User:Jaban

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My given name, Jaban, is derived from the name of the king of Hazor, who commanded the iron chariots. This website struck a chord with me immediately, as it highlighted the irony of what my parents had named me. It was a sort of coup de grâce for religion.
 
My given name, Jaban, is derived from the name of the king of Hazor, who commanded the iron chariots. This website struck a chord with me immediately, as it highlighted the irony of what my parents had named me. It was a sort of coup de grâce for religion.
  
== Life and religion ==
+
= Life and religion =
  
 
I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. From the age of 20, I worked toward the goal of becoming a full-time preacher, studying the New World Translation (The Bible, as edited by Jehovah's Witnesses) and other pseudo-scientific sources to more effectively argue my point to non-believers.
 
I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. From the age of 20, I worked toward the goal of becoming a full-time preacher, studying the New World Translation (The Bible, as edited by Jehovah's Witnesses) and other pseudo-scientific sources to more effectively argue my point to non-believers.
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This realization is what eventually led me to finally end my involvement with the church.
 
This realization is what eventually led me to finally end my involvement with the church.
  
== Today ==
+
= My beliefs today =
  
Seeing that is an important part of who I am now. I am an atheist, and have become somewhat of a pessimistic skeptic (I try to avoid denialism, but it's sometimes a fine line). I outright disbelieve any claims of supernatural intervention, and am highly skeptical of seemingly unfounded claims (refer to the "Baloney Detection Kit") regarding nutrition and health, alternative medicine, environmentalism, even skepticism itself.
+
Seeing that is an important part of who I am now.
  
== Practicality ==
+
I am an atheist, and have become somewhat of a pessimistic skeptic (I try to avoid denialism, but it's sometimes a fine line). I outright disbelieve any claims of supernatural intervention, and am highly skeptical of seemingly unfounded claims (refer to the "Baloney Detection Kit") regarding nutrition and health, alternative medicine, environmentalism, even skepticism itself.
  
I am an agnostic atheist, in much the same way Richard Dawkins describes. I cannot remain intellectually honest and say that I know with certainty that there is no god. But I also can't say that I know with certainty that I do not live in the Matrix or that the sky is blue or that there are no flying reindeer. But to the degree that I do not believe the infinite number of other possible scenarios I have absolutely no reason to believe, I do not believe there exists anything supernatural.
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=== Beliefs on the supernatural ===
  
In fact, I might even say that I believe in the supernatural slightly less so than random possibilities I think up, because the supernatural ideas come with a history. I think it is '''less''' plausible that Yahweh exists specifically because we know where the idea of Yahweh came from (approximately) and how it has changed throughout history. How could the god people believe in today exist, when the only reason they came to know of him is because of the recorded history... as a different god.
+
I am an agnostic atheist, in much the same way Richard Dawkins describes. I cannot remain intellectually honest and say that I know with certainty that there is no god. But I also can't say that I know with certainty that I do not live in the Matrix or that the sky is blue or that there are no flying reindeer. But to the degree that I do not believe the infinite number of other possible things I have absolutely no reason to believe, I do not believe there exists anything supernatural.
  
On another point regarding practicality, I find it useful in life to make a distinction between factual conclusions and practical conclusions.
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I base my acceptance of supernatural claims on the famous words of Tim Minchin: "Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic."
  
When it comes to factual conclusions, not many claims can be made. I cannot claim that god does not exist in a factual sense, any more than I can claim Frodo did not really travel to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Marduk may have created mankind from the blood of Kingsu. An invisible being named Yahweh may want you to avoid sex until you've legally purchased a wife. But none of those ideas have any basis, and all have a history in fiction. I cannot come to the conclusion that they are factually and absolutely untrue, but...
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In fact, I might even say that I believe in the supernatural slightly less so than many other possibilities, because the supernatural ideas come with a historical baggage. We know approximately where the idea of Yahweh came from and how it has changed throughout history. Gods 'exist' only due to the history of belief in different gods. I think that makes their actual existence '''less''' plausible.
  
In the famous words of Tim Minchin, "throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic." I can state with practical certainty that there is no god and that all discoveries for all eternity will be of natural phenomena. I can say that we are not the creation of Marduk or Yahweh and that heaven and Mordor aren't real places. I can say this from a practical standpoint because, given no exceptional difference between those ideas and any other random but baseless ideas, I ought to apply my previous experience and a principle of simplicity. If I have no more reason to believe one than the other, I must either believe both or neither. Both becomes difficult, so I'll go with neither.
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=== Basis in practicality ===
  
And I take into account that every time in all of history that anyone has said "God did it", it has always been in presumptuous ignorance, and was later corrected by someone with a more reliable means of discovery.
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I see many arguments fail to move forward due to a lack of distinction between absolute and practical certainty. So I'd like to make that distinction here.
  
=Copyright Release=
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Practical certainty is when an idea fits into a logical model which does not also allow the acceptance of ideas which, if accepted, would necessarily falsify the body of more rigidly tested ideas. In other words, one can say he is certain of an idea, for practical purposes, if it does not require he accept any other ideas known to be untrue.
 +
 
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The failure, then, is when one creates an imprecise logical model to allow the acceptance of an idea, and does not test the model thoroughly enough to see if it requires the acceptance of contrary ideas.
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 +
Here is an example:
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 +
{{Comment-box1|text=First, let's state some ideas.
 +
 
 +
* Mordor is a real place.
 +
* Marduk created humanity from the blood of Kingsu, as servants of the gods.
 +
* Yahweh created the first man from dirt, and the first woman from a rib.
 +
* Homeopathic solutions have a medicinal effect greater than that of a placebo.
 +
* Santa Claus delivers gifts on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.
 +
* Jesus walked on water.
 +
* Poseidon causes hurricanes.
 +
* A future discovery could correctly conclude that supernatural phenomenon exist.
 +
 
 +
If one accepts that Jesus walked on water, the logic used must necessarily be imprecise enough to allow him to also accept that there are flying reindeer. And accepting that would be a rejection of the existing knowledge that flying reindeer were invented in an 1823 poem by Clement Moore. Not to mention that both would falsify the entire body of observations and theories in physics and biology, in turn allowing him to also accept the Marduk-blood idea, the Yahweh-dirt idea, and the Poseidon-hurricane idea.
 +
 
 +
So a logical model which would allow the acceptance of any of these ideas, if applied honestly to the others, would require (or allow) their acceptance too - at least some of them - plus the rejection of a huge body of existing observation.
 +
}}
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 +
If someone argues that I cannot possibly '''know''' that Jesus didn't walk on water, I concede. They mean for knowledge to entail absolute certainty. All I have is practical certainty: if I accept that he did walk on water, my logical model would allow the acceptance of all claims, including conflicting ones. It is much more practical to reject the claim that he did.
 +
 
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I remind my opponent that his definition renders the word "know" meaningless. We might just as well stop using it and come up with a new word. Also, he should recognize that conceding that an idea is not an absolute does not put it on level ground with the contrary idea. Accepting that my "knowledge" of the non-existence of flying reindeer is a practical certainty only, not an absolute one, does not mean that is just as valid to believe that they do exist.
 +
 
 +
That may be why it's difficult for fundamentalists to change their view on any aspect of their religious belief:
 +
* They see practical certainty as equivalent to uncertainty. If the contrary opinion cannot be proven to an absolute certainty (which is impossible), then it is viewed as equally valid to any opinion.
 +
* Their definition of certainty requires that, if they reject the idea that Jesus walked on water, they must reassess everything they believe.
 +
 
 +
So there you are. My two cents.
 +
 
 +
= Copyright Release =
  
 
All contributions made solely by me (e.g images I post, if I ever do) are dedicated to the [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ public domain] before they are published to Iron Chariots. Moral rights granted me by the Canadian Copyright Act are waived. They may be used for any purpose, without condition or limitation. No attribution is required.
 
All contributions made solely by me (e.g images I post, if I ever do) are dedicated to the [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/publicdomain/ public domain] before they are published to Iron Chariots. Moral rights granted me by the Canadian Copyright Act are waived. They may be used for any purpose, without condition or limitation. No attribution is required.
  
 
Keep in mind that when content is in the public domain, you cannot pretend it's yours and put your own copyright notice on it.
 
Keep in mind that when content is in the public domain, you cannot pretend it's yours and put your own copyright notice on it.

Revision as of 14:56, 30 May 2010

My given name, Jaban, is derived from the name of the king of Hazor, who commanded the iron chariots. This website struck a chord with me immediately, as it highlighted the irony of what my parents had named me. It was a sort of coup de grâce for religion.

Contents

Life and religion

I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness. From the age of 20, I worked toward the goal of becoming a full-time preacher, studying the New World Translation (The Bible, as edited by Jehovah's Witnesses) and other pseudo-scientific sources to more effectively argue my point to non-believers.

I was fairly ineffective as a preacher, as I honestly attempted to understand why my opponent thought what he did (at least sometimes) and correct it, instead of simply dismissing those who made valid points. Invariably, I eventually started to recognize various inconsistencies in the teachings of my church.

In the beginning

My doubt about their divine inspiration started with the church's regulation of Internet use, which in my view was driven by a fear of technology and of the unknown (I had been using the Internet long before they learned about it; I knew their claims against it were baseless). As I looked into inconsistencies further, the pseudo-scientific information I had been fed was slowly corrected, from the history of my own church, to the history of the Bible's authorship and compilation, to how scientific investigation is done, to the profound explanatory power of the Theory of Evolution.

So their baseless fear and misunderstanding of technology (and subsequent regulation of it) led me to question them, which led me to other sources of information, and resulted in my eventual dismissal of religion as a whole. So, in the end, them acting on their fear of technology led to exactly what they feared the technology itself would lead to. Sweet irony.

The breaking point

At about the age of 25, when I no longer believed in the divine inspiration of of the church's leaders and teachings, but still thought religious belief useful, I started to realize that the method of teaching was very manipulative.

Potential recruits seemed very susceptible to having their questions "changed", in that the answer was delayed until the teacher had manipulated them into thinking their question was something else. A straw man, of sorts. Convince the person that they asked a different question than they did, and answer that one instead. This wouldn't work on everyone, but it worked on the type of people they wanted to recruit.

I also saw that the teachers themselves did not (usually) realize they were doing it. Instead, the books produced by Jehovah's Witnesses for studying with non-members are written as such. They are designed to present information in a particular order, often over the course of several months, to accomplish it. Preachers are taught to avoid answering certain things until they come to the chapter that answers it.

With some consideration, I concluded that this could only have been intentional. And, in short order, I came to realize how intellectually dishonest the religious organization was, and how destructive their method of teaching was to otherwise honest inquiry.

This realization is what eventually led me to finally end my involvement with the church.

My beliefs today

Seeing that is an important part of who I am now.

I am an atheist, and have become somewhat of a pessimistic skeptic (I try to avoid denialism, but it's sometimes a fine line). I outright disbelieve any claims of supernatural intervention, and am highly skeptical of seemingly unfounded claims (refer to the "Baloney Detection Kit") regarding nutrition and health, alternative medicine, environmentalism, even skepticism itself.

Beliefs on the supernatural

I am an agnostic atheist, in much the same way Richard Dawkins describes. I cannot remain intellectually honest and say that I know with certainty that there is no god. But I also can't say that I know with certainty that I do not live in the Matrix or that the sky is blue or that there are no flying reindeer. But to the degree that I do not believe the infinite number of other possible things I have absolutely no reason to believe, I do not believe there exists anything supernatural.

I base my acceptance of supernatural claims on the famous words of Tim Minchin: "Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic."

In fact, I might even say that I believe in the supernatural slightly less so than many other possibilities, because the supernatural ideas come with a historical baggage. We know approximately where the idea of Yahweh came from and how it has changed throughout history. Gods 'exist' only due to the history of belief in different gods. I think that makes their actual existence less plausible.

Basis in practicality

I see many arguments fail to move forward due to a lack of distinction between absolute and practical certainty. So I'd like to make that distinction here.

Practical certainty is when an idea fits into a logical model which does not also allow the acceptance of ideas which, if accepted, would necessarily falsify the body of more rigidly tested ideas. In other words, one can say he is certain of an idea, for practical purposes, if it does not require he accept any other ideas known to be untrue.

The failure, then, is when one creates an imprecise logical model to allow the acceptance of an idea, and does not test the model thoroughly enough to see if it requires the acceptance of contrary ideas.

Here is an example:

First, let's state some ideas.

  • Mordor is a real place.
  • Marduk created humanity from the blood of Kingsu, as servants of the gods.
  • Yahweh created the first man from dirt, and the first woman from a rib.
  • Homeopathic solutions have a medicinal effect greater than that of a placebo.
  • Santa Claus delivers gifts on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.
  • Jesus walked on water.
  • Poseidon causes hurricanes.
  • A future discovery could correctly conclude that supernatural phenomenon exist.

If one accepts that Jesus walked on water, the logic used must necessarily be imprecise enough to allow him to also accept that there are flying reindeer. And accepting that would be a rejection of the existing knowledge that flying reindeer were invented in an 1823 poem by Clement Moore. Not to mention that both would falsify the entire body of observations and theories in physics and biology, in turn allowing him to also accept the Marduk-blood idea, the Yahweh-dirt idea, and the Poseidon-hurricane idea.

So a logical model which would allow the acceptance of any of these ideas, if applied honestly to the others, would require (or allow) their acceptance too - at least some of them - plus the rejection of a huge body of existing observation.

If someone argues that I cannot possibly know that Jesus didn't walk on water, I concede. They mean for knowledge to entail absolute certainty. All I have is practical certainty: if I accept that he did walk on water, my logical model would allow the acceptance of all claims, including conflicting ones. It is much more practical to reject the claim that he did.

I remind my opponent that his definition renders the word "know" meaningless. We might just as well stop using it and come up with a new word. Also, he should recognize that conceding that an idea is not an absolute does not put it on level ground with the contrary idea. Accepting that my "knowledge" of the non-existence of flying reindeer is a practical certainty only, not an absolute one, does not mean that is just as valid to believe that they do exist.

That may be why it's difficult for fundamentalists to change their view on any aspect of their religious belief:

  • They see practical certainty as equivalent to uncertainty. If the contrary opinion cannot be proven to an absolute certainty (which is impossible), then it is viewed as equally valid to any opinion.
  • Their definition of certainty requires that, if they reject the idea that Jesus walked on water, they must reassess everything they believe.

So there you are. My two cents.

Copyright Release

All contributions made solely by me (e.g images I post, if I ever do) are dedicated to the public domain before they are published to Iron Chariots. Moral rights granted me by the Canadian Copyright Act are waived. They may be used for any purpose, without condition or limitation. No attribution is required.

Keep in mind that when content is in the public domain, you cannot pretend it's yours and put your own copyright notice on it.

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