world-views and agendas

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#1
It's noticeable that Alex doesn't talk so much any more about there being a close connection between atheism and philosophical materialism on the one hand and consumerism, militarism and technology worship on the other. I'm very glad that he's no longer saying these things, but what could possibly have made him take this stuff seriously in the first place?

I think the answer is that he needs to say that all materialists and atheists have some kind of hidden agenda. It can't just be that they find extraordinary the idea of somebody thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing with no brain, eyes or ears, and that they demand a hell of a lot of evidence to convince them that this is true. No, deep down they must have other reasons for rejecting the idea that the mind goes on after the death of the body and brain.

Part of what Alex has tried to do is to say that we're all in the same boat. We all have our world-view and our agenda and we'll all defend it come what may. The idea is that just as believers desperately hope that there is an afterlife, free-will, love and meaning and purpose, so non-believers desperately hope (for some bizarre reason) that there is no afterlife, free-will, love or meaning and purpose. This is very implausible on the face of it, so he has to try to come up with some kind of very complicated conspiracy theory about why they hope for this. For example, they hope we're biological robots with no free-will so we can just go on shopping and blowing each other up or whatever. The whole thing makes no sense, but this is the kind of thing he has to say.

Believers, on the other hand, have a very clear agenda. They believe that if materialism is true, then there's no meaning or purpose in life and we might as well all go and kill ourselves. In this, they are very similar to fundamentalist Christians. Thomas Nagel dealt with these arguments forty years ago in his essay 'The Absurd', so I won't bother going over all that again. The point is, rightly or wrongly, believers have very strong psychological reasons for rejecting materialism, but you can't really say that materialists have similarly strong psychological reasons for rejecting ESP or the continuation of consciousness after death. Sure, they'll look a bit stupid and will have to admit that they were wrong about a few things, but it's not the end of the world. For the believer, however, materialism is the end of the world.

So there is a difference between the agenda of the believer and that of the materialist. Both have world-views and biases, but the believer has a much stronger agenda. In my experience, almost all believers have a very strong agenda against materialism, but I could imagine a believer who didn't. For example, they could say, "Yes, we experience ourselves as living free and meaningful lives, we love our family, friends and community, and questions about the afterlife, God or the metaphysics of free-will make no difference to any of this, but by the way, it just so happens that consciousess goes on after the death of the body and brain, and remote viewing and ESP are real." If somebody talked like that, then I could perhaps trust that person and could perhaps believe that they were just interested in the scientific data. But the fact that believers almost always believe that everything hangs on their worldview being right and materialism wrong makes me very suspicious of them and everything they say.
 
#2
You would have to look at the evidence instead of assuming agencies of believers or skeptics.

My point is that regardless of the existence psi and afterlife, life can make sense, but in fact the empirical evidence indicates that the more likely is there are psi and an afterlife.

Some skeptics have a strong rejection of psi and the afterlife because they would suppose to accept it bring an age of darkness and superstition. Other skeptics are traumatized with religion since childhood, so reject any block, other skeptics are afraid of the news that may find after death, etc., So beware of generalizations.
 
#3
My point is, it's just not plausible to say that skeptics want materialism to be true. Alex can say that they hope there's no afterlife, love, freedom, meaning or purpose, but I don't think many people will buy it. In desperation, he's tried to come up with some conspiracy theories linking philosophical materialism to the techno-capitalist-military-industrial complex, but it seems even he has now given up on all of this.

The whole thing is actually pretty funny. Now that he's given up the conspiracy theory stuff linking materialism (mind=brain) to materialism (consumerism), he doesn't know what to say about the mainstream skeptics. They're just these weird science geeks who for some strange reason won't accept all this evidence.
 
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#4
My point is, it's just not plausible to say that skeptics want materialism to be true.
Sure it's plausible to say that some skeptics want materialism to be true, because many skeptics identify science with materialism, so if materialism is not true, then we go back to a time of darkness and terrible dogmatism. Other skeptics want that materialism is true because they believe that materialism is closer to what we know, and if materialism were not true, then we would have to resign a lot of metaphysical assumptions, and of course, this would be painful.

They're just these weird science geeks who for some strange reason won't accept all this evidence.
You say that as if the pseudo-skeptics do not accept the evidence because the evidence is not reasonable. No, the pseudo-skeptics do not accept the evidence because they believe it is too weak and put the battens ever higher and because they assume that their worldview already seated and no anomalies are accepted.
 
#5
Haruhi, many materialists want to go on living after the death of their body. Just look at Kurzweil and the transhumanists for evidence of this. Also, many materialists want desperately to see their loved ones again, and want the likes of Hitler to be punished for what he's done. In many cases, the materialists want exactly the same things that the believers want. The difference is, the materialists don't think these things are true. Many philosophers and scientists simply don't believe in free-will or the afterlife. I hope they're wrong about this. But let's not try to suggest that there's some big conspiracy or hidden agenda behind it all.
 
#7
From the very beginning of Skeptiko, Alex has tried to present the debate in a certain way. On the one side you have the believers who have an agenda in that they hope there's real freedom, an afterlife and psychic powers. On the other side you have the atheists and materialists who have an agenda in that they want to go on waging war and buying more useless stuff they don't really need.

By now, it should be obvious that materialists don't want materialism to be true in the same way or to the same extent that believers want to go on living after the death of their bodies and see their loves ones again. Alex tried to make this sort of case, but it just didn't work.

So what exactly is the materialist/atheist agenda now according to you guys? Do they even have one? It's pretty obvious what the agenda of the believer is, but what do all those skeptics, atheists and materialists have in common? Why are right-wing libertarian Ayn Rand fans and left-wing anti-capitalist anarchists and marxists in agreement that there's no afterlife and that the mind is just what the brain does?

If Alex is honest, he has to admit that he doesn't have a clue what the atheist/materialist agenda is any more, but at the same time he cannot bring himself to admit that they reject the afterlife and free-will for purely scientific and philosophical reasons. There just has to be some sort of hidden agenda there, he thinks.
 
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#8
I also reject the idea that the 'real' reason why skeptics reject the afterlife is that it reminds them too much of religion and superstition and they don't want anything to do with that. Skeptics have no problem taking things from religion if these things are in fact true or good. For example, many skeptics would say that we can learn a lot from the ethical teachings of Jesus or Buddha. They reject the afterlife and reincarnation because they believe they are not true, and not because they are too closely associated with that nasty thing called religion.
 
#9
Haruhi, many materialists want to go on living after the death of their body. Just look at Kurzweil and the transhumanists for evidence of this. Also, many materialists want desperately to see their loved ones again, and want the likes of Hitler to be punished for what he's done. In many cases, the materialists want exactly the same things that the believers want. The difference is, the materialists don't think these things are true. Many philosophers and scientists simply don't believe in free-will or the afterlife. I hope they're wrong about this. But let's not try to suggest that there's some big conspiracy or hidden agenda behind it all.
I do not care. There are other people who do not want God to exist:

"I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and wellinformed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that." (Thomas Nagel).

Others find no solace in an afterlife:

"The idea of an afterlife where you can be reunited with loved ones can be immensely consoling - though not to me." (Richard Dawkins).

I have never suggested that there is a conspiracy against parapsychology and I think Alex has not also suggested something similar, what we have is ignorance and apathy to explore the psychic evidence.

eIf Alex is honest, he has to admit that he doesn't have a clue what the atheist/materialist agenda is any more, but at the same time he cannot bring himself to admit that they reject the afterlife and free-will for purely scientific and philosophical reasons. There just has to be some sort of hidden agenda there, he thinks.
If most of the pseudo-skeptics reject psi and an afterlife, is because they are not interested in investigating the evidence and is more comfortable accept the dominant paradigm, or they do not know much of the evidence, or they know the evidence but put the bar too high.

I also reject the idea that the 'real' reason why skeptics reject the afterlife is that it reminds them too much of religion and superstition and they don't want anything to do with that.
I have shown the example of Nagel, you have not shown any example.
 
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#10
"Skeptics" and "Believers" are not homogeneous groups.

I have shown the example of Nagel, you have not shown any example.
Can I use myself as an example?
To a certain extent, I do lack belief in the afterlife because it is "like superstition and religion", in that for me, it would be a desire-based belief. Since I don't find the evidence even remotely compelling thus far, my only motive to accept that it's real is my wish that it was true, and on some days, a sort of hope that maybe it is.
 
#11
"Skeptics" and "Believers" are not homogeneous groups.



Can I use myself as an example?
To a certain extent, I do lack belief in the afterlife because it is "like superstition and religion", in that for me, it would be a desire-based belief. Since I don't find the evidence even remotely compelling thus far, my only motive to accept that it's real is my wish that it was true, and on some days, a sort of hope that maybe it is.
"Superstition" is a deliberate pejorative (so is religion if you happen to be an atheist). So is "desire-based" and wishing something to be true. I get the impression that you believe that the more you fling such pejoratives, the more they will stick.
 
#12
"Superstition" is a deliberate pejorative (so is religion if you happen to be an atheist). So is "desire-based" and wishing something to be true. I get the impression that you believe that the more you fling such pejoratives, the more they will stick.
I was responding there to a dialogue above my post:
--------------------------
dominic said:
I also reject the idea that the 'real' reason why skeptics reject the afterlife is that it reminds them too much of religion and superstition and they don't want anything to do with that.
Haruhi said:
I have shown the example of Nagel, you have not shown any example.
 
#13
I was responding there to a dialogue above my post:
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I can read.

What you did was confirm the stance that Dominic was rejecting by using the same words and stating that this is, indeed, your position. Just to be clear, do you think that what most of the people on this forum consider to be likely (if not certain), i.e. an afterlife of some description, is nothing more than superstition or religious indoctrination or wishful thinking?
 
#14
Just to be clear, do you think that what most of the people on this forum consider to be likely (if not certain), i.e. an afterlife of some description, is nothing more than superstition or religious indoctrination or wishful thinking?
I really don't know. My estimation of the probability of stuff like an afterlife and telepathy fluctuates from year to year, and sometimes from week to week.
 
#15
Of course I realize that there are SOME people on the other side who say that they hope there is no afterlife, free-will or God. But for the big conspiracy thing to work, it needs to be the case that most or all of them hope for this. It also needs to be the case that they want the materialist world-view to be true with the same intensity and passion that believers want to see their loved ones again in the afterlife. I just don't find any of this to be plausible.

Yes, as Thomas Kuhn said, science is conservative and desperately tries to resist paradigm change. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. You could argue that it's a good thing that new ideas really have to prove themselves before they get accepted. Conservatism may be even more necessary when it comes to something like the afterlife, which so many people want to be true.

So basically it all comes back to the 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence' thing. We could perhaps also say, "Things that seem both extraordinary and too good to be true require really extraordinary evidence." This is the best explanation for why people on the other side don't believe in the afterlife. If you look at a book like 'How to Think about Weird Things' by Theodore Schick, which is pretty much a bible for people in the mainstream skeptic community, you will see the real reasons why skeptics are so skeptical about the afterlife. The theory that the mind goes on after the death of the brain and body doesn't do very well in terms of conservatism, fruitfulness, scope and simplicity, and so skeptics reject it.
 
#16
One thing that does often happen is that people become convinced through philosophy and science that there's no free-will and no afterlife, and they later try to convince themselves that this is actually a good thing, in order to make themselves feel better. Believers make the mistake of thinking that the desire for no free-will and no afterlife came first, when actually it came much later.

In any case, the main point of my post is this. Most believers think that if there is no afterlife then life is meaningless and we might as well all go and commit suicide. Given that they think this way, all of their work has to be treated with a great deal of suspicion. You can guarantee that, some way or other, they will see evidence of the afterlife. If we had some believers who didn't think that meaning in life required an afterlife, then that would definitely get my attention.

I would love to hear the likes of Sheldrake and Radin say that life is full of meaning and purpose regardless of whether there's an afterlife or whether we have physic powers, but unfortunately they never do. These guys all have an agenda, and strangely enough this agenda is based on a philosophical mistake, as Nagel showed.
 
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#19
I really hope the believers are right and the skeptics are wrong, but I'm extremely suspicious of the believers, for the reasons I've already given. If someone genuinely believes that this life is without value, purpose or meaning if there's no afterlife, then how on earth can they be expected to study these things objectively and deal with evidence fairly. This is not a personal attack on anybody. I'm just worried and suspicious, and I think many others will feel the same way.
 
#20
I really hope the believers are right and the skeptics are wrong, but I'm extremely suspicious of the believers, for the reasons I've already given. If someone genuinely believes that this life is without value, purpose or meaning if there's no afterlife, then how on earth can they be expected to study these things objectively and deal with evidence fairly. This is not a personal attack on anybody. I'm just worried and suspicious, and I think many others will feel the same way.
I read your saying "Things that seem both extraordinary and too good to be true require really extraordinary evidence.", I totally agree. And I feel strange why a lot of other people don't realize or accept this fact.

But one thing you stated I don't agree.
I think without afterlife, whether our limited lives be meaningless or meaningful, is heterogeneous amongst different people. Perhaps speaking to someone, life is very very meaningful, because they are very fortunate to be in a good planet, a country, a good social position, have a renowned family and friends circle, have good healthy body and intelligence above average considerably, their human rights and human needs are guaranteed and secured, their wishes fit into the capabilities granted by God very well.

But there are a lot of people in this world who are very very tragic and suffering, they are malformed designs by God, they did nothing wrong to take this kind of stupid and suffering position but they have no choice but suffer, and without a hope of exit which could be expected by struggling, some kinds of lives are very very meaningless in the dark side of our world, just you didn't see, and will not understand.

Even if those whose lives were very meaningful, can still possibly meet a hapless point in their lives in future, and find all the purposes they pursued are not meaningful any more. Goddess of Fate are very ruthless. So mostly speaking, although I incline to disbelieve in afterlife, I don't think it is happy to say: "Life is good at fulfilling its limited value."
 
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