March 5th, 2007
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Ever notice that the word for “conviction” applies both to certainty of beliefs, and what you get when you break the law and get caught? Convictions may not be all they’re cracked up to be! And what’s up with people being afraid of doubts? That’s like being afraid of a shadow. Where there’s light, there’s shadows, where there’s convictions there are doubts. So what! I think people are funny who need to be sure of everything all the time, need to think they’re good good good, and right right right. Silly people. What a hard life they lead.
certainty rocks? I’M sure every politician making horrific mistakes thought of that.
Inquisitiveness rocks, devotion sucks.
I like sex! Bye!
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The license plate on my car reads: DOUBT.
I can’t think of anything more important to the advancement of society than it.
Oddly enough the only genuine christians I’ve ever met are those on the liberal end of the spectrum, the ones who are prepared to doubt all dogma. These are the ones who I’ve always found in social work, always sticking up for the underdog.
I suspect they don’t want to waste time trying to convince others or themselves of the truth of dogma, but just get on with being good christians.
Compare that to the devout, who’s ranting and raving is probably mostly directed at some tiny nagging morsel of reason in their own heads.
Spot on my friend. The only true Christians are the ones who remember it’s more about Charity and Hope than Faith and can be usually heard saying,”I don’t care what you believe, can you give me a hand here”.
Many people were “certain” the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth, even to the extent of persecuting those who “doubted” the apparent.
Doubt and uncertainty are vital survival mechanisms in H. Sapiens and other cognitive Eukaryotae. (They stay our hand when we are about to say or do imprudent things, like hastily posting daft remarks on websites or blowing yourself up on a bus.) They are also fundamental in coming to a greater understanding of the world and of others.
Socrates was only certain of his ignorance. This made him wiser than those about him.
I’m not sure all of these comments really hit the nail squarely on the head. ‘Certainty’ doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) preclude the opportunity to change ones mind in the light of new information. As an atheist, I accept there is a degree of uncertainty inherent in all convictions, but consider the possibility of there actually being a god to be so slight that it can be comfortably disregarded; so I am ‘certain’ there is no god.
Should someone come up with good evidence to the contrary, well then I would be quite willing to reassess my view………… but that doesn’t seem to have happend in all of recorded history, so I think my position is safe for the time being 🙂
Alan, I take your position as well.
I like to compare it with that of the agnostics who say they can’t rule out a god, then live their lives as if there were no gods.
Two different labels with no effective difference that I can see. I kind of shake my head when I see agnostics and atheists debating which position is right.
I’m sorry, I can’t take seriously people who claim that there *might* be a god. It almost seems to me to make more sense to go ahead and be religious with a massive, but unabashed self-deception. This, at least, would allow you to think clearly in other areas of life.
If you can suggest that there *might* be a god, however, then there is nothing in the universe (or even not in the universe) that can be ruled out (for all practical purposes – I also agree with Alan). It just seems like a conflicted attempt to apply logic (I can’t see/touch god) without destroying wishful thinking (but it would be nice if he were out there!). I suspect my head would explode if I tried such a thing. Is there a rational defense of agnosticism? (I refer only to the “do not know” definition.)
It’s pretty easy to see that a sense of certainty doesn’t imply being correct. It’s really just an emotion about perceived knowledge.
The examples given above illustrate pretty well people being certain about some aspect that were in fact incorrect.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sorry, I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take seriously people who claim that there *might* be a god.
I think the argument goes like this. Based on current scientific evidence, it seems very very unlikely that a personal god who cares about humans exists. However, science can’t claim with “absolute certainty” that god doesn’t exist (cause science can’t predict anything with “absolute certainty”). Obviously, this niche is waiting to be filled with extremely optimistic believers who, while agreeing that it’s very improbable for a personal god to exist, still hang on to the minuscule hope that she does, and science hasn’t yet found how she influences our lives (by liberally apply the “mysterious ways” clause here).
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I think Mo’s ‘monobrow’ (single eyebrow) is a stroke of genius. We read into it a variety of expressions.
FREKO you hit the nail right on the head! (sigh) I love it when spammers jump in on philosophical discussions.
that made me laugh more than the comic. Great comic by the way
Never trust a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle (according to my sister, that is).
I love that it ends up with them doubting. When one can be certain only of what is dogma and doctrine, truth about reality will often cause one to doubt.
Discussion about existence or nonexistence of god is futile as long as no-one has defined what is meant by god. If god is just dog going backwards then I’d say that god exist, but most of definitions of god are selfcontradictory statements and thus define something that by definition is non-existent.
Then some definitions are like santa clause, which doesn’t exist as a concrete thing, but does exist as concept that adults keep up so that litlle children can have their wonder. The same goes with justice which is a concept that adults keep up so that adults can have their wonder.
McGronk, 5/3/07, “Two hands open to help are worth far more than two million closed in prayer.”
I dunno who said it first but it makes a boatload of sense.
Or as that guy on a world orbiting a star in the direction of Orion said: “May I help?”
According to Tiberius, those are the three best words in the entire English language.
TaoAndZen, doubt is so important to intelligence that we even build it into our laser-armed, nuclear-powered invading alien tanks on Mars and little robots falling around the Gas Giants. They all apparently have “Am I about to do a Stupid?” sub-routines to prevent them from self-immolation.
Doubt is cool.
I know my odds of winning the Lottery. I am as near certain as I can be that I am never going to win a life-altering sum. I still punt a quid or so every so often just in case because it’s a small risk for a potentially great reward.
That would seem to suggest that I am also likely to take the theist side of Pascal’s Wager as the reward there is even greater yet I do not.
Because the risk is immense. It is my entire life, rationality, lifestyle and wizened substitute for a soul.
I would have to devote myself to something as fictional as Winnie the Pooh forever just on the off-chance that it is real and I get Harry’s Millions when I leave town.
Worse, I would need to pick the correctHarry out of the millions available.
Bugger that for a game.
If Thor can’t come and talk to me man to Alien-thingy, he can stew in my unbelief.
I am absolutely certain, with a very tiny doubt that is impossible to eradicate, that there has never (yet, technology may change this) been a human being born with functional chloroplasts in his skin. A plant-man. It’s not impossible but had such a being happened, it would have bred true eventually and there would be many such people.
I am even more certain, with an even more infinitesimal smidgeon of doubt, that magical super-psychic powers have ever manifested in a human being. Had such a thing ever happened the social advantages gained by such a super-being would have been so overwhelming that every human alive now would be descended from him and would have his active psychic-power inducing gene complex. Even if his genetic quirk was powerfully recessive the few children he had who were born with it activated and enabled would have out-evolved the sub-psychics and all living humans would be super-beings.
Psychic powers are not merely impossible by what we know of physics they are impossible by the evidence of their absence.
Gods more so.
Gambling could not exist in a cosmos with psychic superpowers nor would actuarial tables work in a universe where praying to an interventionist deity mattered. As we have centuries or evidence that these do, indeed work, then gods and psychic magics do not.
And never did.
For evidence of the absence of deities just look at the profits of any insurance company.
Being certain that there are no gods is the only logical, rational position. Especially as choosing the wrong one could be … unfortunate.