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Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« on: 2007-05-20 14:41:07 »
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I'm just putting out some legitimate concerns regarding how unorganized this religion is. Feel free to comment.

They have hundreds of denominations, and several denominations within denominations, or independent fellowships or perhaps just individuals. It seems this day everyone has their own way of interpreting the Bible, I would almost wager that no two Christian's can agree on the passages of the bible as a whole. Surely all religions have their division points, but none so gargantuan as it is here.

What is even more disturbing than the facts that Christians preach against the secular, the heathens, the gays, et cetera, is the fact that different denominations of Christianity often can and will persecute one another.

And lot of Christians wonder why people don't come around to their point of views? I fathomed it would be obvious, but apparently it is not so. But it should be quite clear by now.

I find that most people in power have some sort of religious beliefs (some perhaps just as a pretense in order to gain the (democratically flawed) majority vote and greater pubilc favor), and am surprised at the lack of actual Athiests actually running a country.
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #1 on: 2007-05-20 19:27:59 »
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Quote from: Nin` on 2007-05-20 14:41:07   
I find that most people in power have some sort of religious beliefs (some perhaps just as a pretense in order to gain the (democratically flawed) majority vote and greater pubilc favor), and am surprised at the lack of actual Athiests actually running a country.



Welcome to the non-ruling intelligentsia Nin`.



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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #2 on: 2007-05-20 20:51:03 »
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Quote from: Nin` on 2007-05-20 14:41:07   

I find that most people in power have some sort of religious beliefs (some perhaps just as a pretense in order to gain the (democratically flawed) majority vote and greater pubilc favor), and am surprised at the lack of actual Athiests actually running a country.

How does this differenciate from the athiest governments that have been established over the years? The Soviet Union, Communist China, etc. They were far more authoritarian on the grounds of religion and morality than any Christian country I can think of. A little more disestablishmentarianism would be great, but I hardly think that the Christian governments of the west are repressing the masses morally. I'd say it's safer to say that the majority is calling you a racist and a sexist, not their religions. Lest you be a victim.

Calling Christianity disorganized due to its many denominations caused by freedom of interpretation is like calling a democracy disorganized because it takes longer for things to be executed. Taking that freedom of interpretation away usually leads to a different use of the word "executed".
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #3 on: 2007-05-21 15:40:39 »
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[Bass] They were far more authoritarian on the grounds of religion and morality than any Christian country I can think of.

[Hermit] As a statement on Bass' knowledge of history, I can accept this statement. As an historic statement, it is of course horribly wrong. Nothing is better at dividing people into camps and getting them to murder one another wholesale than religion. And the thousands of brands of Christianity have done this with regular monotony and more ferocity than most as soon as they gained the ability to do so.

[Hermit] The first victim was perhaps the once tolerant Rome, which became brutal and intolerant as soon as the Christian's took over. The "martyrs" did not die at the hands of pagans or dozens of belief groups scattered throughout Rome. They were one set of Christians killed off by another more aggressive brand. Very predictable considering that Christians are "forgiven" by their god thingies even before they have finished their maurauding of anyone else, including other sufficiently different Christians.

[Hermit] The next infamous victims were the gnostics and neoPlatonists of every stripe. Maniac monks manslaughtering and methodically murdering millions took over North Africa, the Mediterranean and latter all Europe.

[Hermit] "Kill them all, God will know his own" was not a concept articulated by an atheist any more than "Church, children, kitchen" was an atheist rallying call. Speaking of which, pograms are an ancient invention. But thoroughly Christian. After all, taught by Martin Luther ("On the Jews and their Lies") the Catholic Adolf was inspired to say, "I feel I do God's work when I scourge the Jew."

[Hermit] Consider that when the Moors won they ransomed their captives and end evantually sold the worthless individuals who were not ransomed as slaves. When the Christians won they wrote proudly of streets running kneedeep in blood for three days. Consider the Christian's wonderful behaviour in the Orient forcing the acceptance of English opium on the Chinese and Indian populations. Or in South America. Or in Africa. As Tutu put it, "Before the missionaries went to Africa, they (the Europeans) had the bibles and we (the Africans) had the diamonds. Afterwards that all changed." You could perhaps reserve a moments thought for the centuries long Christian behaviour of the Roman Catholics in Spain, Portugal and the Lowlands. Keywords to ponder Auto-da-fe, Albigensian, Cathar, Ireland, Thirty-years war.

Feeling inspired to study some real history yet Bass?

Kind Regards

Hermit
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #4 on: 2007-05-21 20:53:53 »
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Hey Hermit. I have a few concerns with what your saying here though.

Quote from: Hermit on 2007-05-21 15:40:39   
Nothing is better at dividing people into camps and getting them to murder one another wholesale than religion. And the thousands of brands of Christianity have done this with regular monotony and more ferocity than most as soon as they gained the ability to do so.


Correction. Nothing gives them a larger excuse. Religion doesn't cause violence or intolerance, it just gives people an excuse; a guide line on how to do it. They'll do it either way and were long before religion was invented, none the less Christianity.

Quote from: Hermit on 2007-05-21 15:40:39   
[Hermit] The first victim was perhaps the once tolerant Rome, which became brutal and intolerant as soon as the Christian's took over. The "martyrs" did not die at the hands of pagans or dozens of belief groups scattered throughout Rome. They were one set of Christians killed off by another more aggressive brand. Very predictable considering that Christians are "forgiven" by their god thingies even before they have finished their maurauding of anyone else, including other sufficiently different Christians.

[Hermit] The next infamous victims were the gnostics and neoPlatonists of every stripe. Maniac monks manslaughtering and methodically murdering millions took over North Africa, the Mediterranean and latter all Europe.

[Hermit] "Kill them all, God will know his own" was not a concept articulated by an atheist any more than "Church, children, kitchen" was an atheist rallying call. Speaking of which, pograms are an ancient invention. But thoroughly Christian. After all, taught by Martin Luther ("On the Jews and their Lies") the Catholic Adolf was inspired to say, "I feel I do God's work when I scourge the Jew."

[Hermit] Consider that when the Moors won they ransomed their captives and end evantually sold the worthless individuals who were not ransomed as slaves. When the Christians won they wrote proudly of streets running kneedeep in blood for three days. Consider the Christian's wonderful behaviour in the Orient forcing the acceptance of English opium on the Chinese and Indian populations. Or in South America. Or in Africa. As Tutu put it, "Before the missionaries went to Africa, they (the Europeans) had the bibles and we (the Africans) had the diamonds. Afterwards that all changed." You could perhaps reserve a moments thought for the centuries long Christian behaviour of the Roman Catholics in Spain, Portugal and the Lowlands. Keywords to ponder Auto-da-fe, Albigensian, Cathar, Ireland, Thirty-years war.


What are you trying to prove by this exactly? That people have died in the name of religion? If you're throwing historical accounts of dying via religious means at me, then I fear that you don't know what this debate is about. No one is disputing that things of that nature happen. However, just as many if not more people have died in the name of "anti-religion", race warfare, class warfare, poltical warfare and every other way. Rome had mountains of violence and savagry before Christianity appeared, as did the rest of the world. Killing is a human property, not a religious property.

However, that doesn't change the fact (getting back to topic now). Christianity (non Catholic) holds the bible as sole authority, not the church's leader. With a book as sole authority, how can it not be based on individual interpretation? It prevents large religious authorities like that of the Catholic church, which is the Church that you complain about the most for its ill-deeds. So what do you want? Do you want the church to be powerful and have a lot of authority or do you want it to be disorganized? It can't be both.

Seriously, do you honestly believe the world would be any better a place if religion left?

If so then please explain why, or better yet how.

Regards,

Bass
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #5 on: 2007-05-22 05:36:41 »
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With a little more time to spare, and continuing from my last post to you Hermit, I would just like to state why a world without religion would not really be a good thing, or work.

Without religion the world wouldn't have the morals that shape a hospitable society. Way back before the Renaissance, in the Dark Ages, people did thing so unspeakable and horrifying, that it's probably against a rule if I were to post it here. That's because they never had any morals, ethics, or principles to look up to. All that ruled was chaos, hatred, and sin.

Yeah, some religions are just to the wrong side, like radical and reactionary groups in the Middle East, but not every religion views the world as such.

Everything in the world is flawed, both fundamentally and in practice, and not just the religions. Animals, humans, buildings, plants, the land, sea, and sky, the differences between good and evil..., the list is literally endless. Don't obsess with one thing like religion, or use it as a scapegoat for other things wrong with the world. What need to be done is for people to take responsibility for their actions and the actions of those they lead, not blame it on someone else or expect that someone else will do it. The world and everything in it is never going to be perfect, we only can make it close enough to live peacefully and happy with ourselves and other.

Either way its not really religious' peoples fault, most people are given a religion without being asked of which they would prefer. It's what some are raised with and grow and learn upon. They're not really given a choice until the become adults. So a person's upbringing is also flawed.

"Until everyone realizes the true purpose of a religion and the actual teachings, the world will never be at peace with itself."

Perhaps I'm just a confused agnostic (weak atheist?) but thats how I basically see things, although I would be very happy to hear what you think Hermit.

Kind regards,

The Bass
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #6 on: 2007-05-22 07:50:32 »
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Quote from: Bass on 2007-05-22 05:36:41   

...
Without religion the world wouldn't have the morals that shape a hospitable society. Way back before the Renaissance, in the Dark Ages, people did thing so unspeakable and horrifying, that it's probably against a rule if I were to post it here. That's because they never had any morals, ethics, or principles to look up to. All that ruled was chaos, hatred, and sin...

..."Until everyone realizes the true purpose of a religion and the actual teachings, the world will never be at peace with itself."


[Blunderov] I hope you don't mind if I jump in here Bass.

"Without religion the world wouldn't have the morals that shape a hospitable society."

Morals are not a function of religion. Morals are a function of human society at a more fundamental level. A deal of recent neuroscience suggests strongly that some behaviours we ascribe to morality are hard wired into our brains. Some researchers go so far as to suggest that there may exist a universal "moral grammar" (to borrow an analogy from Chomsky's universal grammar). These behavoiurs would, therefore, arise whether religion was present in a culture or not. It seems probable that these fundamental moral behaviors predate our human religions and, indeed, our very species.

The phrase "principles to look up to" is very interesting to me. It illustrates how very strongly the religious claim that morals come from god has become ingrained in our world view. Of course the church is very happy to have hijacked the credit for mankinds' nobler instincts but my view, as I have said, is that we look "inward to our humanity", not outward. 

About "The Dark Ages". I think you may profit from the Wikipedia in this regard. The Dark Ages were known for an oppressively pious worldview.

"...(T)he true purpose of a religion". Whenever I see the phrase "the true x of y" my tail goes all bushy. The same thing happens when I hear myself mentally using the phrase "I'll just". For instance "I'll just do this quickly". Yeah right. Look forward to several hours of tooth-gnashing frustration and fury. It works every time. "I'll just pop in for a while". Oh please. You WILL be late for something important and you secretly do know that you have decided to do something stupid on purpose.  Getting back to the point though, it seems fair to say that opinion differs widely on the true purpose of religion. Though one respect in which they seldom appear to differ is the advantage which it conferred upon the priestly classes who tend to be the wielders rather than the victims of the sacrificial knife. Funny, that.

Best. 



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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #7 on: 2007-05-22 16:52:01 »
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Bass darling,

Your ignorant fact murthering society slandering letters really set my teeth on edge as you mouthed antiquated propaganda at people quite capable of showing you up for the primitive barbarian you are. Then I got to your thoughts on the "Dark Ages", the period when Christianity ran the (Western) world and was reminded again of how little you know of history, comparative or otherwise, how desperately you need an education and how impossible it is for me to provide you with one. At which point I decided not to reply, but only to make a stipulation and a suggestion. These being that outside of their insane opposition to contraception, I consider the Roman Catholics of today to be among the "least worst" of the Christian religions. The suggestion is a repeat that you really need to read "Church of Virus:BBS:General:Philosophy & Religion:Virian Ethics: The End of God Referenced Ethics", Hermit, 2002-03-06, Church of Virus to discover why "morality" is an avoidable disaster, but "religious morality" is meaningless without independent ethical capability  - which, if correct, makes your assertions ridiculous. Not that I expect you to comprehend it. It uses real words, with more than three syllables and uses them correctly. But the effort would be good for you.

Regards

Hermit

PS You may also find "Church of Virus:BBS:  General  Philosophy & Religion:Virian Ethics: The Soul in the Machine and the Question of Virian Ethics", Hermit, 2002-03-05, Church of Virus helpful. And for extra credits, attempt to explain the success of our cousins the Chimpanzee's ability to hang out in troops despite practicing inter alia: theft, rape, murder, incest, bestiality, masturbation, sodomy and engaging in desperately poor hygiene. Despite any evidence for this, do you think it is due to a chimpanzee religion? In which case, how do you think it differs from or is better (or worse) than the religions man has invented for himself? If you don't think that the Chimpanzee needs a religion to function socially, why do you imagine man does? Do you regard humans as more criminal and less intelligent than chimpanzees? Or did I miss the point of your argument entirely?
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #8 on: 2007-05-23 12:44:28 »
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Ok. Well since my history seems flawed on this I'll leave it for now and try to improve for the future. I tell ya Hermit, they don't teach us as much detail as you seem to know, or me at lest. Very interesting links by the way, although I'm sure that I've seen them before, though quite some time ago... ?

But, just incase I misunderstood, these two paragraphs caught my attention and I'm not sure that I completely caught the drift on them.

Quote from: Blunderov on 2007-05-22 07:50:32   
A deal of recent neuroscience suggests strongly that some behaviours we ascribe to morality are hard wired into our brains. Some researchers go so far as to suggest that there may exist a universal "moral grammar" (to borrow an analogy from Chomsky's universal grammar). These behavoiurs would, therefore, arise whether religion was present in a culture or not. It seems probable that these fundamental moral behaviors predate our human religions and, indeed, our very species.


+


Quote from: Hermit on 2007-05-22 16:52:01   
attempt to explain the success of our cousins the Chimpanzee's ability to hang out in troops despite practicing inter alia: theft, rape, murder, incest, bestiality, masturbation, sodomy and engaging in desperately poor hygiene. Despite any evidence for this, do you think it is due to a chimpanzee religion? In which case, how do you think it differs from or is better (or worse) than the religions man has invented for himself? If you don't think that the Chimpanzee needs a religion to function socially, why do you imagine man does? Do you regard humans as more criminal and less intelligent than chimpanzees?


Blunderov & Hermit,

Are you saying that a certain Gene is what make a person do the right things? That it isn't a person's upbringing, religion, or what they're taught as a child that shapes their personality? If that's what you’re saying, then in turn, you or someone else will eventually call for an extermination of all others without that Gene. Also how will you know which person will have that Gene? It'll be a "witch hunt" all over again.

Because If that's what you're saying, then I think it is also flawed and not truly correct. For me I was adopted from somewhere else, never knowing my real parents. But I was raised with teachings, morals, etc. that helped me be similar to my adopted parents.

I've also seen the reverse, a hateful couple adopting a totally different child, with completely separate Genes (they've actually been checked), and the child growing up to be the same as the parents, hateful and spiteful.

Or the exact opposite, where a family of hateful people, have a good son.

Regards,

Bass
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #9 on: 2007-05-23 21:05:08 »
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Quote from: Bass on 2007-05-20 20:51:03   
Calling Christianity disorganized due to its many denominations caused by freedom of interpretation is like calling a democracy disorganized because it takes longer for things to be executed. Taking that freedom of interpretation away usually leads to a different use of the word "executed".


Not really. Christianity (like democracy) is both fundermentally and rationally flawed. Whether or not democracy is disorganized is dependent on, and due, to the people involved with carrying it out; so its pending. Christianity however (in terms of "self-truth" and logical functioning), is disorganized largely because of (religious) independent interpretation - which is more of a constant in memetics. Its what I like to call "Chinese whisper syndrome".
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #10 on: 2007-05-24 15:41:38 »
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Quote from: Bass on 2007-05-23 12:44:28   

Ok. Well since my history seems flawed on this I'll leave it for now and try to improve for the future. I tell ya Hermit, they don't teach us as much detail as you seem to know, or me at lest. Very interesting links by the way, although I'm sure that I've seen them before, though quite some time ago... ?

But, just incase I misunderstood, these two paragraphs caught my attention and I'm not sure that I completely caught the drift on them.


Quote from: Blunderov on 2007-05-22 07:50:32   
A deal of recent neuroscience suggests strongly that some behaviours we ascribe to morality are hard wired into our brains. Some researchers go so far as to suggest that there may exist a universal "moral grammar" (to borrow an analogy from Chomsky's universal grammar). These behavoiurs would, therefore, arise whether religion was present in a culture or not. It seems probable that these fundamental moral behaviors predate our human religions and, indeed, our very species.

+



Quote from: Hermit on 2007-05-22 16:52:01   

Are you saying that a certain Gene is what make a person do the right things? That it isn't a person's upbringing, religion, or what they're taught as a child that shapes their personality?

[Blunderov] The nature/nurture debate is one of the more enduring and intractable controversies. At the moment the pendulum seems to have swung somewhat to the nature side of the argument; neuroscience, in concert with genetics, has made the most astonishing progress in explaining how the brain works. I think I'm inclined to agree with Dennet; minds are what brains do. There is no 'hard problem'.

The appended piece is interesting. The author raises some instructive objections to the proposition that game theory properly represents human moral choices and their dynamics. TMM though, the results from game theory seem sufficient to suggest that humans societies operate according to a similar, if more complex, dynamic.

http://feeds.feedburner.com/PlanetAtheism

Alonzo Fyfe : Game Theory and Morals
24 May 2007, 05:34:00 | Alonzo Fyfe
This week, I am devoting my efforts to catching up questions raised through email and comments. One issue that came up in comments was the idea that “game theory” can tell us something about morality. Specifically, some people hold that the principles of morality can be understood in terms of the principles of a strategy that one would use in a particular type of game known commonly as a ‘prisoner’s dilemma.’

Game theory is a complex mathematical model that in some respects is said to provide a meaningful account of the relationship between morality and rationality. Rationality says, “Always do what is in your own best interests.” Morality says (or is often interpreted as saying something like), “Do what is in the best interests of others.” Game theory suggests some interesting ways in which these two apparently conflicting goals can merge.

The most common way of presenting game theory is to use the idea of two prisoners – you and somebody else whom you do not know. You are told the following:

If you confess to being a spy and agree to testify against the other, and he does not, then we will imprison you for 1 year, and execute the other. If he agrees to testify against you, and you do not confess, then we will execute you and free him in a year. If both of you confess, you will both get 10 years in prison. If neither confesses, you will both be imprisoned for 3 years.

If the other prisoner confesses, you are better off confessing – it is a difference between execution and 10 years in prison. If he does not confess, you are still better off confessing – it is a difference between 1 year in prison and 5 years. However, he has the same options you do. If he reasons the same way, he will confess, and you are both doomed to 10 years in prison. If he refuses to confess, and you also refuse, you can get away with 5 years. Clearly, 5 years is better than 10 years. Yet, it requires that both of you refuse to confess, when neither of you (taken individually) has reason to do so.

In trying to figure out how to handle this prisoner’s dilemma, some researchers made a game out of it. In this game, people submitted strategies to use in repeated prisoners’ dilemmas – cases where people were repeatedly thrown into these types of situations.

A particular strategy tended to be particularly stable – a strategy called ‘tit for tat’. The rules here were to cooperate on the first turn and, in each subsequent turn, do what your opponent did in the previous turn. Participants quickly learn the benefits of cooperation, and they do so.

Participants noticed certain similarities between these rules and a moral system – namely, the idea of ‘punishing’ somebody who ‘defects’ as a way of encouraging a system of mutual cooperation. Since then, researchers have thought that this holds the key to morality.

Of course, these reiterated prisoners’ dilemma games do not have death as one of the payoffs – since that would terminate the game at the first defection. They make sure that the payoff for cooperating when the other defects is the worst outcome, but also insist that it is not fatal.

As I see it, the fact that they have to impose this arbitrary limit should be seen as a cause for concern. In fact, the arbitrary and unrealistic limits that game theorists have to put on their games is only one of the problems that I find with the theory.

Altering the Payoffs

First, game theory takes all of the payoffs as fixed. It does not even ask the question, “What should we do if we have the capacity to alter the payoff before we even enter into this type of situation?”

For example, what if, before you and I even enter into this type of situation, we are able to alter each other’s desires such that both of us would rather die than contribute to the death of another person. Now, when we find ourselves in this type of a situation, the possibility that I might contribute to your death is the worst possible option. I can best avoid that option by not confessing. The same is true of you. We both refuse to confess, and thus end up harvesting the benefits of cooperation.

I am not talking about us making a promise not to confess if we should find ourselves in this type of situation. A promise, by itself, would not alter the results. However, if we back up the promise with an aversion to breaking promises – that I would rather die than break a promise that results in your death (and visa versa), then this would avoid the problem.

Desire utilitarianism looks at the prisoners’ dilemma and says that, if a community is facing these types of confrontations on a regular basis, then the best thing they can do is to promote a desire for cooperation and an aversion for defection. This raises the value of the outcomes of cooperation – changing the payoffs – so that true prisoners’ dilemmas become more and more rare.

What about the pattern, which we find in the tit-for-tat strategy – or following up cooperation with cooperation and defection with defection?

Please note that reward and punishment are not the same as deciding whether or not to cooperate or defect the next time that a similar situation comes up. A reward is a special compensation for what happened last time – a punishment is a special payment. We use reward and punishment as a way of promoting those desires that will make prisoners’ dilemmas less frequent.

Uneven Payoffs

Second, one of the assumptions that are used in these reiterated prisoners’ dilemmas – these games – where tit-for-tat strategy turns out to be so effective is that the payoff is always the same. However, in reality, the payoffs are not always the same. Some conflicts are more important than others. If we relax the rules of the game to capture this fact – if we vary the payoffs from one game to the next – I can easily come up with a strategy that will defeat tit-for-tat.

My strategy would be this: Play the tit-for-tat strategy, except when the payoff for defection is extraordinary high, then defect. Using this strategy, I could sucker the tit-for-tat player in to a habit of cooperation until the stakes are particularly high, than profit from a well-timed defection. The tit-for-tat strategist will then defect on the next turn. We will then enter into a pattern of oscillating defections. However, if the payoff on the important turn was high enough, then my gains would exceed all future losses.

My strategy would be particularly useful if, at the time of the big payoff, I arrange to kill off my tit-for-tat opponent so that the game ends on that turn. As I said, game theorists do not allow this option. Yet, in reality, this option is often available.

Anonymous Defection

Third, game theory does not consider is the possibility of anonymous defection. The cost of defection in game theory comes from the fact that, if I defect, my opponent always finds out about it. My opponent then defects against me on the next turn. However, let us assume (as is often the case) that I can defect without anybody finding out about it? I have found a wallet and can take the money without anybody finding out about it. How does game theory handle this type of situation?

Game theory would seem to suggest that I take the money and run. In fact, it says that I should commit any crime where the change of getting away with it, and the payoff, make it worth the risk. It is not just that this would be the wise thing for me to do. It would be the moral thing for me to do. After all, the game theorist is telling us that what game theory says is wise, and what is moral, are the same thing.

This means that anonymous defection is perfectly moral.

Power Relationships

Fourth, game theory presumes that the participants have approximately equal power – that one cannot coerce the choices of the other. Let’s introduce a difference in power, such that Player 1 can say to Player 2, “You had better make the cooperative choice every turn or I will force you to suffer the consequences.” The subordinate player lacks the ability to make the same threat.

When this happens, we are no longer in a prisoner’s dilemma. We are in a situation where the subordinate player is truly better off giving the cooperative option with each turn, and the dominant player is better off giving the defect option. The problem with game theory – or, more precisely, with the claim that game theory can give us some sort of morality – is that it says that, under these circumstances, the dominant player would have an obligation to exploit the subordinate player if it is profitable to do so.

Conclusion

Ultimately, game theory will have something important to say about morality. Game theory provides formulae for maximizing desire fulfillment in certain types of circumstances. As such, it will have implications for what it is good for us to desire.

However, it is one input among many. The idea that morality is nothing more than the rules of game theory has no merit.

Game theory uses the fundamental assumption that if an agent can actually get ahead by doing great harm to other people, then it is right and perhaps even morally obligatory for him to do so. Some game theory seems to suggest such a situation is not possible. Even if that is true, it is still the case that game theory says, in principle, if you should find yourself in such a situation, then by all means inflict as much harm as necessary to collect that reward.

This, alone, gives us irreparable split between morality and game theory.

Unfortunately, as the paragraphs above point out, the assumptions behind game theory morality not only say that a person has a moral right or even duty to great harm to others when it benefits him to do so. There are several likely scenarios that fit this description – scenarios where unusually great benefit, anonymity, or inequality in power can allow an agent to benefit in spite of, and perhaps because of, the harm he does to others.

Whatever morality happens to be, it is not going to be found in game theory.

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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #11 on: 2007-05-28 15:12:46 »
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #12 on: 2007-05-30 13:51:21 »
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Quote from: Bass on 2007-05-20 20:51:03   
How does this differenciate from the athiest governments that have been established over the years? The Soviet Union, Communist China, etc. They were far more authoritarian on the grounds of religion and morality than any Christian country I can think of.


I think it would be more appropriate to call these secular governments rather than atheistic governments.

And them being secular is more of an incidental characteristic; it is no accident that both governments you mentioned are Communist. The authoritarianism is more a product of flawed execution of Marxism or the inability of Marxism to be practiced by human nature. Secularism just happened to be a product of Communism in the same way that authoritarianism was but they were independent of eachother.

Secularism and democracy coexisting, histrorically speaking, is a fairly new phenomenon so it could very well be difficult to find good examples. But it actually isn't. You can turn to a lot of the countries in Europe to see Democracy and a relatively pronounced secularism coexisting.
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #13 on: 2007-05-30 14:13:08 »
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Meh, I'll add an opinion here from a different perspective, after thinking some on this. Thanks Blunderov for that last post of yours by the way; interesting. ObfuscatoryAlias, thanks for the input. And Hermit, thank you for your insight also, as condescending as it is.

Now lets think on the subject. The religion known as hinduism... no two towns have the same worship patterns, stories, or really anything in common... only one common text (sometimes) the Vedas, about as big as the Christian Bible. They get along a whole bunch better though because somewhere in the beliefs of all the many separate religions all called hinduism, there's an incredible tolerance and pluralistic idea that really all theories about the divine nature of things are equally credible/bull. It's pretty quirky from a western perspective.

The actual Bible itself is entirely cool with changing original meaning and screwing tradition. The works of prophets, often quoting earlier psalms or texts, were basically them giving new spins on old ideas. Jesus was even crazier and outright claimed certain laws in the Bible were bunk while reemphasizing other minor laws.

Of course, they were all checking in with God who (if you believe/weyken in this, not going to assert this to those who don't... I myself am an weak atheist/agnostic) knew what all the earlier texts was about... so there's a slight sense that there's some "original meaning" that was there before the original text and the prophets, and that God was using the prophets to clear up misreadings and get people closer to the original meanings... totally coherent idea.

But of course, your local priest/minister checks in with God. And by the same rules may have his own clarifications to make. Looking from an outsider's perspective like mine, that would be alteration... the Bible said nothing about me turning off my cellphone and computer and TV to spend some time being with the Lord (part of a homily a heard once)... but if you trust that the priest/minister is checking in with God... then these alterations actually get to the "original meaning" and bring in the value rather than making the text lose it.

Fox's suggested revisions are pretty crummy... probably get you a bit further from the message of the bible. But that's just something wrong with his specific suggestion, nothing wrong with the idea of revision in itself. What makes the Bible sacred is that it can be reapproached over and over again, redramatized and... (sometimes) rewritten.

regards,

Bass
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Re:Perhaps Christianity's Greatest Folly?
« Reply #14 on: 2007-05-30 14:45:09 »
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Bass,

I'll stay condescending until you take the trouble to perform some study and cite some sources (secondary sources - eg wikipedia - are fine here) before making assertions which are at odds with the entire modern understanding of the historical process. That way there is a chance at least you might learn something rather than merely exposing your prejudii.

As a case in point, if you call a Hindu tolerant in the presence of a Sikh or Muslim from India, prepare to do some arguing. You might like to study up on recent Hindu riots before discussing their tolerance (useful starting point http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Riots_in_India). You could also explain why the horrible genetic cesspit that is the legacy of every Brahman tells the story of the most bigoted genetic selection in the history of mankind rather than tolerance. Or ask a Dravidian or untouchable while they still by and large form the bulk of the utterly  impoverished in a country distinguished by class inequalities almost as bad as those in the USA.

You are also wide of the mark when you assert, again without support, that "The actual Bible itself is entirely cool with changing original meaning and screwing tradition... Jesus was even crazier and outright claimed certain laws in the Bible were bunk while reemphasizing other minor laws."

In so far as there was a prototypical Jesus, and "James the Brother of Jesus" is, as shown by the book of the same name to be the best candidate, he was a member of "The Community of the Poor" a revolutionary group of Zealots, those "Zealous for the Law", and the law in question was the Mosaic law which would have restored Mosaic Law to Israel and justified the execution of the Hasmonean Tetrarchs for cousin marriage and an end to Roman occupation. Rather than claiming laws were bunk, these lovely people wanted a "return" to Israel's mythical greatness (mythical as most of it was borrowed from other traditions) by returning to the brutal Mosaic system and spurning, as do modern fundamentalists, the concepts of translation or interpretation. The Old Testament is riddled with evidence of tampering and editing, but redolent of caveats about people not "following the way of the lard" meaning how the previous bits were reinterpreted.

The fact that people with psychiatric disorders "check in with god" doesn't do a hell of a lot to add confidence to their assertions about anything. It is only when the strange voices in peoples heads are asserted to belong to god that we don't medicate them or lock them up for the safety of the community if not their own.

Finally the whole point of religion arguing that it is suitable to be a "moral standard" a perspective you appeared to be supporting earlier, is that it is perfect and not only perfect but completely so. If that were ever the case, then any change would necessarily result in something less perfect. Thus this argument to mutability directly contradicts the argument to perfection. You can take one stance or the other (both IMO invalid), but you cannot legitimately assert both.

Regards

Hermit
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999
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