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Oepty
01-05-2013, 08:57 PM
Poll coming out of a discussion in the Does God Exist thread.

Rincewind
01-05-2013, 09:01 PM
One cannot choose to believe a completely arbitrary proposition. In that sense no one can rationally choose a belief.

Oepty
01-05-2013, 09:28 PM
One cannot choose to believe a completely arbitrary proposition. In that sense no one can rationally choose a belief.

I agree with that, but that is not the same thing as what I understand Kevin to be claiming

Desmond
01-05-2013, 09:36 PM
“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Oepty
01-05-2013, 09:42 PM
“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Nice quote

However you can believe things which are not impossible.

Kevin Bonham
01-05-2013, 09:51 PM
Poll coming out of a discussion in the Does God Exist thread.

Kevin states it is bleeding obvious we do not choose our beliefs.

No, what I was actually calling "bleeding obvious" was the comment you said you needed more time to think about, which you specified as being "the first line", specifically:

They are not decisions about what to believe, they are decisions about what to do. Completely different.

As for choosing beliefs, I know I don't choose mine and never have. But I don't know for sure whether anyone else can choose to alter their own beliefs. I am sceptical about whether it is possible (beyond cases such as self-hypnosis, which appear to have their limits). Maybe it is possible but the burden of showing it to occur is on the person believing that it does. And even if they show some people can do it, that doesn't prove most can or everyone can.

Oepty
01-05-2013, 09:55 PM
No, what I was actually calling "bleeding obvious" was the comment you said you needed more time to think about, which you specified as being "the first line", specifically:

They are not decisions about what to believe, they are decisions about what to do. Completely different.

As for choosing beliefs, I know I don't choose mine and never have. But I don't know for sure whether anyone else can choose to alter their own beliefs. I am sceptical about whether it is possible (beyond cases such as self-hypnosis, which appear to have their limits). Maybe it is possible but the burden of showing it to occur is on the person believing that it does. And even if they show some people can do it, that doesn't prove most can or everyone can.

Perhaps we have totally misunderstood each other.

Kevin Bonham
01-05-2013, 10:02 PM
Perhaps we have totally misunderstood each other.

And perhaps one of us has just failed to follow the birdie, and it isn't me.

I suggest that the words "it is bleeding obvious" be removed from your opening post since I did not actually state that in that context, as explained above. Are you agreeable to those words being removed?

Oepty
01-05-2013, 10:03 PM
And perhaps one of us has just failed to follow the birdie, and it isn't me.

I suggest that the words "it is bleeding obvious" be removed from your opening post since I did not actually state that in that context, as explained above. Are you agreeable to those words being removed?

Yes, and I am fairly sure you did not fully understand the my question.

Rincewind
01-05-2013, 10:05 PM
I agree with that, but that is not the same thing as what I understand Kevin to be claiming

The trouble with polls is often with the wording of the question. In this case there wording was too imprecise for me to answer without fear of misinterpretation. This is why I replied rather than voting.

Perhaps there are cases where there are a number of beliefs which are similar and only vary in small and relatively insignificant ways. In these cases people may have the appearance of freewill in the selection from among the alternatives. However it is difficult to determine whether that is in fact the case (that one can make minor choices) or whether it is an illusion created by the conscious mind rationalising the "decision" post hoc.

For me the jury would still be out on this one. Probably for me and certainly for mankind more generally. However it is not clear that these grey-areas are the nub of the issue that Kevin was trying convey in his posts directed to you.

Kevin Bonham
01-05-2013, 10:06 PM
Yes, and I am fairly sure you did not fully understand the my question.

Which question are you incorrectly claiming I did not fully understand, and why?

Oepty
01-05-2013, 10:08 PM
Which question are you incorrectly claiming I did not fully understand, and why?

I think I confused things by mentions decisions about chess and it changed the way the question would be read.

Kevin Bonham
01-05-2013, 10:14 PM
Perhaps there are cases where there are a number of beliefs which are similar and only vary in small and relatively insignificant ways.

Even with those I have no impression that I can choose to believe one and not the other. If they are so similar that the available evidence does not even provide any reason for thinking one more likely than the other then two things are possible. One is that I just have no view either way on which is more likely to be true. The other is that I have some intuitive thought that one is more likely than the other although I cannot explain why I think that. But even in the latter case I do not choose to have that intuition. It's just there.

It's pretty easy for this debate to get tangled up with the general detritus of "free will" as it is applied to actions. I believe that "free will" as applied to actions is a basic contradiction in terms (and I do consider that bleeding obvious!) But this debate can actually be had within a determinist or indeterminist framework too, by envisaging thought experiments in which subjects are provided with some incentive if they can change the content of their own beliefs, and the content of their own beliefs could then be measured in some external way. (Lie detectors are an example, albeit one known to be unreliable - there would probably be better tests.)

So it makes sense to talk about whether or not beliefs can be chosen in the way that actions are chosen, even within a framework that maintains that all "choice" is ultimately an illusion.

Kevin Bonham
01-05-2013, 10:16 PM
I think I confused things by mentions decisions about chess and it changed the way the question would be read.

I would have answered in much the same way without the mention of chess, although I may not have used chess as my example. I could use any practical decision about action as my example.

Oepty
01-05-2013, 10:35 PM
I would have answered in much the same way without the mention of chess, although I may not have used chess as my example. I could use any practical decision about action as my example.

Yes but my question was not about actions at all, it was about beliefs and thinking.

Kevin Bonham
02-05-2013, 12:15 AM
Yes but my question was not about actions at all, it was about beliefs and thinking.

You need to express yourself a lot more clearly then, instead of blaming the reader when you are "misread".

Taking out the chess reference, your questions were:

Do you ever make a choice?
Are there ever two options available to you of which you can take either of them?

I am entitled to answer yes to those questions if I ever make a "choice" in any circumstances. My answer need not be confined to the context of beliefs.

Oepty
02-05-2013, 09:21 AM
You need to express yourself a lot more clearly then, instead of blaming the reader when you are "misread".

Taking out the chess reference, your questions were:

Do you ever make a choice?
Are there ever two options available to you of which you can take either of them?

I am entitled to answer yes to those questions if I ever make a "choice" in any circumstances. My answer need not be confined to the context of beliefs.

I never blamed you. You clearly did misunderstand what I wrote. The question of why you misunderstood is different to just stating what clearly happened.

The context of the discussion was beliefs so I did not think it needed to be explicitly stated, but it seems you needed it to be stated.

From my experience I do similar things when I think about whether I am going to believe something like a Christian doctrine and when I am having a long think about a chess move.
I look at the evidence.
In the case of a Christian doctrine, I read the Bible, read other books on the subject, talk to other people.
In the case of a chess move, I look at the position, try and calculate various moves and evaluate the positions that result.

In both case I think about it and come to a conclusion. In the first case it is whether I believe that doctrine, the second case it is a chess move.

In the first case the conclusion effects what I do in my life
In the second case it leads to me moving a chess piece of the chess board.

They are not completely similar, I mean I have taken alot more time a consideration in the thinking about doctrine to believe then I would in even my longest think about a chess move. But it is hard to see how I made a choice about chess move and did not make a choice about a belief.
In the end I play what I believe to be the best move on the chessboard and I live by what I believe to be the doctrines taught in the Bible.
I have been proven to be wrong over the chessboard many times and I have changed my mind about what exactly the Bible says as well.

Redmond Barry
02-05-2013, 09:45 AM
all my decisions are made for me by an angry transient gypsy called diarmid o'reilly.

hes kind of like god because i have a very personal relationship with him but nobody else can see him. :D

Redmond Barry
02-05-2013, 09:48 AM
for some reason diarmid is allergic to lithium. :(

Oepty
02-05-2013, 09:49 AM
all my decisions are made for me by an angry transient gypsy called diarmid o'reilly.

hes kind of like god because i have a very personal relationship with him but nobody else can see him. :D

Well good for you. Will he give you anything for your devotion to his every wish?

Oepty
02-05-2013, 09:51 AM
for some reason diarmid is allergic to lithium. :(

Poor guy, life must be very difficult for him, fortunately he has such a devoted follower in you. I am sure you do everything you can to protect him from lithium. But I guess you cannot be blamed when they tie you down.

Redmond Barry
02-05-2013, 10:13 AM
Poor guy, life must be very difficult for him, fortunately he has such a devoted follower in you. I am sure you do everything you can to protect him from lithium. But I guess you cannot be blamed when they tie you down.

i am fearless in my devotion.

now if only other people could see what i see and feel the love i receive the world would be that much better. :)

Redmond Barry
02-05-2013, 10:26 AM
Well good for you. Will he give you anything for your devotion to his every wish?

i got a bicycle from him for my birthday once although it wasnt the colour i wanted. we had a big fight over it but then we said sorry and went to sizzler.

he tells me hes colour blind but i know hes just trying to spite me.

hes quite tall.

Oepty
02-05-2013, 10:42 AM
i got a bicycle from him for my birthday once although it wasnt the colour i wanted. we had a big fight over it but then we said sorry and went to sizzler.

he tells me hes colour blind but i know hes just trying to spite me.

hes quite tall.

Sounds like the perfect loving relationship. You are both very lucky.

Kevin Bonham
02-05-2013, 11:06 AM
I never blamed you. You clearly did misunderstand what I wrote.

Not true. If you intend to write something that means X and actually write something that means Y, and I understood you to have written Y, then I have not misunderstood what you wrote. Rather, you have failed to communicate your intentions clearly enough for anyone to understand them from what you have written.

But saying I misunderstood you are implying fault on my part.


The context of the discussion was beliefs so I did not think it needed to be explicitly stated, but it seems you needed it to be stated.

Your assumption was incorrect because it is very common in such discussions for someone to ask a question that is broader than the context of the specific text they are replying to.


From my experience I do similar things when I think about whether I am going to believe something like a Christian doctrine and when I am having a long think about a chess move.
I look at the evidence.
In the case of a Christian doctrine, I read the Bible, read other books on the subject, talk to other people.

A sidetrack, but a problem here is that your idea of looking at the evidence in the case of the Bible seems to involve assuming that the Bible is evidence. Do you attempt to critically examine whether everything in the Bible can be considered true using logical and evidential standards that are not in themselves sourced from the Bible?


In both case I think about it and come to a conclusion. In the first case it is whether I believe that doctrine, the second case it is a chess move.

In the case of the chess move, suppose that in analysing the position you determine that a certain move clearly loses and has no redeeming merits. It's just a plain terrible move. Can you then choose to believe (and I'm not counting forgetting what you've previously analysed) that that move wins? Can you even then choose, for any reason other than some sort of joke, to play that move?

In neither case does it sound like you are choosing your belief. It sounds like in either case your analysis of the evidence, based on your assumptions, is determining your belief.

As you outline it there, it doesn't sound any different from me except that we have different assumptions.


But it is hard to see how I made a choice about chess move and did not make a choice about a belief.

You made a "choice" to play the chess move. You did not make a choice to believe that the chess move is good.

Similarly you make various "choices" about action on the basis of your religious beliefs. But that is not the same as saying that you chose those beliefs in the first place.

Oepty
02-05-2013, 09:41 PM
Not true. If you intend to write something that means X and actually write something that means Y, and I understood you to have written Y, then I have not misunderstood what you wrote. Rather, you have failed to communicate your intentions clearly enough for anyone to understand them from what you have written.

But saying I misunderstood you are implying fault on my part.


I never blamed you.
You can either agree with that or call me a liar. That is your choice.

EDIT: I think at worst I tried to write X and wrote something that could be read as meaning X or Y, not something that could only mean Y. If something is not clear as to what it means it does not imply fault to say the person reading it misunderstood what was written. Correctly understanding what was said was theoretically possible, but the person reading it could hardly be faulted for misunderstanding what was written.



Your assumption was incorrect because it is very common in such discussions for someone to ask a question that is broader than the context of the specific text they are replying to.


It still seems puzzling to me that you changed the subject, but I will accept I could have been more specific about what I was asked.



A sidetrack, but a problem here is that your idea of looking at the evidence in the case of the Bible seems to involve assuming that the Bible is evidence. Do you attempt to critically examine whether everything in the Bible can be considered true using logical and evidential standards that are not in themselves sourced from the Bible?


You are wrong. I was claiming the Bible was evidence of Christian doctrine, which clearly is the case. Christian doctrines like the deity of Christ, the trinity, whether we go to heaven when we die are or at least claim to be based on what the Bible says. It would be rather stupid and pointless to try and decide whether the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was taught in the Bible without reading the Bible.



In the case of the chess move, suppose that in analysing the position you determine that a certain move clearly loses and has no redeeming merits. It's just a plain terrible move. Can you then choose to believe (and I'm not counting forgetting what you've previously analysed) that that move wins? Can you even then choose, for any reason other than some sort of joke, to play that move?


No, of course not. You seem hung up on the idea that you can only believe things which are obviously false. Things like 2+2 = 642 or that after 1.f4 e6 playing 2.g4 is a good move. I do not think that is true.



In neither case does it sound like you are choosing your belief. It sounds like in either case your analysis of the evidence, based on your assumptions, is determining your belief.

As you outline it there, it doesn't sound any different from me except that we have different assumptions.

You made a "choice" to play the chess move. You did not make a choice to believe that the chess move is good.

Similarly you make various "choices" about action on the basis of your religious beliefs. But that is not the same as saying that you chose those beliefs in the first place.

The determination informs the choice. You start off having two or more options and you have to choose one of them. So you take steps to inform the choice so you make the best choice you can. It does not stop it being a choice, it is just the process of choosing. Whether that choice is whether to believe a particular Christian doctrine or whether it is what move you believe is best. The process of thinking is the same.

Now I say what move you believe is best because I think a lot of moves you or I, or even Magnus Carlsen make, are not made on the basis of absolute proof that the move is best. If there is a mate in 1 then it is of course trivial to have absolute proof the move is best. Forced mates, provided they are calculated correctly, offer absolute proof, but there are an awful lot of positions, including the initial position, where there is not absolute proof of what is the best move.

Kevin Bonham
02-05-2013, 10:53 PM
I never blamed you.
You can either agree with that or call me a liar. That is your choice.

I'll take option three. Option three is that you wrote words that would have been seen as blaming me while unaware that those words would have been seen in that way. You therefore blamed me whether that was your intention or not. So I'm not calling you a liar, but I'm not agreeing with you either.


EDIT: I think at worst I tried to write X and wrote something that could be read as meaning X or Y, not something that could only mean Y.

That implies that X and Y are about equally plausible readings. In this case Y was by far the most likely reading. (Especially given the added chess comment, but even without that.)


If something is not clear as to what it means it does not imply fault to say the person reading it misunderstood what was written.

In my view it does. "You misunderstood" generally implies a failing on the part of the reader by asserting that the problem happened at the reader's end. If the problem is actually largely or entirely at your end, then take responsibility for it by saying not "You misunderstood" but "I didn't express myself clearly".

Anyway, now that you know how I will respond if you express yourself unclearly then write "you misunderstood" hopefully we will not have to go round that block again. Suffice to say I consider such behaviour to be flamebait. ;)


It still seems puzzling to me that you changed the subject, but I will accept I could have been more specific about what I was asked.

Your failure to be more specific produced the so-called subject change, but at least there you are starting to accept some responsibility for it! But it is not really a change of subject because the difference between choosing a belief and choosing an action is one that was bound to come up anyway.


You are wrong. I was claiming the Bible was evidence of Christian doctrine, which clearly is the case.

This is going to be really tedious if I have to point out your miscommunications and false accusations and deal with silly stuff in reply to virtually every point. In this case you started with "From my experience I do similar things when I think about whether I am going to believe something like a Christian doctrine". I am entitled from that to assume that you are not just talking about how you determine what Christian doctrine is but also how you determine whether a Christian doctrine is something that should be considered true.


No, of course not. You seem hung up on the idea that you can only believe things which are obviously false. Things like 2+2 = 642 or that after 1.f4 e6 playing 2.g4 is a good move. I do not think that is true.

I just think those are a good starting point. If a person has the ability to control the content of their beliefs, then why should knowing the statement to be false be an obstacle? And if it is, how obviously false does a statement have to be before this ability magically snaps on and off? Try instead a statement that is not known to be false but is very unlikely. Can you choose to believe that Katter's Australian Party will win the 2013 federal election, or that Matthew Sweeney will become a grandmaster? You don't know for sure these things are false but there is good reason to believe they are very very very unlikely indeed.

Or what about a statement that is slightly unlikely. For instance, suppose you have 20 coins and are about to toss them. Can you choose to believe, before you throw them, that at least 12 of them will be tails? 13? 14?


The determination informs the choice. You start off having two or more options and you have to choose one of them. So you take steps to inform the choice so you make the best choice you can. It does not stop it being a choice, it is just the process of choosing. Whether that choice is whether to believe a particular Christian doctrine or whether it is what move you believe is best. The process of thinking is the same.

You don't provide any evidence that that process is a "choice" though. For instance, I can set a chess computer to analyse a position for five minutes and then state the best move it has found in that time. It has to determine the best move, just like us. It takes steps to consider what the best move is, just like us. But it has absolutely no control over the way in which the evidence pushes its decision, and it will probably produce the same output given the same evidence every time, barring differences in the state of the computer running it. It's not choosing a belief when it analyses, so why (supposedly) are our brains "choosing" one?

Oepty
03-05-2013, 07:05 AM
This is going to be really tedious if I have to point out your miscommunications and false accusations and deal with silly stuff in reply to virtually every point. In this case you started with "From my experience I do similar things when I think about whether I am going to believe something like a Christian doctrine". I am entitled from that to assume that you are not just talking about how you determine what Christian doctrine is but also how you determine whether a Christian doctrine is something that should be considered true.


It still seems a good idea to read the Bible. After all it is probably a good idea to properly understand what is being attempted to prove false and that is not going to happen without understanding what the Bible says. And I think it applies even if you think the Bible is a work of fiction.



I just think those are a good starting point. If a person has the ability to control the content of their beliefs, then why should knowing the statement to be false be an obstacle? And if it is, how obviously false does a statement have to be before this ability magically snaps on and off? Try instead a statement that is not known to be false but is very unlikely. Can you choose to believe that Katter's Australian Party will win the 2013 federal election, or that Matthew Sweeney will become a grandmaster? You don't know for sure these things are false but there is good reason to believe they are very very very unlikely indeed.

Or what about a statement that is slightly unlikely. For instance, suppose you have 20 coins and are about to toss them. Can you choose to believe, before you throw them, that at least 12 of them will be tails? 13? 14?


I am not sure you can objectively measure what a person can possibly choose to believe. It would depend on that individuals knowledge and understanding of that knowledge. However I am open to anyone who thinks they can come up with an objective measure of this.



You don't provide any evidence that that process is a "choice" though. For instance, I can set a chess computer to analyse a position for five minutes and then state the best move it has found in that time. It has to determine the best move, just like us. It takes steps to consider what the best move is, just like us. But it has absolutely no control over the way in which the evidence pushes its decision, and it will probably produce the same output given the same evidence every time, barring differences in the state of the computer running it. It's not choosing a belief when it analyses, so why (supposedly) are our brains "choosing" one?

Computers do not operate themselves. The computer is a way that an operator is informing their choices. The operator can choose to believe what the computer says instead of believing what they can work out for themselves. Of course there are many reasons an operator might use a chess computer program to do analysis on a position including doing so because the operator believes the computer will not do so well.

Kevin Bonham
03-05-2013, 10:53 AM
I am not sure you can objectively measure what a person can possibly choose to believe. It would depend on that individuals knowledge and understanding of that knowledge. However I am open to anyone who thinks they can come up with an objective measure of this.

If polygraphs (lie detector tests) worked reliably it would be very easy to use them to test whether people can choose to believe, by providing people with incentives to believe statements that they actually have no rational basis for believing to be either true or false, then testing whether they actually believe those statements. Polygraphs don't actually work reliably but there might be other similar ways.

In the above you're basically suggesting that a person might choose to believe either way on a given matter except to the extent that their choice is predetermined through knowledge that one of the options is false, or ability to determine that one of the options is false. But this is basically a "choice of the gaps" model in which you are invoking "choice" only when you don't know the belief isn't chosen.


Computers do not operate themselves. The computer is a way that an operator is informing their choices. The operator can choose to believe what the computer says instead of believing what they can work out for themselves.

This is all an irrelevant distinction. When we decide to think about something at length and attempt to determine a viewpoint on it, the part of our thought processes that initiates the thinking processes, and the part that conducts it, are distinct. Most likely these use different areas of the brain, and the parts doing the analysing don't just operate by themselves. So which thought process supposedly does the "choosing" - the part that initiates the decision to think about something, or the part that does the thinking? If it is the former part (comparable to the operator in your version of the analogy) then that doesn't work because to process the information it has obtained, it needs to start other thought subroutines going (comparable to letting the computer run again). If it is the latter part then that doesn't work either - it's an analytical subroutine that is crunching information, not a chooser.

antichrist
03-05-2013, 01:22 PM
I voted no on basis of religious brainwashing of children as the child has no choice of that they believe - just as they can not give consent to underage sexual activity, it is statutory rape as my chess mate is on death row for

Oepty
04-05-2013, 10:38 AM
If polygraphs (lie detector tests) worked reliably it would be very easy to use them to test whether people can choose to believe, by providing people with incentives to believe statements that they actually have no rational basis for believing to be either true or false, then testing whether they actually believe those statements. Polygraphs don't actually work reliably but there might be other similar ways.

What incentives do you mean?
I am not disagreeing with what you have said, just trying to explore more what you are proposing.



In the above you're basically suggesting that a person might choose to believe either way on a given matter except to the extent that their choice is predetermined through knowledge that one of the options is false, or ability to determine that one of the options is false. But this is basically a "choice of the gaps" model in which you are invoking "choice" only when you don't know the belief isn't chosen.


I am saying that a person chooses to believe something when they are faced with a group of options that on the surface seem to be possibly believable. That person then can take whatever steps they like, including doing extensive research, to make that choice.



This is all an irrelevant distinction. When we decide to think about something at length and attempt to determine a viewpoint on it, the part of our thought processes that initiates the thinking processes, and the part that conducts it, are distinct. Most likely these use different areas of the brain, and the parts doing the analysing don't just operate by themselves. So which thought process supposedly does the "choosing" - the part that initiates the decision to think about something, or the part that does the thinking? If it is the former part (comparable to the operator in your version of the analogy) then that doesn't work because to process the information it has obtained, it needs to start other thought subroutines going (comparable to letting the computer run again). If it is the latter part then that doesn't work either - it's an analytical subroutine that is crunching information, not a chooser.

I agree, what I wrote totally missed the point. Might get back to you on this one.

Kevin Bonham
04-05-2013, 10:59 AM
What incentives do you mean?

For instance, give the research group of subjects two statements X and Y that are equally likely to be true and make sure the group is aware that there is no evidence which one is true and no basis for knowing, so that the rational response to "Is X true or Y?" is simply "I don't know". Then split the group into two halves. Tell everyone in group 1 that if they believe X is definitely true at the end of the day you will give them $100 but if they don't they will get nothing. Tell everyone in group 2 that if they believe Y is definitely true at the end of the day you will give them $100 but if they don't they will get nothing. Then at the end of the day test whether that has actually altered the beliefs of people in each group, so that they have switched from thinking X and Y are equally likely to be true, to actually believing whichever one they have been paid to believe.

It's only a thought-experiment at this stage because there is no completely reliable test for whether a person is telling the truth about their beliefs.


I am saying that a person chooses to believe something when they are faced with a group of options that on the surface seem to be possibly believable. That person then can take whatever steps they like, including doing extensive research, to make that choice.

But if their extensive research shows them that one of the choices is clearly not believable then they will no longer be able, on your account, to choose the clearly non-believable path, even though they supposedly were able to choose it at the start. Thus, while they chose to do the research, the research itself will have determined their belief. It will not be a matter of choice.

And incidentally, this is my situation as concerns religion. I've chosen to take steps involving extensive thinking about it instead of just jumping for one belief or the other. Those steps have shown me that religion is not possibly believable. Therefore I cannot choose to believe it - even on your criteria.

This again gets back to the manifest idiocy and stupidity of doctrines in which someone is supposedly sent to Hell for not choosing to believe.

antichrist
04-05-2013, 04:44 PM
if Jesus was quoted as approving gay marriage what would christian response be

Oepty
04-05-2013, 07:12 PM
For instance, give the research group of subjects two statements X and Y that are equally likely to be true and make sure the group is aware that there is no evidence which one is true and no basis for knowing, so that the rational response to "Is X true or Y?" is simply "I don't know". Then split the group into two halves. Tell everyone in group 1 that if they believe X is definitely true at the end of the day you will give them $100 but if they don't they will get nothing. Tell everyone in group 2 that if they believe Y is definitely true at the end of the day you will give them $100 but if they don't they will get nothing. Then at the end of the day test whether that has actually altered the beliefs of people in each group, so that they have switched from thinking X and Y are equally likely to be true, to actually believing whichever one they have been paid to believe.

It's only a thought-experiment at this stage because there is no completely reliable test for whether a person is telling the truth about their beliefs.


Seems like a reasonable experiment. It could however be objected to on the grounds that $100 is not enough of incentive, or that another kind of incentive, like the promise of living forever would cause people to change their beliefs.



But if their extensive research shows them that one of the choices is clearly not believable then they will no longer be able, on your account, to choose the clearly non-believable path, even though they supposedly were able to choose it at the start. Thus, while they chose to do the research, the research itself will have determined their belief. It will not be a matter of choice.

And incidentally, this is my situation as concerns religion. I've chosen to take steps involving extensive thinking about it instead of just jumping for one belief or the other. Those steps have shown me that religion is not possibly believable. Therefore I cannot choose to believe it - even on your criteria.


From my point of view you have made your choice as to what to believe. So maybe now you can never choose to believe in God. It certainly seems to me that would take something rather dramatic for you to even reconsider the option that God exists. However, in my opinion, that does not mean it was not a choice you made at some point in your past.



This again gets back to the manifest idiocy and stupidity of doctrines in which someone is supposedly sent to Hell for not choosing to believe.

I do not believe you are going to spend eternity being tortured in a place called hell.
I believe eternal death is the punishment of the Bible and eternal life the reward. God has given you life, your choice is to live it however you wish and die or live it how God wants and live forever. It is slightly more complicated than that because it involves things like ressurection etc but I think it encapsulated. So your objection is to something I do not believe. It seems totally unfair to me to torture somebody for eternity for not believing something they have not had the opportunity to believe.
A couple of days ago in the shoutbox I compared the fate of people who do not believe to that of sheep. This was based upon a Bible passage, Psa 49.
The silly thing is we probably both believe very similar things about the death of unbelievers, although you might know whether you are going to be cremated or buried. However while I believe it is the punishment of God you probably believe it is just what happens naturally.

Oepty
04-05-2013, 07:15 PM
if Jesus was quoted as approving gay marriage what would christian response be

If the Bible contained a record of Jesus approving gay marriage then I would think the positions of Christians would be that gay marriage is acceptable to God.
However this is totally hypothetical because no such record exists, the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality without making an exception for it being able to occur within marriage.

Desmond
04-05-2013, 08:07 PM
I believe eternal death is the punishment of the Bible and eternal life the reward. Sure sounds like fun at first, but have you thought it through. Things might be interesting for the first few thousand years, but what about the next million after that, and the next billion after that, and then a few trillion after that, and this is before you even scratch the surface of eternity. You're probably going to get pretty sick of that favourite mixed tape at some point. Given the ultimatum of eternal life or eternal death, what is the thoughtful, sane choice?

Oepty
04-05-2013, 08:50 PM
Sure sounds like fun at first, but have you thought it through. Things might be interesting for the first few thousand years, but what about the next million after that, and the next billion after that, and then a few trillion after that, and this is before you even scratch the surface of eternity. You're probably going to get pretty sick of that favourite mixed tape at some point. Given the ultimatum of eternal life or eternal death, what is the thoughtful, sane choice?

This seems to be off topic so I have started a new thread to answer the question.

Kevin Bonham
04-05-2013, 10:02 PM
Seems like a reasonable experiment. It could however be objected to on the grounds that $100 is not enough of incentive, or that another kind of incentive, like the promise of living forever would cause people to change their beliefs.

That sort of objection would be just the objector rushing for more rabbit-holes to try to make their religious case viable when the evidence was against it in other circumstances.

Indeed, in the $100 case the person knows if they change their mind they are likely to get $100 (unless the experimenter cheats them).

In the religious case, the person has no reason to believe that believing in God (of a certain kind in a certain way) will cause them to live forever. After all, that only follows if the belief they are asked to hold is true, but when they are considering whether to believe, they don't know whether it is or not.

And furthermore, even if you could "choose to believe" things there would be a cost in choosing to believe in God if you were wrong. That cost is that you spend the rest of your life saying foolish things and annoying many people who do not hold those beliefs. In the case of my experiment, there is no cost of believing the thing you are asked to believe - even if it is false and you believe in it, you still get the $100!


From my point of view you have made your choice as to what to believe. So maybe now you can never choose to believe in God. It certainly seems to me that would take something rather dramatic for you to even reconsider the option that God exists. However, in my opinion, that does not mean it was not a choice you made at some point in your past.

I think it is quite possible that near-lethal blunt force injuries to my head would cause me enough brain damage that I might reconsider the issue.

At what age would you suggest I made this "choice"? After all, I have never believed in God and was debating sceptically with the preacher at my cousin's baptism when I was four. There is nothing in my background at any stage to suggest I would ever be likely to take God claims seriously.


I believe eternal death is the punishment of the Bible and eternal life the reward.

That is not much better. You can't actually refute what I say - no theist can - so you lick your wounds with the delusion that you guys are going to be rewarded for your silly beliefs while I'll be punished. It gives you a basis for diminishing my view by pretending there is still some kind of false-consciousness or delusion underlying it when there is not. The fact is that even if there is an all-powerful God who rewards some people with an eternal afterlife, you still cannot know whether apparent messages concerning the will of that God are true, as opposed to being deceptions constructed by an all-powerful deity different from the one you imagine.

By the way if there was an afterlife and an all-powerful deity rewarded both me and Christians like you, I would stir such Christians so much for all eternity for getting it wrong that they would wish that they were dead!


The silly thing is we probably both believe very similar things about the death of unbelievers, although you might know whether you are going to be cremated or buried. However while I believe it is the punishment of God you probably believe it is just what happens naturally.

It is just what happens to everyone thus far (bar those who have themselves cryogenically frozen or are eaten by bears, etc). Christians and atheists decompose or burn in exactly the same way when they are dead.

Oepty
04-05-2013, 10:21 PM
It is just what happens to everyone thus far (bar those who have themselves cryogenically frozen or are eaten by bears, etc). Christians and atheists decompose or burn in exactly the same way when they are dead.

Well on this we can agree.

Oepty
04-05-2013, 10:47 PM
Does a person determine what they believe?
Does a person decide what they believe?
Does a person control what they believe?
Is a person responsible for what they believe?

Kevin Bonham
04-05-2013, 11:58 PM
Does a person determine what they believe?
Does a person decide what they believe?
Does a person control what they believe?
Is a person responsible for what they believe?

A person can decide to do things that may result in their beliefs changing. But that is not the same thing as deciding what they will believe. Also, while the decision to, for instance, research the matter, may determine the eventual belief, that is not the same thing as saying that a person knowingly determines the content of their belief. Likewise for control - if I decide to research something about which I do not know the answer, I am not consciously controlling the outcome. It will be determined by the facts that I uncover and my analysis of them.

Is a person responsible for what they believe? That is a good question and I would say that in a sense the answer is yes. That sense is that if a person holds a belief, and chooses to just go on holding it instead of examining the issue and reviewing their views, then they may be to blame for their own ignorance. Sometimes it is good to decide that you will think about something and see if your present views are really right.

I think the above are all good questions to ask in this discussion.

Oepty
05-05-2013, 12:18 AM
Is a person responsible for what they believe? That is a good question and I would say that in a sense the answer is yes. That sense is that if a person holds a belief, and chooses to just go on holding it instead of examining the issue and reviewing their views, then they may be to blame for their own ignorance. Sometimes it is good to decide that you will think about something and see if your present views are really right.


How is this consistent with your line from earlier that seemed to suggest it would take brain damage for you to reconsider believing in God?

Kevin Bonham
05-05-2013, 12:23 AM
How is this consistent with your line from earlier that seemed to suggest it would take brain damage for you to reconsider believing in God?

Because I have already examined and reviewed my views on that issue many times in debates over the years. Either I end up in the same place as before or I find still more reasons not to take the God twaddle seriously.

Kevin Bonham
05-05-2013, 12:27 AM
Indeed, while Christians might want me to incessantly re-examine my views on the subject in the pious hope that I might someday waste my mind, there is probably some point at which doing so becomes a waste of effort that is better expended on thinking about things my views might actually have valid reason to change on.

Oepty
05-05-2013, 12:31 AM
If a person has absolutely no way of accessing the correct facts on matter are they responsible for holding wrong beliefs on that matter?

Adamski
05-05-2013, 12:41 AM
If a person has absolutely no way of accessing the correct facts on matter are they responsible for holding wrong beliefs on that matter?
No - and I believe God takes what a person has had the opportunity to know into consideration in determining anyone's eternal destiny. So e.g. babies who die early (including while still in the womb) we will see in heaven.

Redmond Barry
05-05-2013, 04:49 AM
If a person has absolutely no way of accessing the correct facts on matter are they responsible for holding wrong beliefs on that matter?

yes, they are responsible for holding partial knowledge on any specific topic.

if somebody is not fully conversant in a particular subject , they have the option of declaring no preference due to lack of information.

it is not necessary to feign an interest in a topic and make a declaration based on imperfect knowledge.

either way, everybody is responsible for the application of their knowledge and the determination that the amount that has been provided to them is sufficient to make confident deductions.

if you are not confident then you abstain.

Kevin Bonham
05-05-2013, 08:24 AM
If a person has absolutely no way of accessing the correct facts on matter are they responsible for holding wrong beliefs on that matter?

I think that this depends on why. For instance, I believe that thylacines are extinct. (I don't claim absolute certainty that they are, but I'd certainly bet that they are at odds of 100-1 on.) Now it is in theory possible that a secret society has been covertly breeding thylacines for the past 100 years and that they still exist. But if that was the case, it would not be my fault for getting it wrong, because the facts on the matter would have been deliberately obscured in an (on the face of it) extremely unlikely way.

But if the reason someone is unable to access the correct facts on something has more to do with their own limitations than with the obscurity of the subject matter, then as per GUB above, the correct course is to not believe anything either way and just say "I don't know".

Oepty
05-05-2013, 09:17 AM
If an action occurs as a direct result of the adoption of a belief is that action chosen?

Kevin Bonham
05-05-2013, 03:31 PM
If an action occurs as a direct result of the adoption of a belief is that action chosen?

In the strict sense desired by "free will" believers, no action is truly "chosen".

In the loose sense that we're talking about in terms of potentially "choosing" a belief, yes.

Oepty
05-05-2013, 06:01 PM
In the strict sense desired by "free will" believers, no action is truly "chosen".

In the loose sense that we're talking about in terms of potentially "choosing" a belief, yes.

if no action is truly "chosen" then how do human come to complete actions?

Kevin Bonham
05-05-2013, 06:25 PM
if no action is truly "chosen" then how do human come to complete actions?

I'm talking there about the sense in which the concept of choice is used by those who believe in the invalid philosophical concept of "free will". These people would maintain that a person chooses to do things in the sense of controlling their own choices consciously, but that their choice is still not predetermined.

So in that strict sense what happens is that people believe they are "choosing" but actually which way they will go is a product of the factors influencing their decision, their environment, their brain chemistry (etc). They actually can't and won't go the other way (unless as a result of some random factor over which they have no actual control) - they just don't know that at the time they start thinking about their "decision".

Tony Dowden
05-05-2013, 06:56 PM
What's with this poll?! Of course we choose what we believe!

Here's some teasers to chew on/choose:

1. The Greens are the only political party with a conscience

2. The Springboks are the greatest rugby union team ever

3. Carlsen is already better than Fischer, Alekhine or Capablanca

4. Barcelona FC is still totally awesome (losing 7-0 on aggregate to Bayern Munich was a fluke)

5. God does not exist - that way I can be God (um, but does that mean I don't exist?)

Redmond Barry
05-05-2013, 07:24 PM
I'm talking there about the sense in which the concept of choice is used by those who believe in the invalid philosophical concept of "free will". These people would maintain that a person chooses to do things in the sense of controlling their own choices consciously, but that their choice is still not predetermined.

So in that strict sense what happens is that people believe they are "choosing" but actually which way they will go is a product of the factors influencing their decision, their environment, their brain chemistry (etc). They actually can't and won't go the other way (unless as a result of some random factor over which they have no actual control) - they just don't know that at the time they start thinking about their "decision".

exactly.

freewill is a load of crap espoused by hippies and other limpwristed thinkers.

decisions are for the vast majority of the time only minute finesses on a predetermined narrative.

anybody claiming to be controlling their decision process is implying they are responsible for their environmental and genetic makeup which is essentially an admission that they have some sort of god like powers.

is adamski or tony dowden a god ? :hmm:

ER
05-05-2013, 07:36 PM
What's with this poll?! Of course we choose what we believe!

false; sometimes I do sometimes I don't :owned: (depending on how much they pay)! :P


1. The Greens are the only political party with a conscience

false; conscience is not a constant thingy, although the algebra teacher told us there are some exceptions where variables can also misbehave! :P


2. The Springboks are the greatest rugby union team ever

Partly true since the aussies beat the crap out of them albeit with the help of some antiapartheid thugs! :P


3. Carlsen is already better than Fischer, Alekhine or Capablanca

partly true; almost everyone is already better than Fischer, Alekhine or Capablanca these days! :owned:


4. Barcelona FC is still totally awesome (losing 7-0 on aggregate to Bayern Munich was a fluke)

Correct! :)


5. God does not exist - that way I can be God (um, but does that mean I don't exist?)

I don't know, you better ask Scott! :doh:

Adamski
06-05-2013, 12:27 AM
exactly.

freewill is a load of crap espoused by hippies and other limpwristed thinkers.

decisions are for the vast majority of the time only minute finesses on a predetermined narrative.

anybody claiming to be controlling their decision process is implying they are responsible for their environmental and genetic makeup which is essentially an admission that they have some sort of god like powers.

is adamski or tony dowden a god ? :hmm:Hmm. Surely there are many examples of everyone controllinng their decisions. I can control the decision of whether to stay up later and post on more threads or go to bed and get some needed sleep. I choose the latter!! This does not make me a god!!

Redmond Barry
06-05-2013, 03:48 AM
you chose the latter due to being predisposed to your normal circadian rythym and the fact that it is commonly accepted that holding down employment is a reasonable idea.

i hardly think going to sleep early is an autonomous decision that you just happened to create out of your own 'free will'.

and yes, neither you nor tony dowden are likely candidates for worship as god.

Kevin Bonham
06-05-2013, 09:57 AM
Hmm. Surely there are many examples of everyone controllinng their decisions. I can control the decision of whether to stay up later and post on more threads or go to bed and get some needed sleep. I choose the latter!!

It's more likely that given the factors that are influencing your decision, such as

* how tired you are feeling
* what you have to do the next day
* what is being discussed on the threads
* the fact that you have already entered the top ten poster list and therefore no longer have as much reason to post one-liners

(and others)

(OK the last one was flippant, maybe)

... actually determine which way that decision will go; you're just not aware which way these factors will push you to go until you start thinking about them.

Redmond Barry
06-05-2013, 06:56 PM
i think its quite ironic that the people that voted 'yes' are mainly/entirely christian.

i find this confusing as one of their beliefs is that god created the universe yet here they are indicating that this is not the case as they themselves have control over their own gods creation.

is this a form of blasphemy ?

clearly the people who voted 'no' are reflecting an undstanding of the great diversity of information that is required to react to.

Oepty
06-05-2013, 08:10 PM
i think its quite ironic that the people that voted 'yes' are mainly/entirely christian.

i find this confusing as one of their beliefs is that god created the universe yet here they are indicating that this is not the case as they themselves have control over their own gods creation.

is this a form of blasphemy ?

clearly the people who voted 'no' are reflecting an undstanding of the great diversity of information that is required to react to.

Well I think I am mainly Christian, my right little toe seems to have leanings to Hinduism, perhaps I should chop it off.

God gave the earth to man to live on. Man has the ability to do almost anything it wants without God stopping it, at least for the moment. It will change some day.

Desmond
06-05-2013, 08:21 PM
Well I think I am mainly Christian, my right little toe seems to have leanings to Hinduism, perhaps I should chop it off.Perhaps you should chop off the other 9; the truth is not determined by democracy. :)

Oepty
06-05-2013, 08:39 PM
Perhaps you should chop off the other 9; the truth is not determined by democracy. :)

I agree totally, the truth is not determined by democracy. Democracy is a failure.

Kevin Bonham
06-05-2013, 08:50 PM
i think its quite ironic that the people that voted 'yes' are mainly/entirely christian.

A part of this (not necessarily for all Christians who answer "yes", but strongly ingrained in this sort of debate) is the whole Pascal's Wager thing.

It benefits Christianity to claim belief is a choice so that it can then argue that people should choose to believe, so that they may be punished (either by hellfire or by missing out on heaven, varying by doctrine) if they don't.

Accepting that belief isn't a choice, and that therefore a person who had done their best on a question but still got it "wrong" as compared to the facts would not be blamed by a reasonable deity, takes away their attempt to argue by incentive.

You've got to be pretty philosophically hopeless to fall for the Pascal's Wager type line anyway (and indeed many Christians will agree it doesn't work). However, the idea that those who don't believe are making a wrong choice for which they will suffer is still good for encouraging followers to stigmatise atheists as supposed victims of false consciousness.

Redmond Barry
06-05-2013, 11:28 PM
A part of this (not necessarily for all Christians who answer "yes", but strongly ingrained in this sort of debate) is the whole Pascal's Wager thing.

It benefits Christianity to claim belief is a choice so that it can then argue that people should choose to believe, so that they may be punished (either by hellfire or by missing out on heaven, varying by doctrine) if they don't.

Accepting that belief isn't a choice, and that therefore a person who had done their best on a question but still got it "wrong" as compared to the facts would not be blamed by a reasonable deity, takes away their attempt to argue by incentive.

You've got to be pretty philosophically hopeless to fall for the Pascal's Wager type line anyway (and indeed many Christians will agree it doesn't work). However, the idea that those who don't believe are making a wrong choice for which they will suffer is still good for encouraging followers to stigmatise atheists as supposed victims of false consciousness.

ah yes the paradox of attempting to obligate an individual to answer a question based on moral choice.

:lol:

Desmond
07-05-2013, 07:40 AM
A part of this (not necessarily for all Christians who answer "yes", but strongly ingrained in this sort of debate) is the whole Pascal's Wager thing. Except if you believe that eternal life is no boon. Then even if they win the wager, they lose. :)

God
07-05-2013, 08:22 AM
you are all slaves to my every whim.

desist with this scandalous talk of free will and choice.

i invented the earth the seas the vast depths of space and those large cans of mother energy drink.

i control everything !

now kneel down before me and lick my doc martens.

that is all, your loving friend god.

Saragossa
09-05-2013, 09:21 PM
I support abortion. Until last year, the issue, although I vocalised proabortion support, provoked a retaliatory instinct, where all I thought was 'abortion is wrong'. The way I overcame it was to saturate my research to proabortion, attempting to reach a 'case-closed' mentality before a persuasive anti-abortionist exploited whatever it was hooking my mind on anti-abortion. I think about this a lot. I wonder if I could do it with other views, or it was a select case which conjured the discipline to ignore contrary arguments.

Kevin Bonham
09-05-2013, 10:21 PM
Saragossa's example is a really good one. Without actually choosing a belief, one can choose to take steps that make it more likely an existing belief will be retained. Or one can choose not to do this.

Many people's beliefs are influenced by their social surroundings. It's possible in theory that if I made a deliberate decision to mix only with Christians and be friends with them all, and to attend church and pray regularly and absorb religious literature constantly (even if I didn't believe it) that that would cause me over time to become a Christian. However my existing beliefs, which I certainly haven't chosen, are quite clear that this would be a bad idea whether it worked or not, and therefore I won't be doing it. (I add that I am aware of cases of people who have gone out of their way to try to "find" something spiritual through deliberate exposure to religion, and reported back that they found nothing.)

An example like supporting or opposing something in terms of policy also introduces another dimension. For instance, I strongly support same-sex marriage, to the point that if the Liberal Party offered me a broad-ranging policy job it's quite possible that its anti-same-sex-marriage policies would cause me to say no. (A consultancy on a specific policy would be a different matter - I'm not that principled!)

Anyway I suspect that if I worked for the Liberal Party for a long time I might end up not supporting same-sex marriage anymore, because I would then have a vested interest in not supporting it. I have seen this happen to people in the party who were at first relatively progressive. However, because I don't think moral beliefs are objective (and think of them more as policy preferences) it's possible that I could make such a switch in such circumstances without actually changing any belief about reality.

Adamski
09-05-2013, 11:32 PM
Good argument, Kev I am willing to concede that some beliefs are chosen and some are not.

antichrist
13-05-2013, 06:07 PM
.....
Anyway I suspect that if I worked for the Liberal Party for a long time I might end up not supporting same-sex marriage anymore, because I would then have a vested interest in not supporting it. I have seen this happen to people in the party who were at first relatively progressive. ..............

so u apprec me holding the true line over a lifetime?