All of JohnH's Comments + Replies

Can somebody explain this to me?: The computability of the laws of physics and hypercomputation

I see a problem with this: There doesn't seem to be a way to tell if omega itself is in the laws of physics or some finite precision approximation to omega. Given any set of finite observable phenomena and any finite amount of time there will be some finite precision approximation to any real number which is sufficient in the equations to explain all observations, assuming the models used are otherwise correct and otherwise computable. How would one tell if the universe uses the real value Pi or a finite precision version of Pi whose finiteness is epsilon greater then what is needed to calculate any observable value?

0FeepingCreature9yYou can't. However, if you somehow found an encoding of a physical constant that was highly compressible, such as 1.379[50 digits]0000000000000000, or some other sort of highly regular series, it would be strong evidence towards our universe being both computable and, indeed, computed. (No such constant has yet been found, but we haven't looked very hard yet)
1Eugine_Nier9yHow does one know the laws of physics won't suddenly change tomorrow, i.e., how does one distinguish a universe governed by a certain set of laws with one governed by an approximation of the same laws that stops working on a certain day?
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Mormonism is much more structured then that. There are different sects but those sects are different churches, both of us come from the LDS church, which is the largest and the one that everyone thinks of when they say Mormon (unless they are thinking of the polygamous FLDS).

There are those that call themselves New Order Mormons which are within the LDS church, by which they mean they don't believe in any of the truth claims of the church but like the culture (or something like that, I am sure I am taking what they say out of its "rich contextual setting").

0Bugmaster9yThanks, that was informative ! So, I assume that the LDS is managed by the Prophet, similarly to how the Catholic Church is managed by the Pope ? I don't mean to imply that the beliefs and the divine status (or lack thereof) of the two are equivalent, I'm merely comparing their places on the org chart. Although, now that I think about it, even the Catholics have their sub-sects. For example, while the Pope is officially against contraception, many (if not most) American Catholics choose to ignore that part of the doctrine, and IIRC there are even some nuns actively campaigning to make it more accessible.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

I am mostly just answering direct questions, I am horrible at walking away when questions are asked. Since this conversation is far outside of the norms of the group, I will do so in a private message if atomliner wants to continue the conversation. If he would rather it be public I would be willing to set up a blog for the purpose of continuing this conversation.

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

So, you can use your apologetic arguments all you want for whatever idea you have about Mormonism, but if they aren't based clearly in the scriptures

Please show what I said (excluding the reference to Confucius) is not clearly based in scripture, Numbers 11:29 may be helpful.

would not teach false doctrine?

Yes. that is unreasonable to assume

Do you think that a person who speaks face-to-face with Jesus Christ would then teach his own false ideas to members of Christ's One True Church?

Absolutely, if Jesus says something to a prophet then what Jesu... (read more)

0atomliner9yI apologize. I had thought that you were using the three scriptures I quoted earlier to support the point that the scriptures confirms that atheists can be as happy, healthy, and moral as theists. In actuality, you were using them to describe how blessings come from following the commandments and not just from belief in the first two cases and in the third case you were supporting the idea that God understands it is difficult for people to distinguish truth from error. The point I made about our conversation still stands, however. Your goal seems to be "Make atomliner look like he didn't believe in things Mormons should" while my goal is "show I was a normal Latter-day Saint before losing my faith". I have two problems with this. The first is that I do not see any scriptures supporting this view clearly. How was I supposed to know this? No one teaches in church that prophets can teach false doctrine. In my experience with hundreds of active Latter-day Saints, THIS belief is atypical. In fact I just got called out by a bunch of mission buddies for saying this on Facebook, that the prophets can sometimes lead us astray (we were talking about gay marriage), and I got called an apostate outright. My second problem is that I said false doctrine, not small inaccuracies attributed to translation error. You think that a prophet could speak to Jesus Christ face-to-face and then write up entire discourses on stuff like Adam-God theory, blood atonement, doctrinal racism and affirm boldly that this is the truth to the Saints? God must have a very strange way of picking his prophets, it seems like he would want to call people who wouldn't invent their own ideas and who would simply repeat to the Saints what was said to them by Christ. I mean, does God want the truth expressed accurately or not? Were the prophets really the best people available for this task?? They have a terrible track record. Great. That still makes no logical sense to ME since I don't believe in any of t
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Who authorizes messengers from God?

God obviously.

It's not like He has a public key,

There are actually quite a few rules given to determine if a messenger is from God. Jesus for instance said "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself", then there is the qualification in Deuteronomy, the requirement in John, the experiment in Alma, the promise in Moroni, and some details in the D&C. It is somewhat of a bootstrapping problem as one must already trust one of those sour... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

you can be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God

Paul saying those that didn't know God and that didn't have the law but that acted justly being justified because of their actions doesn't imply to you that it is possible to be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God? How about this, where in "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." does it me... (read more)

-2MugaSofer9yRegardless of its scriptural authenticity, it is a common claim. I'm not surprised atomliner thought this at some point. [Disclaimer: I'm extrapolating from mainstream Christianity here. It's possible this does not apply to Mormons.]
1atomliner9yI don't know where you draw that implication from the word "justified". So, no. I guess I did have a very abstract belief that those who followed the commandments, the "law", even if they didn't believe, would still receive the same blessings as those who do. But, the part of The God Delusion that talked about atheists being just as happy, moral, and healthy as theists never said anything about following Mormon commandments to do so, and for that reason it was a revolutionary concept to me. What was a new concept was that you could have a lifestyle completely different from those lived by Latter-day Saints and still be moral, happy, and healthy. Though, come to think about it, I was introduced to this concept not just in The God Delusion, but also in my interactions with hundreds of Brazilian families. Certainly the mission experience added to the knowledge base I needed to refute Mormonism. The reason we are having this discussion is because I feel you've characterized me unfairly as "the Ex-Mormon who never really knew his own religion and had no reason to believe in the fringe theories he did". My goal is to support my case that I really was a mainstream Latter-day Saint before I lost my faith. So, you can use your apologetic arguments all you want for whatever idea you have about Mormonism, but if they aren't based clearly in the scriptures (which I studied a great deal), and if they were never taught widely in the Church, then why exactly did I err in not coming to the same understanding as you? I do not think you have any good evidence for why I was an atypical Mormon who was unjustified in believing in the things I did. What Jesus stated on this is extremely illogical to me. Why is what he said logical to you? So you think that it was unreasonable for me to assume that men who are given an office BY GOD with the title "prophet, seer and revelator" and who speak directly with Jesus Christ, face-to-face, would not teach false doctrine? Do you think that a p
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

What passages in the scriptures tell you that you can be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God?

I already pointed you to Romans 2, specifically in this case Romans 2:13-15, did you want more?

Why wouldn't I?

A prophet is only a prophet when they are acting as a prophet. More specifically there are multiple First Presidency statements saying Adam-God is wrong; Statements by Apostles saying that the racist theology was created with limited understanding and is wrong (as well as more recent church statements saying explicitly that it is contrar... (read more)

1atomliner9yYes. I don't see anything in Romans 2 that shows me that you can be moral, healthy, and happy without faith in God. But you have to admit it's hard sometimes to distinguish whether or not a prophet is acting as one. I never believed that Adam WAS Elohim, but I did believe that what Brigham Young and others intended to say was that Adam was the God of this Earth. I never believed that black people were cursed for being fence-sitters in the War in Heaven, but I did believe that it was because of the curse of Cain that they couldn't have the priesthood until 1978. In my defense I started believing around 2009 that the priesthood ban was just an incorrect Church policy. Still, I never read anything from the Apostles saying that the priesthood ban was wrong, just that it was unknown why there was a priesthood ban. I always believed that the new and everlasting covenant was referring to celestial marriage, but I did believe that polygamy would eventually be re-instated being that before the Second Coming there would have to be a restitution of all things. I really only developed an understanding of Official Doctrine after my deconversion. Before, however, my understanding was that every member of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were prophets, seers, and revelators and that they spoke directly with Jesus Christ, therefore they were incapable of teaching false doctrine to the members of the Church. You were saying how those who read the Journal of Discourses "seem to be those that are trying to prove the church wrong and those that are seeking 'deep' doctrine while ignoring the weightier parts of the gospel". I think you were trying to put me in the latter category, suggesting that I was ignoring what was really important in the Gospel. Now that you've explained what these "weightier parts" are, I assure you that I did not ignore these teachings. Those are incredibly simple and basic concepts that I had known for years and years. How could a
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Since it appears that you grew up in a pluralistic society then I have no idea why you considered everyone different then you to not be a good person and feel you were never exposed to the idea that they possibly could be a good person. Considering that Jesus (Matthew 25:40), Paul (Romans 2), Nephi, Benjamin, Alma, and Moroni all say that it is action more then belief that defines who is saved, who has faith, and who is good, happy and healthy then I don't know how it was a shocking revelation that those who do not have the law but that act by nature acco... (read more)

-1MugaSofer9yHey, people make mistakes. That it's fairly easy to come to erroneous conclusions on these topics should be evident from the JoD itself.
8[anonymous]9yWho authorizes messengers from God? It's not like He has a public key, after all...

I never said that I considered people different than me to not be good. What I said in earlier comments is that I liked The God Delusion because it introduced me to the concept that you can be "a good, healthy, happy person without believing in God". I believed that those who did not have faith in God would be more likely to be immoral, would be more likely to be unhealthy, and would definitely be more unhappy than if they did believe in God. The book presented to me a case for how atheists can be just as moral, just as healthy, just as happy as ... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Why go to the Journal of Discourses? D&C 132 clearly states that those that receive exaltation will be gods, the only question is whether that involves receiving a planet or just being part of the divine council. The Bible clearly states that we will be heirs and joint heirs with Christ. The Journal of Discourses is not something that most members look to for doctrine as it isn't scripture. I, and any member, am free to believe whatever I want to on the subject (or say we don't know) because nothing has been revealed on the subject of exaltation and ... (read more)

Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Calling us morons doesn't reveal anything to reason or even attempt to force me to address what you may think of as a blind spot.

0Kawoomba9yIt stands to reason that if you've successfully read even parts of the Sequences, or other rationality related materials, and yet believe in the Book of Mormon, there's little that will force you to address that blind ... area ..., so why not shock therapy. Or are you just too looking forward to your own planet / world? (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:259) Maybe that's just to be taken metaphorically though, for something, or something other?
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Being called a moron seems hostile to me, just to use an example right here.

0MugaSofer9ySorry, I should have specified "except for Kawoomba".
2CCC9yThat was certainly hostile, yes. However, I take the fact that the post in question is at -10 karma to suggest that the hostility is frowned upon by the community in general.
-8Kawoomba9y
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

I am going to make a prediction that you likely grew up in a smaller community in Utah or Eastern Idaho.

In regards to the Journal of Discourse quote, the actual doctrine that Brigham Young is talking about it is very much emphasized and is found in the D&C, the Book of Abraham, and explicitly in the Temple. A dead giveaway is his reference to philosophers, he isn't talking about us being aliens but that our spirits always existed and come from where God is rather then being created at birth as thought in the rest of Christianity. Given this and your ex... (read more)

-1atomliner9yWrong. I moved to Utah already an atheist. I didn't grow up in any one area, my family moved several times when I was younger. For example, I lived in Arizona, California, Georgia, and North Carolina before moving to Utah. The state I feel most confident in calling my home is California, since I lived there from 2004 to 2009. I highly disagree that this is what Brigham Young actually intended to teach. For example, in another part of the Journal of Discourses he says: It does not seem at all that he is talking about the creation of their spirits, but the creation of their bodies. I have to admit I didn't regard myself as extremely familiar with Christian philosophy before my de-conversion, but I've learned a great deal since coming home from my mission. However, I don't think this was a very fair assessment of my knowledge on your part. There is nothing I've written that gives strong evidence for me being ignorant of Christian and Mormon theology. It seems to me you want to de-legitimize what I have to say by painting me as unintelligent and inexperienced with my own religion. Now, do you really think a person who has studied the Journal of Discourses wouldn't also most likely be a person who has spent a lot of time and energy investigating the rest of Mormon theology? I mean, a scholar I am not but I definitely know my way around Mormonism, more than most Mormons I know at the very least. There is a big difference between an "official position" and what is taught in the chapel and at the dinner table.
Wrong Questions

Applying Greek thought to "Ehyeh asher ehyeh" is an attempt to get at something that "explain(s) itself", I am sure you are familiar with St. Thomas Aquinas and his five ways.

I suppose you are also familiar with Divine Sophia in Gnosticism? Saying we have a logical reason for things existing seems to be on that same level of reasoning and appears to just add another turtle to me.

-2MugaSofer9yYup. Being a theist, I suspect God is in some way the cause of everything, although I'm not really smart enough to understand how that could be. I leave the answer to some future genius (or, more likely, superintelligent AI.) Really? But logic, as a mathematical construct, "exists" (in the sense that it exists at all) independently of physical objects; a calculator on mars will get the same result as one on Earth, even if they have no causal connection. Logic seems like it can explain things in terms of platonic mathematical structure, not contingent physical causes.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

I believe the result is that atheists have an above average knowledge of world religions, similar to Jews (and Mormons) but I don't know of results that show they have an above average knowledge of their previous religion. Assuming most of them were Christians then the answer is possibly.

In this particular case I happen to know precisely what is in all of the official church material; I will admit to having no idea where his teachers may have deviated from church publications, hence me wondering where he got those beliefs.

I suppose I can't comment on wha... (read more)

Wrong Questions

Have you seen Gods as Topological Invarients? Note the date submitted as it is relevant.

Anyways the whole question seems a confusion: either the answer will be something that does exist or it will be something that does not exist, if it exists it would appear to be part of "anything" and therefore the question is not addressed, and if it does not exist then that appears to be contradictory.

-2MugaSofer9yThat's not exactly a confusion, that's a paradox. And a faulty one; something might (somehow) "explain itself" or, more likely, we could discover a logical reason things had to exist. Or we might have some unknown insight into rationality and dissolve the question, I suppose, but that's not really helpful. The point is it's still an open question; the good Mr. Maitzen has not helped us.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

Some of that might be because of evaporative cooling. Reading the sequences is more likely to cause a theist to ignore Less Wrong then it is to change their beliefs, regardless of how rational or not a theist is. If they get past that point they soon find Less Wrong is quite welcoming towards discussions of how dumb or irrational religion is but fairly hostile to those that try and say that religion is not irrational; as in this welcome thread even points that out.

What I am wondering about is why it seems that atheists have complete caricatures of their p... (read more)

6Estarlio9yReally? It don't think it takes an exceptional degree of rationality to reject religion. I suspect what you mean is that atheists /ought/ to justify their disbelief on stronger grounds than the silliest interpretation of their opponent's beliefs. Which is true, you shouldn't disbelieve that there's a god on the grounds that one branch of one religion told you the royal family were aliens or something - that's just an argument against a specific form of one religion not against god in general. But I suspect the task would get no easier for religion if it were facing off against more rational individuals, who'd want the strongest form of the weakest premise. (In this case I suspect something like: What you're talking about is really complex/improbable, before we get down to talking about the specifics of any doctrine, where's your evidence that we should entertain a god at all?) Selection bias maybe? You're talking to the atheists who have an emotional investment in debating religion. I'd suspect that those who'd been exposed to the sillier beliefs would have greater investment, and that stronger rationalists would have a lower investment or a higher investment in other pursuits. Or maybe atheists tend to be fairly irrational. shrug
0[anonymous]9yHave you noticed any difference between first and second generation atheists, in regard to caricaturing or contempt for religion?
9Vaniver9ySuppose there is diversity within a religion, on how much the sensible and silly beliefs are emphasized. If the likelihood of a person rejecting a religion is positively correlated with the religion recommending silly beliefs, then we should expect that the population of atheist converts should have a larger representation of people raised in homes where silly beliefs dominated than the population of theists. That is, standard evaporative cooling, except that the reasonable people who leave become atheists, and similarly reasonable people who are in a 'warm' religious setting can't relate. (I don't know if there is empirical support for this model or not.)
6atomliner9yI was not trying to justify my leaving the Mormon Church in saying I used to believe in the extraordinary interpretations I did. I just wanted to say that my re-education process has been difficult because I used to believe in a lot of crazy things. Also, I'm not trying to make a caricature of my former beliefs, everything I have written here about what I used to believe I will confirm again as an accurate depiction of what was going on in my head. I think it is a misstatement of yours to say that these beliefs have "absolutely no relation to... anything else that is found in scripture or in the teachings of the church". They obviously have some relation, being that I justified these beliefs using passages from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Journal of Discourses and Doctrine & Covenants, pretty well-known LDS texts. I showed these passages in another reply to you.
1CCC9yI agree intuitively with your second sentance (parsing 'beliefs' as 'religious beliefs'); but as I assign both options rather low probabilities, I suspect that it isn't enough to cause much in the way of evaporative cooling. I haven't really seen that hostility, myself. Hmmm. It seems likely that the non-standard forms have glaring flaws; close inspection finds the flaws, and a proportion of people therefore immediately assume that all religions are equally incorrect. Which is flawed reasoning in and of itself; if one religion is flawed, this does not imply that all are flawed.

IIRC the standard experimental result is that atheists who were raised religious have substantially above-average knowledge of their former religions. I am also suspicious that any recounting whatsoever of what went wrong will be greeted by, "But that's not exactly what the most sophisticated theologians say, even if it's what you remember perfectly well being taught in school!"

This obviously won't be true in my own case since Orthodox Jews who stay Orthodox will put huge amounts of cumulative effort into learning their religion's game manual ov... (read more)

0MugaSofer9yReally? I would have expected most aspiring rationalists who happen to be theists to be mildly irritated by the anti-theism bits, but sufficiently interested by the majority that's about rationality. Might be the typical mind fallacy, though. I would assume this is because the standard version of major religions likely became so by being unusually resistant to deconversion - including through non-ridiculousness. EDIT: also, I think those were intended as examples of things irrational people believe, not necessarily Mormons specifically.
Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013)

I am Mormon so I am curious where you got the beliefs that Homosexuality would destroy civilization, that humans came from another planet, that the Ten Tribes live underground beneath the Arctic? Those are not standard beliefs of Mormons (see for instance the LDS churches Mormonsandgays.org) and only one of those have I ever even encountered before (Ten Tribes beneath the Arctic) but I couldn't figure out where that belief comes from or why anyone would feel the need to believe it.

I also have to ask, the same as MugaSofer, could you explain how The God Delusion obliterated your faith? It seemed largely irrelevent to me.

0atomliner9yThe arguments seemed to make more sense to me than those made for the existence of God? I don't know, it's a long book. The parts I liked the most was about the prayer experiment that showed no correlation between prayers and the recovery of hospital patients and how you can be a good, healthy, happy person without believing in God. Those were things I had never heard before.
2atomliner9yI have visited mormonsandgays.org. That came out very recently. It seems that the LDS Church is now backing off of their crusade against homosexuality and same-sex marriage. In the middle of the last decade, though, I can assure you what I was taught in church and in my family was that civilizations owed their stability to the prevalence of traditional marriages. I was told that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because homosexuality was not being penalized and because of the same crime the Roman Empire collapsed. It is possible that these teachings, while not official doctrine, were inspired by the last two paragraphs of the LDS Church's 1995 proclamation The Family. In the second to last paragraph it says: I have a strong feeling my interpretation of this doctrine is also held by most active believing American Mormons, having lived among them my entire life. I don't think that most Mormons believe that mankind came from another planet, but I started believing this after I read something from the Journal of Discourses, in which Brigham Young stated: This doctrine has for good reason been de-emphasized by the LDS Church, but never repudiated. I read this and other statements made by Brigham Young and believed it. I did believe he was a prophet of God, after all. I began to believe that the Ten Tribes were living underneath the Arctic after reading The Final Countdown by Clay McConkie which details the signs that will precede the Second Coming. In the survey he apparently conducted of active Latter-day Saints, around 15% believed the Ten Tribes were living somewhere underground in the north. This belief is apparently drawn from an interpretation of Doctrine & Covenants 133:26-27, which states: I liked the interpretation that this meant there was a subterranean civilization of Israelites and believed it was true. I apologize that I gave examples of these extraordinary former beliefs right after I wrote "I'm playing catch-up, trying to expand my mind as fast as I
Pretending to be Wise

I think you are confused, this is the Solitudinem Party foreign policy, the Scorched Earth Party involves only the destruction of all non-Jews in the Middle East (facebook) and a lot of lead pipes. We of the Solitudinem Party do agree on some points with the Scorched Earthy Parties foreign policy but feel it doesn't go far enough in ensuring an end to suffering and world peace. We take as our party motto and guiding principle this sound advice:

ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant - Tacitus

It has a proud and honored history of effectively working. We fee... (read more)

4Nornagest11yI probably don't need to tell you this, but I'm pretty sure that was meant to be "maybe I've described the correct course of action", not "maybe you should come back [implication: and maybe not]". That being said, though, Alicorn's right. Unbiased reception of theism is perhaps a collective sore spot for LW, but willfully poking something in the sore spots is not generally considered polite -- and you're not likely to get much applause by associating the site with the "intolerant tolerance" meme, either.
Lonely Dissent

Forget the clown suit. Try defending theism in a place where atheism reigns. Try being chaste before marriage and happily married after. Try to stand up for what you know to be right even if no one else around you is.

It is fashionable and respectable to be a dissenter in pre-approved areas of dissent, try instead to stand up for the norms which one knows to be right, and see what happens.

This is the true lonely dissent and the true rebellion for which the "tolerant" are not able to tolerate regardless of whether it is right or true.

6Arandur10yFor that matter, try being born into the Church, not going on a mission at the prescribed age, but then still belonging to the Mormon church. Two degrees of dissent there. Or try being a non-Republican Mormon, cohabitating with crazy right-wingers who think it's a Good Idea to shut down Planned Parenthood. For that matter, try being a bisexual in the Mormon church. (Or a furry!) You can't talk about your sense of identity without your Mormon friends judging you, but you can't talk about your religion with your non-Mormon friends because they'll consider you a hypocrite. But you know what's interesting? In each of the above situations, all of which apply (or have applied in the past) to me, I can think of someone else I know who's in the same situation. With seven billion people on this planet, is it really possible to dissent in a "unique" way? This is not meant to detract from Yudkowsky's post; he himself said "there are [others] in the world, somewhere, but they aren't there next to you. You have to explain it, alone, to people who just think it's weird". But it's an interesting thought. Reminds me of the saying: "In China, if you're one-in-a-million, there are a thousand of you".
4Alicorn11yJohnH, you have not historically been especially trollish. You're getting there now. Calm down and come back later, maybe.
Lonely Dissent

missionaries don't convert many outsiders,

More converts are obtained then are born into the church. Since missionaries are in pairs then last year there were an average of 10 converts per missionary pair. Does this count as many or few?

0[anonymous]11yThat counts as a huge geometrical explosion. 30% of mormons go on a mission. 10 converts per pair, 5 converts each, would be an increase of 0.3*5=150% per year. However, that is indexed by baptisms rather than long term membership. Presumably there is quite a lot of backsliding, or the whole world would have been converted.
2TheOtherDave11yThat surprises me. But if that's a typical result (as opposed to an artifact of averaging conversions from other sources over number of missionaries) over a relatively short time-interval, then yeah, I simply stand corrected. Can you cite?
-1Peterdjones11yIf God demonstrably exists, it is irrational to ignore the evidence saying so. That's a rather important difference.
2ChrisPine11y[Disclaimer: I'm having a pretty strong negative emotional reaction to this post, and much of this thread, but I'm really trying to give you the benefit of the doubt; I apologize if I come off as snippy.] No, it makes sense in any case. Even if there's a god. Even if that god is omniscient. Even if that god is benevolent. And even is that god is perfectly rational!! There's a difference between "rational" and "ethical". (By your argument, Satan could not possibly be rational... is that your belief?) There's a difference between "rational" and "logically internally consistent". The mentally ill can be logically internally consistent, but that is not what we mean by "rational". Let me ask you again: why are you here? I don't intend it as a rhetorical equivalent to "fuck off"... I'm honestly asking: what do you hope to get out of this? I don't know if you read Eliezer's recent Epistle to the New York Less Wrongians [http://lesswrong.com/lw/5c0/epistle_to_the_new_york_less_wrongians/], but I'd like to highlight a few of the items in the list of things rationality is about: * Saying oops and changing your mind occasionally. * Knowing that clever arguing isn't the same as looking for truth. * Reserving your self-congratulations for the occasions when you actually change a policy or belief, because while not every change is an improvement, every improvement is a change. * Asking whether your most cherished beliefs to shout about actually control your anticipations, whether they mean anything, never mind whether their predictions are actually correct. These are what rationality are for me. (The second point, in particular, is what I was trying to say when I spoke of "logic games".) And these things are not dependent on there not being a god! (In fact, if you want to convince me that there is a god (in another thread, please!), these points are the way to do it.) Are you here to say 'oops' on occasion? Are you here to look for the truth (or are you con
Future of Humanity?

Nukes could be extremely useful in powering spacecraft, Pluto would be less than a year round trip. If the arsenals are to be reduced the nukes should be used for a Project Orion. Even without that, Nukes are useful in that they could potentially deflect asteroids.

Aggression and Competitiveness certainly have their place in a Capitalist society. The important thing is to direct such behavioral tendencies into business instead of into war or politics.

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

Alma 32:18 [I]f a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. But if knowledge was just a belief with 100% confidence, then that you knew it would mean you had quite a few causes to believe it.

I always took it to mean that if one knows something one has no cause to doubt it.

Belief as defined at dictionary.com does work with saying that one does not believe something one knows, being if a statement has proof then one does not believe it (see # 2).

It seems to be using belief-in as opposed to belief-that. If not then you are rig... (read more)

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

meaning two things by knowledge, depending on the context in which you use it.

I think you are right in this assessment.

when you wanted to start talking about scripture again I suspect you'd end up saying either, 'People don't believe that which they know.' Or, 'People don't believe that which they have faith in.'

??? - you lost me here. Why would I end up saying that people don't believe that which they know? Why would I have to redefine belief?

You could do the same sort of thing with the more day to day predictions of prophets from the Church b

... (read more)
3Estarlio11yAlma 32:18 [I]f a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. But if knowledge was just a belief with 100% confidence, then that you knew it would mean you had quite a few causes to believe it. I suppose you could also end up saying that knowledge was uncaused belief but that seems even more problematic I'm not surprised, risk profiles don't tend to reduce to a substance being absolutely good or bad for you. It depends on your genetics and the interaction of various chemicals in the drink, not all of which have linear relationships with consumption. So far as coffee goes, broadly speaking, the consensus among the experts - i.e. those publishing studies into the effects of coffee - seems to indicate that consumption beneath four cups a day has more health benefits than risks, unless you happen to have gastro intestinal problems or need iron supplements. Paper filters seem to reduce risks even further. Tea seems to be okay as long as you don't put milk with it or drink it while it's incredibly hot. Or drink stupid amounts, of course. Alcohol? Well one or two drinks seems to be linked to reduced mortality - at least in the UK. The French seem to do well with it, though it may just be because of their diets. Heavy consumption does seem to be very bad for you. In principle, yeah. I don't think the WoW is very strong evidence by itself because there are loads of other possible explanations for health variances, and depending on the rationale the range of likely guesses may not have been all that wide, and because, IIRC, it was originally hot drinks in general which was changed later on when it became untenable; but it's the right sort of thing, yeah. If LDS's prophets consistently make better predictions than experts, then they've probably got access to some sort of privileged information to narrow their range of answers down. Either that or they're just vastly more rational than the experts, but the odds of that are slim.
0Estarlio11yYou seem to be meaning two things by knowledge, depending on the context in which you use it. I would suggest that you might find it easier if you use the words 'information' or 'evidence' when talking about justifications for a level of confidence/faith. And only use 'knowledge' to signify whatever high degree of confidence you've decided to use as your cut-off point for hands-in-fire-get-burned, I'm-looking-at-the-computer-and-it's-still-there levels of certainty. It still seems to me that you're going to end up with problems if you hold faith as being another word for confidence. Since even certainty (100% confidence) is still a degree of confidence – and also knowledge under such a definition. But scripture holds that knowledge isn't faith – which is the same as saying if you hold that faith and confidence are synonymous – that knowledge isn't a degree of confidence (even 100% confidence). It seems to me to be a deeper problem than one of definitions. You're going to have problems if you say that faith just refers to the preceding 99.9 recurring % levels of confidence, too. You've said that it's a general enough idea, in “Lectures on Faith”, to just be taken as a synonymous term with confidence. But even putting that problem aside, when you wanted to start talking about scripture again I suspect you'd end up saying either, 'People don't believe that which they know.' Or, 'People don't believe that which they have faith in.' But belief isn't one of those fuzzy terms, like knowledge or faith. The meaning can't be altered to fit a particular argument without doing significant damage to the network of references into which it fits. If I say I believe my computer is in front of me while I'm typing on it, (which going by your standards would also be knowledge,) then there's no significant question what I mean. Just as it's coherent for me to say that I believe my front door is locked, when strictly speaking I've heard one of the other occupants of the building c
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

Did you not understand that the peril of knowledge is only if one does not follow what one knows? Knowledge is not something to be feared but to be sought after and this is true of all knowledge. Of course with knowledge comes responsibility to use that knowledge well and this is again true of all types of knowledge.

if we become unworthy of returning to God that removes a lot of the reason for being here. Why not be embodied and immediately die? The purpose of life then having been completed.

I actually had a discussion on Less Wrong already that cover... (read more)

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

X is true - that you have not taken

I assume you mean by this that I have not proven to your satisfaction that X is true? I have presented to you most things that are easily with in my reach to show that God is real or to show ways to prove to yourself that God is real.

Consistency doesn't make it apply to reality but I feel it is a necessary prerequisite to doing so.

could you please tell me what brought you to this belief?

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

Moses 1:39

Then the knowledge t... (read more)

The Aliens have Landed!

Why would we be willing to believe that they will stop the torture if we killed ourselves? Further, if we killed ourselves why wouldn't they delete or kill the people being tortured?

They gave us the diagrams of themselves if I understand correctly and from the story we have the understanding to tell they tell the truth. What is to stop us from building massive super computers that can simulate some way of torturing trillions of them unless they stop simulating the torture of us? By communicating this possibility to the aliens and letting them know that if... (read more)

-1TimFreeman11yDestructive analysis of a few of the small spheres. Ah, but the torture is worse than death! Deletion would be an improvement. If I were going to continue the story in that vein, I'd give the aliens the same morality as Thud, and have them make an uninformed guess that someone like Fred might have power.
What bothers you about Less Wrong?

There is a category of religiously inspired posts that creep me out and set of cult alarms. It contains that post about staring from Scientology and that Transcendental meditation stuff that while I found it interesting and perhaps useful doesn't seem to belong on LW and now recently these Mormon posts abut growing organizations. shudder

I actually agree with this statement.

0shokwave11yIf X then Y X Therefore Y This is the form of your statement (X is "God is real and all knowing" and Y is "Things are the way He says they are") and I fully agree it is consistent. It is the second step - X is true - that you have not taken. "If X then Y, X, therefore Y" does not assert the truth of X, it conditions the truth of Y on the truth of X. By way of analogy, there are many mathematical systems that are consistent yet do not apply to reality (in some senses, I believe, they are more consistent than the system(s) that do apply to reality!). Asserting their consistency will not make them apply to reality. This is already deeply nested and derailed so I don't feel bad pursuing this - could you please tell me what brought you to this belief (that there are reasons for what God does)? Be as concrete as possible, if you could!
3[anonymous]11ySee the footnote under (1). The argument remains: if the reason behind section 89 is the principle that because there exist people too weak to resist the addiction of X, then we must ban X, the prohibitions of section 89 are at least laughably incomplete, and at most incoherent. If, on the other hand, this isn't the reason behind the prohibitions of section 89, then there is no other reason stated. So the assertion that "You are free to read section 89 where it is so forbidden to see why." is false, because there is no "why" given. Also see Explaining vs. Explaining Away [http://lesswrong.com/lw/oo/explaining_vs_explaining_away/].
6shokwave11yIt's a reasonable assumption, that's why. When we see something nonsensical like "hot drink addiction" which doesn't actually exists in meaningful quantities in the world, we instinctively repair that phrase. The closest sensible meaning is "caffeine addiction", because caffeine is in the hot drinks prohibited, and "caffeine addiction" is something that is in the world in meaningful quantities. There are a few other things I would like to bring up but my experience with your previous postings indicate to me you come from an unalterable epistemic state. That is, you do not see the need to provide reasons other than God or revelation. I can't do anything with that.
1Estarlio11yIf faith is just another word for confidence then knowledge would just be a high degree of faith and that doesn't fit in with how it's used in the Book; where it's held that if you know you don't have faith/believe. If you keep using knowledge to mean a very high degree of confidence and maintain that all meaningful faith is based on knowledge - and not just in the sense of exceeding the level of confidence that evidence justifies - then I'm not sure how it's possible for meaningful faith to exist. Since: If it meets the level of confidence that the knowledge justifies, then it's not faith. And if it exceeds the level of confidence that evidence justifies then it doesn't fit how it's used in "Lectures on Faith". And I take it just as a given that faith is not to believe /less/ than the evidence justifies - especially with 1 John 4:1 commanding people to test their prophets.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

... this is certainly not what I had in mind.

I assumed it was, based on the "not in moderation".

But the Mormon church also forbids a glass or two of wine with dinner, once a week.

Yes it does. You are free to read section 89 where it is so forbidden to see why.

In any case, one can look at the rings of trees, match them up to older trees, match those up to still older trees..

Not sure the trees would have died. Also not sure of the exact nature of the flood. The myth is an extremely common one and myths are usually based on some sort of... (read more)

5ChrisPine11yAbout vegetarianism: you seem to be confusing two different positions: * it is ok to not eat animals * it is not ok to eat animals One is the Mormon position, and the other is the vegan position. I understand that the Mormon church would be ok with something living a vegan lifestyle. No problem. I am talking about being able to coherently hold the Mormon position and the vegan position. I'm talking about having the freedom to decided for myself that I believe it is wrong to eat animals. This is different from the freedom to just not eat animals. One is about actions you do or don't do, and the other is about ethics. If I were still Mormon, I could not give a talk in church about how it's wrong to eat animals. If I were to tell others that I thought it was wrong (I'm really not the preachy sort at all, BTW, and most of my friends are carnivores, but if I were to tell others), I would be told by someone in authority in the church that I was incorrect. That animals are here for us to use, and God said so, and I am wrong if I think that's not how it is. Because an old book said so. I find this unacceptable. I find the idea (that I am not free to try to discover what is right and wrong in this world) to be totally unacceptable. After thinking long and hard about this (for years), and after accruing a great deal of evidence and experience, I have come to believe something, and someone who has never thought much about it at all can just tell me that I'm wrong, and This Is The Mormon Truth, because it's written in an old book. It's everything this website is against!! (IMHO) Now don't take this the wrong way: I welcome religious people to this website, I value differing points of view, and I think we can all stand to be a bit less wrong. But I have to ask: given your viewpoints (which seem to suggest that the way to be less wrong is to listen to god and read your scriptures)... why are you here?? What are you getting out of this? Anyway... about the alcohol: did y
5[anonymous]11yAs a means of procrastinating, I looked up section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants, if that's what it's called. The "why" seems to be that there are people with insufficient willpower to resist caffeine or alcohol addiction (1). So what? There are people without the willpower to resist chewing ice. Shouldn't the Mormons ban ice? (1) Wait! I have to be careful here. It never mentions either caffeine or alcohol! It's specifically "grape wine" addiction and "hot drink" addiction -- though Word of God [http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WordOfGod] is that hot drink means tea and coffee, curiously excluding soda.

Per usage alcohol has a higher death rate then either tobacco or pools.

Actually, the best available study suggests that drinking appears to increase life expectancy on average even in fairly heavy amounts. (Ungated paper available here -- see the striking graphs in figures 1 and 2.)

In practice, of course, this varies enormously between individuals, and it's somewhat correlated with ancestry. Some people with particularly bad predispositions are indeed better off as teetotalers, but the idea that total abstinence would make everyone (or even the majorit... (read more)

0Alicorn11yUpvoted for apparently actually looking this up.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

Some of the nations were opened up before 1990. Further, this is not saying one country opened up but many. Perhaps you are not aware that in 1976 it appeared as though communism would last forever and saying not just one but that all of Soviet bloc would not be communist in 14 years was viewed as an impossibility.

if you're charitable enough to forgive 3 failures for each 1 amazingly correct prediction, the prophet cannot lose.

Where are the failures?

0khafra11yI'm not familiar enough with the publications of the LDS church to list any. Reading the linked speech, "opening new areas" did seem to be the only thing one could fairly call a prediction. Perhaps there are no unfulfilled predictions in the historical records. More likely, perhaps most prophecies had different possibilities for information gain; even that prophecy--1 major government change every 50 years was just a guess, although the single government change in the USSR was the proximate cause of each country's opening. But all I really meant to say is that a prophecy is not a boolean quantity, but a point on a continuum from correctly predicting "the sun will rise tomorrow" to correctly predicting "the sun will not rise tomorrow." Before treating a prophecy as evidence for any particular properties of the prophet or the prophet's sponsor, you should locate it on that continuum.
Tolerate Tolerance

For me, this appears to be correct.

1Celer11yTo make sure we are not arguing over words, Googling "tolerate" returns two definitions. "1. Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference. 1. Accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance." I am using the second, not the first. I don't see the point of dealing with someone who is explicitly intolerant of a group of people based on no conscious choice of their own, and should have examined their own beliefs, without a very significant reason to do so. This is because they are less likely to have interesting thoughts or experiences, and furthermore I would not feel comfortable dealing with them in many social settings.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

why doesn't god provide whatever portion of the evidence doesn't quite tip me over that vital point yet preserves enough meaning to actually be evidence?

It is my understanding that He does.

'The more sure you are the more liable you are

yep.

all meaningful faith would be based primarily on some form of knowledge.

Which it is. An experience once provided does give knowledge of the thing, however it is possible to doubt your experiences. Also, the experiences only provide knowledge of one thing and there will remain many things that are not known wit... (read more)

0Estarlio11yIf you're right in respect to the prophesies of Thomas S. Monson, I don't see how this could hold. They would be strong evidence. In any case I think, we've got the chunks to start doing some building. But. Also known things are knowledge. You seem to be invoking, admittedly with some degree of displacement, the term in its own description. To a degree – if you're going to build knowledge into the meaningfulness of faith then faith would be something like believing with a greater certainty than the evidence justifies. Since all faith would be tested to some extent, even if very weakly, in order to contain meaning. The problem with that approach is that it never seems necessary for me to believe beyond the evidence. If I put, say, one percent confidence on the idea of god based upon things I see then that's not faith – and if I get more evidence from investigating based on that one percent and believe it to be slightly more likely – do some more investigation and get more... it never becomes faith; it's testing / knowledge all the way up.
1khafra11yYou should look at information gain when evaulating the strength of a prophecy. For instance, "closed countries will become open at some point in the future." Assume this requires a major change in government, then look at the expected rate of major government change--I'm going to make a guess of a 2% chance per year. After 14 years (1976-1990), observing a government change major enough to open a country gives you around 2 bits of information. That means this "prophecy" is approximately as impressive as prophecying correctly that a fair coin will come up heads twice. Even if you read the prophecies with no bias whatsoever, if you're charitable enough to forgive 3 failures for each 1 amazingly correct prediction, the prophet cannot lose.
0Estarlio11ySo why has he revealed himself even at a low level of confidence? People supposedly already know right from wrong so that's not it. If his revealing himself helps people to do right rather than wrong more than it imperils them, then in his not revealing himself to me I have lost something. (It's less probable that I will do right and thus I have been imperilled.) If he helps at a particular level of confidence less than he imperils then it doesn't make sense for him to reveal himself to anyone. If they're equal then there's no purpose in it. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Assorted thoughts on the rest: Eh, there's a tension between power and justification. If you take it to the extreme, omnipotence and reason are mutually exclusive criteria. (Outside, perhaps, of an inability to commit logical contradictions, but that doesn't really seem to be involved here.) I'd be more than happy to give symmetrical power to an AI, assuming I had godly powers. The whole issue is that a recursively improving AI might become far more powerful than ourselves. Why do we need to qualify to return if we followed him and didn't fall? Above you said we were here to gain a body and to qualify to return to the presence of God. However, if we become unworthy of returning to God that removes a lot of the reason for being here. Why not be embodied and immediately die? The purpose of life then having been completed. You've already said knowledge is an incredibly high degree of confidence – indeed you've said that it's practically indistinguishable from certainty - which you've in turn tied to proof. I've seen no proof of right and wrong. A feeling certainly isn't proof; asides from anything else I've felt different ways about ethical issues at different points in time. Then you have the cultural variances in preferences and emotions.... Again you've tied knowledge to being a high degree of confidence. If it's easily confused with othe
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

He's already playing the game. His values may be very different to our own but he's playing.

Ok, agreed.

kid tells you they're a god

I assume you mean there is a god?

Treating him lightly would be dancing off to believe in some random god because I got the warm fuzzies when I went to a church/mosque/whatever, or because of what I read in some book.

Also agreed.

he's being asked to do it as a parlour trick

This is what I was assuming you were asking to have happen.

I am working on a longer response now that I have a better understanding of what... (read more)

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

To begin with the Rapture as understood by the evangelicals will never happen. Therefore, it will not happen on May 21. I seriously doubt saying that will increase anyone's estimation of my religion.

I have provided specific examples of prophecy that have been fulfilled. I am also able to provide more if it is so desired.

Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

So a prophecy of something happening in the world at large does not count as evidence if it comes true but predicting a coin toss does?

3Nornagest11yA prophecy counts as evidence of privileged information insofar as it generates accurate predictions. Generally it doesn't, by itself, tell us much about the source of that privileged information, but the circumstances surrounding its creation might imply some intelligence worth updating on. On the other hand, essentially all of the prophecies -- regardless of their source -- that I'm aware of are unfulfilled, unverifiable, vague or ambiguous enough to have no predictive value, or outright fraudulent. Now, I'll be happy to update if the Rapture happens on May 21 as the billboards lining my commute keep insisting, but I'm not holding my breath.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

We should be able to sit you down in a room with a fair coin - or some other thing that can be relatively easily measured - and have you call it.

If I were claiming to be psychic or something then maybe. You have pretty much the same opportunity to try this out using the given method as I do. However, what makes you think that God is willing to play such a game? He isn't a genie or oracle that grants every random wish. I could be wrong but I doubt He would be care to be treated so lightly.

. If knowledge is to be 70% confidence and god only calls it 69

... (read more)
1Estarlio11yI already know it doesn't work for me. Perhaps I wasn't taking it seriously enough – whatever that means. You have a god that reveals his existence to guide his followers on matters of relatively minuscule importance but won't reveal his existence to save someone's immortal soul? He's already playing the game. His values may be very different to our own but he's playing. (Assuming of course he exists.) I don't think it's treating him lightly either. Some kid tells you they're a god you just smile and nod, some adult say it you ask them demonstrate some suitably implausible power. When you take something seriously you test it. Generally the more seriously you take something the more you test it – resources allowing – not less. Treating him lightly would be dancing off to believe in some random god because I got the warm fuzzies when I went to a church/mosque/whatever, or because of what I read in some book. It's not like he's being asked to do it as a parlour trick. It's not random either – it's for a purpose. Someone's immortal soul may or may not be in jeopardy. I think so too. Whatever calls would give you a 69% confidence then.
2CuSithBell11yProviding solid evidence is the only way to reach people who don't believe things without evidence. Some sort of effort in that direction would be expected of someone benevolent towards these people who predicts that this belief would be valuable. That's the way it seems to me at least.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

Put it this way, if you think that there is a 1% probability (e.g. you are convinced it is bogus) that I am right in stating that if taken seriously God will answer prayers as from the scriptures I provided and this is enough to get you to try out what they say then that was sufficient faith in that instance. Clearly at 1% probability you shouldn't be doing anything else that comes with believing in the Book of Mormon or being LDS (at least that doesn't already coincide with what you think of as being right).

If you follow through and get evidence to boost... (read more)

0Estarlio11yThat doesn't seem consistent with part of the earlier verse you posted. Under the account you're offering faith and knowledge are just different degrees of belief – indeed under that account knowledge is the type of belief with the most cause behind it. Whereas under the account in the verse knowledge and belief seem to be completely different kinds of thing. If you want to call different degrees of confidence faith and knowledge, I don't really mind – the probabilities are what they are regardless of the labels you hang off them - but it doesn't seem to be doing any work that gets you closer to the conclusion you've decided on. You haven't illustrated any difference beyond the claim that at some point of arbitrarily selected confidence it's going to become worse for us if we don't follow the relevant commandments. Which is fine as far as it goes I suppose – why doesn't god provide whatever portion of the evidence doesn't quite tip me over that vital point yet preserves enough meaning to actually be evidence? It strikes me the answer is going to have to be along the lines of 'The more sure you are the more liable you are.' But then the degree of confidence is a measure of degrees of knowledge and you've lost that sharp divide that seems to be required for you to make meaning and faith coexist (i.e. being more sure of the religion's groundings than of a fair coin flip). The objection that I couldn't know because then I wouldn't believe would become rather meaningless – all meaningful faith would be based primarily on some form of knowledge.
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

What is your confidence level that putting your hand into a campfire is will burn your hand?

edit As in I assumed you were intelligent enough to see everything you said and to assume that I was also intelligent enough to see such things.

0Estarlio11yClose enough to 100% that it makes no practical difference. That doesn't seem to leave you any better off though. Which, yes, I assumed you'd seen. If the level of confidence you wish to select is to be high - perhaps even very high - before faith becomes knowledge, then the level of proof you can offer without destroying faith will be almost equally high. Even if we go all the way out to 100% you've just taken on a greater burden of proof. This isn't some abstract thing. We should be able to sit you down in a room with a fair coin - or some other thing that can be relatively easily measured - and have you call it. See what statistic it approaches - how God does against blind chance. If knowledge is to be 70% confidence and god only calls it 69% of the time that 1% difference preserves your faith. The same for whatever level of confidence you select. The only way the objection offered in Alma makes any sort of sense is if there is no such difference with which to preserve faith.
7shokwave11yA similar myth in many cultures is evidence of an attractor in cultural idea-space. A worldwide natural disaster is such an attractor, but there are other attractors that are far more likely.
5ChrisPine11yI'm just not sure we're having the same conversation here, John. I really didn't want to debate Mormon theology or the existence of God. My main point was that the Mormon church is too restrictive in terms of what is "allowed", both in terms of behaviors and beliefs. Too restrictive on things that might give Wednesday happiness some day. This is EXACTLY what I mean by "playing logic games". Are you really trying to understand my position here, or just reductio-ad-absurdum everything I say? Because I have a seven-year-old, and I get plenty of that already. :-) I suspected you would say this, which is why I mentioned "candles and canned corn" in an attempt to skip over this part: yes, alcohol can hurt people, and it does. So do swimming pools. (I'm not even sure which one is responsible for more deaths per year, but they are both WAY more than for marijuana, in any case.) Yet the Mormon church forbids alcohol, but not pools. I am saying that both are fun, but only if handled responsibly. Forgive me if I'm mischaracterizing your arguments, but I feel like you are spending more energy trying to point out why I'm wrong and Mormonism is right, than you are in honestly trying to understand my position: hurting people is bad, and having fun is good. Some things can be fun in some contexts and hurtful in others. The fun ones are good, and the hurtful ones are bad. But I didn't really need to spell that out, did I? I think you knew what I meant. Yeah... I don't mean to ad-hominem you, but, just as a meta-statement: this really sounds like the kind of thing someone without a lot of experience with alcohol would say. Obviously she doesn't need to get totally drunk every time she drinks... this is certainly not what I had in mind. But the Mormon church also forbids a glass or two of wine with dinner, once a week. And that hurts nobody. And is pretty fun for many people. The kind of fun they will remember. Arrogant?? Do you have any idea how incredibly impossible such a thin
Theism, Wednesday, and Not Being Adopted

Your argument only makes sense if you are a Bayesian that denies the whole idea of knowledge built off of axioms. Which is funny because Bayes theorem is built off of a set of well defined axioms. How do you know Bayes theorem is true outside of the axioms that it is built off of?

Anyways, change it to degrees of confidence such that knowledge is something like 90% and faith is anything below that. Or whatever critical values you wish to use.

0Estarlio11yAlright. I'm happy enough being a Mormon with proof that only makes you right somewhere around 90% of the time. Cough up. Resetting confidence levels is a dangerous game for any person to play with their beliefs. You've said I can set it wherever I like. Fine, I choose to set it such that greater than or equal to fifty one percent confidence will be knowledge of some degree, rather than faith. Do you see the consequences here? I've just reduced the chance that any aspect of your canon and testimony is actually correct to the odds of a coin flip. If you accept those boundaries, then you can't use the book of Mormon or divine testimony or anything like that as something any more substantial than a coin flip to guide your decisions or beliefs. It's essentially admitting that you'd be just as well off using a gambler's dice to guide your life. There's a tension in fiddling with confidence levels like this. Between meaning and proof. If you want an empty faith – then that's very easy to have without obligating yourself to any sort of evidence, but it's not clear there's anything there to believe in. However, if you want to preserve that sort of meaning then you've got to select confidence levels in excess of fifty percent and retain those as faith and that obligates you to some sort of proof. And, by the by: this all works whether or not you're a pure Bayesian. Axioms are true simply by virtue of the rules of the system. They are true in every possible world where the system in which they're constructed can be made to apply. To the truth state of an axiom it doesn't matter whether god will provide testimony or not. If you think knowledge only comes from axioms - (or is built purely on axioms) - then in offering some prediction as being fulfilled you're not being asked for anything that would qualify as knowledge. It's not even clear under such a construction that you're being asked for anything that would qualify as evidence of a particular axiom. Of course the mi
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