Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

Rational basis for debunking?

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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#21  Postby DrWho » Feb 23, 2012 1:19 am

logical bob wrote:
Relativism is then the claim that all statements are to be understood in terms of a specified context, making it little more than common sense.


Even an objectivist will agree that statements are to be understood in a specific context. Relativism is normally understood to be a thesis about truth...

Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.[1][2] The term is often used to refer to the context of moral principle, where in a relativistic mode of thought, principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy.[3] The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cf. cultural relativism). Another widespread and contentious form is moral relativism. (See also moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, and cognitive relativism.)



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativism
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#22  Postby logical bob » Feb 23, 2012 1:30 am

DrWho wrote:Even an objectivist will agree that statements are to be understood in a specific context. Relativism is normally understood to be a thesis about truth...

Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.[1][2] The term is often used to refer to the context of moral principle, where in a relativistic mode of thought, principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy.[3] The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cf. cultural relativism). Another widespread and contentious form is moral relativism. (See also moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, and cognitive relativism.)



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relativism

If I add some emphases can you see that that definition agrees with what I'm saying?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#23  Postby igorfrankensteen » Feb 23, 2012 3:14 am

Stalidon:

You are just at the very beginning of the search you are on, and you are making some common logical errors, relative to what I think you set out to accomplish. I recognize what you are saying, I think, because I set out to do something similar many moons ago.

Right off the bat, I would commend you to read about Descartes, and what he was trying to accomplish when he arrived at his saying "Cogito ergo sum," or "I think, therefore I am." he too, was trying to find a reliable, rock-solid starting point, from which to build a fresh, and logically independent philosophical system. You seem to be trying to accomplish the same general thing, to establish for yourself, a solid set of basic principles which you will feel confident you can defend from all who might challenge you.

I think you've gone in a couple of loops, and have labeled as starting points, things that are not actually stable things themselves.

For one thing, you seem to be trying to START from concerns about a dynamic: the reason(s) for why you criticize religion. It's not possible to establish a stable, rock-solid bit of ground, on a moving target like that. Opposition can only be stable, when what one opposes is stable, and religions are living, evolving things. You will never find a single, always valid reason to oppose something like that.

You in turn, seem to have half realized that, in that you have begin to recognize that religions are not actually out to "get" people all the time, but your response seems to have been to experience a sense of guilt at having been mistaken before, rather to pursue a corrective regimen of logical inquiry to correct yourself. Jumping into the maelstrom of relativism about Truth, is exactly the opposite of what you want, and going to it as an explanation/excuse for your doubts, is an incorrect application of it.

Your problem is not that [some] "Truths" are indeed dependent upon other beliefs, your problem is in identifying the difference between stand alone facts, and dependent ones.

Someone else pointed out that things like the laws of physics are independent facts, to all except those who insist on claiming to believe that "it's all a matter of perception, and nothing is actually real." However, it is very difficult indeed, to develop an entire formula for ones's personal life, starting from the firmness of the speed limit of light.

Descartes started by declaring that he existed. From there, he went on to validate reason as a tool, and perceptions as reliable sources of factual information (within specified limits). He went on from there to build his own life philosophy. We might not agree with every choice he made along his way, but the PROCESS he chose was excellent.

As for why YOU criticize religion, it is likely not the same reason why I do, or why other people do. The fact that we have different reasons isn't pertinent to what you are trying to discover here, but you seem to think that it might be. It is important for what you are after (a sense of personal stability and a source of personal philosophical confidence), that you figure out exactly why YOU criticize religions, but it is also important for your purposes, that you not insist that this coordinates with anyone else's reasons. Your reasons are not dependent on anyone else's.

You are not suffering from a remnant of religious thinking. Just because religious people seek stability of belief, and confidence of belief as you do, does not mean that you are therefore secretly religious in any way, any more than it means that they are secretly in doubt about their own beliefs. A desire for sense of place in the universe has nothing to do with what avenue one seeks it upon.

Most of us who decide to say "religions are false," do so to escape the captivity of thought that LOCAL(to us) self-proclaimed believers are thrusting upon us (usually as a part of their own struggle for certainty). Because each person is unique, the exact reasons and details of this initial "Anti-belief" will vary from one person to the next.

But once you do effect this INITIAL "escape," you will reach a new stage of thought, and that's where you are now. Why continue to bother putting effort into opposing other's beliefs, once you are free of their domination?

Excellent thinking. However, it is not necessary or logical for you to at that point, conclude that because you won your freedom, and did it fairly easily, that you were wrong to have gone for it, or that because you feel free, that you have accidentally proved to yourself that religious belief was never really that big of a problem to begin with.

What you need to do now, is similar to what people who have tried for years, to leave their home town have to do. Being free, is closely akin to being lost. Hence your desire to establish new road signs for yourself, and hence your fear that you are merely creating a new, equally fallacious religious belief system.

I struggled with that myself, but found what I think are satisfactory, entirely NON religious ways to handle my view of the universe. I borrow some of the WISDOM of some religious believers, without taking up their gods, or their rules systems. I wont go into my own solutions here, as it is enough to let you know within the scope of this thread, that you can answer your own questions, both without resorting to any religious-like beliefs of your own making, AND without simply allowing everyone to claim their own version of reality is equally valid.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#24  Postby gleniedee » Feb 23, 2012 5:26 am

So, now I'm wondering... what's the point of saying 'religion is false'?


I can speak only for myself: I have never said any such thing. The reason is simple; I cannot prove such an assertion (which attracts the burden of proof) I am only able to assert I do not believe any religion is true due tot lack of credible evidence.

However,this does not prevent me from having only contempt for organised religion, which I see as parasitic and deeply corrupt..I am able to hold this view because the overwhelming proof,going back to the cult of Amon to today's world wide con games.

Organised religion,with its priests is arguably the greatest confidence trick ever perpetuated on the human race.NOBODY in recorded history has ever produced ANY credible evidence for ANY transcendent claim made by ANY religion,beginning with the existence of any deity.

I have no ideas if there is such a thing as an absolute truth. I have yet to see one,so am not yet able to believe in such a thing.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#25  Postby maik » Feb 23, 2012 7:07 am

Some good- classic for philosophy- questions there, Stalidon.
I won't focus on religion, like most, but on philosophy.
The question at hand is, how can you be sure that you know The Truth, so you are qualified to "force" it on others?
In few words, i think that the answer is, you can't know The Truth, but you ought to fight for your beliefs at a degree. One with a viewpoint oughts to be a bit "extremistic". Ideally, we must back up our opinion with passion, while trying to keep a cold, open mind. Not very easy.
The father of "measure" (as in, "all in good measure"), Aristotle, while he supported that The Truth lies "in the middle", he also supported that who ever finds it, should extremely insist on it. Of course the question is, how you know you found it?
I think Aristotle meant that you should insist on your position on the measure that you are sure of it and you know what you are talking about. How much open- minded you are, in order to be able to reconsider your position, is something that, i think, is not up to you.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#26  Postby Nicko » Feb 23, 2012 7:29 am

logical bob wrote: The denial of universal truth claims is not a universal truth claim any more than atheism is a religion.


This goes to the heart of what both Bill and I are taking about. Neither he nor I are making claims of any kind.

One does not have to know whether or not a claim is true in order to state that if it were true it would constitute a truth. If nothing at all was able to be known, then that itself would constitute a truth; though of course - by the conditions of this hypothesis - we could not know that it was a truth.

Bill and I are not talking about epistemology or ontology; we are talking about what the word "truth" means.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#27  Postby The_Metatron » Feb 23, 2012 7:51 am

rainbow wrote:
chairman bill wrote:I'm with Skolomowski -
The cosmos or the universe is a primordial ontological datum, while the 'world' is an epistemological construct, a form of our understanding.

There are absolute truths, we just don't necessarily know what they are

How do you know this?

Here's one.

You are unable to eat your own head.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#28  Postby The_Metatron » Feb 23, 2012 7:52 am

However, to answer the OP title: "Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?"

I would say, I criticize religions not because truth is relative. But because lies are not.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#29  Postby logical bob » Feb 23, 2012 4:24 pm

Nicko wrote:
logical bob wrote: The denial of universal truth claims is not a universal truth claim any more than atheism is a religion.

This goes to the heart of what both Bill and I are taking about. Neither he nor I are making claims of any kind.

One does not have to know whether or not a claim is true in order to state that if it were true it would constitute a truth. If nothing at all was able to be known, then that itself would constitute a truth; though of course - by the conditions of this hypothesis - we could not know that it was a truth.

Bill and I are not talking about epistemology or ontology; we are talking about what the word "truth" means.

OK then, let's talk about what the word "truth" means. First up, it doesn't convey any information. Compare two statements.
A. The speed of light is the same for all observers.
B. It's true that the speed of light is the same for all observers.
I hope you'll agree that B doesn't give you any more information than A. This makes the concept of truth look a little redundant.

There are various ways to correctly use the word.
"Truth is stranger than fiction."
"You say you didn't take my ice cream but the truth is you gorged yourself on both tubs."
"If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us"
"Time to face up to some difficult truths here, folks."

How we get from here to your suggestion that truth is something "out there" that exists even if we can't access it is a mystery to me.

Bill offered the speed of light and its status as an universal speed limit as a candidate for absolute truth. That's not an absolute truth, that's a piece of scientific theory - provisionally accepted in so far as it corresponds to the data. Indeed recent results at CERN suggested we might need to rethink it - and even if that result gets chalked up to experimental error, it shows we shouldn't be complacent about identifying our current knowledge with absolute truth. Science doesn't deal in absolute truths and never has.

Facts are also poor candidates for absolute truths because of statements A and B above. Facts are facts. To call them true in addition adds nothing to the information we have available.

It's odd to say that what truth is has nothing to do with epistemology and ontology. If there's such a thing as absolute truth, but it's not to do with what we can know or what exists, perhaps you can tell us what you think the word means?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#30  Postby HughMcB » Feb 23, 2012 4:33 pm

0/1 = 0 is not relative truth. There are some absolutes.

For the rest there is probability, which goes enormously against the existence of magical personal deities.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#31  Postby John P. M. » Feb 23, 2012 4:37 pm

logical bob, I think perhaps the others are trying to say "What actually is/was the case, regardless of opinion".
I suppose this is the same as a fact, though.

But in your ice cream example, there must be a fact about what happened to the ice cream. If the fact is that the ice cream was taken and eaten by the other person, then that fact is dubbed 'true' in parlance, isn't it?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#32  Postby Matthew Shute » Feb 23, 2012 4:39 pm

Do we need another re-run of this?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#33  Postby trubble76 » Feb 23, 2012 4:48 pm

I criticise religion for two reasons.
1) It is stupid, obviously untrue and silly
2) It is a tool used to manipulate gullible people.

I suppose you could add

3) It's fun to do.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#34  Postby logical bob » Feb 23, 2012 4:57 pm

HughMcB wrote:0/1 = 0 is not relative truth. There are some absolutes.

For the rest there is probability, which goes enormously against the existence of magical personal deities.

There's confusion about terminology here. You're calling an absolute truth one we can know with certainty. Nicko and chairman bill said that there might be absolute truths it was impossible to know. I'm saying all truth is relative to context - in the case of your example 0/1 = 0 in the context of the axioms in use. Different axioms, different theorems.

John P. M. wrote:logical bob, I think perhaps the others are trying to say "What actually is/was the case, regardless of opinion".
I suppose this is the same as a fact, though.

But in your ice cream example, there must be a fact about what happened to the ice cream. If the fact is that the ice cream was taken and eaten by the other person, then that fact is dubbed 'true' in parlance, isn't it?

If facts are all there is to truth then the idea is vacuous. "It's true that I took your ice cream" provides no more information than "I took your ice cream". As you say, it's parlance. Saying it's true that I took your ice cream might mean that I'm admitting it when I once denied it or that I'm about to offer some mitigation. Parlance shouldn't lead us to think that truth is the name of something which is out there.

Matthew Shute wrote:Do we need another re-run of this?

If people are coming in here and saying that an absence of absolute truth constitutes an absolute truth then perhaps we do.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#35  Postby John P. M. » Feb 23, 2012 5:18 pm

logical bob wrote:
If facts are all there is to truth then the idea is vacuous. "It's true that I took your ice cream" provides no more information than "I took your ice cream". As you say, it's parlance. Saying it's true that I took your ice cream might mean that I'm admitting it when I once denied it or that I'm about to offer some mitigation. Parlance shouldn't lead us to think that truth is the name of something which is out there.


Yes, this does get very semantic, and I think we lose sight of what the point of it is. If someone says "The moon is made of cheese" and I say "That's not true, because...", then I might as well have said "That's not a fact, because...", but is it wrong to use the word 'true'? Do we say what the OP seems to be getting at (I haven't read it in a while, so from shady memory), that everyone is right and everything is true, depending on whose shoes you're in?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#36  Postby stalidon » Feb 23, 2012 10:23 pm

igorfrankensteen wrote:Stalidon:

You are just at the very beginning of the search you are on, and you are making some common logical errors, relative to what I think you set out to accomplish. I recognize what you are saying, I think, because I set out to do something similar many moons ago.


Thank you all for your responses so far, specially those who offered experiences from their own lives. igorfrankensteen, your deep and sincere reply, and sharing of your experience, does relate to my existence a lot. Message received, points taken.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#37  Postby Nicko » Feb 23, 2012 10:48 pm

logical bob wrote:Bill offered the speed of light and its status as an universal speed limit as a candidate for absolute truth.


No. He didn't.

It's odd to say that what truth is has nothing to do with epistemology and ontology. If there's such a thing as absolute truth, but it's not to do with what we can know or what exists, perhaps you can tell us what you think the word means?


But that's not what I'm saying.

A claim about what the truth is constitutes an ontological claim.

A claim about the extent to which we can know the truth constitutes an epistemological claim.

Neither Bill nor I have presented either of these. We are merely saying that the truth exists, regardless of whether anyone's conception of it is accurate, even regardless of whether anyone can possess an accurate conception of it.

If reality is ultimately unknowable then the statement, "reality is ultimately unknowable" would constitute a truth. The frustrating thing - possibly what you are trying to discuss - is that if reality is ultimately unknowable, we could not know that it is ultimately unknowable. If we knew that the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" was true, then the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" would actually be false.

Relatavism could be correct. But we cannot know that. If we knew relatavism was correct, then relatavism would be incorrect.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#38  Postby stalidon » Feb 23, 2012 11:39 pm

Nicko wrote:We are merely saying that the truth exists, regardless of whether anyone's conception of it is accurate, even regardless of whether anyone can possess an accurate conception of it.


Aquinas, anyone? What is this 'the truth' that you speak of? Can you point your finger to it?
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#39  Postby Nicko » Feb 23, 2012 11:48 pm

stalidon wrote:
Nicko wrote:We are merely saying that the truth exists, regardless of whether anyone's conception of it is accurate, even regardless of whether anyone can possess an accurate conception of it.


Aquinas, anyone? What is this 'the truth' that you speak of? Can you point your finger to it?


Where did I claim that I can?

Perhaps this will help.

truth, noun

1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/truth


You seem to be hung up on definition #3, ignoring that even if we cannot verify what the truth is, it still exists.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#40  Postby stalidon » Feb 23, 2012 11:51 pm

John P. M. wrote:Do we say what the OP seems to be getting at (I haven't read it in a while, so from shady memory), that everyone is right and everything is true, depending on whose shoes you're in?


Just as a side note (I tried to clarify it on my second post), I don't adhere to that notion (that all propositions have an equal truth value, or that such value depends on who propounds it.) My point is that there seems to be no such things as 'absolute truths', that is, propositions or models about how the world is or what the case is that are complete, closed, and in no need to be improved over time. What I'm getting at is that our epistemology doesn't proceed from a top-down perspective (revelation) but from a bottom-up open-ended struggle to apprehend the world or nature as is.
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