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Take a shot at Kozlo

#1kozlo100Posted 4/16/2013 9:29:18 PM
So, in a recent topic, I expressed a desire to put some of my own positions up for criticism rather than my usual MO of putting the positions of others to the test in order to see if I should adopt them.

Not quite sure how to get that started, but let's try. Straight away, my basic position is that I do not believe any gods exist, nor do I believe that no gods exist. I believe morality is subjective, and that's ok. I don't know if we have free will or not, but I think the fact that we feel like we do is all that matters. I believe the universe we live in is not one that was created by an omnipotent being with our best interests in mind. I believe religion has done more good than harm throughout human history. I believe in freedom of religion as a societal goal. I believe in parental rights up to and including the point of indoctrination. I believe I don't have all the answers, and shouldn't impose my will on others as if I do, and neither should you, unless you can prove otherwise.

I could go on this way, but let's just say if you want to challenge me on any of those positions, go for it. I'd like to hear what you have to say. If you want to challenge me on a position you think I hold but I haven't listed, just ask if I hold that position, and we'll go from there. If you just want to ask personal questions about my positions, that's cool too, though I reserve the right to refuse an answer if you cross a line. I'll tell you why I think you've crossed it though.

Also, I believe it's going to take some significant thought and effort to answer some of these questions, and thus I believe this thread might go slowly. I'll do my best to get to everyone. Call me out if you think I've missed you.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
#2JonWood007Posted 4/16/2013 9:45:48 PM
Well, this is kind of boring, I tend to agree with most of your positions, but I did find a couple potential points of contention.

I believe religion has done more good than harm throughout human history.


Could you elaborate on this position? Why do you think this? Even if religion has done a lot of good in the past, do you hold that it still does more good than harm today? If so, why?

I believe in parental rights up to and including the point of indoctrination.


Do you believe there are any limitations on this right? If so, what? What about being indoctrinated into something like, say, Branch Davidians or another potentially dangerous cultish group like that?
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#3mrplainswalkerPosted 4/16/2013 10:13:00 PM
Straight away, my basic position is that I do not believe any gods exist, nor do I believe that no gods exist.

Do you think true agnosticism is a reasonable position? I personally believe that no gods exist, in the same way that I believe Russell's teapot does not exist. I wouldn't claim absolute certainty that no gods exist, but I think absolute certainty is highly overrated and completely unnecessary to state a mere belief.

I believe religion has done more good than harm throughout human history.

This would be my biggest beef with what you stated, but with a caveat. It's not religion that's the problem. Religion is a subset of dogmatism and/or magical thinking and those are the true problems, in my opinion. I would go so far as to say that dogmatism and magical thinking are the cause of a majority of human suffering. What's ironic is that many things theists claim as "atheist" problems had nothing to do with atheism. Take the holocaust or the Great Purge as examples. The holocaust had nothing to do with Hitler's theism, nor did the Great Purge have anything to with Stalin's atheism. They were both rooted in mostly non-religious dogma. Take anti-vaccination advocates, faith healers and homeopaths. A combination of magical thinking and dogma with negative effects.

Even if you don't include things like the Spanish inquisition and the Great Purge, which were explicitly dogmatic in origin...every irrational thought is a waste of brain power that could have been put toward something useful. Irrational thoughts beget more irrational thoughts, and people who have them try to spread them to others. Imagine if every rational thought in history had instead been irrational. We would have gone extinct in the first generation. And to add onto that further, there's never been a single positive outcome attributed to dogma that couldn't have come from a non-dogmatic mindset. I mean, how else would you even determine that it was "good?" The opposite absolutely cannot be said. Any positive outcome attributed to dogma is nothing but sheer coincidence.

So I guess I'd ask you what good exactly dogma has achieved that couldn't have been done through a non-dogmatic organization.
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#4Magic_SwordsmanPosted 4/16/2013 10:31:26 PM(edited)
From: kozlo100 | #001
I don't know if we have free will or not, but I think the fact that we feel like we do is all that matters.


I disagree. I think that if free will was shown to be true, however so, it would be a big leap for me towards believing in something that transcends physical reality.

I think free will implies something outside of this reality affecting something inside, sort of like the unmoved-mover argument for God's existence or Plato's unchanged-changer arguments describing the nature of the soul. So I believe the issue to matter more than simply feeling like we have free willings.
#5Magic_SwordsmanPosted 4/16/2013 10:35:34 PM
From: mrplainswalker | #003
Imagine if every rational thought in history had instead been irrational. We would have gone extinct in the first generation.


Interesting, because I believe current studies on our "irrational" beliefs regarding religion demonstrate that they are evolutionary traits that had a role in our survival. I think there is a big difference between what you are calling "irrational" thoughts and religious devotion.
#6black spiderPosted 4/16/2013 10:59:59 PM
I believe religion has done more good than harm throughout human history.

I find it hard to disagree, since we're talking about the aggregate effect here. Religion served to unite people that otherwise would've been divided, and it served well enough as a crude starting stone for a universal code of morality. You might even say that religion introduced people to the concept of following a more or less universal law they had little influence on and which they possibly don't agree with. Without religion helping people to make those changes, where might we have been today? And there's the comforting effect religion might have on individuals.

I don't think your claim is all that controversial, even though of course there's also been a downside to religion, since the very same religion that brought us all together and made us follow an arbitrary law also taught us that certain things are taboo and that certain other things are perfectly sensible.

Challenging "the law", as dictated by some religions, is supposedly offensive and taboo and something decent people don't do. Even pondering why "the law" says what it does and whether it makes any kind of sense was once a heretical thought. And heresy? Why is that so bad? And of course the classic scientific answer to everything we don't understand, "God must have done it!!" How many breakthroughs have been lost over time because various clever people used "God did it" rather than look for a proper answer?

So while I agree with your statement, I think a much more interesting question is, whether religion continues to be, on the aggregate, a force for good, or if the fanaticism, hivemind, and taboo inspired by religion is in fact getting to the point where, again on the aggregate, it turns into a force of evil? And no, I don't know the answer to that, nor do I think anyone else does. One might still have an opinion, though mine isn't quite formed yet.

I believe in parental rights up to and including the point of indoctrination.

Well, it's hard to argue that parents don't have the right to teach their kids about a certain worldview, because it's the job of parents to do just that, even if that worldview is that all other worldviews than the one heralded by the parent are the evil work of Satan. But while that is their right, which I can't see any reasonable way to challenge, do you believe it to be in any way morally defensible to essentially brainwash your child?

If you want to challenge me on a position you think I hold but I haven't listed, just ask if I hold that position, and we'll go from there.

I believe you're a libertarian. I believe most libertarian fail to comprehend why laws and regulations are needed at times, and who are more than happy to talk about people's rights and whatnot, under a pretense of actually giving a damn about "people", while they're actually advocating policies that by necessity will have people starving to death or dying from being unable to afford treatment for the medical issues they end up with.

I believe libertarians generally forget about the aggregate effects on society and just focus on individuals, and being someone from the very bottom of society who would at best be in a mental facility under a libertarian system, I tend to get really annoyed by libertarian ideology. This isn't to say that you're the sort of clown who'd make those intellectual mistakes, but I do believe you're libertarian and I do believe libertarians tend to be clowns.

Well, it's sort of waaaay off topic, but you did ask, and I felt like getting that off my chest.
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#7kozlo100(Topic Creator)Posted 4/16/2013 11:00:28 PM
JonWood007 posted...
Could you elaborate on this position?


Certainly. In a nutshell, I believe modern society is good, and I don't think we could have gotten here without religion. That outweighs most everything else in my opinion.

The gist of it is that without divine mandate, you don't get folks to abandon their day to day lives to become soldiers. Without soldiers, you don't get empires, without empires you don't get the infrastructure necessary for academia. Without academia, we're all still nomadic hunter-gatherers primarily focused on our next meal, rather than musing on the internet about whether or not gods are real.

Do you believe there are any limitations on this right? If so, what? What about being indoctrinated into something like, say, Branch Davidians or another potentially dangerous cultish group like that?


Some limitations, sure, but not many. Provisions against direct physical harm for the most part. The foundation of this belief is that I reserve the right to believe in my own world view, and based on that view, choose what is best for my child. In a nutshell, if I live in a society dominated by Branch Davidians, I still want the right to teach my child the scientific method. To my mind, that means I must allow others the right to teach their children things I believe are wrong.

mrplainswalker posted...
Do you think true agnosticism is a reasonable position?


The most reasonable, else I would not hold it. I'm trying to avoid titles here, as those have served as topic derailers as of late. That said, I treat the existence of gods in the most general sense as an unanswered question, but there are plenty of specific gods that I am comfortable asserting that they do not exist, though I do not claim certainty on the matter.

I think my answer to Jon covers your second question, at least as an opening position. The main thrust being that I don't know what compels a farmer to pick up a sword and build an empire save for divine mandate. Arriving at empire building via enlightened self-interest is just too long term to be plausible for early humanity, I think.

Magic_Swordsman posted...
I think free will implies something outside of this reality affecting something inside, sort of like the unmoved-mover argument for God's existence or Plato's unchanged-changer arguments describing the nature of the soul.


I disagree with that premise. My primary view of free will is that if it exists, it simply implies that systems within this universe can organize in such a way that cause and effect can be internal to the system, arising from nothing outside of that system.

Pushing the impetus for free will to a metaphysical trait actually indicates less 'self' for me, rather than more. In other words, if the thing exercising will is outside of this reality, I read it as less 'me' than if it were internal to it.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
#8squareandrarePosted 4/16/2013 11:00:32 PM
Ok, I'll give it a shot.

I think you're taking advantage of the lack of a precise definition of god when you say that you don't "believe that no gods exist."* It sounds like you're covering for the fact that "god" can be defined so widely and abstractly. No one can reasonably say that they believe every possible formulation does not exist. If you "believe the universe we live in is not one that was created by an omnipotent being with our best interests in mind," then to me, it sounds like you believe god doesn't exist. We have to draw the line somewhere on the definition of god for the words "atheism" and "theism" to mean anything, and the line I draw is at an omnipotent being that, in some sense, prefers life to non-life. If you think that definition is too narrow, which one would you use?
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#9black spiderPosted 4/16/2013 11:12:47 PM
If you "believe the universe we live in is not one that was created by an omnipotent being with our best interests in mind," then to me, it sounds like you believe god doesn't exist.

I'm sure Kozlo will answer this just fine, but to me this claim sounds like crap, Square. No offense, of course. But why must one either be an atheist or a creationist? That just screams "false dichotomy", doesn't it?

Why can't one simply reject the religious claim due to the complete and utter lack of any kind of non-fluffy evidence and then keep it at that? Stick with "f*** if I know, but maybe we'll some day find out" and not be forced into holding a position that ultimately isn't based on anything?
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You want to try your hand at proving why genocide is inherently bad? - OrangeWizard
#10kozlo100(Topic Creator)Posted 4/16/2013 11:15:54 PM
black spider posted...
I believe you're a libertarian. I believe most libertarian fail to comprehend why laws and regulations are needed at times, and who are more than happy to talk about people's rights and whatnot, under a pretense of actually giving a damn about "people", while they're actually advocating policies that by necessity will have people starving to death or dying from being unable to afford treatment for the medical issues they end up with.

I believe libertarians generally forget about the aggregate effects on society and just focus on individuals, and being someone from the very bottom of society who would at best be in a mental facility under a libertarian system, I tend to get really annoyed by libertarian ideology. This isn't to say that you're the sort of clown who'd make those intellectual mistakes, but I do believe you're libertarian and I do believe libertarians tend to be clowns.


Little off-topic for the board here, but like you said, I did ask, and I'm happy to answer. I am a libertarian, but not a member of the Libertarian party. I'm sure you're aware of how party affiliation is different from political ideals.

That said, I do understand that laws and regulation are necessary at times, and I am perfectly willing to place restrictions on liberty at those times. The point of contention is which policies will or will not lead to people starving to death or being unable to afford treatment for common ailments, and so forth.

This is a thing that I think anti-libertarians don't understand. It's forgivable because there are an awful lot of lolbertarians who don't know what they're talking about, but to my mind the policies I advocate result in the best situation for the most people.

There are sort of two fronts here. There's a libertarian ideal, that I think would result in the best possible situation for the most people. This ideal is as unattainable as the democratic, republican, socialist, communist, or any other ideal. We just don't live in a world where ideals are possible.

The other front is working towards aspects of that libertarian ideal insofar as they can be effectively accomplished in this society, and can be productive and helpful in a realm where they must compete with the ideals of other philosophies.

Also, just as a personal aside because it seems relevant: I also come from the bottom of society, and under a purely libertarian system, I wouldn't have seen a whole lot of attention or assistance from the government. That situation is a big part of what shapes my views on the issue. I'm open to questions about that.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.