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Costanza comments on How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 - Less Wrong

53 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 September 2007 11:00PM

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Comment author: Costanza 17 December 2010 04:23:49AM *  2 points [-]

Again, I hope you stick around. No need to burn yourself out as the lone voice of Christianity -- pacing yourself is fine.

Also, this truly is a rationalist site. If you can present well-thought out arguments, people here will listen to you. If you can make a rational argument demonstrating the truth of Christianity, then (according to some denominations) you could save some souls. (I understand the Calvinists would not necessarily agree.) But according to some traditions, good works (not just fide sola) have merit, and evangelizing is one of the greatest of all good works. Is it not?

My ulterior motive in making that argument is that I also think this forum could benefit from the perspective of a Christian who speaks Bayes.

Comment author: Jack 17 December 2010 04:34:58AM 2 points [-]

I also think this forum could benefit from the perspective of a Christian who speaks Bayes.

I think I'd rather have a better calibrated Frequentist.

Comment author: wedrifid 17 December 2010 05:10:24AM 1 point [-]

I'd rather have a rock. Or a Christian who doesn't speak Bayes. At least that implies less doublethink.

Comment author: Jack 17 December 2010 05:53:52AM *  1 point [-]

Christianity here is actually a memetic hazard. It's a set of beliefs that has so many things wrong with it all of us feel compelled to address all of the bad thinking and wrong evidence all at once. It immediately draws everyone away from whatever productive comments they were making and into an attempt to deconvert the interlocutor. The interlocutor then responds to these attempts with more nonsense in different places which draws still more people in to the battle. Better to just keep the Hydra's out than try and chop off all those heads.

No one here is actually at risk but we don't get anything to justify the strain on the immune system.

Comment author: simplicio 17 December 2010 06:07:29AM 1 point [-]

I can think of some counterexamples. We "got" SarahC, for instance (according to her own words), and that was an unadulterated boon.

Also, the claims of religion are varied enough that they provide a range of topics, many trivial but some interesting. E.g., if we were in a sim and somebody changed it from outside in violation of the sim's internal physical law, that would constitute a "miracle" at this level of reality. How would we recognize such an event from inside?

Comment author: Jack 17 December 2010 06:20:59AM *  0 points [-]

A lot of Sarah's comments were made this summer when I wasn't around, so I may have missed something but I quick glance confirms that she is not a believing Christian. She certainly hasn't argued for the truth Christianity, which is really my concern.

Also, the claims of religion are varied enough that they provide a range of topics,

Which we can discuss successfully without real Christians.

Comment author: simplicio 17 December 2010 06:29:10AM *  0 points [-]

Sorry, I was unclear in speaking. I meant she acknowledged LW's influence in her deconversion, and is no longer religious. I think she started out Jewish actually. I can't seem to find the relevant comment/post.

Comment author: [deleted] 17 December 2010 02:24:54PM 3 points [-]

I was never Christian, I was raised Jewish, and now I don't believe in God. And, yes, LessWrong contributed. (I think, IIRC, we also have a member who was raised Muslim and recently became an atheist since he found LW.)

I don't think you can randomly deconvert someone who isn't already seeking a change. Like most major changes in belief or lifestyle, deconversion has to be self-motivated. But if a Christian (or other religious person) is hanging around LW and not trolling, then he's probably looking for some alternatives, and there's no harm pointing him in that direction.

Comment author: XiXiDu 17 December 2010 03:33:37PM *  3 points [-]

I was never Christian, I was raised Jewish, and now I don't believe in God. And, yes, LessWrong contributed. (I think, IIRC, we also have a member who was raised Muslim and recently became an atheist since he found LW.)

My reason to abjure God was mainly due to ethical reasons. I didn't want to follow something anymore that had deliberately designed such an hellhole of a universe. Later I became an atheist mainly for noticing that nothing natural really appeared to be intelligently designed. Just look at the moon, the shape of the continents etc., or that we live on the surface of a sphere rather than inside a Dyson sphere. The next big step came via science fiction, when I noticed how easy it would have been to design a universe where nothing could suffer horribly. What Less Wrong added on top of all else I learnt is that Occam's razor has been formalized. I didn't know about that before LW.

I just don't see that anyone would need Less Wrong to stop beliving into one of the Abrahamic religions. It should be obvious to anyone who isn't morally bankrupt or a psychopath that God is not your friend, rather it is your worst enemy. If that doesn't convince you, why not just read the Bible:

Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives violated. See, I will stir up against them the Medes, who do not care for silver and have no delight in gold. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants, nor will they look with compassion on children. (Isaiah 13:15-18)

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2010 04:00:47PM 5 points [-]

I just don't see that anyone would need Less Wrong to stop beliving into one of the Abrahamic religions. It should be obvious to anyone who isn't morally bankrupt or a psychopath that God is not your friend, rather it is your worst enemy.

And yet simple observation confirms that it is not obvious to many people who are clearly not sociopaths or more morally bankrupt than usual. It's completely ordinary for people to rationalize away inconsistencies or flaws in their beliefs with as little revision as possible. Making large alterations to account for large errors is a rare and difficult to learn skill.

Comment author: [deleted] 17 December 2010 05:29:29PM 4 points [-]

I was aware of the moral aspects; but I was confused by the notion that I seemed to disagree with God and I thought this was my fault. I had a problem with the story of Pinchas, but I thought that was me just being "soft" or "secularized" and I was really unsure whether to trust my own sense of morality. (One thing we should all understand here is that "conscience" is very far from infallible.)

What changed my mind is a sense that my brain is all I've got. I may be wrong about many things, but I'm not going to become less wrong by throwing out the majority of what I know in favor of one ancient and rather bloody book; if "conscience" isn't trustworthy, it's still probably more trustworthy than simple conformism.

Comment author: Xaway 17 December 2010 04:36:09AM 0 points [-]

Although I appreciate some of the articles on this site, I don't think I'll participate much in the discussion.

Although I speak Bayes and know more logic than a human should know, I do not consider myself a rationalist, because I doubt my own rationality. It wouldn't make sense for an inherently irrational person to spend his time trying to talk rationally when he could be dancing or programming.

Also, I firmly believe that Christianity can not be proven by argument, only by evidence (miracles). And only God himself, not the Christian, can provide the evidence, which he does on his own terms.

Comment author: topynate 17 December 2010 04:39:01AM 10 points [-]

I do not consider myself a rationalist, because I doubt my own rationality.

This site isn't called Always Right, you know.

Comment author: ata 17 December 2010 04:46:22AM *  4 points [-]

Also, this truly is a rationalist site. If you can present well-thought out arguments, people here will listen to you. If you can make a rational argument demonstrating the truth of Christianity

The truth status of Christianity is something that Less Wrong should be able to consider a settled question. We can debate about things like the Simulation Argument, etc. and other reductionist non-supernaturalist claims that look sorta like deism if you squint, but Jehovah did not create the universe, and Jesus is not Lord, and I don't think there's any point in humouring someone who disagrees, or encouraging them to come up with smarter-sounding rationalizations. Let's not push Less Wrong in the direction of becoming the sort of place where these old debates are rehashed; there are more interesting things to think and talk about. Although it seems that Xaway in particular may not have come here with the intention of actually convincing anyone to believe in Christianity, I would propose in the general case that anyone who does want to should be referred to some place like /r/atheism instead.

Comment author: Costanza 17 December 2010 04:58:24AM *  5 points [-]

Well, I certainly don't think Jehovah created the universe. On the other hand, this thread is devoted to the consideration of the proposition that 2 + 2 = 3 -- arguably a settled question -- with the understanding that "a belief is only really worthwhile if you could, in principle, be persuaded to believe otherwise." I don't know if Xaway is going to be participating any more (hi, Xaway, if you're reading this!), but I was hoping that this might be a good exercise in practicing rational discussion. In part, I thought we could win him over to the dark side (joking about it being the dark side.)

Comment author: wedrifid 17 December 2010 05:17:19AM 7 points [-]

Also, this truly is a rationalist site. If you can present well-thought out arguments, people here will listen to you.

That is not 'truly rationalist'. Well thought out arguments for a preselected bottom line are bullshit.