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Assessing the Evidence: A Case Study


smac97

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:
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Fair enough.  You were summing up and stating conclusions, not marshaling evidence and presenting arguments.  I apologize for the mischaracterization of your statement.

Again, what would be the point of rehashing what you and I have been talking about all these years?

There wouldn't be much of a point.  Hence my apology.

1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

You make it sound wrong for me to not engage in such a rehash, but I don’t see the point. 

I was not trying to "make it sound wrong."  I was trying to apologize.

Thanks,

-Smac

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On 10/13/2022 at 1:21 PM, Analytics said:

To clarify, when I say I'm an empiricist I don't me to imply I think empiricism provides final answers to deep philosophical problems. To me, such problems are about as interesting as what it really feels like to be a bat.

Rather, what I mean is that I'm in Pinker's camp that in terms of making the world a better place, what works is humanism, science, and reason. In other words, enlightenment thinking. And at its root, science is based on methodological empiricism and has shown that naturalism and realism best describe reality. 

When discussing whether "personal truths" are merely "just words" I'd rather turn to psycholinguistics than philosophy. 

There is not a single point here, worded this way, with which I disagree.

The problem is the words, of course, and the scope of what is included in your categories.

That is where we differ.

What it is to be a bat is about what good our empiricism is to see "reality" when a bat's reality is entirely different.  So how do we know ANY "reality" beyond our species dependent specific perceptions?  You are not seeing the forest, because all the trees block your vision

The fact that you don't see that as a problem shows you ARE a tacit Pragmatist; all you care about is "what works for humans" and have no inkling that what we see and hear has VAST implications for what "reality really is ", which has vast implications for your views of religion.

Pinker uses emotionally laden words like "reason" to equate his theories with being "enlightened" while he pedals snake oil, and his followers don't know enough philosophy to know the difference.

He's doing phrenology and calling it "reason"; he's looking for black holes with binoculars and calling it "enlightened".  He has his little spyglass empirically searching the night sky for God.

He and his followers just need a way-back machine to be "enlightened" and "objective" and "empirical" and all those other virtue signals they preach.

So go ahead and preach your psycholinguistics, I'd love to hear it, to know you are "enlightened" after all.

Don't let me stand in your way! Teach! 

 

 

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

What it is to be a bat is about what good our empiricism is to see "reality" when a bat's reality is entirely different.  So how do we know ANY "reality" beyond our species dependent specific perceptions?

When I talk about "reality," I'm generally not talking about the subjective qualia of any given individual, regardless of species. I'm merely saying that reality is out there, regardless of anybody's specific perceptions.

If the conversation does turn to perceptions, psychology can tell us more than philosophy. For example, in the famous illusion below, square A appears to be darker than square B. But it's not. We can use rational investigation to prove that they are the same hue. And we can use science to prove that people perceive them differently. Just because we can learn some facts about these things doesn't mean we know all truth about everything, or whatever it is you somehow imagine I'm claiming.

shadow-illusion.jpg

On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

 You are not seeing the forest, because all the trees block your vision...

To the extent that a tree blocks my vision, we can use the normative tools of rationality to detect the tree and say "hey, I can't see the forest because a tree is in the way." At that point we can see if we can learn some more about the forest by changing our vantage point or whatever.

On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

The fact that you don't see that as a problem shows you ARE a tacit Pragmatist; all you care about is "what works for humans" and have no inkling that what we see and hear has VAST implications for what "reality really is ", which has vast implications for your views of religion.

I care about more than "what works for humans." Personally, I care about reality and aligning my personal views with what is actually true. 

On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

Pinker uses emotionally laden words like "reason" to equate his theories with being "enlightened" while he pedals snake oil, and his followers don't know enough philosophy to know the difference.

I don't know what it's like to be a bat, and I don't know what you are talking about here. Reason isn't an emotionally lade word. He doesn't equate his theories with being enlightened. He doesn't pedal snake oil. He doesn't have followers. 

I haven't heard Pinker ever say he was "enlightened." In contrast, he's actually written a book promoting the values of the Age of Enlightenment. But he doesn't say that people who embrace those values are "enlightened." Somebody claiming to be enlightened is typically a new-age religious thing that as nothing to do with the humanism Pinker promotes.

On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

He's doing phrenology and calling it "reason"; he's looking for black holes with binoculars and calling it "enlightened".  He has his little spyglass empirically searching the night sky for God.

He and his followers just need a way-back machine to be "enlightened" and "objective" and "empirical" and all those other virtue signals they preach.

It's not about virtue signaling. It's about understanding the normative tools of rationality. 

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28 minutes ago, Analytics said:

When I talk about "reality," I'm generally not talking about the subjective qualia of any given individual, regardless of species. I'm merely saying that reality is out there, regardless of anybody's specific perceptions.

If the conversation does turn to perceptions, psychology can tell us more than philosophy. For example, in the famous illusion below, square A appears to be darker than square B. But it's not. We can use rational investigation to prove that they are the same hue. And we can use science to prove that people perceive them differently. Just because we can learn some facts about these things doesn't mean we know all truth about everything, or whatever it is you somehow imagine I'm claiming.

shadow-illusion.jpg

To the extent that a tree blocks my vision, we can use the normative tools of rationality to detect the tree and say "hey, I can't see the forest because a tree is in the way." At that point we can see if we can learn some more about the forest by changing our vantage point or whatever.

I care about more than "what works for humans." Personally, I care about reality and aligning my personal views with what is actually true. 

I don't know what it's like to be a bat, and I don't know what you are talking about here. Reason isn't an emotionally lade word. He doesn't equate his theories with being enlightened. He doesn't pedal snake oil. He doesn't have followers. 

I haven't heard Pinker ever say he was "enlightened." In contrast, he's actually written a book promoting the values of the Age of Enlightenment. But he doesn't say that people who embrace those values are "enlightened." Somebody claiming to be enlightened is typically a new-age religious thing that as nothing to do with the humanism Pinker promotes.

It's not about virtue signaling. It's about understanding the normative tools of rationality. 

This is so self contradictory I don't know where to start.

The CAUSES of qualia are "out there" but we would not know that without qualia.

Step on a Lego in the dark and you will get it.

Lego or something else?

All you have to go on is pain for evidence 

Edited by mfbukowski
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50 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

This is so self contradictory I don't know where to start.

The CAUSES of qualia are "out there" but we would not know that without qualia.

Step on a Lego in the dark and you will get it.

Lego or something else?

All you have to go on is pain for evidence 

If I step on a Lego in the dark and don't know what it is, I'll turn the lights on. I'll look at it closely. I could pick it up, measure it, and do experiments on it. I could take it to a Lego expert and see what insights they have about it.

The reality of the Lego and my subjective impression of it are two distinct things.

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56 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The reality of the Lego and my subjective impression of it are two distinct things.

I agree generally, but I'm curious as to how you justify that without adopting implicit epistemological pragmatism.

Edited by OGHoosier
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2 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Step on a Lego in the dark and you will get it.

Lego or something else?

All you have to go on is pain for evidence 

 

On 10/15/2022 at 1:32 PM, mfbukowski said:

So go ahead and preach your psycholinguistics, I'd love to hear it, to know you are "enlightened" after all.

Don't let me stand in your way! Teach! 

Is "pain" all we have to go on for evidence? Of course not. Since you asked me to talk about it, I'll mention something that Steven Pinker mentioned in his book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Specifically, he mentions a particular tactile illusion called the Cutaneous rabbit illusion. Quoting the description of the illusion from Wikipedia:

The cutaneous rabbit illusion (also known as cutaneous saltation and sometimes the cutaneous rabbit effect or CRE) is a tactile illusion evoked by tapping two or more separate regions of the skin in rapid succession. The illusion is most readily evoked on regions of the body surface that have relatively poor spatial acuity, such as the forearm. A rapid sequence of taps delivered first near the wrist and then near the elbow creates the sensation of sequential taps hopping up the arm from the wrist towards the elbow, although no physical stimulus was applied between the two actual stimulus locations. Similarly, stimuli delivered first near the elbow then near the wrist evoke the illusory perception of taps hopping from elbow towards wrist. The illusion was discovered by Frank Geldard and Carl Sherrick of Princeton University, in the early 1970s,[1] and further characterized by Geldard (1982)[2] and in many subsequent studies. Geldard and Sherrick likened the perception to that of a rabbit hopping along the skin, giving the phenomenon its name. While the rabbit illusion has been most extensively studied in the tactile domain, analogous sensory saltation illusions have been observed in audition and vision. The word "saltation" refers to the leaping or jumping nature of the percept.

The point is that the way something feels isn't necessarily the reality of what's going on, and we can actually turn to science to learn more about the relationship between reality and the way we perceive it. The idea that "all you have to go on is pain for evidence" is patently false. 

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On 10/15/2022 at 11:32 AM, mfbukowski said:

There is not a single point here, worded this way, with which I disagree.

The problem is the words, of course, and the scope of what is included in your categories.

That is where we differ.

What it is to be a bat is about what good our empiricism is to see "reality" when a bat's reality is entirely different.  So how do we know ANY "reality" beyond our species dependent specific perceptions?  You are not seeing the forest, because all the trees block your vision

The fact that you don't see that as a problem shows you ARE a tacit Pragmatist; all you care about is "what works for humans" and have no inkling that what we see and hear has VAST implications for what "reality really is ", which has vast implications for your views of religion.

Pinker uses emotionally laden words like "reason" to equate his theories with being "enlightened" while he pedals snake oil, and his followers don't know enough philosophy to know the difference.

He's doing phrenology and calling it "reason"; he's looking for black holes with binoculars and calling it "enlightened".  He has his little spyglass empirically searching the night sky for God.

He and his followers just need a way-back machine to be "enlightened" and "objective" and "empirical" and all those other virtue signals they preach.

So go ahead and preach your psycholinguistics, I'd love to hear it, to know you are "enlightened" after all.

Don't let me stand in your way! Teach! 

 

 

 

 

I'm still waiting for my lesson in psycholinguistics.

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2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

 

Is "pain" all we have to go on for evidence? Of course not. Since you asked me to talk about it, I'll mention something that Steven Pinker mentioned in his book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Specifically, he mentions a particular tactile illusion called the Cutaneous rabbit illusion. Quoting the description of the illusion from Wikipedia:

The cutaneous rabbit illusion (also known as cutaneous saltation and sometimes the cutaneous rabbit effect or CRE) is a tactile illusion evoked by tapping two or more separate regions of the skin in rapid succession. The illusion is most readily evoked on regions of the body surface that have relatively poor spatial acuity, such as the forearm. A rapid sequence of taps delivered first near the wrist and then near the elbow creates the sensation of sequential taps hopping up the arm from the wrist towards the elbow, although no physical stimulus was applied between the two actual stimulus locations. Similarly, stimuli delivered first near the elbow then near the wrist evoke the illusory perception of taps hopping from elbow towards wrist. The illusion was discovered by Frank Geldard and Carl Sherrick of Princeton University, in the early 1970s,[1] and further characterized by Geldard (1982)[2] and in many subsequent studies. Geldard and Sherrick likened the perception to that of a rabbit hopping along the skin, giving the phenomenon its name. While the rabbit illusion has been most extensively studied in the tactile domain, analogous sensory saltation illusions have been observed in audition and vision. The word "saltation" refers to the leaping or jumping nature of the percept.

The point is that the way something feels isn't necessarily the reality of what's going on, and we can actually turn to science to learn more about the relationship between reality and the way we perceive it. The idea that "all you have to go on is pain for evidence" is patently false. 

Oh my,

the point is that all we had a that moment was pain. Turn on the lights for more qualia

Ah! Now we have e en more qualia: Qualia of a thing called a red Lego!

And then the scientists do is measure neural response of what?? QUALIA!

YES, YOU GIVE THE QUALIA / PHENOMENONON A NAME! 

You still haven't gotten beyond qualia/phenomena/ appearance!

No reality! Nothing beyond human perception!

You NAME it "reality" in English, something else in different languages.  Fine!  But you simply cannot get beyond qualia and the names you give it

 

 

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16 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Oh my,

the point is that all we had a that moment was pain. Turn on the lights for more qualia

Ah! Now we have e en more qualia: Qualia of a thing called a red Lego!

And then the scientists do is measure neural response of what?? QUALIA!

YES, YOU GIVE THE QUALIA / PHENOMENONON A NAME! 

You still haven't gotten beyond qualia/phenomena/ appearance!

No reality! Nothing beyond human perception!

You NAME it "reality" in English, something else in different languages.  Fine!  But you simply cannot get beyond qualia and the names you give it

So what?

As Sean Carroll put it,

"You will sometimes hear the claim that even science is based on a kind of 'faith', for example, in the reliability of our experimental data or in the existence of unbreakable physical laws. That is wrong. As part of the practice of science, we certainly make assumptions--our sense data is giving us roughly reliabile information about the world, simple explanations are preferable to complex ones, we are not brains in vats, and so forth. But we don't have 'faith' in those assumptions; they are components of our planets of belief, but they are always subject to revision and improvement and even, if necessary, outright rejection. By its nature, science needs to be completely open to the actual operation of the world, and that means that we stand ready to discard any idea that is no longer useful, no matter how cherished and central it may once have seemed."

The Big Picture, page 128.

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54 minutes ago, Analytics said:

So what?

As Sean Carroll put it,

"You will sometimes hear the claim that even science is based on a kind of 'faith', for example, in the reliability of our experimental data or in the existence of unbreakable physical laws. That is wrong. As part of the practice of science, we certainly make assumptions--our sense data is giving us roughly reliabile information about the world, simple explanations are preferable to complex ones, we are not brains in vats, and so forth. But we don't have 'faith' in those assumptions; they are components of our planets of belief, but they are always subject to revision and improvement and even, if necessary, outright rejection. By its nature, science needs to be completely open to the actual operation of the world, and that means that we stand ready to discard any idea that is no longer useful, no matter how cherished and central it may once have seemed."

The Big Picture, page 128.

Ye of course, an open canon.

We find the best paradigm/ explanation that works until something else works better.

Faith is action on a paradigm hoping for things unseen ,ie: that the paradigm will still work, or that a good replacement will be created by the pooled intelligence of mankind

This is all Kuhn.  It all IS religion without God, a secular religion.

Think of STRUCTURES, not words or facts.

See things more abstractly. You are not seeing the castle and concentrating on the bricks.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

Ye of course, an open canon.

We find the best paradigm/ explanation that works until something else works better.

Faith is action on a paradigm hoping for things unseen ,ie: that the paradigm will still work, or that a good replacement will be created by the pooled intelligence of mankind

This is all Kuhn.  It all IS religion without God, a secular religion.

Think of STRUCTURES, not words or facts.

See things more abstractly. You are not seeing the castle and concentrating on the bricks.

You are equivocating on the words "faith" and "religion." Religion is based on faith in the same way that science is based on skepticism. They are different things. 

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I have enjoyed reading this entire thread. I admire the passion of everyone who has posted. I would like to offer two viewpoints from my  perspective as on the "edge of inside," a position that sometimes provides clarity and at other times fogginess!

1. The Whitmers came from a strong folk tradition in south central Pennsylvania. They were religious travelers, never sojourning anywhere for any length of time. They were Mennonites, River Brethren, German Baptist (Reformed), LDS, and I believe several disparate faiths after their break with the church (depending on the family member - Christian died in the mid 1830s). They were from an area of the southern Susquehanna River valley in PA that was steeped in folk magic, superstition, and the integration of the same into planting, healing, seer-stones, etc. They were religious pilgrims continually on the lookout for a new religious expression that led to the founding of the River Brethren with a popular local evangelist and later the LDS church. Methinks they would have been honored and proud to be connected with the start of another new faith, especially one replete with symbology, seer-stones, and other sorts of what Mennonites deemed pow-wow (folk) medicines and beliefs. Many have said here in their comments that the witnesses were highly credible. Possibly, but they were seekers and also probably highly prepared for the magical, the mysterious, and what bordered on the occult. I grew up in that area in the 50s and we had pow-wow practitioners, hex workers, healers, and those who mixed religious faith and the folk history during my childhood. These are just my observations - not trying to make any particular point about Joseph Smith of the Book of Mormon. That leads me to

2. I can only speak for myself, but my failure to join the LDS church as a five year participant in the ward has nothing to do with the Book of Mormon. I find it to be a fascinating, yet fairly orthodox book presenting an orthodox version of the godhead, Christ, and redemption. For me, the truth of the LDS church has nothing to do with the truth of the Book of Mormon. For me the church rises and falls on two things. First, the D&C, a collection of beliefs, doctrines, revelations, and personal observations that contains the vast majority of the heterodox (from a non-LDS Christian perspective) beliefs of the church. It seems that the Book of Mormon is like the patriarch of the faith, while the D&C is the breadwinner. Whenever I ask about a particularly heterodox belief that I am trying to figure out, I am inevitably led to evidence in the D&C. It provides the doctrinal base of the church in a way that the Book of Mormon does not. Believing in the Book of Mormon in no way would lead me to join the church when the D&C is staring me in the face with its various claims, statements, and doctrines. For me the outsider, the LDS church from a doctrinal perspective rises and falls on the D&C. Yet no missionary has ever asked me whether or not I having a burning in my bosom from the D&C (I don't).

The second thing that the church rises and falls on is the Christ-likeness, spirituality and Godliness of the people who make it their church home. After five years I see no more of that, nor no less of that than in any other church with which I have affiliated (mostly Mennonite, non-denominational, and Baptist). I am impressed by the commitment to Christ and the atonement that I see in so many. To my non-LDS friends I defend the LDS member's Christianity. I just can't defend its specialness.

I am looking for a living faith to convince me, not loyalty to lost peoples, places, and events (especially living here in Mexico). I keep looking for something different in the LDS church in the sense of more power (not authority ), more Godliness, more meekness, more Christ-likeness. What I find are wonderful people with aspirational claims of authority, uniqueness, and special relationships with God. However, behind all the claims are wonderful everyday, ordinary Christians, just like everywhere else I have fellowshipped and worshiped. Perhaps that would be enough, if there were not the constant claims of specialness and uniqueness - special authority, special prophets, special ordinances, etc. I say none of this to be critical; they are simply my observations. I love, appreciate, and value each and every one of my LDS friends, as I have my Mennonite, Baptist, and non-denominational friends. I have learned from them all. In my experience, none are more or less Christlike than the other.

I guess I wish you folks would put to rest the needs to define and validate yourselves by Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, who he was and what he did or didn't do. He is simply not relevant one way or the other to me any more than is Menno Simons, Jacob Amman, John Smyth (no relative as far as I know), John Wesley, or Roger Williams. The debate that you all are having on this thread is old school and I believe will be long-gone in the LDS Mormonism of 100 years from now. Non-LDS Christians will more and more evaluate you, your message, and your church for who you are, not for where you came from, or whatever claims of authority and uniqueness you aspire to.

OK, I have taken a risk and am now ready for the slings and arrows to land!

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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

You are equivocating on the words "faith" and "religion." Religion is based on faith in the same way that science is based on skepticism. They are different things. 

What does skepticism mean in this context? It isn't epistemological skepticism because scientific realism depends on epistemological skepticism being false...so what does it mean? 

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1 hour ago, OGHoosier said:

What does skepticism mean in this context? It isn't epistemological skepticism because scientific realism depends on epistemological skepticism being false...so what does it mean? 

Something along the lines of methodological skepticism or scientific skepticism is what I had in mind. 

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20 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Something along the lines of methodological skepticism or scientific skepticism is what I had in mind. 

I see. Methodological skepticism, as a term, is usually associated with Cartesian skepticism, which doesn't seem compatible with your general worldview. So scientific skepticism it is. I have to say that the conceptual bleed between "rationalism", "empiricism", and "skepticism" does make discussion of this worldview difficult. 

So I have to ask, how do you segregate your scientific skepticism from epistemological skepticism?

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48 minutes ago, OGHoosier said:

I see. Methodological skepticism, as a term, is usually associated with Cartesian skepticism, which doesn't seem compatible with your general worldview. So scientific skepticism it is. I have to say that the conceptual bleed between "rationalism", "empiricism", and "skepticism" does make discussion of this worldview difficult. 

So I have to ask, how do you segregate your scientific skepticism from epistemological skepticism?

Well, for my part I'm not really talking about a "worldview" per se. Rather, I'm making the assertion that the ideal of science to use the normative tools of rationality to improve their theories about the world is fundamentally different than the way religious people use faith to believe the dogma of this or that religion. 

With regards to my worldview, I see it through the paradigm of "poetic naturalism." In the words of Sean Carroll:

Naturalism comes down to three things:

  1. There is only one world, the natural world
  2. The world evolves according to unbroken patterns, the laws of nature
  3. The only reliable way of learning about the world is by observing it

Essentially, naturalism is the idea that the world revealed to us by scientific investigation is the only true world. The poetic aspect comes to the fore when we start talking about the world. It can also be summarized in three points:

  1. There are many ways of talking about the world
  2. All good ways of talking must be consistent with one another and with the world
  3. Our purposes in the moment determine the best way of talking

(Big Picture, Page 19)

Regarding the finer points of arguing about this or that philosophical position, I'm a bit agnostic. What does it mean to know anything? Can we know anything? Can I prove I'm not just a brain in a vat?

It reminds me of a few years ago when I found myself in Las Vegas with a friend for a bachelor's party, and the groom gave us both a $100 casino chip as a gift for flying out to his party. Neither of us were into gambling, but it seemed wrong to cash out the chips and take them home to spend on normal stuff. We both knew from our common background in statistics that the more we played, the more certain we would be to walk away broke. So, we decided that we would go to the roulette table and bet the whole thing on black. Regardless of whether we won or lost, that would be the only bet of the night. So, I had a 47% chance of walking away with $200, and a 53% of walking away with zero dollars. A mere 53% chance of going broke in this strategy seemed better than a 99.99% chance of going broke if I spent the money on slot machines until it ran out. So we played, lost, shrugged our shoulders, and walked away to do something else.

Bukowski might say that I had faith that night that I could double my money by gambling, and that it was this faith that motivated me to lay down my chip, and that the whole thing was religious in nature. For me, there was no faith or religion involved. I found myself with the need to make a decision in the face of uncertainty. I did the statistics, made a choice, and lived with the consequences. That is all.

Did I "know" the odds of winning were really 47%? I suppose it was possible that the casino had rigged the wheel to ensure that I lost. Or maybe God used His powers to ensure I'd lose to teach me a lesson about gambling. Or maybe I'm plugged into a matrix and the whole thing was imaginary. I think all of those things are extremely unlikely, but I can't prove it. Does that make me a philosophical skeptic? Whatever. That's a side issue that I don't care very much about, and I don't see the need to define myself that way.

Edited by Analytics
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3 hours ago, Navidad said:


I guess I wish you folks would put to rest the needs to define and validate yourselves by Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, who he was and what he did or didn't do. He is simply not relevant one way or the other to me any more than is Menno Simons, Jacob Amman, John Smyth (no relative as far as I know), John Wesley, or Roger Williams. The debate that you all are having on this thread is old school and I believe will be long-gone in the LDS Mormonism of 100 years from now. Non-LDS Christians will more and more evaluate you, your message, and your church for who you are, not for where you came from, or whatever claims of authority and uniqueness you aspire to.

I fear you are basically asking for the impossible here. The problem is that Joseph Smith does not stand in the same relation to Christianity that Simons, Amman, et al. do. Yes, those you mentioned started new traditions and brought forth new insights into the overall Christian tradition. But, however radical they were, they were reformers that fit into the Protestant Reformation traditions, which in turn fits into the overall Christian tradition. Joseph Smith was not a reformer. He outright broke with the overall tradition and created something new. As such, what he was or did or didn't do has far more importance to Mormons than Menno Simons has to the Mennonites, Wesley to the Methodists, or Williams to American Baptists.

Put another way, to ask Mormons to put the rest the need to define ourselves by Joseph Smith, would be like telling Jews to do the same with Moses, or Christians to do the same with Jesus, or Muslims to do the same with Muhammad. Look at me. Even with my heresies (e.g., Book of Mormon environmentalism), what I have found myself doing time and again is doubling down on Joseph. Mormons can't escape him, not fully. 

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30 minutes ago, tagriffy said:

But, however radical they were, they were reformers that fit into the Protestant Reformation traditions, which in turn fits into the overall Christian tradition.

Hi my friend. Please don't tell a strongly convicted Mennonite that they fit into the Protestant Reformation tradition. Protestants killed more Mennonites than did Catholics. The especially and ironically pertinent death reserved for Mennonites was being drowned in the many rivers of Switzerland by the Protestants. If they wanted to be baptized as adults, the Protestant reformers insured they were baptized unto death by drowning.  No worthy Mennonite will acknowledge being a reformer. They will strongly and with a powerful sense of persecution proclaim that they were restorers, 300 years before the "johnny come lately Mormons" came along. To this day Mennonites do not consider themselves to be Protestants. We have too much a corporate memory of persecution, as do the Mormons.

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37 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Hi my friend. Please don't tell a strongly convicted Mennonite that they fit into the Protestant Reformation tradition. Protestants killed more Mennonites than did Catholics. The especially and ironically pertinent death reserved for Mennonites was being drowned in the many rivers of Switzerland by the Protestants. If they wanted to be baptized as adults, the Protestant reformers insured they were baptized unto death by drowning.  No worthy Mennonite will acknowledge being a reformer. They will strongly and with a powerful sense of persecution proclaim that they were restorers, 300 years before the "johnny come lately Mormons" came along. To this day Mennonites do not consider themselves to be Protestants. We have too much a corporate memory of persecution, as do the Mormons.

I'm sorry if I offended you. I have some knowledge of the Mennonite tradition, since I spent about a year fellowshipping with a local Mennonite congregation. They were an especially influential on me; I'm a pacifist and try (if not exactly succeed) to live a life of simplicity because of their influence. There may be a regional variation, but the congregation I associated with didn't totally reject the title reformer, and identified the Anabaptist tradition as part of the Radical Reformation.

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4 hours ago, Analytics said:

Well, for my part I'm not really talking about a "worldview" per se. Rather, I'm making the assertion that the ideal of science to use the normative tools of rationality to improve their theories about the world is fundamentally different than the way religious people use faith to believe the dogma of this or that religion. 

With regards to my worldview, I see it through the paradigm of "poetic naturalism." In the words of Sean Carroll:

Naturalism comes down to three things:

  1. There is only one world, the natural world
  2. The world evolves according to unbroken patterns, the laws of nature
  3. The only reliable way of learning about the world is by observing it

Essentially, naturalism is the idea that the world revealed to us by scientific investigation is the only true world. The poetic aspect comes to the fore when we start talking about the world. It can also be summarized in three points:

  1. There are many ways of talking about the world
  2. All good ways of talking must be consistent with one another and with the world
  3. Our purposes in the moment determine the best way of talking

(Big Picture, Page 19)

Regarding the finer points of arguing about this or that philosophical position, I'm a bit agnostic. What does it mean to know anything? Can we know anything? Can I prove I'm not just a brain in a vat?

It reminds me of a few years ago when I found myself in Las Vegas with a friend for a bachelor's party, and the groom gave us both a $100 casino chip as a gift for flying out to his party. Neither of us were into gambling, but it seemed wrong to cash out the chips and take them home to spend on normal stuff. We both knew from our common background in statistics that the more we played, the more certain we would be to walk away broke. So, we decided that we would go to the roulette table and bet the whole thing on black. Regardless of whether we won or lost, that would be the only bet of the night. So, I had a 47% chance of walking away with $200, and a 53% of walking away with zero dollars. A mere 53% chance of going broke in this strategy seemed better than a 99.99% chance of going broke if I spent the money on slot machines until it ran out. So we played, lost, shrugged our shoulders, and walked away to do something else.

Bukowski might say that I had faith that night that I could double my money by gambling, and that it was this faith that motivated me to lay down my chip, and that the whole thing was religious in nature. For me, there was no faith or religion involved. I found myself with the need to make a decision in the face of uncertainty. I did the statistics, made a choice, and lived with the consequences. That is all.

Did I "know" the odds of winning were really 47%? I suppose it was possible that the casino had rigged the wheel to ensure that I lost. Or maybe God used His powers to ensure I'd lose to teach me a lesson about gambling. Or maybe I'm plugged into a matrix and the whole thing was imaginary. I think all of those things are extremely unlikely, but I can't prove it. Does that make me a philosophical skeptic? Whatever. That's a side issue that I don't care very much about, and I don't see the need to define myself that way.

Thanks for elaborating. I have to say that I don't think @mfbukowski is equivocating on the definition of faith, he's just not accepting the definition and frame which Carroll puts forward. Carroll views "faith" as essentially propositional - faith is about concepts or ideas. Mark, on the other hand, is not using the term in an propositional sense. He's referring to faith as a basis for action based on paradigms which are otherwise evaluated. That is a lot more in keeping with Pragmatists like C.S. Pierce. Hence why he says "thing of structures, not words or facts."

Since your analogy draws predominantly on Carroll's definition, I'd say it misses the point. Your declaration that, for you, faith or religion were not involved, also misses the point. "Faith" in this analogy would be operationalized as your confidence in probabilistic assessment, in the paradigm by which you made your decision. 

Mark is very clear that, in his understanding, we stick with paradigms unless something else works better. Whereas Carroll seems, in your quotations, to define "faith" as a sort of "incorrigible belief." The main conflict seems to be in terms of the definitions we use. These definitions, the way words are used, frame the discourse (dang Wittgenstein being right yet again), so Carroll's definitions are not gonna be assumed from the outset. 

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11 hours ago, OGHoosier said:

Thanks for elaborating. I have to say that I don't think @mfbukowski is equivocating on the definition of faith, he's just not accepting the definition and frame which Carroll puts forward. Carroll views "faith" as essentially propositional - faith is about concepts or ideas. Mark, on the other hand, is not using the term in an propositional sense. He's referring to faith as a basis for action based on paradigms which are otherwise evaluated. That is a lot more in keeping with Pragmatists like C.S. Pierce. Hence why he says "thing of structures, not words or facts."

Since your analogy draws predominantly on Carroll's definition, I'd say it misses the point. Your declaration that, for you, faith or religion were not involved, also misses the point. "Faith" in this analogy would be operationalized as your confidence in probabilistic assessment, in the paradigm by which you made your decision. 

Mark is very clear that, in his understanding, we stick with paradigms unless something else works better. Whereas Carroll seems, in your quotations, to define "faith" as a sort of "incorrigible belief." The main conflict seems to be in terms of the definitions we use. These definitions, the way words are used, frame the discourse (dang Wittgenstein being right yet again), so Carroll's definitions are not gonna be assumed from the outset. 

I completely agree with you that the conflict is about the definitions we are using. What I disagree about, however, is the idea that the religious, propositional definition of faith is merely something that Carroll puts forward. 

For example, consider this explanation of faith:

In order for faith to lead to salvation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 4:10–12; Mosiah 3:17; Moroni 7:24–26; Articles of Faith 1:4). We can exercise faith in Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, a correct idea of His character, and a knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will.

Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. (Faith in Jesus Christ (churchofjesuschrist.org))

That propositional definition of faith is fundamentally different than provisionally accepting the normative tools of reason because they work well. 

From that same link above, we also hear that "Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith. We show our hope for something that we cannot yet see." "Hoping for something we cannot see" and thereby taking action is a different definition of faith than the propositional faith that allegedly leads to salvation. But it's also different than doing what I attempt to do, which is along the lines of Nate Silver saying, for example, that Republicans have roughly a 3-in-4 chance of talking control of the House of Representatives in next month's elections. (2022 House Forecast | FiveThirtyEight (October 17 update)) There is no hope or motivating action of that belief. Rather, it is an attempt to carefully evaluate the evidence and state the probabilities of a future event in an unbiased manner.

You could say that I have "faith" that the normative tools of rationality are most likely to lead to a better understanding of reality. But this isn't a decision based on "hoping for something we cannot yet see." It is based on what we can see about the advantages and disadvantages of approaching evidence in different ways.

Going to an even more basic level, Mark seems to be saying that his objective is to find peace, meaning, joy, and fellowship in life, and that committing himself to the Church provides him with those things. In that sense, committing to the Church "works." Likewise, my objectives are to understand what's actually true as best I can, and to live a happy and ethical life within the constraints of understanding reality. With those as my objectives, being a humanist and poetic naturalist is what works best. In that sense, Mark and I are doing something similar--we are both living our lives in a way that we think will best meet our different objectives. But calling these decisions about how to go about life "faith" is confusing and misleading because of all of the other definitions of faith that various religions assert.

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