The Raving Theist

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Peace, Love and Understanding

September 9, 2005 | 62 Comments

Are All Homosexuals Are Filled With Shame and Self-Hatred? Col. Julius Hannon at the Conservative Life forums has a definite opinion about this. But he’s pro-life, so I’ve started my own thread over there suggesting that he dump God, embrace gay marriage and focus on pro-life issues.

The replies indicate some initial resistance, but I can sense they’re coming over to my side.

[Link via Jill of Feministe]


62 Responses to “Peace, Love and Understanding”

  1. Jennifer
    September 9th, 2005 @ 10:43 am

    Response to RA’s post from biggandyy

    here is some advice; “Don’t wear anything flammable when you die.”

    You know, I think you are right. I do think he’s softening a little.

  2. Tenspace
    September 9th, 2005 @ 11:29 am

    Boy, lots of good ol’ Christian Love for RA over at that site. My favorite quote: [i]The Raving Atheist,” you have just been declared a member of the liberal ranks. [/i]

  3. JP
    September 9th, 2005 @ 11:42 am

    They still make people like this?

  4. jahrta
    September 9th, 2005 @ 12:04 pm

    JP – these people will eventually die off like the dinosaurs they don’t believe in, with any degree of luck.

  5. jahrta
    September 9th, 2005 @ 12:13 pm

    TRA – is there really any point in trying to carry on a meaningful conversation with a bunch of homophobic good ‘ol boys who are most likely card-carrying members of the KKK?

    You don’t really need to look any further than the militaristic theme of the blogger’s icons and rank-based status. Is there really anything more pathetic than a right-wing asshole who proclaims himself brigadier general of some fictious army in which every member believes that gays/blacks/jews/”anyone who isn’t us” is someone inferior to them and should be stripped of their civil rights?

    i wonder how many of these people have been rendered blind by their own bathtub moonshine?

    I wonder how many of them have IQ’s breaching 80?

    How many still have their original teeth?

    If you go back to post, make sure to have them say hi to their uncle father brother billy joe bob for me.

  6. a different tim
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:03 pm

    I sense a lot of sublimation over there.
    The obsession with military rank and uniform. The hysterical denunciation. people called “big andy”.
    I think the words “in denial” may be relevant.

    I’d post this on their site, but my computer would be ashamed of me if I tried to register.

  7. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

    You should accuse them of communism and of being not patriotic enough, and give detailed explanations why. Then to top it off, accuse them of being gay the way that retired Marine was in American Beauty.

    THAT should piss them off. :)

  8. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

    I am sorely tempted to register just to ask them a few questions that would make them eat their own words. They are idiots and exposed their ignorance already.

    The problem is that I think you need to click on an activation email to register and I do not have access to my personal email right now (im at work).

    Sigh…. I cant decide if I should go through the trouble or not.

  9. a different tim
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:18 pm

    Nor can I.
    We aren’t going to change their minds because they don’t have any.
    But on the other hand it might be a laugh.

  10. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:23 pm

    I wanted to do it for fun. I enjoy engaging the enemy. In the world of religious and political debate, I am a trench fighter; a foot soldier; the infantry.

    And I really like watching them get pissed by my superior arguments. ;)

  11. a different tim
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    Done (as above). View on the original thread before they take it down.
    Liked the picture of the “fags” though (as a Brit).

  12. a different tim
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:40 pm

    Also, in their wisdom, google have put an ad at the bottom of the forum page where, if you click on it, you can buy a T-shirt of Bush with the word “wanker”.

  13. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

    I made a half assed attempt at registering with my work email and changing my email address after I activate it, but my work email hasnt received the activation email. Maybe they blocked it.
    Oh well. If you eventually see a post in there from “MustangGT” youll know its me ;)

  14. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 2:10 pm

    That dumbass Julius said you dont have the authority to classify anything as erroneous. Tell him that he doesnt have the authority to classify the Bible as truthful. Tell him that he committed the authority argument fallacy two posts before he accused you of it.

  15. Tenspace
    September 9th, 2005 @ 4:36 pm

    I couldn’t resist, and joined in defense of RA. Here’s my first post:

    Julius Hannon wrote:
    [i]Raving Atheist, if you really mean what you said in that statement, you should get the hell out of here.

    I, nor any of the other God-fearing Christians on this network, need to be “educated” by an intellectually-challenged amateur like yourself. [/i]

    Calling the Raving Atheist intellectually-challenged is an obvious lie. He appears quite erudite and educated. Is this an example of bearing false witness?

  16. fiatlux
    September 9th, 2005 @ 5:09 pm

    go tenspace! Go RA!

    I’ll pop some popcorn. This is getting good.

  17. fiatlux
    September 9th, 2005 @ 5:09 pm

    go tenspace! Go RA!

    I’ll pop some popcorn. This is getting good.

  18. AK
    September 9th, 2005 @ 5:58 pm

    ARGH I cant believe they just said “there are no atheist in foxholes” especially considering that I just did TWO posts on my blog carefully explaining how there are no THEISTS in foxholes!

    Not to mention that there is a group called “atheists in foxholes” which is comprised of military atheists.

    I wish I could post there. dammit.

  19. Oliver
    September 9th, 2005 @ 7:59 pm

    Well I’ve added a few comments of my own. What a bunch of morons.

  20. Switch25
    September 9th, 2005 @ 9:06 pm

    Wow, those are some of the most ignorant theists I have ever seen. I would like to take this time to thank all the theists who come here who are not as ignorant.

    We should all start posting comments against theres- a flood of atheists! Though we won’t teach them anything, it’ll be fun.

  21. ferrethouse
    September 9th, 2005 @ 10:38 pm

    Wow. You guys sound like the intolerant ones here. To address some of your comments…

    1. I am the administrator of the forums and I am not religious.

    2. The two most active posters are black. So whoever said this…

    “brigadier general of some fictious army in which every member believes that gays/blacks/jews/”anyone who isn’t us” is someone inferior to them and should be stripped of their civil rights?”

    Should STFU.

    3. big andy didn’t pick that name because he thinks he is tough. he picked it because he is BIG – as in overweight. Sorry you have a problem with that. We don’t. In fact I banned someone for making fun of it.

    Reading through these comments I am pretty confident that YOU folks are the real intolerant ones.

  22. Jennifer
    September 9th, 2005 @ 11:13 pm

    I don’t see anyone here mocking bigandyy, though I quoted him. The only person to make reference to his size was you.

    You know ferrethouse, making your presence felt early in that conversation sent the message of pending banning…bringing in the bouncer. I’m sure that you are aware of how you used your power.

    People don’t get banned for arguing here, so feel free to start a thread in the forum if you feel you can hold your own in a debate. We have Liberals and Conservatives, Atheists and Theists, Men and Women, Young and Old, Straight and Gay…..our population is the sign of a forum that truely respects the right of freedom.


  23. Oliver
    September 10th, 2005 @ 4:25 am


    I posted my last comment before getting any reply to my comments and I was quite pleasantly surprised to get some civil discussion from one person and only one post flaming me. I don’t think everyone on your board is moronic, but IMO there are a fair number who are inclined that way. I should think they would think the same of people here.
    Anyway, just becasue people on the RA board make fun of theists dopesn’t mean we’d want to beat them up or pass laws against them or for that matter, ban them from practising religion! Whatever floats your boat I guess.

  24. oliver
    September 10th, 2005 @ 4:48 am

    Not sure they should be allowed to adopt though, what with their tendancy to indoctrinate their kids (joke-ish)

    Also they should keep their religion in their churches and homes and not impose it on anyone else who might be offended by it.

  25. Vernichten
    September 10th, 2005 @ 7:26 am

    ferrethouse, please don’t tell others to shut the fuck up while you are enjoying the freedom to say whatever you want. It really outs you as the asshole.
    But don’t worry, here you can say whatever YOU want without fear of being banned, so let’s hear what you think about homos and jews and religion. Don’t be afraid, I’m ready to tolerate your opinion.

  26. SteveR
    September 10th, 2005 @ 10:48 am

    Jahrta writes: “TRA – is there really any point in trying to carry on a meaningful conversation with a bunch of homophobic good ‘ol boys who are most likely card-carrying members of the KKK? ”

    You’re being unfair to the KKK. Some of those folks make the KKK seem like voices of moderation.

    RA : Nice try. Maybe you chose a medium too far to the right to ‘break the ice’. I didn’t detect a shred of intellectual honesty on that blog. There must be more appropriate (middle of the road) blogs who will at least try to address your comments without resorting to insults and adhominem attacks.

  27. Jennifer
    September 10th, 2005 @ 10:55 am

    SteveR, I think letting them know that we are in the neighborhood is worthwhile. Their ecochamber is bound to get a little dull after a while. Ferrethouse turned out to be kind of a hit and run, but I predict some of them will stop in to debate and the world is better for it.

  28. Vernichten
    September 10th, 2005 @ 12:01 pm

    Jennifer, please do not be hasty in your judgment of ferrethouse. I am confident that he or she will return and explain his or her opinions on these important matters. Then he or she will explain how he or she arrived at these conclusions using logic and rational thinking.

  29. a different tim
    September 10th, 2005 @ 1:14 pm

    If ferrethouse is still watching…

    That thread about african americans being the stupidest people on earth. how does that square with you not being bigoted or intolerant?

    And what’s with the army thing?

  30. Jennifer
    September 10th, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    Vernichten, you are tease.

  31. ferrethouse
    September 10th, 2005 @ 1:32 pm

    That thread about african americans being the stupidest people on earth. how does that square with you not being bigoted or intolerant?

    You would have to ask the black person who wrote it. Feel free to do so.

    As far as banning is concerned. My forums are conservative forums for conservatives. There are plenty of forums that allow people of all ideologies to post. I do allow non-conservatives to post so long as they do so in a mature fashion and respect the rules. My restrictions have nothing to do with free speech. You can’t walk into CNN and demand air time. Likewise you can’t do whatever you want in the forums that I built, maintain, and paid for.


    I’m sorry, next time I will allow people to personally attack me and the other people at my forums by calling us KKK members among other things. Funny how you don’t tell them to tone down their rhetoric.

  32. MBains
    September 10th, 2005 @ 2:02 pm
  33. Vernichten
    September 10th, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

    ferrethouse, no need to apologize.
    But it is interesting that you haven’t asserted your beliefs, only your indignation.
    I’m not sure if you’ve ever read any other comments I’ve ever made, but I have pointed out fallacious arguments in others’ arguments, not only yours.
    You are right that speech can be limited on your forum, but here we are all free to explain our opinions. It allows our differing beliefs to meet opposing beliefs, and it makes the varying arguments stronger or else it exposes them as weak. It seems pretty cool for people who can learn and grow. It’s probably scary for people who feel threatened by new information.

    Does your lack of religion prevent you from responding to rudeness with maturity?

  34. Jennifer
    September 10th, 2005 @ 2:21 pm

    Welcome back ferrethouse!

    My restrictions have nothing to do with free speech. You can’t walk into CNN and demand air time.

    From Wikipedia

    Freedom of speech is often regarded as an integral concept in modern liberal democracies, where it is understood to outlaw censorship.

    banning, would of course be censorship, although it was the misuse of power via, appearing suddenly inside a heated conversation that I took issue with.

    In democratic countries, freedom of speech is taken for granted, though the exact degree of freedom varies between countries and jurisdictions. This freedom generally includes:

    * the right to criticize the political system and political leaders, including those in power;
    * the right to criticize public and corporate policies;
    * the right to criticize religious and political ideas.

    I would hesitate to hold up CNN as an example of free speach.

  35. The Libertarian Defender
    September 10th, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

    First, GOD DOES EXIST and The Holy Bible is His Word.

    In addition, both The Immaculate Conception and The Holy Resurrection really did happen; Jesus is The Son of GOD, and He died for our sins on The Cross.

    And the reason why all that is true is because I SAY IT IS.

    And I do not have to explain the reason why it is all true to you or anyone else — and that is because THE TRUTH IS THE TRUTH … Straight Up, cool.

    Holy shit! I thought ignorance on that level was the stuff of pure fantasy. It’s actually almost painful to read that brand of theocratic ignorance. Just one more reason to feel sorry for theists, I guess…

  36. The Libertarian Defender
    September 10th, 2005 @ 2:57 pm

    I guess I should point out that in my reply above, I’m quoting everything up until “Holy Shit” from the website TRA linked us to.

  37. The World Wide Rant - v3.0
    September 10th, 2005 @ 9:31 pm

    Faith, Hope, Love

    For Darleen, who sees hopeful prayer as a manifestation of faith, I present The Raving Atheist helping others to manifest their beautiful faith as well.And as for your Bible bashing, here is some advice; “Don’t wear anything flammable when you…

  38. Miresse
    September 10th, 2005 @ 11:08 pm

    Goodness, that has to be about one of the funniest threads I’ve ever read. It just keeps going, and going… Bravo!

  39. a different tim
    September 11th, 2005 @ 10:49 am

    On the free speech thing – there is a difference between censorship and editorial control. CNN has a limited amount of airtime (only 24 hours in a day) so I’m not sure it qualifies as censorship.
    Internet forums are a bit ambiguous – if they want to run a forum “by conservatives for conservatives” I guess they can, although it must get a little tedious just agreeing with each other all the time, and unless they have a microscopically small server limited resources don’t come into it. I like it when an articulate theist (and we get a few) posts to this site. It’s pretty dull when we all just sit around saying “Christians are bad”. What Vernichten said, I guess.

    I feel we sometimes focus too much on Christians, and especially Christian conservatives (I say this as a left leaning atheist). Can we have a go at the equally stupid beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and (my particular bugbear) crystal-gazing tarot-reading astrologising I-may-be-on-drugs-but-it’s-a-shamanic-experience antirationalist new age bastard pagans please?

  40. Vernichten
    September 11th, 2005 @ 11:15 am

    Anyone who believes that there is something outside of himself or herself that is more important than our collective freedom is a threat and history shows us that if they aren’t fought they will eventually try to kill those of differing beliefs or at least force them to profess conformity and behave correspondingly.
    Once again I agree with adm (tedious, I know) regarding forums where like-minded people constantly affirm each other’s beliefs. Constant argument generates strong arguments, constant agreement creates weak minds.I wish there were more open-minded theists and idealogues who weren’t afraid to argue their case. Since atheists have but the one thing in common it follows that there would be at least some conflict, as opposed to, for example, some good ol’ boys sittin’ around fag-obsessin’, mentally masturbatin’ and pattin’ each other on the back sayin’ “you so right”.

  41. a different tim
    September 11th, 2005 @ 11:47 am

    I feel morally obliged to try to start an argument with you now.
    Just trying to think of something outside myself that is more important than our collective freedom.


    How about truth? Most of us, I think, feel atheism is a philosophical position grows out of concern for truth (otherwise we’d take Pascal’s wager). Should people have the freedom to form parties, run for office, get into government based on positions that are demonstrably (it has to be demonstrably or it becomes a matter of mere opinion) untrue?
    I’m not saying anything here about private belief, but to let people who have a clearly wrong picture of the universe have a chance of getting into power is, I propose, like letting someone operate on you who follows Galen’s “four humours” theory of medicine, or hiring a pilot who believes that aeroplanes are held aloft by angels. Yet the freedom to try to persuade others of your point of view is pretty basic, and to curtail it is politically dangerous for the reasons you suggest.

    It’s not much but it’s the best I can do on short notice.

  42. Vernichten
    September 11th, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

    Unfortunately I don’t think truth can be objectively perceived by the human brain as it now exists. Given that point, my perception is bound to be different than yours regarding the truth. Who wins? Hopefully not the majority.
    One way is to evaluate which “truth” is more useful, but that presumes a goal or idea which is subjectively valuable and which the most useful “truth” can promote. The most useful goal, strictly in my opinion, is the freedom to profess and experiment with ideas. It seems the most helpful, since it is that value which allows any other goal to be attempted.
    The truth doesn’t require anyone’s belief in it to exist. Your consideration of it as valuable, as well as your perception of it, is completely subjective.
    Is this an acceptable riposte?

  43. a different tim
    September 11th, 2005 @ 12:48 pm

    It’ll do nicely, thankyou.
    However I should have been clearer in the original argument.
    While truth is difficult to determine we can objectively state that some specific things are not true. If you have a theory, and it makes testable predictions, and those preditions massively fail to conform to experiment, then I reckon it’s legitimate to state that it objectively isn’t true. Otherwise we have the kind of cultural relativism that allows bush to say that we should teach intelligent design as “part of the controversy”. It is often the case that we have two sides in an argument that – objectively – do not carry equal weight.

    Although freedom is a laudable goal, freedom from arbitrary rules is one thing, and absolute freedom another. I am not proposing a moral injunction, more something like basic fire precautions for the political realm……

    This is all very polite, isn’t it? Maybe we should try swearing. Swearing is always fun.

    Have to go do stuff now. Will be back tomorrow.

  44. Vernichten
    September 11th, 2005 @ 12:49 pm

    I’ll sum it up:
    Premise: The only objective thing is reality.
    Premise: We cannot perceive anything objectively.
    Conclusion: The objective truth about reality is currently unknowable.

    Premise: All goals and values are subjective, and created by humans, not truth.
    Premise: Humans are without inherent, objective value.
    Conclusion: Human created goals and values are without inherent, objective value.
    Conclusion: Your belief that truth is valuable is without inherent, objective value.

  45. simbol
    September 11th, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

    I don’t believe atheism is a philosophical position. It’s a scientific position. Nobody has demonstrated god exists.So, even when provisionally , you can say “god doesn’t exist”, besides Pascal wager’s at the end is very risky if you failed the right god or if you are catched betting because if you are betting then you don’t “believe” an given the properties of god, you surely will be uncovered. Btw, I cannot define what is philosophy TODAY. In the past philosophy was he same that science. in the 19 century, science and philosophy totally split. At hat time scientists appeared as different from philosophers. Onwards the room for philosophy shrunk to nothing, at least in my opinion. Today philosophy is a sad discipline whose field I don’t know which is. Can somebody tell me, what, today, is a philosopher ?

    It doesn’t matter for me if a President or a senator or representative believe or not in god, as far as he understand and accept that in matter of religions he ought to be neutral. Between an atheist rascal and a theist decent man, I will vote for the second one. Christian are christian but not stupid. They don’t certified doctors or pilots, based in beliefs, but in learning and training. You can be sure that Vatican officers check careffully the qualifications of the Pope’s Pilot. Last in the list of this quialifications maybe is the pilot’s religion. In the case of Bush, they maybe will check also if the Pilot is Republican.

    TIM, I agree with you. These americans are very worried whit their christian right, and specially with the christian catholics given their historical bias against Catholicism, coming from the reformation and they don’t pay very much attention to Muslim, Hindus, Jews and other variations of the same symphony. But maybe they are right since they have first settle their own problems.

  46. simbol
    September 11th, 2005 @ 1:30 pm

    On the argument that I have not evidence that god doesn’t exists, I will argue these two thigs:

    1) In the long history of man, god has never appeard, even when a lot of priest, philosophers and scholars tried to demonstrate his existence.

    2) Hence, if after this long history of efforts, god doesn’t appear, I can assume he doesn’t exists. In fact that he is a non-existent being, and it’s known you cannot demmonstrate the non-existence of a non-existent being

  47. Vernichten
    September 11th, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

    Simbol, Philosophy and Science are married in Logic.
    Since the definition of a philosopher varies I’ll just give you mine. A philosopher is someone who thinks about abstract ideas and inquires into his or her environment, seeking wisdom to apply those ideas. Would that place you among the practitioners of this “sad discipline”?

  48. jahrta
    September 12th, 2005 @ 10:11 am

    Pardon me for this late posting, as I’ve been away from the site for a while.

    Apparently Ferrethouse didn’t like it when i called members of his blogsite close-minded sheet-wearing kkk members. He thinks that just because the idiot who spouted off about the “self-evident truths” of the bible and religion was black, it removes him from being categorized as a good ‘ol boy racist. Well, while he may not be anti-black (even though I have known self-loathing blacks, jews, gays, what have you), it doesn’t make what he said any less close-minded or flat-out moronic. To let what he said slide because of his race, color or creed is one of the biggest injustices you could commit, and the biggest deathblow anyone could deliver upon your “argument” (and i place the word in quotation marks because in truth there is no argument, as you have presented no evidence to substantiate your point of view – only opinion and heresay).

    And even though I’d love nothing more than for everyone like you to stfu, i don’t tell you to because i find that you do far more egregious harm to your own cause every time the freedoms on which this country was founded grants you the ability to open your stupid pie-hole and let the world catch a glimpse of your unabated ignorance.

  49. a different tim
    September 12th, 2005 @ 2:13 pm

    Vernichten – false syllogism ahoy!!

    premise – the only objective thing is reality – OK
    Premise – we cannot perceive anything objectively. Not really for the reasons below. So…
    Conclusion- Wrong. We can figure some things out if we get the epistemology right.

    I’ve said this stuff before, but this brings us back, I’m afraid, to Wittgenstein and the rhinoceros. Wittgenstein claimed – as you do – that nothing empirical is knowable. Russell replied – as do I – that on the contrary, you can prove the falsity of empirical propositions, as an empirical proposition makes some kind of prediction that can be shown not to conform to experiment. Russell satirised this with the “I asked Wittgenstein to admit there was not a Rhinoceros in the room. I looked under all the tables and chairs without finding one, but he refused to admit it”.

    We may not be able to objectively state whether things are definitely true, but we can objectively state that some things are bollocks. This is Simbol’s and my approach to Atheism and is at the heart of scientific method as proposed by Popper. What Wittgenstein was trying to say, I think, was that this kind of negative knowledge is a rather poor thing compared to positive knowledge that something is true. I would agree, but it’s what we have.

    I am suspicious of pure logic not because it is in itself untrustworthy but because humans are actually quite bad at it. Aristotle, who more or less invented pure logic, got many things wrong.

    I know you like to see sources and arguments, so –
    Popper – logic of scientific discovery.
    Wittgenstein – tractatus logico philosophicus.
    Kant – critique of pure reason.

    All of which can be found here –

    Yours empirically.

  50. simbol
    September 12th, 2005 @ 2:29 pm


    “Simbol, Philosophy and Science are married in Logic.”

    I was no invited to that wedding.

    Until two or three centuries ago, logic was a branch of philosophy. So were before chemistry, biology, zoology, physics, etc. In fact, the word “scientist” was created at he end of 1800s. Until then, scientist was named philosophers, and until today, doctorates are called, whatever the science, PHD, that is, philosophiae doctor. But this is only a medieval custom.

    The same that biology, physics, etc., logics separated from philosophy and now is a complex discipline linked to mathematics, to computer science, and related to the correct way of thinking and discussing, it has to be also with probability and causality. You can be dealing with logic forever without touching philosophy, which now maybe is not more that metaphysics disguised in many ways. In my opinion, philosophy is jobless. Some say that maybe philosophy can work with language but I doubt it. Language is becoming not only social but also strongly related to biology and specifically to brain. Tell me what is a philosopher to do with the brain’s physiology if this is difficult even for the biologists and other researchers who are specialists in the brain? In these fields speculative thinking, the way

  51. Vernichten
    September 12th, 2005 @ 2:30 pm

    I require time to investigate this new information.

    My argument, which is really sophistry, admittedly, is that you can’t even really know if the room exists, or rhinoceroses, or anything, depending on your level of proof required. As long as there is some other possible explanation for what you’re experiencing other than what you call objective reality, you can’t prove unequivocally that it is, indeed, reality. It brings me back to how I judge reality by its usefulness. It’s amoral, sort of, and not very comforting when loved ones die, but I am convinced that reality is most useful when we acknowledge that ultimately we create it when we perceive it.

    Funny, squashed Mill got me an A in Morals and Rights.

  52. Vernichten
    September 12th, 2005 @ 2:40 pm

    Simbol, you have presented a good argument. I can’t refute it.
    I am hardwired to seek knowledge, and I see that goal as subjectively important. The beginning of this is to form arguments for competition in the arena of ideas. Logic is the beginning of this knowledge of argumentation.
    Since I am also hardwired for greed, I will go on to use this and other knowledge for sophistry and material gain by applying it to the practice of law. Since lawyers are not jobless, I can only presume you mean philosophy is useless in and of itself. Of course that’s true, since a mind that thinks but doesn’t act is essentially useless.
    I guess you got me with the “no true philosopher” argument.

  53. a different tim
    September 13th, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

    Back again…Squashed philosophers is cool. Glad you saw the site before. Am now in potentially embarassing position of not knowing how much of this you are already aware of. never mind…..
    You should also be aware of the limitations of logic as proven (mathematically) by Kurt Godel. Simply put, Godel was able to prove that there are statements that can be made inside a logical system that cannot be proven true or false within that logic (the “within that logical system” is important as it guarantees that the statement makes sense in terms of the logic used). In arithmetic, for example, you can make arithmetical propositions, that are not nonsense, but cannot be proven or falsified from the axioms of arithmetic. Note that the statements may be provably true (or false) by other means.

    As far as the rhinoceros stuff goes, you’re falling back on the “we can’t know anything” argument of Bishop Berkley, also beloved of postmodernists. I refer you to Dr Johnson’s reply.Hume, in a similar counterargument, offered to let anyone who doubted the objective truth of the law of gravitation test it by leaving his apartment via the (fifth floor) window.

    It is possible to legitimately claim we have no objective knowledge, but nobody actually lives that way. At least, not for very long.

  54. Vernichten
    September 13th, 2005 @ 10:11 pm

    The limitations of logic help my argument.
    If it’s a given that the Universe is the only open system, but we can’t currently deal with it as such, only in groups of limited systems,
    If it’s a given that a limited set of axioms can’t mathematically prove/disprove every result (some, apparently, but not all),
    Some things can’t be disproven, like whether your knowledge of reality is false, for example.

    No one lives as though we can have no objective knowledge, true, because it’s much more useful to perceive “reality” in the most advantageous way. Hence my belief that reality only interacts with us on our terms; in effect we create it. It might seem as though knowledge of the objective truth would be best (most useful), but it doesn’t seem to play out that way.

    Don’t mind me though. I’m a Cretan, and it’s well known that all Cretans lie all the time.

  55. a different tim
    September 14th, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

    You haven’t made the case that “whether your knowledge of reality can be disproven” etc actually is a Godel proposition.

    More importantly, how can a way of looking at reality be “advantageous” if we in effect create it? Advantageous compared to what? based on what yardstick? I feel that this is a fatal flaw in your argument.
    And reality only reacting to us on our terms? I would say it imposes its own terms pretty decisively (as in Hume’s example) whenever we try to depart from it. I didn’t say that noone lives as if we can have no objective knowledge. Just that noone lives that way for very long.

    Have we reached an impasse? It usually seems to be the case with this internalist v externalist view of the world argument.
    I remain a convinced empiricist in the philosophical tradition of my illusory nation.

    Epimenides’ paradox – the philosophical equivalent of writing “PTO” on both sides of a piece of paper. Discuss.

  56. Vernichten
    September 14th, 2005 @ 2:43 pm

    “I remain a convinced empiricist in the philosophical tradition of my illusory nation”

    Me too, I admitted sophistry early on.

  57. Vernichten
    September 14th, 2005 @ 3:08 pm

    “You haven’t made the case that “whether your knowledge of reality can be disproven” etc actually is a Godel proposition.”

    Yep, that’s a fallacious jump. I knew it as I wrote it.

    “And reality only reacting to us on our terms? I would say it imposes its own terms pretty decisively (as in Hume’s example) whenever we try to depart from it.”

    But when it imposes itself, we control how we are perceive it. Almost an unavoidable solipsism.
    As a high functioning autistic I have an even greater tendency
    towards solipsism than most, and I recognize it in others. People tune out car alarms and soon it’s as if they don’t exist. Indeed, for the adapted ear, they DON’T exist. Many people don’t perceive the particulars of their larger world even when it affects them directly. For them, it’s as if it doesn’t exist.
    Look at these deluded religious idiots. Their reality is definitely not the same as yours. Their reality is filled with devils and angels and invisible supermen. That is the way they perceive reality, and it’s not objective in the slightest. Do you think you are immune to “reality bias”?

  58. a different tim
    September 15th, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

    while this thread is still here….

    the one you didn’t address is i think the most interesting, but i stated it badly.
    when you say we percieve (interperet, whatever) reality in the most advantageous way, on wht is that advantage predicated? if we manufacture reality, whence come the good or bad consequences that give one approach a comparative advantage over the other?

    I would argue that car alarms do exist whether the ear is adapted or not. It’s the tree in the forest again, I guess. I am currently lecturing in music tech and I can assure you that they certainly have an effect on measuring instruments such as microphones wether we tune them out or not. I am continually amazed that some of my students do not pick up huge flaws in their recordings – they have tuned them out. Nonetheless they are there – I can hear them, so can others, they show up on .wav files etc.

    I do not argue that I am free of cognitive bias, but I contend that it is possible to minimise that bias through careful use of experimental method. Note that this is a social activity that reqires others to check ypour observations, replicate your experiments etc. In other words, we can percieve objective reality by negotiating in a scientific process. I am also aware that most of us don’t do that all the time, but it comes up more often than you’d think – me checking my students recordings is an example. looking at the .wav files is also good as it provides triangulation – more than one way of looking at the same data. If you are a full on solipsist then I guess those other observers can be discounted as part of your illusion.

    I am unconvinced that we control how we percieve things at all – our organs of perception and cognition have been shaped by the real (!) external world by natural selection.

    With the religious idiots I’m afraid I have to claim that their delusion is way further from reality than my delusion- otherwise what grounds do I have to call them deluded or idiots?

  59. Vernichten
    September 16th, 2005 @ 8:31 am

    “when you say we percieve (interperet, whatever) reality in the most advantageous way, on wht is that advantage predicated? if we manufacture reality, whence come the good or bad consequences that give one approach a comparative advantage over the other?”

    The advantage allows us to better execute the goals our selfish gene, which is millions of years wise, creates for us. To me, as I’ve stated, good equals useful, not “moral”. Useful does imply a goal, and I have expressed my belief that we do not choose anything, it’s chosen for us and all we can really do is ponder the view, but even that is not done of free will. So, the goal is whatever our uncontrollable thoughts dictate.

    “I am unconvinced that we control how we percieve things at all – our organs of perception and cognition have been shaped by the real (!) external world by natural selection.”

    You’ve sort of helped make my point. We don’t choose how we create reality, it’s created for us by our uncontrollable point-of-view, which is shaped by our senses, cognition, intuition, etc. That is not objectivity.

    “I do not argue that I am free of cognitive bias, but I contend that it is possible to minimise that bias through careful use of experimental method. Note that this is a social activity that reqires others to check ypour observations, replicate your experiments etc. In other words, we can percieve objective reality by negotiating in a scientific process.”

    That might be very true. But it also seems to be a reality based on popular vote.

    And finally, to reiterate:
    “I do not argue that I am free of cognitive bias, but I contend that it is possible to minimise that bias through careful use of experimental method.”

    If you admit that you can’t eliminate, only minimize the bias, then you have accepted my argument.

    Regarding solipsism, obviously in its extreme it can be ruinous (witness the completely detached autistic), if your goals involve interacting with others. In its less extreme form its effects prevent the objective world from impacting the solipsist to the degree or in the more personal way that many others seem to experience.

  60. a different tim
    September 16th, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

    “If you admit that you can’t eliminate, only minimize the bias, then you have accepted my argument.”

    I don’t agree (well obviously not or I wouldn’t have raised it….)- you seemed to be implying that we could have no knowledge of objective reality (I don’t think you claimed it didn’t exist, looking back through the posts, just that we could have no knowledge of it). Now if you say “no absolute knowledge” then you may be right but this isn’t a black and white thing – we can have good descriptive theories that aren’t 100% accurate, in the way that Newton’s laws are good to many decimal places (and are still good enough to navigate space probes by, as long as they don’t approach c or go too near to extremely massive objects) although we know they are in error. As an empiricist I am interested in reliable knowledge and repeatable experiments. I view our knowledge as a model. A model can be more or less accurate but it makes no sense to talk of a model as “true”. I would consider an accurate model objective. You seem to take a rather more essentialist view, but I don’t think essentialism is viable philosophically (and that’s a whole new ball game….).

    The idea of reality by popular vote I will assume you are kidding about – you know enough philosophy and methodology to know that stuff like replication of results (which should really be by other scientists – hence a social process) is rather more powerful epistemelogically than popular votes.

    You seem to admit the objective reality of selfish genes and the environments that shape them in your analysis. I have no problem with this but am surprised you do not.
    You have in fact proposed an imperfect but viable method of knowing objective reality under your schema – commit an act, see whether advantage or disadvantage follows, and you have thereby gained information about reality. So your version of the problem of reliable knowledge turns out to be its own solution as far as I can see.

    I do feel that a solipsist outlook leaves you trapped in the various pitfalls of pure logic as you only have a priori stuff to go on. I have mentioned before that I do not trust logic in isolation. (Godel, the difficulty of axioms, etc not to mention how easy it is to get it wrong through linguistic and other traps. As an aside you may find amusing I reckon Descartes screwed up with “cogito ergo Sum” through a linguistic trap – in English it is clear that the phrase “I think” contains the assumption that there is an I – therefore the premise assumes the conclusion. but in Latin “Cogito” is one word so it isn’t obvious).

    i suspect this thread may close soon. This is interesting though :)

  61. RavingGayMan
    October 7th, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

    I dont think atheists own homes.

  62. RavingGayMan
    October 7th, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

    I dont think atheists own homes.

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