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Old 12-25-2010, 07:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Epicurus' Problem of Evil

Because Fieos opened the topic, this is the first religion discussion (only for those who are registered; those who are unregistered will have their posts deleted).

This is the traditional presentation of Epicurus' version of the problem of evil:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Epicurus
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then what is the origination of evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?
I've adjusted the translation, because I hate the old English translation (with "cometh"), but there are no changes in terms of content.

I'll present my own opinions, in rebutting both sides (because they all suck) as they come up. But this is an open thread. So fire away.
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Old 12-26-2010, 12:34 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks IronMan. And here is the response I posted to Fieos in the registration thread again -

Here's the short answer to Epicurus: Free will. The Christian answer to that question is: God is omnipotent, but he is also benevolent. If he created humanity but gave us no choice to CHOOSE good or evil for ourselves, then we would be puppets and life would be meaningless.

The basic explanation I can offer is this - Evil comes from our own choice, and God's Gift of free will. He is omnipotent, but his benevolence constrains him from destroying his own gift of free will, hence his obscurement of himself to something that can never be "Proven" beyond doubt, only felt through life's experiences and patterns after witnessing the positive aftereffects of good choices such as love, charity etc. and the depressions and hardships of making evil choices such as cruelty etc. If there was an all powerful God sitting right there in front of you that you knew you couldn't anger or go against, where's the free will?

In the same way, he cannot wipe out evil in this life without wiping out humanity's free will, he can only take us away from it (afterlife and so on) if we choose to move away from it on our own. But even in this life, if we do move away, the rewards are palpable, and these I can vouch from my own personal experience and those of other christians.

He is very much able and willing to prevent evil to some degree in this life as well, there is prayer but of course it's not an instant magic button. Because there is also the whole "you reap what you sow" thing and the constrains of free will. But evil and life's tests or no, there is always the general happiness that comes from making the right choices in life. Love over lust, humility over arrogance (just ask all top MMA fighters for example) and so on.
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Old 12-26-2010, 02:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liddelianenko
Here's the short answer to Epicurus: Free will. The Christian answer to that question is: God is omnipotent, but he is also benevolent. If he created humanity but gave us no choice to CHOOSE good or evil for ourselves, then we would be puppets and life would be meaningless.

The basic explanation I can offer is this - Evil comes from our own choice, and God's Gift of free will. He is omnipotent, but his benevolence constrains him from destroying his own gift of free will, hence his obscurement of himself to something that can never be "Proven" beyond doubt, only felt through life's experiences and patterns after witnessing the positive aftereffects of good choices such as love, charity etc. and the depressions and hardships of making evil choices such as cruelty etc. If there was an all powerful God sitting right there in front of you that you knew you couldn't anger or go against, where's the free will?
Free will isn't a solution.

If God is omniscient then (via LaPlace's Demon) he must be aware of all events that will occur at every moment in the future. All such events are conditioned, as a result of particle collisions and other conditions. The strong reading of free will (that we have the power to make decisions independent of our circumstances) violates causality.


Quote:
In the same way, he cannot wipe out evil in this life without wiping out humanity's free will, he can only take us away from it (afterlife and so on) if we choose to move away from it on our own. But even in this life, if we do move away, the rewards are palpable, and these I can vouch from my own personal experience and those of other christians.
Anecdotal evidence is, actually, (despite the name) not evidence in this argument.

Quote:
He is very much able and willing to prevent evil to some degree in this life as well, there is prayer but of course it's not an instant magic button. Because there is also the whole "you reap what you sow" thing and the constrains of free will. But evil and life's tests or no, there is always the general happiness that comes from making the right choices in life. Love over lust, humility over arrogance (just ask all top MMA fighters for example) and so on.
You don't want to take this line of argument. Trust me, it's a very bad one. Virtue ethics (which are, again, derived from Aristotle, and not from the doctrines of the early church) asserts that we ought to do what is virtuous because the practice of virtue improves virtue and this leads to a good life.

The problem is that there's no delineation of what those virtues are. Moderation? Sure, but in what respects. Moderation is always a paradox when we talk about categorical practice. How can you practice moderation all the time? Do you have to moderate your practice of moderation? All moderation says is that you should do things to a proper degree, and what is that proper degree? Why, it's the degree to which you should do them. I smell circularity.

Then you have virtues like charity, humility and compassion, which are introduced largely by the Christian tradition by observing the person of Christ as portrayed in particular passages, mostly in Matthew and Luke. Those are fine, but you have to except the specious foundation for virtue ethics.

The reason I tell you to avoid that argument is because its foundations run totally contrary to the Bible, which relies almost entirely on Divine Command theory, which has a totally different grounding in ethics.

And, just so that we're clear, as far as MMA fighters go, there are arrogant and humble guys at all levels of competition in the sport. The difference is that we don't treat the ones who say they're good as delusional when they actually are good. Look at Tito Ortiz. He was absolved of his smack talk when he was the lightheavyweight champion because, as far as anyone was concerned, he was the greatest lightheavyweight in the world. Arrogance is treated differently when we regard the arrogant individual as somewhat justified. That's where the illusion (albeit easily broken) that the top guys are humbled comes from.
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Old 12-26-2010, 04:44 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Free will isn't a solution.

If God is omniscient then (via LaPlace's Demon) he must be aware of all events that will occur at every moment in the future. All such events are conditioned, as a result of particle collisions and other conditions. The strong reading of free will (that we have the power to make decisions independent of our circumstances) violates causality.
The whole "particle collisions negates free will" argument is trivial, because it get's stuck in the philosophical chicken or egg conundrum ... is our free will influencing/controlling the particle collisions that compose us or are they influencing/controlling us? Philosophically, there can never be a testable proof of either.

Either way, as far as all particle mechanics being completely predictable and predetermined, this has also been proven wrong or unreliable at the very least through some of the modern developments in randomness of quantum mechanics and chaos theory.

http://linas.org/theory/quantum.html

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post

Anecdotal evidence is, actually, (despite the name) not evidence in this argument.
Sounding smug and technical doesn't invalidate anecdotal and emotional content as completely irrelevant. Concrete scientific evidence it will never be and I never claimed it as such, but an argument it definitely is.

Because argument will always be most effective when it appeals on all three levels - Logos - logic, such as the free will philosophy, Pathos - emotional and anecdotal evidence such as my own and other christians in this case, and Ethos - reputation of speaker, in this case a 4 year member of this forum with some, i hope, decent posts to his name. And since this is an MMA forum, just about every top fighter like GSP, Andy, Fedor, Franklin, Page, Wandy, Shogun, Couture, Belfort, Lesnar, Carwin, Bones etc. that is a devoted Christian and a great role model. I'm just using all the tools at my disposal.

There's some Aristotle right back at you .

Quote:
Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
You don't want to take this line of argument. Trust me, it's a very bad one. Virtue ethics (which are, again, derived from Aristotle, and not from the doctrines of the early church) asserts that we ought to do what is virtuous because the practice of virtue improves virtue and this leads to a good life.

The reason I tell you to avoid that argument is because its foundations run totally contrary to the Bible, which relies almost entirely on Divine Command theory, which has a totally different grounding in ethics.

So just because you say it's a bad argument means I have to "trust you" that it is? Talk about smug.

Firstly, in a philosophical perspective it is irrelevant to allot an "owner" to the theory of virtue, predating the church, such as Aristotle, since by philosophical definition God and virtue exist since creation and the knowledge of right/wrong is built into human conscience to some degree. I imagine there were some dudes running around in bearskins long before Aristotle who felt bad about stealing from their neighbor etc.

There are innumerable scrolls and hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt, Babylonia etc. that also point to morality and virtue, far predating Aristotle. The point is that the vague knowledge of virtue and it's rewards is built into man's soul but clouded by selfishness/evil and what have you... and Jesus would be the one who sort of came down to clarify it all to the confused humans. Jesus and the Church didn't create virtue, they help clarify it .. as you yourself admit by expanding on charity, love etc.

As far as the divine command morality contradicting Jesus' ethics, that is exactly the kind of thing Jesus says he came to get rid of. I would concentrate on the Gospels more than Old Testament in that regard, since a lot of the OT stuff would be what I would consider unreliable rituals evolving over time that ignored the original message, the kind that Jesus abhorred.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
And, just so that we're clear, as far as MMA fighters go, there are arrogant and humble guys at all levels of competition in the sport. The difference is that we don't treat the ones who say they're good as delusional when they actually are good. Look at Tito Ortiz. He was absolved of his smack talk when he was the lightheavyweight champion because, as far as anyone was concerned, he was the greatest lightheavyweight in the world. Arrogance is treated differently when we regard the arrogant individual as somewhat justified. That's where the illusion (albeit easily broken) that the top guys are humbled comes from.
Tito is a pretty bad example for you to use, I mean he pretty much proves my point. One could use him as a prime example of a talented guy who's nothing now and wasted most of his career because of his arrogance, whereas humble, focused guys maintained long and relatively unblemished careers of dominance like GSP, Fedor, Anderson (well he tries to be humble ) etc. Maybe they will fade someday from age too, but not as comically as Tito who gets trashed by C levels in his early 30s and makes excuses about cracked skulls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
The problem is that there's no delineation of what those virtues are. Moderation? Sure, but in what respects. Moderation is always a paradox when we talk about categorical practice. How can you practice moderation all the time? Do you have to moderate your practice of moderation? All moderation says is that you should do things to a proper degree, and what is that proper degree? Why, it's the degree to which you should do them. I smell circularity.

Then you have virtues like charity, humility and compassion, which are introduced largely by the Christian tradition by observing the person of Christ as portrayed in particular passages, mostly in Matthew and Luke. Those are fine, but you have to except the specious foundation for virtue ethics.
As far as Moderation goes, I'm assuming you're referring to the virtue of Temperance? Because most Christian virtues are pretty black and white ... humility, love etc. for instance, they don't espouse "moderate" lust, arrogance and so on.

The virtue of Temperance in Christian morality deals basically with excess food and drink, and the rough guidelines for "what is the right level" is built into your own body. If you're getting fat, weak, getting lifestyle health problems etc. you're going too far with food. If you're drinking to the point of doing stupid things you wouldn't otherwise or compromising your other values/virtues, you're going too far with drink. I'll give you it's one of the more abstract ones, but it still has intuitive guidelines based on our own bodies and nature, and not just circular logic.
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Old 12-26-2010, 11:19 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Liddellianenko View Post
The whole "particle collisions negates free will" argument is trivial, because it get's stuck in the philosophical chicken or egg conundrum ... is our free will influencing/controlling the particle collisions that compose us or are they influencing/controlling us? Philosophically, there can never be a testable proof of either.
It's generally accepted that mind is caused by the presence of structure and matter in the world. Will, intentionality, consciousness, or whatever mental structure you want to refer to is the product of mind.

Searle talks about this with respect to direction of fit.

But that's actually not really relevant here.

What's relevant is that, so long as we accept that individual behaviors are conditioned on the presence of circumstance and predisposition, neither of which the individual has agent-control over, which the entire practice of psychology, neurology and neuro-physiology does, then we are accepting that the force which underlies decision making is not the agent itself.


Quote:
Either way, as far as all particle mechanics being completely predictable and predetermined, this has also been proven wrong or unreliable at the very least through some of the modern developments in randomness of quantum mechanics and chaos theory.
Great. So subatomic particles have free will. Clearly, we are still subject to circumstances and our preconditions.

Quote:
Sounding smug and technical doesn't invalidate anecdotal and emotional content as completely irrelevant. Concrete scientific evidence it will never be and I never claimed it as such, but an argument it definitely is.
It's not an issue of being smug. It's an issue of what actual counts as evidence.

You can have an experience of the world that makes you believe a thing, but that doesn't mean your experience constitutes sufficient evidence to believe the thing is true. In some cases, we treat it that way, for practical purposes.

Clearly it's not totally without value. It has value for you. But it's still not evidence because it does not follow from your experience of the world that the particular state of affairs (God existing, the presence of free will, etc.) has any correspondence to reality.


Quote:
Because argument will always be most effective when it appeals on all three levels - Logos - logic, such as the free will philosophy, Pathos - emotional and anecdotal evidence such as my own and other christians in this case, and Ethos - reputation of speaker, in this case a 4 year member of this forum with some, i hope, decent posts to his name. And since this is an MMA forum, just about every top fighter like GSP, Andy, Fedor, Franklin, Page, Wandy, Shogun, Couture, Belfort, Lesnar, Carwin, Bones etc. that is a devoted Christian and a great role model. I'm just using all the tools at my disposal.
A few of the guys you named in there aren't as devoted Christians as you think they are. But I'm not going to get into a debate about the value of being Christian. 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.

There aren't a whole lot of professional fighters. The ones who are out and open about their atheism (Mike Thomas Brown, for instance) are also excellent role-models.

I notice that you left out a few Christians who aren't particularly good role models (Matt Hughes is generally treated that way) but it doesn't particularly matter. Even if Christians were better people, generally, than non-Christians (which, studies have shown, is absolutely not the case) it still wouldn't constitute evidence for the truth of the proposition.


Quote:
There's some Aristotle right back at you .
If I accepted Aristotle as authoritative at all, that would be fine. I don't, because I think that (a) his theological arguments are crap and (b) his moral arguments are seriously disturbing.

Like Plato, Aristotle is a quasi-fascist who supports a number of institutions that basically all modern people reject, most notably, slavery.


Quote:
So just because you say it's a bad argument means I have to "trust you" that it is? Talk about smug.
You're welcome to try it. It was just me trying to give you a heads up. It has nothing to do with smugness.

By the way, attacking demeanor is ad hominem. And it's a little irritating, especially since you can't read tone of voice through the internet.


Quote:
Firstly, in a philosophical perspective it is irrelevant to allot an "owner" to the theory of virtue, predating the church, such as Aristotle, since by philosophical definition God and virtue exist since creation and the knowledge of right/wrong is built into human conscience to some degree. I imagine there were some dudes running around in bearskins long before Aristotle who felt bad about stealing from their neighbor etc.
Guilt and theories of virtue are not different things. Apart from the fact that we have no record about the internal states of cavemen, virtue ethics is totally different.

Firstly, there is no philosophical definition of God.

Secondly, the philosophical definition of virtue is laid out by Aristotle. So what's wrong with attributing it to him.

If I made up a term and then, subsequently, used it to define an ethical theory, I hope it would be attributed to me. Otherwise, it would be plagiarism.


Quote:
There are innumerable scrolls and hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt, Babylonia etc. that also point to morality and virtue, far predating Aristotle. The point is that the vague knowledge of virtue and it's rewards is built into man's soul but clouded by selfishness/evil and what have you... and Jesus would be the one who sort of came down to clarify it all to the confused humans. Jesus and the Church didn't create virtue, they help clarify it .. as you yourself admit by expanding on charity, love etc.
Again, Aristotle used the term, he wrote the texts, so we credit him with doing both of those things. When someone pioneers a theory, the presence of similar theories in other parts of the world doesn't undermine the significance of the innovator who influences later thinkers.

Those Egyptian and Babylonian thinkers have their ideas in later remnants, though much less pronounced. If I was talking about ideas descended from theirs, I'd have made reference to them. But Christianity clearly takes virtue ethics from Aristotle, not from any thinking in Egypt.


Quote:
As far as the divine command morality contradicting Jesus' ethics, that is exactly the kind of thing Jesus says he came to get rid of. I would concentrate on the Gospels more than Old Testament in that regard, since a lot of the OT stuff would be what I would consider unreliable rituals evolving over time that ignored the original message, the kind that Jesus abhorred.
Where does it say that Jesus abhorred ritual? That's a pretty strange claim.

Quote:
Tito is a pretty bad example for you to use, I mean he pretty much proves my point. One could use him as a prime example of a talented guy who's nothing now and wasted most of his career because of his arrogance, whereas humble, focused guys maintained long and relatively unblemished careers of dominance like GSP, Fedor, Anderson (well he tries to be humble ) etc. Maybe they will fade someday from age too, but not as comically as Tito who gets trashed by C levels in his early 30s and makes excuses about cracked skulls.
Tito was arrogant when he was the greatest fighter in the world. Tito is arrogant now.

Your argument is that Tito is bad now because he's arrogant? Have you watched his fights? It has nothing to do with being arrogant and everything to do with being old and not having evolved as a fighter. Both of those things happen to humble fighters, too.


Quote:
As far as Moderation goes, I'm assuming you're referring to the virtue of Temperance? Because most Christian virtues are pretty black and white ... humility, love etc. for instance, they don't espouse "moderate" lust, arrogance and so on.

The virtue of Temperance in Christian morality deals basically with excess food and drink, and the rough guidelines for "what is the right level" is built into your own body. If you're getting fat, weak, getting lifestyle health problems etc. you're going too far with food. If you're drinking to the point of doing stupid things you wouldn't otherwise or compromising your other values/virtues, you're going too far with drink. I'll give you it's one of the more abstract ones, but it still has intuitive guidelines based on our own bodies and nature, and not just circular logic.
That's great, but you haven't addressed my critique about circularity at all.
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Old 12-26-2010, 06:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Before I post I would like to say that I am very drunk.

Okay, so our problem (the christian problem) is that god does know everything. But he shields himself from our choices. He sees all possibilities, but not what we will choose. Because it is not set in stone what we will choose, so god cannot see something that is undecided.

If you knew everything would you know the result of dice before you threw them? No, otherwise there would be no point.
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Old 12-26-2010, 07:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by xeberus View Post
If you knew everything would you know the result of dice before you threw them? No, otherwise there would be no point.
I'm just going to post LaPlace's demon again, because I think I already answered this point sufficiently by pointing out that we've dealt with this in terms of causality and agency already.

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Originally Posted by Iuanes View Post
I might join (and read fully) this discussion at a later time. I did post in the registration thread but my name doesn't seem to be up there. You guys seem to be doing a pretty good job on your own anyways.
You've been added. If you ask explicitly, you get put up on the registration. Sorry for not catching the post, it was kind of ambiguous, but it's fixed now.

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Throw me a bone, its something thats owned christians for thousands of years.

What am I supposed to do? Dance around the obvious then jump around smugly while pretending to be victorious? We seriously need a baller christian on the forum imo
I have a professor (of philosophy of religion, and history of philosophy) who is a practicing Christian and theist. We got into a conversation about this recently and he said something to me that surprised me.

He's a big fan of G.W. Leibniz (and for good reason, I think) but remarked that, if he [Leibniz] couldn't work this out after openly attempting to solve the problem, then lesser minds, regular professors and lay-people, are not likely to work it out. Obviously, this doesn't show that the problem is insoluble. That requires an entirely different sort of argument, but it's an interesting point.

Most of the best minds in the history of religion have worked on this problem at one point, and none of them have come up with answers that the others (much less the other objectors) found satisfactory.

Personally, I don't think that the Problem of Evil is a challenge to the existence of any god. I think it displays a failure of theology (not just Christian theology; it exists in Islam and Judaism too, in varying degrees) to seriously consider whether omnipotence or omnibenevolence is supported by the text.

It seems to me that both the Old and New Testament are not conducive with either condition. Which is fine, it just means reconsidering what the Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) conceptions of God looks like.
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Old 12-27-2010, 03:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
It's generally accepted that mind is caused by the presence of structure and matter in the world. Will, intentionality, consciousness, or whatever mental structure you want to refer to is the product of mind.

Searle talks about this with respect to direction of fit.

But that's actually not really relevant here.

What's relevant is that, so long as we accept that individual behaviors are conditioned on the presence of circumstance and predisposition, neither of which the individual has agent-control over, which the entire practice of psychology, neurology and neuro-physiology does, then we are accepting that the force which underlies decision making is not the agent itself.
But we don't, not in absolute terms. Preconditions are just one of the factors influencing decision-making and choice. I'm amazed at how easily you try to make unproven philosophical standpoints sound like scientific fact. There have been no conclusive scientific studies saying one way or another, determinism and in-determinism are both unproven hypothesis, there is no way to spout them out as a "consensus" or "accepted" scientific explanation. They are just postulations about possible ways that the universe works.

Neurology and psychology are very shallow disciplines to deal with the depths of these answers, it's like asking a car mechanic to answer the questions behind the atomic and quantum theory of the particles composing the car.

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Great. So subatomic particles have free will. Clearly, we are still subject to circumstances and our preconditions.
The fact that chemicals, atoms, composing particles etc. affect our moods/thoughts doesn't preclude the possibility of us affecting the release of the those chemicals, controlling atomic behaviors etc. with our will. Because at the lowest level currently known to science, the quantum level, things are not deterministic at all and at best probabilistic. That means that things can ALWAYS be one way or another, and through as yet undiscovered means there could be a hypothetical link between the paths made on the quantum level and our own control over it.


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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
It's not an issue of being smug. It's an issue of what actual counts as evidence.

You can have an experience of the world that makes you believe a thing, but that doesn't mean your experience constitutes sufficient evidence to believe the thing is true. In some cases, we treat it that way, for practical purposes.

Clearly it's not totally without value. It has value for you. But it's still not evidence because it does not follow from your experience of the world that the particular state of affairs (God existing, the presence of free will, etc.) has any correspondence to reality.
At what point exactly did I try to admit that as scientific evidence, or even use the word "evidence" next to the personal content?

I was making an argument, and emotional/personal content is very much relevant in our decision making even though you may try to sound like a scion of logic (most of which is based on flawed premise and debunked theories like LaPlace's demon instead of true science anyway).

Yes, LaPlace's demon is a flawed theory, it bases it's conclusion on the flawed premise that the paths of particles and their starting conditions being known, an infinitely intelligent entity can calculate all of reality past/present/future in a linear way, thereby negating free will. But the basic premise is flawed, because the paths of particles cannot be fully known, according to quantum physics, only probabilistically known. Thereby, the whole argument is empty.

You would know this if you read the rebuttals section in your own wiki link. I'm amused that you keep saying "via LaPlace's demon" as if it's like saying "via Conservation of Energy" or some concrete scientific law instead of a flawed theory.

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A few of the guys you named in there aren't as devoted Christians as you think they are. But I'm not going to get into a debate about the value of being Christian. 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.
Well only 76% of Americans were reported as Christians in 08, and since that's been decreasing by about 1% a year I'd say it's about 74% right now. BUT, this is for the overall population the majority of which is skewed by the older age groups.

For adults under 35 (18-35) that compose "Generation Y" in America, only 64% are theists and less than 50% Christian. About 23% are absolutely non-religious/atheist. This is the reason you'll find a good majority of Atheist thinking in this and most online forums. Of those 50%, a big chunk are only nominal Christians and do not concern their day-to-day lives with that belief.

It is this generation Y that is competing in MMA today and relevant to the point that I made. According to pure probability, it should be about half and half for Christians and non Theists at any level of MMA... but what we see is maybe one or two Atheists like Mike Thomas Brown while almost ALL the other champs and top levels are fairly devoted Christians. You can add the latest UFC champs Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo to that list too btw. And by devoted I mean they try to live their daily lives by those virtues, thank God in interviews etc. and are not just paper Christians by birth. If you want I can show quotes by each one of those fighters to that effect.

Also, as far as only America and Brazil being major competitors in MMA, that's not strictly true. You conveniently left out Japan, which is majority atheist/agnostic and a small percentage Buddhist etc., where arguably MMA and martial arts in general are even bigger than in America and Brazil. And yet, we see another statistical inconsistency ... no real consistent Japanese champ in MMA and most Japanese fighters getting destroyed and tossed out of the UFC, despite Japan having a THRIVING mma scene and arguably deeper historical martial arts base.

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
There aren't a whole lot of professional fighters. The ones who are out and open about their atheism (Mike Thomas Brown, for instance) are also excellent role-models.

I notice that you left out a few Christians who aren't particularly good role models (Matt Hughes is generally treated that way) but it doesn't particularly matter. Even if Christians were better people, generally, than non-Christians (which, studies have shown, is absolutely not the case) it still wouldn't constitute evidence for the truth of the proposition.[/font]
c'mon MTB might be a nice guy, but he isn't exactly a shining role model in terms of mma achievement... like barely touches the belt then gets destroyed in his first title defense and pummeled back down the ladder by Manny. I'm talking some of the most dominant champs in MMA history and you give me Mike Thomas Brown?

I'm not saying Christianity guarantees perfection or goodness, I'm very much aware of less than ideal or hypocritical Christians like Hughes (even though I feel he's become a better person, not worse, since his conversion).

I even think that religious or not, a virtuous person will still reap the rewards of virtue (the humble, hard-working, respectful and virtuous family man, but not openly religious as far as I know, Cain Velasquez) ... I'm just saying that, by Christian thought, a connection to God will help you stick to virtue better in the face of temptation and adversity.

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
If I accepted Aristotle as authoritative at all, that would be fine. I don't, because I think that (a) his theological arguments are crap and (b) his moral arguments are seriously disturbing.

Like Plato, Aristotle is a quasi-fascist who supports a number of institutions that basically all modern people reject, most notably, slavery.

Guilt and theories of virtue are not different things. Apart from the fact that we have no record about the internal states of cavemen, virtue ethics is totally different.

Firstly, there is no philosophical definition of God.

Secondly, the philosophical definition of virtue is laid out by Aristotle. So what's wrong with attributing it to him.

If I made up a term and then, subsequently, used it to define an ethical theory, I hope it would be attributed to me. Otherwise, it would be plagiarism.

Again, Aristotle used the term, he wrote the texts, so we credit him with doing both of those things. When someone pioneers a theory, the presence of similar theories in other parts of the world doesn't undermine the significance of the innovator who influences later thinkers.

Those Egyptian and Babylonian thinkers have their ideas in later remnants, though much less pronounced. If I was talking about ideas descended from theirs, I'd have made reference to them. But Christianity clearly takes virtue ethics from Aristotle, not from any thinking in Egypt.
This is an irrelevant tangent rant, it doesn't matter what you think of Aristotle, I wasn't using him as proof of anything ... I was just having some fun using his Rhetorical theory back at you since you're the one who brought him up. I don't care for Aristotle either way, Slavery was pretty much the norm back then and I don't credit Aristotle with "inventing" virtue anyway or even being the first to codify it into a Virtue Ethics theory. You can go back into ancient Hindu philosophy for Karma, or ancient Confucian philosophy, far predating Aristotle for that. In addition to the Babylonian and Egyptian scrolls I mentioned. If anything, Aristotle is the plagiarist here.

So basically, Aristotle is completely irrelevant to this discussion. You brought him up, you keep him.

And my argument is that Virtue ethics has existed since time immemorial, even predating Hindu and Confucian philosophy, so Christianity has no worries about "stealing" it ... it just is, there's no patent on truth. Christianity just helps clarify it.

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
You're welcome to try it. It was just me trying to give you a heads up. It has nothing to do with smugness.

By the way, attacking demeanor is ad hominem. And it's a little irritating, especially since you can't read tone of voice through the internet.
Fine, you dislike ad hominem, you can keep the scorn out of your tone. I find it hard to believe someone with as good control of language as you can't tell the difference between a smug statement like "oh TRUST ME, your argument sucks" and a polite logical rebuttal such as "I don't think that line of thought is very useful or holds up to much scrutiny".

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post

Where does it say that Jesus abhorred ritual? That's a pretty strange claim.
Mark 7:5-7 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

Matt 23:1-5 "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men."

Matt 15:1-3 "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"

Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
Tito was arrogant when he was the greatest fighter in the world. Tito is arrogant now.

Your argument is that Tito is bad now because he's arrogant? Have you watched his fights? It has nothing to do with being arrogant and everything to do with being old and not having evolved as a fighter. Both of those things happen to humble fighters, too.
Yes exactly. My argument is that lack of virtue will destroy even the fruits of talent, hard work and previous virtue whereas those focused on virtue to some degree will continue to reap the benefits of happiness or success.

Tito is not that old, he is 35, far younger than any of the other "fallen champs", and hasn't won a fight since age 31 o boot. Yeah, the outward reason is that he hasn't evolved, but what allows the like of GSP, Fedor etc. to continually evolve and stay focused while the likes of arrogant Ortiz eat dust?

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Originally Posted by IronMan View Post
That's great, but you haven't addressed my critique about circularity at all.
What are you talking about? You said Moderation is based on circular logic, as in "what is the right amount? why it's what the right amount is!" kinda thing. I said it's not circular, the basis lies in biology / the human body, in terms of what is "too much" food/drink. You're throwing up from drink, that's excess. That's your body's red flag. Where's the circularity?
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Old 12-27-2010, 01:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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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.


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Originally Posted by Liddellianenko View Post
But we don't, not in absolute terms. Preconditions are just one of the factors influencing decision-making and choice. I'm amazed at how easily you try to make unproven philosophical standpoints sound like scientific fact. There have been no conclusive scientific studies saying one way or another, determinism and in-determinism are both unproven hypothesis, there is no way to spout them out as a "consensus" or "accepted" scientific explanation. They are just postulations about possible ways that the universe works.
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.


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Neurology and psychology are very shallow disciplines to deal with the depths of these answers, it's like asking a car mechanic to answer the questions behind the atomic and quantum theory of the particles composing the car.
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?

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The fact that chemicals, atoms, composing particles etc. affect our moods/thoughts doesn't preclude the possibility of us affecting the release of the those chemicals, controlling atomic behaviors etc. with our will. Because at the lowest level currently known to science, the quantum level, things are not deterministic at all and at best probabilistic. That means that things can ALWAYS be one way or another, and through as yet undiscovered means there could be a hypothetical link between the paths made on the quantum level and our own control over it.
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.

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At what point exactly did I try to admit that as scientific evidence, or even use the word "evidence" next to the personal content?
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.


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I was making an argument, and emotional/personal content is very much relevant in our decision making even though you may try to sound like a scion of logic (most of which is based on flawed premise and debunked theories like LaPlace's demon instead of true science anyway).
Seriously, "true" science.

Of course we use personal experience in decision making.


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Yes, LaPlace's demon is a flawed theory, it bases it's conclusion on the flawed premise that the paths of particles and their starting conditions being known, an infinitely intelligent entity can calculate all of reality past/present/future in a linear way, thereby negating free will. But the basic premise is flawed, because the paths of particles cannot be fully known, according to quantum physics, only probabilistically known. Thereby, the whole argument is empty.
If you'd like to argue that quantam theory undermine's perturbation theory, you're certainly welcome to, but

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You would know this if you read the rebuttals section in your own wiki link. I'm amused that you keep saying "via LaPlace's demon" as if it's like saying "via Conservation of Energy" or some concrete scientific law instead of a flawed theory.
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.


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Well only 76% of Americans were reported as Christians in 08, and since that's been decreasing by about 1% a year I'd say it's about 74% right now. BUT, this is for the overall population the majority of which is skewed by the older age groups.

For adults under 35 (18-35) that compose "Generation Y" in America, only 64% are theists and less than 50% Christian. About 23% are absolutely non-religious/atheist. This is the reason you'll find a good majority of Atheist thinking in this and most online forums. Of those 50%, a big chunk are only nominal Christians and do not concern their day-to-day lives with that belief.
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."


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It is this generation Y that is competing in MMA today and relevant to the point that I made. According to pure probability, it should be about half and half for Christians and non Theists at any level of MMA... but what we see is maybe one or two Atheists like Mike Thomas Brown while almost ALL the other champs and top levels are fairly devoted Christians. You can add the latest UFC champs Dominick Cruz and Jose Aldo to that list too btw. And by devoted I mean they try to live their daily lives by those virtues, thank God in interviews etc. and are not just paper Christians by birth. If you want I can show quotes by each one of those fighters to that effect.
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.

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%.

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.

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.

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.


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Also, as far as only America and Brazil being major competitors in MMA, that's not strictly true. You conveniently left out Japan, which is majority atheist/agnostic and a small percentage Buddhist etc., where arguably MMA and martial arts in general are even bigger than in America and Brazil. And yet, we see another statistical inconsistency ... no real consistent Japanese champ in MMA and most Japanese fighters getting destroyed and tossed out of the UFC, despite Japan having a THRIVING mma scene and arguably deeper historical martial arts base.
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.


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c'mon MTB might be a nice guy, but he isn't exactly a shining role model in terms of mma achievement... like barely touches the belt then gets destroyed in his first title defense and pummeled back down the ladder by Manny. I'm talking some of the most dominant champs in MMA history and you give me Mike Thomas Brown?
Again, my point was about the methodology of your argument.

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I'm not saying Christianity guarantees perfection or goodness, I'm very much aware of less than ideal or hypocritical Christians like Hughes (even though I feel he's become a better person, not worse, since his conversion).
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.

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I even think that religious or not, a virtuous person will still reap the rewards of virtue (the humble, hard-working, respectful and virtuous family man, but not openly religious as far as I know, Cain Velasquez) ... I'm just saying that, by Christian thought, a connection to God will help you stick to virtue better in the face of temptation and adversity.
That's fine. An entire generation of my family is in Alcoholics Anonymous. But it's not an argument.

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And my argument is that Virtue ethics has existed since time immemorial, even predating Hindu and Confucian philosophy, so Christianity has no worries about "stealing" it ... it just is, there's no patent on truth. Christianity just helps clarify it.
And now we get into the part where we see the relationship with the text, which is what matters.

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Mark 7:5-7 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

Matt 15:1-3 "Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread." He answered and said to them, "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?"
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.


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Matt 23:1-5 "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men."
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.


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Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
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.

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Yes exactly. My argument is that lack of virtue will destroy even the fruits of talent, hard work and previous virtue whereas those focused on virtue to some degree will continue to reap the benefits of happiness or success.

Tito is not that old, he is 35, far younger than any of the other "fallen champs", and hasn't won a fight since age 31 o boot. Yeah, the outward reason is that he hasn't evolved, but what allows the like of GSP, Fedor etc. to continually evolve and stay focused while the likes of arrogant Ortiz eat dust?
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.


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What are you talking about? You said Moderation is based on circular logic, as in "what is the right amount? why it's what the right amount is!" kinda thing. I said it's not circular, the basis lies in biology / the human body, in terms of what is "too much" food/drink. You're throwing up from drink, that's excess. That's your body's red flag. Where's the circularity?
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.
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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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.

Quote:
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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/03/04/t...ation-gap.html

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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.


Quote:
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-alcohol.html

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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