All of Matthew G's Comments + Replies

Avoiding Your Belief's Real Weak Points

I am new to Bayesian Rationality, and it seems to me to be an ideal worth pursuing. I have so far read only Yudkowsky, and am compling a "further reading list" to continue my journey to reducing my irrationality. Please bear with me as I give you some personal context to my comments. I am a religious, practicing Jew. I don't label myself "Orthodox" or "Modern Orthodox", although I attended an Orthodox Yeshiva and live in a Modern Orthodox community, because a lot of what colors the cultural manifestation of the Jewish rel... (read more)

"I don't know how to calculate the probability of a nation that is not a superpower (or even a superpower) to remain a recognizable, cohesive unit for 3,000 years, but I imagine it's pretty small, since only one of each has done so. I also don't know how to calculate the probability of a nation remaining recognizable and cohesive despite hundreds of years of dominating countries attempting to eradicate them. To me, that makes less sense than a God who does things I don't understand." IceNogle makes the point I was going to make, but I thought I could add to it with some terminology. You are looking back from now, but that's called cheating. That's like looking at a field with an arrow in the ground far from the starting point, and it's hit a perfect bulls-eye in a target drawn in the grass. But if the arrow is shot first and the target drawn around the arrow, it's no longer impressive. A world without a God would look identical to the one we have now, and that's because God does not manifest himself in any obvious fashion. This is different from a world where, say, Batman actually exists, because in that world, there'd be one difference, as I see it...we wouldn't see Batman comic books or action figures the way we have them now. Now, these comics and toys are seen by kids as representing something that they may not understand to not exist, but all adults know that they are just toys and stories, and that Batman doesn't actually exist.
Something important to consider is that you are looking at the continuation of Judaism after the fact. If you were to go back 2,000 years, and try to predict in advance what would happen, it would be reasonable to expect that a society of some sort would survive, though predicting exactly which society of the many available would probably be beyond you. So yes, Judaism survived against all odds, but the survival of any one particular society would be against all odds. A world without God would likely have some society, and which particular society would be up to a roll of the dice. Imagine a group of 10 people, and some sort of system which would cause 9 of them, randomly chosen, to die before tomorrow. The 1 would survive because the rules of the system allowed for a survivor, not because of an inherent quality of that one person. In the same way, our world allows for some surviving cultures, though which culture survived is based significantly on luck, not just their deity. Additionally, China surviving, by your reasoning, would provide evidence that China's religious beliefs are true. In fact, as they're thriving far more than Judaism (by number of people), your reasoning indicates that a shift towards their religious beliefs would be appropriate. Also worth asking: in a world without a God would you expect to see religion? With many contradictory religions, most would have to have sprung up despite being wrong. It would only be a small shift to suppose that all of them may be.