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Featured Religious fictionalism: believers without 'the belief'?

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Vouthon, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    There may be a problem of terminology here and the way English language is structured. The interpretation in this thread may be best described as religious anti-fictionalism. I would equate fictionalism as the belief in religious fiction and mythology as factual.
     
  2. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Finally! :)
     
  3. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    We are having different, opposite understandings, certainly.
     
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  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Believers without the belief represents an awkward pragmatism defacto perpetuating the fiction and mythology of ancient religious beliefs.
     
  5. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Interpret my posts in reverse to fit your understanding.
     
  6. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    If I may, I would like your comments on my own post #57 previously in this thread.

    Apparently you do dislike religious fictionalism as I understand it, despite it being very different from and incompatible with fundamentalism, perhaps because you see it as enabling fundamentalism anyway because it does not question the myths fiercely enough.

    That is a bit disorienting, frankly. Between the two of us, I am supposed to be the candidate for the role of voice of rabid anti-religionism ... or something in that general direction, anyway ... :)

    Thing is, religion has several different natures at the same time, and some of those are no less real for unbelievers than for believers. Religion provides, at the very least, concepts, language, references, and a component of the sense of community.

    Is is valid to question whether those are necessary or worth the drawbacks. But the case can be made that the price of challenging the expectations of a religious community isn't always worth the potential gains.

    It may be that the coexistence of religious fictionalism and religious fundamentalism in the same communities is the creed's version of the Abilene Paradox.


    Abilene paradox - Wikipedia
     
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  7. BilliardsBall

    BilliardsBall Well-Known Member

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    12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
     
  8. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    It seems to me that it all falls down to whether one accepts a symbolic reading or not.

    Some people find Christianity to be pointless if the literal person of Jesus did not exist, die and ressurrect.

    Not all people do. The doctrine exists regardless, and may legitimally be understood to be valid in and of itself.
     
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  9. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    So long as you do not run away with what this does or does not imply. ;) In fact I don't think you will, but some might, not having understood the context.

    For the sake of other readers, what is being alluded to is the old drum I and others keep banging, to the effect that science makes models of reality that work, insofar as predicting further observations, but can never be taken to be final or definitive "truth".

    This is not to put science and religion in the same category. Unlike religious ideas, the models of science are tested against objective observation of nature (or as near to that as we can get) and are continually adapted and refined accordingly. But we do in science happily use for convenience models we know are incomplete and thus in a strict sense at least partly "fictional", so long as they work*.

    It is worth, therefore, keeping in mind that the tidy division we often make into fact vs. fiction is not so always simple.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    * A classic example from my own discipline is the "arrow pushing" commonly used by organic chemists in describing reaction mechanisms. A physical chemist will tell you there is no evidence that the electrons in chemical bonds actually move during a reaction in the way implied by the arrows, but the methodology does explain and predict how organic molecules can be expected to react.
     
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  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon In varietate concordia
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    Also, among the more aesthetic tools used to evaluate the plausibility of a 'theory', theoretical physicists consider such things as "explanatory power", "elegance", "simplicity" (i.e. Occam's Razor) and even "beauty" (in terms of mathematical beauty, I mean):

    Elegant Science

    Elegance is a prized quality in science that is associated with simplicity and explanatory power. This essay considers the qualities that make a scientific model, experiment, method, or theory “elegant,” with a focus on the life sciences. We propose a definition of elegance that includes clarity, cleverness, correctness, explanatory power, parsimony, and beauty. The pursuit of elegance can improve the quality of science, but elegance must be pursued with caution, as the truth is sometimes inelegant.

    Obviously, testability and empiricism are foremost (and this differentiates scientific models from religious frameworks, that they can - or rather should - make testable predictions about reality).

    But - and this is something of a related but distinct topic - recently there has been a tendency among a number of physicists (and a somewhat worrying one, arguably) as a result of the failure of high-energy particle accelerators to find exotic new physics (and the concern that we might be reaching the limits of what we can viably experiment at our present energies), to divorce science - or at least particle physics - from the criterion of testability.

    The inflationary, cosmological multiverse arising from a “string landscape” (for instance) is an example of this 'trend'. Now, its possibly compelling if viewed as a speculative hypothesis. After all, it has explanatory power and might make good sense of the data - so there is a logical possibility of us living in an ever expanding megaverse of unlimited physical possibilities, which might explain why the cosmological constant has an unnaturally small, knife-edge value in our universe.

    However, does it make any testable scientific predictions within the observable universe? Nope. Professor Sean Carroll vigorously supports the validity of “non-empirical confirmation”, or rather the idea that the multiverse has explanatory power and solves otherwise intractable fine-tuning problems in relation to the vacuum energy and hierarchy conundrum, which means it should therefore be accepted as a scientific theory even though it is incapable of making any testable predictions and is itself predicted by other frameworks that are likely to be untestable, such as superstrings.

    At present, the string-landscape multiverse is fundamentally beyond the realm of empirical test (just like God), with no possibility of direct or indirect testability (given that the "bubble collision" idea in the CMB appears to be a false hope).

    Here's Carroll talking about it:

    Edge.org


    "…2014 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC IDEA IS READY FOR RETIREMENT?

    Sean Carroll

    Theoretical Physicist, Caltech; Author, The Big Picture

    Falsifiability

    …Modern physics stretches into realms far removed from everyday experience, and sometimes the connection to experiment becomes tenuous at best. String theory and other approaches to quantum gravity involve phenomena that are likely to manifest themselves only at energies enormously higher than anything we have access to here on Earth. The cosmological multiverse and the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics posit other realms that are impossible for us to access directly.

    Some scientists, leaning on Popper, have suggested that these theories are non-scientific because they are not falsifiable.

    The truth is the opposite. Whether or not we can observe them directly, the entities involved in these theories are either real or they are not. Refusing to contemplate their possible existence on the grounds of some a priori principle, even though they might play a crucial role in how the world works, is as non-scientific as it gets.

    It’s the “empirical” criterion that requires some care. At face value it might be mistaken for “makes falsifiable predictions.” But in the real world, the interplay between theory and experiment isn’t so cut and dried. A scientific theory is ultimately judged by its ability to account for the data—but the steps along the way to that accounting can be quite indirect...

    But in the real world, the interplay between theory and experiment isn’t so cut and dried. A scientific theory is ultimately judged by its ability to account for the data—but the steps along the way to that accounting can be quite indirect."



    Here’s his words above with only a few point modifications, to illustrate how an apologetic theist might argue using similar logic to Professor Carroll:



    “Some scientists, leaning on Popper, have suggested that these theories [about God] are non-scientific because they are not falsifiable.

    The truth is the opposite. Whether or not we can observe Him directly, the Creator involved in this theory is either real or He is not. Refusing to contemplate His possible existence on the grounds of some a priori principle, even though He might play a crucial role in how the world works, is as non-scientific as it gets.

    It’s the “empirical” criterion that requires some care. At face value it might be mistaken for “makes falsifiable predictions.” But in the real world, the interplay between theory and experiment isn’t so cut and dried. A scientific theory is ultimately judged by its ability to account for the data—but the steps along the way to that accounting can be quite indirect.

    The Creator might be inaccessible to us, but He is part of the theory that cannot be avoided”

    For a competing perspective from Carroll's, by two physicists defending the integrity of the traditional scientific method:

    Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics

    16 December 2014

    Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science, argue George Ellis and Joe Silk.

    This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue — explicitly — that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical. We disagree.

    Chief among the 'elegance will suffice' advocates are some string theorists. Because string theory is supposedly the 'only game in town' capable of unifying the four fundamental forces, they believe that it must contain a grain of truth even though it relies on extra dimensions that we can never observe. Some cosmologists, too, are seeking to abandon experimental verification of grand hypotheses that invoke imperceptible domains such as the kaleidoscopic multiverse (comprising myriad universes), the 'many worlds' version of quantum reality (in which observations spawn parallel branches of reality) and pre-Big Bang concepts.

    These unprovable hypotheses are quite different from those that relate directly to the real world and that are testable through observations — such as the standard model of particle physics and the existence of dark matter and dark energy. As we see it, theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man's-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.

    The issue of testability has been lurking for a decade. String theory and multiverse theory have been criticized in popular books1, 2, 3 and articles, including some by one of us (G.E.)4. In March, theorist Paul Steinhardt wrote5 in this journal that the theory of inflationary cosmology is no longer scientific because it is so flexible that it can accommodate any observational result. Theorist and philosopher Richard Dawid6 and cosmologist Sean Carroll7 have countered those criticisms with a philosophical case to weaken the testability requirement for fundamental physics.

    Instead of belief in a scientific theory increasing when observational evidence arises to support it, [Dawid] suggests that theoretical discoveries bolster belief. But conclusions arising logically from mathematics need not apply to the real world. Experiments have proved many beautiful and simple theories wrong, from the steady-state theory of cosmology to the SU(5) Grand Unified Theory of particle physics, which aimed to unify the electroweak force and the strong force. The idea that preconceived truths about the world can be inferred beyond established facts (inductivism) was overturned by Popper and other twentieth-century philosophers.

    Increasingly, the 'string landscape' theory - "an elaborate proposal for how minuscule strings (one-dimensional space entities) and membranes (higher-dimensional extensions) existing in higher-dimensional spaces underlie all of physics" - and the particular variant of the multiverse theory dependant upon these speculative string vacua, is looking more and more like metaphysics rather than physics as the criterion of testability / empirical evidence is downplayed in favour of the sheer explanatory power, elegance and beauty of the "theory" itself.

    The appeal of 'religious' explanations is not entirely dissimilar - people find a certain creation myth or metaphysical narrative especially 'elegant' or 'beautiful' in its explanatory power, over other ones (even if we cannot make a testable prediction from it).
     
    #70 Vouthon, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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  11. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    You are banking on the literal truth of scripture. This is not at all necessary.

    Let me qualify the above...I believe that people tend to fall into one of two attitudes towards their experience of the world...some favor the hard realities, the practicalities, the "what is". Others favor the possibilities, the potentials and the "what might be". For the former it is probably a lot more difficult to be a believer and not understand that the stories about Christ are not literally true. The story of Christ is just one example of a centuries old story motif that has been passed down through story-tellers and authors throughout the centuries. ironically, the practically minded are, in a sense, forced into accepting something very impractical and unprovable in order to participate in their less strong ability to relate purely to the possibilities of human experience. As such they have to incongruously flip over into "spiritual" mode but they bring with them an attitude of literalism and factuality.

    I, as a "possibilities" type, deeply appreciate the ability to "put on this fiction" for a time for the purpose of immersing one's self in the possibilities of human experience and to open one's self up to something greater than what one will ever literally experience in reality. My love for story of all kinds keeps me often immersed in such wonderful reveries and inspirations. But at the end of the day I know that one such story can't be claimed to be more or less literally true than another. I nurture my practical side as well in this and keep a balance between the two.

    For me Nikos Kazantzakis says it well in his dialog between Jesus and Paul:

    Or the movie rewrite of this...
     
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  12. sealchan

    sealchan Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for this! Added to my Amazon Wish List.
     
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  13. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I have problems with your hypothetical however . . .

    'Some' scientists may support “non-empirical confirmation,” but in science there are no falsifiable hypothesis that could confirm such speculations. The other problem is the supposed speculation of "intractable fine tuning problems," both involve 'arguing from ignorance' to therefore justify unfalsifiable speculation. I believe Occam's Razor rules against this speculation.

    I prefer the healthy scientific perspective we simply at present do not know, which does not involve speculation. What is not known will always be the grounds of hypothesis and legitimate science. I will go with simplicity and the explanatory power of the future of science.
     
  14. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    It is not only not necessary, but results in a paradox of the actual meaning of scripture. The problem with scriptural literal truth is that the scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers actually support this view, and any attempts shoehorning scripture into a contemporary perspective gives precedence to humanistic views that create more churches, and more paradoxes. This problem is faced with all ancient religions that they should be put in the ancient context of the world they began. They are a paradox out of place today.
     
    #74 shunyadragon, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  15. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    And yet that can't be helped.
     
  16. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    For me, what is important to recognize is that functionality is, itself, a BIAS. It is the bias toward functionality as being essential to and indicative of "reality-as-truth". How things function together is useful to know because we can exploit that knowledge to our own advantage. But it does not fundamentally explain what a thing is, why the thing is what it is, or fundamentally why it does what it does.
     
  17. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    Simply citing scripture(?) does not represent an argument, because it only addresses those that believe as you do.
     
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  18. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    I'm still trying to work out how you get that from either conventions of the English language or the OP :D
     
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  19. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    I think I understand you. Science is concerned with how things seem to work in nature, but not really why or what they "are", in any sense other than how they behave, (as perceived by us). Science is not a metaphysical endeavour. It always leaves deeper, unanswered questions at the point at which the observations - and hence the associated model - run out.

    I would challenge the term bias however. Science has its scope and terms of reference, like anything else and it is not reasonable to expect it to go beyond them. The "bias" comes in, it seems to me, when these boundaries, or scope limitations, are not acknowledged.
     
    #79 exchemist, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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  20. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    https://www.google.com/search?q=ism&oq=ism&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.4362j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
    -[sm
    1. a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.
      "of all the isms, fascism is the most repressive"
    Often used to describe a negative connotation, but also used many positive ways like to describe a religion as in Hinduism
     
    #80 shunyadragon, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
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