Splinters and Wooden Beams

post by knb · 2010-02-28T08:26:27.931Z · score: 3 (13 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 50 comments

I recently told a friend that I was planning to write (and post online) a paper that rigorously refutes every argument1 I’ve ever heard that homosexuality is inherently immoral. The purpose of this effort was to provide a handy link for people who want to persuade family members or friends who are marginal believers of the homosexuality-is-immoral theory. As a key part of this effort, I intended to demonstrate that the predominant religious arguments against homosexuality cause contradictions within the religion. For example, the tortured reasoning of the Roman Catholic Church2 goes like this:

  1. Sex without marriage is forbidden.
  2. Marriage is only for those who are “open to natural reproduction”.
  3. Gays can’t reproduce (in an acceptably “natural” way) and therefore gay sex is not “open to reproduction”.
  4. Since gays cannot be open to reproduction, they cannot marry.
  5. Since they cannot marry, they can’t have sex.

This argument seems to be logically valid, if you accept the insane assumptions. Bizarrely, though, the Catholic Church also recommends a practice called "Natural Family Planning", in which married couples who want to prevent pregnancy have sex only when the woman is believed to be infertile! To be consistent, the Catholic Church would have to oppose such deliberate efforts to prevent natural reproduction.

My paper was going to be full of little examples like this, of how opposing homosexuality leads to contradictions within Christian Virtue Ethics, established interpretations of the Koran, or whatever. However, my friend told me that he thought my efforts were misguided. Why try curing these folks of the splinter of intolerance, when they still have the wooden beam3 of theism in their eyes?

After all, if someone you know is planning to quit her job and move to Alaska because her horoscope told her that Tauruses need more spontaneity, you shouldn't tell her to stay because she's actually an Aries. You tell her to stay because astrology is provably bogus.

I'm uncertain. Most of those wooden beams are staying right where they are for the foreseeable future. But attitudes toward homosexuality are changing relatively quickly. On the other hand, there is something to be said for striking at the root of the problem. Overall, I'm leaning toward making these smaller arguments instead of trying to convert people to atheism.

**A lot of people have said they don't think this approach will be very effective. I mentioned in the beginning of the article that the purpose was to help others persuade marginal believers of the homosexuality-is-immoral theory.

 

1. Most of these arguments are religion-based.

2. Ironically, the Catholic Church is an easier target because they have the decency to actually lay their arguments out formally (though often in gratuitous Latin), since they believe that the Church's dogma can always be confirmed using pure Reason. Protestant churches tend to simply cite scripture--and they believe the scripture because they have faith. Yes this is a tautology. Actually, I wonder if the Protestants' refusal to justify their beliefs rationally protects them from Escher-brain effect. Faith claims can be neatly compartmentalized, sequestered away, protecting the rest of the mind.

3. A reference to Matthew 7:3.

50 comments

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comment by orthonormal · 2010-02-28T20:53:55.659Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I would bet large sums of actual money that your paper has far less effect than you anticipate it will. As one who once occupied the precise epistemological niche you're trying to now reach, I can tell you with certainty that your argument (even fully fleshed out) would have utterly failed to move me, and not on account of any special obtuseness of mine.

Not only are there eloquent Catholic philosophers to reassure smart Catholics that NFP occupies a very different ontological niche than other methods of avoiding conception, but they will reject the claim that your formal argument is the essence of the Catholic rationale behind these policies.

Essentially, though, the real problem is that should you succeed, the goalposts will be moved, because the actual reasons why (many intelligent) people believe certain things are not encapsulated by the arguments they explicitly make.

comment by sketerpot · 2010-03-01T03:05:56.575Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Anyway, similar papers exist. My personal favorite was written by the Iowa State Supreme Court as their ruling in Varnum v. Brien, which is why gay marriage is now legal in Iowa (and will continue to be legal for the foreseeable future). They go through the list of secular reasons that people claim are why they oppose gay marriage -- marriage is for making babies, marriage costs money to the state, etc. -- and debunk each one of them thoroughly. Then they say, essentially, "Gosh, those were weak arguments. Probably the real reason people are against it is religious reasons. Now gather 'round, children, because we're going to patiently explain separation of church and state, and the distinction between civil marriage and the various religious marriage traditions." It's a solidly compelling argument for why gay marriage should be legal. Plus, the ruling was unanimous, which is a plus.

And yet, you can show that explanation to as many bigots as you like and it won't do a damn thing, because bigotry usually isn't something you can reason people out of. What we need aren't reasoned arguments; we need propaganda. Here's my idea: laugh at bigots. Laugh at their old-fashioned superstitious silliness. Laugh at them as if they were wearing funny hats and shouting about witchcraft. It's not kind, and I feel a bit dirty for advocating this, but it's a lot more effective than trying to argue with them.

The way I could see this paper being effective is if it offered an easy-to-reference list of every common argument and the standard rebuttal to it, sort of like Talk Origins. That could be valuable.

comment by knb · 2010-03-01T18:01:37.992Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is one thing to try to convince people that the government should allow gay marriage, it is quite another to convince people that homosexuality isn't immoral.

It is fairly easy to make a libertarian case for marijuana legalization or gay marriage (it's victimless, we shouldn't legislate morality), it is much harder to convince people that gay marriage or marijuana (for example) are morally acceptable.

comment by wnoise · 2010-03-01T18:49:49.592Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is fairly easy to make a libertarian case for marijuana legalization or gay marriage (it's victimless, we shouldn't legislate morality),

But of course this is only a convincing argument to those that are already fairly "live-and-let-live". Many think the that the government enforcing morality is perfectly justified.

comment by Blueberry · 2010-02-28T22:16:45.364Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not only are there eloquent Catholic philosophers to reassure smart Catholics that NFP occupies a very different ontological niche than other methods of avoiding conception

It mainly does because it's much less effective. A Catholic friend told me that if NFP improved to the point where it was almost as effective as the pill or condoms, where people could actually use it to be very sure they wouldn't have kids, it would then become unethical.

She couldn't pin down an exact probability for how ineffective birth control has to be in order to be ethical, but the idea was that influencing conception is all right, but controlling it (almost) completely isn't.

comment by Bo102010 · 2010-03-01T01:21:48.736Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, well-trained NFP practitioners can do startling well (see, e.g. Wikipedia's sidebar).

I always thought that there was a fairly easy way out of equating NFP with other forms of contraception - just pretend like everybody learns it so they can maximize their reproductive potential instead of minimize it.

comment by Document · 2010-03-01T02:33:51.516Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

(Edit: No longer applicable.)

comment by Bo102010 · 2010-03-01T02:53:17.951Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There was an extra word, actually. Fixed, thanks.

What I'm trying to say is that if you were a Catholic, you could teach people Natural Family Planning and tell them that it is to be used for finding out which days are the best for procreation.

comment by knb · 2010-03-01T01:39:45.106Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You clearly don't know how effective I thought it would be. The purpose of the paper was to be a helpful tool, for others to use, I didn't think it was going to be very successful by itself.

comment by inklesspen · 2010-02-28T19:20:52.364Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

My journey away from theism was characterized by smaller arguments such as these. There was no great leap, just a steady stream of losing faith in doctrines I had been brought up to believe. Creationism went first. Discrimination against homosexuals went next. Shortly after that, I found it impossible to believe in the existence of hell, except perhaps in a sort of Sartrean way. Shortly after that, I found myself rejecting large portions of the Bible, because the deity depicted therein did not live up to my moral standards. At that point I was finally ready to examine the evidence for God's existence, and find it wanting.

I think in the end you will find that there are two things which can work. You must either point out that the beliefs lead to conclusions that are not just inconsistent, but also absurd, or you must point out that the beliefs lead to conclusions that contradict more "core" beliefs, such as "love your neighbor as yourself".

Fred Clark is a liberal, fairly orthodox Christian. He blogs on a variety of subjects, including the birther/TeaParty movement, the deficiencies of creationism ([1] [2]), the strange phenomenon of religious hatred of homosexuals ([3] [4] [5]), and an interesting view on vampires. (He also has an entertaining ongoing series where he rips apart the popular fundie series 'Left Behind', and shows how the writers know nothing of their own religion, let alone how the real world works.)

You could do worse than to look at how he handles this sort of thing, from a religious perspective.

comment by Kaj_Sotala · 2010-02-28T09:55:18.723Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that this isn't going to have very much effect, since people opposing homosexuality are likely to do so out of a instinctive revulsion and rationalize the reasons afterwards. (Note that there are both religious and atheist homophobes, and both religious and atheist people who have no problem with it.) On the other hand, it might convince a few rare individuals... and if you can prevent even a couple of homophobes from hurting other people, that is definitely something to applaud.

comment by tut · 2010-02-28T10:49:20.816Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that the point is to convert the homophobic, but rather to make it easier to refute them, and thus make it harder for them to convert tolerant but apathetic christians to their side.

comment by ata · 2010-02-28T10:48:53.430Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that this isn't going to have very much effect, since people opposing homosexuality are likely to do so out of a instinctive revulsion and rationalize the reasons afterwards. (Note that there are both religious and atheist homophobes, and both religious and atheist people who have no problem with it.)

Obviously it's not foolproof, but I've seen many cases of people almost automatically becoming more tolerant of homosexuality (and becoming more moral in general) after they lost their faith. (This blog post is one very well-stated example. Warmed my heart.) Admittedly, it can work the other way too: I personally know a few ex-Mormons who left the church after (and, certainly, at least partly due to) their becoming more accepting of homosexuality. But don't discount the first case. There may be some natural revulsion to homosexuality, but when one lives in a society that increasingly has a revulsion to that revulsion, maintaining it requires that one have something very emotionally significant for it to feed on. Religion and homophobia may not cause each other, but they have a mutualistic symbiotic relationship.

I'd like to see some studies on that, though. We could find people who were raised religious (or became religious) but later became non-religious, and ask them their positions on various social/moral issues before and after their deconversion. In instances where their views changed, we could ask whether (in their estimation) it was more of a cause or more an effect of their deconversion.

comment by dclayh · 2010-02-28T09:13:17.759Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Obligatory quote re. your footnote 2:

—Then, said Cranly, you do not intend to become a protestant?

—I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered, but not that I had lost self-respect. What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?

—James Joyce

comment by Psychohistorian · 2010-03-01T21:25:31.857Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

After all, if someone you know is planning to quit her job and move to Alaska because her horoscope told her that Tauruses need more spontaneity, you shouldn't tell her to stay because she's actually an Aries.

This seems just plain wrong. If "winning" is "getting her not to quit and move to Alaska," pointing out this error seems like a very rational approach; I would even call it the most rational obvious solution. You could, then, conceivably use this error to make a greater point about the problems with astrology as a belief system. But if your immediate goal is stopping the move, giving someone who already strongly believes in astrology a lecture on epistemology is not a winning proposition.

comment by Aurini · 2010-03-01T01:08:47.116Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm surprised by the number of nay-sayers here.

Obviously convincing someone of Atheism is better than convincing them of the acceptability of homosexuality, but that doesn't mean that the latter is bad. The comparison to swaying an Astrology believer (saying they're an Aries, not a Taurus) is not apt; OP's idea is not to trick them using theist arguments, but to point out the intellectual bankruptcy of believing both in tenets A and B. As a few of the others here have pointed out, the way to remove the wooden beam might be by removing it sliver by sliver.

I think a site such as this would offer an excellent resource for Atheists/Agnostics who regularly argue with Christians over this topic; during my own deconversion process, I was greatly aided by the likes of Professor Richard Carrier who did the scholarly work and laid out the arguments for me - it saved me months of time spent researching, reading, and seeking out sources.

One argument, OP, that I hope you address - I heard this from a bartender the other day. "I'm against gay marriage/adoption because a child needs influences from both sexes." A trite, easy to understand response to this would be wonderful (I'm sure everyone here knows the answer, but I'm trusting that knb will be able to write it with eloquent rhetoric).

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-03-01T21:33:03.679Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Should we take children away from single mothers, then?"

comment by Aurini · 2010-03-01T23:46:46.887Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, that's natural, and you can't help it.

I find a better strategy is to argue: "Well, of course I agree with you -" [always say this and nod, it will make them think that what you're about to say is something they already thought of] "-and of course any good and stable couple is going to ensure that they have a role-model of a different gender. Gay or straight, it don't matter - gays who prevent the kid from having an Aunt/Uncle figure are as bad as single mothers who hate all men. But C'mon man, honestly, how many gay guys do you know without a platonic girlfriend?"

comment by RobinZ · 2010-03-02T00:58:55.063Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I believe this constitutes a textbook exercise of the Light Arts.

comment by Aurini · 2010-03-02T02:17:29.247Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Never leave home without 'em!

comment by SilasBarta · 2010-03-01T21:51:28.818Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Yes."
"But ... but ... then you have to go through the non-trivial task of finding a married, male-female couple to raise those children!"
"Implementation issue."

comment by CannibalSmith · 2010-02-28T09:34:51.145Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Go find some gay loving Christians and learn how do they reconcile their tolerance with their faith.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2010-02-28T10:28:56.266Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

Better yet, leave this job entirely to them - they care more and they have more credibility with their target audience.

comment by sketerpot · 2010-03-01T03:15:44.829Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

A lot of Christians are creationists just because they never realized that they were allowed to believe that evolution happened and still be Christians. At an event a few months ago (I forget the specifics, sorry) there were a bunch of religious speakers talking about how to reconcile Christianity and evolution, and the crowd of mainstream religious folks were just blown away. The prevailing sentiment was "Wait, that's an option?"

In a similar way, the most common argument I've heard for why people are against homosexuality is "Well, I'm a Christian." As if this obviously implied that they had to disapprove of the queers. I imagine that a lot of this is just simple ignorance: a lot of people don't know that being non-bigoted is even an option for them.

Maybe. Personally, I tend to go for more of a scorched-earth approach, but we need more than one approach to persuasion here.

comment by MrHen · 2010-03-01T22:05:07.766Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This comment deserves more attention. I am willing to take a karma hit to promote it.

comment by Paul Crowley (ciphergoth) · 2010-03-02T08:24:11.521Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I haven't replied only because things are so different in the UK that I don't have a useful perspective to offer.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-02-28T16:58:15.691Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

After all, if someone you know is planning to quit her job and move to Alaska because her horoscope told her that Tauruses need more spontaneity, you shouldn't tell her to stay because she's actually an Aries. You tell her to stay because astrology is provably bogus.

Maybe you should, if you're in a hurry or she's likely to stop listening to you entirely should you assault astrology too directly... (and if she's actually an Aries).

comment by knb · 2010-02-28T19:08:32.106Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe, but what I was getting at was that if a person believes in astrology that strongly, she's probably just going to obey the horoscope's prescription for Aries instead.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-02-28T19:18:45.373Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

But maybe Aries's horoscope has less destructive encouragements.

comment by Psychohistorian · 2010-03-01T22:24:54.942Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If "your religion requires cognitive dissonance!" were a persuasive argument against religion, no one would bother talking about religion.

Less cynically, your argument does not lead to the contradiction you want it to. Two main reasons. First, that's not the reasoning the Catholic Church uses. They go old-school - Leviticus 20:13 reads:

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. Homosexuality being immoral is thus not a conclusion so much as a premise. God doesn't get much clearer than calling something an "abomination."

Your argument arguably misses the point by attacking "natural" birth control. The biblical proscription against birth control comes from the (mis)interpretation of the story of Onan, where God kills a man for spilling his seed instead of impregnating his dead brother's wife. In the "rhythm" method, you're not using any artificial intervention to make it such that seed is spilled, and a significant risk of pregnancy in fact remains. By contrast, birth control and condoms cause barrenness and spilling respectively, so they aren't OK. Yes, this argument is making a rather arbitrary distinction, but unless you can squelch that distinction, you don't get the logical necessity you need. A clearer counterargument would be allowing postmenopausal women to marry, or even married post-menopausal women to have sex. Again, though, it's natural; they aren't failing to get pregnant due to their own actions, they're failing because they just can't do it, and if the church wants to claim that as the distinction, it has a consistent system. Stupid and baseless, but consistent.

comment by Kobayashi · 2010-02-28T14:45:45.715Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(So... html tags don't appear to work in the less wrong comment section. Too tired to find out what DOES work.)

After all, if someone you know is planning to quit her job and move to Alaska because her horoscope told her that Tauruses need more spontaneity, you shouldn't tell her to stay because she's actually an Aries. You tell her to stay because astrology is provably bogus.

(snort) If you didn't care about the truth value of what you were telling her as much as you cared about getting her to change her behavior, you might very well choose to exert influence on her from within her belief system. It invokes less resistance on her part than does trying to tear apart the structure of something she places so much faith in. Provided you could convince her that she was actually an Aries and that this would somehow negate her reasons for moving, you might have a shorter, less-painful battle on your hands with respect to her plans to move than you would if you had to take on the whole system of astrology - it's history, it's advocates, the famous people who've believed in it, etc.

Mind you, this is only a temporary fix until the next time she wants to do something stupid as a result of what the 'stars' tell her, but if you don't have the time for a full-blown de-bunking/brainwashing, it might behoove you to be able to exert influence from within the target belief system.

comment by Alicorn · 2010-02-28T17:02:46.400Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

You can find how to format your comments by clicking the "help" link that appears to the lower right of the comment box when you start typing a reply.

comment by arundelo · 2010-02-28T15:32:52.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

html tags don't appear to work in the less wrong comment section.

Click the "Help" link under the lower right corner of the comment field. If JavaScript is enabled, Markdown formatting instructions will appear (without opening a new page).

comment by ata · 2010-02-28T14:57:35.564Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The comment formatting uses Markdown.

comment by blogospheroid · 2010-02-28T14:26:26.305Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you're more concerned with sending the message out rather than getting credit, then multiple psuedonyms tackling different levels of inferential gaps might be a possibility in the internet era.

You can have one psuedonym who is atheist and is targetting the root questions, however people coming to this final level will be relatively few. You might be mostly preaching to the choir here.

You can have another psuedonym of a tolerant religious person who would write a post like the one you are trying to write. You can signal plently over here. You can say that you are a believer and that love is paramount, etc.

comment by RichardKennaway · 2010-02-28T22:34:27.525Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Use sockpuppets? Lie?

comment by FAWS · 2010-02-28T23:08:28.390Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And even if you don't have any moral qualms such tactics are reasonably likely to be discovered, will completely discredit you and by association everyone arguing on the same side as you if they are, and are therefore liable to do much more harm than good to your cause.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-03-01T01:12:26.952Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think that's historically accurate.

comment by FAWS · 2010-03-01T01:25:20.612Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Example: So-called "climategate", where the actual misbehaviour was comparatively harmless. Ideologists apparently are much better at getting away with dishonesty than rationalists.

Also countless usenet aruments where sockpuppets got exposed.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2010-03-01T04:35:26.798Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, there are countless usenet arguments where sockpuppets got exposed, so we ought to be able to figure out what happens. It looks to me that they make it difficult for the puppeteer to be taken seriously in that venue in the future, and thus are a net loss, but they don't look to me like they damage the puppeteer's side in that venue or the puppeteer in other venues. Sock puppets probably mainly appear in situations that are already so polarized that nothing is really going to happen. The puppetry just gives an excuse to declare beyond the pale someone who wasn't really being engaged anyhow. That's certainly how climategate looks to me: people who don't talk to each other looking for excuses not to talk to each other.

comment by inklesspen · 2010-02-28T23:56:40.091Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Surely it would be better in multiple ways to simply find a well-spoken religious person with whom you can work. He will have more knowledge of his audience than you have, so there's a practical benefit, as well as the moral benefit of not being dishonest.

comment by CronoDAS · 2010-03-01T21:22:10.038Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For better or worse, the basis of lots of beliefs boil down to "My authority figure says X and I trust my authority figure to be right, so I believe X" - and it can end up taking an awful lot of evidence to modify a belief like this. If you say that X is wrong, you're declaring that you're equal to the authority figure - and, as you're obviously not, you're not going to be believed.

comment by David_J_Balan · 2010-03-01T01:39:34.673Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Seems clear to me that you deal with the splinters when you run across them.

comment by djcb · 2010-02-28T09:01:16.326Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, there are contradictions in the teachings of the Catholic and other churches - but using logic to convince people their religion is mistaken does not seem to work very well.

Believers have a deep emotional connection with their religion and (at least as important) a social bond with their co-believers. They are not going to give that up so easily, 'just' because of some logic.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-02-28T09:17:02.000Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"but using logic to convince people their religion is mistaken does not seem to work very well."

It worked for me. To be precise not "logic" but "epistemology" but you get the point. There are (few) believers who are open to reason and only haven't come around to thinking things through yet. I had to think about my religion for years and build a rigorous logical framework of christianity before I could identify the one faulty assumption on which all was resting.

Regarding the OP, I don't think arguing over minor points instead of the whole deal is futile. As I said, I needed to start thinking logically within my religious framework before I could break out of it. Of course I can't generalize from one data point, but still I am one example where this tactic worked.

comment by djcb · 2010-02-28T10:40:39.858Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Good it worked for you! Obviously, in these circles (LW) there is a bit of selection bias present for basing things on logic, reasoning and epistemology...

Interesting in this respect is Yale's Cultural Cognition, which tries to identify the cultural values that influence people's opinion about controversial matters. Many (most?) people seem to be quite willing to bend logic and reasoning a bit to arrive at the desired conclusion.

comment by knb · 2010-02-28T09:33:47.297Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Regarding the OP, I don't think arguing over minor points instead of the whole deal is futile. As I said, I needed to start thinking logically within my religious framework before I could break out of it. Of course I can't generalize from one data point, but still I am one example where this tactic worked.

I actually also started challenging my childhood religion because of smallish inconsistencies in my family's faith.

comment by magfrump · 2010-03-01T17:59:48.956Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As djcb points out, this may not be an effective tact for most people, but for potential rationalists it might be significantly more effective, and therefore worthwhile (depending on your original intentions).

comment by Blueberry · 2010-02-28T18:22:38.397Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

before I could identify the one faulty assumption on which all was resting.

What was that one assumption? I'm impressed by your approach here: what made you decide to build a rigorous logical framework of your beliefs? The details of building that type of framework would make a great top level post, and it would be useful to all of us, regardless of what our beliefs are.

comment by [deleted] · 2010-03-01T09:14:27.786Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this path leads away from the original post, so I will be brief. The one assumption that remained to the end was the assumption that I could have a justified belief in god even without evidence. Since LW is all about what's wrong with that, I don't think I could add anything substantial to what is already there. And to show how simple the usual atheist arguments can be refuted once you make this one assumption might be an interesting but ultimately futile point.