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Empiricism vs intuition vs revelation

#1Julian_CaesarPosted 3/5/2013 8:32:10 PM
New topic time :P

From: squareandrare | #033
If truth about the world could come from revelation, you'd expect religious organizations to be cranking out technological and humanitarian achievements with no prior knowledge. Instead, we see achievements coming from those that studied the accumulated knowledge of the past and then added to it.


Empiricism is the most useful tool for technology, sure. As I said above, it's a wonderful language for communicating those kinds of concepts. But I'm pretty skeptical of your claim that religion has no lasting humanitarian achievements. I think most historians would be too. Sure religion has dropped some bad apples over the years, and some really REALLY bad ones, yes....but it has dropped far more good ones. Religiously motivated people have done an incredible amount of real humanitarian good for thousands of years, not just on the individual level but on the societal level as well. And most of them did so based on truths which were not empirically developed.

From: darkmaian23 | #034
All religious revelations seem to produce is vague ideas about things that seem to often align with what the person receiving the revelation already thought. Even simple things like "the world isn't a flat disc" and "the Sun is a star" apparently weren't worth communicating to the authors of the Bible. I'll take this back if we ever find Noah's Ark and it turns out to be a bigger on the inside than it is on the outside and is capable of sustaining millions of animals (Tardis ark?).


You're talking about scientific concepts, though. What about moral concepts, like doing unto others as you would have them do to you? Jesus said that over 1700 years before Kant derived it philosophically with the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Yes, there are differences of semantics and the fact that the Golden Rule can be restated in different ways to not quite agree with the CI. But its original and most-quoted form (and really, the form that Jesus clearly meant) is not very different from the CI. Whether the Categorical Imperative is actually right is irrelevant; it's also irrelevant whether Jesus was right. Because either way, religion/revelation was far ahead of formal human philosophy in terms of this particular concept. I'm not saying religion is always morally superior by virtue of being relevatory; I'm saying that empiricism and/or "acquired human knowledge" is not inherently superior either, as illustrated by this particular example.
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#2Faust_8Posted 3/5/2013 9:19:34 PM
Empiricism is the most useful tool for technology, sure. As I said above, it's a wonderful language for communicating those kinds of concepts. But I'm pretty skeptical of your claim that religion has no lasting humanitarian achievements. I think most historians would be too. Sure religion has dropped some bad apples over the years, and some really REALLY bad ones, yes....but it has dropped far more good ones. Religiously motivated people have done an incredible amount of real humanitarian good for thousands of years, not just on the individual level but on the societal level as well. And most of them did so based on truths which were not empirically developed.

Religious people doing good things is not the same as religion doing good things. While it's true that some of our most important discoveries were done by the religious and even members of the church, they were accomplished by using empiricism.

For example, Mendel was a catalyst for us discovering how heredity works. But it wasn't religion that did that--he wasn't using religion as he grew and cataloged the beans. He put his religion ASIDE to study this.

If you don't use empiricism you can't even communicate your discovery in any meaningful way. Without empiricism, it's just personal musings. Even if you're right, we can't tell if you are.

You're talking about scientific concepts, though. What about moral concepts, like doing unto others as you would have them do to you? Jesus said that over 1700 years before Kant derived it philosophically with the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Yes, there are differences of semantics and the fact that the Golden Rule can be restated in different ways to not quite agree with the CI. But its original and most-quoted form (and really, the form that Jesus clearly meant) is not very different from the CI. Whether the Categorical Imperative is actually right is irrelevant; it's also irrelevant whether Jesus was right. Because either way, religion/revelation was far ahead of formal human philosophy in terms of this particular concept. I'm not saying religion is always morally superior by virtue of being relevatory; I'm saying that empiricism and/or "acquired human knowledge" is not inherently superior either, as illustrated by this particular example.

Considering society and kingdoms existed before Jesus I think it's pretty safe to say that moral truths were around before Jesus.
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#3darkmaian23Posted 3/5/2013 9:31:56 PM
Julian_Caesar posted...
New topic time :P

From: darkmaian23 | #034
All religious revelations seem to produce is vague ideas about things that seem to often align with what the person receiving the revelation already thought. Even simple things like "the world isn't a flat disc" and "the Sun is a star" apparently weren't worth communicating to the authors of the Bible. I'll take this back if we ever find Noah's Ark and it turns out to be a bigger on the inside than it is on the outside and is capable of sustaining millions of animals (Tardis ark?).


You're talking about scientific concepts, though. What about moral concepts, like doing unto others as you would have them do to you? Jesus said that over 1700 years before Kant derived it philosophically with the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Yes, there are differences of semantics and the fact that the Golden Rule can be restated in different ways to not quite agree with the CI. But its original and most-quoted form (and really, the form that Jesus clearly meant) is not very different from the CI. Whether the Categorical Imperative is actually right is irrelevant; it's also irrelevant whether Jesus was right. Because either way, religion/revelation was far ahead of formal human philosophy in terms of this particular concept. I'm not saying religion is always morally superior by virtue of being relevatory; I'm saying that empiricism and/or "acquired human knowledge" is not inherently superior either, as illustrated by this particular example.


What I was trying to get at here is that there is a genuine lack of evidence that religious revelations come from anywhere other than the mind of the person who is having the revelation. Morality is something that changes over time and moral teachings are not in and of themselves evidence of divine inspiration.

The fact that revelations from God tell of no concrete facts is suspicious. If you don't like the idea of God communicating scientific ideas, how about a prophecy instead? The prophecies in the Bible are all very vague and can be made to say just about anything. Wouldn't it be amazing if God gave someone the exact dates of natural disasters or wars or something along those lines? If someone could consistently predict these things to the day well in advance, I would consider that to be compelling enough to rethink my position on God. Instead we get false prophets and false prophecies.

And I also didn't mean to refer specifically to scientific concepts in a general sense. I also meant specific information like cures for diseases or answers to problems that no one can solve. It would be astonishing if someone had a divine revelation and received the chemical formula for a drug that cures cancer or AIDS. Or an insight into how to solve the political problems of the world or end world hunger.

Instead we get vague ideas, many of which are simply ridiculous. Some of the things people claim to have had revealed to them are interesting and even moving. But why is it that the creator of the universe and everything in it cannot send revelations of anything more concrete? People can have flashes of poetic insight, but they cannot wake up one day knowing how to cure cancer or the answer to some difficult problem of mathematics that they have never even seen before.
#4squareandrarePosted 3/5/2013 9:55:30 PM
You're talking about scientific concepts, though. What about moral concepts, like doing unto others as you would have them do to you? Jesus said that over 1700 years before Kant derived it philosophically with the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative.


The idea that hurting your neighbor is wrong has been around longer than human beings. Communal tribes/packs couldn't work without some innate concept of protecting your community. The concept might be important, but it certainly doesn't suggest that revelation can provide truth. Then compare it to empiricism, which is currently providing us the medium to communicate across the globe instantaneously.

If you want to argue that revelation can provide truth, why does it never provide truths that are obviously too profound to have been thought up by people without prior knowledge? It's awfully convenient.
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#5JonWood007Posted 3/5/2013 10:47:03 PM
Just to discuss the 3 concepts briefly, here is my take on it.

1) Empricism - Probably the most reliable and rigorous ways of knowing, seeing how it takes a systematic approach of finding out things that tries to rule out alternative possibilities at seeking the truth.

2) Intuition - Horribly unreliable. Everyone's intuition is different, can lead to conflicting conclusions. When it happens to be right, I'd argue it's likely a coincidence, unless your mind is processing variables unconsciously faster than you can process them consciously.

3) Revelation - It's nice if it's legitimate. I should mention revelation should either be confirmed by empiricism to a degree, or at least not conflict with its conclusions though. IMO, revelation should be compatible with knowledge gained through empiricism, and ideally, confirmed by such knowledge. The Bible and other "revealed" holy books often fails at this.
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#6FingerpuppetPosted 3/5/2013 10:49:50 PM
Morality is, for the most part, objective. I don't know why you insinuated otherwise.
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#7darkmaian23Posted 3/6/2013 6:48:20 AM
Fingerpuppet posted...
Morality is, for the most part, objective. I don't know why you insinuated otherwise.


Is it OK to eat meat? Is it OK to do animal testing? Are zoos ethical? Is it ethical to accumulate vast sums of money without donating a great deal of it for the benefit of others? Should everyone donate to charity? Which charitable causes are most worthy? Is abortion permissible? In what circumstances?

I don't think you'll find many people who agree with each other on all of these issues. Even things that many people now see as obvious in the modern world (like equal treatment of women and gays and lesbians) is not something that is agreed upon in all parts of the world.

How could morality ever be considered objective? For every issue in which you think you have arrived at a definite conclusion, there will always be another person that thinks something completely different than you do and is just as certain of their answer as you are of yours.
#8ThuggernautzPosted 3/6/2013 9:04:39 AM(edited)
Julian_Caesar posted...

Empiricism is the most useful tool for technology, sure. As I said above, it's a wonderful language for communicating those kinds of concepts. But I'm pretty skeptical of your claim that religion has no lasting humanitarian achievements. I think most historians would be too. Sure religion has dropped some bad apples over the years, and some really REALLY bad ones, yes....but it has dropped far more good ones. Religiously motivated people have done an incredible amount of real humanitarian good for thousands of years, not just on the individual level but on the societal level as well. And most of them did so based on truths which were not empirically developed.


There is strong evidence that religion was empirically developed at first, with a large measure of faulty reasoning and intuition. Cave paintings, Gobekli Tepe style carvings... Often, hypotheses (especially in those times) were not a binary thing between strict empiricism and intuition/a priori reasoning, the two are heavily intermixed. With a healthy dose of arrogant pride and human exceptionalism (Ancestor worship first, then notice that deities all take anthropomorphic forms, look at the German Lion-man carving from 32,000 BC for example). For first was animism. They saw animals and how powerful/graceful/other attributes that human's weren't; and conjured up divine animal deities that controlled many things. Then there was shamanism, polytheism and finally monotheism with the 'haha you can't beat this tautological all powerful definition'. Except, especially in the case of Judaism/Christianity, you can easily see the progression from one theism type to the next through the almost plagiaristic stealing of stories and ideas from earlier cultures like the Babylonians and Sumerians, moulded to promote the new form of theism.


You're talking about scientific concepts, though. What about moral concepts, like doing unto others as you would have them do to you? Jesus said that over 1700 years before Kant derived it philosophically with the First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative. Yes, there are differences of semantics and the fact that the Golden Rule can be restated in different ways to not quite agree with the CI. But its original and most-quoted form (and really, the form that Jesus clearly meant) is not very different from the CI. Whether the Categorical Imperative is actually right is irrelevant; it's also irrelevant whether Jesus was right. Because either way, religion/revelation was far ahead of formal human philosophy in terms of this particular concept. I'm not saying religion is always morally superior by virtue of being relevatory; I'm saying that empiricism and/or "acquired human knowledge" is not inherently superior either, as illustrated by this particular example.


Sorry, Code of Ur-nanna and Hammurabi's Code did it first. In fact, the OT laws are almost a direct copy of many of Hammurabi's. Remember eye for an eye? That is OT law, but it was Hammurabi's before that; and Sumerian before that. The nice happy, hippy hug friendly golden rule you say came from the NT... well actually, at that point almost every society on Earth already had it figured out for quite some time. The Ancient Chinese told it in Zi Gong's tale, Confucius wrote "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Egyptian papyrus from ~600BC wrote of it. The Greek Pittacus wrote, in ~650 BC, (around the time of Jewish imprisonment in Babylon): "Do not do to your neighbor what you would take ill from him."

In other words, that paragraph you just wrote is both a false appeal to history and a giant load of ****.
#9FingerpuppetPosted 3/6/2013 10:09:01 PM
darkmaian23 posted...
Fingerpuppet posted...
Morality is, for the most part, objective. I don't know why you insinuated otherwise.


Is it OK to eat meat? Is it OK to do animal testing? Are zoos ethical? Is it ethical to accumulate vast sums of money without donating a great deal of it for the benefit of others? Should everyone donate to charity? Which charitable causes are most worthy? Is abortion permissible? In what circumstances?

I don't think you'll find many people who agree with each other on all of these issues. Even things that many people now see as obvious in the modern world (like equal treatment of women and gays and lesbians) is not something that is agreed upon in all parts of the world.

How could morality ever be considered objective? For every issue in which you think you have arrived at a definite conclusion, there will always be another person that thinks something completely different than you do and is just as certain of their answer as you are of yours.


You get the medal for a lack of reading comprehension.

Morality is, for the most part, objective. I don't know why you insinuated otherwise.


Anything else?
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#10ThuggernautzPosted 3/7/2013 8:27:19 AM
Fingerpuppet posted...

You get the medal for a lack of reading comprehension.

Morality is, for the most part, objective. I don't know why you insinuated otherwise.


Anything else?


I agree with him. Morality is as objective as standards of beauty. It's a purely abstract concept which we've coined for particular social rules that most social races follow (and some human only ones). Thankfully most choose to adhere to these rules instinctively, though not all.

But I'd rather not turn this into another morality debate, there's plenty of other topics you can revive if you wish to go down that avenue.