Why I now believe in an afterlife

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
aurasprw
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Why I now believe in an afterlife

Postby aurasprw » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:25 pm UTC

This is NOT a proof.
I do not follow any religious services or follow any religious law.
For my argument it is irrelevant whether there actually is an afterlife or not.
Although similar, this is NOT the same as Pascal's wager.

1) I believe the main goal in life is happiness. This is fundamental. If you do not agree with me on this, my argument will not appeal to you.

2) Fear of nonexistence causes anxiety and impedes happiness. As living beings, this fear is completely natural.

3) One solution to this fear is belief in an afterlife.

Therefore, I believe that when I die I will be taken to a realm of eternal bliss. This costs me nothing, yet it cancels 2) and thus improves 1).

Counterargument: Scientific thought gives no suggestion of an afterlife.

1) Science is not always right, in fact it is often dead wrong.
2) We could be living in the Matrix, etc. We do not know how much we don't know.
2a) "There are inherent limits to our ability to know through philosophical reasoning." "Using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions." -Immanuel Kant
3)Consider the following though experiment:

I hold up a piece of white paper. "Is there writing on this?" I ask.

"No," comes the reply.

"How are you sure?" I ask. "It might be in invisible ink, or perhaps the color of the writing is too similar for us to differentiate it from the paper."

"Very well, but that is ridiculous. As far as I can tell, there is no writing on the paper."

"But that is not the same as being certain there is none. You should be open-minded about it."


Counterargument: Although an afterlife is possible, it is highly unlikely.

We are not in a position to judge what is likely or not concerning death.

Consider the following thought experiment:

We are fish with human brains, living in a fishbowl.

Whenever one of us dies, we float to the top then our owner scoops us up and throws us in the trash.

Because of this, we believe that when we die our bodies disappear and we ascend to heaven.

In this situation, the belief that bodies rot and decay after death seems highly unlikely.


Counterargument: This is negative proof fallacy.

I did not say that the afterlife exists. I simply believe it exists. I have given my reasons why.

Counterargument: Applying this same logic to the real world leads to absurdity.

Exactly, which is why I am only using it in a situation from which we can draw no data.

Counterargument: This is Pascal's Wager.

No it isn't.

Pascal's Wager:

X is the cost of praying, living according to religious law, etc.

____________________Reward for following God 1_____Reward for Not following God 1
There is no God_________________-X_______________________0____________
God 1______________________infinity-X_____________________?____________
God 2_________________________?-X_______________________?____________
God 3_________________________?-X_______________________?____________
etc.

aurasprw's wager:

X is the cost of praying, living according to religious law, etc. but I am doing none of these things, so X=0.
Y is the reduction in anxiety I receive for believing in an afterlife.

____________________________ Reward for belief in blissful afterlife _____Reward for no belief in blissful afterlife
There is no afterlife_________________________Y____________________________________0____________
There is a blissful afterlife________________Y+infinity______________________________infinity____________
Something else____________________________Y+/-?___________________________________?_______________

Counterargument: You cannot simply choose to believe in something for practical reasons.

Yes I can. I know us rational types don't use it very much, but it's called: A leap of faith.

Thoughts are welcome.
Last edited by aurasprw on Wed Sep 10, 2008 6:22 am UTC, edited 3 times in total.

LuckyDucky
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:22 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby LuckyDucky » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:29 pm UTC

So how is this based on reason? To me your views seem equivalent to running away from what is reality, and that is that we live, and that we die. How is there an afterlife?

User avatar
FourLetterWord
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:52 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby FourLetterWord » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:I do not truly believe this fear of death can be conquered; as living beings, our entire existence is predicated on survival/reproduction and to deny that is close to a contradiction.


Doing something which others are unable to do is the definition of relative strength.

Failing to do something which others are capable of doing is the definition of relative weakness.

Many manage to lead perfectly healthy, happy, successful lives without being significantly hampered by their perfectly rational fear of death.

If you feel you must lie to yourself about heaven to achieve greater happiness, well, go for it, but you'll forgive me if I don't think your strategy looks all that sound :?

edit: This is actually kind of like Pascal's Wager, and at it's core is essentially the same appeal to consequence. A variation on the "believe in god or god will beat the shit out of you" argument where it's "believe in heaven or your own fears will beat the shit out of you". It's an interesting thought.

User avatar
aurasprw
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby aurasprw » Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:46 pm UTC

LuckyDucky wrote:So how is this based on reason? To me your views seem equivalent to running away from what is reality, and that is that we live, and that we die. How is there an afterlife?

You don't know what is real about the afterlife and what isn't.

FourLetterWord wrote:If you feel you must lie to yourself about heaven to achieve greater happiness, well, go for it, but you'll forgive me if I don't think your strategy looks all that sound :?

I am not lying to myself. That would suggest that on some level, I truly believe there is no afterlife (a belief I find ridiculous; as I said, we have no way of knowing).

edit: This is actually kind of like Pascal's Wager, and at it's core is essentially the same appeal to consequence. A variation on the "believe in god or god will beat the shit out of you" argument where it's "believe in heaven or your own fears will beat the shit out of you". It's an interesting thought.

The difference between my wager and Pascal's wager: I wager nothing. I am not changing my life in any way because of this belief.

User avatar
Elvish Pillager
Posts: 1009
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:58 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere you think, nowhere you can possibly imagine.
Contact:

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Elvish Pillager » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:00 pm UTC

Aurasprw, what's a heaven? :?
Last edited by Elvish Pillager on Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:18 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Also known as Eli Dupree. Check out elidupree.com for my comics, games, and other work.

GENERATION A(g64, g64): Social experiment. Take the busy beaver function of the generation number and add it to your signature.

User avatar
seladore
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:17 pm UTC
Location: Tumbolia

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby seladore » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

Your supposition seems to rest on assuming that unknown factors have an equal chance of being true or false, which isn't true. The existence of Heaven seems to be a rather outlandish claim (from an empirical standpoint), so just shrugging and saying "it could be true, you can't prove it's not" seems... unsatisfying.

More to the point, I can't see how you can just choose to believe something like this. Beliefs are either unquestioned or arrived at by observation / introspection. I can't imagine how you can just decide that you believe something, no matter how happy it makes you.

Say you have a box, and inside it is a coloured object. Now, there are no data on the colour of the object. Your preposition seems to be equivalent to saying "I decide to think that it is red".
For me, I couldn't trick myself like that.

longhorn
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:46 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby longhorn » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:15 pm UTC

Last edited by longhorn on Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:56 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Anpheus
I can't get any worse, can I?
Posts: 860
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:38 pm UTC
Location: A privileged frame of reference.

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Anpheus » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

Your critical assumption is that you should believe in something if it makes you happy to believe in it, which makes it an appeal to emotion. Hence, not based on pure reasoning.

While you are correct in saying you aren't wagering anything, your belief is subject to the counter-argument to Pascal's Wager. If you believe in Heaven-A because it sounds good, and I propose Heaven-B, which sounds better, should you believe in Heaven-B now? What if you must change your mind because your desires and what you consider good or bad have changed? While you could of course posit a Meta-Heaven that lets you at will go into and out of different Heavens, you could end up deciding that wouldn't be truly satisfying. For example, when you have all the cheat codes to a game, some people find that enjoyable. I find it amusing, but not particularly enjoyable over the long term. So that meta-heaven would be droll to me, an amusement park instead of an idyllic place of reflection and inspection. Likewise, I enjoy learning more than I enjoy knowing. Learning new things, observing new things is great, so being able to just know everything and having the infinite capacity to learn would make heaven a vacuous place to me.

So this heaven thing is something that is constantly in flux. Of course most churches skirt the issue by only telling people how horrible hell is and not why heaven is so great. If they did tell people, some might decide that it doesn't actually sound like a lot of fun.
Spoiler:

Code: Select all

  /###\_________/###\
  |#################|
  \#################/
   |##┌         ┐##|
   |##  (¯`v´¯)  ##|
   |##  `\ ♥ /´  ##|
   |##   `\¸/´   ##|
   |##└         ┘##|
  /#################\
  |#################|
  \###/¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\###/

User avatar
Varsil
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:45 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Varsil » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:53 pm UTC

I take objection to the notion that things are nihilistic or depressing if you don't believe in a heaven. Frankly, I find the notion that my life right now is nothing but waiting for some celestial reward to be incredibly depressing and nihilistic--if the thing that will achieve the greatest happiness for me is my death, what the fuck am I doing right now? And frankly, if there is a heaven and everyone goes there, then Hitler and Stalin suddenly become the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century. What?

Second, I would argue that a large portion of the fear of death isn't the fear of nonexistence, it's the fear of the unknown. For you to vanquish this with your method, you would need not only to entertain the possibility of heaven (which I entirely support--heaven is a possibility, but not a known), but to be absolutely certain that it exists and certain that it is your afterlife destination. Looking at your paper example, this is not just saying, "Maybe there is invisible writing on the paper", but instead is saying "There is definitely writing on that paper, and it reads as follows..."

I also submit that you do not actually have that level of belief in a heaven. Why? Because such a belief would alter your behaviour. Beliefs in general will alter behaviour in various ways in the areas where it is relevant. For instance, if I believe that cheese is a deadly poison, then I should theoretically be avoiding cheese. Someone who says that they believe that cheese is a lethal poison as they are eating a cheeseburger either is completely irrational, suicidal, doesn't believe they are eating cheese, or doesn't believe that cheese is a poison.

Anyway, to bring that around: If you are going to believe in a heaven, by your logic you should believe in the one that brings you the maximum possible happiness. Additionally, if you are not currently achieving the maximum possible happiness, you should be striving to reach that heaven. If you believe that you are going to that heaven after you die, you should be striving to attain your death by the swiftest possible means. The fact that you're alive and engaged in things that aren't killing you (ie, you're posting here to tell us about your theories) tells me that you have at least some doubt. If you have doubt, then you have really failed to achieve your objective of eliminating the fear of death.

I'd also add into this that I don't view fear of death as a bad thing. It keeps us from doing a lot of stupid things, like drinking acid to find out how it tastes, deciding to throw ourselves randomly off buildings for the thrill of the fall, and picking fights with armed men. As noted, it also can lead people to strive to achieve things of lasting value. This doesn't seem so bad to me. Frankly, I think if we suddenly had incontrovertible proof of a heaven and of the certainty of going there, that'd be the end of the species.

I also note that the most rational conclusion to come to is "Maybe there is a heaven", along with "Maybe there is a hell", and "Maybe there is an invisible pink unicorn over there". What degree of likelihood does this possibility have? Vanishingly small, in the same way that the chance that there is writing on a blank sheet of paper is vanishingly small (barring any specific information you might have about this particular piece of paper).

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Sun Sep 07, 2008 8:54 pm UTC

The general idea of heaven (or at least the classical view) has seemed a bit empty to me for a while now, there's really no purpose in spending eternity in thoughtless happiness (a la Pleasantville). But I think there's a reason aurasprw didn't define heaven Anpheus, he's not terribly certain on what exactly it is but he knows he's happier believing in something.

For the most part, I tend to agree with him but from a somewhat different approach. Modern atheism seems to emphasize how humans have no self determination or purpose, just accidental particle formations with a preset perogative on how to live until the universe degrades to such a great degree that we can no longer survive. Perhaps you can argue this from a purely logical standpoint, but I still have to ask why you would ever accept this. In the most elementary sense of our lives, we always have the choice to exist or not to but not existing is blatantly meaningless. If life truly has no point and we're just a temporary mistake, then the distinction between existing and not is irrelevant; they are one in the same. I really have no reason to think that I live without a will of my own and without meaning, so I assume I do.

User avatar
Anpheus
I can't get any worse, can I?
Posts: 860
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:38 pm UTC
Location: A privileged frame of reference.

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Anpheus » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:07 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:The general idea of heaven (or at least the classical view) has seemed a bit empty to me for a while now, there's really no purpose in spending eternity in thoughtless happiness (a la Pleasantville). But I think there's a reason aurasprw didn't define heaven Anpheus, he's not terribly certain on what exactly it is but he knows he's happier believing in something.

For the most part, I tend to agree with him but from a somewhat different approach. Modern atheism seems to emphasize how humans have no self determination or purpose, just accidental particle formations with a preset perogative on how to live until the universe degrades to such a great degree that we can no longer survive. Perhaps you can argue this from a purely logical standpoint, but I still have to ask why you would ever accept this. In the most elementary sense of our lives, we always have the choice to exist or not to but not existing is blatantly meaningless. If life truly has no point and we're just a temporary mistake, then the distinction between existing and not is irrelevant; they are one in the same. I really have no reason to think that I live without a will of my own and without meaning, so I assume I do.

You're confusing atheism with a number of other things and your take on it is worse for it.

I am an atheist and I talk of free will or consciousness as "real" things even though they may or may not be. They are certainly interesting phenomena. In addition, current knowledge of physics shows that it's impossible to analyze a real brain in real time. Even creating a copy of every bit of information in the space of one's brain is impossible according to current quantum mechanics, and it's impossible to construct a machine that could copy the larger scale phenomena precisely and instantaneously, that would require information being transmitted faster than the speed of light. So those are physical objections to saying that free will isn't a phenomena of interest in biology. But what about logical objections? How can one truly believe one has no free will? That's almost paradoxical, you can't choose to believe you have no choices! Whether or not you have any choices was going to happen anyway. How can one choose to be an atheist who believes that they have no choice? The latter negates the former, the idea of choosing. You were going to be an atheist regardless, so talking about your choice in it is silly.

As for accidental particle formations of no interest, and the distinction between existence and nonexistence being irrelevant, I beg your pardon. I find a great deal of beauty in the complexities of nature and those accidental particle formations. It's amazing, though obvious in hindsight, that we would have particles creating these feedback loops in their reactions that encourage their duplication. But that's like the tip of the iceberg. At every level more and more interesting phenomena seem to build upon each other to produce willed movement, even some of the simplest multicellular life forms will react to their environment, complex biological machinery whir (wobble, wiggle?) into motion. While we would not relegate these simple biological creatures as having choice or will, it's an obscure and difficult to determine matter of complexity at which point we decide something has a will. Regardless, the whole lot of reality seems to conspire to create interesting things for us to look at, but to me it's far more interesting to imagine that all this sprang from somewhat simple rules. Rules that themselves, do not seem to infer that from them would spring life, consciousness, or even this forum post in which I reflect on such. How marvelous our universe is, that it came to this.

Atheism doesn't have to be uninspiring!
Spoiler:

Code: Select all

  /###\_________/###\
  |#################|
  \#################/
   |##┌         ┐##|
   |##  (¯`v´¯)  ##|
   |##  `\ ♥ /´  ##|
   |##   `\¸/´   ##|
   |##└         ┘##|
  /#################\
  |#################|
  \###/¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\###/

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:58 pm UTC

Even if it's technologically impossible for a computer to replicate a human brain today, that doesn't somehow validate the idea that free will must exist (presuming nothing outside the laws of physics are occuring). For instance, we can replicate a mouse brain today using existing technology, and the difference between us and mice from an athiest view is purely a matter of scale. All said and done, it will probably be incredibly challenging if not impossible to predict the exact nature of a humans behavior due to the sheer volume of information we process but from a thought experiment approach we are, all said and done, complicated machines. Perhaps we will occasionally make a random decision due to things happening on an atomic level, but randomness does not constitute free will.

As to your thoughts on complexity, you may find beauty in the world and its complexities, but can you justify from an atheist perspective why such things should matter? Perhaps humans may enjoy studing nature, but is this anything beyond a desire to learn as to further are own circumstances? You last paragraph is essentially nondemominational romanticism, which carries a great degree of spirituality to it and is generally incompatible with a true atheist mindset.

Unless I'm mistaken, atheism is the perspective that our universe is soley comprised of naturalistic principles and maybe a hint of pure randomness. From this, it's implicit that we're the product of cells that through chance came to be 4 billion years ago, we exist soley to ensure ourselves a better future, and that through natural entropic rules the universe will inevitably become incapable of sustaining life. If no form of spirituality/mysticism/religion exists, on what logical basis can you claim anything else?

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:33 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:I am not lying to myself. That would suggest that on some level, I truly believe there is no afterlife (a belief I find ridiculous; as I said, we have no way of knowing).


I'm not convinced. You're contorting a lot of things here, but the problem is that you drip evidence throughout that you're aware of your contortions.

The major theme here is that you're trying to confuse certainty with belief, and trying to use it as a "shield" for your arguments. There are many things I believe that I'm not absolutely certain about, and many things you believe you're not certain about as well. But I don't even need to go there--because if you don't buy that certainty isn't equivalent to belief, you're in even more trouble.

So, now that this is out of the way, here are the reasons that I'm not convinced you believe in an afterlife:
  • The subject: Why I now believe in heaven (arguments "based on reason") You put that in quotes because you know it's not really based on reason. You used the quotes, not me.
  • "I believe that the fear of death (ie nonexistence) is a prime cause of unhappiness in many people's lives." In other words, death is nonexistence. Now, I'm not arguing that death is nonexistence, but that you said it was. This could possibly be hypothetical, exploring the other side for arguments sake--however, you hint otherwise when you add this Freudian slip: "It certainly is (was) in mine." ...and you completely rob yourself this out when you say: "I do not truly believe this fear of death can be conquered".
  • "Thus, the only solution (in my eyes) is to believe in an afterlife, or a form of existence after death. And if I'm going to believe in one, I might as well believe in one where I'm happy (ie heaven)." Clear, vivid evidence that this is more of a wish than a belief.

In addition, you seem to be trying to solicit our help to try to fool yourself. I don't think I'll want to oblige.

You're chasing the wrong road to happiness. Existing at all isn't so bad--in fact, it's quite great. And what could be better than existing at all, besides existing at all and existing at this very moment, which you're clearly doing as well? Your looking at your death in the future and fearing it is clearly interfering with your ability to enjoy your existence today, and you simply seem to lack an appreciation of how wonderful that is in itself. Even if your goal is happiness above truth, wouldn't it be much better to face what most likely is and learn to be happy with it, than it would be to try to convince yourself something of which deep down you know better not to believe? The latter sounds much, much worse than the former to me.
Image

Abstruse
Posts: 129
Joined: Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:17 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Abstruse » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:43 am UTC

This is like "Pascal's Wager" only without the contributions to science first.

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:58 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:I do not truly believe this fear of death can be conquered; as living beings, our entire existence is predicated on survival/reproduction and to deny that is close to a contradiction.


Conquering death =/= denying death....

It might sound arrogant, but I can safely say that I'm not the least concerned about dying, or anything else like that. I'm perfectly happy at the end of my life to fall into nonexistance. I don't "need" heaven to be happy, not at all. I have not believed in heaven since my mid-teens and I've never been depressed or or even sad since then.

Edit: So I reread your post, and are you actually saying "I believe there is invisible writing on this blank piece of paper, a belief which is based on arguments of "reason". The argument is as follows; I am unable to deal with this paper being blank, thus I HAVE to believe that there is invisible writing there"?

Also I think your interrogation of the scientist/skeptic is uncharacteristic of a skeptic/scientist (as I define them...)

The proper response to your paper question is "I cannot measure or perceive any writing on the paper, however given that I do not know everything I cannot say with infinite accuracy that there is no writing on that paper. Given what I can tell about paper with the knowledge and equipment I have now, I can say that there probably isn't (with some certain standard deviation of certainty) writing there." This is CLEARLY different to absolutely denying the possibility and ALSO different to believing it without any evidence.

"<Insert my Signature Here>, but it's X likely based on Y" is the response of a scientist/skeptic.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Yakk » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:44 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:First, I will say that I believe the main goal in life is happiness. If you do not agree with me on this, my argument will not appeal to you.

Secondly, I believe that the fear of death (ie nonexistence) is a prime cause of unhappiness in many people's lives. It certainly is (was) in mine. Fear of death causes people to:
struggle to create some great lasting achievement (which will inevitably fade in time as well)
panic when their life isn't going as planned (because I only have one life, and it's being wasted)
avoid taking risks
give up hope (nothing matters, we're all going to die anyways).
reproduce and/or teach

I do not truly believe this fear of death can be conquered; as living beings, our entire existence is predicated on survival/reproduction and to deny that is close to a contradiction.

Thus, the only solution (in my eyes) is to believe in an afterlife, or a form of existence after death. And if I'm going to believe in one, I might as well believe in one where I'm happy (ie heaven).

---
EDIT: To make it clear, I am not changing my life in any way besides deciding to believe in heaven. I am not going to church nor altering my behavior.

So you will continue to avoid taking risks, feel bad about your inability to become immortal in this life, give up hope, reproduce and/or teach, struggle to create some great lasting achievement?

Your justification to believe in heaven is because you think not believing in heaven makes you unhappy about the fact that your life is a failure on the immortality spectrum. And yet you think that believing in heaven won't change your behavior?

I'm puzzled.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

qetzal
Posts: 862
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 12:54 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby qetzal » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:53 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Unless I'm mistaken, atheism is the perspective that our universe is soley comprised of naturalistic principles and maybe a hint of pure randomness. From this, it's implicit that we're the product of cells that through chance came to be 4 billion years ago, we exist soley to ensure ourselves a better future, and that through natural entropic rules the universe will inevitably become incapable of sustaining life. If no form of spirituality/mysticism/religion exists, on what logical basis can you claim anything else?


You are mistaken. Atheism is merely not believing or disbelieving in gods. Atheism is not naturalism. Atheism most certainly does not entail belief that the universe will inevitably become incapaple of sustaining life. (Nor does theism entail the opposite belief.)

One can be an atheist and believe in spirituality and mysticism. One can be an atheist and be religious.

One can even be an atheist and believe in heaven. Just not a heaven presided over by God.

User avatar
Vox Imperatoris
Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Jun 09, 2008 7:42 am UTC
Location: Alabama

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Vox Imperatoris » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:29 am UTC

I agree with the OP for the most part, but I'm not going to pretend it's based on reason. I want there to be a heaven, and if there's not I lose nothing, so I might as well believe that there is a God and a heaven. Unless (and this is a big unless) these beliefs are proven wrong by science, in which case I will no longer believe them. And by proven wrong, I mean some way to measure/observe it in any way, not, "Well, you can't prove gravity isn't caused by angels, so it is if I want it to be."
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
17/♂/Heterosexual/US/Atheist/Objectivist
Tigion wrote:Gods, [Mafia] is like poker, 'cept harder.

Nu Știu Să Fiu Numai Pentru Tine—Andreea Bălan—Amazing song! Verrückte Jungs—Blümchen—My avatar.
Image

User avatar
Skaevola
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:46 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Skaevola » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:06 am UTC

Here's a couple things that came to mind reading this thread. I don't have a massive amount of intelligence like the rest of you guys, being as young, delicate and untainted as I am, but if I say something blasphemous to logic, you'll be sure to correct me, right? :)

First... IMO, it really isn't retardedly illogical to believe in Heaven. I mean, what are the chances that a universe could exist like this one? None. One to infinity, so to speak. An explosion going off in the middle of nothing? Throwing the laws of Motion and Aerodynamics out the window, amirite? :P
But we do, and this universe does exist, against infinite odds. I'm not using this as an argument for a god, but just that, if this universe exists, is it really that much harder to believe that another one exists adjacent to this one, whether it's an "ideal" universe or not? Sure, it's not a 50/50 chance, but it's not a 50/50 chance that this universe exists either.

But this raises another point... if there really is an ideal universe adjacent to this one... a perfect universe (perfect, at least, according to human ideals and comforts, which are relative anyway), that the human soul travels to after its body dies... that would really have to be a creation, wouldn't it? It would require the knowledge of humanity to differentiate between what is perfect and imperfect to a human "soul" (hypothetically, of course) and create a universe pertaining only to those standards. So the next logical step after believing in a Heaven is believing in a god, yes? :P

I read a book once where a guy believed that people would go wherever they believed they were going... Heaven, or Hell, or reincarnation, or nonexistence... not because those things actually all exist depending on your religion (or lack of one) but because it is "The final trick of a dying mind," as the author put it... Interesting thought. Is this theory documented, or just some stupid idea I picked up from a novel?

Me posting this reply is me raising my hand in class... correct me and rebuke me, and I'll know better next time... Just don't think of me as retarded for saying something stupid :)
Image

purpleshoes wrote:Being a good friend is not like putting money in the blowjob bank.

User avatar
Anpheus
I can't get any worse, can I?
Posts: 860
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:38 pm UTC
Location: A privileged frame of reference.

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Anpheus » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:42 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Even if it's technologically impossible for a computer to replicate a human brain today, that doesn't somehow validate the idea that free will must exist (presuming nothing outside the laws of physics are occuring). For instance, we can replicate a mouse brain today using existing technology, and the difference between us and mice from an athiest view is purely a matter of scale. All said and done, it will probably be incredibly challenging if not impossible to predict the exact nature of a humans behavior due to the sheer volume of information we process but from a thought experiment approach we are, all said and done, complicated machines. Perhaps we will occasionally make a random decision due to things happening on an atomic level, but randomness does not constitute free will.


No, we can simulate a mouse brain, but it's technically impossible for us to capture with fine enough detail the state of the tissue. Even so, it is physically impossible to then take that information and create useful predictions from it. To examine the situation, let us imagine we have a machine capable of infinite resolution (impossible, quantum limits on observation) that can copy a brain with infinite speed, instantaneously (impossible, quantum limits on copying information.) Now, of course, the impossibilities are only subject to current knowledge of physics, so should that change, my argument is invalid. Now given that we have this glorious, yet impossible, machine, let us posit that we copy a human being in his entirety from a distance and create a digital simulacrum, a clone of perfect detail. Our computer is however arbitrarily fast that we can run the simulation including the observations of the person at whatever speed we choose. So, let's posit free will as the ability to make a choice that cannot be perfectly predicted in advance. After all, if someone can determine a priori what choices you will make, you have no free will. Now, even assuming we have this nearly magical machine, we must then run simulations on how to say, get the person to vote one way or another in the upcoming election, one month away. Well, it turns out that there are issues with locality. Our machine cannot do so because the event is too far away in time. Perhaps if we were trying a last-ditch effort to get them to change their mind before entering the voting booth we might succeed, but the problem becomes one of locality. If all we scanned is the person themselves, and not their surroundings, we must then begin expanding our search to include those surrounding situations. Our machine must be able to know, now, what will happen a month from now. So we can show that even in classical physics, in the absence of quantum mechanical effects, our machine is impossible. To force a choice upon our subject by running simulations, to make them vote one way or another, you have to observe, everything within about 2 light months. Our machine must be capable of instantaneously observing the state of every particle and storing it within more than one trillion (~1.5 x 10^12) kilometers. That is a violation of the speed of light, it would require knowing something that technically hasn't happened yet from your perspective.

So yes, free will exists on an abstract level, even if it doesn't exist on a dualist level. This is of course subject to change based on the laws of physics, and I cannot say for certain which of the potential unified theories might alter the legitimacy of the above argument. Quantum loop gravity, string theory, etc, and their implications are still far above my head, and even relativity and quantum mechanics is a bit of a mind-fuck, and while I can't do the math myself (yet) I understand many of the implications. To back the above up, you can read about the no-broadcast theorem, no-communication theorem, uncertainty principle and of course the limits on the speed of light as assumed by relativity. Even if you assume wormholes are possible to allow infinitely fast information transfer, your device's machinery is still limited by the speed of the transistors or qubits or whatever mechanism it uses. My definition of free will as an abstraction is pretty secure in that you can barely begin to question it before running into a currently held physical law that says, no, it's still impossible to build a perfect predictor.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:As to your thoughts on complexity, you may find beauty in the world and its complexities, but can you justify from an atheist perspective why such things should matter? Perhaps humans may enjoy studing nature, but is this anything beyond a desire to learn as to further are own circumstances? You last paragraph is essentially nondemominational romanticism, which carries a great degree of spirituality to it and is generally incompatible with a true atheist mindset.

Unless I'm mistaken, atheism is the perspective that our universe is soley comprised of naturalistic principles and maybe a hint of pure randomness. From this, it's implicit that we're the product of cells that through chance came to be 4 billion years ago, we exist soley to ensure ourselves a better future, and that through natural entropic rules the universe will inevitably become incapable of sustaining life. If no form of spirituality/mysticism/religion exists, on what logical basis can you claim anything else?


Oh, going to No True Scotsman me are you? So my beliefs are incompatible with those of a true atheist? I suppose then there are likely very few true atheists. And you are deeply mistaken, atheism is the perspective that there is no god. Naturalism is the perspective that the universe is solely comprised of things that can be explained through laws and studied by testing hypotheses and the like. Atheism doesn't assume anything more than there is no god, and is a pretty weak position on its own and it would be hard to justify in absence of naturalism, but the two are hardly intertwined.

And just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean I'm spock, I find things beautiful, maybe not the same things other people find beautiful, but hey, that's the choice I made. Hurr hurr hurr.
Spoiler:

Code: Select all

  /###\_________/###\
  |#################|
  \#################/
   |##┌         ┐##|
   |##  (¯`v´¯)  ##|
   |##  `\ ♥ /´  ##|
   |##   `\¸/´   ##|
   |##└         ┘##|
  /#################\
  |#################|
  \###/¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\###/

User avatar
InstinctSage
Posts: 1012
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:19 am UTC
Location: Australia

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby InstinctSage » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:01 am UTC

I've never had a near death experience, but I have had vivid dreams which involved them. I was so damn scared I woke up embarrassed at myself for being such a pansy.

But you know, no matter what you believe, it's difficult to deal with death. We can't sense anything beyond mortality. We can rationalise it, but when your car slides out and starts skidding towards the edge of that looong drop down a mountainside you're not rationalising anything. You're panicking like a trapped animal (unless you've the sense of mind to correct, etc.).

It's just a simple fact. We'll do all we can to avoid death, or else we'd be dead by now. Fear of death isn't something you have to conquer to make your life happy. I also read a book which involved a race of near immortal aliens who were quite intrigued by humans because our lifespans are so short we each struggle to achieve something meaningful, hurrying and risking our very lives to do so.

I don't fault you for saying you believe in heaven because it makes life easier. I find it strange that you seem to refer to it as God's heaven when it holds no requirements as such. Personally, I feel that since biologically all our memories tend to be stored at a cellular level that rots away with death, whatever afterlife there may be waiting for me I likely wouldn't remember this life, just as I don't remember any before it. But I still hold I probably wouldn't be contemplating anything like that when my life was on the line. I'd be scrambling madly to retain this one.
nightlina wrote:We get stick insects here.. they're pretty cool and stick-like.

User avatar
BrainMagMo
Posts: 185
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:22 am UTC
Location: Southern California
Contact:

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby BrainMagMo » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:01 am UTC

Vox Imperatoris wrote:I agree with the OP for the most part, but I'm not going to pretend it's based on reason. I want there to be a heaven, and if there's not I lose nothing, so I might as well believe that there is a God and a heaven. Unless (and this is a big unless) these beliefs are proven wrong by science, in which case I will no longer believe them. And by proven wrong, I mean some way to measure/observe it in any way, not, "Well, you can't prove gravity isn't caused by angels, so it is if I want it to be."
No.
The OP at least had an original take on pascal's wager, while you post has not that.
The problem with ur argument is that it gives no reason for believing in God-heaven as opposed to Allah-heaven or Jehovah-heaven or Samsara or what ever the 100s of other religions believe.

User avatar
Bubbles McCoy
Posts: 1106
Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 12:49 am UTC
Location: California

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:05 am UTC

Anpheus wrote:Oh, going to No True Scotsman me are you? So my beliefs are incompatible with those of a true atheist? I suppose then there are likely very few true atheists. And you are deeply mistaken, atheism is the perspective that there is no god. Naturalism is the perspective that the universe is solely comprised of things that can be explained through laws and studied by testing hypotheses and the like. Atheism doesn't assume anything more than there is no god, and is a pretty weak position on its own and it would be hard to justify in absence of naturalism, but the two are hardly intertwined.

And just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean I'm spock, I find things beautiful, maybe not the same things other people find beautiful, but hey, that's the choice I made. Hurr hurr hurr.


I've been down the free will road too many times before, let's move on.

My point in raising "true atheism" was that any argument against heaven or some form of belief in something greater contradicts naturalistic views, but you are completely correct in saying that atheism can encompass mysticism; my definition was too narrow (at least compared to Wikipedia's). Still, I think my general point concerning naturalism stands in the face of "no true scotsman," I'm applying arguments to their logical ends opposed to creating a situational definition. If a naturalistic atheist can attack my spiritual beliefs that have no tangible grounding, then there's no reason I can't criticize the complete lack of meaning implicit in his worldview. So long as you accept something somewhat spiritual beyond your otherwise godless world, I think I've had my definitions cleaned up and there's nothing left to argue.

User avatar
aurasprw
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby aurasprw » Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:37 am UTC

Uh, can the free will people take their conversation to a new topic please? Thanks.

Elvish Pillager wrote:Aurasprw, what's a heaven? :?

Whatever I wish. A place where all my dreams come true.

Your supposition seems to rest on assuming that unknown factors have an equal chance of being true or false, which isn't true. The existence of Heaven seems to be a rather outlandish claim (from an empirical standpoint), so just shrugging and saying "it could be true, you can't prove it's not" seems... unsatisfying.
There are simply too many unknowns to say anything about death with confidence. Thus, I feel justified in believing whatever I want.

Say you have a box, and inside it is a coloured object. Now, there are no data on the colour of the object. Your preposition seems to be equivalent to saying "I decide to think that it is red".
For me, I couldn't trick myself like that.
It takes a leap of faith, which I know us rational types hate, but in this case I feed lustified in taking it because there are no consequences.

If you believe in Heaven-A because it sounds good, and I propose Heaven-B, which sounds better, should you believe in Heaven-B now?
Absolutely. Why not?

And frankly, if there is a heaven and everyone goes there, then Hitler and Stalin suddenly become the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century. What?
I don't have a problem with this. If this causes you serious outrage we can start another topic about it.

If you believe that you are going to that heaven after you die, you should be striving to attain your death by the swiftest possible means. The fact that you're alive and engaged in things that aren't killing you (ie, you're posting here to tell us about your theories) tells me that you have at least some doubt. If you have doubt, then you have really failed to achieve your objective of eliminating the fear of death.
What's the hurry? I'll get there when I get there.

the chance that there is writing on a blank sheet of paper is vanishingly small
Uh, no. You can't say one way or the other. You are considering the problem in the context of the real world where paper is constantly being produced. Pretend that this is the only sheet of paper in existence.

The subject: Why I now believe in heaven (arguments "based on reason") You put that in quotes because you know it's not really based on reason. You used the quotes, not me.
I put them in quotes because I knew people would rage if I didn't.

"I believe that the fear of death (ie nonexistence) is a prime cause of unhappiness in many people's lives." In other words, death is nonexistence. Now, I'm not arguing that death is nonexistence, but that you said it was. This could possibly be hypothetical, exploring the other side for arguments sake--however, you hint otherwise when you add this Freudian slip: "It certainly is (was) in mine." ...and you completely rob yourself this out when you say: "I do not truly believe this fear of death can be conquered".
That is because I wrote this as I was forming this opinion.

Is my conviction rock-solid? Absolutely not. But it gets stronger over time. It's stronger than it was yesterday.

And what could be better than existing at all, besides existing at all and existing at this very moment, which you're clearly doing as well? Your looking at your death in the future and fearing it is clearly interfering with your ability to enjoy your existence today, and you simply seem to lack an appreciation of how wonderful that is in itself. Even if your goal is happiness above truth, wouldn't it be much better to face what most likely is and learn to be happy with it, than it would be to try to convince yourself something of which deep down you know better not to believe? The latter sounds much, much worse than the former to me.
I don't see why it's better not to believe the way I do right now. I sacrifice nothing and gain happiness.

"The possibility exists, but it's X likely based on Y" is the response of a scientist/skeptic.
I reject the idea that any scientist, being alive, can have any knowledge about being dead.

Your justification to believe in heaven is because you think not believing in heaven makes you unhappy about the fact that your life is a failure on the immortality spectrum. And yet you think that believing in heaven won't change your behavior?
Good catch, that's not what I meant. I mean that I'm not suddenly following the Ten Commandments or anything like that. I am already less anxious and more risk-taking than before, as a natural result of my change in belief.

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:23 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:
And what could be better than existing at all, besides existing at all and existing at this very moment, which you're clearly doing as well? Your looking at your death in the future and fearing it is clearly interfering with your ability to enjoy your existence today, and you simply seem to lack an appreciation of how wonderful that is in itself. Even if your goal is happiness above truth, wouldn't it be much better to face what most likely is and learn to be happy with it, than it would be to try to convince yourself something of which deep down you know better not to believe? The latter sounds much, much worse than the former to me.
I don't see why it's better not to believe the way I do right now. I sacrifice nothing and gain happiness.

Not possible. You can't gain happiness by knowingly lying to yourself. What I'm outlining is true optimism--glass half full and such, you know. What you're trying to do is alleviate your fears of the half empty glass by pretending you've convinced yourself the glass is full.
Image

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:52 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:
"The possibility exists, but it's X likely based on Y" is the response of a scientist/skeptic.
I reject the idea that any scientist, being alive, can have any knowledge about being dead.


But a skeptic or scientist or X person, using philosophy and logic can draw certain assumptions from certain axioms and give that answer easily.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
Griffin
Posts: 1363
Joined: Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:46 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Griffin » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:15 pm UTC

I fully believe is perfectly reasonable argument for why he believes in heaven. Its NOT a perfectly reasonable argument for whether or not heaven exists, but it is for whether or not he should believe in it.

If his axioms are "I want to maximize my happiness"
and "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven"
then its perfectly logical to believe in heaven, especially when there's evidence against either the conclusion or your axioms.

Most people do this for all sorts of stuff, its not a big deal.

Mind you, my axioms are different, but as long as he has no problem with them, I have no problem with his. (There's a reason I play "hardcore" mode on most video games.)
Bdthemag: "I don't always GM, but when I do I prefer to put my player's in situations that include pain and torture. Stay creative my friends."

Bayobeasts - the Pokemon: Orthoclase project.

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:00 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:If his axioms are "I want to maximize my happiness" and "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven" then its perfectly logical to believe in heaven, especially when there's evidence against either the conclusion or your axioms.

For declaring things he believes to be his axioms, the logical fallacy is Petitio Principii. If his goal is to maximize his happiness, he should be concerned more with the accuracy of the claim that "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven"; so long as it's not accurate, if he cannot accomplish this, he fails his goals.

For the jump from his belief that he should believe in heaven to his conclusion heaven exists, the logical fallacy is Appeal to Consequences of Belief. Furthermore, he doesn't really believe this stuff anyway as is evidenced by all of the Freudian slips. Mind you, if it actually were true that this would make him happy, and he actually were convinced of it, I wouldn't have a problem anyway unless he claimed it really was an argument from reason. But this simply isn't the case (he doesn't really believe in heaven, and I doubt he's really happy).
Most people do this for all sorts of stuff, its not a big deal.

...and finally, for stating that other people do this all of the time, this is a mix of ad populum and tu quoque.
Last edited by yy2bggggs on Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:22 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Image

User avatar
Red Hal
Magically Delicious
Posts: 1445
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:42 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Red Hal » Mon Sep 08, 2008 1:07 pm UTC

/offtopic: I am reminded of Woody Allen's quote: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve it through not dying."

/ontopic: Are we not beating around Pascal's wager?

On Edit: My bad for not spotting the reference to Pascal's wager further up, that's what happens when you skim read a thread.

I concur that the argument for belief in heaven seems logical and consistent, the OP is not arguing in favour of the existence in heaven, merely their belief in it.
Lost Greatest Silent Baby X Y Z. "There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."

User avatar
chaosspawn
Posts: 560
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:38 pm UTC
Location: Waltham, MA

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby chaosspawn » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:13 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
And frankly, if there is a heaven and everyone goes there, then Hitler and Stalin suddenly become the greatest philanthropists of the 20th century. What?
I don't have a problem with this. If this causes you serious outrage we can start another topic about it.
Ok, aside from the horrendously amoral stance you take, then you imply that me killing you (as in literally) should be a good thing for you, right? Do you believe that everyone should have the same stance as you? Because if that were true, I don't see how that could result in anything but the collapse of society and everyone ending up dead.

aurasprw wrote:
If you believe that you are going to that heaven after you die, you should be striving to attain your death by the swiftest possible means. The fact that you're alive and engaged in things that aren't killing you (ie, you're posting here to tell us about your theories) tells me that you have at least some doubt. If you have doubt, then you have really failed to achieve your objective of eliminating the fear of death.
What's the hurry? I'll get there when I get there.
Say you have two activities, one guaranteed to make you sad, the other to provide happiness (and you know with perfect certainty the full outcome of each action). Then given your proposition that "the main goal in life is happiness", why choose the former activity? In choosing not to kill yourself, you are purposefully choosing suffering over happiness. This seems inconsistent with your proposed belief.
So you must have something that you believe that prevents you from doing that. What is it, that prevents you from either outright killing yourself or acting completely regardless of safety or morality to get whatever will make you happy?
This space intentionally left blank.

User avatar
aurasprw
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:35 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby aurasprw » Mon Sep 08, 2008 2:38 pm UTC

Not possible. You can't gain happiness by knowingly lying to yourself. What I'm outlining is true optimism--glass half full and such, you know. What you're trying to do is alleviate your fears of the half empty glass by pretending you've convinced yourself the glass is full.
You are making the assumption that deep down, I *know* there is no heaven. This is a false assumption.

But a skeptic or scientist or X person, using philosophy and logic can draw certain assumptions from certain axioms and give that answer easily.

I am following Kant's philosophy that "there are inherent limits to our ability to know through philosophical reasoning." "using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions."

Furthermore, he doesn't really believe this stuff anyway as is evidenced by all of the Freudian slips. Mind you, if it actually were true that this would make him happy, and he actually were convinced of it, I wouldn't have a problem anyway unless he claimed it really was an argument from reason. But this simply isn't the case (he doesn't really believe in heaven, and I doubt he's really happy).
This is an unfair argument. You are simply stating your disbelief that I am happy? How am I supposed to argue against that?

Ok, aside from the horrendously amoral stance you take, then you imply that me killing you (as in literally) should be a good thing for you, right? Do you believe that everyone should have the same stance as you? Because if that were true, I don't see how that could result in anything but the collapse of society and everyone ending up dead.
My conviction has not reached the point where I am ready to kill myself for it. That's all.

User avatar
Gelsamel
Lame and emo
Posts: 8237
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:49 am UTC
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:10 pm UTC

I am following Kant's philosophy that "there are inherent limits to our ability to know through philosophical reasoning." "using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions."


Uh huh... so what are you doing in this thread again?
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Mon Sep 08, 2008 3:57 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
Not possible. You can't gain happiness by knowingly lying to yourself. What I'm outlining is true optimism--glass half full and such, you know. What you're trying to do is alleviate your fears of the half empty glass by pretending you've convinced yourself the glass is full.
You are making the assumption that deep down, I *know* there is no heaven. This is a false assumption.

See above. This is not an assumption. It's a conclusion, and I've listed specific reasons why I've concluded this. You can tell me otherwise all you want, but that's not the same as convincing me otherwise. And I'm not even sure how "deep down" it is.

Now I realize there are people who really do believe there's a heaven, and I'm not even here to make an argument that there is none. But I don't buy what you're telling me, in this specific case.
Image

User avatar
Anpheus
I can't get any worse, can I?
Posts: 860
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 10:38 pm UTC
Location: A privileged frame of reference.

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Anpheus » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:32 pm UTC

Define heaven for us? I still think your heaven falls under pascal's wager. You're not even certain what heaven you want or why it'll make you happy! There are so many heavens to choose from and I did describe this in depth.
Spoiler:

Code: Select all

  /###\_________/###\
  |#################|
  \#################/
   |##┌         ┐##|
   |##  (¯`v´¯)  ##|
   |##  `\ ♥ /´  ##|
   |##   `\¸/´   ##|
   |##└         ┘##|
  /#################\
  |#################|
  \###/¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯\###/

User avatar
Indon
Posts: 4433
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 5:21 pm UTC
Location: Alabama :(
Contact:

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Indon » Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:49 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:Since I can't tell what's going to happen after my death, I might as well be optimistic about it. This will improve the happiness of my own life, rather than nihilism which only serves to depress me.

It seems to me your argument is more readily applied towards optimism in general towards things of which you are personally unaware, rather than specifically death (I would summarize your argument as, "Don't worry, be happy," in fact).

While I don't particularly think there's anything wrong with that, I don't agree that it's necessarily a sensible thing to do.
So, I like talking. So if you want to talk about something with me, feel free to send me a PM.

My blog, now rarely updated.

Image

User avatar
Varsil
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:45 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Varsil » Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:15 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
If you believe that you are going to that heaven after you die, you should be striving to attain your death by the swiftest possible means. The fact that you're alive and engaged in things that aren't killing you (ie, you're posting here to tell us about your theories) tells me that you have at least some doubt. If you have doubt, then you have really failed to achieve your objective of eliminating the fear of death.
What's the hurry? I'll get there when I get there.


The hurry is that one of your premises is based around maximizing your happiness. Right now you're missing out on potential happiness. Every minute that you spend alive is time that sub-optimal happiness is being achieved, and that potential happiness is lost forever. Your premises compel you on this issue.

If you find it acceptable to you to select sub-optimal happiness, might I suggest selecting the course of sub-optimal happiness that doesn't require brainwashing yourself to achieve? Otherwise, by your logic, every moment that you are alive makes you a hypocrite.

Editorial note: I don't actually want you to go off and kill yourself, I'm just trying to point out the problems with your line of reasoning here.

User avatar
Elvish Pillager
Posts: 1009
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 9:58 pm UTC
Location: Everywhere you think, nowhere you can possibly imagine.
Contact:

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby Elvish Pillager » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:43 pm UTC

aurasprw wrote:
Elvish Pillager wrote:Aurasprw, what's a heaven? :?

Whatever I wish. A place where all my dreams come true.

That's not a complete definition. Is it a place that you can reach, or just one whose existence or lack thereof is meaningless because you can never reach it? And if you can, why aren't you changing your behavior to pursue it, now that you believe that it exists?
Also known as Eli Dupree. Check out elidupree.com for my comics, games, and other work.

GENERATION A(g64, g64): Social experiment. Take the busy beaver function of the generation number and add it to your signature.

TiPerihelion
Posts: 106
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:29 pm UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby TiPerihelion » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:21 pm UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:Furthermore, he doesn't really believe this stuff anyway as is evidenced by all of the Freudian slips.


The only Freudian slip I'm interested in is this one:

aurasprw wrote:It takes a leap of faith, which I know us rational types hate, but in this case I feed lustified in taking it because there are no consequences.


:D

The operative fallacy I see here is: Lack of evidence for ~x (not-x) does not constitute evidence for x. And no belief is rationally justified that is based on no evidence. However, as the OP and Red Hal have stated, he is merely looking for pragmatic justification, not rational justification. Who can argue with that?

People make pragmatic decisions and deceive themselves everyday. But then, we can't really know what's objectively true anyway. What's the problem with a little self-deception, as long as it doesn't harm anyone? (I'm playing the Devil's Advocate here; personally, I'm undecided as to the moral implications of the argument.)

User avatar
yy2bggggs
Posts: 1261
Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 6:42 am UTC

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yy2bggggs » Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:37 am UTC

aurasprw wrote:
Furthermore, he doesn't really believe this stuff anyway as is evidenced by all of the Freudian slips. Mind you, if it actually were true that this would make him happy, and he actually were convinced of it, I wouldn't have a problem anyway unless he claimed it really was an argument from reason. But this simply isn't the case (he doesn't really believe in heaven, and I doubt he's really happy).
This is an unfair argument. You are simply stating your disbelief that I am happy? How am I supposed to argue against that?
This isn't an argument--I'm simply explicitly refusing validation. In addition, I'm not simply stating my disbelief that you're happy, I'm giving specific reasons why. I'm not out to win an argument either--if you can live with me believing you're unhappy, just do it!

Should you wish to convince me otherwise, I'm not unreasonable (blunt, yes). I'm also perpetually unaware of the plethora of things that change my mind, but in this case, explaining reasonable alternative views of my stated reasons for disbelieving your assertions of beliefs would be your best bet.
TiPerihelion wrote:However, as the OP and Red Hal have stated, he is merely looking for pragmatic justification, not rational justification. Who can argue with that?

I thought he was looking to be happy, not to justify belief in heaven. Which is the primary goal here? I'm running under the assumption that it's to be happy.
What's the problem with a little self-deception, as long as it doesn't harm anyone?
The problem is that it's ineffective.

With apologies to Griffin, I flat out don't buy that this is the case:
Griffin wrote:If his axioms are "I want to maximize my happiness" and "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven" then its perfectly logical to believe in heaven, especially when there's evidence against either the conclusion or your axioms.
These aren't really axioms, unless this is just a pointless exercise in rhetoric. The first one certainly isn't an axiom:
"I want to maximize my happiness."
Now, technically, it could be an axiom mind you, but it's not one. It's an axiom if and only if the very thing we're talking about is a proposition--something we can say is true or false. Then we can come up with something--a statement we want to prove, for example--and set up some sort of goal, like proving the statement true (or we can play with the axioms, prove they are consistent, inconsistent, or what mind you).

But this isn't really what we have. "I want to maximize happiness" is not an attempt to describe the truth about what you want or don't want, but rather, it's meant to describe a goal of obtaining happiness. This isn't a proposition--it's a goal.

In terms of that goal, then, "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven" is a claim that is assumed to be true. But it's not necessarily true. I happen to believe it to be false. You can claim this is an axiom as well, but doing so is pragmatically as useless as the following:
  • Axiom: I want to be rich.
  • Axiom: I cannot be rich unless I quit this mediocre job.
  • Conclusion: I should quit this mediocre job.
...sure, it might be true that you can become rich by quitting that job, but it also might be quite false--it could actually hurt. But, logically, if you simply make everything leading up to your conclusion an "axiom", you can make the conclusion work. It's absolutely not pragmatic--your best bet is to not axiomize things simply to make a logical conclusion, but to figure out if those things are actually true. If I actually want to achieve my goal of being rich, I absolutely must take into consideration whether or not my strategy of quitting my mediocre job will accomplish this goal. (Edit: FYI, this is simply an example--my actual job is by no means mediocre).

Finally, "I should believe there is a heaven" isn't really best viewed as a theory, but as a strategy. It fails in two distinct aspects:
  • First, the claim that happiness is only obtainable by believing in heaven is false.
  • Second, and more important, one cannot believe something simply by choosing to believe it.

Now, this entire exercise is essentially one of contingent happiness, and that is what is wrong with it.
Image

yoni45
Posts: 2123
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:16 am UTC
Contact:

Re: Why I now believe in Heaven (arguments "based on reason")

Postby yoni45 » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:23 am UTC

yy2bggggs wrote:In terms of that goal, then, "I cannot be happy without believing in heaven" is a claim that is assumed to be true. But it's not necessarily true. I happen to believe it to be false. You can claim this is an axiom as well, but doing so is pragmatically as useless as the following:
Axiom: I want to be rich.
Axiom: I cannot be rich unless I quit this mediocre job.
Conclusion: I should quit this mediocre job.
...sure, it might be true that you can become rich by quitting that job, but it also might be quite false--it could actually hurt.


It might, but it's nevertheless the most logical step if the given individual wants to attain his goal of being rich.

I want to be fit, as quickly as possible.
The best way to get fit is by going outside to jog occasionally.
Conclusion: I should occasionally go outside and jog.

Sure, it could actually hurt (ie, you could get run over on your jog), but that doesn't make the conclusion any less logical.

If the person's goal is to get rich, and the only way of doing so is (at least in part) by quitting his job, then he should quit his job. As far as your axiom's are concerned, he doesn't have to quit it now, he could plan out his methodology of getting rich, and then quit as part of putting his methods into action, but if he wants to get rich, then he, sooner or later, *will* have to quit that job...
I sell LSAT courses and LSAT course accessories. Admittedly, we're still working on the accessories.


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 12 guests