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For ATS - A discussion on application of religious conviction vs. secular, analysis of conspiracy

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posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 09:33 AM
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Good Afternoon my fellow ATS'ers.

In my ever unflinching quest to make the world a more secular place, I felt it necessary to formalise the tone of discussion about the religion / secular sides to ATS.

Unfortunately, whenever the discussion appears on ATS, it gets derailed by fundamentalists on both sides, and as such the golden point gets lost. I am going to ask that specific question here, and ask for voluntary rules of contribution to be obliged.

The 'voluntary' rules of contribution are as follows -
1) Please do not quote scripture at any point during this thread. Scripture is at NO point relevant to this discussion, and as such I will be ignoring all posts of that variety.
2) Please keep on topic - too many threads of this variety drift off into semantics, and bi-partisan, ad-hominem attacks. Let's keep this one on track eh?

The Question - (Yes it is a loaded question, so bring your big intellectual guns to the argument)

"Does the application of religious conviction on ATS impede the logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiratorial theory?"

DEFINITON "RELIGIOUS" -
- Having or showing belief in and reverence for God or a deity.
- Of, concerned with, or teaching religion: a religious text.

DEFINITION "CONVICTION" -
- An unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence.


******************************************************



To start off the discussion I will state my viewpoint here:

Every time an excellent or interesting subject, relating to a conspiracy is posted on ATS we see three things -
1) Useful contributions analysing and studying the conspiracy.
2) Brain-farting, spamming, throw-away posts, trolling and silliness.
3) Religious & Political baiting, grandstanding and most subjectively, PREACHING.

I can accept the existence of everything in point 2, as they are an occupational hazard of participating in internet communities. I can even understand philosophical and political meanderings shown in point 3, as often they can contribute to motivational understanding of conspiracies.

However, I do not understand why many in the ATS community propagate the dissemination of religious conviction as a route to useful analysis of conspiracy. I wholeheartedly welcome the consideration of religion as a motivational or contextual input into any potential conspiracy - but applying dogma or conviction as a usable tool in the following analysis can only bring disinformation, confusion and investigative disaster to the site.

DISCUSS! (Nicely please.)




posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 10:31 AM
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reply to post by Parallex
 




I do not understand why many in the ATS community propagate the dissemination of religious conviction as a route to useful analysis of conspiracy.


Because for many people, religious convictions are part of their base set of assumptions, from which logical analysis may proceed. Both religious and non-religious people have basic assumptions. It is merely the nature of those assumptions that it different. For example, a non-religiously minded person may assume that gravity exists, earth is made of physical matter, stars generate light, etc. From these assumptions they may proceed on to a logical analysis of newly observed phenomenon. A religiously minded person, however, might assume that gravity exists, earth is made of physical matter, stars generate light, that Jesus is God, and that whomever doesn't accept that is going to burn forever in hell. And from those slightly different basic assumptions, they may come to different sorts of conclusions.



but applying dogma or conviction as a usable tool in the following analysis can only bring disinformation, confusion and investigative disaster to the site.


Why? You assume that gravity is a real phenomenon, yes? You assume that physical matter does genuinely exist, right? You assume that the sun generates light, don't you? But can you demonstrate justification for these beliefs? Have you ever been to the sun? How do you know that physical matter is real and that we're not in the matrix? Have you ever seen gravity? Oh, sure...maybe you've seen the effects of gravity...you've seen objects move in accordance with its presumed laws, but you have no direct knowledge of gravity itself. Gravity is an invisible force that acts upon the world around is. Well, to some people, god is an invisible force that acts upon the world around us.

Even with impeccable logic, a different set of basic assumptions will lead to extremely different conclusions. However, basic assumptions are often useful tools in the process of examination. Examining whether or not kennedy was assassinated by oswald becomes impractical if you're unwilling even to take as abasic assumption that kennedy was a real historical figure instead of fictional fantasy.

Ultimately, the question of whether religious assumptions are accurate or not can only be measured by the degree to which those assumptions can be used to describe the obvservable world around us. And, while it may be distasteful to those who are firmly non-religious in their beliefs, religious views frequently can explain observable phenomenon. And yes, purely non-religious views also frequently can explain observable phenomenon. The "how" they explain it may be different at times, but if you're truly going to be objective, what basis is there to evaluate any assumptions other than their ability to describe that which is observed?

And yes, assuming that there is no god, and that matter and light are all real things does explain some things very well. But, and I apologize..."a wizard did it" also explains some observable phenomenon very well.



"Does the application of religious conviction on ATS impede the logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiratorial theory?"


It can, yes. It does, yes. But so too do non-religious convictions impede sensible analysis. A person who fundamentally believes to his core that UFO's don't exist, or believes that Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald, or the driver...or believes that 911 was or was not perpetrated by the government...regardless of the belief one way or another, religious or otherwise, firmly held beliefs can and do interfere with analysis of any phenomenon whenever people allow those beliefs to lead them to ignore, or interpret evidence.

"Analysis" is not something many people are good at. "Analysis" to most people is simply adapting new phenomenon to their existing beliefs, and never adapting their beliefs to incorporate new phenomenon. For "sensible" anaysis to occur, an indiviudal must be willing to let go of belief, regardless of whether those beliefs are that Jesus will save you from eternal damnation, or that the physical world is genuinely real.



[edit on 12-12-2009 by LordBucket]



posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 11:59 AM
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reply to post by LordBucket
 


Excellent post, thankyou.


And from those slightly different basic assumptions, they may come to different sorts of conclusions.


Your first paragraph is an interesting one. I see the point you are putting forward here, but I don't agree with it. Most of the 'assumptions' your methaphorical religious person has are the same as those of science and secular practitioners. However, when it comes to the 'Jesus' part and other dogmatically produced subjects, they then become 'convictions rather than assumptions. There is no evidence for them. Hence they fall in line with religious convictions. Assumption and Convictions are two wholly different areas here.


Why? .... But can you demonstrate justification for these beliefs? Have you ever been to the sun? How do you know that physical matter is real .... ? Oh, sure...maybe you've seen the effects of gravity...you've seen objects move in accordance with its presumed laws, but you have no direct knowledge of gravity itself. Gravity is an invisible force that acts upon the world around is. Well, to some people, god is an invisible force that acts upon the world around us.


Another excellent point.

These are not beliefs - these are proven points. They are proven because scientific method has proven them. For example, you question gravity because it is intangible. Gravity is not intangible, it can be tested, measured (in Newtons), played with, distorted, and we understand it's source. (To a point)

Therefore it does not qualify as a belief - or a conviction - as it has an evidentiary background. Empirical, logical, provable.

I see why you use the word assume alot, because you try and place religious conviction in the same boat as science. This simply isn't the case, science has true and false answers. A theory assumes, facts of science do not assume, they prove or disprove. Therefore Religion is a theory, completely unproven, and propounded by those of conviction.


Even with impeccable logic, a different set of basic assumptions will lead to extremely different conclusions. However, basic assumptions are often useful tools in the process of examination.


I completely agree with you. However, scientific method demands scrupulous factual basis for assumptions. Having your basic assumptions founded on pure conviction alone is not a safe way to analyse anything is it? This provides an excellent Pro point for the question.


Ultimately, the question of whether religious assumptions are accurate or not can only be measured by the degree to which those assumptions can be used to describe the obvservable world around us.


Assumptions based on conviction again. No factual basis allowing for scrutinisable testing or analysis. Therefore the argument is moot. If we based our every day existence ignoring proven facts, we'd be up there with lemmings - ready to jump.


...religious views frequently can explain observable phenomenon.


Through any explanation they come up with that fits the facts. With the 'undue privilege' granted to religions, we are forced to respect and adhere to that explanation simply because it's religious? If courts worked this way, noone would be in jail.


The "how" they explain it may be different at times, but if you're truly going to be objective, what basis is there to evaluate any assumptions other than their ability to describe that which is observed?


Excellent point - This is simple, objectivity is having an open-mind, looking at things from a rational point of view, with a context of proven facts. Agreed? Therefore religious conviction cannot comply with the scientific method created to truly examine all well founded theories. Of which religion is not included.


It can, yes. It does, yes. But so too do non-religious convictions impede sensible analysis. A person who fundamentally believes to his core that UFO's don't exist, or believes that Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald, or the driver...or believes that 911 was or was not perpetrated by the government...regardless of the belief one way or another, religious or otherwise, firmly held beliefs can and do interfere with analysis of any phenomenon whenever people allow those beliefs to lead them to ignore, or interpret evidence.


You are right. These people do interfere, and disrupt the scientific process in many situations. But this is precisely my point - the people who make unscientifically proven claims, as well arguments based purely on conviction, get laughed out of town. They are parodied as 'tin-foil hat' wearers. Why does this not apply to religious conviction as well as that of purely opinionated conviction?

My friend, you should have entered the debate tournament, you're pretty good at this sort of stuff.

The Para.



posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by Parallex
 




Excellent post, thankyou.


Certainly. You've asked some interesting questions. Though from the general lack of response I suspect this thread may mostly just be the two of us.


Though that's probably not a bad thing.



when it comes to the 'Jesus' part and other dogmatically produced subjects, they then become 'convictions rather than assumptions. There is no evidence for them.


In this particular case I don't see that the distinction is significant. For example, when was the last time you asked for "evidence" to support any of your beliefs? You believe that physical matter is real, right? Why? Or do you simply "take it on faith?"

You might suggest that you can observe matter. It is part of your experience. You can look at a rock and say "that's a rock" and you can ask me to look at the same rock and ask if I agree and I can agree that yes it's a rock, and if I do then there is agreement between us that there is a rock. But this is not true for all things that the "conventional" worldview accepts. For example, love, beauty, emotion, dreams. You may say that you love a woman, but there is nothing you can point to that I can also look at and agree or disagree with. If you feel love, if you perceive beauty, if you have a dream...how can I look at any of these things and agree that they do or do not exist? How would you react if you were to tell me that you were in love with a woman and I were to say that I didn't believe you because you couldn't give me any "proof" that this thing called love even exists, let alone whether or not you are personally experiencing it?

And yet...isn't this exactly what is done to the religious crowd? If a christian says he had the experience of feeling the holy spirit enter into his heart, if he says he had the experience of Jesus personally entering into his life and revealing the truth of divinity...how can we object to that? How can we disagree? I've never felt the holy spirit enter into my heart, but to say that it's fantasy simply because I haven't experienced it is no different than me telling you you're not in love because I don't feel feel that either.



These are not beliefs - these are proven points. They
are proven because scientific method has proven them.


I dispute this. And this point, I think, strikes at the very core of the discussion.

I posit that there is no such thing as proof. "Proof" is a mathematical concept. It does not apply to real life. It is not possible for science to prove anything and there are no proven points. "Proof" cannot exist outside of very specific applications of math. For example, you may be able to offer me "a proof" that the sum of any even-numbered integers is also even, but you cannot "prove to me" that you're in love, that god does or does not exist, that physical reality has any validity outside our own experience, etc.

Generally speaking "science" recognizes this. What was yesteray's scientific law may today be discredited. What is today's scientific law may similarly be discredited at a later date. Aristotelian physics was accepted at one time, but later replaced. Classical mechanics was later refined by quantum mechanics. Atoms were once viewed as solid balls, which were later replaced by the Bohr model which was later replaced by the quantum mechanical model, which may eventually be replaced by...who knows?

To sit at any point along that path and believe that the model we have right now is "proven" and "true" is to engage in a mystical magical belief system. I would suggest that it's even worse than religious methods of belief, because at least they're consistent. Using the very methods of science, the "current beliefs" have changed, and will probably continue to change. By any measure, using the very methods of science to examine science, it's altogether likely that at any given time whatever the popular scientific view is...it will probably be replaced by something else. All the previous scientific models have been replaced. Why wouldn't you expect the current ones to be replaced too?



Having your basic assumptions founded on pure conviction
alone is not a safe way to analyse anything is it?


Perhaps...but we have nothing else to work with. For example, "prove" to me that physical matter is real. You can't. And yet you accept that it is. Why? Because it's a functional assumption that trial and error has shown you to be an adequete worldview. Or, as I phrased it earlier...as "measured by the degree to which that assumption can be used to describe the obvservable world around us." Assuming that matter is physically real usefuly describes the world around us. But that doesn't change that it's merely an assumption. Later observation may contradict it. And, the demonstrated trend amongst "scientific" worldviews is that they do tend to be thrown away and replaced at a later date.



Having your basic assumptions founded on pure conviction
alone is not a safe way to analyse anything is it?


But...isn't your worldview of "faith" in the "current scientific view" also founded purely on conviction alone?


[edit on 12-12-2009 by LordBucket]



posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 03:28 PM
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reply to post by Parallex
 




objectivity is having an open-mind, looking at things from a rational point of view, with a context of proven facts. Agreed?


No. I disagree. There is no such thing as proven facts. The things you appear to be suggesting are "facts" are merely assumptions. To phrase it another way: there is no such thing as fact. There is only observation and interpretation of what is observed.

For example, you observe a computer screen in front of you eyes, a keyboard at your fingertips. But those are only observations. To assume that there is in fact a computer screen, a keyboard....and for that matter to assume that you have eyes and fingertips at all, is nothing but that: an assumption.

You have observations. And you may interpret those observations in any manner you choose.

But if you delude yourself into believing that your observations and/or your interpretation of those observations are somehow "true" then you are engaging in a faith-based belief system. Which, unless I'm mistaken, is exactly the thing you're railing against in this thread.

Your "facts" may not agree with someone else's "facts."

When I see a man in love with a woman I feel nothing for, when I see a man crying over his feelings for Jesus...I don't conclude that these people are delusional. I conclude that they have a different experience than I do. They have made different observations. And naturaly they have come to different conclusions. If the woman were to make me feel exactly the way she made him feel, perhaps I would love her too. And if I had the same experience that the man who has faith in Jesus did, perhaps I would believe in Jesus too.

You have found "scientific" worldviews and assumptions to be useful to you in your life. And religious people have found "religious" worldviews and assumptions to be useful in their lives. What possible basis of comparison can there be for a third party to look at either and conclude that one side or another is "wrong?" As we've agreed, these things can only be measured by the degree to which those assumptions can be used to describe the obvservable world around us. And since we cannot possibly directly know what another human being is, and has experienced...how can we possibly make value judgements of their choice of worldview?



These people do interfere, and disrupt the
scientific process in many situations.


Certainly they do. But, why do you place so much faith in the scientific process? What reason do you have to believe that this particular method of arriving at "truth" is somehow better than other methods?

I will acknowledge that in some cases, the "method" of science may tend to be more effective than the "method" of religion. However...there are certain avenues of investigation for which the scientific method does not generate useful results. For example...any situation in which data is unreliable or lacking. For example...what happens to your consciousness after you die? The "scientific method" is unable to give us any useful answers to a question like this simply because we have no way to apply it. How do you test it? How do you create experimental and control groups? How do you observe the results? The scientific method may be great for creating models to predict the behavior of balls bouncing around in an enclosed environment, but it's sorely inadequete for coming to conclusions about love, truth, beauty...and these things, to some of us, are far more important.



the people who make unscientifically proven claims, as well arguments based purely on conviction, get laughed out of town. They are parodied as 'tin-foil hat' wearers. Why does this not apply to religious conviction as well as that of purely opinionated conviction?


Well, from my own observations, religious people do get ridiculed.
But I think the answer to your question is mostly about lack of common ground between the two groups, and a disgreement over what qualifies as "authoritative." For example, popular conception is that "very large lizards lived on earth before humans and we call them dinosaurs." But is believing in "very large lizards that nobody has ever seen" really any different from believing in angels, or gods or other things that also nobody has ever seen? Is pointing to an encyclopedia or a website as evidence of dinosaurs really any different than pointing to the bible as evidence of Jesus? I've never seen a dinosaur. Have you? No? Then why do we believe in them? Simply because some "experts" called "paleontologists" say so? Kind of like some "experts" called "priests" say so? The difference is simply in choice of authority. If two people both have faith in paleontologists, then it's easy for one to point to the work of a paleontologist and provide something that will be accepted as evidence. Just like how when two people both have faith in the bible, one can point to a passage as evidence. When two people disagree on what qualifies as an authoritative source, it's difficult for either of them to "laugh each other out of town."



you should have entered the debate tournament, you're pretty good at this sort of stuff.


Thank you. I considered it at one point. Even challenged someone to a debate but they declined. If you'd like to challenge me on something, I'd probably accept.



[edit on 12-12-2009 by LordBucket]



posted on Dec, 12 2009 @ 04:46 PM
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reply to post by LordBucket
 

It is interesting that you should mention gravity.

Sir Isaac Newton first formulated a theory of gravity.

Sir Isaac Newton 1643 - 1727 was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian...
...he is perceived and considered by a substantial number of scholars and the general public as one of the most influential men in history.

His considerable interest in and contribution to theology did not seem to detract from his considerable contribution to science.

Many have noted that it was his belief in a God who made an ordered and intelligible universe that motivated Isaac Newton to discover that order through scientific evaluation.

I think the OP is trying to make a dichotomy were there is none.




posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 08:34 AM
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reply to post by Parallex
 


Alright, Parallex ?

Lord bucket pretty much summed up my point of view in more detail and more eloquently than I can.
But the basic premise of my response is questioning the validity of the assertion that scientific research is any more or less valid than any other avenue of inquiry.
In this thread you appear to be saying that the study of conspiracy theory is more accurate if you don't have a religious perspective on the said issue. I would like to know why you would think that - as it seems quite a subjective viewpoint - and appears to correlate with your own personal world view that is surely formulated on your own pre-conceived beliefs.
I'm not neccessarily saying that you're wrong, but I'd just like you to elaborate on your points a little more.


Cheers


[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]

[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 08:37 AM
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reply to post by LordBucket
 


'sup, Lord bucket ?


Your posts on this thread have put in to words a lot of my thoughts and more. I too share a lot of your philosophical outlook on life.

Cheers mate.



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 08:46 AM
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reply to post by troubleshooter
 


Alright, Troubleshooter ?


Yes indeed, a lot of earlier scientific research was based on the assertion that there was a Creator, and all scientific phenomena must have a measurable result as a consequence.
Strangely enough ( or not ), this premise still holds true over 100s of years later because scientific phenomenon are still based on laws that are absolute and mathematics that are also infinitely consistent.


[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]

[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]

[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 09:08 AM
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reply to post by Parallex
 


In your "unflinching quest to make the world a more secular place" has it all occurred to you that an unflinching quest is remarkably similar to a conviction? Wouldn't it be fair to infer that the "unfortunate" proclivity towards fundamentalism on both sides began from the get go in this thread? Wouldn't your unflinching quest to make the world a more secular place be a fundamental belief of yours?

Wouldn't a logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiracy theory demand that a definition of secularism be analyzed as well? Isn't is true that you've spent the vast majority of your original post preaching? Isn't it all possible that there is a conspiracy to silence religious people? Shouldn't dogma be yet another word defined in order to maintain a useful analysis of conspiracy theory and how both secularism and religiosity apply?

If you are truly interested in the spirit of investigation why would you rule out a portion of investigators that you've deemed useless? Indeed, did you not elevate brain farting, spamming, throw away posts, trolling and silliness above religious conviction? Doesn't this reveal a particular bias on your part not conducive to a scientific method? Doesn't the scientific method attempt to minimize any bias on the part of the investigator? If we are to ask religious people to leave their own religious bias out of the debate, wouldn't it be wise to leave any anti-religious bias out of the debate as well?

Wouldn't some conspiracy theories merit at least a minimum of religious scripture? What if the conspiracy theory involves suppression of knowledge by the priest class rulers? What if the knowledge they suppressed was hidden within scripture? Wouldn't then we have to necessarily abandon your first rule of no religious scripture? Of course, your rule only applies to this thread, correct? However, since you began with the assertion that you have an unflinching quest to make the world more secular, haven't you necessarily taken a side and pitted that side against religion? Assuming this is correct, do you intend to rely upon scientific method to argue for secularism? Doesn't then the scientific method become your own dogma?

Of course, this leads us to your second rule where you have also dismissed any notion of semantics as having any value in this thread. Will it now be argued from your viewpoint that I have used semantics to drift off point? What exactly is your point? Isn't it that you have an unflinching quest to make the world more secular? How do you propose to make the world more secular? Excuse the semantics but by making the world more secular don't you really mean humanity? Surely you aren't suggesting that the nature of nature is too religious, are you? It is not the nature of the world that is not secular enough for you merely the people in it. Wouldn't that be a fair interpretation of your premise?

How do you propose to make people less religious and more secular?



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 09:20 AM
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reply to post by Parallex
 


"Does the application of religious conviction on ATS impede the logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiratorial theory?"

If religious people were to assume that anything non-human that steps out of a craft from space is sent by the satan from hell to capture human souls........ then yes. Saddly this is a widely accepted veiwpoint among the religous here on ats. It constantly gets in the way of any understanding. These people assume divinity of anything that looks like a sterotypical angel and assume demonic influce on things that arent fluffy.



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 09:41 AM
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OP why is it your desire to make this world less secular?

Please explain.



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 10:03 AM
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"Does the application of religious conviction on ATS impede the logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiratorial theory?"


I would broaden the question even more, as it wouldn't change the answer:

"Does the application of personal conviction on ATS impede the logical, empirical and sensible analysis of conspiratorial theory?"

Answer: Yes.

Doesn't matter if you're talking religion, UFOs, 9/11, monsters, etc. People always get in the way of truth while others try to uncover it.



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 12:09 PM
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Sorry for not continuing this thread folks - I'm taking part in the debate competition here on ATS, and that's taking all my time at the moment. Some great responses though - I will try and respond very soon.

The Para.



posted on Dec, 15 2009 @ 01:11 PM
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reply to post by Wertdagf
 


Hi, Wertdagf.


You say that some of the religious chaps' points get in the way of any understanding on UFOs - but I think their opinion of your view on this issue may be similar.
The understanding that you mention is based on your non-religious observations, I'm sure. So I can easily see some religious types thinking that it's people like you that lack understanding on UFOs because you don't share their particular religious world-view...

It's one person's reality versus another, and all we've got to validate our own realities are ourselves.

Cheers





[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]

[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]

[edit on 15-12-2009 by Benji1999]



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