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-   -   Salvaging Religious Spirituality (Adam Frank & Eliezer Yudkowsky) (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=2772)

Bloggingheads 03-22-2009 04:48 PM

Salvaging Religious Spirituality (Adam Frank & Eliezer Yudkowsky)
 

uncle ebeneezer 03-22-2009 05:48 PM

Re: How Doth an AI Researcher Defineth Religion??
 
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/185...1:26&out=11:38

Markos 03-22-2009 07:57 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
I LOVE THIS DIAVLOG.
Even though I do think there is more that could be considered about "mystical" experience than Eliezer seems open to. And maybe Adam could be a bit more open-minded, though I would love to challenge some of his thinking too.
But these guys are great.

AemJeff 03-22-2009 08:11 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Markos (Post 107600)
I LOVE THIS DIAVLOG.
Even though I do think there is more that could be considered about "mystical" experience than Eliezer seems open to. And maybe Adam could be a bit more open-minded, though I would love to challenge some of his thinking too.
But these guys are great.

Yeah - this was, for me, as good as it gets. Adam's angle of approach wouldn't have occurred to me. Eliezer took it in stride and seemed to put Adam on the defensive pretty often, but he also gave him lots of room to make his points. Just enough tension and disagreement to keep it getting too chummy, and enough meaty, wide ranging speculation to really make it interesting.

Ocean 03-22-2009 08:12 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
This diavlog reminds me of the one that Eliezer had with J. Lanier some time ago on the topic of AI.

Very interesting topic! It would be fascinating if Adam could come back for a discussion that includes consciousness.

travis68 03-22-2009 08:40 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
I have two suggestions for Eliezier. One is don't talk for X minutes and then interrupt the speaker after the speaker has responded for X/10 minutes. It's rude and unenlightening.

Two is don't interrupt by bursting out with little jokes. Humor is something very difficult to get right and unfortunately you can't get it right. Most people can't, so welcome to the majority.

dankingbooks 03-22-2009 09:09 PM

Why science can never replace religion
 
Eliezier just misses the boat. The key to religion is that it is ultimate (e.g., Tillich), and personal (e.g., Dorothy Day). That the universe started with a big bang is interesting, but happened 13 billion years ago, and like who cares. But God Loves You is up close, personal, and ultimate.

How would one translate the following sentence without religion? "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I, for one, would never accept that statement with "congress" or "science" substituted for a creator that loves me as an individual, and endows me with rights.

This is why people are religious.

bjkeefe 03-22-2009 09:17 PM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dankingbooks (Post 107607)
How would one translate the following sentence without religion? "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Easily. As: "We take these propositions to be axiomatic: that all people are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

BeachFrontView 03-22-2009 09:19 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Eliezer keep marching!

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/185...8:30&out=28:38

Ocean 03-22-2009 09:34 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 107602)
Yeah - this was, for me, as good as it gets. Adam's angle of approach wouldn't have occurred to me. Eliezer took it in stride and seemed to put Adam on the defensive pretty often, but he also gave him lots of room to make his points. Just enough tension and disagreement to keep it getting too chummy, and enough meaty, wide ranging speculation to really make it interesting.

My interpretation is that they were talking about two very different aspects of the topic. Although there was some overlap between the two topics, it wasn't always the case. Eliezer's point is about whether science can explain everything, with time, including claims about "reality" that religion makes, as well as, spiritual experiences (as defined by Adam). Adam kept insisting on the experience itself, in its subjective quality, as an emerging property of consciousness, regardless of whether we possess the knowledge about how the brain "forms" it.

A long time ago I was driving and admiring the beautiful colors of the maple trees overhead in the fall. I mentioned this to one of my sons, who was about seven years old. He looked at the trees and unconvincingly said "yes..." When I asked him whether he really liked it he said: "Not so much. But I know why the leaves turn...!"

dankingbooks 03-22-2009 09:53 PM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Sorry, BJ. You'll have us substitute a Creator with "we", a very thin reed indeed.

But my point still stands: the purpose of religion is never to explain the physical world, but to explain our role within that world. Eliezer misses that completely, and it seems that Adam doesn't hit it square on either. Tillich defines religion as "that which is of ultimate concern." I can't think of any scientific statement that rises to that importance.

bjkeefe 03-22-2009 10:18 PM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by dankingbooks (Post 107613)
Sorry, BJ. You'll have us substitute a Creator with "we", a very thin reed indeed.

I don't see how your assertion that it's a "very thin reed" holds. In a democracy, forming a government and writing a constitution are precisely done by "we" (the people) for their (our) own collective benefit. One does not need to imagine the existence of an outside agency for agreement to be reached on founding principles; i.e., axioms. Indeed, "we" are all we have.

Quote:

But my point still stands: the purpose of religion is never to explain the physical world, but to explain our role within that world.
If it works for you, fine. But not everyone needs, or even wants, to have his or her role explained in these terms, and indeed, many are content to discard the notion that we have a role at all. (Apart from the mundane responsibilities that go along with being part of a society, a good parent, and like that, obviously. And here, note carefully that I use mundane in its literal, not pejorative, sense; i.e., "of this world.")

Quote:

Eliezer misses that completely, and it seems that Adam doesn't hit it square on either.
I expect that Eliezer would reject out of hand the notion that our role needs explaining, same as me. I don't agree that Adam didn't hit on it, since that seemed to be most of the point of his book, but I concede that he might not have put things the way you would like them to be put.

Quote:

Tillich defines religion as "that which is of ultimate concern." I can't think of any scientific statement that rises to that importance.
Again, this is a personal preference. I can't think of a scientific statement that I don't value more than any statement about religion. The only concerns I have about religion are how certain of the beliefs, or more precisely, how people hold them and act upon them, threaten society. Apart from this, I don't care about religion at all -- other people's beliefs about how they ought to live their lives due to their religious beliefs matter as little to me as the beliefs that it's important to knock wood after making an optimistic statement or to toss salt over one's shoulder after knocking over the shaker.

EliezerYudkowsky 03-22-2009 10:25 PM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107608)
Easily. As: "We take these propositions to be axiomatic: that all people are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

That was awesome.

bjkeefe 03-22-2009 10:28 PM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by EliezerYudkowsky (Post 107617)
That was awesome.

Thanks!

AemJeff 03-22-2009 11:01 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 107611)
My interpretation is that they were talking about two very different aspects of the topic. Although there was some overlap between the two topics, it wasn't always the case. Eliezer's point is about whether science can explain everything, with time, including claims about "reality" that religion makes, as well as, spiritual experiences (as defined by Adam). Adam kept insisting on the experience itself, in its subjective quality, as an emerging property of consciousness, regardless of whether we possess the knowledge about how the brain "forms" it.

A long time ago I was driving and admiring the beautiful colors of the maple trees overhead in the fall. I mentioned this to one of my sons, who was about seven years old. He looked at the trees and unconvincingly said "yes..." When I asked him whether he really liked it he said: "Not so much. But I know why the leaves turn...!"

Eliezer takes a pretty expansive view of the role of science. Still he carefully emphasizes that what science has to offer is a better map, not any claim at all about the nature of reality. But early in the conversation he talked about his own emotional reaction to a Shuttle launch, and made a pretty direct analogy between that and the sorts of spiritual experiences Adam was referring to.

Even with a full understanding how different frequencies of light are affected by traversal through media of various densities, a perfect sunset can be an awe inspiring thing. Adam's arguments about irreducibility actually struck me as beside the point. Understanding consciousness and experiencing it are two different things - the map is not that which is mapped. So to a certain extent, I think you're right, they weren't always talking about exactly the same thing. But I still enjoyed the ride.

Ocean 03-22-2009 11:13 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 107621)
Eliezer takes a pretty expansive view of the role of science. Still he carefully emphasizes that what science has to offer is a better map, not any claim at all about the nature of reality. But early in the conversation he talked about his own emotional reaction to a Shuttle launch, and made a pretty direct analogy between that and the sorts of spiritual experiences Adam was referring to.

I wish Eliezer had used his shuttle launch experience to explore more the subjective experience (as a proxy to the spiritual experiences), instead of depositing the meaning of the experience on the reality of the shuttle. He doesn't have to give up his map to do that.

Quote:

Even with a full understanding how different frequencies of light are affected by traversal through media of various densities, a perfect sunset can be an awe inspiring thing. Adam's arguments about irreducibility actually struck me as beside the point.
I think he was responding to Eliezer's reference to quarks.

Quote:

Understanding consciousness and experiencing it are two different things - the map is not that which is mapped. So to a certain extent, I think you're right, they weren't always talking about exactly the same thing. But I still enjoyed the ride.
I enjoyed the discussion too!

AemJeff 03-22-2009 11:34 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 107624)
I think he was responding to Eliezer's reference to quarks.

Speaking of which... I just don't understand this. Why should "reality" not encompass higher degrees of organization? Are atoms, (as opposed to "quarks and electrons, and so on...") properly viewed as components of reality? Molecules? Other, more highly organized entities? Maybe I'm just missing something obvious here, but just because reductionism is a really good analytical technique, do we need to limit our definition of reality to only the most reduced level?

Mari Dupont 03-22-2009 11:42 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
I wish Bloggingheads could dredge up a scientist who was also a believer to make a case; they do exist, but rarely have books to plug.
(Maybe grab an astro- physicist from SETI in Mt View, CA, lots of cool stuff going on there.) As far as these two go, they're pretty clueless about why the average person goes to church; maybe a few Jesuits have similar priorities, but the rest of us are religious because we have a huge need for non-human help.

bjkeefe 03-22-2009 11:44 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 107625)
Speaking of which... I just don't understand this. Why should "reality" not encompass higher degrees of organization? Are atoms, (as opposed to "quarks and electrons, and so on...") properly viewed as components of reality? Molecules? Other, more highly organized entities? Maybe I'm just missing something obvious here, but just because reductionism is a really good analytical technique, do we need to limit our definition of reality to only the most reduced level?

I'm sympathetic to your view. Whatever you want to call it -- emergent properties is a favored label these days -- there does seem to be something that exists when you get enough components together and it is very hard to see, from looking only at the components, where it came from. I always think of the story about termites -- if you only have a few of them, they never do anything interesting, no matter how long you watch, but put enough together, and they immediately start building amazing structures.

Maybe Eliezer is just trying to stick to what we know we know in these sorts of discussions. That is, maybe he's being a little more rigid as a debate stance.

Ocean 03-22-2009 11:47 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by AemJeff (Post 107625)
Speaking of which... I just don't understand this. Why should "reality" not encompass higher degrees of organization? Are atoms, (as opposed to "quarks and electrons, and so on...") properly viewed as components of reality? Molecules? Other, more highly organized entities? Maybe I'm just missing something obvious here, but just because reductionism is a really good analytical technique, do we need to limit our definition of reality to only the most reduced level?

I think that was the point of discussion. It seems that for Eliezer it is more important, or perhaps more meaningful that ultimately the airplane is made of quarks. And Adam was emphasizing the higher degrees of organization which contain emerging properties such as those attributed to an airplane. I guess one could go on adding higher levels of organization (abstraction) and think of the attributes of an air float, etc.

Jeff, that's my guess...

bjkeefe 03-22-2009 11:52 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mari Dupont (Post 107627)
I wish Bloggingheads could dredge up a scientist who was also a believer to make a case; they do exist, but rarely have books to plug.

If you don't already know about this, I recommend Bob's earlier project: MeaningOfLife.tv. I remember a couple of scientists who were believers in that series. [Added: I don't mean to suggest this as a way of saying I'm against having scientists with religious beliefs on BH.tv, but just as an fyi.]

Quote:

(Maybe grab an astro- physicist from SETI in Mt View, CA, lots of cool stuff going on there.)
Are you saying these people are all religious believers? Or are you saying that since they have a belief in existence of intelligent life elsewhere, that's about the same thing?

uncle ebeneezer 03-22-2009 11:53 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
This was a fantastic diavlog!! Adam's book sounds interesting. I think a package deal of Frank's/Plotz' & Wright's books should be offered at a discount for BHTV fans. BHTV does religion.

Thanks again, BHTV for giving us a discussion that would be unlikely to find elsewhere.

AemJeff 03-22-2009 11:57 PM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mari Dupont (Post 107627)
... but the rest of us are religious because we have a huge need for non-human help.

That is, of course, a separate issue from whether such help is available...

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 12:05 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 107633)
Thanks again, BHTV for giving us a discussion that would be unlikely to find elsewhere.

You're right, and we don't say that often enough.

Mari Dupont 03-23-2009 12:46 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Thanks BJ, I will investigate. Re SETI, I know of at least two scientists there who are believers and occasionally give public talks (by some amazing coincidence, they belong to the same church I do!) and I'm told there are others of our "kind" lurking around the telescopes. Re getting help, trust me, if the Divine didnt deliver, I sure wouldnt be dragging myself out of bed every Sunday. Like any good scientist, intellectual integrity would require me to abandon my hypothesis if it didnt pan out through repeated testing.

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 01:14 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mari Dupont (Post 107640)
Thanks BJ, I will investigate. Re SETI, I know of at least two scientists there who are believers and occasionally give public talks (by some amazing coincidence, they belong to the same church I do!) and I'm told there are others of our "kind" lurking around the telescopes. Re getting help, trust me, if the Divine didnt deliver, I sure wouldnt be dragging myself out of bed every Sunday. Like any good scientist, intellectual integrity would require me to abandon my hypothesis if it didnt pan out through repeated testing.

You're welcome. If you're new to MoL.tv, you're in for a treat (and out many hours of spare time!).

I don't doubt that some of the SETI scientists are religious believers. I think some non-trivial fraction of all scientists are. Which is fine, in and of itself.* If, for example, one wants to believe that there has to be a higher power who created that which makes one feel awe, I can understand that.

As for your beliefs, also fine. I think you're undoubtedly succumbing to confirmation bias and/or post hoc ergo propter hoc thinking, but as long as you don't try to compel me to believe what you believe, or try to force me to live my life according to other of your church's teachings, I have no problem with what makes you happy.

==========
* [Added] I was going to add what seemed like obvious disclaimers about keeping things separate, but I thought they were too ... well ... obvious. But then I just came across this, so I thought maybe I guessed wrong.

sugarkang 03-23-2009 01:16 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Great DLog. At times too much of a pissing match. I found myself vacillating between the two positions, but ultimately ended up 60% with Eliezer, even though I wanted Adam to be right.

viewer3000 03-23-2009 01:17 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
I generally agree with Eliezer on the 'mysterious' and admire his commitment to reason. But his conviction of science's inevitable success for the explanation of everything is akin to the smug dogma of common religion.

Is there more than we could possibly explain? possibly not... We will keep looking and strive to explain as much as we can.

Intractable 03-23-2009 01:33 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Very good diavlog. Still, the discussion of emergence and related topics didn't even begin to get close to the core of the subject.

In this sense, probably the best person on the relationship between the "sacred" and science" and its connection with topics like reductionism and emergence is Stuart Kauffman, from the University of Calgary.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Kauffman

http://www.ibi.ucalgary.ca/people#Kauffman

uncle ebeneezer 03-23-2009 01:56 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
I think an Eliezer/David Albert diavlog would be awesome. Pretty pleeze!!!

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 02:01 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 107659)
I think an Eliezer/David Albert diavlog would be awesome. Pretty pleeze!!!

Oooo. Good call. Second that!

thornybranch 03-23-2009 05:54 AM

The difference between why and how
 
I was on the edge of my seat during the entire debate, and the end left me deflated. (An analogy for my mortality.)

I don't think Eliezer ever understood what Adam was saying. This, I think, is mainly because Adam never really articulated himself. Eliezer's flaw was his unwillingness to let Adam finish a sentence without proving that he already knew what was going to be said. Eliezer's assertion that we should consider quantum mechanics to be solved by accepting his model is analogous to countless incorrect scientific assertions(like time as a constant) and sounds a lot like hypocritical arrogance.

Eliezer is absolutely incorrect when he says that maps leave nothing out of the translation of reality. A map's concept is that it organizes information in a certain way by omitting everything else Usually this omitted information is non-essential. But of course, essentiality is subjective. If maps left nothing out of reality, they would cease to be a map, but reality itself.

I consider Richard Dawkins to be one of my greatest inspirations, but this was before he became a figurehead for atheism. While I appreciate how articulately he smashed creationists and anti-intellectuals, I fail to see why it's helpful to keep running with a battering ram into the realms of spirituality.

My gathering is that Adam is motivated by the assumption that this "War on Spirituality" is just as harmful as the "War on Science." Science and Spirituality are part of the same question, simply phrased differently, (how and why.) Surely there is a middle ground between these two bad poles, and I think Adam is helping to find it.

I could easily argue why religions or faith as being poisonous. But I would be hard pressed to argue why the mystical or spiritual is. Eleizer needs a reminder that crimes of past Christians do not condemn a practitioner of Zen, (or even a progressive Christian.)

Despite Moore's Law, which speeds up information at an alarming rate, the majority of our universe is still unexplained. (This is not a flaw for science. Stop being defensive about this.)

Why did the first lifeform start? Why do placebos work? What causes gravity? Which morals should we accept? Do we have Free Will? How could you scientifically prove a law of the universe like "The Universe expands only when you look through a telescope." or laws of physics that emerge over time? (What if there was no electricity before Ben Franklin's need for it.) What if the universe is objectively non-objective?

Adam started to say this, but fell short: Even if we figure out that the universe is made out of quarks, and quarks are made out of "quaks", and quaks are proved to be the most elemental particle... that still tells us nothing about what quaks actually are.

In other words:

After we've explained everything with science, we still don't know what it is.

Pondering the big questions is as spiritual as it is scientific. Neither angles are poisonous. Science and spirituality are both games to play for infinity.

-TB

Francoamerican 03-23-2009 06:28 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107608)
Easily. As: "We take these propositions to be axiomatic: that all people are created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Sleight of hand, BJ, as I am sure you know. You can substitute "axiomatic" for self-evident, if you like, but then I would want to see a "proof" based on the axioms of universal equality and inalienable rights that is non-circular. Eliminating the "creator" after endowed is pointless unless you can also find a plausible substitute for "created" in the previous clause. Is creation possible without a creator?

Inalienable rights, as Jeremy Bentham would say, is "nonsense on stilts."

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 07:20 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 107667)
Sleight of hand, BJ, as I am sure you know. You can substitute "axiomatic" for self-evident, if you like, but then I would want to see a "proof" based on the axioms of universal equality and inalienable rights that is non-circular. Eliminating the "creator" after endowed is pointless unless you can also find a plausible substitute for "created" in the previous clause. Is creation possible without a creator?

Inalienable rights, as Jeremy Bentham would say, is "nonsense on stilts."

Seems to me that creation can be viewed as an act of nature (natural occurrence), but if you insist, we can change it. It lacks the ring of the original, but: "We take these propositions to be axiomatic: that all people are born equal, possess certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Your Bentham line is nothing but an appeal to authority. These are axioms -- we are taking them as given. But if the particular word bothers you, substitute rights that may not be revoked.

Also, I'm not clear on what you're asking concerning the proof you'd like to see, but one does not prove axioms, so I'm not sure where circularity would come in.

Francoamerican 03-23-2009 07:39 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107669)
Also, I'm not clear on what you're asking concerning the proof you'd like to see, but one does not prove axioms, so I'm not sure where circularity would come in.

I didn't say that one proves an axiom. But an axiom always serves as the basis of a proof, doesn't it? What can you prove using the axiom of universal equality and inalienable rights? Nothing. You are simply asserting that they exist.

Bentham's point was, and I think he was correct, is that there is no such thing as a natural right (which is what "inalienable" means: They cannot be taken away by any state or government because men possess them by nature). If you could demonstrate to me that there are such rights, you would not presumably begin with the "axiom" that all men are naturally equal. That is hardly a proof. Moreover, it is false.

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 08:11 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 107670)
I didn't say that one proves an axiom. But an axiom always serves as the basis of a proof, doesn't it? What can you prove using the axiom of universal equality and inalienable rights? Nothing. You are simply asserting that they exist.

Bentham's point was, and I think he was correct, is that there is no such thing as a natural right (which is what inalienable means: They cannot be taken away by any state or government because men possess them by nature). If you could demonstrate to me that there are such rights, you would not presumably begin with the "axiom" that all men are naturally equal. That is hardly a proof.

I don't understand why you start off agreeing that one does not prove axioms and then end by accusing something of not being a proof. I also don't understand why you expect me to demonstrate something when it's explicitly stated as a starting assumption.

You are correct in saying I am simply asserting universal equality and rights, as you (and Bentham) are simply asserting the contrary. You are incorrect to say that nothing can be derived from them -- they can and do form the basis for our system of government and law. Whether things can be proven, strictly speaking, using them is a starting point I'm not sure, but I'd imagine someone better at logic than I could. It seems to me that you could prove all manner of things - for example, that have to do with the government being wrong when it takes away these individual rights -- but as I say, I don't know enough about formal logic to be sure.

But anyway, I never said I could prove anything. The challenge was to recast a statement from the Declaration of Independence without God being involved, which I did. If you don't believe the worth of these starting assumptions, so be it. I do.

Francoamerican 03-23-2009 08:51 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107671)
I don't understand why you start off agreeing that one does not prove axioms and then end by accusing something of not being a proof. I also don't understand why you expect me to demonstrate something when it's explicitly stated as a starting assumption..

I don't expect you to demonstrate anything since there is nothing you could demonstrate (although that is usually why we use axioms). You are simply repeating the language of the Declaration of Independence while dropping the religious rhetoric that supports it. Since religion, or more precisely Christianity, is the ONLY support for the notion of inalienable natural rights, your restatement stands on thin air.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107671)
You are correct in saying I am simply asserting universal equality and rights, as you (and Bentham) are simply asserting the contrary. You are incorrect to say that nothing can be derived from them -- they can and do form the basis for our system of government and law..

True enough, just as the Declaration of the Rights of Man is the basis of the French Constitution, but that doesn't make the notion of rights empirically true. It is manifestly false that men are naturally free and equal, though they may very well all be free and equal "in the eyes of God," which is apparently what Jefferson meant.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107671)
Whether things can be proven, strictly speaking, using them is a starting point I'm not sure, but I'd imagine someone better at logic than I could. It seems to me that you could prove all manner of things, for example, that have to do with the government being wrong when it takes away these individual rights -- but as I say, I don't know enough about formal logic to be sure..

Fortunately, our governments do not rely on logic or empirical truth.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 107671)
But anyway, I never said I could prove anything. The challenge was to recast a statement from the Declaration of Independence without God being involved, which I did. If you don't believe what the statement says, so be it. I do.

Then your credo is: Credo quia absurdum.

bjkeefe 03-23-2009 09:13 AM

Re: Why science can never replace religion
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Francoamerican (Post 107672)
I don't expect you to demonstrate anything since there is nothing you could demonstrate (although that is usually why we use axioms). You are simply repeating the language of the Declaration of Independence while dropping the religious rhetoric that supports it. Since religion, or more precisely Christianity, is the ONLY support for the notion of inalienable natural rights, your restatement stands on thin air.

Since there is no God, this has always been so, and nonetheless, it's worked pretty well as a starting point, hasn't it?

I'd also say that all axioms rest on thin air. If they rested on something more substantial, they wouldn't be the starting axioms. You might as well say the proposition A=A rests on thin air -- it may be true, but so what? It's a good starting point for all sorts of useful work.

Quote:

True enough, just as the Declaration of the Rights of Man is the basis of the French Constitution, but that doesn't make the notion of rights empirically true. It is manifestly false that men are naturally free and equal, though they may very well all be free and equal "in the eyes of God," which is apparently what Jefferson meant.
It is not false, just because you add an adverb. You have no way to disprove these propositions, anymore than I have a way to prove them. What we can say is that assuming them to be true works pretty well as a starting point, and certainly better than any system that starts by declaring one group better than another by virtue of different circumstances at birth.

And please don't try to sneak in a conflation of inequality on the basis of capabilities, if that's what you're trying to do. I agree that people are not equal in this sense. What the statement refers to is how they have to be treated under law.

Quote:

Fortunately, our governments do not rely on logic or empirical truth.
When they're at their best, they do.

Quote:

Then your credo is: Credo quia absurdum.
You've done nothing to establish that my beliefs in universal equality and rights are absurd. Just saying over and over that they're not true doesn't cut it.

You're also seeming to stray off in all sorts of directions, none of which interest me at the moment, so I'll let you have the last word on this.

maximus444 03-23-2009 09:24 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Great Diavlog.

maximus444 03-23-2009 09:35 AM

Re: Salvaging Religious Spirituality
 
Eliezer Yudkowsky vs David Albert


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