"Most men are as fit to think as they are fit to fly".
-- Jonathan Swift
I'm sorry, but I disagree with you on this topic and on your contribution as a moderator in #75 of this thread.
Let me first say that I am almost 60 and in possession of academic degrees in philosophy, logic and psychology, and that I believe I am a little bit more learned than most in regards of the topics of rational and irrational belief, wishful thinking, and other relevant topics.
Also, I am definitely not of the school that everybody is equal (you and Martin Luther King or Marie Curie, Einstein and Eichmann etc.) nor of the school that everybody deserves or is entitled to respect, nor am I in even the least respect partial to postmodernism.
However... I agree this forum is too important to split up by quarrels, and that some degree of moderation is required, in several senses, and that I don't feel like quarreling with people who really are ill, but I add that one one of the main reasons for the existence of my own site
is that it allows me to say what I please - which is important for me, e.g. because I have been removed three times from the University of Amsterdam because I protested against the postmodern moronification of all levels of education, and especially the universities. (Already while having ME, because I was asked, by professors,"since you write and speak so well". These were the same that betrayed me a year later, when I criticized the level of the university-lectures I had been forced to hear.) Also, my site and its contents are for almost everyone who lives outside Amsterdam the best possible proof that I am not a liar, although indeed "Maartensz" is an alias, because if I were, mayor and aldermen of Amsterdam or the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam would have had me arrested long ago for criminal slander and defamation. (In fact a Dutch parliamentary report of 2008 confirmed all I had been saying and writing for over 30 years then about the incredible mess that is Dutch education, and indeed the report was probably paraphrased in part from my site.)
Third, let me start with giving you two more miracles. Miracle One. My computer went suddenly down on February 2, with all systems thoroughly dead. Although I am a techie and a geek and have worked with computers now for a quarter of a century on a daily basis, I could not understand a thing about it. This means surely, by what I have learned in this thread, at least, that it must be A Kind Of Miracle, except - perhaps - that it lacks the benign wrappings Real Miracles tend to be accompanied by. This also explains why I wasn't on the forum or the internet for three weeks. Miracle Two. Then another Real Miracle happened last Monday: Suddenly my computer worked again! Just like that! And I hadn't even prayed to it! But o! it made my life so much easier in one miraculous swoop!
It is this last miracle that enables me to hold this discourse on this thread on Miracles, and indeed I have read with some interest of a second miracle that happened to Rachel (the first being that by my mental calculation - when I read her, about a month ago, somewhere on this forum - that she types 10 letters per second), and indeed I believe she is entitled to write and claim what she pleases. And what she wrote and claimed under the title "A Kind Of Miracle" was that, after a prayer meeting, she was healed from ME/CS - as she wrote
I can only attribute this remarkable transformation to the healing power of God. Itís funny; I just didnít see it comingÖ but it is truly wonderful.
My problem with this is that I don't believe in miracles. As it happens, I can quote my own Philosophical Dictionary:
-- http://www.maartensz.org/philosophy/...Dictionary.htm --
Miracle: Impossible or very improbable event.
The founders and supporters of religion are very fond of miracles to support their religion and to show what their god is capable of: He is so marvellous that He works miracles. Examples are the virgin birth of Jesus, or Moses' parting of the Red Sea, or Jesus walking the waters.
The logical problem is, as Hume made very clear, that an impossible event cannot have happened, and therefore cannot be believed nor can it be evidence, and that a very improbable event is so very unlikely that it is very probable that it did not happen and very likely that the supposed evidence one is told is false, partial or biased.
It should also be noted that there are genuine miracle-workers: Conjurors make a living from tricking people into the illusion that they see things that are not really so. But the difference between an honest conjuror and a religious fraud who uses trickery is that the latter does not honestly say that he uses his skill to deceive his public.
The brief of it all is
- There are many things everyone cannot well explain.
- Supposed miracles of impossible events are just that: Impossible.
- Supposed miracles of improbable events are so improbable that one has very good evidence they did not happen, and the more so the more miraculous and improbable.
- All miracles that have been seriously investigated either were based on false reports, or have insufficient evidence to be credible, or are in fact feats of conjuring.
This also implies, among other things, why I am not very happy with a public statement on a site about ME that someone - Rachel, who I never met, who writes pseudonymously, like nearly everyone one this forum, no doubt in part because it is a public forum - got miraculously cured by God and a prayer-meeting, according to herself, from a disease I have 32 years now, and 17 million people have NOT been miraculously cured of, I suppose because they lack the divine approval for it (if the divinity is omniscient and almighty).
The reason I am not happy with it is that I can't believe it as stated, and as endorsed by others on this forum, in this thread, who all seem to know Rachel as well or ill as I do, while none of them seems to have any real academic knowledge of philosophy or logic.
I am not going to argue my reasons for my disbelief, because they come to a large extent from my knowledge of logic, probability theory, philosophy and philosophy of science. However, if you are interested in argueing with me, I will request knowledge of the following items
Here esp. Section X: Of miracles is relevant, as are my notes to that chapter and to the whole book.
-- http://www.maartensz.org/philosophy/...Dictionary.htm --
This gives my understanding of the requisite terminology and concepts, and indeed contains most that I would say if I were to try to explain myself here (but even my simple Philosophical Dictionary is over 10 MB text).
-- http://www.maartensz.org/logic/Cliff...csOfBelief.htm --
that also comes with 95 of my notes, all purporting to explain Clifford's saying
"It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence"
Now to Martlet, who is a Catholic. Here are some of her contributions to this thread, with the understanding that her text in black is from herself, and her text in red is from herself-in-the-role-of-moderator. (But: It turns out this editor is too whackily organized to give me a decent tip as to how to color text...sorry). I selected only from this thread and quote in the order in which it appeared:
Praise Jesus. He already has the victory and you are experiencing a taste of it. What a wonderful gift to you at the start of the Lenten season.
--------------(About Spiritual Healing)
I have witnessed several verifiable physical healings. Now that means that I am a liar, that I am confused, or that what I saw really happened. I know which it is and, to be honest, have absolutely nothing to prove. It gains me nothing to be believed nor loses me anything to be disbelieved. I just know what happened to me and know what I have seen.
--------------(About the wellknown utter reasonability of the Christians since ages, especially when in minority positions)
None of the Christians here are suggesting that people of other faiths should be prevented from speaking, or that people with other faith views should have their discussions hidden from public view
-------------(About the miracles surrounding the present pope but one)
And when Pope John Paul II was here in St Louis in 1999, the weather suddenly warmed up ahead of his arrival until we had 70F in the midst of January. As his plane took off, snow began to fall. The weathermen were calling it "the weather miracle."
-------------(In defense of a belief that maintains nonbelievers will be tortured an infinity of time and unbaptised babies won't enter heaven)
No-one is saying that people cannot question, but equally I don't think that suggesting that the 17% of the world's population with no religious belief are somehow rational and the rest of us are - what? - is helpful.
-------------(In her role as moderator, with personal intros and outros)
Please will everyone get back on track. Rather than be a celebration of Rachel's healing - however it came about - it is now deteriorating into a personal battle between a couple of posters.
Knackered - What was said in a deleted thread ought not to be brought up here as it has nothing to do with this discussion.
Brenda - Please step back and cool down. People are entitled to their beliefs or lack of belief, and are allowed to express it provided they do so respectfully.
To all who have posted in support of Rachel regardless of your beliefs, thank you. And everyone else, can we please get back on track?
Sorry Martlet, but I take exception to all of that: I simply think it is not rational. None of it. Now you may believe as you please, but I am with Katie - I think - in holding that this public forum is not the place for faith healings or prayer meetings or indeed religious or philosophical discussions (at least when heated, or between anonymous persons without any academic qualification in the field, and that includes all manner of claims that one needs believe or respect all manner of totally incredible events, out of r-e-s-p-e-c-t or something).
But I think you are here partial: I do NOT know what you mean by "back on track": "Praise Jesus", perhaps? I am NOT capable of "a celebration of Rachel's healing", because I can't believe it as she presents it, and hardly knowing anything about her I don't know why I should; I do NOT agree with "What was said in a deleted thread ought not to be brought up here" since I don't understand your logic of "ought"; I can NOT accept "it has nothing to do with this discussion", because I don't know what is in the deleted thread; I do NOT think that "People are entitled to their beliefs or lack of belief" (Racism? Anti-semitism? Nazism? Let's-kill-all-the-Catholics-they-belong-in-hell-anyway-Protestantism?); I do NOT think all should be "allowed to express" their beliefs (in the healing capacities of tastefully fried blond virgins, especially with regards to ME and the Evil Eye?); and personally I get sick of the most astounding shit being approved of if only it is presented sanctimoniously a.k.a. "r-e-s-p-e-c-t-fully".
Again, I am NOT pleased with reading that "To all who have posted in support of Rachel regardless of your beliefs, thank you." I can quote chapter and verse of the diagnosis Rachel will get by her own testimony in the handbooks of psychiatry (unless the psychiatrist is of her very own denomination of faith), which I will not discuss here in the kindness of my heart (hint: think of Switzerland), but which she and you, both having a claimed IQ of 145, should be able to find yourself. And I am willing to support her, but am quite unable to believe her - as indeed is the sad fate of many a psychologist vis-a-vis his clients.
And again Martlet: What IS "back on track"? Where is the track? Why should I respectfully say "Thank You! Thank You! A Miracle Has Happened And D**n All Skeptics? God has proved once more that 1=3, and as the Catholic saint and the Protestant philosopher said about all who disbelieved in them, and about each other:"
"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell."
** (St. Thomas Aquino, Summa Theologica)
"The sight of hell's torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever."
** (Jonathan Edwards)
In brief: As Lucretius - an unbeliever who now has been fried tastefully for 2055 years, to the everlasting exalted happiness of the saints, if I can trust St. Thomas - had it:
"Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum."
I think someone as intelligent as you should be able to grant that the tastefully fried Roman heathen - if St. Thomas is right, and how could you say he isn't? - at least was right in this respect, perhaps with the exception - of course! - of your own religion.
P.S. I would have written otherwise if you had written otherwise, but people who want to try to defeat me in written argument are welcome to my site: I will fairly let you have your say, and then will say what I think of that in my own way. (Warning: Check my site first!)
And again, like Katie: If there are to be more faithhealings, and if there are more believers in it, please give it at least its own section or corner, say "Faith-healing" or "The Religious Lounge", so that I need not feel forced to write a piece that insists that: No, thank you: I am a scientist and a philosopher, and I keep no truck with faith-healing, whether Christian or Wesselyan.
P.P.S. Off topic and by the way, but having lost a lot of time over it:
I find this editor in which I have to write this a damned pest! (1) there are no explanations how to use its supposed tools (2) there are not even tooltips (3) for techies and geeks: it obviously is a minimally pimped richedit.dll - this can be done MUCH better, I KNOW (4) where is a html-converter, if only a simple one?