Dapoxetine manufacturer's approved product information from DapPremium you can view video goodrx.com. For France use http://edfromparis.com website to help buy priligy in Paris. GiveUpAlready.com - Belief, Expectation, and Self-Delusion
  • Top Authors

    Username Articles Kudos


    Gary Upton-Abbott View Articles 1,477

    Shards View Articles 1,377

    Sr Gregor View Articles 69

    ChaosLight View Articles 22

    I Am View Articles 14

    TheEvilGenius View Articles 9

    eth View Articles 7

    RazoR_ View Articles 6

    LT3 View Articles 6

    Sailor Moon View Articles 6

  • Belief, Expectation, and Self-Delusion

    Joe believes in god, just like you do.

    One day Joe is driving in his car. He heads onto the onramp for the highway and starts accelerating. As he does this, he muses on the perfect curve of the onramp, that all he has to do is lock the wheel in place and the car goes correctly.

    He muses on what would happen were he not to pull out of this curve. The car would describe a perfect circle until it hit the barrier at sixty miles per hour. If he unbuckled his seatbelt he'd be catapulted through the windshield and probably impale himself on a tree.

    And then he'd be with Jesus.

    As his car reaches the highway, Joe levels out the steering wheel and continues driving just like any other day.
    ~~~

    I will inevitably get someone who doesn't read this paragraph and tells me that god condemns all suicides to hell. Those of you who point this out are completely missing the purpose of the exercise.

    What I want to do is make a distinction between belief and expectation, and the scenario I present is merely a more graphic presentation of an incredibly simple dichotomy that crossed Joe's mind for just a moment before his defenses slammed into place and he forced himself not to think about it.

    For those of you for whom the suicide thing is a sticking point: Joe hears a little voice that fills him with warmth and light and makes him feel all fuzzy inside that tells him that if he lets go of this glass of sacramental wine, it will not fall and stain his new white carpet, but it will float in the air.

    Joe carefully puts down the wine glass on the table.
    ~~~

    Why does Joe behave this way? He believes in god. He believes that God speaks only the truth, and that an eternal paradise awaits him on the other side of death. So why does he behave no differently from the rest of us?

    I'd put forth that expectation is so much stronger than this kind of belief that we either have to clarify what we mean by "belief" or admit that the word has no meaning whatsoever.

    I should, at this point, admit that when I say "belief," I'm substituting that word for a recursive concept: belief in belief. Joe doesn't drop the wine glass, or crash the car, or any one of a myriad behaviors that would be logically consistent with belief in a christian god, but logically inconsistent with survival and prosperity if there were no god.

    Joe knows that when dropped, things fall and wine stains carpets. And that hitting a solid barrier at 60 mph hurts a lot.

    Joe tells everyone he believes in god. He goes to church and goes through all the motions, but there is a wall in his mind between where he tells himself that he believes in god, and the rest of his brain that lets him function in reality. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he finds it laudable to behave as if he believes in god, and finds it inconvenient and uncomfortable to behave this way if he doesn't convince himself that he believes in god.
    ~~~

    Steve suffers from a similar mental handicap as Joe. Steve says he believes that there's a dragon in his garage. I talked to Steve the other day, and said "that's so cool! Dragons are awesome, can I see it?'

    Steve said to me, "It's an invisible dragon."

    "Okay, how about we go there and we'll just listen to it breathe," I asked.

    "It's inaudible, too."

    Said I, "Okay, then how about we go in there with a gas spectrometer and measure how much CO2 it's putting out as it breathes?"

    Quoth he, "The dragon doesn't need to breathe."

    And I spake unto him, "How about we go there and just throw some flour in the air, and we'll be able to see its outline."

    Steve said to me, "the dragon is permeable to flour."
    ~~~

    It's amazing, isn't it, how Steve knows exactly which results he'll have to explain away in order to sustain his claim that the dragon is there. It's almost as if he knows there's no dragon, but thinks, perhaps, that it's so important to be seen to believe in the dragon that he's convinced himself, even though his expectation of the outcome of every test always points toward "no dragon."

    Now suppose I were having this conversation with Joe, or perhaps Joe's conservative uncle Cletus. Cletus is a Young Earth Creationist. I ask Cletus to come with me to Mexico to examine the rock stratification that the dinosaur-killing meteorite left in that huge-ass crater sixty-five million years ago.

    Notice that Cletus doesn't say "Okay, let's do it, and while we're looking I'll show you the decayed remains of the saddle that Adam fashioned for his pet Triceratops."

    Cletus says "That was put there as a test of faith."

    Note that when I ask Cletus why his wife died in the hospital after that drunk driver ploughed into her, despite his prayers for her to get better, he doesn't say "I don't know, let's examine that in the face of the idea of a just and loving divine."

    Cletus says "God works in mysterious ways."

    That one, at least, is understandable, since it was a tragic accident, whatever we may think of Cletus' racist politics. But Cletus is not piecing together observations to form a coherent model of the universe, a map that matches the territory. If Steve's map has a big blank space that says 'Here Be Dragons' and Joe's map is perhaps to accurate for his own comfort, Cletus' map is positively Escherian.

    Neither Cletus, nor Joe, nor Steve, are behaving rationally. They are deliberately not thinking about things that make them uncomfortable. They're deliberately handicapping their ability to think. And the worst part? They don't really believe what they're selling. They just wish they do.


    ___
    Carl Sagan's Dragon In The Garage parable here.
    Inspiration for this post on this blog and largely from these posts and my apologies that it's practically a repost of three or four of those essays mashed together.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Belief, Expectation, and Self-Delusion started by ChaosLight View original post
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. Someone's Avatar
      Someone -
      *applause*
    1. Womble's Avatar
      Womble -
      1) Joe's behavior does not contradict his beliefs in any way. Suppose if he dies, he WILL be with Jesus- does that mean he is morally or otherwise obliged to die? No. Does it mean it is necessarily the right thing to do in Joe's current circumstances? No. Does it mean that there may not be things in Joe's life that are more important than Joe's own personal wishes including his wish to be with Jesus? No. So where is the irrational behavior?

      The "corrected for suicide" second example is just plain not working. "Hears a voice" isn't the same as "believes".

      Finally- and most importantly- God is not a wish machine. One who believes in God believes in a Being that acts on His own judgement, not in a heavenly automaton producing miracles on demand. Prayers are not orders and not buttons you push; they are pleas that may or may not be granted. Therefore, it is not at all irrational to trust in Allah but tie down your camel just the same, as a Muslim proverb goes.

      2) Steve's story is a little more tricky. The catch here is that you're judging his claim not on its actual truth value, but on his inability to prove it to you under the standard of proof that you set. But the problem may be with your demands for proof rather than with Steve's inability to offer one. Steve's advance knowledge of the outcome of your suggested testing methods may have a very simple explanation- you're not the first person to suggest or try those. His knowledge of the dragon's existence may have come from methods that cannot be replicated in current conditions, or from abundant documentary evidence which did not survive some kind of calamity.

      As a counter-example on the subject of sufficient proof, I submit The Mad Revisionist's infamous Moon is a hoax theory. They offer a reward of 100 000 to anyone who can send them, by e-mail, conclusive physical evidence of the existence of the moon. Can you claim it?

      3) The Cletus case is one I can't argue against, but allow me to observe that intellectually lazy morons and subscribers of the "in name only" variety" are abundant among followers of every idea. Cletus probably has an atheist sister who believes in palm reading, astrology and UFOs.
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      You miss the point.

      1) The voice Joe hears is, in every way imaginable, consistent with what one would expect of a personal message from god. If his actual model of the world included god, he would have some mental model of what a personal message from god would sound like, and one would assume that if he believed in god, rather than believing that he should believe in god, this personal message from the creator of the universe would trump mere physical laws set in place by said creator.

      The wrinkle, one might argue, would be that Joe thinks "Why would the creator of the universe bother sending me a personal message?"

      This is an excellent question, but it begs a second question: "If your mental model of the universe precludes the possibility of god interacting with you, then why do you believe in god? How, in fact, can you claim to believe in god rather than merely believing you should believe in god."

      2) Steve's mental model of the universe is functionally equivalent to believing in no dragon. When he walks into his garage, his expectation is to see exactly what he would see if there were no dragon. If, after every suggestion of a practical test, Steve shoots it down because the dragon is undetectable by that test, and truly believes in the dragon, than Steve is mentally ill. If instead Steve simply finds it beneficial to claim that there is an utterly undetectable dragon in his garage. In the latter case, he would be simply deluding himself, and any future estimates of Steve's reliability as a witness or source of information would be commensurately reduced.

      As far as the Mad Revisionist claim goes, that is simply ludicrous, at least until such time as we advance technologically to the point where it is possible to email physical evidence.

      Your implied equating of an arbitrary limit on the method of delivery with the inability to produce any corroboration whatsoever is at best ill-conceived and utterly unworthy of you.

      3) And yet Cletus' point of view is seen as normal enough that people vying for leadership of entire nations feel it necessary to cater to his delusions. Is it necessary to further explain why an enshrined shared delusion, elevated beyond reproach, is dangerous?
    1. Habsfan's Avatar
      Habsfan -
      Chaos Light - interesting point. May I ask what your question is? (I'm not trying to be stubborn, I would just rather discuss the real question that you are asking?

      Cheers
    1. Womble's Avatar
      Womble -
      Quote Originally Posted by ChaosLight View Post
      You miss the point.

      1) The voice Joe hears is, in every way imaginable, consistent with what one would expect of a personal message from god.
      That is questionable. "A little voice that fills him with warmth and light" is not necessarily a believer's idea of what a message from God would be like. It's a crude caricature.

      You're basically trapping yourself with your own example. If Joe is absolutely certain that this is a message from God, there is no conceivable reason why he wouldn't do what the message says, and you don't have any actual grounds to claim that he would not. But if some degree of ambiguity remains, then it is NOT in any way irrational to take meaningful risks on the basis of this message. I would compare this to the way my shooting instructor talks about gun safety: even if you KNOW that you've just taken the clip out, and you KNOW there is no bullet in the chamber because you've just checked, and you KNOW the safety is on because you've just switched it on, you STILL don't point the muzzle of your gun at anything you don't want to destroy.

      The wrinkle, one might argue, would be that Joe thinks "Why would the creator of the universe bother sending me a personal message?"
      There's a different wrinkle here, namely Joe's recognition that he may be wrong in identifying or interpreting the message. It doesn't mean that his model of the world doesn't include God, it merely means he is aware of his own limitations.

      But here's another wrinkle: suppose Joe DOES do as the message says, thereby displaying a perfect internal consistensy of his worldview. Would that qualify as rational behavior in your book? It would not, because YOUR expectation is that throwing caution to the wind is not rational no matter what. You're trying to construct a catch 22.

      2) Steve's mental model of the universe is functionally equivalent to believing in no dragon. When he walks into his garage, his expectation is to see exactly what he would see if there were no dragon. If, after every suggestion of a practical test, Steve shoots it down because the dragon is undetectable by that test, and truly believes in the dragon, than Steve is mentally ill.
      Either that, or an appropriate test has not been suggested.

      As far as the Mad Revisionist claim goes, that is simply ludicrous, at least until such time as we advance technologically to the point where it is possible to email physical evidence.
      And that is different from demanding a physical proof of something that by definition is not material how, exactly?

      Your implied equating of an arbitrary limit on the method of delivery with the inability to produce any corroboration whatsoever is at best ill-conceived and utterly unworthy of you.
      That is not what I am implying. My point is about the nature of human perception. There is no such thing as an objective proof. If Steve tells you he can see the dragon breathe fire, you will not take it as proof. If Steve's whole town says the same, it will still not constitute proof if you choose to reject the ad populum. When you ask for something to be proven, you expect the outcome to be perceivable to you. Perhaps not directly to your senses but to their artificial extensions such as microscopes or devices which measure what you can't see and translate it into what you can see. Perhaps not to you personally but to someone else so long as that other person is a credible witness as far as you are concerned. But how do you measure something that is not reducible to your senses? If a blind man chooses to not trust anything he cannot personally verify, can he be convinced of the existence of colors?

      3) And yet Cletus' point of view is seen as normal enough that people vying for leadership of entire nations feel it necessary to cater to his delusions. Is it necessary to further explain why an enshrined shared delusion, elevated beyond reproach, is dangerous?
      Uh, maybe, but why exactly are you painting it as something unique to religious worldviews, and why do you equate a misguided approach to a belief with the belief itself? Cletus' problem is neither religion-specific nor does it invalidate religion. Not to mention that modern political discourse is so steeped in shared delusions elevated beyond reproach that I don't see why you're so hung up on this particular one.
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      Quote Originally Posted by Womble View Post
      That is questionable. "A little voice that fills him with warmth and light" is not necessarily a believer's idea of what a message from God would be like. It's a crude caricature.
      Again, missing the point. The point here is about the disjunction between the average person's "belief" in god and their expectations regarding how the world works.

      Put it another way: Picture a world where there is no god. Picture a world where the the laws of physics hold sway and the divine never existed. Does this change the expected outcomes of everyday actions? I tell you this: When I picture a world where YHVH exists, it looks vastly different. More fire, Saudi Arabia is glass and what's left of Germany is a smoking crater. When I picture a world where Jesus exists, it looks different still. Same for the Aeser, the Olympians, et all.

      So again: how does this "belief" in god affect your expectations of what happens in real life? Is it anything more than a pretty label you slap on an ethical code that has no basis in anything empirical?

      Habsfan, if you need a question to respond to rather than a couple of koans to contemplate, there it is.

      There's a different wrinkle here, namely Joe's recognition that he may be wrong in identifying or interpreting the message. It doesn't mean that his model of the world doesn't include God, it merely means he is aware of his own limitations.

      But here's another wrinkle: suppose Joe DOES do as the message says, thereby displaying a perfect internal consistensy of his worldview. Would that qualify as rational behavior in your book? It would not, because YOUR expectation is that throwing caution to the wind is not rational no matter what. You're trying to construct a catch 22.
      If Joe really believed in god, he would expect that obeying the mysterious voice or urge would be an unequivocally good thing. And he would crash the car and kill himself gladly because the master of the universe told him to.

      But the hilarious thing is, none of you so-called religious people ever do, because there's a different mysterious entity that you can attribute those self-destructive sub-ego urges to, so that you always have an excuse. Again, the question is asked: How does your "belief" in god affect your expectations about the real world?


      Either that, or an appropriate test has not been suggested.
      All tests are suggested. If there exists no test that can tell the difference between Dragon and No Dragon, then of what utility is the belief in Dragon, and from where did it come?


      And that is different from demanding a physical proof of something that by definition is not material how, exactly?
      I could deliver physical proof of the moon if there were no restrictions placed on the method of delivery. I could put him in a spacesuit, strap him to the back of a rocket, and take him there myself. I could bring back rocks, I could take a few million miles worth of string and tether the moon TO the earth strongly enough that orbital velocity would wrap the string around the earth and crash the moon into the planet.

      Edit: In addition, I could give mathematical proof in the existence of something whose mass, position, and orbital velocity conform to the belief "moon" and whose volume and albedo conform to "moon," and I could deliver this proof by email. But since you specified physical proof and these proofs are only complete if you examine their correlations to the world in which we live, I can say with some certainty that these mere representations would be found wanting so that you he can keep his pride intact.

      All I'm asking for at this preliminary stage is for what expectations your "belief" in god leads you towards that would distinguish that world from one not ruled by a divine being described by your holy text of choice.

      That is not what I am implying. My point is about the nature of human perception. There is no such thing as an objective proof. If Steve tells you he can see the dragon breathe fire, you will not take it as proof. If Steve's whole town says the same, it will still not constitute proof if you choose to reject the ad populum. When you ask for something to be proven, you expect the outcome to be perceivable to you. Perhaps not directly to your senses but to their artificial extensions such as microscopes or devices which measure what you can't see and translate it into what you can see. Perhaps not to you personally but to someone else so long as that other person is a credible witness as far as you are concerned. But how do you measure something that is not reducible to your senses? If a blind man chooses to not trust anything he cannot personally verify, can he be convinced of the existence of colors?
      Wonderful, wonderful. A retreat to nihilism. But you don't really believe that, because you don't behave in a way consistent with your safety position. Your expectations don't line up with this, you're just adopting the position because you think it'll help you win this argument. But you know what's fantastic? Your retreat position doesn't help you learn anything more about yourself or about the world.

      Unless you want to tell me that you do actually believe that nothing but your own perceptions can be trusted?

      Uh, maybe, but why exactly are you painting it as something unique to religious worldviews, and why do you equate a misguided approach to a belief with the belief itself? Cletus' problem is neither religion-specific nor does it invalidate religion. Not to mention that modern political discourse is so steeped in shared delusions elevated beyond reproach that I don't see why you're so hung up on this particular one.
      Because this one provokes people into reaction, is a useful catalyst for discussion, and tends to be the most deeply-rooted, cherished beliefs, and thus brings out the most irrational behaviors used in self defense, so that these behaviors can be studied in the light and staked out to die.
    1. YouDONTknowME's Avatar
      YouDONTknowME -
      TLDR: chaoslight, you are out there man. Are you trying to convince us or yourself. Looking or hoping for validation? U sure have taken interest haven't you. Are you just going out trying to save people from "brainwashing"?
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      TLDR is not an acceptable standard for comment here. If you have an issue with any specific point, please don't hesitate to point it out. Otherwise, I have no need to be informed of your intellectual laziness.
    1. Zem's Avatar
      Zem -
      Most religion does have some sort of antagonist to a god, that's pretty well known. The antagonist will usually try leading the god's followers astray though deception and lies. Christianity has Satan. Joe would surely be aware of this Satan, and be wary that the voice could be it. Satan has managed to trick others with less. Joe, not wanting to be tricked into staining his new carpet, carefully places his wine onto the table.

      Is this, in any way, irrational?
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      But then, is there anyset of stimulus Joe could be exposed to that would convince him his god is speaking directly to him? Because, if there isn't, then Joe's belief is held in a separate mind-space than what he expects from the real world.

      If we start from the premise that god exists, and evil!god exists, then it would be rational to assume that apparently detrimental actions are instigated by evil!god... but...

      How did we get there? What reason is there for postulating a cosmic balance of good and evil whose net result, on this plane, is exactly nothing? Why is he wasting mindspace on a 'belief' that does not make any predictions, or have any effect on his behavior other than the effect of him saying "I believe in god."

      How is this different from Steve, who expects, when he walks into his garage, to experience in every testable way, an empty garage, but insists that nonetheless there's a dragon in it?
    1. Zem's Avatar
      Zem -
      I suppose the only real stimulus that could convince him without a shadow of a doubt is seeing god himself. It's apparently so awesome, it's unmistakeable.



      The reason religion enjoys a moral duality is to alleviate the stress the evils of the world cause. I, personally, don't subscribe to any of these beliefs, but I understand how and why they come into canon. When there's something responsible for evil, there's a scapegoat causing everything you don't like. When there's something responsible for good, you can fight to get rid of the evil under the benefactor's authority.


      As for Steve, that one's clearly a case of insanity. It's a bit of a stretch you're making there.
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zem View Post
      I suppose the only real stimulus that could convince him without a shadow of a doubt is seeing god himself. It's apparently so awesome, it's unmistakeable.
      You can monkey with the terms of the hypothetical all you want, but the if the Voice of God telling him to do something stupid doesn't convince him that it's not satan,than why should the Face of God? Can't satan fake that as easily as anything else? Or at least, won't this be the rationale that Joe gives himself when something that he would have expected to look like god tells him to go out and step on babies' heads?

      The reason religion enjoys a moral duality is to alleviate the stress the evils of the world cause. I, personally, don't subscribe to any of these beliefs, but I understand how and why they come into canon. When there's something responsible for evil, there's a scapegoat causing everything you don't like. When there's something responsible for good, you can fight to get rid of the evil under the benefactor's authority.
      The point here is that this makes no predictions. After the fact, you can point to an action and say "that was inspired by god" or "that was inspired by the devil," but can you make predictions before the fact that turn out to be correct?

      And, if you can't, then of what utility is the belief?


      As for Steve, that one's clearly a case of insanity. It's a bit of a stretch you're making there.
      Is it? Steve is insane for believing in a dragon he knows has no bearing on the world. He knows the dragon will never be borne out experimentally, but the idea of believing in the dragon is so precious to him that he can't bear to part with it. How is it a stretch?
    1. Zem's Avatar
      Zem -
      I don't understand what you mean by the second paragraph. Are you saying you can't tell whether doing something is evil or not before you do it?



      As for the final one, yes. Steve implies the dragon is in his garage. Gods, however, don't live in garages. YHWH lives in heaven. We haven't found heaven, so there's no way to see if he's there or not. Sure, they say "God's everywhere", but that's because he's allegedly sees, hears, and knows all. Can you observe something when it's not there for you?
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zem View Post
      I don't understand what you mean by the second paragraph. Are you saying you can't tell whether doing something is evil or not before you do it?
      Actually, you caught me mixing my lectures there. At this point, every concrete claim that any religion has ever made has been disproven, so everyone's taken it to be all "metaphorical" except for the parts that aren't falsifiable. However, the upshot is that at this point, religious proponents know better than to make concrete, testable claims, because those claims always bear out false.

      Or may god strike me down right here, right now.

      As for the final one, yes. Steve implies the dragon is in his garage. Gods, however, don't live in garages. YHWH lives in heaven. We haven't found heaven, so there's no way to see if he's there or not. Sure, they say "God's everywhere", but that's because he's allegedly sees, hears, and knows all. Can you observe something when it's not there for you?
      If it's impossible to observe in any way, does it exist?
    1. Paradiso's Avatar
      Paradiso -
      Womble made a relevant point, which is that you're assuming evidential standards that the majority of theists don't accept. They're the correct standards, of course, but you'll need to convince them of that first. Then the fact that theism doesn't meet the standards will pack its full punch.



      Did i just use "theist" in the third person? oops...
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      I think getting a Cletus to understand his mental misfirings is a lost cause, but i have hope for Joe and Steve. Part of that is to point out the vastly different standards of evidence that Joe and Steve demand between their 'beliefs' and any 'beliefs' that aren't theirs.

      For example, let's imagine a conversation between Joe and Steve.

      Steve: Joe, this is amazing. I have a dragon in my Garage.

      Joe: Cool, let's check it out.

      Steve: Well you can't because...

      Joe: Well then, it doesn't really exist, does it?

      Steve: Ah, so my dragon doesn't exist, but your self-causing all-powerful omnibenevolent invisible, intangible, undetectable and uninvolved deity, does, and you can tell this because...?

      Joe: Because more people agree with me.

      Steve: Well, my dragon hasn't been proved inconsequential and wrong by every major scientific discovery in the history of ever!

      Joe: Well there's historical evidence that Jesus existed! (But I'm too lazy to actually read it myself and verify that it says what i think it says.)

      Steve: Well I found footprints that could easily belong to my dragon (or they could've been from when I put swim flippers on my dog)

      And so they come to blows, because their internal standard of proof is so much lower than their external standard. Which is foolish because when Steve walks into his garage, he still expects to interact with No Dragon, and if Joe got a verbal response to his prayers, he'd be more likely to get himself checked for schizophrenia than declare himself a prophet.
    1. Paradiso's Avatar
      Paradiso -
      Oh, I see. Kind of like asking a Christian to tell you why they think belief in Islam is ridiculous and then pointing out that the same sorts of criticisms apply to them.

      The problem will be that the Christian does of course take herself to have better reasons for her being Christian than the Muslim has for his being Muslim. So the trick is to, as you point out, show the Christian that her reasons really aren't better according to any sort of rational criteria.
    1. Womble's Avatar
      Womble -
      Quote Originally Posted by ChaosLight View Post
      Again, missing the point. The point here is about the disjunction between the average person's "belief" in god and their expectations regarding how the world works.

      Put it another way: Picture a world where there is no god. Picture a world where the the laws of physics hold sway and the divine never existed. Does this change the expected outcomes of everyday actions? I tell you this: When I picture a world where YHVH exists, it looks vastly different. More fire, Saudi Arabia is glass and what's left of Germany is a smoking crater. When I picture a world where Jesus exists, it looks different still. Same for the Aeser, the Olympians, et all.
      When I picture your room, it has thickly padded walls, a selection of fashionable straight jackets in the closet and a very secure lock that only opens from the outside. Doesn't mean it's true, does it?

      Once you drop the expectation of anthropomorphic actions from God, you might get a rather different mental picture.

      So again: how does this "belief" in god affect your expectations of what happens in real life? Is it anything more than a pretty label you slap on an ethical code that has no basis in anything empirical?
      There is, and there can be, no ethnical code that has basis in the empitical. Ethical concepts are not physical bodies; they cannot be observed or scientifically verified.

      Your question is a bit like asking "If you're rich, why don't you waste lots of money on buying stuff you don't need? It's what I expect from rich people!"
    1. ChaosLight's Avatar
      ChaosLight -
      By all means, be flippant. All I can assume is that you're uncomfortable with the fact that removing the divine from the picture does not significantly change anything regarding your day-to-day experiences.

      There is, and there can be, no ethnical code that has basis in the empitical. Ethical concepts are not physical bodies; they cannot be observed or scientifically verified.
      On what do you base this? Do you categorically reject the premise that some outcomes are desirable and should be maximized, and some are undesirable and should be minimized? How could this possibly be the case?
    1. Womble's Avatar
      Womble -
      Quote Originally Posted by ChaosLight View Post
      By all means, be flippant. All I can assume is that you're uncomfortable with the fact that removing the divine from the picture does not significantly change anything regarding your day-to-day experiences.
      It does, just not in the way you think. It doesn't mean one should be expected to take unnecessary risks, because that would mean treating God as an automatic wish-granter, which is not what religious people believe.

      Your examples are tailored around a "non-practicing believer", but that is as far as they really go. Many religious people's lifestyle differs from yours, if you haven't noticed. They perform a number of everyday actions and live by a number of principles that differ from your day-to-day practices a great deal. That is a fairly good confirmation of their expectations from the world being different from yours- otherwise why hassle oneself?

      On what do you base this? Do you categorically reject the premise that some outcomes are desirable and should be maximized, and some are undesirable and should be minimized? How could this possibly be the case?
      "Desirable" and "undesirable" are a matter of perception, are they not? What is desirable to one may be undesirable to another. Ethics, by definition, seek to establish an absolute overarching standard one could appeal to in order to declare some actions "desirable" and others "undesirable" irrespective of the actor's perception. If you want to "prove" an ethnical standard correct, you have to disconnect it from subjectivity and demonstrate its correctness in material, lab conditions-testable terms. But how do you do this with ideas? All you can really do is demonstrate that this or that action has the potential to benefit this or that particular group in this or that particular way, but it will not ultimately amount to a proof of ethical or moral value of the action unless you first make a bunch of assumptions that are themselves not testable.