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Battleground God.
May 30, 2002 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Battleground God. Consistency is the sign of a small mind. How small minded are you?
posted by Mossy (47 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I took a hit and had to bite a bullet alas.. Damn my inattention to detail..
posted by Mossy at 8:29 AM on May 30, 2002


Here is my bullet:

"Evolutionary theory maybe false in some matters of detail, but it is essentially true."

since I think evolutionary theory is true pretty much all around, even in matters of some details, i replied "false" here. Silly me. thinking backwards again.
posted by dabitch at 8:43 AM on May 30, 2002


I was completely consistent when I did this a few weeks ago. I was shocked.
posted by maudlin at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2002


I believe that the original quote is...

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." :)
posted by DWRoelands at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2002


I disagree with some of their premises. That first question about morality presumes that the only basis of morality is in God, and if you don't believe in God, then you have no basis of morality. I then took a bullet when I said torturing innocent people is wrong.

I don't believe in God, but I have my own basis of morality, and in my morality system torturing innocent people is wrong.

Not the best set of questions, IMHO. Of course, I dropped out of philosophy in college because it was so boring to me.
posted by starvingartist at 8:49 AM on May 30, 2002


Took one hit, bit no bullets.

A bunch of people in my congregation took this a few weeks ago and the results were actually all over the place... does that mean our consistency is inconsistent?
posted by Foosnark at 8:55 AM on May 30, 2002


No hits, one bitten bullet: I maintained that a belief in God (I don't) required concrete proof, but that the theory of evolution is essentially correct — I bit the bullet by insisting that proof in God required a higher standard than belief in a scientific theory. Okay.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:57 AM on May 30, 2002


My bullet:

"You say that if there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, then atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality. "

Who says faith and rationality are mutually exclusive? If I believe there is a God, but have no evidence, that's a matter of faith. But I said that it's irrational to believe that something doesn't exist just because you don't have evidence.....therefore, I must be rational in having faith. It even said I didn't have a logical inconsistency, but still I bit a bullet. Dumb.

And a direct hit:

"You say that God does not have the freedom and power to do impossible things such as create square circles, but in an earlier answer you said that any being which it is right to call God must be free and have the power to do anything. "

Granted, God can make whatever into whatever else... but we'd still be calling it a circle, no matter what it looks like. So God cannot make square circles, because we'd always call it either a square or a circle! It's the definition of something given by humans, not an absolute...so it's flexible, and can change if God wills something about reality to change.

And another direct hit:

"Earlier you said that it is not justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, paying no regard to the external evidence, or lack of it"

and yet I believe in God anyway...a "flagrant contradition". Yet the question states:

"It is justifiable to believe in God if one has a firm, inner conviction that God exists, even if there is no external evidence that God exists."

The question doesn't mention anything about acutally regarding the external evidence....I don't think it's justifiable to not regard external evidence...but I do think t's justifiable to regard the external evidence, and find it lacking. There's a hole in their question!
posted by taumeson at 8:57 AM on May 30, 2002


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Ralph Waldo Emerson.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:58 AM on May 30, 2002


While we're quoting Emerson on foolish consistency, let's not forget Walt Whitman on the same subject (albeit with a different twist):

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself.
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
posted by thomas j wise at 9:13 AM on May 30, 2002


Self-contradiction isn't something to be proud of.

(Yes it is!)
posted by dagny at 9:33 AM on May 30, 2002


According to the test, I'm perfectly consistent. Now I just need a test to tell me if my consistency is foolish, so I know whether I'm infested with hobgoblins.
posted by tdismukes at 9:46 AM on May 30, 2002


You took 3 direct hits and you have bitten 2 bullets. The average player of this activity to date takes 1.33 hits and bites 1.07 bullets. 52931 people have so far undertaken this activity.

I can't even go into how messed up I am. I thought I had a good relationship with my belief/unbelief in God. Now, I just don't know...maybe it's my moral belief that is at fault...I'm so confused. I gotta go try this again.

Neat link, tho. Thanks!
posted by ashbury at 10:16 AM on May 30, 2002


no hits, 2 bullets. not bad for a latinamerican magic_realistic catholic leftist existentialist upbringing. :)
posted by papalotl at 10:24 AM on May 30, 2002


0 hits, happily bit the same bullet as mcwetboy.
posted by rushmc at 10:40 AM on May 30, 2002


What taumeson said. I took this a while back, and was very unhappy with the way the whole thing was set up. Took several hits and had to bite the bullet twice, as I recall.
posted by Irontom at 10:48 AM on May 30, 2002


One hit. I said it was okay to believe in God without external proof, but not the Loch Ness monster. I guess I owe those Nessie freaks an apology.
posted by electro at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2002


It's not a perfect test--what is? But it is a rather interesting attempt to point out the logical consistency/inconsistencies of one's "beliefs." And that is very useful, given the number of people running around with careless, unexamined opinions that don't stand up to the simplest of consistency checks. Reasoning skills should be the mandatory course at all schools.
posted by rushmc at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2002


God and I have an agreement to mutually ignore each other
I'm not taking the test.
I don't have to prove myself to you.
*grin*
posted by Su at 11:24 AM on May 30, 2002


0 hits, happily bit the same bullet as mcwetboy.

Ditto.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2002


0 hits. Bit this "bullet":

You say that if there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, then atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality.

But by denying that the absence of evidence, even where it has been sought, is enough to justify belief in the non-existence of things, you are required to countenance possibilities that most people would find bizarre. For example, do you really want to claim that it is not rationally justified to believe that intelligent aliens do not live on Mars?

Now who is being inconsistent? I said that lack of evidence does not provide a rational basis for disbelief. That is not the same as saying positive belief in aliens is rationally justified.

I'm agnostic about the existence of intelligent aliens on Mars. Perhaps intelligent life can take a form completely unrecognizable to us. Perhaps it can't. To try to say for sure either way without evidence is faith, not rationality.
posted by straight at 11:44 AM on May 30, 2002


0 hits 0 bullets. I don't think my consistencies were foolish, & even if emerson would have, that's his problem :)

That first question about morality presumes that the only basis of morality is in God, and if you don't believe in God, then you have no basis of morality. I then took a bullet when I said torturing innocent people is wrong.

? only if you agreed with the statement.

0 hits, happily bit the same bullet as mcwetboy.

the statement did say "absolute, irrevocable proof." I do not ask for that sort of proof - just reasonable evidence. There is not reasonable evidence of god, however; in fact there is no evidence at all, only other people's belief.
posted by mdn at 11:49 AM on May 30, 2002


There is no logical inconsistency in your answers. But by denying that the absence of evidence, even where it has been sought, is enough to justify belief in the non-existence of things, you are required to countenance possibilities that most people would find bizarre. For example, do you really want to claim that it is not rationally justified to believe that intelligent aliens do not live on Mars?

Yes I do want to claim that. In fact I don't even find the possibility in your example very bizarre. You can't prove a negative. You can only establish that based on current evidence, the probability seems very low.
posted by willnot at 11:55 AM on May 30, 2002


Zero hits, happily bit the same bullet as mcwetboy, rushmc and dash slot. Perhaps there is a MeFi morality.
posted by Fenriss at 11:58 AM on May 30, 2002


this 'game' is a victim of its own folly! I bit this bullet:

"you claimed that...God must want there to be as little suffering in the world as possible. But you say that God could make it so that everything now considered sinful becomes morally acceptable and everything that is now considered morally good becomes sinful."

What they don't take into account is my reasoning that, should sin/morals be given an opportunity to swap, so should suffering/peace. Any being that could 'do anything' (aka God), could reverse the definitions of suffering as easily as reversing the definition of sin.
posted by LuxFX at 12:03 PM on May 30, 2002


I emerged completely clean.

I answered the "if God exists God must..." questions as all false sometimes without reading the entire questions.

Also, what mdn said.
posted by vacapinta at 12:07 PM on May 30, 2002


Why happily bite mcwetboy's bullet? Are you implying that it's a mistake on the site's part? If you believe in evolution without concrete proof, but find it wrong to believe in God without concrete proof, you're being inconsistent. Of course, I don't think they're asking that *you personally* have to believe. Just that you cannot claim belief in God is mistaken short of absolute proof when you believe other things without such proof.
posted by tirade at 12:15 PM on May 30, 2002


If you believe in evolution without concrete proof, but find it wrong to believe in God without concrete proof, you're being inconsistent

Not so. There is a vast difference between believing in the reasonable outcome of logical processes and clutching at wish fulfillment and a social desire to fit in. For example, understanding and accepting an astronomical explanation of why the sun "comes up" every morning and believing that ten solar sprites lift it over the horizon every morning may both be of equal use in predicting that the sun will come up tomorrow. However, because one is grounded in reality and the other is not, the person with the former cognitive pattern will be more successful at predicting related occurrences, such as solar flares, eclipses, etc. And because one is based upon observation, testing, etc. and the other is made up (by someone), person A holds the higher moral ground by using his mind to seek as much of an understanding of "objective reality" as he can manage, rather than giving up and settling for a comforting fiction.

In any case, this use of the term "concrete" is absurd, and therefore can be dismissed (if you deny all premises, there can be no knowledge). What I agreed with was the contention that I held a belief in God to a higher standard than I did a belief in evolution, because it is quite reasonable to expect more support to back irrational claims than rational ones.
posted by rushmc at 1:03 PM on May 30, 2002


because it is quite reasonable to expect more support to back irrational claims than rational ones.

What allows you to discern this, pre-facto?
posted by vacapinta at 1:08 PM on May 30, 2002


What I agreed with was the contention that I held a belief in God to a higher standard than I did a belief in evolution, because it is quite reasonable to expect more support to back irrational claims than rational ones.

By making a claim to rational and irrational claims, you're already drawing conclusions on the evidence as it currently exists. If there were reasonable evidence for god, then it wouldn't be an irrational belief.
posted by mdn at 1:23 PM on May 30, 2002


rushmc: None of what you're bringing up has anything to do with the question the site asks, which is the following: It is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that God exists.

It's hypothetical, so you can't go and define things outside of the limits of the question. So there could be (could be, for the purposes of the question, not *is*) as much empirical evidence for the existance of God as there is for evolution, but by your answer you still wouldn't believe in God w/o proof. Which is inconsistent if you do not demand the same of your other beliefs about the world.
posted by tirade at 1:25 PM on May 30, 2002


starving artist.. if you responded that morality only has a basis in god, but you don't believe in god, the you could not have a rational basis for morality. I think you might have just answered the question about morality and god incorrectly.

Me, I only took one hit because I said that the atheists' lack of evidence about god's existence is more faith than rational, but that it was rational to not believe in the Loch Ness after all the searching.

The only issue here is that I would say that the lake for searching for evidence of a god is much larger than the Lock Ness, and thus the time alotted to either pursuit is not equatable.

also, taumeson; the thing they are challenging you for is that for anything other than god, you would think it to be silly or foolish to believe something existed based purely on your own feelings when there is no evidence at all to support it.

I liked it.. it was pretty interesting and I wasn't too surprised I came out with just the one hit. I'm pretty sure about my religous beliefs, however muddled they may be.
posted by rich at 1:26 PM on May 30, 2002


Ha ha. I'm loving all the people who've come here to argue their "mistakes". There's a hole in their question! Stoopid game...
Cool link thanks Mossy.
I took one hit, on the last question, but I blame that on my slack intelligence and poor attention span.
posted by Catch at 1:40 PM on May 30, 2002


Attention span can be a killer, especially in these days of instant gratification in which we live :)

Oh, I knew the original quote from Emerson, but hobgoblins scare me - besides, I've always preferred the one I put, heh.. Its always good to have a little faith in something or another - helps keep you sane. Mostly.

I would also like to state that God put dinosaur skeletons in the earth play around with the archaeologist's mind. The lil rascal..
posted by Mossy at 3:34 PM on May 30, 2002


Mmmm, instant gratification.
*blip*
posted by Catch at 3:54 PM on May 30, 2002


No bullets and no hits. Truthfully, I thought most of the questions shallow. And it seemed to me a couple of the questions were asked repeatedly. Maybe the questions change depending on the answers.

Actually, I should've gone for the square circles. I forgot the metropolitan metric, in which circles actually are square. And 1 + 1 = 72 if one changes the meaning of those symbols. I should've thought harder.
posted by meep at 3:59 PM on May 30, 2002


I won the medal of honour! Woohoo!
posted by homunculus at 6:00 PM on May 30, 2002


A wealth of human experience illustrating that the more fabulous a tale told by a fellow human being, the more likely (likely, not certain, but likelihood justifies a higher level of skepticism) it is to be concocted. If you have not had the same experience, then I question the level of your participation in the human race.
posted by rushmc at 6:32 PM on May 30, 2002


If there were reasonable evidence for god, then it wouldn't be an irrational belief.

I agree.

However, the vast majority of "believers" do not base their belief (or particular flavor of specific beliefs) upon "reasonable evidence," but on the polar opposite, "faith," and they will be quite happy to admit it to you. Therefore, it is they who are characterizing the belief (and the process by which they arrive at it) as "irrational," not I.
posted by rushmc at 6:35 PM on May 30, 2002


Its always good to have a little faith in something or another - helps keep you sane.

How so?
posted by rushmc at 6:36 PM on May 30, 2002


Therefore, it is they who are characterizing the belief (and the process by which they arrive at it) as "irrational," not I.

rush, you agreed to a statement that you would need absolute, incontrovertable proof in order to believe in god. I'm suggesting that all that should be necessary is reasonable evidence. There is no reasonable evidence, so yes, people who believe in god under current circumstances do not have a rational basis for doing so. But if there were reasonable evidence, it would be rational; you wouldn't need "certain, irrevocable proof" but simply reasonable evidence. See what I'm getting at?
posted by mdn at 6:46 PM on May 30, 2002


My question was not meant as an attack but as honest wonder. Much of what is deemed "irrational" is mere opinion and stubornness. Einstein thought quantum mechanics was a fabulous tale. That light can be a particle AND a wave defies all logic and is almost the definition of irrational, right? Well, he was wrong.

Lets just examine the evidence and not make any a priori judgements about what is irrational and what is not.
posted by vacapinta at 7:05 PM on May 30, 2002


But if there were reasonable evidence, it would be rational; you wouldn't need "certain, irrevocable proof" but simply reasonable evidence. See what I'm getting at?

I do, but without qualifying what we mean by "God," "proof," and "believe," we can't talk meaningfully about it (I know, it's a pain in the ass).

What sort of evidence could ever be given to "prove" that the Christian God exists, exactly as represented by XYZ Christian sect? Proving that miracles occur wouldn't do it. Proving that prayers are answered wouldn't do it. Proving that the earth was massively flooded (or that there was literal, exact historical basis to any other of the tales in the Bible) wouldn't do it. Proving that it was possible to communicate with some powerful, unseen, supernatural being wouldn't do it (how could we ever accurately assess or judge the motives of such a one?). None of these things have ever been proven, nor are they likely to be, but even if they WERE, it would say nothing about religions and the dogma they preach.

And this is the problem I have with the question. Whatever one might possibly deem "reasonable evidence" would be insufficient, as it would be subject to other, equally likely and (possibly) equally unprovable interpretations! Therefore, I would require some sort of (hypothetical) "certain, irrevocable proof" which could dispell these doubts once and for all, at every level of analysis.

Science isn't like this (nor is normal, everyday experience of the world), because it is additive and self-corrective. Models are formed based upon observation and reality testing, and then continually modified and updated to draw ever nearer to the truth. Science could discover that any of its most cherished models was incomplete or incorrect and survive (with the possible exception of the law of cause and effect), and not only survive but be truer to itself as it moved closer to truth. Religions based upon god-worship could not survive the discovery that their god did not exist. Religion has tenets, and is only strong while they are believed and/or remain undisproven; science has process, which may be applied equally to any tenet that is falsifiable.
posted by rushmc at 9:37 PM on May 30, 2002


mdn: just out of curiousity, what would you consider to be "reasonable evidence" of God? What kind of "evidence" would one look for to determine the existence of a being outside of space and time? why would God necessarily have to make himself known to us through objective "evidence" rather than subjective experience?
posted by boltman at 9:45 PM on May 30, 2002


Rush: the survey didn't specify which god, and I answered "false" in all the questions about "god must be X". All I'm thinking of with the word "god" is a conscious being who created the world / human beings on purpose.

mdn: just out of curiousity, what would you consider to be "reasonable evidence" of God?
Reasonable evidence would include, for instance, him or her showing up and saying hey. Not from within the brain of individuals in variant and often contradictory ways, but to all of us in a way we can all comprehend, out loud, straightforwardly.

why would God necessarily have to make himself known to us through objective "evidence" rather than subjective experience?

I suppose he wouldn't necessarily have to do anything, but it's mighty sneaky to show up to different people in different ways that often contradict one another. Why isn't this the devil or the evil genius? Basically I have no problem if people decide to believe something just because they want to believe it. Personally it doesn't work for me. I try to understand the world as it is; if it turns out that god exists and is just hiding from us, I'd be very interested to chat with him about his reasons for that, & I trust he wouldn't hold it against me that I value comprehending truth to the best of my ability.
posted by mdn at 10:19 PM on May 30, 2002


All I'm thinking of with the word "god" is a conscious being who created the world / human beings on purpose.

Reasonable evidence would include, for instance, him or her showing up and saying hey.

But how do you reconcile the conflict between those two statements? Any powerful non-human being could "show up and say hey." It might even claim to have created the world and human beings. But how do we know that it, in fact, did? It could well be some jokester running a cosmic con which we are not in a position to spot.

I repeat, while it would be for non-human intelligences to prove their existence if they chose, I see no route by which they chould prove themselves to be gods, much less "God."
posted by rushmc at 6:43 AM on May 31, 2002


I repeat, while it would be for non-human intelligences to prove their existence if they chose, I see no route by which they chould prove themselves to be gods, much less "God."

well, I guess in my opinion, once god showed up and defined himself as one way or another, he would in many ways be demoted, since people would disagree with him, since he couldn't fit everyone's vision of what he should be like. That's an inherent problem with "perfection".

But all this is theoretically after his having hidden from us for most of history; if he'd been around the whole time, this wouldnt be an issue. Still, whether you call it god or super-intelligent non-human consciousness, it could make it's presence known.

another thing: it is conceivable there would evidence that would make me believe in the existence of "god", even if "god" turns out to be a space alien. That does not mean I would feel inclined to worship him/her/it.
posted by mdn at 7:49 AM on May 31, 2002


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