Is there a way to tell when you are deluded?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I'm not equating that, atheists tend to.

    The parade example being Russel's teapot.

    There are many kinds of atheism, and I am a very different kind of atheist than most atheists here.

    Frankly, I don't want to become one of them, for a number of reasons.

    Which is why trying to find evidence of God in the same manner one would try to find evidence of chairs and tables is simply misleading in that it is operating out of a non-theistic definition of "God."
    And yet atheists tend to do it.

    One cannot define "God" as "Supreme Being", "Creator" and "Controller of the Universe," then proceed to look for evidence of "God" in the same manner that one seeks evidence of chairs and tables - and still think one is being consistent.

    Suggesting that God exists in such an objective manner, independently from people, still doesn't mean that God is the kind of thing as chairs and tables are.

    Working with the definition of "God" as "Supreme Being", "Creator" and "Controller of the Universe" has the implication that one posits that one's own existence and all one's actions, including this very contemplation of "God," are contextualized by God, and so there can be no evidence of God that one could come by independently from God, on one's own.

    One needn't be a theist to understand that. It's simply conclusions that follow from applying particular definitions of "God."
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
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  3. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Exactly, this is a point that few atheists and theists understand. That what ever you believe in, your idea of what is true is unique, and you probably cannot explain it to others even if you had a very good vocabulary.

    Just as i am a theist, but i would never say i am of one religion, all religions have some truths in them.

    My idea of what the world is and what is above us all is unique to me, but probably many people throughout the years have come to similar conclusions.
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  5. Mathers2013 Banned Banned

    You could see a psychiatrist...
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    This is all very entertaining. Fortunately we have spent the last half-millennium crawling out of this culture of competing delusions. We have developed the scientific method for determining which assertions are supported by empirical observation, logical reasoning, testing and peer review--and therefore proven true beyond a reasonable doubt--and which are fairytales, legends from the Stone Age, rules enacted by authorities for the purpose of maintaining control, the universal archetypes programmed into our synapses by DNA (as per Jung), or wishful thinking.

    People are free to hypothesize the existence of a god, a supernatural explanation for the existence of the universe, and even the assertion that there is something more "real" than what we can observe with all of our senses, augmented by myriad instruments.

    But when it comes down to determining what is almost certainly true and what is just an interesting fable, the scientific method makes it relatively easy. It has been tested for half a millennium, often by people who would like nothing better than to disprove it, yet it has never come close to being falsified.

    Let's see one of the supernaturalist fairytales match that record of usefulness. Even the Pope (one of the earlier ones, not Francis) admitted officially that the vast majority of what's in the Bible is simply metaphor and is not to be taken literally. He hasn't yet given up on the basic "God" thing, but give science a few more generations of progress and see what happens. The rest of us already understand that "God" is a metaphor; a very useful one, but a metaphor nonetheless.

    I'm really impressed with the profound level of ignorance on this thread. You theists certainly don't cast your lot in a positive light. You, for example, couldn't even copy a short passage correctly: It's "god is imaginary," not "god is an imagination." Your version doesn't even make sense!

    And no, what I talk about is in fact a very good basis for saying "God is imaginary." The scientific method is by far the best tool we have for distinguishing truth from unproven assertions. The scientific method requires evidence before an assertion even earns the right to be investigated. There is no evidence for the assertion "God is real."

    Case closed. Come back when you've got some evidence.

    Indeed. You do a very good job of impersonating a theist.

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    I understand. Out in the carbon world I don't rag on Christians and other religionists (as long as they don't rag on me), because I understand what they get from their faith. But this is a place of science and scholarship. We can't afford to go easy on delusions and unproven assertions. That's no way to find the truth.

    Not atheists, but scientists. As I have noted several times, the scientific method is the only reasoning technique that has consistently led us to the truth for half a millennium.

    Theism, on the other hand, has been a disaster. Its worst component is the Stone Age tribalism that it encourages among its believers. Each group believes that they are just a little bit better than the rest of us, because they have "the truth" (God told them so!) and we don't. Therefore, in an oh-so-charitable effort to save us from our ignorance, they are entitled to use any tactics that work, including, frequently, violence.

    • As I write this, the world is poised on the verge of a three-way nuclear war between the Christians, Muslims and Jews.
    • World War II had many causes, but about 25% of the body count was the result of Christians attempting to exterminate the Jews—antisemitism has been a defining trait of European Christendom since its founding.
    • People point to the atrocities of communism and say, “See, that’s purely secular,” but they’re wrong. Marx was a Christian and his motto, “To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability,” is an elaboration of a line from the Book of Acts. Only a person deluded with faith in an imaginary deity would develop an economic system in which a civilization can survive even though what the citizens take from it need not balance with what they give back!
    Indeed. The assertion that there is a conscious creator and controller of the universe is the most extraordinary of all extraordinary assertions. The scientific method requires evidence for the existence of this creature before any assertions based on the reality of his existence can be tested.

    But moreover, another cornerstone of the scientific method, which the religionists (and apologists for religion such as Wynn) don’t bother learning is: Extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before we are obliged to treat them with respect. This is the Rule of Laplace, although American TV viewers are more likely to know it as Sagan’s Law from his immensely popular PBS series.

    Let us examine the evidence for the existence of this creature. Whoops! There ain’t any! The religionists will quickly say, “Sure there is: the moon, the stars, love, puppies, rainbows, chocolate...” Yeah right. We’ve got the astronomical, psychological, meteorological and biological evidence for all these things. No god required, thank you.

    And that, young man, is the purpose of science. It gives us the vocabulary and the methodology to describe, analyze and test all these things, in a way that everyone can agree on.
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    My impression is that 'Russell's teapot' is kind of a reductio-ad-absurdem of the idea that there's no problem in believing in something provided that there isn't any evidence against it. It doesn't depend on the teapot being a physical object, it revolves instead around the teapot being ridiculous. It's saying that if it's ok to believe in anything you want to believe, provided there isn't any evidence against it, that opens the door to believing in no end of ridiculous things.

    I'm not convinced that you are an atheist.

    I get the impression that you have a very exalted idea of theism. (You still seem to believe that theists are superior people, compared to non-theists.) Unfortunately, something happened to you that estranged you, something that drove you away. (That's just a speculation, but you hint at it often.) I sense that you still believe in God and still long for him, passionately with all of your heart. You just feel so distant...

    Perhaps you are one of the theists for whom the problem of the 'hiddenness of God' is a deep and existential problem. Or maybe not, I don't know.

    I have no objection to that. I'm curious what those reasons are, but it's up to you whether you want to discuss them.

    I'm rather unlike the more militant and outspoken sort of atheist myself. I was raised in a secular and religiously eclectic home.

    When I was a youth, I never felt any anger or hostility towards or from the other kids whose families belonged to various Christian churches (and occasionally Jewish congregations). It fascinated me. Sometimes I accompanied them to church and talked to the clergymen. My Jewish friend tried to teach me the Hebrew that his congregation was teaching him. Catholicism particularly fascinated me, maybe because of the church's history, its style (in those days they still had Latin masses), the nuns (they still had those too) and Catholic schools and stuff. My best friend's family was Catholic and the father was a very nice guy, ethical and spiritual, committed to a contemplative form of the faith.

    But having said all that, from my earliest recollection, I was always aware that I didn't literally believe any of it. I never have. There was never any fear, never any defense mechanisms. Never any of the anger that so many other atheists wear on their sleeves. No bad experiences with theism or with religion ever, really. My atheism, such as it is, is entirely philosophical.

    I guess that's what motivated me to study philosophy and religion at the university.

    I don't understand the point that you are trying to make. The objection to 'tables and chairs' doesn't seem to be that they are material objects. You denied that was it up above.

    You seem opposed to the whole idea of making religious decisions based on reasons for making them. I don't understand that. How do you propose to distinguish true religious ideas from heathen supersitition? (Provided that distinction makes sense, which many theists think is the case.)

    You've mentioned virtue epistemology several times. I don't understand that either. How does consideration of the knower's virtues dissolve all the questions about how it is that he or she knows particular things?

    I get the impression from all these threads the last week or two that there's an implicit argument hidden under the surface of these discussions, often hinted at but never clearly stated by anybody. There are repeated suggestions that theists possess virtues that non-theists don't. Perhaps they are faithful to God or something. And in religion, these religious virtues arguably are simultaneously epistemological virtues. So the theist is justified claiming to know that God exists, and that belief is not only true, it's the ultimate and highest truth. Provided only that the theist has suitable faith. (Or whatever the theist virtues supposedly are.)

    You didn't like that paraphrase the last time I mentioned it. But even if it's wrong, that's the impression I've gotten. I'm sensing that the traditional Christian idea of knowing by faith is floating around. So if that isn't what you are talking about, and it very likely isn't, feel free to fill out the details and explain what your own idea really is.

    Why not? I'm not sure what the phrase "the same manner that one seeks evidence of chairs and tables" means. Nor am I sure what you are objecting to. Are you objecting to the whole idea of basing one's belief in A rather than B on there being reasons to believe A rather than B?

    What does "work with" mean? Obvously if we choose to believe a-priori that God really is Supreme Being, Creator and Controller, then the whole problem of God's existence would evaporate because we would already believe that God is Supreme Being, Creator and Controller. But why should somebody believe that the definition states a truth? That whole line of argument looks circular to me.

    Perhaps the argument instead is that if somebody really understands a 'Supreme Being, Creator and Controller' definition of God, even if one isn't actually asserting its truth, then on that assumption no particular fact could stand out as evidence for God's existence, since everything without exception could equally be termed evidence of God's existence. That seems to land us right back where we started, with Russell's teapot again.

    As you no doubt know, the logical positivists made arguments not entirely unlike that (though based on different premises) and concluded that if nothing can possibly count for or against its truth, God-talk was simply nonsense. I'm not a logical positivist and I do want to think that theological assertions can be meaningful, even if it's the case that we don't possess any means of determining which of them are actually true, assuming that any are.

    I think that one can (and arguably must) continue to inquire into how people supposedly know, and hence what reasons exist for believing, the propositions that people assert are truths. If it appears that no reasons exist, or even possibly can exist for what they say, then that seems to tell us something important about the plausibility of the things being asserted.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    In that regard, it aligns with science. The scientific method assures us that each of us is welcome to believe in any assertion that has not been proven false beyond a reasonable doubt.

    What we are not permitted to do is to lie and claim that it has been proven true--not just the extreme case of claiming that it is "true beyond a reasonable doubt," but also to claim merely that there is evidence for it when there isn't any.

    Otherwise, any assertion that has not been proven false must be regarded as potentially true, no matter how unlikely. Nonetheless the scientific method categorizes these assertions, as I noted earlier.
    • In general, the academy (using the term figuratively for the community of scientists) will not expend any of its finite resources on testing an assertion that is not accompanied by evidence.
    • Furthermore, the Rule of Laplace says that if the assertion is extraordinary, the academy will not test it until equally extraordinary evidence is provided. To render that into an example, if you tell me there's a raccoon in the company bathroom (for you foreigners, that's sort of a cat-sized bear with a long, nicely decorated fluffy tail), I'll test your assertion by going upstairs to look. After all, raccoons are very intelligent and famous for finding ways into buildings to steal food, so that's an ordinary assertion. But if you tell me there's a polar bear up there, I'm going to yawn. The nearest polar bears are in the Washington DC zoo, and if one had escaped it would be all over the news. This is an extraordinary assertion, so I'm not going to test it until you at least show me a photo of the bear in our restroom: extraordinary evidence.
    Sure. But it also opens the door to believing in things that are ridiculous by today's standards, but might turn out to be reasonable tomorrow.

    Yes, this attitude opens the door to religion, but it also nurtures imagination, which can manifest in works of art... and occasionally astounding, counterintuitive works of science.

    To paraphrase the old saying about a hundred guilty men versus one innocent man: 'Tis better to let a hundred utterly idiotic ideas circulate freely, than to discourage someone from nurturing a bizarre idea that turns out to be correct.

    I'm a third-generation atheist. I never heard of religion until I was seven. Another little boy started telling me about this guy named "God" who lives up in the clouds and can see everything we do. I thought it was just one of those clever stories that children make up, a rather good one at that, and I laughed my head off. I couldn't understand why he didn't appreciate my reaction.

    When I told my mother about it she said, with her head bowed sadly, that many grownups believe in this guy named "God," and that's why they never tell their children the truth, the way they do about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. I was dumfounded, and that was the day I became a cynic. It took me decades to regain my respect for humanity.

    An important difference between theists and atheists. We simply can't understand why, for example, a Christian can have grudging respect for Judaism, Islam or maybe even Hinduism, but not for the spiritual beliefs of the Native Americans, Australians, Africans, etc.

    The Hindus, at least, are to be respected for not making that distinction. They believe there is one god, but he is so vast and complicated that he simply can't fit into a single model. This is why they have so many images of him, which we misinterpret as multiple gods.

    What a coincidence. I have the same suspicion, only it points in the other direction.

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    But more seriously, I've met too many honorable, wonderful theists in my 70 years to not realize that they have just as much chance of turning out right and decent as we do. It turns out that they're not ALL Westboro Baptists or Taliban.

    There are many components of the human spirit (using the term psychologically, not religiously) that can lead us to a righteous life, one of shame, or simply doing the best we can somewhere in "the middle of the muddle." Religion is merely one of them. Honesty, courage, loyalty, industry, responsibility... these are found in both believers and non-believers. So are their opposites, and so are the unclear points in the middle of the spectrum.

    Jung tells us that belief in the supernatural is one (or more) of the archetypes that are programmed into our neurons by our DNA. (He died before genetics became a mature science; this is how his own statement is reworded today.) An archetype is an image, legend, ritual, behavior, etc., that recurs in nearly every society in nearly every era. A type of instinct.

    Most instincts are obviously survival traits, such as fear of a large animal with both eyes in front of its face. Anyone who doesn't immediately turn and run will not live long enough to reproduce so his genes will be lost. How superstitious beliefs made the cut is difficult to understand. Perhaps there were bizarre dangers 80,000 years ago for which a belief in the supernatural served as an escape. Or maybe it was just a random mutation passed down through a genetic bottleneck like Mitochondrial Eve.

    In any case, it's nice to see a few little gene pools like my own family, in which this mutation has been lost. Perhaps the survival of the human race depends on us. We don't want to kill people just because they don't believe in our gods.

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  10. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Fraggle, if you are trying to argue that you work out of the same definition from the dictionary you offered earlier, you failed. The things you are talking about are not even theoretically approachable by empiricism .... much less the absence or such so called lack of evidence lending itself to some sort of conclusion.

    Actually all you are doing is borrowing from the authority of science in an attempt to lend credibility to your political ideology. As such, your activities tend to draw criticism even from atheists, what to speak of scientists.

  11. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    I would say that depends on what definition you're using for "mind". I'm pretty sure I can be conscious of hearing sound without having to think about whether I am conscious.
    Well, I guess you can't. But you seem to have been saying that hearing, or seeing, or breathing, is a non-experience unless it's accompanied by thoughts and words. Surely this can't be true.

    Why can't it instead be true that an experience is "richer" when you don't contextualise it any further than the experience itself? So that thinking and speaking about what you heard, in fact makes the experience poorer? What mechanism "ensures" that thoughts and words make experiences more than they are?.
  12. river

    Absolutely true

    This statement above is the essence of being deluded
  13. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    For the most part Delusion's are caused by our own subconscious having spent years believing (or knowing) that fairytale's are true, it's not something that can just be deleted outright, over time we might be able to accomplish that with a waning memory, however we'll pick up many other subconscious habits that will be equally as difficult to quit like an addiction. Delusions are apart of our nature, it's where people digress when they lack control and suffer stress or trauma. It's a coping mechanism, this is why it's so difficult for a person who suffers a severe delusion to be able to break free from it, after all what would be there to aid them cope instead? (Anxiety, Depression, suicidal tendancies, apathy towards life etc?)
  14. Mazulu Banned Banned

  15. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I'm pretty sure you cannot hear anything without being in a state of consciousness ... and furthermore, even if your consciousness lapses, such as when you enter in a deep dreamless sleep, that lapse of consciousness is also assimilated by the same apparatus.

    IOW the very nature of being conscious is to be in a constant state of automatic assimilation/contextualization of the environment ... and even if this consciousness completely lapses to the cessation of all sensory activity, chronological continuity of selfhood establishes a link (IOW if we lapse, we don't think we suddenly ceased to exist ... which of course would be an oxymoron similar to having a dream about getting decapitated and looking in horror at the bloody stump of one's neck)

    thoughts and words are simply the consequence of contextualizing.. and as such they can be either more or less accurate ... however if you want to talk of them being "poorer" this is only possible if you have recourse to better tools/codes/language in order to compare them.
    IOW my point is that such language or codes are a prime requirement if you want to talk about enriching an experience

    Again, you are trying to retreat into low end experiences, or experiences that generally have a capped level of enrichment due to them by and large occurring in the background of our lives automatically... however even if you want to use them as examples, if you want to talk about them being poorer or richer you can only do this is you have a language to qualify the difference in value.

    If it was otherwise you wouldn't be able to distinguish between a lesser experience of hearing from another. So for instance, aurally speaking, attending a live orchestral performance would be non-different from a car manufacturing plant.
  16. river

    Hellen Keller , was def and blind

    Yet she had to navigate her enviroment , objects , she did

    To her there was NO delusion of the reality of objects
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    she also went on to become an accomplished speaker and author.
    What's your point?
  18. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    "Low end experiences" is your label for it, not mine.

    But the fact remains, you have no need to think about breathing in order to breathe. You appear to think that breathing is less of an experience unless you think about it, and then talk about it. This is simply not true.
    Furthermore, it isn't "low-end", and in fact there is no such thing because all experience is subjective. You appear to need to invent labels like this to prop up your paradigm, and I think your paradigm is more or less useless, it adds nothing; it doesn't matter how much you talk about breathing, the act of breathing is what it is, and it most definitely is not thinking or speaking.
  19. river

    That reality is actual
  20. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    given that it passes almost unseen in our daily lives due to its unremarkable nature, its an apt one.

    The fact remains that if we are to begin to discuss (or even think about) it as an enriching experience, it is automatically accompanied with tools/codes/language

    Given that it passes in an unnoticed manner until we do enrich it in such a fashion, it appears to be a correct analysis

    On the contrary it is.
    To indicate that we can breath and not think about it indicates that the "experience" of breathing (ie conscious acknowledgement of it occurring) tends, on the whole, to be unremarkable.

    Yet for some funny reason the richness of experiencing the sound of breathing doesn't enjoy a great representation on itunes or any other media you could care to mention .... although, as already mentioned, there are tons of literature out there to offer guidance on how to enjoy a richer experience of breathing ... none of which involve books with blank pages I might add.

    On the contrary, your paradigm is useless and offers nothing. It can't even make the grade with low end experiences, what to speak of high end ones.
    It tends to be a cheap ploy used by persons shrouding a claim in vagueness in order to avoid the obvious criteria that already comes with it (eg: "I experienced god and it can not be explained with words" is just another way of saying "I am pretending to have an experience that I am obviously not qualified for" since, at least if scripture is to be taken half seriously, there is tons to be said on the matter .... or similarly "breathing is a very enriching experience for me" similarly becomes "I am trying to fool you into thinking I am more self satisfied and unique then what I am since its plainly obvious that despite whatever deceptive and vague manner I allude to in my manner of breathing, I am totally unable to sustain it as an "enriching act" and instead opt for the standard measures for seeking rich experiences plainly obvious in everyone else's lifestyle")
    This sort of thinking only fools people who want things cheaply and want to be cheated.
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    it also shows that, as far as addressing reality goes, it occurs through models of language/literacy/codes etc
  22. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

    For most people, I suppose that's true.
    You initially asked for an example of an experience that doesn't need thinking, I gave you one. Now the subject is discussion of that experience?
    No, there is a way to "enrich" the experience so it doesn't "pass in an unnoticed manner"; this does not involve thinking and talking, in fact the opposite is true.
    You obviously believe this is true; I don't.
    So what? How many itunes are there of birds singing, or ocean waves?
    So now the experience isn't unremarkable because there is a lot of literature about how to "enrich" the experience?
    Do you know how many of them advise you to think about breathing as you do it, then talk about it? Does the "enrichment" depend on how much you think or how much you say, the number of people you talk to?
    Or does (the advice) suggest you shouldn't think about anything, and in fact says nothing about who you should talk to or how many?
    What's vague about breathing? How do you become "qualified" to have the experience, or even pretend to have it?
    You label the experience with "low end", and my use of the example a "cheap ploy". You asked for an example, I gave you an example.

    I don't believe I can make my breathing experience richer by thinking about it, or talking about it. I don't care if you think I'm using a cheap ploy. I don't care about whatever ploy you think you're using either, it isn't working.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    The crucial reality is that unlike most deaf and blind people at that time, Helen Keller had a nurse who went to great lengths to help her.
    Without a capable nurse, Helen Keller would quite likely not have become what she did.

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