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In response to comment by waveman on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: onlytheseekerfinds 21 January 2017 10:40:24PM *  0 points [-]

Another factor is that Christianity is exclusive - one could not adhere to Christianity and, say, Mithraism at the same time, since Christianity claimed a monopoly on religious truth. Other saviour cults which did not function in the same way would not have been able to work up the same amount of religious fervour, since a man's trust in his religion is limited by that religion's trust in itself.

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: waveman 21 January 2017 10:23:34PM 0 points [-]

The book "The Rise of Christianity" is an excellent analysis, using the tools of modern sociology, of the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Key insights

  1. It grew exponentially mostly via transmission from people you knew. As your social world became more than 50% Christian, you were more likely to convert. In recent times Mormanism has grown in a similar fashion.

  2. It had many rules that encouraged having large families (no birth control, no abortion, no infanticide, no sex outside marriage which encouraged young marriage, bans on many sources of fun other than having sex with your spouse, bans of divorce which made marriage more secure in a sense).

  3. The higher status of women in Christianity than in the Roman world encouraged women to convert. An example of this higher status was that a pagan man could order his wife to have an abortion. Many of the patriarchal statements in the new testament were latter additions when the church, which was originally very egalitarian, did become very patriarchal.

  4. Christians were only allowed to marry pagans if the pagan converted, or at a minimum, agreed for the children to brought up as Christians.

  5. (3) and (4) combined with the shortage of women due to infanticide of female children meant that men who wanted a wife often had little choice but to marry a Christian. The children would then be Christians.

Once they achieved critical mass they seized control of the state and enacted coercive measures which ruthlessly crushed the other religions. As an example, even visiting pagan temples was banned, books were destroyed, priests killed, temples burned or converted to churches.

Comment author: onlytheseekerfinds 21 January 2017 09:57:22PM *  0 points [-]

reading about the topic on Wikipedia

Just because there's an article on the spread of Islam doesn't mean that a balanced quantitative analysis on the means of its proliferation either exists or is possible. Usually when someone asserts something to that effect, the onus is on them to support their assertion by referencing a specific source.

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jiro 21 January 2017 06:16:09PM *  0 points [-]

Furthermore, I would expect to see, in countries where it is not a majority religion, it would slowly fade and die (as social ostracism is used against it by the majority)

No, it just has to get big enough that Christians have enough other Christians around that the social structure becomes self-sustaining. Social ostracism is used to get rid of spontaneously appearing non-Christian individuals, not large groups.

But assuming it to be an exhaustive list does not appear to match reality -

So don't assume it's an exhaustive list.

It really doesn't matter for the purposes of my point that it also spreads through peaceful missionaries. You seem to think that I'm complaining that Christianity spreads violently, so you're bringing up non-violent missionaries. But that isn't my point.

My point is that Christianity spreads as a meme system. Belief systems have traits which lead them to spread regardless of their truth. Some of those traits I listed above. Other traits include, of course, the belief system telling its members to send out missionaries to spread the belief system. Having missionaries is an adaptation which helps the belief system to spread, in the same way that coconuts being able to float so they can travel to distant islands helps coconuts to spread. Belief systems which spread efficiently will do better than belief systems that don't, and will soon cover as much area as they can right until they run into other well-adapted belief systems.

In response to comment by Ab3 on What is Evidence?
Comment author: Bound_up 21 January 2017 05:34:46PM 0 points [-]

I think "should" here means "justified," not necessarily "likely."

Your (rational) beliefs should be considered evidence by the irrational, even though they likely won't be.

Comment author: PaulinePi 21 January 2017 04:51:04PM *  0 points [-]

Well, it applies to the article... but also to cases in which one variable is actually related to the theory, not as in falsely related this time. You do reject the new information to protect your theory,

To the second point: What makes you think that? And on which point do you think it acceses? Do yout think OCD prevents people from incorporating new information in general, or does it increase the chance of two variables ending up in "one bucket" that are not actually related (probably not in general, but in one aspect, like cleanliness or such)?

Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 January 2017 04:24:07PM 0 points [-]

You could start by reading about the topic on Wikipedia (that will also refer you to many other sources.) Of course you could say that probably most of those articles and their sources were written by non-Muslims. But that is like saying that most people who have argued for any position have tended to be people who believe that position, and therefore we should ignore their arguments.

Comment author: onlytheseekerfinds 21 January 2017 04:09:28PM 0 points [-]

This idea seems to be more or less taken for granted by people who oppose either Islam. Is there actually a perspicuous source of data describing in detail how Islam spread, that allows assessments of that kind to be made?

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: entirelyuseless 21 January 2017 03:51:38PM 0 points [-]

This is a good argument, and one way of seeing that is by contrast with Islam, where the method described is historically much closer to being exhaustive -- and in general it was indeed introduced into new areas was by means of swords, and missionaries did take swords with them as standard equipment. (In the future Islam may continue to spread more in the fashion that Christianity did in the past, however.)

In response to comment by Jiro on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: CCC 21 January 2017 12:21:56PM 2 points [-]

We know how religion spreads.

I'm not sure that you do.

From your previous post:

The predominant ways in which Christianity has spread are conversion by the sword, parent to child transmission, and social ostracism for people who refuse to believe it.

If this were true - and if it were an exhaustive list of the predominant ways - then I would expect to see the following:

  • Parent-to-child transmission only works if the parents are Christian. Social ostracisation only works if a majority of a given person's possible social acquaintances are.
  • Thus, the only means on the list of introducing is into a new area is by the sword
  • Thus, I would expect missionaries to either have been abandoned, or to be given a sword as standard equipment on setting out. I do not see this.
  • Furthermore, I would expect to see, in countries where it is not a majority religion, it would slowly fade and die (as social ostracism is used against it by the majority)

Now, I am not saying that it is never spread by such means. (Fortunately, 'by the sword' appears to have been largely abandoned in recent history). But assuming it to be an exhaustive list does not appear to match reality - there seems to be a rather large gap where a single missionary, armed with nothing more than information and presumably a fairly persuasive tongue, can go into a large enough group of humans who have little or no previous knowledge of religion and end up persuading a number of them to join.

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jiro 20 January 2017 04:16:50PM *  2 points [-]

We know how religion spreads. We know it well enough that when it is obvious enough that the "experts" are basing their "expertise" on religion, we can ignore it without worrying that we are just dismissing the experts because doing so is comforting.

It's not as if the way religion spreads is seriously in question.

In response to comment by Salemicus on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: gjm 20 January 2017 02:35:36PM 1 point [-]

We do ask J K Rowling what non-magical boy inspired Harry Potter.

I guess you mean that we could and it wouldn't be obviously silly, with which I agree. But, for what it's worth, it never crossed my mind to assume that Harry Potter was based on any specific non-magical boy. The characteristics he has that aren't essentially dependent on story-specific things (magic, being the prime target of a supervillain, etc.) seem pretty ordinary and not in any particular need of explanation.

I wouldn't be astonished if it turned out that there was some kid Rowling knew once whom she used as a sort of basis for the character of Harry Potter, but I'd be a bit surprised. And if it did, I wouldn't expect particular incidents in the books to be derived from particular things that happened to that child.

In particular, I wouldn't say that the simplest (still less the most likely) explanation for the Harry Potter stories involves there being some non-magical child on whom they are based.

I don't think any of this has much bearing on whether the simplest explanation for stories about Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha, Zeus, etc., involves actual historical characters on which they're based. The answer to that surely varies a lot from case to case. (FWIW I'd say: historical Jesus of some sort likely but not certain; historical Muhammad almost certain; historical Buddha likely but not certain; historical Zeus-predecessor very unlikely. But I am not expert enough for my guesses to be worth anything.)

In response to comment by Jiro on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: CCC 20 January 2017 10:40:06AM 2 points [-]

Hmmm. Could work. Or perhaps the first thing he'd conclude is that you are infected by the meme plague, and the second thing he'd do is suspect that you are trying to infect him with the meme plague.

He could respond to this in two ways; either by ending the debate, in the hope of immunising himself; or by arguing against you, in the hopes of curing you.

...huh. Actually, thinking about this, a lot of bad debate habits (ignoring the other person's evidence, refusing to change your mind, etc.) actually make a lot of sense when seen as protective measures specifically to prevent infection by meme plagues.

In response to comment by Lumifer on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: CCC 20 January 2017 10:29:24AM 1 point [-]

Then I may have misunderstood the intention of the phrase.

As an observation about the limits of the maxim, I agree with it. And no, I'm not going to argue that a memetic plague never happens.

I am, however, going to argue that a memetic plague is hard to identify, making this observation very difficult to actually apply with any reliability. It's just too easy - if I see a bunch of experts in the subject all saying something that I disagree with - for me to think "they're infected by a memetic plague". It's so much more comforting to think that than to think "maybe I'm wrong" - especially when I already have some evidence that seems to say that I am right. So, while this observation can be applied correctly, it would be far, far too easy to misapply. And if I were to misapply it - I would have no idea that I am, in fact, misapplying it.

As a general observation, then, I cautiously agree. As a specific argument in virtually any debate, I deeply mistrust it.

I hope that makes my position clearer.

Comment author: Regex 19 January 2017 11:45:33PM *  0 points [-]

Evolving thoughts link is down. Archive.org link

In response to comment by Jiro on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: onlytheseekerfinds 19 January 2017 11:36:11PM *  1 point [-]

Maybe there's a confusion being caused here by the sentence "This is not how evolution spreads."

It could mean at least one of the following: 1) "This is not how the theory of evolution itself was spread" 2) "This is not the mechanism according to which evolution spreads ideas"

It seems as if Lumifer interpreted your statement in the second sense (as I did initially), whereas reading your post in its original contexts suggests the first sense was the one which you intended.

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jiro 19 January 2017 10:00:10PM *  0 points [-]

Same way you convince him of anything else--by arguing specific facts.

Just because two sides can produce arguments with similar forms doesn't mean they also have similar facts. "Anyone can claim X", divorced from the facts about X, is only about having similar forms.

In response to comment by Lumifer on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Jiro 19 January 2017 09:59:40PM 3 points [-]

Please don't be Internet-pedantic here. "Factual truth" here means "the factual truth of the statements made by the religion", not "factual truths about the religion".

In response to comment by Jiro on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Lumifer 19 January 2017 04:17:11PM 0 points [-]

It spreads for reasons related to its fitness as a system of ideas but unrelated to its factual truth. This is not how evolution spreads.

The historical survival of religions and societies is a matter of factual truth. Evolution rewards success, not epistemic purity. Is peacock's plumage related to factual truth?

In response to comment by CCC on Crisis of Faith
Comment author: Lumifer 19 January 2017 04:13:18PM *  1 point [-]

Isn't this a Fully General Counterargument, though?

It's not a counterargument, it's an observation about the limits of the maxim quoted. And while it can certainly be misapplied, are you going to argue that a memetic plague never happens?

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