A parent telling their child no, there is not always a reason that either the child would not fully understand or it is something that the parent thinks is wrong and is hard to put into words.)

Good. And there is nothing even remotely immoral with being homosexual by the way. Primarily due to it not being a "life choice" anyway.

But that is a whole thread-level argument in itself.

Not in my opinion, but like you said it is better suited for another thread.

As you can obviously tell, my debating skills are next to none.

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I wouldn't want to force people to not brainwash their children, but rather, like you and ADParker, I think that we should promote the use of reason and critical thinking skills in our education system. I'm finishing up at a public high school right now and I am realizing that I haven't needed to think critically or use reason too often to do well. All that is required is a good memory. Even in math and science classes if you have a good memory then you can follow the set methods for how to solve specific types of problems.

[snip]

And if we can promote these critical thinking skills not only when solving elementary school math problems, but also when solving the real life elementary school problems (e.g. Sally goes to the store and wants to buy some apples and bananas...) then surely children will learn to be better thinkers and will be better off for it?

I think that I can sum up the problem in one sentence: How would you teach critical thinking skills? :unsure:

Like ADParker said, teaching the material is obvious and easy. There are a list of facts or formulas to learn and the tests can show whether or not the students got the lessons. If you want to teach CTS, then you have to focus on the underlying fundamentals (How do you figure out what those are for a given subject?) and then give the students problems (rather than exercises) where they haven't necessarily seen all of the material. If a student struggles with this, how can we diagnose where the problem is? Does he understand the fundamentals? Is he not able to (currently) draw the inferences necessary to find the answers? If a student is struggling with the new concepts in the problems, should he be graded down? Parents may not like it that their son or daughter is losing points because they aren't able to answer questions about material they've never seen before... :wacko:

All of these things are a lot harder to teach and the consequences are more complicated. As I see it, most elementary school teachers are elementary school teachers because they like kids, not because they can think critically themselves. They learn the material they are supposed to convey onto their charges, probably in much the same way, and then pass it on in their classroom. In order to teach CTS, they have to possess CTS. And due to the complexity of testing for CTS, it should probably require a higher pay bracket and that's not something schools are really looking for right now...

Actually, I think that if you could be a Physicist or a Professor of Philosophy and get paid the same to teach young (and not-so-young) kids, then the quality of teaching would probably improve. But as it is, the providers of knowledge to the next generation get relatively low wages compared to what a Physicist or like would be paid. Meaning that people who would be excellent teachers and would help instill CTS in the up-and-coming Physicists of the world don't even consider teaching as a profession when they can make much better money and gain more prestige somewhere else. :(

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Absolutely. They are the tools for learning itself.

Come on educational systems! Teach our kids HOW to learn first! It will make all that follows all that much easier, for everybody!

It's so true and yet I think there will still continue to be problems for a while:

At least something of a BACK TO BASICS approach is needed I fear. Something politicians and administrators (and even societies as a whole) are often far to fearful of enacting ; it's "too big a change."

Many people do see it as too big a change. The problem with that is that it becomes very difficult to make such "big changes" because you have to have a lot of people who are motivated to make the change. If most people think that it's too big of a change then changing the fundamental teaching approach in public schools to focus on critical thinking and reasoning skills rather than only on the material could take many years to implement because it requires the agreement of mass numbers of people to help push the new style through public school systems across the country. And if most people aren't even aware of the problem then it could take even longer. And thus there will be many more sad students after me who will look at their education and think "Wow, I can think of a simple way to make is a lot better." Yet, it will take a while to put the simple plan into action due to the nature of the system.

Never mind; I love a good rant!

Good news! :D

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