Thursday, October 17, 2013

Q&A

Okay, time for me to respond to reader comments over the past few days, before the comment pile gets too long.  Mostly, the comments are from C.  Oh, and Vast Universe, you gotta send me a Youtube email or something, so we can discuss the off-topic questions you brought up.

1.  How can we prove the Great Wall of China exists?  C says "I guess when you can take your skeptic along with you on a plane to China and show him the Great Wall, make him feel it, take pictures of it himself. Even if he couldn't afford it or wouldn't want to go, if he did go, he would be able to see and touch it for himself. Anyone and everyone in the world would. There would not be one single instance where a visitor went to the spot where the Great Wall is located and didn't see it standing right in front of them, unless they are blind or anything."

And the referee has just called a foul on your argument here!  Our imaginary skeptic refuses to accept sensory information as valid proof of a thing's existence. In the blot post, the skeptic specifically denies "I saw the Great Wall myself" as legitimate proof.  It could have been a hallucination, brought on by drugs that were unknowingly injected into his body.

Also, if your argument isn't changed a bit, you'll end up with the conclusion that only non-blind people can know the Great Wall of China exists.

2. C: "And even if we are [computer simulations], it doesn't matter, because the Wall would still exist in our frame of reference. It would be no more real than the sky, but to us, the sky is real."

Whoa, what?  I should think it matters a great deal if the Great Wall is real, or if it's a computer simulation!  I don't want to live in a fantasy world, whether this world is of my own creation or someone else's.  I don't care of the Great Wall is real to me; I care if it's real, period, end of sentence.

3. C: "And the standard or proof is that something is verifiable, by anyone and everyone. Everyone must be able to see and touch the Great Wall. Everyone must be able to take two apples, and two apples, and make four apples."

Problem #1: This standard is not verifiable, by anyone and everyone.  It fails to live up to its own standards.  Still...that's the standard the American legal system uses (or tries to use).  When it gets abused, people end up treating truth as something determined by majority vote/consensus, as opposed to an independent standard.

Problem #2: I dunno if you know this, but 2+2=5 is a somewhat popular idea.  It has its own Wikipedia page, and it was on The Fairly Oddparents, for what it's worth.

In real life, i.e. when I am not debating epistemology, I am overly casual when it comes to proof. I'm a pretty trusting guy; if you tell me something, I'll believe you unless I have good reason not to.

4.  Anonymous: "There are some people in this world that just feel they know everything and they tell other people that they are fools to believe in God or the Bible. I remember when I used to be an atheist, I wanted to shatter everyone's faith and belief, so they could lose their hope. I wanted them to be like me. And that is the deal with a lot of people out there. But they don't say it."

I know a Catholic Bishop who thanked militant atheists like that, because they dedicated their lives to talking about God to everyone they met.  "Your belief in God is very strong indeed," he said.  For a person cannot be an atheist, unless they believe there is something to atheate, in the same way that there cannot be prohibition without something to prohibit.

5. Anonymous: "American atheists are completely different from European atheists because Americans are reacting to a frankly hostile Christian environment. Under Texas law, atheists can't run for public office. Bush put a 6 year freeze on funding for stem cell research because God told him to. For a land that is supposed to have freedom of religion, America is not tolerant towards non-thiests, and the non-thiests reflect this. European thiests and athiests get along better because they don't make laws oppressing athiests, or laws based on what they think God wants."

You'll be hard pressed to find this in the news, but America is also extremely intolerant towards "the wrong kind" of theists, which would include Catholics. We've seen our fair share of anti-Catholic laws, such as the state-mandated shutdown of every Catholic orphanage in Illinois, forced usage of church property in Hawaii, and most prominently, Obamacare's mandate that Catholic hospitals provide and pay for abortions. So I would say the general tendency is for Americans to be intolerant towards anyone who disagrees with them, whether or not the dissenters are religious.

As for Europe, I can only speak about the Church of England, mainly because they speak the same language as I do. The government still runs the church in that country. Religion there is more political than I'd like.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

American atheists are completely different from European atheists because Americans are reacting to a frankly hostile Christian environment. Under Texas law, atheists can't run for public office. Bush put a 6 year freeze on funding for stem cell research because God told him to. For a land that is supposed to have freedom of religion, America is not tolerant towards non-thiests, and the non-thiests reflect this. European thiests and athiests get along better because they don't make laws oppressing athiests, or laws based on what they think God wants.

C said...

Point 1. I thought you meant YOU, as in the argument proposer, visited the great wall and was telling the skeptic about it. My bad. But I get what you're saying, this skeptic is a tough customer. All sensory input to anyone is a hallucination. So why bother with him, if he won't believe what he sees and touches, and what everyone else sees and touches? Should we keep trying to prove things to him? Or is that your whole point?

Point 2. Okay, difference of opinion. I personally don't care if we're in a computer simulation, though it is a weird prospect. I mean, it would still be a 'real' simulation, because we, as autonomous simulations, built it. If a Sim builds a house, then it's real to him and to everyone in that world. And yes, I am comparing ourselves to Sims, but Sims are not nearly on the level that we are, or that we could potentially create.

That's how I see it, but I get that it's sticky, and I really don't know anything about the simulation theory other than that it exists.

Point 3, Problem 1 - wait, what?

Problem 2 - I think I did know that, but it didn't enter my mind at all. Hmm. I'll read the article in a bit.

Point 4. That bishop sounds just as unpleasant as 'militant atheists'.

William D said...

Throw him against the wall >:D xD

Vast Universe said...

Sure, Michael. I'll send an email your way when I get the chance and possibly some more book suggestions that might be of interest.

I'm currently playing through The Silent Spy and plan on watching your walkthroughs when I finish, so I'll put that email on my own personal task list. :)

Barbie said...

I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. I am plastic it's fantastic you can brush my hair......imagination life is your creation! Ken: Come on Barbie lets go party! Barbie: I-I-I yeah! :)

Ken said...

mmmmhmmm! ;) You're always mine.