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Desire for Resolution

#1DreamwaIkerPosted 4/17/2013 5:10:29 AM
As a math student, I like that problems have solutions. That a problem can be solved and if everyone studies enough, they can all come to understand it. Sure, there are some axioms in math, but you can still say that everyone involved came to understand why "Given the axioms, ___ is true."

In religious discussion, I yearn to have the same kind of resolution, but it just doesn't work out that way. You can talk back and forth with atheists and religious people and other religious people for years and it's possible that none of them will budge significantly. One guy will go miles down his religious understanding and another guy will go miles down his understanding of why that religion is false, and they both see themselves as understanding more. Confirmation bias, I know. And probably some other psychological things and bias towards having certain experiences as well.

But none of that changes that I desire resolution, be it me becoming Christian or any of my Christian friends becoming atheists.
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#2Hustle KongPosted 4/17/2013 5:21:17 AM
It seems unwise to think religion can be like mathematics. Math is already math.
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#3DreamwaIker(Topic Creator)Posted 4/17/2013 5:24:52 AM
I want it to be.

Didn't say I think it can be.
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#4mercuryinkPosted 4/17/2013 5:33:35 AM
Uh... there's numerology?
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#5chareyPosted 4/17/2013 8:42:28 AM
"Given the axioms, ___ is true."

This is why you and your friend arrive at different answers with the same arguments, you have different axioms at the start so you interpret the information differently. This is not something that can be "fixed" you both have had different experiences in life and those experiences is what formed the axioms you live by.

Axioms can be changed but it takes time and does not happen easily.
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#6SirThinkALotPosted 4/17/2013 10:25:57 AM
DreamwaIker posted...
I want it to be.

Didn't say I think it can be.


To quote the philosopher Mic Jagger: You cant always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
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#7DreamwaIker(Topic Creator)Posted 4/17/2013 10:46:53 AM
Yes, I get the axioms thing. That's why I brought it up pre-emptively.
I guess I could've elaborated more though on why it's not as annoying in math.

One could think of math as the collection of all possible sets of axioms and the results and stuff that come from them. In this sense, mathematicians can agree (once a proof has been established in the community) on what results come from what axioms. They're not necessarily asserting that Axiom A is true or that Axiom A is false, so there's no disagreement there. They may choose to work in the world of Axiom A being true or the world of Axiom A being false, but they both recognize they don't really know. They recognize it's just an axiom and that the work done in either area can still be mathematically correct.

Could probably still word that better, but oh well. It's certainly better than my initial wording.


To contrast, religious axioms are often things one accepts not just for the purpose of intellectual study of what results would follow, but because they actually "know" them to be true. Thus, the religious and nonreligious person are not as satisfied with establishing "If axioms are true, then ___ is true" as the two mathematicians are.
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#8darkmaian23Posted 4/17/2013 11:23:45 AM
Before I address your question, I would like to say in advance that I know there are different types of religious people and atheists. I would also like to state that I am an atheist who was formerly both a Christian and later on the member of a bizarre cult. I've seen the various angles from all sides.

A Christian believes that the God of the Bible is real and that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. For many Christians, belief in God, the Bible, and Jesus is the basis for how they view the world. Taken to the extreme, it leads to views like a literal Noah's flood (a story which originated in Babylon with different gods and for which there is no evidence) and the firm belief that the world is only 6,000 or 10,000 years old. I have a friend who believes there is no such thing as atoms, that technology is a magical gift from God, and that creation ends at the sky and that there are no stars. That is VERY unusual, but since it is a real example it is an extreme to which people will go. There are also still Earth believers in the Middle East and possibly other places.

The Christian starts from something that cannot, must not be wrong, and goes from there. An atheist looks at the world and says, "I do not believe there are any gods." I have never met an atheist who started off being 100% certain there were no gods and changed their entire worldview to avoid contradicting this idea. Obviously both the atheist and religious man must feel that they have come to a correct conclusion about whether God is real or not, but the religious man will bend reality to insulate his views from criticism.

If someone happens to reply to this post of mine, I suspect I'll be reminded that atheists "ignore the evidence for God". There was an excellent program on Nova a few years back called "Intelligent Design on Trial" which covered a court case in which the idea of teaching creationism as a valid alternative to evolution was put to the test. It failed, even before a conservative judge. You can watch the program here for free on the PBS website:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/intelligent-design-trial.html

The facts do not point to there being a God, at least not in the Christian sense, but you can insert one if you like. The assertion that God had a helping hand in evolution or abiogenesis cannot be disproven. It may even be true, and I admit that as an atheist. The facts don't point to this conclusion, though.

It is like the Goldbach conjecture in number theory. The evidence--trying lots and lots of numbers--suggests that it is probably true. But it cannot be proven. This is like atheism. The evidence overwhelmingly says there is probably no god, but this cannot be proven. A Christian is like a man saying the Goldbach conjecture is wrong because they believe it is wrong or because of personal revelation.

I would be extremely interested if there were actual objective evidence anywhere in the world for some type of God. A holy book is not evidence, nor is contradictory personal revelation. If God appeared before each man and told him the same thing, then I might change my mind. If prayer had a statistically significant effect, I might change my mind. If impossible miracles like the regrowing of limbs occurred, I might change my mind. But none of these things are true or have happened.

Arguing with a religious person often feels like the famous encounter Richard Dawkins had with Wendy Wright:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AS6rQtiEh8

Don't be put off by the length. Even giving it a few minutes of your time will prove to be illuminating.
#9DreamwaIker(Topic Creator)Posted 4/17/2013 11:36:03 AM
Interesting comparison between atheism and the Goldbach Conjecture. I think we could also use the Twin Prime Conjecture there (I can't recall whether or not the two are equivalent, but both "seem" to be true).
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#10mrplainswalkerPosted 4/17/2013 8:50:56 PM
In religious discussion, I yearn to have the same kind of resolution, but it just doesn't work out that way. You can talk back and forth with atheists and religious people and other religious people for years and it's possible that none of them will budge significantly.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. Somebody could do the exact same thing with math that they do with religion. "P=NP!!! I just know it. I feel it in my heart. It just seems so right." If somebody actually held this view, it would be nearly impossible to convince them that the problem is yet unsolved and that feeling it in your heart isn't good enough.

If you believe X is true, then show it. The process is the same in math, religion, science...pretty much anything involving truth claims. People just compartmentalize differently for different subjects.
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