Print Story Mutual Exclusivity
Religion & Philosophy
By tierrasimbolica (Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 03:51:37 PM EST) (all tags)
Have you ever given thought to the possibility that a person's choice of religious beliefs (or lack thereof) is not really a choice so much as an orientation, much like sexual orientation? 


And just as some people can be flexible with their sexual orientation, while others tend to settle into just one choice that makes the most sense for them, and they stick with it for the rest of their lives, so it could be too with religious orientation.

In other words, maybe some people can't help being atheist, just like some people can't help being christian.  Is it necessarily so that one of their belief systems is wrong?  Can't it just be right for them? or is peaceable pluralism simply impossible due to the absolutist idea that there either IS a god or there IS NOT?

Can there be two or more right answers here?

I do believe so.

Any thoughts?
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Mutual Exclusivity | 39 comments (39 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Nature vs. Nurture? by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 04:18:28 PM EST
My Mom tried her Alabama damnednest to make me a Methodist. It didn't stick.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Well, there was that one time ... by BlueOregon (2.67 / 3) #2 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 04:24:20 PM EST
... I was walking along the road to Damascus and after too much masturbating I was temporarily blinded. When I regained my sight I gave up my gay-persecuting ways and converted to Lesbianism, at which point I made a pilgrimage to the Isle of Lesbos.

Oh, the whorehouse I founded after that ...


Must a poster be either terminally brain dead or a lame troll attempt? Is it necessarily so that one of their belief systems is wrong? Can't it just be right for them, to be either stupid or, well, stupid? or is peaceable pluralism simply impossible due to the absolutist idea that there either ONE IS a moron or ONE IS A troll?

Can there be two or more right answers here?

[ Parent ]
I do believe it's possible by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 04:27:24 PM EST
to be both a troll and a moron.

[ Parent ]
Pistoles at dawn, cur. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 04:29:16 PM EST
Don't make me embrace my Viking/Redneck heritage on yo' arse.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
trois pistoles ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 04:36:31 PM EST
... at dusk I could support. But I'm out of Unibroue at the moment.

I've seen enough redneck heritage since I've been here ... but then again, I've spent my share of time in rural Idaho and Wisconsin, so I'm familiar with multiple species of the genus home redneckus.

[ Parent ]
hmmm by dev trash (2.00 / 0) #31 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 05:57:09 PM EST
I thought I detected a bit of Methodism in you.


--
Click
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Prolly the "flaming crucifix" bit. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #35 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:53:59 PM EST
Everyone says that.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
No by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 05:45:42 PM EST
Religious beliefs is purely human social construct.  Sexual orientation has a biological aspect.

Nice troll, though.






"Adrenaline dumbs pain" - xth
Don't completely agree by Herring (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 05:57:23 PM EST
The form of religious belief or observance is purely a social construct. In that I agree. However, whether you have belief or not appears to be more rooted in neuroscience. Oh, and of course there is an inverse correlation between intelligence and religious belief.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Sort of by lm (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 06:13:42 PM EST
The fact that cognitive therapy seems to work suggests that the human animal is capable of intentionally altering their beliefs.

Not to mention that psychologists seem to be able to create beliefs (and memories) in clinical settings.

I think the phenomenological approach has much to recommend it. It sees human perception as a combination of being given and intentionally taking sensory data. In other words, perception is a function of the view we impose upon the world and the way that the world is. If so, this implies that it possible to alter the veiw that one imposes on the world which, in part, implies that perceptions of the world can be altered.  But at the same time, the external world imposes itself and cannot be altered.

Which leads to the question of how much one's world view is hard wired and how much is intent. I suspect that the answer is a combination of the two. Some rules of thought (e.g. the law of identity) seem to be non-optional. But, as I already mentioned, the success of cognitive therapy suggests that some rules of thought can, in fact, be altered.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
This is why by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 06:38:02 PM EST
I bring in the analogy of sexual orientation.  Because there are a lot of christians who seem to think gays can change their orientation at will as well.  What I'm suggesting is not about lifestyle choices but rather what simply makes sense.  That, to my knowledge, is not something you can choose.

[ Parent ]
Of course gays can change their orientation by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #15 Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 12:13:57 AM EST
They just need to stay off the mercury


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
"what simply makes sense" by lm (4.00 / 2) #26 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 03:16:40 PM EST
Directly, perhaps not.

But there are certain intentional activities that tend to make one think that a given idea "simply makes sense." This, in fact, is what cognitive therapy is designed to do. Other psychological theories, such as the theory of cognitive dissonance, also suggest that one can intentionally behave in such a way to change what simply makes sense.

I think at very minimum there is a large difference in extent between belief and sexual orientation with regards to the spectrum of behaviors that can be changed. I also think that it is quite probable that there is a difference in kind. Giving (or withholding) mental assent to the truth of a proposition seems to be a very different kind of thing than the tendency to be more sexually aroused by one sex over the other.

As a case in point, consider teaching someone predicate logic. There are quite a few logical fallacies that are very intuitive. For example: p -> q; q; therefore p. This is a fallacy because it could be the case that r -> q. So, q doesn't really tell you anything about p (or r).

 But if you lead someone through how truth tables work and how material impication works, that person can see that q only implies p if it is the case that p and only p implies q. The universe of what simply makes sense now looks vastly different than it did before.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
What motivates someone by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #34 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 08:50:46 PM EST
to want to change "what makes sense" to them?  In other words, why does someone choose cognitive therapy?

I suspect the answer generally has to do with whatever obstacles may lay between the individual and what he or she values most.  For example, wanting to be free of certain addictions.  I have a hard time imagining why a person would choose cognitive therapy to be rid of a religious or sexual orientation.   The exception to this would be maybe trying to get out of a cult.  But an atheist going to a therapist and saying, "make me believe in god"?  Or a christian going to a therapist saying "help me get rid of these beliefs"?  These latter examples seem to me the behaviors of someone who knows what they want, and are making an effort to shed circumstantial conditioning (whether internal or external) in order to get it.  

"Giving (or withholding) mental assent to the truth of a proposition seems to be a very different kind of thing than the tendency to be more sexually aroused by one sex over the other."

Sure, it's different in some ways, similar in others.  I would be interested in hearing what ways you see them as being different.  I see them as similar because both have profoundly emotional impact on an individual's psyche (and also, does anyone here deny the impact of one's neurophysiology on one's behavior?  I ask this because I do believe there's a neurophysiological component to belief systems.)  But back to the question, I'm guessing you see one as more intellectual-based than the other?  And I would certainly have to agree with that, to the extent that you don't have to read books, or rely on verbal language of any sort, to know if you're attracted to someone.   But in spite of whatever intellectual mechanisms may be at work in choosing a belief system, people can be very passionately attached to their beliefs.  Others, not so much, just as there are people who aren't terribly attached to one sexual orientation over another.

I acknowledge your point about teaching someone fundamentals of logic, and the way that can shape or even radically change a person's perspective.   But there's a lot about life that doesn't fit neatly into boxes and squares.  There's a lot about life that remains unexplained, and how we decide to organize the unexplained into our belief systems uses a different form of "logic", in my opinion.  (Thus is not a simple matter of teaching someone how to make sense of it.)
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What I'm getting at with all this is that maybe more than debate is needed in order to get someone to change their religious orientation if they don't want to.  If they want to, sure, that's a different story.  Bring on the cognitive therapy, in that case.  But could it be that people are to a certain extent hardwired toward one disposition or another?  And meanwhile, could it also be possible that god's existence could be true and not true at the same time? 

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[ Parent ]
A corollary question by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #36 Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 11:22:10 AM EST
(very similar but not quite the same as those which have been presented) would be:

Just because something is right or wrong for you, why insist that it be right or wrong for everyone

[ Parent ]
A similar thought occurred to me the other day by Herring (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 05:49:47 PM EST
Because, thinking about it, I can't remember any point in my life where the concept of a deity (benign, omnipotent or otherwise) has ever made sense to me. I could try to push the concept into my brain but it wont go. And I have a very hard time understanding how anyone who has watched the news or been outside can see it otherwise.

Yet I also know that humans are wired, by evolution, to seek explanations and that there is a "god region" in most people's brains. Not mine apparently.

And I can't fancy blokes either.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

As a pantheist by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #10 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 06:21:29 PM EST
I believe both it's possible for the atheist paradigm to be just as "correct" as any of the various theist paradigms.  I find it disturbing this idea that huge populations of people could consider other huge populations of people completely delusional (or stupid).  I don't think it's (necessarily) a question of sanity or intelligence, I think that in many if not most cases, there's a simple physiological reason one thing or another makes the most sense to them.

The problem of reconciling the implications arises, and that's what I was hoping to discuss with interested parties.  "Oh you just have something wrong with your brain, see that proves there is no god!" doesn't really seem fair to me.

[ Parent ]
I wasn't talking about "correct" by Herring (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 06:29:49 PM EST
Just about what people believe. Trying to prove what's correct just degenerates into a pointless argument in my experience.


christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
That's been my experience too. by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 06:57:07 PM EST

Nonetheless, I do think there's more than one "correct" answer, and I think this is why the debate about which answer is correct is so problematic.

So yeah, it's easy to get around it altogether by not concerning yourself with questions of "correctness", as long as all parties involved can respect each other enough not to persecute one other over contrary beliefs.  That would be ideal, as far as I'm concerned.

I continue to wonder, though, if a more efficient paradigm is waiting to be discovered.



[ Parent ]
delusional ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Dec 03, 2010 at 10:03:34 PM EST
... to believe ..
  • ... that a conspiracy faked moon landings 40 years ago
  • ... that the US's current president was born in Kenya
  • ... that a carpenter/rabbi of questionable historical reality magically rose zombie-like a couple days after his death
  • ... that about 6,000 years ago some force/person/whatever created the earth and universe, and shortly thereafter flooded it, killing off all but two (male and female) of each animal
  • ... that an invisible sky daddy created a man and woman, put them in a paradise of a garden, and then kicked them out when they disobeyed

And so on. These are beliefs held by millions of people. Held sincerely. Held not not metaphorically. And they matter because people do use these beliefs to make and/or justify policy decisions that affect other people, the environment, the economy, etc. They are not just 'private' beliefs. And they are all wrong, stupid, and insane. There is no sense in which they are 'correct' (in the way the believers believe them ... which is not metaphorically).

That there are other people who approach the last couple bullet-points 'metaphorically' or 'symbolically' or in some other figurative sense is neither here nor there: those are other beliefs, and to claim they are the same is extremely arrogant.

And so on, but I like to think think (ha!) most intelligent and reasonably educated people can, and have, already filled in the blanks, so I'll stop.

[ Parent ]
i would say by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 03:43:12 AM EST
that with the very small exception of certain kinds of phenomena we perceive directly in each here-and-now moment, all any of us knows is metaphors.  all our memories are metaphors, everything we communicate to each other are metaphors.   you can call people delusional for taking certain metaphors for granted as being reality, when for all you know you're doing exactly the same thing about a lot more than you realize.  and what i wholeheartedly believe is that if you were in someone else's shoes, you would be doing exactly what they're doing now, and if they were in your shoes, they would be making the choices you make, and if you were in my shoes, you would be here at my keyboard typing these words.   

there are a number of famous optical illusions in which the negative space of one image creates another image - for example the profiles of two people vs. a vase of the opposite color in the center - and to me this whole god/no god debate is like people arguing about which of the images is the correct one when they're both there to be perceived to begin with.  





[ Parent ]
D- [see me after class] by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #17 Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 02:15:57 PM EST
You completely fail to anticipate the obvious pro-indoctrination retort with any explanation for the extreme majority of people professing the religion of their parents.

IGTTA 0

woof.

OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

I've broken bread with this user. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #18 Sat Dec 04, 2010 at 10:07:33 PM EST
Be nice, doggie.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
thank you a. by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #19 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 01:32:54 AM EST
 i would respond to the allegation, homedog, but i honestly don't get it.  care to clarify?  the obvious retort is failing to be obvious.

[ Parent ]
Kids are brought up with their parents' religion by BadDoggie (4.00 / 4) #20 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 03:18:50 AM EST
It is wholly a matter of indoctrination. No child of Southern Baptists starts spewing Vedic verse at the breakfast table one morning, something your "hypothesis" (such as it is) would require.

Dawkins and Milgram fully explained the reasons for religiousness decades ago, unquestioningly accepting what elders say as a survival mechanism for the young and submission to authority as a survival mechanism for a social group. Religion takes advantage of these processes along with our monkey-brained pattern-seeking, itself also a survival strategy. Hell, even Pratchett (with Stewart and Cohen) writes about this in the Science of Discworld series under the auspices of the "Lies to Children" leitmotif.

You fail to even address, much less discount, this rather obvious response to your supposition. If you actually gave a damn about the subject you'd read up on it first.

woof.

OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

[ Parent ]
In tonight's episode of "Hulver's Site" by ammoniacal (4.00 / 4) #21 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 05:19:07 AM EST
the role of ammoniacal will be played by BadDoggie. We now return you to the show, in progress.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
You fail to address by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #22 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 10:28:12 AM EST
why not everyone unquestioningly accepts their "elders" religiosity.   Not that I'm interested in discussing it any further with anyone who feels the need to insult me.

[ Parent ]
The difference between a religion and a cult by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #28 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 03:59:55 PM EST
is that you are born into a religion but have to convert to a cult.
- L. Sprague de Camp

[ Parent ]
My sister became a dirty Papist at 35. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #30 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 05:25:03 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
is that ... by BlueOregon (4.00 / 2) #32 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 06:08:54 PM EST
... like a dirty sanchez?

Inquiring minds ...

[ Parent ]
Please explain this to Mr Blair by BadDoggie (2.00 / 0) #39 Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 04:23:00 PM EST
And to my brother's latest wife.

woof.

OMG WE'RE FUCKED! -- duxup ?

[ Parent ]
To anyone else by tierrasimbolica (4.00 / 1) #23 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 11:01:24 AM EST

who is interested in defending this line of reasoning, and capable of not being rude about it, here are my thoughts on this point.

You don't have to start spewing Vedic verse at the breakfast table to know very deeply within that from your point of view, this whole Southern Baptist thing doesn't work for you and never will.  It doesn't matter that your parents are Southern Baptist, along with your older brother John and his wife Sally, and their kids and all your uncles and aunts and cousins - a fact that would seemingly put a tremendous social pressure on you to be one as well - you still feel very certain that this is not the path for you.  You struggle with not fitting in for most of your adult life until finally you get out of Tennessee and discover there are other religions in the world.  And after much searching, you discover Vedic Hinduism and all the lights switch on inside and you think to yourself FINALLY something that makes sense.

I do give a damn about this subject and I have read up on it, for the record.


[ Parent ]
Or to put it another way by lm (2.00 / 0) #24 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 02:38:50 PM EST
A kid raised as a Souther Baptist feels her whole life that something just isn't quite right. One day, she gets invited by a coworker to attend the local shrine to Kami Mata and something just clicks in her head. This is what she'd been waiting for all of her life.

Alternatively, a kid raised by a strict materialist walks into a Society of Friends meeting. He feels something he's never felt before. Suddently he feels like he's home in a way that he's never been home before.

Or a kid raised in a pious Catholic family gets a track from the local evangelical free-thinkers society. "Fuck YEAH!" he thinks, "THERE IS NO GOD!"

Your take on these types of events is that there is some biological mechanism at work. An opposed view would be that the upbringing of these hypothetical kids predisposed them to this or that religion (or lack thereof). A third view would be that it is both working in combination.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Non-flippantly... Yes. by iGrrrl (4.00 / 1) #37 Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 12:42:31 PM EST
The problem with Nature vs. Nurture arguments is the lack of acknowledgment that the word "and" might have some utility in the discussion.

"Beautiful wine, talking of scattered everythings"
(and thanks to Scrymarch)

[ Parent ]
absolutely by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #38 Mon Dec 06, 2010 at 01:26:48 PM EST
"nature vs nurture" is yet another example of where mutual exclusivity can be problematic.  why can't both be true?

[ Parent ]
If he actually gave a damn about it? by lm (2.00 / 0) #25 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 02:41:48 PM EST
You seem to be suggesting that if a person has a thought and is playing around with it that this person does not give a damn about it unless that person is willing to undertake serious research.

That seems a bit bizarre to me. There are plenty of ideas I think worthy of being casually pursued to the extent of bringing them up among acquaintances in casual conversation that I lack motivation to pursue serious research about. I'm not sure that "not giving a damn" really explains the way that I feel about that first group of ideas.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
indeed, thanks lm by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #27 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 03:33:13 PM EST
i'm a she, btw =)

[ Parent ]
I hope you were not offended by my mistake by lm (2.00 / 0) #29 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 04:20:45 PM EST
If you were, I am sorry about making it. In fact, I'd sorry to have made it even if you aren't offended.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
aw no worries by tierrasimbolica (2.00 / 0) #33 Sun Dec 05, 2010 at 07:57:19 PM EST



[ Parent ]
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