Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: The Up-Front Guides: The Weasel Translator

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  • Lilith __,

    Those who think science is just another religion might wish to look at some of the other people who think this. Or these. Do you really want to be on that side?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    In relation to Pascal's Wager: you think God plays dice, Kracklite? Is it morally acceptable (or even possible) to believe in something because you're being threatened?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Lilith __,

    morally acceptable (or even possible) to believe in something because you're being threatened?

    You are assigning motives to the beliefs of others.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Lilith __,

    Those who think science is just another religion might wish to look at some of the other people who think this. Or these. Do you really want to be on that side?

    There is sense and non sense - science and non science. Your links may provide two examples of nonsense and nonscience and could be considered proof of the evolution of faith – doesn’t have to be sensible or scientific.

    I'm on the side of Elvis - there is a possibility he won't evolve further because he may be dead. But I'll wait a bit longer meantime before ruling out a come back.

    We don't have to chose sides on the God No God debate , I refuse.

    Recognizing that fundamental human rights should not be denied to anyone on the basis of race, gender, age, belief and sexuality - does not require one to hold any belief in God or belief that there is no God..

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to DexterX,

    you are assigning motives to the belief of others

    No, I'm explaining what some of the implications of Pascal's Wager are.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    The rational thing is to believe what is most probably true, not to pick something at random to believe in. Rational belief is justified by evidence .

    Generally so, if there is any evidence. If there is none, and the choice is arbitrary, it's not always irrational to make a choice - it could be the right choice. Or to abstain from making a choice*.

    To me, it seems strange to insist on being “agnostic” on the existence of Mr Mxyzptlk.

    I guess I'm strange, because I have no idea what that is, so I won't choose whether I think it exists.

    *Would like to reiterate that I'm basically an atheist, to intents and purposes. Like you, I think God unlikely. But I stop short of saying unlikely is the same as impossible. Indeed, by unlikely I personally think it's at the level of a barest possibility.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Lilith __,

    Can you give an example?

    Your question troubles me somehow. Am I to understand that in your view all those in whose lives faith plays a role all adhere to some rigid insistence that the world is this way and no other and could not possibly be any other way in spite of all the evidence piled in front of them? Who then, when they get sick, jump in their cars or on a bus or train and visit a doctor and get medicine and therefore avail themselves of much of the good science has done? My very limited experience of this world strongly suggests otherwise.

    I clearly remember sitting in the Octagon talking to a Salvation Army officer who told me in his view all drugs should be legal. How you get to that position while being an officer of a church that forbids tobacco and alcohol and has a long tradition of treating addiction I do not know.

    One night many years ago in Beijing I found myself in a slowly emptying pub sharing a beer with a Sudanese man who claimed to work at his country's embassy agreeing with him that this ism-schism nonsense was the cause of the world's troubles and we should all just get along in peace and mutual respect, as implied in as-salaam aleykoum - may the peace of God be upon you - emphasis on the peace bit.

    In Changsha I worked with a man who identified as High Anglican, yet referred to the stories of Jesus' death and resurrection as 'the Christ Myths'.

    I was raised in the Salvation Army. I floated through a few churches in my youth - evangelical and worse, and the 3 Self official church in Changsha. I haven't darkened the door of a church, with the exception of my grandmother's funeral in 2010, for many a long year. I don't find it useful to describe my current religious/spiritual/philosophical leanings, let's just say I've come a long way from where I started and take inspiration and wisdom from whatever source presents itself, and many sources present themselves.

    I'm not trying to portray either atheism or science as some other kinds of faith, as they clearly are not. I'm just stubbornly insisting that for some faith, despite our species' long and sordid history of using faith to commit and inspire others to commit horrific evil, does play a valuable and positive role in their lives, and that for such people there is no necessary contradiction between faith and science. One can take inspiration from Jesus' hanging out with fishermen, prostitutes and tax collectors and pointedly not with the Pharisees and chasing money lenders out of the Temple without being a bigot or rejecting evolution. One can draw inspiration from Confucianism without being a misogynist. One can see the wisdom in Laozi's 无为/take no action/go with the natural order of things while embracing how science and technology can help us put 无为 into action (and no, there's no contradiction between 无为 and action, necessarily).

    but, yeah, ism-schism, let's not go there

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    No, I'm explaining what some of the implications of Pascal's Wager are

    Yes, it's a curious and ingenious argument. The disproof of it is that it can be applied to it's own opposite, causing a contradiction. Presumably there is an assumption in there that is thus disproved, but I don't care to tease it out. It'll be something to do with the infinitesimal chance of the God-given outcomes, and the fact that believing doesn't come at no cost at all.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Kracklite,

    Still, Mr Mxyzptlk, I think falls below the threshold of reasonable belief. There is a probability that he might exist, but it’s so vanishingly small that Pascal would probably say, Soprano-style, fuggedaboutit.

    What happened to the "event horizon" that was "the limit of falsifiability"?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Lilith __,

    Those who think science is just another religion

    Is anyone actually saying that?

    OK, creationists are fools and nasty people, but one should not be morally compelled into accepting or rejecting a position because it might give aid and comfort to the enemy. Whether or not a creationist can use - or rather appropriate and distort - an argument should not be a reason for putting forward an argument or opinion. I could say that I have lint in my navel and they'd use that as "proof" of divine creation.

    you think God plays dice, Kracklite?

    Einstein didn't, but it appears that Niels Bohr did and Stephen Hawking quipped that not only does he play dice, he throws them where they can't be seen. As for me, I'm not a quantum physicist, but I'm siding with the most recent.

    morally acceptable (or even possible) to believe in something because you’re being threatened?

    No (no). As I implied by my ridicule, I feel that Pascal's Wager is foolish.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Same thing, I suppose – there’s no positive evidence for either fairies in my garden or Mr Mxyzptlk nor is there an experiment that could prove their existence or nonexistent, so the hypothesis that they might exist is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific. Therefore I don’t keep myself awake at night worrying about them.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Kracklite,

    No (no). As I implied by my ridicule, I feel that Pascal’s Wager is foolish.

    To elaborate, from those I know who practice faith, the compulsion of belief or the compulsion of avowal of belief is the very antithesis of faith.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale, in reply to BenWilson,

    I suggest believing in God is akin to thinking P=NP, and being an atheist is akin to believing that is false.

    This is a particularly good analogy in that we - all of us, whether we know it or not - live our lives as if P!=NP. (I love the line one of my profs once threw out in a lecture: "We know P!=NP. We just don't know the proof".) An equality proof would upend everything, but it would be accepted if it were valid.

    And so it is with the atheists I know. Nobody goes around thinking "I need to prove there is no god". Most people don't even go around thinking "I don't believe there is a god". The issue just doesn't take up much mental space at all.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    This I find incomprehensible – why is it “instead”?

    This annoys me. Parliament has time set aside for private members bills. The only thing that this bill is preventing happening is other private members bills. The government's agenda to fix the economy, create jobs, screw us all over etc, will go ahead unaffected in all the other time.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Amy Gale,

    Space the vinyl* front ear...

    ... just doesn’t take up much mental space at all.

    <ramble>
    ...and there is an infinite amount of mental space...
    more than a cathedral, more than a city,
    even on standby visualising power it can
    hold a perceived universe together
    observing, absorbing, recording...

    while we are
    getting further
    seeing smaller
    going where...

    ...but in the cranial dark
    how do we light our dreams?
    where do the photons come from?
    I really wanna know...

    I figger that
    just as vast galaxies
    harbour black holed hearts
    our tiny intellects cocoon
    sputtering universes
    broadcasting
    accessible
    tunable
    pitch forks in the road...

    Can Maxwell's Demon be far behind?
    (silver hammer wielding, or not?)

    tune yourself here...

    </ramble>


    yrs
    the Entropy Kid

    PS: as it's Frigga's Day, time for a cuppa tea...

    now to try and get the washing machine fxed
    <sigh...>



    *regrettably some cloth ears may be issued.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    This annoys me. Parliament has time set aside for private members bills. The only thing that this bill is preventing happening is other private members bills.

    Quite - I'm sure someone like Idiot/Savant or Keith Ng has crunched the data, but members' bills hardly dominate the Parliamentary agenda. Sitting time is allocated to the damn things every second Wednesday (and IIRC not even that is guaranteed), only a fraction of proposed MBs get drawn from the ballot - and few of them ever become law.

    If this is the Radical Homosexual Agenda (tm) at work, it should be put up against a wall and shot for general incompetence.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Kracklite,

    Those who think science is just another religion

    Is anyone actually saying that?

    Well, it seemed like there were a few of you saying faith in science was just like religious faith. I'm glad if you think it isn't. (and thanks for the clarification, Chris).

    And I'm glad you're not advocating Pascal's Wager, Kracklite, I thought you were. And my reference to dice wasn't meant to be about physics, particularly, just the whole idea of gambling.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kracklite,

    so the hypothesis that they might exist is unfalsifiable and therefore unscientific

    According to Popper, anyway. It's a pretty harsh criterion. But as regards God and other imaginary friends, it's a useful one. Popper doesn't go so far as to say things that are unscientific are false. I doubt he'd say that, for example, that infinity does not exist because it can't be truly found in nature, if the universe is finite. It's a theoretical construct that is extremely useful. Complex numbers, similarly. They're called "imaginary numbers" for a reason, because they're not "Real". But "Real" has a strict definition in maths, and the "not Real" does exist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    there is an infinite amount of mental space…
    more than a cathedral, more than a city,
    even on standby visualising power it can
    hold a perceived universe together
    observing, absorbing, recording…

    while we are
    getting further
    seeing smaller
    going where…

    …but in the cranial dark
    how do we light our dreams?
    where do the photons come from?
    I really wanna know…

    Thanks for that, Ian. Me too. :-)

    Amy, I think about gods and godlessness and meaning and purpose all the time .

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Lilith __,

    And my reference to dice wasn’t meant to be about physics, particularly, just the whole idea of gambling.

    I don't have absolute confidence in my own arguments here, so sometimes I'm just being obtuse... damn, did I just say that out loud? Ahem, I mean those were examples where physicists dabbled in, if not metaphysics, epistemology anyway.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to BenWilson,

    Popper doesn’t go so far as to say things that are unscientific are false.

    No, I agree, indeed. Having qualifications and personal income from both sides of the engineering/humanities epistemological fence* I'm aware that there's more than one way to skin a cat, or a right way to skin a cat and a right way to stuff a badger... or whatever. I think I need a better idiom.

    *Monday mornings, I'm saying "So Orwell's use of a dog in "A Hanging" allows him to indicate the repressed emotions of the policemen, emotions barely repressed and threatening to break out, so they cling desperately to procedure, hence the superintendent's noting the lateness of the time", Monday afternoon it's, "Last year a student designed a building cantilevered forty metres, which was manageable if the structure was thought of as a box beam, but that put the far end too far from the fire escapes, so we thought that the inflatable slides used in airliners could do the trick... " Then on Monday evening it's "Yes, you see, if you're looking at gender, fashion and movement, the concept of the gaze is significant, first look at Tschumi's Manhattan Transcripts, but also have a look at Beatriz Colomina's writing on Adolf Loos and Josephine Baker - and a bit of Foucault won't go amiss. Discipline and Punish would be your best bet there." Mix that up, add a rich seasoning of ums, ahs and Monty Python references and half-bake it and you have my portfolio of jobs.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Perhaps this is a good moment for a slice of Good Omens :

    God does not play dice with the universe: He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time .

    -Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Lilith __,

    It's always a good moment.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Orwell’s use of a dog in “A Hanging” allows him to indicate the repressed emotions of the policemen, emotions barely repressed and threatening to break out, so they cling desperately to procedure, hence the superintendent’s noting the lateness of the time”, Monday afternoon it’s,

    those moments.

    Mix that up, add a rich seasoning of ums, ahs and Monty Python references and half-bake it and you have my portfolio of jobs.

    Busy boy then.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kracklite,

    Eclectic genius. Love it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

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