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post #11 of (permalink) Old 01-17-2011, 10:51 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Liddellianenko View Post
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.
That's totally fair.

London is an amazing city. Unfortunately, everyone is one the cloud there, so it's a bit of a pain in the ass for me to use the internet, since I can't access it that way. I was basically just using the facebook and skype apps on my phone to keep in touch with the states.

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.
The problem is function. I'm not really sure what the function of mind is here. If we accept what folks like Dan Ariely and V.S. Ramachandran tell us about the role that brain function and circumstances play in guiding the decision making.

And, secondarily, even if it is the case that these things happen at the "sub-quantam level" does that still constitute a form of free will.

If the soul and the mind are distinct bodies (which I think is what you're proposing) and the mind is the body that experiences the world (which I think we're also both on the same page on) and the role of the soul is to make decisions independently of that experience of the world, then does the soul operate on different conditions than the experience of the world?

And if it doesn't, if decision making operates based on our experience of the world, and the understanding that we have in predicting what decisions will have positive causal impacts, then our understandings (which are presumably informed by experience, education and other external factors like brain states) are the primary process in decision making, then it seems to me that independent agency at the level of mind is impossible.

That's where my problem is.

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.
If you're claim is that a particular definition of free will is unfalsifiable (which is true in a lot of cases; Daniel Dennett presents a definition in Elbow Room that is totally unfalsifiable) then that's fine. But it seems to me that, if it cannot be disproven, then the value of the idea is fairly limited. I subscribe to Popper's view on this, fairly strictly, which goes something like this:

If a proposition cannot be disproven, then (from a scientific/philosophical standpoint) it cannot be formative in an empirical worldview.

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.
Actually, I don't really recognize pathos as valid in argument. It's fine if you want to use it, but (personally) I actually think most modern definitions of argument disqualify it.

You're right, though, in that I introduced "evidence," which is a term I use strictly applied to rational, deductive arguments.

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.
You'll get no argument from me here.

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.
Again, you're presuming that all MMA fighters come from the United States, since you're using American figures. You're also assuming that MMA draws equally from all backgrounds, which it doesn't.

Setting aside the anomaly of Brazilian fighters (who are almost all Catholic) and Japanese fighters (who are almost all atheists, with a few notable exceptions), there is a problem even in the U.S.

First: American MMA fighters tend to come from the lower economic brackets, which (statistically) dramatically increases the likelihood that someone will be religious.

Second: They tend not to have post-collegiate education, which again dramatically increases the likelihood that someone will be religious.

Third: They tend to come from conservative and rural communities, which also dramatically increases the likelihood that someone will be religious.

The number of Christian NCAA wrestling champions is far higher than the number of non-Christian NCAA champions. Why? Because the communities where wrestling is practiced are largely very conservative and very Christian.

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.
Aldo's religious background is kind of ambiguous to me. I just know that he considers himself deeply religious, though I don't know how big a role denominal identification plays in that. In my experience, Brazilian protestants tend to be much more devote then Brazilian catholics, which I usually attribute to being a member of a religious minority, so that doesn't surprise me.

Anderson uses a lot of Christian iconography and definitely does identify that way. My point was about level of devoutness being varied. Anderson definitely does not practice Christianity to the same degree that (say) Aldo, or even Matt Hughes, does. I may be wrong about that, though, since all of this is second hand. I really don't like using second hand reports.

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.
Yeah, those are two hugely different things, though. Including something like "None of the Above" or a generic answer doesn't really help.

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?

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.
There's the problem:

Christians evangelize. Atheists and (especially) agnostics don't. It doesn't come up in interviews. They just don't care very much.

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.
I have no argument with any of this, except that it doesn't actually seem to work that way.

Statistically, if you're an atheist, you're much less likely to go to prison than if you're a Christian.

I actually think that this has almost nothing to do with religion. I think it's motivated by sociology. Given that statistically being an atheist means a higher likelihood of post-secondary education and, as a result, higher rates of employment and income, then there's a major sociological disposition that indicates that (as a group) there would be lower rates of crime.

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.
That's fine, but since we agree that it's not evidence, I don't really feel like I can, or should, address it.

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.
This is the problem: God's commands are not an invocation of virtue ethics. Divine command theory and virtue ethics are two totally separate theories of ethics, and the notion of "commandment" identifies with the former and not the later.

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.
Actually, I don't think most Christians do that, as much as I'd like that.

The problem is that the Gospels, the Epistles and the entire Old Testament hinges on divine command theory.

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.
You're romanticizing and overlooking the role that Ortiz played in MMA. He didn't evolve, which is exactly my point: that is what played a role in his becoming irrelevant, not his lack of religiosity. By the way, there are plenty of other (religious) UFC champions who fell out of the top for exactly the same reason.

It's easy to diminish Ortiz now because he's not a guy at the top, but he was, in his prime, one of the greatest champions in the history of the UFC. When GSP or Anderson or Aldo falls out of the top, we'll be able to assess their career with the same retrospect.

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.
Actually, I'm pretty sure that both of those guys are Christians.

Also, I like Frank Mir, as a guy. He's very nice, very knowledgeable and if you're going to spot Matt Hughes for only being a douche during his use (or becoming less douchey over time) then you should extend the same benefit of the doubt to Frank Mir.

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.
That's great: these are utilitarian justifications for abstaining from drinking. They are not based on virtue ethics.

My point was not that there aren't good reasons to abstain from drinking. There are. Those reasons are utilitarian in nature.

My point is that virtue ethics is circular.

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