April 3rd, 2014


One of my beliefs about beliefs

Sometimes I read something and realise that I cannot tell the difference between very stupid people and very smart people who are so wedded to an idea that they can tie themselves completely in knots defending it.

In this case, a piece on whether science can tell us anything about the soul which includes such delights as:
Science, or at least empirical inquiry, can tell us that there is no reason to believe in an afterlife. There is an important distinction here between an afterlife, which is something prolonged in time, and eternal life, or an experience of eternity, to which time is irrelevant.
Science tends to strengthen the argument of Aristotle that the soul is the form of a living thing

This is the kind of thing that tends to reinforce my own ignosticism. This is the position that, when people discuss most religious-based ideas, they not provide a decent definition of terms so that you know what they're arguing, and thus what they say is not something you can actually have a discussion about. People throw around words like "God", and "Soul", but they don't actually explain what they mean when they use them, which means that any discussion of what they're saying is mired in confusion, and you're about as likely to pin them down as you are to pin down a greased python.

My own position goes further than this - I don't believe most people do this deliberately - I think that they don't actually have a solid definition themselves. So that when you ask "What do you mean by a soul?" in return you hear "You know, the thing that makes me, me." and responses of similar incoherence because they don't actually know what they mean.

Reaching this conclusion has made life immeasurably easier for me. While it's sometimes tempting to argue with people who are wrong it is entirely untempting to argue with people who don't actually have anything to argue against.

(Asking for definitions in discussions where I think people _do_ have definitions is much more useful - and endless arguments have been solved when it turns out that the differences between our opinions were purely semantic.)

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

Interesting Links for 03-04-2014