Question 10

Question: Do you believe war is an irrational part of the human condition?  –Thomas K.

Answer: War is something that arises because of our lack of empathy for fellow human beings. Nothing (IMHO) is irrational. Al-Qaeeda is not irrational, nor is President Ahmedijinad (of Iran). These are very real and sensible conclusions to current and past events. And to understand the problem in order solve it, we need to get past the "they hate freedom" rhetoric. Sorry for digressing, but no, I don’t think war is irrational, it is an unfortunate consequence of human selfishness.  –Muhammed

13 Responses to “Question 10”

  1. Nova says:

    Well, I think there _is_ an irrational ground, that is believing in something that cannot be proven (no, the necessity of a creator it is not a proof: who created the creator? If the answer is nobody, then you could apply it to the universe itself, thus requiring no god).
    Obviously I am not talking about war in general, which is generally fought for economical and political reasons, but the two people that you cite (Bin Laden and Ahmedijinad) use the irrational concept of god as the ultimate Judge that backs all their ideas. And this is very dangerous.

    Btw, I am a little disappointed to see that my questions have not been answered, but I do understand that the focus was mostly on the Mulsim world in general and not on the philosophy of the nature of god.

    If you like history, and particularly Arab history, I strongly suggest you to read some of the works by Maxime Rodinson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxime_Rodinson), and in particular “Muhammad”.

    -Nova-

  2. Matthew says:

    Nova,

    It could be argued that we are all fundamentally irrational beings who use reason (some more than others) to communicate. Our minds are a jumble of symbols without fixed semantics, but we manage to map those symbols to language in order to communicate effectively.

    In this context, it doesn’t make sense to call someone’s belief in God “irrational” because is no more or less rational that any other belief, including belief in no god. What matters is how we choose to communicate and express our essentially irrational beliefs.

  3. Shaze says:

    Nothing is irrational? What about beleif? If logic and evidence presents itself to be the better of explanation, wouldn’t beleif become irrational by default?

    Even to logical explanation, to simply beleive in something is like saying “Change cannot affect this explanation, it is absolute”. To ignore the powerful presence of change in all things is irrational.

    “Christianity has a built-in defense system: anything that questions a belief, no matter how logical the argument is, is the work of Satan by the very fact that it makes you question a belief. It’s a very interesting defense mechanism and the only way to get by it — and believe me, I was raised Southern Baptist — is to take massive amounts of mushrooms, sit in a field, and just go, “Show me.”"

    – Bill Hicks

  4. itanshi says:

    belief is a rationalization

    so it is not irrational :-P

  5. Alexander McLeay says:

    Nova and Shaze, I very much doubt that either of you have a way to prove that your sensory input is accurate. You rely on the fact that your eyes, ears, fingers etc. all appear to be giving co-ordinated information, but if the malfunction is at a more central level, you wouldn’t be able to tell. You cannot use the fact that you’re not dead yet, so you must be doing something right, because you could be attached to a life-support system and everything you see (including this post) is a figment of your imagination. In any case, having never died, you have no proof that people do, in fact, die.

    Even your beloved logic could be concocted in your mind and have no reality outside of it. In any case, no-one has ever presented me with a logical proof that I exist. I very much doubt it’s possible. Is it therefore irrational of me to conclude that I do?

    Why should we then apply a different standard to a god? Some people observe our inability to prove the existence or non-existence of god and conclude that other evidence is in favor of god; others conclude that god does not exist; and others still conclude nothing. None of these positions are irrational.

  6. sidfaiwu says:

    Hello Alexander,

    You should look up the philosophical works of Rene Descartes. In particular, you should read Meditations on First Philosophy if you haven’t done so already. He starts out with the exact same epistemological skepticism that you describe in your post. He doubts the validity of all his senses. From that starting point, he goes on to provide the most convincing proof that he exists. He wonders if all his senses are being fooled all the time, what can he know for certain? His conclusion is elegant and famous. He concludes that he can know that he exists. Otherwise, whose senses are being fooled? Who is the one reflecting on the possibility of being fooled? In other words, “cogito ergo sum”, or “I think, therefore I am”. He uses that conclusion as the foundation of his epistemological explorations from there.

    Enjoy!

  7. sidfaiwu says:

    Damn! I did it again! I forgot to close my italics tag. Sorry.

  8. Your Father says:

    “Why should we then apply a different standard to a god? Some people observe our inability to prove the existence or non-existence of god and conclude that other evidence is in favor of god; others conclude that god does not exist; and others still conclude nothing. None of these positions are irrational.”

    Irrational? Perhaps not, but there is no reason to believe one over the other. There are far more ideas you never go into (maybe you’re trapped in the matrix, maybe your real consciousness is just as fragile and you’ll still cease to exist, maybe a god still had nothing to do with your existence, or maybe your body is all your life will ever be). The point is you cannot know, so why believe something just because it is nice (Humans are special, Jesus loves me, etc…). Belief may be rational, but it is still ignorant. It holds back social and scientific progress in THIS existance, which is all you should be concerned with until you truly know otherwise. Last time I checked you havent died yet either.

  9. noona says:

    about your answer to the hijab/veil question, a sunni muslim’s reference is both the Quran and Hadith (prophet’s sayings), many things are not clearly stated in the Quran but are in hadiths, and your answer was based on referring to the Quran only, so unless you are not a sunni muslim, that doesn’t make your answer validated.

  10. Shaze says:

    “Alexander McLeay Says:
    August 15th, 2006 at 9:17 am
    Nova and Shaze, I very much doubt that either of you have a way to prove that your sensory input is accurate.”

    How bout’ conformity, or science and testing? I feel confident that if everyone else see’s the same floating spaghetti monster that I am having sex with, it must exist.

    I personally have reached must sounder and fuller conclusions by asking those around me, “Does this make sense to you?”.

  11. Alexander McLeay says:

    Your Father: Irrational? Perhaps not, but there is no reason to believe one over the other. … Belief may be rational, but it is still ignorant. … Last time I checked you havent died yet either.

    Precisely what I’m saying. One does not believe in things one knows; you simply know them. And one does not have reason to believe in the existence of god over the non-existence. The proper conclusion to draw is “we simply cannot know”, because we can’t. Positions of theism and atheism both involve leaps of faith. My position here is that no-one should be criticised for either position by adherents of either the same or the other position. (On the other hand, if we assume our senses are continuously intact, then divine revelation might provide sufficient proof that god does exist, and so some people, regardless of how much we trust them, might rationally conclude god exists. Given which, I feel people who criticise the religious as “irrational” or in need of a bwankie or whatever are incredibly rude and short-sighted, but I will never call them “necessarily wrong”.)

    As for whether or not I’m dead (I’m not), I don’t understand why you bring it up. I’ve never argued belief is irrational. I’m pretty sure my grandfathers are both dead. Willing to believe it in fact.

    Shaze, how do you know everyone else aren’t figments of your imagination? You could be the only thing in that actually “exists”. You might be the universe. Therefore, whether or not everyone else sees the same monster as you means nothing. You’re still making a leap of faith in assuming that the people you’re talking to are behaving as if they can see the same monster.

    Sidwaifu, it will take me some time to read that. I’ll try later. But whether someone exists is not in doubt; I feel quite sure something I call “me” exists. I merely assume my senses aren’t being fooled most of the time.

  12. Your Father says:

    My problem with beliefs involving popular religion isn’t with the simple fact that someone believes. It is because these beliefs, which invlove things no one can know, have a bearing on what we do know. Anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-science, and anti-woman causes, not to mention many wars are all the result of putting these beliefs where they don’t belong, the real world.

    I’m not saying people shouldn’t be free to have beliefs, but more people need to start realizing that bringing any part of a belief into this existance is wrong. When’s the last time you heard of an atheist suicide bombing? (an extreme case, but any degree of religious influence on other people’s lives is equally wrong)

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