Cary is a good friend of mine that has many great philosophical insights. He’s clear and concise, and I enjoy is logical reasoning.
There is no sound argument made with philosophical jargon that can’t be made more clearly (though possibly not as briefly) without philosophical jargon.
You know what justice means when you’re on jury duty. Its meaning doesn’t change when you discuss theology.
What Bronze Agers thought about God should be no more relevant to us than what Bronze Agers thought about science.
Respecting a person does not require respecting his erroneous beliefs. All minds have a right to periods of infancy and adolescence. Some take longer than others to grow out of it. Others grow out prematurely for erroneous reasons, and fall into counter-errors – possibly even greater errors. Honest errors should be tolerated up to the point that they harm other people. Diversity of evolutionary paths should be respected.
A stable epistemic foundation is always built on logic rather than authority. It is always figured out rather than believed. I’m not asking you to believe that. I’m not even asking you to figure it out. I’m saying you will figure it out whether you believe it or not.
There are many reasons for doing good rather than evil. Some can be ordered according to virtue level, and some can’t. Here are 4 virtue levels:
1. The best people (if they exist) are those who do good because it is good. Many people claim to be on this level, but I think they are either lying, or they never did enough introspection to recognize their own motivation.
2. Next best are those who do good because of the possibility of an afterlife in which good/bad behavior brings reward/punishment. These people do good even when there is little or no chance of them getting caught for failing to do good.
3. Next best are those who do good because of the possibility of reward/punishment in this life. These people are on a lower level than #2 because they have no reason to do good when there is little or no chance of them getting caught for failing to do good.
4. Next best are those who do good because of the probability of reward/punishment. These can be divided into afterlife believers and non-afterlife believers. The less probable they think reward/punishment is, the less likely they are to do good. A subset of these are those who do good because of the certainty of reward/punishment.
Some people say they do good because it feels good. That means they do good only when it feels good. I’m not sure what level they belong on.
There is also a class of atheists who do good to prove they don’t need fear of a God to do it. These must be divided according to whom they want to prove it to. If they want to prove it to themselves, they will have no further reason to do good after they have proven it. If they want to prove it to theists, they have no reason to do good when no theists are watching. I’m not sure what level they belong on.
Some atheists say they won’t believe a God exists until he physically shows up. But showing up before Judgment Day would defeat the whole purpose of a spiritual-development nursery, which this planet may be. If he just appears and says, “I exist. Do what I say, or I’ll whack you,” then everyone would obey him because of the certainty of punishment (#4 above). Only retards would disobey. No one could actually become good or evil as a result of their own decisions. No one would deserve reward or punishment. Of course he may have created worlds in which that is the case. But they would get boring quickly – boring to him as well as the participants.
Dialog between a truth seeker and an agnostic a-believer
Do you believe X is true?
OK, since you believe X is false…
I never said that.
You said you don’t believe X is true.
That doesn’t mean I believe X is false. It only means I am not engaging in belief relative to X.
Are you engaging in disbelief relative to X?
No, I’m not doing that either. I am not required to apply any kind of belief or disbelief relative to X.
Do you acknowledge that X is either true or false?
Not necessarily. There are some statements that can be shown to be neither true nor false.
Can this particular X be shown to be neither true nor false?
No, but it can’t be shown to be true, and it can’t be shown to be false.
But is this particular X necessarily either true or false?
Yes, but there’s no way to know which it is.
I know you can’t know it, but which do you believe it is?
I don’t believe anything about it.
Are there any statements you believe to be true or false?
What is the difference between statements which you believe to be true or false, and statements which you don’t believe anything about?
I don’t know.
This dialog could be protracted, and it could have gone different directions at any point, but what’s the point