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Reason vs. Religion
The Stranger [Seattle] ^ | 10/24/02 | Sean Nelson

Posted on 10/25/2002 12:14:19 AM PDT by jennyp

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To: Junior
Well...you don't see too many atheist terrorist organizations...

Au contraire, Junior. Every Marxist organization, from the Bolsheviks to Pol Pot, the old/new Black Panthers, SLA, etc. is an atheist organization. So were the syndicalists and anarchists who spread terror in Europe and America in the early 20th Century. But, as I said in reply to Misterioso, it would be more than just a little unfair to blame atheism, per se, for the crimes of these groups. So it is also grossly unfair (not to mention irRational) to paint with so broad a brush regarding crimes committed in the name of religion. Religion, like patriotism, makes a convenient excuse when one wishes to lash out at humanity in general. It doesn't mean there is anything fundementally wrong with either. And I don't think I am off base when I detect the smug, anti-religious bias of this article.

101 posted on 10/25/2002 10:54:15 PM PDT by pariah
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To: pariah
I think the author would have been more on point if he had said "reason against a religion" and, actually, that is what I thought he meant. It would seem obvious to anyone, including the writer, that only one religion engages in subjugation and murder. I would agree that he probably is an atheist or an agnostic, but that doesn't disqualify him as a critic of Islam.

After employing the term "cult" for describing the mentality of those with whom you disagree, you claim you did not mean it in a derogatory way. That is disingenuous. And you continue the fiction that atheism is a religion. You've got to understand that atheism, by definition, is holding no belief in the supernatural. It is not believing as opposed to believing not. This is a ruse in common use by believers, perpetuated to confuse those who are less adept at language. I see now why you are uncomfortable with the "R" word.

102 posted on 10/26/2002 12:28:00 AM PDT by Misterioso
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To: Misterioso
Yes, saying a religion would have been more on point, but what he actually said was as I quoted.

I agree with his comments so far as they apply to actual terrorists (of any stripe, religious or non-religious) It is the slam job on religion in general to which I object.

I used 'cult' to describe a certain mentality, not to denote all those with whom I disagree, nor even all non-believers in a Supreme Being. While the word 'cult' may hold negative connotations for some, so would any other word I might have substituted for it. And it doesn't dispell the fact that, for some atheists and agnostics, the ideal of human reason serves as a God-substitute, ie., the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience commonly attributed to God are attributed (again, by some) to Reason, which they often spell with a capital 'R', as if to deify it. In this way, atheism can function as a de facto religion. The essence of religion is not a belief in a God or gods, for many people belief in God but practice no religion, while Buddhism, one of the great world religions, does not believe in any God or gods. The essence of religion is a reverential attitude toward some supreme ideal. Thus the 'cult of Reason' qualifies.

Finally, atheism makes a positive assertion about God, namely that He does not exist. It is agnosticism which makes no claim one way or the other concerning God's existence. In fact, there are many Christians who describe themselves as agnostics, since they don't know, in purely rational terms, that God exists, yet they have faith, an unyiedling inner certainty, in His existence. It is the atheist who declares positively that God does not exist.

103 posted on 10/26/2002 3:19:54 AM PDT by pariah
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To: pariah
Okay.
104 posted on 10/26/2002 3:42:46 AM PDT by Misterioso
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To: tortoise
It is trivial to prove that it COULD have happened, regardless of whether it DID happen.

Yes but his point is this "If something happened but you can't prove it to someone else, it really didn't happen". And that is Reason???

105 posted on 10/26/2002 3:59:42 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: PatrickHenry
You obviously have some strongly-held beliefs about the inadequacy of reason.

You obviously just made that up. I never said that.

You are a Libertarian, aren't you?

106 posted on 10/26/2002 4:00:52 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy
Are you suggesting that Libertarians have a corner on reason?
107 posted on 10/26/2002 4:09:49 AM PDT by Misterioso
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
rational thought is conducted in a language which has no meaning apart from tradition

Rational thought is well founded in the survival imperative from which springs the tradition of 'morality' and 'faith'.


BUMP

108 posted on 10/26/2002 4:51:41 AM PDT by tm22721
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To: Misterioso
I'm suggesting that Libertarians have a tendancy to ascribe opinions to others so they can attack them for it.
109 posted on 10/26/2002 4:52:43 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: tm22721
Rational thought leads to rationalization?
110 posted on 10/26/2002 4:54:17 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy
You are a Libertarian, aren't you?

No. And you still haven't provided us with anything to discuss, other than your little teasers which hint that you know something we don't about reason. I'm not interested in coaxing your opinions out of you, and I'm not running an intellectual kindergarten regarding your coy "what is reason?" questions. As I said earlier, if you can't give us your views, straight out, that's fine, but I'm done here.

111 posted on 10/26/2002 5:37:36 AM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: pariah
Yeah, shortly after I made that comment I realized the errors of my ways. Maybe I should have said something along the lines of "much of today's terrorist activities are based upon some form of 'doing God's will." Or some such.
112 posted on 10/26/2002 5:53:03 AM PDT by Junior
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To: Junior
God overheard: "No matter how much misery I put these folks through, they still love me. Go figure!"
113 posted on 10/26/2002 6:14:27 AM PDT by Misterioso
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To: donh
In math, yeah, but I thought we were trying to apply it to reason and faith.
114 posted on 10/26/2002 7:14:01 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: tortoise
I have no logical reason or proof for my belief in God, but I have no desire or need. I don't understand those that do.
115 posted on 10/26/2002 7:17:06 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: tortoise
Please explain how this relates to the compatibility/incompatibility of reason and faith. I do not want a science lesson, the thread is about reason vs. religion.
116 posted on 10/26/2002 7:19:25 AM PDT by stuartcr
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To: tm22721
Rational thought is well founded in the survival imperative
. . . but it cannot be conducted except within a language. The immature brain has specialized neural nets which facilitate the learning of language(s) by children.

Computers, even with the most sophisticated AI, do not understand "natural language" because such a language is part of human tradition and can be learned in no other way than by human tradition. Computers will have to be ordered very differently than at present to attain the language learning ability of blind, deaf mute humans.

Nor can rationality transcend that limitation.


117 posted on 10/26/2002 8:30:59 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: Misterioso
Why do you disagree with the conclusion? Is this not an accurate description of the Islamic religion?
The answer to your second question is, "Yes it is."

As to the first, I refer you to my #14.


118 posted on 10/26/2002 8:44:16 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: AppyPappy; donh
a true proof should be objectively verifiable. . . Nonsense. If this thread gets deleted, did it ever exist?

You make a valid and important point. The criteria of proof can often be PC.

119 posted on 10/26/2002 9:08:52 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: pariah
substitute Reason as their god and habitually castigate all religions and all religious persons for the atrocious acts of a few extremists. However, they would be loathe to take the blame, as atheists, for all the atrocities committed by atheists throughout history (French Revolution, Marxism, Marque de Sade, etc.)

Gee, THAT would be unfair, wouldn't it?

I think the Pythagorean school was pretty disturbed at the (to them, theological) implications of the discovery of the inadequacy of the rational number system . . .

120 posted on 10/26/2002 9:14:56 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion
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To: stuartcr
I have no logical reason or proof for my belief in God, but I have no desire or need. I don't understand those that do.

Replace "God" with "the purple gnome that lives under my bed" and it should be obvious. If it isn't obvious, I would question your grasp on rationality. It is generally not healthy to blindly believe irrational assertions, which you have stated above (in not so many words) that you do. Actually, this has little to do with belief in God specifically, and has everything to do with believing ANY assertion with null priors.

121 posted on 10/26/2002 10:01:12 AM PDT by tortoise
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To: PatrickHenry; AppyPappy
No. And you still haven't provided us with anything to discuss, other than your little teasers which hint that you know something we don't about reason.

Before you criticize anyone for lack of substance, you had better do something about your typical post, Mr. Placemarker, sideline cat-caller.

BTW, your linked definition of reason --the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses, sure looks like a benchwarmer definition of the human mind.

122 posted on 10/26/2002 10:15:31 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: AppyPappy
Yes but his point is this "If something happened but you can't prove it to someone else, it really didn't happen". And that is Reason???

Stop trying to use a hammer to fix a watch -- you are ignoring all the details of substance. A rational belief is one with non-null priors (e.g. children falling down stairs) and therefore it is reasonable to use this as an assertion. An irrational belief is one with one or more null priors (e.g. purple aliens stole my dog) and therefore cannot be reasonably used in an argument UNLESS you can prove that the priors are non-null (e.g. provide solid evidence that purple aliens even exist). These are the rules for "reason" in any rigorous sense. They do not change when one of the priors is "God", "Marxism", or any other arbitrary concept.

In your above statement, you've confused making a rational assertion with an irrational assertion. If the assertion is rational in the sense that it has all non-null priors, then it is reasonable for anyone to believe it. And even if they don't believe it, it is reasonable for you to use it in an argument as long as they accept that there are no null priors. This is "reason". If there is even one non-null prior, it is not reasonable for someone to believe it, and expecting that they should is unreasonable. Whether or not something happened is immaterial to whether or not it is rational for any one else to believe you. I could tell everyone that I saw my truck levitationg in my garage, and maybe I really did, but that does not constitute a reasonable assertion to most people and the onus is on me to prove that such things are possible.

123 posted on 10/26/2002 10:20:23 AM PDT by tortoise
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To: stuartcr
Please explain how this relates to the compatibility/incompatibility of reason and faith.

I was explaining why "orthogonal" and "compatible" are not mutually exclusive terms. They aren't, but you seemed to think they were.

124 posted on 10/26/2002 10:23:14 AM PDT by tortoise
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To: tortoise
I could tell everyone that I saw my truck levitationg in my garage, and maybe I really did, but that does not constitute a reasonable assertion to most people and the onus is on me to prove that such things are possible.

That is not null, millions of people have "seen" that very thing happen on television.

JON ALPERT: NBC'S ODD MAN OUT

The door opened in any event, and on February 2 they drove in Iraq. The tapes Alpert and DeLeo brought back show an eerily empty highway to Baghdad, with the occasional bombed-out truck floating past the car window.

125 posted on 10/26/2002 10:41:55 AM PDT by AndrewC
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To: tortoise
as long as they accept that there are no null priors.

And I hope that you would agree it is not reason which determines what will be your no null prior. Reason can play with what it puts on the table, but it is not reason which decides what is permissible for consideration. The operations of the mind including reason do not work independently. They depend on the senses, but also memory and will.

126 posted on 10/26/2002 11:19:10 AM PDT by cornelis
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To: tortoise
I could tell everyone that I saw my truck levitationg in my garage

Let's say you did see your truck levitating in the garage. Is it necessary to prove it to someone else in order for it to be true?

127 posted on 10/26/2002 11:30:28 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: All
To: BMCDA

Ohhhh! I see, you just have to have faith. And if you have faith it's automatically true. Nice trick ;-D

Atheism requires an active belief system. Since no absolute evidence refutes God’s existence, one is required to reject (and reject and reject). A belief without absolute facts requires faith. Does your faith and belief make it true?


351 posted on 8/28/02 5:08 PM Pacific by Heartlander



128 posted on 10/26/2002 11:39:55 AM PDT by f.Christian
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To: f.Christian
I don't mind reading your posts when they're written in coherent paragraph form and make a point. But, your disjointed one-liners are annoying.
129 posted on 10/26/2002 1:36:03 PM PDT by stanz
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To: stanz
I'm trying to kick/jump start your brain!
130 posted on 10/26/2002 1:38:20 PM PDT by f.Christian
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To: AppyPappy
So if you say you fell down the steps as a child but you can't prove it, it never happened? Brilliant.

It may very well have happened, but you can't prove it. Brilliant or not, lets have the argument we're having, not some other argument, ok?

131 posted on 10/26/2002 2:03:11 PM PDT by donh
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To: stuartcr
In math, yeah, but I thought we were trying to apply it to reason and faith.

I would argue that a good analogy holds between the use of the word in math, and in ordinary discourse. If two phenomena related to a given field of discourse have effects that can reasonably taken to be independent of each other, than it's reasonable to call them othogonal, even if they haven't an exact metric you can use measuring instruments on. As in, for instance, the claim of a mother that her love for her child does not diminish her love for her husband. Orthogonal love--I've got pictures from the Kama Sutra.

132 posted on 10/26/2002 2:10:41 PM PDT by donh
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To: tortoise
What are you talking about?
133 posted on 10/26/2002 2:21:43 PM PDT by stuartcr
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To: betty boop
Show me

When I talk about animals collectively hunting, or using tools, I refer to Jane Goodall's landmark study of wild Chimpanzees at Gombe,Tanzania This work is an on-going project which began over 30 years ago and continues today. Dr. Goodall was the first to observe chimpanzees using twigs to "fish" for termites which are a delicacy for them. She stated that not all animals used this method, but that she observed adult females instructing their young how to do this. This was the first time an example of tool-use by a non-human primate was documented. Her students at Gombe and other primatologists working in other sites have also reported tool use among chimpanzees.
Dr. Goodall also reported that she observed small groups of animals banding together for the purpose of cornering and killing small monkeys which they enjoy consuming. They generally chose Colobus monkeys, but she observed them also killing other species. She described that the flesh would be eaten by the highest raking male and then distributed to other males and then females and juveniles.
When I discussed language, I thought primarily of the ongoing experiment with the gorilla Koko begun over 15 years ago ( could be older than that) by Dr. Francine (Penny) Patterson. Koko, a female was obtained as an infant and hand-raised by Dr.Patterson. She undertook a project which was designed to teach language through the use of symbols and AMESLAN (American sign language). Koko was systematically exposed to pictorial representations and signs and acquired an extensive vocabulary of over 251 (could be more) symbols to communicate with. Koko could combine words creatively to form new objects.Over the years, she voiced her desire to have a kitten and was given one which she named All Ball. Subsequently, All Ball was killed by a car and Dr. Patterson catalogued on film a period of inconsoleable mourning that Koko endured. She later chose another kitten. With Koko's maturity,Dr. Patterson realized that soon, she would be wanting a mate. Koko told Dr. Patterson that she wanted to have her own infant. Since choosing a potential mate for Koko would be a daunting process, Dr. Patterson allowed her to see photos of prospective mates to choose from. Subsequently, her male companion was sent from a zoo. Unfortunately, they have not mated as yet.
Another example of primates acquiring language was the experment with Kanzi the pygmy chimp. In the 1970's, Sue Savage Rumbaugh trained two chimps, Sherman and Austin, to use a keyboard to produce lexigrams (symbols representing objects like Koko used).When they became fairly fluent, she conmstructed an experment in which they had to cooperate to perform various tasks. She observed that they spontaneously used the lexigrams to learn from and communicate with one another.
In the experiment with a male chimp, Kanzi, Dr. Rumbaugh was surprised to observe that he had learned to use the keyboard to produce lexigrams entirely on his own by watching his adoptive mother.
There is also the oldest of the studies involving the chimp Washoe who was taught AMESLAN. This was the forerunner of all the other studies.
These experiments all display the extent to which non-human primates have exhibited cognitive abilities. If these animals can create words, explain their feelings, and communicate with their human and non-human companions, I believe this is evidence of a latent intellectual capacity. If you need references for any of the examples I cited, I will happy to provide them, but that will take some time to accomplish.

134 posted on 10/26/2002 2:25:15 PM PDT by stanz
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To: betty boop
Show me

When I talk about animals collectively hunting, or using tools, I refer to Jane Goodall's landmark study of wild Chimpanzees at Gombe,Tanzania This work is an on-going project which began over 30 years ago and continues today. Dr. Goodall was the first to observe chimpanzees using twigs to "fish" for termites which are a delicacy for them. She stated that not all animals used this method, but that she observed adult females instructing their young how to do this. This was the first time an example of tool-use by a non-human primate was documented. Her students at Gombe and other primatologists working in other sites have also reported tool use among chimpanzees.
Dr. Goodall also reported that she observed small groups of animals banding together for the purpose of cornering and killing small monkeys which they enjoy consuming. They generally chose Colobus monkeys, but she observed them also killing other species. She described that the flesh would be eaten by the highest raking male and then distributed to other males and then females and juveniles.
When I discussed language, I thought primarily of the ongoing experiment with the gorilla Koko begun over 15 years ago ( could be older than that) by Dr. Francine (Penny) Patterson. Koko, a female was obtained as an infant and hand-raised by Dr.Patterson. She undertook a project which was designed to teach language through the use of symbols and AMESLAN (American sign language). Koko was systematically exposed to pictorial representations and signs and acquired an extensive vocabulary of over 251 (could be more) symbols to communicate with. Koko could combine words creatively to form new objects.Over the years, she voiced her desire to have a kitten and was given one which she named All Ball. Subsequently, All Ball was killed by a car and Dr. Patterson catalogued on film a period of inconsoleable mourning that Koko endured. She later chose another kitten. With Koko's maturity,Dr. Patterson realized that soon, she would be wanting a mate. Koko told Dr. Patterson that she wanted to have her own infant. Since choosing a potential mate for Koko would be a daunting process, Dr. Patterson allowed her to see photos of prospective mates to choose from. Subsequently, her male companion was sent from a zoo. Unfortunately, they have not mated as yet.
Another example of primates acquiring language was the experment with Kanzi the pygmy chimp. In the 1970's, Sue Savage Rumbaugh trained two chimps, Sherman and Austin, to use a keyboard to produce lexigrams (symbols representing objects like Koko used).When they became fairly fluent, she conmstructed an experment in which they had to cooperate to perform various tasks. She observed that they spontaneously used the lexigrams to learn from and communicate with one another.
In the experiment with a male chimp, Kanzi, Dr. Rumbaugh was surprised to observe that he had learned to use the keyboard to produce lexigrams entirely on his own by watching his adoptive mother.
There is also the oldest of the studies involving the chimp Washoe who was taught AMESLAN. This was the forerunner of all the other studies.
These experiments all display the extent to which non-human primates have exhibited cognitive abilities. If these animals can create words, explain their feelings, and communicate with their human and non-human companions, I believe this is evidence of a latent intellectual capacity. If you need references for any of the examples I cited, I will happy to provide them, but that will take some time to accomplish.

135 posted on 10/26/2002 2:25:43 PM PDT by stanz
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To: f.Christian
Read my post #135 and stop talking in circles.
136 posted on 10/26/2002 2:28:57 PM PDT by stanz
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To: donh
Geez, did you or tortoise read any of this thread, or do you guys just like to lecture into cyberspace? Someone said reason and faith are orthogonally compatible, I questioned what that was, and you two start into rocket science. If you guys want to read stuff you say, just do it in notepad, read it over and over, but don't send it to me. Neither one of you said anything understandable about the relationship between reason and faith. At least you're not rude like the other guy.
137 posted on 10/26/2002 2:29:15 PM PDT by stuartcr
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To: stanz
ant/insect talk...circles---YOU!
138 posted on 10/26/2002 2:32:40 PM PDT by f.Christian
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To: stuartcr
Geez, did you or tortoise read any of this thread, or do you guys just like to lecture into cyberspace?

I am, in fact, overly fond of lecturing into hyperspace, just ask my family. However, insofar as I can tell, my responses to you have been cogent and to the point.

Someone said reason and faith are orthogonally compatible, I questioned what that was, and you two start into rocket science. If you guys want to read stuff you say, just do it in notepad, read it over and over, but don't send it to me. Neither one of you said anything understandable about the relationship between reason and faith. At least you're not rude like the other guy.

If you do not see the analogy between a mother's love for her children and her husband, and human respect for reason and faith, I cannot force it on you, but I also don't feel too inclined to shoulder the responsibility for your incomprehension. I think I have been reasonably brief and clear.

139 posted on 10/26/2002 2:44:40 PM PDT by donh
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To: AppyPappy
Let's say you did see your truck levitating in the garage. Is it necessary to prove it to someone else in order for it to be true?

Did you not read the rest of what I wrote? In this case, it would be unreasonable for anyone else to believe me, even if it really happened. In other words, it is only a rational belief from my perspective, but utterly irrational from the perspective of others and correctly so. I can't really know that I saw or experienced what I thought I saw. Hence "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof". The problem is that most people don't even prove their beliefs to themselves and take what they think they've experienced at face value. Not very wise.

This is where science comes in. Science, in a nutshell, is about generating priors for a given assertion. From the perspective of someone who didn't see the car levitate it is rational to dismiss the claim until such time as someone can provide evidence to support the claim. It is never rational to believe the arbitrary assertion of a person when it is not backed up by any significant priors. Do you listen to and believe everything some knucklehead (like me :-) tells you automatically? Science is typically the systematic method by which priors can be obtained so that something is rationally believable.

Whether or not YOU THINK something happened is completely immaterial to whether it actually happened and whether or not any one else should believe you. People are notoriously unreliable observers and this is how we filter out psychotic episodes, delusions, misinformation, poor memory, and a boatload of other things that make people believe things that never actually happened. Only a fool trusts that their personal experiences are an infallible record of truth or reality. That's why it is necessary to checkpoint everything you believe against a rational framework.

140 posted on 10/26/2002 4:08:01 PM PDT by tortoise
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To: PatrickHenry
Placemarker.
141 posted on 10/26/2002 6:56:15 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: donh
Fair enough.
142 posted on 10/27/2002 4:59:57 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: tortoise
I can't really know that I saw or experienced what I thought I saw.

Ah...here's the problem. You can't trust your own senses. IOW you have no facility for Reason. If you can't trust your eyes, how can you trust your ears when you hear the answer from the scientist?

Let's say you have cancer. You pray to God and the cancer goes away. The doctors don't know what happened. Let's say I have cancer. I get a new scientific treatment and I pray to God. The cancer goes away. How would "Reason" handle this situation? My guess is that "Reason" would accept the first as a mystery and the second as a result of science because "Reason" has faith in science.

143 posted on 10/27/2002 5:28:57 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: donh
It may very well have happened, but you can't prove it.

But it did happen. So external proof is not required for an event to occur. Therefore, a person does not need external proof in order to believe an event occurred.

144 posted on 10/27/2002 5:30:37 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: stanz
If these animals can create words, explain their feelings, and communicate with their human and non-human companions, I believe this is evidence of a latent intellectual capacity.

Then why haven't they built a hospital? All animals have some intelligence. Many animals use tools to get food. But man is the only one to build a car or hospital. Out of all the millions of species, why only man?

145 posted on 10/27/2002 5:33:31 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: tortoise
Whether or not YOU THINK something happened is completely immaterial to whether it actually happened and whether or not any one else should believe you.

I didn't say "think". I said "did". If something DID happen but there is not external evidence of it, did it happen?

146 posted on 10/27/2002 5:36:31 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy
If something DID happen but there is not external evidence of it, did it happen?

Sure, something happened. So what? That has no bearing on whether or not anyone should believe you.

147 posted on 10/27/2002 8:20:05 AM PST by tortoise
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To: AppyPappy
You can't trust your own senses. IOW you have no facility for Reason. If you can't trust your eyes, how can you trust your ears when you hear the answer from the scientist?

That sums it up pretty well; scientists are as fallible as the next guy. "Trust but verify". That's why scientists are ignored unless they can give a methodology that allows you to achieve whatever it is they achieved on your own. In science, you don't even begin to believe an assertion by a scientist until a number of other reasonably qualified people have performed the experiment independently and verified the substance of the assertion. This is among the primary reasons that you can't really prove anything in science in a rigorous sense.

However, we do have faculties for reason inasmuch as we have faculties for mathematics. Unlike science, mathematics is observer independent (both inside AND outside our universe, as it happens). Therefore, we can use mathematics to evaluate science and can know the evaluation is correct even if we can't prove the science itself. You end up with the case where mathematics can tell you whether or not a belief is rational and reasonable, but it can't tell you anything as to whether or not a belief is actually true or based in reality. For better or worse, since we can't trust our senses, the only metric we have to evaluate them in a rigorous sense is a determination of rationality. And even that's not fool proof for most people, as it is possible to construct an internally self-rational world view that does not necessarily have any basis in reality, though this actually results from uneven application of rationality analysis. Most people regularly engage in only limited rationality analysis of their own beliefs, and therefore live inside a superficially consistent, but invalid, world view (see: "liberals").

148 posted on 10/27/2002 8:50:13 AM PST by tortoise
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To: tortoise
I have a question regarding your post. You said:

Unlike science, mathematics is observer independent (both inside AND outside our universe, as it happens).

How did you arrive at the conclusion: AND outside our universe?

In other words, how can you presume the physical laws or logic of any other universe or domain outside this universe?

149 posted on 10/27/2002 8:58:38 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: stanz; gore3000; Phaedrus; PatrickHenry; Alamo-Girl
stanz, thank you very much for providing the summary of these various animal studies. I am already aware of most of them; but it's good for the record to have this information posted here for those who may not be.

At the end of the day, however, IMHO what all this boils down to are the questions: What is language? What is learning?

The way these terms have come to be understood has had to be drastically "defined down" in order for Koko's vocabulary, the ability of apes to learn American Sign Language, or to teach their young how to use sticks to skewer tasty morsels, etc., to even begin to minimally qualify as meeting the criteria of what language is, or what learning is.

When definitions are this "flexible," we can stretch them to accommodate almost any particular set of facts.

One could say on this basis that a horse weaving in his stall is effectively little different than a ballet dancer; for both can be observed to display regular, patterned motions. Or that there's no real, significant difference between the "output" of a songbird, and what Placido Domingo does.

I think there's been a big fad lately of "anthropomorphizing" the animals. This seems to be PETA's specialty.

But then maybe the point I'm trying to make here is so obvious it's actually difficult to see. To paraphrase an observation of S.I. Hayakawa, if we can see in a given situation only what "everybody else" [e.g., the "experts" and the trendy types] sees, than it can we said that we are so representative of our culture as to be a victim of it.

150 posted on 10/27/2002 9:02:17 AM PST by betty boop
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