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'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST

Posted by Rudra-Kapalin 
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 12:49AM
Excellent! Thx for clearing all that up. Wish my thoughts could stay as straight as yours, lol. Are YOU ever irrational? If so, examples?? (just so we all know you are not a cleverbot, hehe)
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 01:58AM
"I get the distinct impression that those who id as agnostic commonly see themselves as a kind of peace-maker (some nice, some not so much) or a bridge between two opposing world views as though if both extremes would just strive to be more like them, the world would all be holding hands and singing kumbaya or something."---Sam

Naturally, I can only speak for myself, but I certainly don't see myself as any kind of "peacemaker". LOL

"Perhaps some "agnostics" have some baggage that involves quarreling parents or some other reason to feel such discomfort seeing others spar, idk, and maybe their efforts work in the real world to mediate actual fights but not here."

You really had me laughing out loud with that suggestion! Again, speaking for my agnostic self, I enjoy a good fight! In fact, the sport that, for years, I practiced and participated in wasn't baseball or basketball, but Judo. And fighting was what we did! And I don't mean the choreographed "Kata", but full contact, where you could be choked unconscious by your opponent, submitted by an arm bar, or find yourself upside down in mid-air and slammed to the mat! LOL! "Unless", you could do it to your opponent first! winking smiley The funny part is, it's known as the "gentle way" or, as my sensei would say, "gentle, but with maximum efficiency". winking smiley In other words, ya don't charge into a fight like a bull in a China shop (if you expect to win a fight). Unless of course, you're just one of many bulls in the China shop. smiling smiley

"Perhaps some "agnostics" are even a bit afraid of exploring the possibility that they may in fact really lean more to one side or another but don't feel confident enough to argue it."

Again, not me! winking smiley I've said it a number of times here on this board, "Sometimes I lean more one way, and sometimes I lean more the other way". That's how it is with me, and I hope by now you know that I don't give a hoot what other people think about it--It is what it is---and I am what I am! And "I" like what I am! smileys with beer
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 02:17AM
"I agree with that. I'm just not sure that someone can honestly say, "I do not know what I believe in regard to the existence of God." To answer in such a way seems disingenuous to me because we all know what we believe about anything."---Rod

I still can't figure out who you are talking about? At least on this board, I don't know anyone who doesn't know what they believe about the existence of God?

Are you sure that's not a strawman? In other words, when someone says that he or she doesn't know if there is a God, are you sure you are are not taking that, and then arguing as if the person doesn't know whether he or she believes there is a God? They are not the same thing.

You know the difference between knowing and believing just as well as I do! winking smiley
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 02:20AM
I like what you are, too, Isle, cuz I think you just came out of the atheist closet! You seem almost offended sometimes when I say you are a fence sitter or are wishy washy. If leaning one way and then the opposite and back again over and over is not considered sitting on the fence or being wishy washy, what is? Perhaps you have a different definition of those terms? Omg, I'm getting into semantics so beware of some anti-semantic (hehe) bull to come charging out of a closet into our china shop for a minute to let us know how much it hates that!!
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 02:56AM
If leaning one way and then the opposite and back again over and over is not considered sitting on the fence or being wishy washy, what is?---Sam

The truth. Being straightforward.
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 03:10AM
I have no doubt you are being truthful and straightforward, Isle. We were talking about how we label ourselves but I can see we are done now. Nice chatting with someone who keeps their head! Cheers! smileys with beer

A final note: As an atheist, it's much more enjoyable to have a discussion with a self-identified agnostic than with a xian, jew, muslim or other godist because godists are generally either crazy or deceptive and close-minded and "agnostics" are usually honest and open-minded even if admittedly undecided, confused or easily swayed. IOW, it's more fun to argue AGAINST an agnostic than it is to argue AGAINST godists WITH agnostics. In fact, now that I think of it, it makes no sense for an agnostic to argue with either because they themselves are reportedly either a godist or an atheist depending on what day it is. That said, I'm glad there are more and more "agnostics" in the world today. It means we are moving away from organized superstition toward a more rational species even if most are not ready to definitively declare their disbelief. Baby steps...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2012 03:38AM by Sam.
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 03:13AM
Cheers! smileys with beer
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 05:09AM
I went through the archive and compiled some ideas I've posted here on existence.

*

I don't believe in any traditional gods, but I do believe that there's something at the root of existence that defies human comprehension. I posit that we don't possess the experience or the vocabulary to even ask the right questions. And I'm fine with that.

*

Whether one believes in a personal god or a non-personal force being responsible for existence, there's the same problem of how that god or force came into being. Obviously, there's something else at work - some other process -- and even that word is presumptuous, but I have to call it something -- that we're not seeing, or can't see, and don't understand. We live in a finite world; the notion of infinity is completely foreign to our experience. Whatever that mystery process is, that's the only thing that could be "God". Since we know nothing about this process, though, it makes no sense to build a religion around it or call it "God". We don't even possess the vocabulary, knowledge or experience necessary to be able to ask the right questions about it. We're like mosquitoes trying to understand what the sun is.

*

Regarding my beliefs, my position is that the mystery of existence is beyond our vocabulary and our grasp. I have a problem with the god concept because, well, Who created God/god/the creator/? If God/god/the creator has always existed, then why can't the universe/multiverse have always existed?

*

Regarding the mysteries behind existence, I think it's beyond our understanding, but my gut feelings tell me that all of this didn't happen by accident. Of course I have no proof, nor would I ever try to persuade anyone to my leanings. And of course I acknowledge that I could be wrong.

*

I agree with author/journalist Matt Taibbi:

Regarding the atheism/agnosticism question, I think this is just a situation where the words we have in English are simply not very good ones. Do I think there’s a God? No. Do I believe the God as described in Christianity exists? No way — I’d bet my life on that without a thought. But feeling quite certain and knowing for sure are two different things. I think I can say I know for sure that the Christian God doesn’t exist because the doctrine is filled with so many contradictions and absurdities that, logically speaking, it couldn’t possibly be. But how and when and why and by what means the world was created, I think those questions aren’t knowable, and what’s funny about people is that they keep trying to answer them anyway. I believe human beings have a blind spot when it comes to the nature of their own existence, and to me the word “agnostic” comes closer to describing the state of having and accepting such a blind spot than “atheist” does.

*

So.... am I an agnostic? Atheist? Something else?
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 05:48AM
Who gives a fukkk? winking smiley
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 06:11AM
I agree! But I thought that since you guys are always debating questions surrounding agnosticism and atheism, you'd be interested in my question and would supply an answer.
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 08:18PM
I think you've done a pretty decent job of describing what I call agnosticism, PT, and it comes close to mirroring my own views. thumbs up

Personally, I couldn't care less what other people think I am or how they describe me. But as is the case here on these boards, when someone asks me, I'm happy to explain why I don't describe myself as an atheist, that is, one who the denies of the existence of God. I'm not an atheist, because, in fact, I don't deny the existence of God. Does this make me a theist? No. A theist is someone who affirms the existence of God. Agnostic describes my position quite well. The "rational" stuff we talk about here is just the fun material we use as we go about rationalizing why our position is the most rational! LOL!

I still think a lot of people at the extreme end of the atheist/theist spectrum still have a hard time grasping what it means to neither believe nor disbelieve something. Since something either exists or it doesn't, or something is going to happen or it isn't, if you don't believe one, you must believe the other.

Who is going to win the Super Bowl? I dunno. Who do I believe is going to win? I haven't been following football closely for years now, however, being from New England, I kinda' hope the Patriots win, that's about it. Do I genuinely believe they are going to win? No. What little I have read and seen, there are days that I lean more in that direction and then I'll read something that will give me cause for doubt and I'll lean the other way--But in neither case do I believe the Patriots will win, nor do I believe they'll lose.

Belief is not a cut and dry thing either--It can be measured by degrees, in fact that's what odds and spreads measure; how much do you believe or to what degree do you believe something? That can be easily measured by how much one is willing to bet that the Giants, or the Patriots, are going to win this game. And, naturally, each person putting money on the team he or she believes will win, feels certain that the evidence justifies his or her belief! winking smiley
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 08:52PM
Islander wrote: "I know how an argument can be framed to make it sound perfectly logical, using hard evidence along with sound logic and math, leaving one unable to mount a rational refutation to it--but at the same time, leaving one with a gut feeling that something is wrong with argument--ever talked to a professional "financial advisor" and, after listening to him, sadly wished you'd followed your "gut instinct" instead of doing what what you (rationally?) "should do" (according to the advisor)? LOL!"

Depends on what your "gut instinct" says. If your gut instinct says, "Whoa, I'm confused. I don't understand any of this so I think I'll just reject it and continue to believe what I've always believed" then your brain needs to have a man-to-man (or woman-to-woman) talk with your gut instinct and let it know who's the boss.

If it says, "Whoa, I'm confused. I'm having a difficult time following this so I think I'll write it down and analyze it more carefully later" then, yes, by all means, follow your gut instinct.

I agree with you that an argument with which we are uncomfortable should not be accepted -- but I believe that such an argument should remain unaccepted for only so long as it takes to determine the precise reason for our discomfort.

It may be that our unease arises because we suspect that an apparently valid argument is actually invalid even though the invalidity is not immediately or obviously apparent. Further and deeper logical analysis should reveal the answer to this question for us.

Alternatively, the argument may cause discomfort because we have a hunch or a gut feeling that some premiss or other in the argument is false. Still, rather than reject the argument on this basis, we should research the questionable premiss to determine its actual truth value.

Or it may be that our uncomfortableness stems from unexamined assumptions or long-held biases that have no basis in fact. If this turns out to be the case then we should begin to change our minds about what we previously believed or should just admit that we are beyond reason's reach.

To be truly open-minded does not mean that any conclusion, however logically and factually argued, should be viewed as just one more opinion on a subject that is equal to all other opinions on that subject.

To be truly open-minded means to be able to change your belief when your belief has been shown false and to accept new beliefs when sound (or cogent) arguments show those beliefs to be true (or probably true). The conclusion of any well-formed argument should be accepted as true unless we determine that the argument is invalid or contains at least one false premiss.

We have a choice in our acceptance of sound arguments. We can either accept the conclusion of a sound argument as true or we can reject that conclusion and show that we are not open-minded people but are instead close-minded bigots who are captives of our own unexamined assumptions or long-held biases and prejudices.

To reject an argument on the basis of a gut feeling or a hunch without delving deeper into the cause of the hunch or gut feeling is intellectual laziness.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/24/2012 10:11PM by Rodriguez.
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 08:54PM
I love your Super Bowl metaphor, islander. It's perfect. thumbs up

Several years ago, Chris Hedges wrote a book called I Don't Believe In Atheists. I've read just about everything he's written, but I haven't read that one yet. Maybe I'll order a copy.

Here's an excerpt of an interview with Hedges:

A lot of people would find it counterintuitive that you would go from your last book, “American Fascists,” which was a scathing critique of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S., to writing against atheism. Do you see these as connected projects?

I do. I didn’t start out that way, because these guys were not on my radar screen. I think a lot of their popularity stems from a legitimate anger on the part of a lot of Americans toward the intolerance and chauvinism of the radical religious right in this country. Unfortunately, what they’ve done is offer a Utopian belief system that is as self-delusional as that offered by Christian fundamentalists. They adopt many of the foundational belief systems of fundamentalists. For example, they believe that the human species is marching forward, that there is an advancement toward some kind of collective moral progress — that we are moving towards, if not a Utopian, certainly a better, more perfected human society. That’s fundamental to the Christian right, and it’s also fundamental to the New Atheists.

You know, there is nothing in human nature or in human history that points to the idea that we are moving anywhere. Technology and science, though they are cumulative and have improved, in many ways, the lives of people within the industrialized nations, have also unleashed the most horrific forms of violence and death, and let’s not forget, environmental degradation, in human history. So, there’s nothing intrinsically moral about science. Science is morally neutral. It serves the good and the bad. I mean, industrial killing is a product of technological advance, just as is penicillin and modern medicine. So I think that I find the faith that these people place in science and reason as a route toward human salvation to be as delusional as the faith the Christian right places in miracles and angels.

[. . .]

I write in the book that not believing in God is not dangerous. Not believing in sin is very dangerous. I think both the Christian right and the New Atheists in essence don’t believe in their own sin, because they externalize evil. Evil is always something out there that can be eradicated. For the New Atheists, it’s the irrational religious hordes. I mean, Sam Harris, at the end of his first book, asks us to consider a nuclear first strike on the Arab world. Both Hitchens and Harris defend the use of torture. Of course, they’re great supporters of preemptive war, and I don’t think this is accidental that their political agendas coalesce completely with the Christian right.

Rest at [www.salon.com]
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 10:04PM
PTTP quoted Chris Hedges to write: For example, they [atheists] believe that the human species is marching forward, that there is an advancement toward some kind of collective moral progress — that we are moving towards, if not a Utopian, certainly a better, more perfected human society. That’s fundamental to the Christian right, and it’s also fundamental to the New Atheists.

What a bunch of bunk. Does Hedges offer any support whatsoever for this statement?

Talk about your classic non sequitur! What is the connection between the belief that no god exists and the belief that the human species is marching forward toward some kind of moral progress??? Who died and made Chris Hedges the official lexicographer for the US? Since I don't believe that the human species is "marching forward toward some kind of moral progress" does this mean I'm no longer an atheist? Am I an agnostic now? Am I a theist?

Wow. If you guys continue to change the definition of 'atheist' pretty soon you'll get your way: there will be no atheists because no one will fit the definition of 'atheist.'

I can understand why Hedges would want to believe that his claim is true -- after all, he is a graduate of a divinity school -- but that still does not give him license to play fast and loose with the truth.

Since you quoted him, you should support his statement or retract it.
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 10:15PM
To try to get back on subject . . .

PTTP or Islander, do you believe that the conclusion of a sound argument should be regarded as true even if your gut instincts tell you that it is not true?

(FWIW, see my post, 3 up, for more on what I'm trying to get at with this question.)
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 24, 2012 11:35PM
I think atheism scares people. The old "emperor is wearing no clothes" syndrome. Everyone WANTS to believe there's a SuperDad who cares about them or some creative force in the universe that has a purpose, plan or design. It's just easier than trying to accept that we are a happy accident. Oh, and let's not forget the idea of an afterlife that is oh so appealing to everyone AND a universal moral code that gives people a way to earn eternal ecstasy and avoid eternal suffering while in that said afterlife. I think agnostics fully realize the folly of believing in silly superstition but are not ready to be stigmatized by declaring it. Isle said he leans one way and then another which makes me wonder what it is exactly that sways him if not some kind of evidence. I'd be very interested in knowing what the evidence is on both sides that causes that wish wash. Or is it just a mood swing?
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 25, 2012 01:33AM
I can understand why Hedges would want to believe that his claim is true -- after all, he is a graduate of a divinity school -- but that still does not give him license to play fast and loose with the truth. - Rod

Hedges is speaking from his own experience. He has debated atheists Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. You can probably find segments of those debates on YouTube.

If Hitchens and Harris don't represent your views on that point, then of course what Hedges said doesn't apply to you.

No one "died and made Chris Hedges the official lexicographer for the US", nor does he claim that. He's simply offering his opinion.
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 25, 2012 03:00AM
PowerToThePeople Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I can understand why Hedges would want to believe
> that his claim is true -- after all, he is a
> graduate of a divinity school -- but that still
> does not give him license to play fast and loose
> with the truth. - Rod
>
> Hedges is speaking from his own experience. He has
> debated atheists Christopher Hitchens and Sam
> Harris. You can probably find segments of those
> debates on YouTube.


Point one: It's not incumbent on me to find support for a fast and loose claim that someone else makes. If you or Hedges cannot back up his claim then you should have the decency to retract it.

Point two: Hedges' book is not entitled "I Don't Believe in the New Atheists" it's entitled "I Don't Believe In Atheists."

Point three: The questioner did not ask Hedges about the new atheists. The interviewer asked him about atheists. Hedges went from talking about atheists in general to talking specifically about the new atheists.

> If Hitchens and Harris don't represent your views
> on that point, then of course what Hedges said
> doesn't apply to you.


Generally speaking, they do represent my views in regard to religion. What I'm saying to you is that Hedges made a charge about the motives of Dawkins, Dennet, Harris, and Hitchens that neither he nor you seem to be able to support. The belief or nonbelief in humanity's progress or lack of progress toward some sort of moral perfection has nothing to do with atheism.

Maybe rather than quoting blurbs from a book you haven't read, you should read the book to determine whether Hedges' charges are supported by evidence.


> No one "died and made Chris Hedges the official
> lexicographer for the US", nor does he claim that.
> He's simply offering his opinion.


Then he should stop trying to redefine terms like "atheist" to fit his agenda.
Sam
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 25, 2012 03:23AM
What is a New Atheist?
Re: 'Cogito Ergo Sum'—I THINK, THEREFORE I EXIST
January 25, 2012 10:13AM
Maybe rather than quoting blurbs from a book you haven't read, you should read the book to determine whether Hedges' charges are supported by evidence. - Rod

Those "blurbs" were from an interview, not a book. I even supplied the link.

Perhaps you should read the interview, and then his book I Don't Believe in Atheists. I'm sure he makes his case much better in his book than in a limited interview.
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