What are the Benefits of Theism?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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tillingborn
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:05 am
tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 4:49 am Most people who have ever lived have not had access to any belief that can be called 'the truth'. The benefit criterion is frankly the only thing that unites us in this context.
Hmmm...Well, as a flat statement, that can't be quote correct. We all have pretty ready access to truth about a great number of matters. The law of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics work every bit as well in New York as New Delhi and Novosibirsk.
The point was about beliefs rather than laws of nature. You are right of course, that the world behaves the same way for all of us, but we do not all share any single belief about why it does what it does.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:05 amBut perhaps you only mean that not everybody has had access to a comprehensive truth, or a sort of grand metanarrative that could put all the pieces in place.
On the contrary; I explicitly said:
tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:42 amThere are thousands of successful belief systems, insofar as they are conducive to human well-being, many of which claim to be the truth. People who make a choice do so for aesthetic reasons, truth has little to do with it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:05 amHowever, even in that matter, I think people know a great deal more about truth then we might at first suppose -- or that, in some cases, they would like to admit.
If you mean true within the context of a grand metanarrative, then I would agree.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:55 am On the contrary; I explicitly said:
tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:42 amThere are thousands of successful belief systems, insofar as they are conducive to human well-being, many of which claim to be the truth. People who make a choice do so for aesthetic reasons, truth has little to do with it.
I thought that such a manifestly wild claim I was unwilling to point out its faults. But since you repeat it, if true, it would mean that people choose their "religion" not for truth but because it's somehow aesthetically appealing.

No doubt some people choose a particular church, mosque or synagogue because they like the architecture, the music or the rituals, or because it's "cultural" to them, and they don't actually give a fig whether it's true or not. But to take that broad brush to all or even to most of them is more than a little insulting and unjust. A great many of them believe very passionately that their belief system is the truth...to the point where they will give up everything they have, and endure deprivation, ostracism, sacrifice, fiscal penalties, incarceration and even death for their faith...

And you say they're just aesthetically enraptured? :shock: :shock: :shock: Do you really think that's how it is?
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:05 amHowever, even in that matter, I think people know a great deal more about truth then we might at first suppose -- or that, in some cases, they would like to admit.
If you mean true within the context of a grand metanarrative, then I would agree.
I mean that people know a great deal more about what is really true than many of them will admit.
tillingborn
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:05 amA great many of them believe very passionately that their belief system is the truth...to the point where they will give up everything they have, and endure deprivation, ostracism, sacrifice, fiscal penalties, incarceration and even death for their faith...

And you say they're just aesthetically enraptured? :shock: :shock: :shock: Do you really think that's how it is?
I don't mean to insult and I don't question the strength of anybody's faith, but at least some people of faith are aesthetically enraptured. How else do you account for the variety of faiths, not all of which can be true?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:27 am ...at least some people of faith are aesthetically enraptured. How else do you account for the variety of faiths, not all of which can be true?
Well, I agreed that there would be some Catholics who just like Cathedrals, and maybe some Jews that are only what they call "cultural Jews," and for all I know, maybe even some Muslims who are Muslims because they think the burqa looks fetching. But I doubt that that sort of consideration draws most. And certainly, in the case of something like Christianity, the price of being "aesthetic" about one's faith is, in very many places, way too high in the world today. So very few are going to do it for that reason.

I think the reason that there are a variety of faiths is that there are a variety of proposed answers to life's fundamental questions. But some answers are better than others, and some answers are true, and some are false. However, a great many of them are convincing to some degree, especially when knowledge of others is limited. And all of them, even the putatively "inclusive" faiths, are actually exclusive about the question of what belief is closest to the absolute truth. They all say it's theirs.

They can't all be right, of course. But obviously, they need not all be wrong, either. Disagreement does not imply there is no right answer, anymore than the existence of an infinite number of wrong answers to the question, "What is 2+2?" makes the answer "4" less likely to be true.
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

Post by attofishpi »

tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 4:33 am
attofishpi wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:06 am If U were born into any belief system, therefore - one would question at the outset (of comprehension of such things) - Y was I born into this particular belief system?

Y\N
I think the sort of answer would in part be a product of the belief system. To some the answer might be along the lines of 'Because it is part of God's plan'. To others it might be 'Because of what I did in a previous life.' In some belief systems it's not even a meaningful question.
Agreed. WEATHER or not the rain fell for U to think in THIS particular life - - that your birth had AN initial reason behind it?

IF there IS an agent - lets call it God - then it is likely the "religion\family" you were born into has some SIGNIFICANCE.

IF there is NO agent - lets call it Random Existence - then fuck it. (atheism or ANY theism is your birthplace)

So.

If one is to be pragmatic and scrutinise this 'essence' of whether there is God?

1. Look at where and what religion you were born into.
2. Is there any rationality to it?
3. Understand as much about physics as required in your analysis (of your indoctrination AND any other religion - not necessarily discounting cross essence)
4. Are you confining your rationale to the 'standard' modus operandi of THAT religion, or is there scope for widening ones own eyes - even if that means opening the PUPILS to something quite indifferent to what is accepted within THAT religion?
4. IF none of the above apply - then FUCK IT! Be atheist! OTHER_WISE until you have gnosis, have faith, keep analysing. :D
tillingborn
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:38 amWell, I agreed that there would be some Catholics who just like Cathedrals
You misunderstand; it is the aesthetic appeal of the ideas that attracts a congregation; at least in places where people are allowed a choice.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:38 am in the case of something like Christianity, the price of being "aesthetic" about one's faith is, in very many places, way too high in the world today. So very few are going to do it for that reason.
To some Christians, the idea of martyrdom is beautiful. Many more think the idea of Christ being sacrificed for their sins is beautiful. Others think the reward of suffering being eternal bliss is a beautiful idea. I suspect more people are drawn to Christianity for reasons of that sort than a commitment to the literal truth of the Bible.
tillingborn
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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attofishpi wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:55 pmSo.

If one is to be pragmatic and scrutinise this 'essence' of whether there is God?

1. Look at where and what religion you were born into.
2. Is there any rationality to it?
3. Understand as much about physics as required in your analysis (of your indoctrination AND any other religion - not necessarily discounting cross essence)
4. Are you confining your rationale to the 'standard' modus operandi of THAT religion, or is there scope for widening ones own eyes - even if that means opening the PUPILS to something quite indifferent to what is accepted within THAT religion?
4. IF none of the above apply - then FUCK IT! Be atheist! OTHER_WISE until you have gnosis, have faith, keep analysing. :D
Yes; I think that broadly covers it.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 2:38 pm To some Christians, the idea of martyrdom is beautiful.
After the fact, perhaps, when one is admiring the courage it takes to stand by a belief; and especially if YOU are not the one being martyred. It's much easier to admire somebody else's courage in the face of being burnt or shot or starved. But a healthy person, or a healthy Christian, doesn't pursue his or her destruction for the sake of some "aesthetic" exercise. For one thing, Christians are totally aware that they are not superhuman, and are not guaranteed in advance to survive or pass any such test. It's only by the grace of God that any do. And for another, they are specifically commanded by Christ to remain as long as He ordains, to live their lives and share what they know with others, not to seek out "aesthetic" opportunities at self-immolation.

You've got to know that Christians feel pain, just like everybody else. Nobody likes ostracism, abuse, starvation, incarceration, or being killed. What's remarkable is that some of them are willing to endure that for the sake of remaining faithful to a belief that you speculate is merely "aesthetic," -- that they just like pretty ideas, but don't actually believe them. :shock:

Does that even seem remotely plausible to you? Is that what you think human beings are like? Ask yourself: are you the kind of person who puts "aesthetic" impressions ahead of such considerations as your own safety, security, community, happiness and even life itself? And do you pursue "aesthetics" to the point of death for something you don't actually even believe is true? :shock:

If you are, then maybe I can't find fault with your explanation. But if you know that's not how you are, why would you suppose that Christians are wired any differently?

"Aesthetics" is a pretty wildly implausible explanation, when you look it it realistically, and also when you know what Christianity actually requires.
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 3:49 pm"Aesthetics" is a pretty wildly implausible explanation, when you look it it realistically, and also when you know what Christianity actually requires.
It is the only explanation. None of the arguments for the existence of God are conclusive. People's commitment to the idea ultimately depends on how much they like it.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 4:20 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 3:49 pm"Aesthetics" is a pretty wildly implausible explanation, when you look it it realistically, and also when you know what Christianity actually requires.
It is the only explanation.
Actually, not nearly. The "Occam" explanation would be that they really believe what they are living and dying for. That's the simplest explanation, and the one most recognizable in human nature. The "aesthetic" explanation is actually really a reach.

But you didn't answer my question: Are you an aesthete? Would you die for something that was merely "beautiful" but you had no reason to think was true?

But if you would not, how can you imagine anybody else would? :shock:
None of the arguments for the existence of God are conclusive.
None of the arguments for gravity or the roundness of the Earth are "conclusive." They can all be denied. There still remains a "Flat Earth Society," as stupid as that is. And scientists themselves can't even really explain what "gravity" is, though every last one of them believes in it. They fall back on terms like "universal force," or talk about how it's measured, like "rate of falling," but can't say what, exactly, the thing itself is.

No human knowledge is "conclusive." It's all probabilistic. That's basic epistemology, actually. Some is more probable than other things that aim to be "knowledge," but none is so certain that it is simply incapable of doubt or revision.

So the question is rather, "How certain is our knowledge of/denial of the existence of God? Where does it fit on the probability scale?" Very clearly, your estimate is not mine, on that question.

But it has nothing to do with 'aesthetics." I did not say, "My belief is more beautiful than your cynicism."
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmThe "Occam" explanation would be that they really believe what they are living and dying for. That's the simplest explanation, and the one most recognizable in human nature. The "aesthetic" explanation is actually really a reach.
Again, I don't doubt the sincerity of anybody's belief. I don't doubt that some people genuinely believe the world is thousands of years old, nor do I doubt the faith of those who believe the world is billions of years old. There are those who believe that homo sapiens is a uniquely privileged creature, and those who believe we are the product of evolution. Some people think we have free will, others don't. All of those beliefs can be sincerely believed, but given that there is no conclusive argument or evidence for any of them, the choice that people make cannot ultimately be rational. We mentioned pragmatism and certainly that plays a role. Geography and history are clearly influences, but in places where people are exposed to different ideas and are free to choose, the choices they make are aesthetic.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmBut you didn't answer my question: Are you an aesthete? Would you die for something that was merely "beautiful" but you had no reason to think was true?

But if you would not, how can you imagine anybody else would? :shock:
No, I didn't respond to that because what I would do has no bearing on what other people do.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pm
None of the arguments for the existence of God are conclusive.
None of the arguments for gravity or the roundness of the Earth are "conclusive." They can all be denied. There still remains a "Flat Earth Society," as stupid as that is. And scientists themselves can't even really explain what "gravity" is, though every last one of them believes in it. They fall back on terms like "universal force," or talk about how it's measured, like "rate of falling," but can't say what, exactly, the thing itself is.
I think scientists are more concerned with what happens, rather than why. Measuring is what they do.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmNo human knowledge is "conclusive." It's all probabilistic. That's basic epistemology, actually. Some is more probable than other things that aim to be "knowledge," but none is so certain that it is simply incapable of doubt or revision.

So the question is rather, "How certain is our knowledge of/denial of the existence of God? Where does it fit on the probability scale?" Very clearly, your estimate is not mine, on that question.

But it has nothing to do with 'aesthetics." I did not say, "My belief is more beautiful than your cynicism."
Cynicism is an ugly word, don't you think? What do you know about my beliefs?
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 6:24 pm All of those beliefs can be sincerely believed, but given that there is no conclusive argument or evidence for any of them, the choice that people make cannot ultimately be rational.
Well, what do you mean by "conclusivity"?

Give me an issue in which, according to you, we DO have "conclusive" knowledge.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmBut you didn't answer my question: Are you an aesthete? Would you die for something that was merely "beautiful" but you had no reason to think was true?

But if you would not, how can you imagine anybody else would? :shock:
No, I didn't respond to that because what I would do has no bearing on what other people do.
It will, if you regard yourself as a member of homo sapiens. If you do, then you must at least admit the possibility that there are other people who may have motives somewhat similar to yours. Any other assumption would seem rather imperious, no?

So why would you think that other people respond only to the aesthetic, and you alone respond to the rational? :shock:
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pm
None of the arguments for the existence of God are conclusive.
None of the arguments for gravity or the roundness of the Earth are "conclusive." They can all be denied. There still remains a "Flat Earth Society," as stupid as that is. And scientists themselves can't even really explain what "gravity" is, though every last one of them believes in it. They fall back on terms like "universal force," or talk about how it's measured, like "rate of falling," but can't say what, exactly, the thing itself is.
I think scientists are more concerned with what happens, rather than why. Measuring is what they do.[/quote]
Measuring is merely instrumental.

But you see the point. If science is a kind of "nothing-but-conclusively-proven-stuff" deal, then how can a scientist believe in the existence of something he can't even identify? Yet the all do believe in gravity.
Cynicism is an ugly word, don't you think? What do you know about my beliefs?
Well, are you not cynical about the existence of God? You seem to me to be. But if you actually think otherwise, please free me of my illusions about that.
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:56 pmGive me an issue in which, according to you, we DO have "conclusive" knowledge.
As you say:
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmNo human knowledge is "conclusive." It's all probabilistic. That's basic epistemology, actually.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:56 pmSo why would you think that other people respond only to the aesthetic, and you alone respond to the rational? :shock:
I don't think that. If you check back you will not find me saying so.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:56 pmIf science is a kind of "nothing-but-conclusively-proven-stuff" deal, then how can a scientist believe in the existence of something he can't even identify? Yet the all do believe in gravity.
So do you. Gravity is simply the name for whatever makes heavy objects fall. We all believe in gravity because we see it every day.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:56 pmWell, are you not cynical about the existence of God? You seem to me to be. But if you actually think otherwise, please free me of my illusions about that.
I am not cynical about the existence of God.
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:42 am
Immanuel Can wrote: Fri Jan 29, 2021 10:33 pmEvery belief has its benefits. But these are merely pragmatic incentives for adhering to received belief systems whether or not the systems are true. But the only real reason to believe something is because it's true. The rest is just...well...benefits. :shock:
One of the key maxims of philosophy is that 'the unexamined life is not worth living'. The point is precisely not to adhere to received belief systems, but to challenge them. If a belief system holds up to scrutiny, well and good, but most people pragmatically adopt the general philosophy of the crowd they happen to belong to. There are thousands of successful belief systems, insofar as they are conducive to human well-being, many of which claim to be the truth. People who make a choice do so for aesthetic reasons, truth has little to do with it.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: What are the Benefits of Theism?

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tillingborn wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 8:29 pm
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 7:56 pmGive me an issue in which, according to you, we DO have "conclusive" knowledge.
As you say:
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 30, 2021 5:01 pmNo human knowledge is "conclusive." It's all probabilistic. That's basic epistemology, actually.
Okay, so if that's your answer, how can you fault people who believe in God for believing in something for which, as you claim, not "conclusive" evidence has been found? All knowledge is probabilistic.

And if the evidence for it is good, then Theists have good reason to believe in God.
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