Mitch wrote:Why should a comment about your ability be any reason for anger on my part?
It would be unreasonable for me to even try to dispute such a comment about what you are capable of.
Cute. As you know, I wasn't anticipating a possibly angry reaction to my inability to distinguish the basis of your beliefs from hunches and gut feelings; it was based on some of your past reactions to people's disagreements with your beliefs.
Yes I know that you had that perception, but since I have told you and explained to you that this perception is inaccurate I think you should know already that I don't think that this perception is correct.
Mitch wrote:As I have basically outlined it, I see dismissability as a basic quality of these spritual things that I believe to exist. It would therefore be a little odd for me then to be upset by anyone deciding to dismiss the possibility of their existence, let alone what you have said.
As part of the "dismissability" of the spiritual things you believe exist, how would you respond to the assertion that there is no difference
between unobservable, undetectable, unverifiable, unmeasurable spirits and no spirits at all
? I think that's an important question.
I deny that that there is any difference, because as I have said science is not the be all and end all of human life and like a great many people I am unwilling to confine my perception of reality and my conclusion about reality to the same filters which science applies to facts and evidence. The totality of reality is not reducible to the mathematical representations of physics, which restricts its observations to what is measurable. I believe there is an irreducible subjective non-mathematical aspect to reality and therefore I believe that a restriction to only that which is objectively observable and measurable is an incomplete understanding and perception of reality.
The dismissability of these beliefs derives from the fact that the differences are not objectively observable or measurable and therefore IF one chooses to see the world through the filter of mathematics and objective observations then one is simply attaching a different significance to certain types of experiences. Like many of the premises which people accept or reject, the acceptance or rejection of this naturalist premise that what science sees is the totality of reality is a matter of choice and not evidence. We simply have to accept the fact that this is something on which people will disagree.
Mitch wrote:They (spiritual beings and bodies) CAN be discerned, as evidenced by the fact an enormous number of people do discern them.
I've learned, gradually and with difficulty, that "enormous numbers of people" believing things is not evidence of discernment. It's also not necessarily evidence of being "nutters". There are many reasons why people hold various beliefs in scientifically unobservable things that don't indicate they're whacko, most notably because their parents (and other authority figures) have passed those beliefs on to them. In combination with the cultural influences that grow around those belief systems being passed on by "enormous numbers of people", it would be counter-intuitive to expect people to grow up believing otherwise. All you have to do to verify that is to look at a world map of demographics that show religious beliefs. Kids growing up in Saudi Arabia generally don't grow up Christian, just as kids growing up in Rome don't grow up Buddhist.
Sorry but this proves NOTHING. Pick a place that has no schools which teaches biology, and surprise surprise, you will find no biologists there. What is this supposed to prove about biology? That its claims are not discernable? The specifics of religions are comparable to the developments in any academic study, where awareness of them is not likely unless such things are taught. Even mathematics is not a completely one way street, read the story of Ramanujan, a mathematical genius in India who got a large number of results outside the traditions and standards of the international mathematics community. And that is in the one subject where proofs can acutally be expected.
We were not talking about the claims of any specific religion, we were talking about something much more basic -- the discernment of a non-physical aspect of reality. The observation that enormous numbers of people do in fact discern such things has nothing to do with such specifics of relgion. Whether you accept this observation as evidence or not is beside the point. It is evidence. The question is, evidence of what? And that is where the diffences of methodology and subjective perceptions come in.
JustJim wrote:Personally, I think there may be something to the idea that we humans have some innate "sense" of there being something greater than ourselves 'out there', but with all the other possibilities that would explain that "sense", I don't know how we could claim, with any confidence, that there is a personal God (or other spirits) with whom we could interact.
Who is "we"? Spiritual beings whether God or otherwise are not something whose existence can be established by the methods of objective observation used by science. Therefore in a free society, secular judgement must be the basis of decisions in the public sector. But the living of our lives is another matter and our confidence in the decisions we make for our life is not about what can be proved in a court of law or by the methods of scientific inquiry. I mean if you want to live your life in that way then I wish you good luck with that, but most people do not and I am one of them.
Carl Sagan wrote:Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?
Good question to ask the person claiming that such a dragon exists. But lets not confuse the story with reality and the character's claims with the claims of real people, which is done here as an effort to ridicule. Let us instead ask the real question of the real people, what is the difference between a spiritual aspect to reality and no such aspect to reality? The differences are numerous. One difference would be that what most people perceive about reality is correct. Is there a difference in regards to what science will discover? No. But, one difference would be that science is not the be all end all of reality and human existence. As we proceed here, we will begin to cover old ground... because you really know a lot of what the difference are, for the question is really asked as a matter of rhetoric and ridicule and not any serious intent to find out the answers. One difference would be in regards to the ultimate cause of everything we see, since it is the claim a lot of real people that it is a spiritual being called God that created it all. One difference would be that there are consequences to our actions and choices beyond simply the physical events that result from them. One difference would be that what we are may not simply be this coincidental congregation of matter but a spiritual being instead. One difference may be that what is most important in our lives are not the physical events or what happens to the physical aspect of our existence but spiritual events and what happens to the spiritual aspect of our being. Shall I continue? Shall I preach the gospel?
Carl Sagan wrote:If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists?
This presumes that meaning of something can only be found withing the limits of proof. I would contend that you can in fact prove almost nothing and the logical conclusion that one is led to, as some philosophers have actually concluded, is that there is no such thing as meaning at all.
I can conclude with absolute confidence that their conclusion is completely without meaning. I reject this line of reasoning as absurd and only see this as a good reason for rejecting the premise upon which their reasoning is based. The meaning of an assertion is not found within the ability to prove that an assertion is correct.
Carl Sagan wrote:Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true.
Now this is quite correct but then Sagan commits a non-sequiteur. For what follows does not logically follow from this.
Carl Sagan wrote:Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
The unspoken premise here is the same old naturalistic premise that only what science can explain, measure, observe, etc is real. That is his premise and his choice to believe it, but the fact is that there are even scientists like myself who do not accept this premise, even famous scientists like Eddington who said that this claim is completely absurd.
Carl Sagan wrote:What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.
But I am not asking anyone to believe anything and certainly not only on my say-so. I only observe that people are different in what they perceive of reality and assert that all knowledge ultimately rests upon the choices we make about what makes the most sense of our experiences.