[FoRK] Poll: I would rather my daughter married a Muslim than an Atheist

Lion Kimbro <lionkimbro at gmail.com> on Thu Jun 21 18:38:32 PDT 2007

  Nah;  Science is no rock.

  It doesn't tell you right from wrong,
  it doesn't tell you whether you should be a painter or a carpenter,
  it doesn't tell you whether we should paint our buildings one
  color or another, or favor one aesthetic over another.

  Everything that lives in imagination, science has no say over.


On 6/21/07, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
> Rationality describes someone who has reasoned in a rational way.  I.e.,
> they have made defensible decisions at each step of the reasoning
> process.  They may be wrong, but they used the right process to get
> there.  Being rational and having rationality, to me and many others,
> means being grounded in scientific reasoning, even if it's just called
> "critical thinking".

  This is where the mythology of science comes in;
  It starts talking about what "rational" thinking is, but is flabbergasted
  to try and actually explain it.

  I am not convinced by the type of arguing that goes on here, that y'all
  have even begun to scratch the tippy-top of the ice-berg of "What is
  Reason, What is Rationality," much less recognize that it's an ice berg.

  Scientific reasoning, the scientific method, critical thinking, and so on;
  These are all wonderful things, these are all awesome things, these
  are all things that **work.**

  But how they work, where they work, when they work, what they work
  over, what they do and don't do, and so on -- so much of this is just
  so poorly explained and understood, even by the scientists who *do*
  it.


  What happens is we over-apply.  We go, "Well, I know your thinking is
  wrong, and so, I'm just going to say you're not being rational."  And,
  frankly, this is just totally incorrect.


  You can't say, "You're not grounded in scientific reasoning," if you
  can't even articulate what it is.


  If I could get a clear argument about what scientific reasoning is,
  and I had a list of, say, "the 300 practices that more or less
  discriminate scientific processes from non-scientific processes,"
  and then I could say, "Okay, and HERE'S WHY what you do
  is not scientific, and here are your most important divergence points,"
  that'd be great.

  But nobody's made the list of 300.  There's some sociologists who
  are trying to embark on this project, but they're constantly misunderstood
  by scientists, who claim that they're trying to destroy science, or say
  "everything is relative."  Quite the contrary.

  But, ... Subject for another day, I guess.

  ("Bruno Latour" is one name;  there are a great many others.)


> >  Given some framework, you can apply rationalizing within it.  But the
> >  framework itself is based in reason and the world.
> Please see my earlier terms: parrational vs. superrational.  This is
> exactly my point, however it is bunk to pretend that it's all relative.
> You have science and you have supernaturalism.  It's pretty easy to see
> the difference.

  Sorry, I don't remember what those terms specifically meant.

  I remember your argument about the super-rational, fully informed
  rational, and so on, and your continuum.

  And then I wrote a number of posts, that were trying to explain
  my points of divergence with the concept.  I never got your reply,
  though.  :(

  This is something we should talk about on the phone, at some point;
  I think it would clear up a lot, and we could find something we were
  both very happy with.


  My point is not to discredit science.  Rather, I'd like to make it
  *stronger,* by advocating technologies that make it more transparent,
  and explaining some of the nature of reason.  To do this, I need a
  clearer picture of reason;  Our conventional views of reason, are just
  way off base.

  Struggles between post-humans, may, in fact, be over exactly the
  definition of reason, or at least the manifestation of reason.

  There's a lot more here than the vast majority of people recognize.


  Jeff Bone is right-- "Reason" is a slippery eel.


  It's not "all relative" -- Science actually works, within it's inputs and
  outputs, the stuff that it's supposed to do.  And there are reasons why
  it works.  But its much more complicated than we believe.

  It's not just "empirical study," + "test, hypothesis, theory, law,"
  and so on.


> >  Defeasible arguments against theism are just that: defeasible.
> >  Other stories can trump still other stories.
> What would a defeasible argument be?

  The **Vast Majority** of arguments *for* or *against* the existence
  of God are instances of what philosophers call "defeasible reasoning."

  There is no single "crux argument" that is incontrovertibly convincing.
  (Otherwise, this'd be done for, a long time ago.)

  (In fact, the vast majority of reasoning, *period,* between people,
  and likely even in our heads, is of the defeasible sort.)

  What is means, (loosely,) is that a later argument can trump an
  earlier argument.  It's a process, not something that reaches an
  end-point, except with respect to some frame of time.

  See:

    http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/top/prin/txt/Intro/Eco112a.html
    http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/top/prin/txt/Intro/Eco112b.html
    http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/top/prin/txt/Intro/Eco112c.html

  (It's a nice explanation.)


> I would like to know what you think of "The God Delusion".

  It's not copyleft, and I haven't read it;  But if I'm given some arguments,
  I can respond to them.

  I'm an agnostic, but I argue against the cruel gods I read about in the
  Bible and so on, because they're just plain mean, and I don't see any
  point in worshiping what appears to me to be something akin to a
  Cthulu that has just chosen to take on a few as favorites.

  But I'm (pan)theistic, in that I believe in Life, I believe in the
project of the
  Universe, I think it's better to think about the universe in positive terms
  rather than negative terms, and I'm grateful for the struggles of all the
  critters around the world, throughout time, that led to us being here.

  Without some little mammal's struggle to scamper underneath some
  brush, I'll bet we wouldn't be here.  I'm grateful to that little mammal,
  which actually lived and breathed, and is not a fantasy.  I'm grateful
  more broadly to all the things that have strived, whether they won or
  lost.


> Does it seem like parrational thinking?

  Here's the thing:

  I don't like "seems."

  I'd like to be able to say, "This is category X of thinking, because
  it has features A, B, and C."

  There's much too much "seeming" for me to be comfortable with.

  I'm happy to say, "It's nutters to think that there are angels
floating around."
  This is a casual thing to say, and expresses my opinion.

  But if I'm going to sit down and talk with Greats about matters of
  eternal truths and philosophy, if I'm going to climb the ivory tower
  and pull out the bible on logic and reason, and if I'm made to swear
  on said "bible of all reality" that in my heart of heart, I know that that's
  nutters, and that no rational being could think that--

  That's too far.  At that point, we have to be able to say, "I know that
  not only is it false, but it's also *irrational* to entertain that thought,
  because of qualities Q1, Q2, and Q3," ...

  At that point, you need at least a theory of reason.

  And as far as I can see, there's **nobody** here at FoRK, who really
  even has one.


  I don't want "That seems irrational to me."  (Because it doesn't meet
  my premesis or conclusions.)

  I want to see evidence of freakin' post-doc degrees in the nature of
  reason, before I'll take these claims with any seriousness.

  Everything else is just a comment on YouTube.


> >  You can take the arguments you don't like, and say, "Well, they're
> >  just not rational."  Perhaps not rational to your reasoned purposes.
> It's not a purpose, it is a process.  Realism, reality, and science are
> easily experienced, outside your head.

  "Rational," by my definition, is to a purpose.

  I can say, "I'm rationalizing how I play my game of chess, to the purpose
  of winning the game."  We judge one way of play vs. another, by way of
  the strict measure:  "Does it help me win the game?"

  It doesn't tell us *anything* about whether it's rational or not, to play
  chess.


  The purpose of science, as I understand it, is to (broadly speaking)
  answer the questions of:  "How does the world work?"
  "What's out there?"

  It has developed methods, (some more rational than others, just like
  alternative chess strategies,) towards that end.


> >  You can take the arguments you don't like, and say, "Well, they're
> >  just not rational."  Perhaps not rational to your reasoned purposes.
> It's not a purpose, it is a process.  Realism, reality, and science are
> easily experienced, outside your head.

  No, it's only experienced inside our heads, but that's beside the point.

  You can say, "It's not scientific."  And if you can justify that, fine.

  But there are far more questions that stretch infinitely far out beyond,
  "How does the natural world work?" "What's out there?"

  "What is real," for instance, is a question that does just that.

  That's a question that philosophers struggle with, not scientists.

  "What should we become?
   What should I strive for?"

  Outside science again.


  I think that (one understanding of the word) God largely lives inside
  of those questions.  It does not matter that God is a human creation;
  It does not matter that it's an invention, it's still there, and
it's something
  people approach.

  People get dreams and visions, and persue them, whether they believe
  they're external realities, or if they are Nietchiens, or whatever, and
  just decide, "Hot damn, I'm going to persue my imagination."


  There IS no purely rational way of living;  That's what I've been trying
  to explain to you.

  Rationality is to a purpose.  Rationalization ALWAYS happens towards
  some purpose.

  But what that purpose should be-- Nobody has an absolute answer towards.

  People can propose things, people can support things, and people can
  knock down things-- all's fair in defeasible reasoning.

  But it's not something that has one solid clear answer.


  I mean, you can argue, "Well, I have genes, and they tell me to reproduce,
  and so, if I'm rational, that's what I'll try and do," but-- that's idiocy.

  "I take my orders from my genes" is such a flimsy argument, it holds such
  little weight;  ... Wow.

  It's like, "Who's got the proper interpretation over nature's orders?"

  You're going to end up with the exact same sectarian conflicts as the
  religious people have;  It's just going to be over which interpretation
  of Nature's orders is correct, rather than which interpretation of the Bible's
  passages is correct.

  And it's totally silly, because you're just reading things into the world.

  I prefer to take it honest, and say, "The Gods I serve, are the Gods living
  in the imagination."


  A note on the word "God" -- I'm referring to just about any principle
  that people will serve.

  It could be "human life," it could be "Love," it could be "survival instinct,"
  it could be anything.


> We hereby present you with these memes, for your later enjoyment and
> benefit.

  So, I'm a little sad, I have to burst this bubble,
  but if you're looking for solid rock to live your life by, "Science"
  ain't it.

  All it does is tell us, "What's out there?  How does the natural
  world work?"

  But if you're looking for some direction in life, if you're trying to figure
  out what's important to you, if you're trying to figure out what you want
  your relationship with life to be like and so on -- "Science" and
  "Rationality" ain't going to provide any answers.

  You're going to have to create your own, out of your own imagination.


  We should talk by phone.  206.427.2545.

  -- Lion

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