March 14, 2005

NEVER MORE TO RENOUNCE THE PLEASURES OF LIFE:

An Interview with Rebecca Goldstein: author of Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel (Ophelia Benson, Butterflies and Wheels)

While I was writing “Incompleteness” and people asked me what I was working on these days, I usually drew a blank stare when I said his name. Sometimes mentioning the title of Douglas Hofstadter’s popular book, “Gödel, Escher, Bach,” brought on a faint gleam of recognition. So, by and large, Gödel - unlike his soul-mate, Einstein - is strangely unknown, and this anonymity is in itself something I wanted to address. I say in the book that Gödel is the most famous person that you probably haven’t heard of, and that if you’ve heard of him you probably have, through no fault of your own, an entirely false impression of what it was he did to the foundations of mathematics.

Which brings me to the crux of your question. Among “humanist” intellectuals who do invoke Gödel’s name, he is often associated with the general assault on objectivity and rationality that gained such popularity in the last century. I’d often find myself pondering which would be the preferable state of affairs regarding Gödel, anonymity or misinterpretation. Which would Gödel have preferred? I’m going to indulge in “the privileged position of the biographer” to presume I know the answer to the latter question, at least: Gödel, who was so passionately committed to the truth, would have far preferred utter oblivion to the falsifications of his theorems that have given him whatever fame he has in the non-mathematical world.

And what falsifications! He had meant his incompleteness theorems to prove the philosophical position to which he was, heart and soul, committed: mathematical Platonism, which is, in short, the belief that there is a human-independent mathematical reality that grounds our mathematical truths; mathematicians are in the business of discovering, rather than inventing, mathematics. His incompleteness theorems concerned the incompleteness of our man-made formal systems, not of mathematical truth, or our knowledge of it. He believed that mathematical reality and our knowledge of mathematical reality exceed the formal rules of formal systems. So unlike the view that says there is no truth apart from the truths we create for ourselves, so that the entire concept of truth disintegrates into a plurality of points of view, Gödel believed that truth - most paradigmatically, mathematical truth - subsists independently of any human point of view. If ever there was a man committed to the objectivity of truth, and to objective standards of rationality, it was Gödel. And so the usurpation of his theorems by postmodernists is ironic. Jean Cocteau wrote in 1926 that “The worst tragedy for a poet is to be admired through being misunderstood.” For a logician, especially one with Gödel’s delicate psychology, the tragedy is perhaps even greater.


The silliest objection--and that's saying something--that rationalists make to those who have repeatedly demonstrated the internal inconsistency and subsequent inadequacy of Reason is: "So, why don't you walk off of cliffs if you don't believe they exist?"

Their mistake is simple enough, but enormously revealing, especially because the deconstructionists, or ultra-realists, share it. The fact that Reason can not rationally tell us much about the world has next to nothing to do with either reality itself or our confidence that we apprehend that reality. We just don't much care that we can't arrive at what we know on the basis of Reason. Faith, authority, experience and common sense suffice...for all of us.


MORE:
-The Science Behind Common Sense (S. T. Karnick, 03/10/2005, Tech Central Station)

One of the major principles of life that was discarded during the past half-century, and particularly during the last quarter-century, was the deceptively simple notion we call common sense. The idea that there could be such a thing as true folk wisdom was increasingly disdained, to be replaced by a usually laudable desire for scientific evidence and an often excessive regard for experts.

Deconstructionists in particular, among the academy, heaped scorn upon the notion of common sense, considering it to be simply another means that powerful people employ to keep themselves in power. Of course, they considered everything to be a means of powerful people keeping themselves in power, except of course their own doctrine, a rhetorical bludgeon which they employed as a powerful means of assuming and then keeping themselves in power.

There is much folk wisdom that is quite wrong, to be sure, but it is important to remember where much of it comes from: several-thousand years of trial and error by humans very much like ourselves, in genetic terms at the very least.

Millions of people, after all, have encountered the same problems most of us tend to run into, or ones very like them (carriage accidents, for example, analogous to our automobile mishaps), and tried all sorts of ways of dealing with them. Some worked, some didn't, some were partially successful, and some created further disasters. These people told one another about these incidents and their results, and often other people witnessed them, and thus a huge amount of data came into being and was plugged into civilization's vast store of memories.

With such a large amount of information being accumulated by so many people, there is a good chance that many truths will be found. Naturally, some of these will be difficult to prove in strictly logical terms, because so much information and reasoning is necessary to the formation of an explicit logical argument for each of them. We know these truths through experience and intuition, as our brains work faster than even the brightest among us can explicitly reason. Thus these are perfectly legitimate ways of obtaining knowledge.

Hence, before discarding any proposition that involves no clear contradictions of known facts or internal logic, it is important that we first try to find some explanation of why the principle is believed to be true. Of course, we should always be willing to test all things, and must be quick to discard those that prove untrue. That is only common sense.

But we should always have respect for propositions that prove true even though we aren't quite sure why.


Posted by Orrin Judd at March 14, 2005 11:01 PM
Comments

Ms. Goldstein propagates the common Platonic misconception that mathematical truth is objective. The different varieties of geometry or set theory demonstrate this is not so. The idea of mathematical "intuition" as a criterion of truth is likewise untenable. Like all intuitions, many prove to be false with only a few resulting in truth.

And that truth, in mathematics, is determined only by demonstrability from the axioms. The choice of axioms determines the truths, hence mathematical "truth" can not be objective. Axioms are the mathematician's articles of faith.

BTW, Gdel's faith was so shattered that he eventually starved himself to death.

Posted by: jd watson at March 15, 2005 12:02 AM

jd -

Your disparagement of intuition makes me wish there were more female commenters on this blog. Many intuitions are profoundly true, but cannot be rationally proven.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 12:21 AM

JD, my understanding was that Godel was something of a hypochondriac and a touch paranoid, and these qualities overcame him in the end. What is the evidence that he starved himself because his "faith was so shattered?"

That's not a rhetorical question or a challenge -- I ask it sincerely because your claim differs so strongly from what I understood to be the standard explanation for Godel's tragic self-destruction.

Posted by: Pontius at March 15, 2005 12:43 AM

There is a good deal to suggest that Godel ... like so many brilliant types ... was manic-depressive.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 12:53 AM

Well, the Truth business can be awfully tough....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 15, 2005 2:13 AM

Godel starved him self to death because he was as crazy as a bedbug.

My friend was sitting in the lounge at the Institute with his Mentor, a very distinguished German refugee intellectual mathematician back in the 70s (Godel died in 1978). Godel walked by. The Mentor waived his index around his temple and said poor Godel, he is really quite insane.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at March 15, 2005 2:51 AM

The silliest objection...that rationalists make to those who have repeatedly demonstrated the internal inconsistency and subsequent inadequacy of Reason is: "So, why don't you walk off of cliffs if you don't believe they exist?"...
The fact that Reason can not rationally tell us much about the world has next to nothing to do with either reality itself or our confidence that we apprehend that reality. We just don't much care that we can't arrive at what we know on the basis of Reason. Faith, authority, experience and common sense suffice...for all of us."

But since when were "authority, experience and common sense" opposed to Reason?

If youre defining "Reason" as pure abstract deductive reasoning, and are not including such things as:
a) inductive reasoning (experience),
b) the rational taking of advice from experts or perhaps the avoidance of the threat of punishment ("authority"); or
c) common sense (difficult to define that it looks an awful lot like elementary deductive reasoning),

then thats up to you.

And if youre saying that experience and common sense influence nearly all of our actions, then we agree.

I dont agree, however, that those things such as a, b and c come under the category of "Faith" - which you seem to be close to implying.

Acting out of "Faith" means acting in spite of whatever authority, common sense and experience tell you. Taking those things into account is part of acting rationally. If they must come under a category in your Faith v Reason dichotomy, it must surely be Reason.

Nonetheless, this is a separate argument from the original bone of contention, which was your assertion that pure Faith is not just a rival to, but is actually superior to Reason as a means of deciding between competing theories.

Posted by: Brit at March 15, 2005 5:42 AM

Reason starts with Faith and therefore Faith is obviously superior.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 7:26 AM

ghost;

No, he was paranoiac. He starved himself because he thought people were poisoning him.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 7:51 AM

I've argued elsewhere that I don't agree that "Reason starts with Faith"...

...But even assuming it does, it doesn't follow that therefore Faith is superior for deciding between competing theories.

That's like saying "Glass starts with sand, therefore sand is superior for your windows".

Posted by: Brit at March 15, 2005 7:56 AM

Brit:

You've demonstrated everywhere else that you can't prove you exist using Reason. Thus you too start from Faith.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 8:25 AM

That's back to the old argument on the other thread, which I've addressed at length

I invite you to address my last post, above.

Posted by: Brit at March 15, 2005 8:32 AM

Brit:

Your argument is mine. No sand, no glass.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 8:43 AM

That's clearly not the argument.

Posted by: Brit at March 15, 2005 8:46 AM

It's obvious to me that there is confusion between Reasoning and facts. Reasoning is a way to deduce initially unknown facts and relationships from visible facts and relationships. Confusing the two makes one like the villian in some movie I've never seen, but heard discussed, who comes up with brilliant plans, believes them to be unbeatable, only to have the good guys thwart him. When he is reminded of his past failures by his more-observant minion when he comes up with a new plan, he says something on the order of "Failure is INCONCEIVABLE!", to which the minon eventually mutters (under his breath) "I don't think that that word means what YOU think it means." Or something like that.

The goal that the Russel and Whitehead were after was a "mechanized" means of discovering all the consequent "facts" that a set of axioms was capable of producing. Jd, EVERYONE knew at that time that there were "seeming" complete systems of geometry that differed in Euclid's fifth postulate, and so were mutually contradictory. They had already accepted that. Their goal was to come up with a system whereby they could feed in sets of axioms, "turn the crank", and determine if they were complete or inconsistent. The FULL title to Godel's incompleteness theorem actually referred to Russell and Whitehead's work, and proved that the "turn the crank" crowd's desire for a no-thinking-required means to determine consistency and completeness was impossible: You cannot, given a subset of the facts, hope to apply reason to generate ALL the facts.

Eternity is NOT IN A DEWDROP. Reality is not an infinite weave, with facts being threads, and reason being the pulling of man's mind on one thread to pull oneself to other threads, which if done persistently, will lead mankind to ALL KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM. Sorry, you still have to get your fingernails dirty.

Godel's theorem, as pointed out earlier, was very fruitful to other fields, but not to mathematics: the value of a person's work is determined by how many questions it raises so that graduate students and other mathematicians have something to work on. The point of Godel's theorem was not to open up a new, wide open field: It erected an impassable wall athwart a promising road that would have led to a dead-end.

In mathematics, glory comes to those who come up with new results, not to those who keep the profession from wasting time on goose chases.

Posted by: Ptah at March 15, 2005 11:48 AM

OJ -

Yes, Godel was paranoid. But paranoia can be a manifestation of bipolar disorder as well as schizophrenia.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 12:25 PM

Ptah:

That was just outstanding. Everytime you post, I learn at least a half-dozen things. Thanks for taking the time.

OJ:

When two Faiths make competing claims, how do you decide between them?

YECs and OECs both make claims based upon Faith, but they are mutually contradictory. Islam and Christianity also make mutually contradictory claims.

How to choose?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 1:36 PM

Jeff:

Who? Christianity is true.

Posted by: oj at March 15, 2005 2:14 PM

Too much fun, OJ. Sinful, almost.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 2:35 PM

Jeff -

Choosing a religion is more than a little like choosing a mate. Approaching it as a purely rational decision is immeasurably foolish. And, within a surprisingly broad range, the specific choice is less important than making a choice, committing to it, and continually investing what's necessary to make it work. Anyone who seeks rational perfection in either mate or religion is doomed to a lonely and bitter end.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 3:46 PM

Ghostcat:
"Many intuitions are profoundly true, but cannot be rationally proven."
While this may be true, I was refering to mathematical intuition as a criterion of truth, and such truth must always be rationally proven. I was not disparaging intuition which provides the possible goals of a proof, but only noting that it is not reliable.

Ptah:
You confuse automated theorem proving, a project in AI/computer science, with Russell and Whitehead's attempt to completely axiomize mathematics and Hilbert's problem of proving consistency and completeness (though they are related). The idea of mechanically finding all the "facts" (i.e., theorems) of an axiom set is absurd -- when even statements like "1+1=2" are theorems of the Peano axioms, their number is clearly infinite and can never be fully enumerated.

As you note, the full title of Gdel's paper was "On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems", available from Dover books. It did not erect an impassable wall, as Gdel himself admitted -- there are at least three paths around Gdel's results: 1) Following Tarski's ad hoc resolution of the Liar Paradox, simply declare all statements involving the demonstrability predicate to be meta-statements, or 2) Use a different axiomatic system for the proposition and first-order predicate logic, or 3) Adopt an instance ontology (see, for instance, Moderate Realism and Its Logic by D.W. Mertz).

Mathematics is not Reality, unless you are a Platonic Idealist/Pythagorean. Mathematical "truths" are not objective truths, but are dependent on the axioms assumed. To speak of mathematical "facts" somehow outside an axiomatic system is nonsense.

Consider, for instance, Goldbach's Conjecture that any even number can be represented as the sum of two primes. This has been demonstrated by supercomputer calculations to be true for numbers less than ~10^14, but no amount of brute calculation can ever establish it. It has been proven in number theory for numbers larger than ~10^243. Between these limits is a currently (perhaps eternally) unbridgeable gulf. Is it false? Is it true? These questions have asymetric proofs; the former only requires one counter example, while the latter requires either the discovery of a proof from the current axioms or the addition of another axiom permiting a proof, provided it does not introduce an inconsistency. In either of these cases, the "truth" follows from the axioms, which are a subjective choice based on utility and consistency. There is no mathematical "fact" independent of an axiomatic system of some sort.

Posted by: jd watson at March 15, 2005 4:30 PM

jd: are you assuming a fact (the halting problem) that wasn't in evidence to Hilbert. My impression was that Hilbert had an idealized machine in mind that could count (decide) propositions out to any arbitrary number -- in other words he'd envisioned each element in the problem space as a computable one (even if the Hilbert machine never finished all possible proofs, it could be relied on never to get hung up forever on any particular one) and so the problem space was countable. The goal wasn't a full enumeration but a fully reliable method for deciding out to any arbitrary Nth proposition.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 15, 2005 5:44 PM

Ghostcat:

Choosing a religion is more than a little like choosing a mate.

Except for the materialists, I bet the rest chose their religion the same way they chose their parents.

Which means virtually all of you, born in an Islamic country would be trumpeting the superiority of Islam in just the same way.

That is fine.

But the two religions make material, mutually contradictory claims. Islam is true. Christianity is true. Yet both those things can't obtain simultaneously.

How do you decide? Other than choosing your parents, that is.

Also, I note the complete sidestepping of a better example--the conflict between YECs and OECs.

On what basis do you decide?

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 15, 2005 8:23 PM

Jeff: why "except for the materialists?"

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 15, 2005 9:56 PM

Jeff -

Your "selecting one's parents" analogy resonates. This non-anthropomorphic monotheist was raised Catholic, and the childhood indoctrination was thorough indeed.

But materialists are not the only ones driven to choose a different path. The world is full of heretics and converts who are not necessarily less spritual for their choices. And there are, after all, universal themes embedded in the world's major religions. An eventual flowing together of those mighty streams seems only a matter of time. Perhaps a very long time, perhaps not.

As for your direct question, the choice (again) is not a mere rational one. Left-brain assessment of variables may even be counterproductive. It really does come down to faith, trust, intuition, affect ... all those non-rational forces that tend to frighten materialsts.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 15, 2005 10:23 PM

when am i going to get my flying car ?

Posted by: cjm at March 15, 2005 10:31 PM

Jeff, a thought on choice. It's an obvious point of pride for you that you've chosen your beliefs freely, and it's clear that in your eyes theists don't. And it strikes me also that you'd be horrified to think that you'd chosen your beliefs arbitrarily. I'd guess that's why you take pride, and seek refuge, in an upright, scrupulous, slightly befuddled rational materialism: in other words a purified methodology, one which might deliver beliefs that are free enough but not too free. But that in turn suggests two things. First, appeals to purified methodology are problematic, as Russell himself attested to on the best authority:

I wanted certainty in the kind of way in which people want religious faith. I thought that certainty is more likely to be found in mathematics than elsewhere. But I discovered that many mathematical demonstrations, which my teachers expected me to accept, were full of fallacies, and that, if certainty were indeed discoverable in mathematics, it would be in a new field of mathematics, with more solid foundations than those that had hitherto been thought secure. But as the work proceeded, I was continually reminded of the fable about the elephant and the tortoise. having constructed an elephant upon which the mathematical world could rest, I found the elephant tottering, and proceeded to construct a tortoise to keep the elephant from falling. But the tortoise was no more secure than the elephant, and after some twenty years of very arduous toil, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that I could do in the way of making mathematical knowledge indubitable. --Portraits from Memory

Second, you have a cause in common. You've tried to free yourself so that you might better bind yourself, and you worry that you might not be well enough bound, or worse, that there might be nothing to bind to: On what basis do you decide? I'd suggest that you share that effort and that dread with most of your opponents here.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 15, 2005 11:53 PM

Chosen his beliefs freely? He chose what many who're mad at their fathers choose.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 12:01 AM

Well, then at least he keeps it in the family.

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 16, 2005 12:12 AM

Yes, but feels compelled to vent at us.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 12:15 AM

As opposed to whatever it is you do all day?

Posted by: joe shropshire at March 16, 2005 12:25 AM

What's with the patriarchy sensitivity anyway?

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 12:32 AM

joe:

I don't lurk in the comments sections of atheist blogs and whine...incessantly...

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 12:39 AM

Perhaps, OJ, the most passionate self-referential comment you've made here, if in the negative.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 12:56 AM

If you insist on dangling the bait you can't complain if the fish bite.

Besides, you insist on answering every comment that disagrees with you. You could just leave them there as alternative viewpoints.

Posted by: Brit at March 16, 2005 4:56 AM

Joe:

It's an obvious point of pride for you that you've chosen your beliefs freely, and it's clear that in your eyes theists don't.

You have read far more into my words than they are meant to convey.

My comment was in response to ghostcat asserting that choosing a religion was like choosing a mate.

I believe I am on firm ground in disagreeing with that assertion: virtually all people have their parent's religion. Therefore, most people exercise the same degree of choice over their religion as they did over their parents: none.

That is simply an observation, not a judgment.

Similarly, since by far the majority parents are religious, on average, materialists in fact chose their beliefs.

That is simply an observation, not a judgment. And it is certainly not an obvious point of pride. (Deep background--in the past I have been maintained that claims of free will are at least somewhat overrated, and used a self-referential example: my brain simply isn't capable of religious belief. It would no more make sense to take pride in my materialism than in possessing blue eyes or prematurely gray hair)

Regarding my question of how do you choose, I was only pointing out that it is surpassing odd to decry Reason, yet use it all the time in making decisions on matters of faith.

Religion acts like a flywheel--it resists change.

I think, in general, that is a good thing.

But that doesn't mean religion isn't itself materialistic.

Read the history of the Church's attitude towards interest on loans.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 5:10 PM

OJ:

Chosen his beliefs freely? He chose what many who're mad at their fathers choose.

That is simultaneously offensive, arrogant, and wholly wrong.

You would do me a great favor by never again repeating that egregiously obnoxious line.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 5:14 PM

Jeff:

It's a simple statement of fact.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 5:37 PM

Jeff -

You say your brain is incapable of religious belief? That statement speaks volumes about your self-awareness.

As for patriarchy, Oedipus and sins of the father: my own was not a nice person. While I did rebel against the authority of the Catholic Church (point for OJ), I nonetheless have chosen my own idiosyncratic religious beliefs (point for you, whether you want it or not). And I was never a materialist along the way, having confronted Mr. Death several times before I was out of high school.

There are more things in heaven and earth, my man.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 6:35 PM

OJ:

Let me put this more explicitly, if I can.

Everytime you say that, you are being obnoxious, arrogant, and, most fundamentally, wrong.

If you had a shred of honor, according to you a manly virtue, then you would accede to my request.

If you had two shreds of honor, you would apologize, in as much as none of this is news to you.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 7:49 PM

Be that as it may, you and your brother conform precisely to a pair of classic psychological templates. No doubt you believe you arrived at your atheism through a mighty triumph of your own will--that's a necessary component of the pathology.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 7:58 PM

ghostcat:

My dad is one of the nicest, most honorable men I have ever known, and it has been my fortune to know a good mmany. My goal in life is to attain his standards. So, there is simply nothing to be seen there.

Perhaps--no definitely--I chose my words badly. I am in fact capable of religious belief. My belief being that the notion of some personal God aware of our existence and providing of some afterlife is no more credible than a fat guy in a light-speed sled pulled by eight tiny reindeer.

The occupation that engaged most of my adult life was uncommonly hazardous, and ended the lives of a significant number of friends and close acquaintances.

So, despite having some acquaintance with death, and no parental or religious upbringing conflicts, my brain is simply incapable of buying into any God this side of the one deists invoke.

Look at it this way. You can't conceive of a life absent some belief similar to yours.

That is wonderful. But you need to understand that there are those who not only don't possess anything close to such a belief, but are completely unfussed by its absence.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at March 16, 2005 8:02 PM

Except that he's probably right, Jeff. Not in your specific instance (I have no knowledge of that whatsoever), but as a general proposition. A youngster who strongly rebels against his father does tend to reject the father's values. At least until the youngster is no longer young.

By the way, does OJ really strike you as the sort of person who's never seriously examined his core beliefs? I'd be shocked to learn that, given the evidence of how his brain functions. (Restated: given the way OJ's brain functions, if he has not seriously examined his core beliefs he lives a life of denial. Which I don't buy.)

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 8:07 PM

Jeff:

He wasn't there.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2005 8:14 PM

PS (Jeff) -

My own views are more Hebrew/American Indian ... only half of which is my heritage. (Though some think otherwise, now that I mention it.) I believe in one god, but not a patriarch who looks like OJ, nor do I believe in heaven or hell. Just sayin'.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 8:15 PM

I somehow knew, OJ.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 16, 2005 8:19 PM

"Choosing a religion is more than a little like choosing a mate. Approaching it as a purely rational decision is immeasurably foolish. And, within a surprisingly broad range, the specific choice is less important than making a choice, committing to it, and continually investing what's necessary to make it work. Anyone who seeks rational perfection in either mate or religion is doomed to a lonely and bitter end."

Ghostcat, there are several points on which the analogy breaks down. One, a mate is a person you know exists, what must be taken on faith is whether the person you choose is the right one. The existence of God, on the other hand, unlike the existence of potential mates, is not a given. It is like, being raised by robots on a deserted island, with no human contact, you are suddenly struck with the notion of choosing a mate. You're getting ahead of yourself. Step one is deciding even if you believe in the existence of this mythical creature called a "woman" with which an unspecified activity called "mating" is possible.

Secondly, I am with Jeff in saying that I am not capable of choosing to believe. I was born a Catholic, and was trying to hold onto a belief in God when it slipped away, gradually over time. The mind takes in ideas and experiences, and constructs its best guess at what is real. I don't think you can direct it to a desired outcome. It is like trying to make yourself believe that you have a good chance of winning the lottery. Prior to getting a grounding in mathematics, your mind is capable of generating enthusiasm and excitement for playing the Powerball. But after you take a course in probability and statistics, your mind re-adjusts its view of reality, and you can't believe in your dream of winning the lottery anymore, no matter how hard you try. It becomes an empty exercise.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 17, 2005 2:21 AM

Robert:

You chose not to believe in Catholicism and to believe in what you now believe, a form of protestantism against a Church and world that aren't as perfect as you demand. Later you'll go back to some more mature, less fanatical, religious belief that can accept imperfection. They're all just varieties of religion.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 6:54 AM

If something changes in my perception of reality to trigger such belief, maybe. But based on any argument that has been proffered by anyone I've ever read or spoken to, not likely. I've yet to find a need for one, as I'm doing fine without one. So at this point I'm engaged in the argument out of curiosity, not out of some desperate need, as Ghostcat phrased it, to avoid being "doomed to a lonely and bitter end". (That's a little presumptuous on your part, eh GC?)

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 17, 2005 11:38 AM

It's got nothing to do with reality, just growing up and out of self.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 11:48 AM

Jeff, Orrin would rather bait you with insults than reconcile his ideology with the reality that atheism is not a psychological disorder. It doesn't speak well for him that he resorts to such tactics, but ideologues are like that. His ideology is his "precious", he won't loosen his grip on it if it means not impugning the character of others without cause.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 17, 2005 11:49 AM

Robert:

there's ample cause. Even Darwinists now claim that religious belief is evolutionary. You guys aren't just disordered by normal lights but a failing mutation in Darwinist terms.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 11:55 AM

So now you believe Darwinian just-so stories?

If we're a failing mutation, there must have been a lot more of us in the past. I don't think so.

I'll admit that we're out of the ordinary, but that doesn't equate to being disordered. We don't consider left handed people disordered anymore, although the wise leaders of the church in past eras found it necessary to convert such mutants to the right way.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at March 17, 2005 2:43 PM

No, as I said: "You guys aren't just disordered by normal lights but a failing mutation in Darwinist terms."

Pre-Darwinian Europe was growing and it mattered. Darwinian Europe is dying.

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2005 2:51 PM
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