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post #10 of (permalink) Old 12-29-2010, 04:57 AM
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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
I'm hopping on a plane today to London, so I'll be gone for a while, but I'll make sure I respond to this thread (if no others) while I'm in the U.K.

I'm sorry, since it seems I'm dragging the argument off track. The only part that's really relevant to the original post is the discussion of free will, so if you want to just respond to that portion, you're welcome to.

As far as the virtue ethics stuff goes, I'm happy to either keep doing that or open up another thread. Or you could open up another thread. Either way.
Have fun in London, it's a great city and I hear the snow makes it quite beautiful. No worries on the expansion, I enjoy the overall discussions anyway and it's pointless to try to contain subjects of this scope beyond a degree. It's pretty one-on-one so far anyway so I don't think there's a need for new threads yet.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Clearly, I have taken away a stronger reading of the science than you have. I read Ramachandran, Arielly and others (like Dan Gilbert) and it's clear that all of them are coming to the conclusion that behavioral psychology is based heavily on preconditions and neurological framework.

But even if that weren't the case, it brings me back to my first claim, which is that the conception of "free will" is a logical impossibility, given the logical necessity of causation.

(P1) If behavior constitutes an effect caused by neural states, and (P2) neural states are, themselves caused by external states of affairs (and I have never read a single text that disputes that they are, though I'm happy to if you can point me towards it) then (C1) behavior is the result of a causal link originating outside of the neural states.

It's worth pointing out that you can replace "neural states" with "states of mind." I treat them exactly the same. Some people like to add a third premise which asserts that behavior is caused by "states of mind" which are caused by "neural states." I don't think that's right, but it brings you to the conclusion.

Why is it a logical impossibility? Obviously it's a much stronger claim that I'm making when I say that the strong reading of free will is a logical impossibility.

Because it is impossible for "states of mind" or "neural states" to constitute an origination in themselves. States of mind cannot exist without (and, as a result are dependent on) an experience of the world in order to be caused.

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Are you asserting that free will originates outside of the mind? Or that it exists on a much smaller level?

Again, you're missing my point. Hopefully the above clarified it. It's not that there isn't randomness (which is an entirely different can of worms), it's that the mind cannot originate a causal chain, because it is dependent on external stimuli to exist at all, and because (as a result) it's form is determined by external stimuli.

Yes basically that's what I was suggesting. Most theological/spiritual schools of thinking think of thought (pardon the alliteration) and decision making originating in the Soul, not the mind. The mind, as you point out, is basically a state based receiver/processor/recorder of signals originating at a lower level, comparable to say a computer CPU.

So what would a Soul be? Perhaps something existing at a sub-quantum level, other realm, dark matter or whatever, that can influence the paths and choices made at the quantum level or even lower. Generally this is referred to as the Meta-Physical realm. In the computer analogy, this would be the live user that is entering input and control into the "dead" computer.

I don't want to get too sci-fi or cliche, because the short answer for all of the above is we don't know for sure, this is just theology and philosophy. But the idea has been remarkably consistent across all of human civilization ... soul, spirit and such. Every culture from Native American to East Asian to European has had some such concept which is remarkable consistent in it's working.

Before you refute it with "that's not evidence that it's true", I will admit that it's not. Like I said, I feel these things aren't meant to be proven beyond doubt, else they impinge on free will. It's all theory and hypothesis mixed with mythology and legend, but the point I'm trying to make is that philosophically and scientifically, free will cannot be unproven.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
You said "it's not scientific evidence." My point has nothing to do with science.

My point is, it's not evidence at all. I haven't used the word scientific at all in addressing it. Well... until just now.
Well pardon me for introducing the word scientific, but it was you that introduced the word evidence. If you read what I wrote, I made zero attempt whatsoever to admit the emotional part as evidence, that part was for argument's sake only. To lend personal credibility to my line of thought.

This is a debate, not a scientific report. We are not sitting here writing peer-review reports on the latest anthropology finding in Africa, we are debating. All argument may be valid and useful, including Ethos and Pathos. It doesn't have to be strictly "evidence". It's not like I'm entirely omitting philosophical and scientific lines of explanation.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Seriously, "true" science.

Of course we use personal experience in decision making.
Right, there is such a thing as bogus science, the kind used by infomercials and dudes in the 1800s to sell electroshock as cure for hair loss etc. Usually based around bogus studies and false premise theories.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
If you'd like to argue that quantam theory undermine's perturbation theory, you're certainly welcome to, but

I'm in philosophy. I stick with logical principles. You seem to think that my argument is from science (hence the constant insertion of "scientific" where it wasn't in my argument before).

LaPlace's demon is the logical extension of causality. If you'd like to dispute causality, you're welcome to, but (again) that's off the point. You can basically argue the first argument about causal origination in mind, and it'd be much more interesting (and streamline this).

If you're point is that I shouldn't be referencing LaPlace's demon because it's not compatible with Heisenberg, that's fine, and I'll stop.
Yes, that's exactly what I said, in so many words.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
This is in conflict with which point of my point? I'm sorry, I don't see where you're going with this.

I stated: "The reality is, the vast majority of Americans and Brazilians are Christian, and the vast majority of modern MMA fighters come from those two countries, so there are bound to be some good examples."

Thanks for the number, but last I checked, 76% is "a vast majority."
And I said it's not that 76% that's relevant to our point on MMA, it the < 50% Practicing Christians under 35. I don't see many 60 year olds in MMA, so that demographic shouldn't be considered when looking for statistical trends and anomalies in MMA.

And while Atheists are still a minority in the under-35 age group in America, Non-Christians (including but not limited to Atheists/Agnostics) are actually a majority or about even.

One mistake I made was that I said, by statistical trend, it should be roughly 50-50 between Christians and Atheists/Agnostics at the top or any random slice of MMA or any other measure of achievement. What I meant was Christians-Non Christians, as you rightly pointed out, Christians-Atheists should be around 2:1.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
There are five problems with this quote.

1) Not all MMA competitors are American. In fact, you explicitly named a non-American champion in your argument. It's not surprising that the two Brazilian champions in the UFC are practicing Catholics, though Anderson less than Aldo, from what I understand.
Right, just consider the American ones then, that's still a lot more skewed than 50-50.

Aldo is actually more of a practicing Baptist than a Catholic, he attends Baptist church every Sunday and sounds quite religious in his interviews. So it's not like he's a default token catholic christian.

Anderson has also expressed very strong religious sentiment in many of his interviews, is abound with religious symbolism (making the sign of the cross etc.) before his fights and so on so I don't know where you're coming from with his lack of devotion etc. It may be less than Aldo or whoever, but it's hard to have an exact barometer like that without really knowing the person.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
2) The difference (in American's ages 18-35) between "less than 50%" and "23%" (your numbers, not mine; I don't know where you're getting them, but I'm going to trust you because I don't want to check the Pew Forum) could be as much as... well, 24%.
Well some the figures are from Newsweek which in turn are from Pews anyway, I got them from a wiki link.

The rest I filled in the blanks directly from Pews. And like I clarified, my mistake, I meant the ratio of Christians:Non-Christians, not Christians:Atheists.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post

3) You're going to assert that "thanking God in interviews" constitutes evidence of Christianity, then we're going to come to a divergence there.
Well not just that, I meant that along with being listed under a Christian denomination (so they're not just Theist but actually Christian), talking consistently along religious/virtue ethics based lines in interviews, Generally have that kind of rep and so on.

But even if I was looking at JUST their thanking God, that would STILL put them quite firmly in the 64% theist category. Why on earth would they thank an imaginary creature they didn't think existed?

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post

4) "Maybe one or two atheists" is a pretty huge understatement. How do you identify if someone is an atheist? I'm suppose to show you that they don't thank God in their interviews? I'd be able to deputize about 70% of the UFC. But, obviously, that would be ridiculous.
Maybe one or two at the top I said, and it's true unless you can provide me with better examples than MTB. As for proof, it would have to be some statement along the lines them openly proclaiming atheism/agnosticism ... because as I reasoned in my last point, thanking an entity you don't think exists counts as grounds for lunacy. NOT thanking an entity that you think EXISTS, well, could mean anything really.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post

5) There are plenty of atheists who are fighters who "live their daily lives by those virtues." Being an atheist in no way precludes the belief in or practice of virtue ethics. Being a Christian (even a "good Christian") doesn't necessitate it.
Agreed completely, I already mentioned Velasquez as an example of this. My point is that being a Christian "facilitates" it, not necessitates it.

People who are basically relativistic in thinking and are only being virtuous "for the heck of it" would, logically, find it far easier to abandon it in the face of tough trials or heavy temptations. I mean why resist? It's not like anyone's watching or there is such a thing as non-obvious or direct consequences. Or they would prefer to be virtuous in the ways convenient for them and not in others eg: a hollywood billionaire who gives millions to charity and then goes and cheats on his wife with a bunch of hookers and blow.

People with a real belief in God and the deeper rewards and tragedies of virtue ethics have an inherently higher psychological reason to stick to them. It's not a guarantee that they will of course, but to them the stakes are higher.

And this is just the psychological side of it, without even going into the possible existence of there actually BEING a God that really does reward virtue and give you spiritual strength etc. in that regard.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Again, there are a number of serious problems with this argument. But I'm going to return to my previous point:

Even if it were the case that all top ten fighters (to pick an arbitrary benchmark) in mixed martial arts were Christian. It wouldn't constitute evidence.

Just like the fact that Atheists make up a disproportionately low percentage of the prison population in this country (Christians are about the same place you put their population, usually about 74-78%) does absolutely nothing for arguing for the position.

If being a practicing Buddhist meant you had a 0% risk of going to prison and a 100% chance of being in the upper 1% in terms of income, it doesn't follow that the religion is true. That's not a valid step.

Again, my point was about the methodology of your argument.
It's not concrete evidence, but strong statistical correlation is always an argument and is practical even if not admissible as 100% scientific proof.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
I actually really like Matt Hughes. He's been very nice to me the few times I've had passing conversations with him. He's hospitable and friendly. But I was making a point that being a douchebag and being a Christian are two totally compatible, causally independent states of being. As long as we're on the same page on that, I'm satisfied.
I always figured the hate on Hughes was disproportionate. Most of his douchiness lies quite early in his youth, when many others behave irresponsibly.

And yes, we're on the same page, I'll stick with the "facilitates not necessitates" bit.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
That's fine. An entire generation of my family is in Alcoholics Anonymous. But it's not an argument.
I'm very sorry for that. Like I said there's no guarantee, and I believe religion is pointless without actively trying to live those principles of virtue day by day, more and more. I suppose our free will is always free. I hope and pray (hope you don't take too much offense at that) they recover swiftly and well. Don't know what else to say here really.

Except I suppose I have positive experiences to share in that regard; my closest uncle (mother's brother) had become addicted to coke, had beat up his wife after arguments, and cheated on her with hookers. She had gone to the cops and he had fled the country in fear.

I wrote and talked to him during this time and he was crying about not wanting to lose his marriage and his kids and how much he still loved her and them etc. The usual. In the lead up to this, we had discovered the problems almost a year ago and he had tried to quit 3 times and claimed he succeeded, but always tested negative and had cheated again. But after our extended discussions on God, faith (FYI I was the only Christian in my family, I was not born to it), morality and what was important to him in his life, he tried again.

This time, he succeeded. He's been tested clean for over two years now, they're back from the verge of divorce and his wife says she loves him again for the complete turnaround he made. He is loyal, a devoted father, and drugs free.

Again, this is not proof or even evidence of anything. Just thought I could share, so you see where I'm coming from.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
And now we get into the part where we see the relationship with the text, which is what matters.

And, of course, in Mark 7:9 he goes on to say: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" and proceeds to go on an extended defense of Divine Command, which is necessarily independent of virtue ethics.

I'm not sure if that's omitted in Matthew.

Actually, I read this the other way: Jesus is endorsing the ritual practices commanded by the priesthood, but asserting that the lifestyle decisions and violations of the law are independent.

It's an interesting reading, though.

I'm not sure how you read this as disowning ritual. Even if you take a very strong reading of this as an assertion that faith comes first (which I agree with as a reading) it still asserts that external cleanliness is important.

Right, but the important part IMO is him saying "Teaching as doctrines the Commandments of men". That, and him mentioning Scribes as the corruptors.

The likely meaning that I take from this is that a lot of the ritual stuff that has been written in to the scrolls by the scribes as "doctrine" was really arbitrary ritual and "commandments of men" that were unrelated to the original virtue ethics commanded by God. We have to remember that at Jesus' time, there was no such thing as the Old Testament or a Bible, just a bunch of scrolls written by these very scribes under the tutelage of these very Pharisees/priests.

I never said that Jesus was against ALL ritual. He was against ritual that was not part of the original Virtue Ethics based commandments of God. In this regard I believe it's pointless to say that "oh Christianity is based on Divine Command not Virtue Ethics", because by Jesus' teachings, the Divine Command WAS to follow Virtue Ethics. There is further proof of such things in things such as the sermon on the mount etc.

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (NIV, Mark 12:28-31).

Well then how do we know what parts of the OT are "Divine Command" and what are "Doctrines of Men"? Most Christians do this by going in precedence from the Gospels -> Rest of NT -> OT.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Well, let's start by removing St. Pierre as a reference. The guy is 29, and so of course he's still evolving. If you want to compare Ortiz to Fedor and say "why hasn't Ortiz evolved while Fedor has?" that's actually interesting.

Setting aside the easy defense, which is that "Fedor is Fedor," I actually think the more interesting logic is that Fedor has been able to go a lot further than Tito on the skill set he had originally, and while he has clearly evolved, he really hasn't evolved that much over the last five years. Since he fought CroCop, how much has Fedor's game evolved? Not much, really. It was awesome then, and it's awesome now.

Also, it's worth noting that have a large number of very serious surgeries does make it a little harder to compete in MMA. So Fedor has an advantage there, too.
Even if GSP is 29, he has evolved a gazillion times more in his 7 year UFC career than Ortiz did in the same amount of time at the same age. Ortiz went from 22-29 doing nothing but one-trick pony basic TD + GnP and terrible standup, whereas GSP went from standup machine to takedown machine to BJJ black belt.

You can say the same for Aldo or Anderson, who have evolved far more since their early or even recent days than Ortiz in his prime.

And if you think I'm singling out Ortiz as an example of a cocky un-virtuous guy, give me another example of a douchy guy who you think has maintained success and focus the same way the guys I'm naming have. Frank Mir? Check. Brandon Vera? Check. Name your pick.

Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
The problem is that the concept of "moderation" is so vague that you have to draw external limits for it to mean anything.

If I understand the concept of "too much" as the point when I "ought to stop drinking," which exists in all ethical systems (not just virtue ethics; it's built into the concept of "too much") then I defer to some sort of understanding of what too much is.

If I start throwing up, there's a reason it's a red flag: it's causing me pain and discomfort.

That's a great definition (and one I accept, personally, because it seems to keep my liver in tact) but it's a utilitarian definition. It's derived from an experience of the world, not an internal state of virtue.

The problem is that virtue ethics, with respect to temperance, generally (though not strictly) asserts that you ought not to drink to much, because you want to practice temperance. What is the function of practicing temperance? To keep yourself from drinking too much.

Actually, when this is taken in a really strict reading (as it is with AA) it's not circular. But, when they're abstaining entirely, they're actually not practicing temperance, they're practicing abstaining.
Well the function of Temperance is to not drink too much, but the purpose of THAT is not circular right back to "having Temperance". You made up that circularity yourself.

The purpose of not drinking too much is so that we don't make errors in judgment regarding other virtues/sins, or become dependent/addicted on it. This is stated many times in the bible such as:

Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything." - Regarding addiction.

There are dozens more if you like, here's a link:

Personally, I like to enjoy a few drinks with close friends, but I haven't gotten drunk since I was in college. If drinking in moderation is a problem, then yes, abstaining is best.
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