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Author Topic:   Argument from Love - alternatives to reason.
Junior Member (Idle past 4137 days)
Posts: 11
From: Nottinghamshire, UK
Joined: 07-30-2011

Message 1 of 2 (627264)
08-01-2011 7:25 PM

Greetings all,
After going over some old facebook messages I stumbled on a conversation I had with a Mormon friend of mine. We got on the subject of religion and I was curious as to the nature of her personal faith. She presented an argument that held love as an example of why she has has faith. The beginning of the conversation is unfortunately lost, but a nut-shell summation is she asked me if I knew my mum loves me, I replied yes, and she then continued to show how love can't be tested demonstratably with a high level of accuracy (such as demonstrations of love, like gift giving, can easilly be something else). I later changed my answer to no I don't "know" my mum loves me, as I hold a different deffinition that I wasn't aware I would need to outline at the start of the discussion.
The following conversation transpired, which I still find a fascinating read, hopefully you will too. I was wondering what many of you make of it; and if you have anything to add.
gah, killed by that stupid new enter thing. Anyway, I just wanted to say, completely outside the debate, that even if you don't know your mother loves you, I know it. I know it because if your mother loves you with even a fraction of the love with which I love my own daughter, your mother loves you beyond anything, beyond explanation, beyond understanding, beyond reason. When we started that conversation, I think you knew she loved you, and when you reduced her love to "an educated guess" because the knowledge gained did not conform to your definition, it broke my heart. I hope in time you accept that knowledge you had. And by the way, just accepting that you can have knowledge outside of facts proven by a scientific method does not mean that you have to accept that there is a god or any of that. So that's just what I wanted to say. I still respect you and what you believe, and I hope you don't think I am being obnoxious now by writing you this note. I am all kinds of emotional now that I am a mother myself. If for no other reason, please excuse my intrusion based on that.
I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, but for the record my deffinition of what my mother feels for me has been as I wrote it for quite a while. That is how I view all love in all respects. I know that sounds harsh and I hope you believe me when I say I never want to make her, or you, or anyone else feel any negative emotions brought on by my words. I say it because that is how I see it, determined by how I view the universe and it's mechanics. There was a time when I didn't make the deffinition, and I hope it makes you feel better (even if only slightly) to read that I don't feel in any way different with the deffinition in place. I feel just as loved as I always have done, and love others as much as I always have done. You may see it as loosing something, but it's difficult to feel I've lost something when everything feels the same as it always has. Please forgive how this next bit sounds, i simply cannot think of a better way to put it. I don't let what I want to be true cloud what I think is true, but the world seems no darker for it.
I understand your sentiments here, and I don't think they are wrong or a bad way to feel or look at the world. What does bother me, though, is that you changed your tune a little bit. When I asked you, Does your mother love you?, you answered yes. When I asked you how you knew, you told me. Then after we discussed some, you said that you didn't know she loved you. Do you see what I am saying, where I am coming from? If you had from the beginning said what you are saying now, I wouldn't think another thing of it, but you didn't. You started one way and ended another, and that is what I think is a shame: your inconsistency. You said that you don't let what you want to be true cloud what you think is true, but you just did that very thing.
I guess I better explain what I mean: You don't want there to be other ways than the scientific method of knowing something, so you let that want cloud what you knew (that your mother loves you) and changed your tune to "well, I guess I don't know that my mother loves me."
ah, then I appologise for misleading you. I said yes initially in order to let the thought process play out (and also to not seem needless difficult or argumentative). I brought the definition in at a late juncture, a juncture too late to give the right impression, and for that I am sorry to both of us; to you for seeming misleading and to me for now loosing credibility. The deffinition should have been in place from the start, I was simply unaware at that time it would be needed.
It seems to me the this problem finds it's roots in a flaw in language. We both think (for different reasons) that humans are flawed beings, but we inturn have created flawed languages that don't allow us to express or define what we want to effectively. This seems to have happed with concepts, to you in this love argument it qualifies as knowledge, to me it doesn't.
Because you don't want it to, sir. Blame language if you want, but you turning to flawed language as the reason is only an excuse. If you want to still argue the point, then you cannot know anything, even facts prove by the scientific method, because the communication thereof also uses words and language, ergo it is subject to flaws as well. This narrow view of knowledge must be expected, however, because your definition of knowledge is so narrow. You've needlessly limited yourself to what the scientific method can prove today. Many of the things we consider facts based on the scientific method will change as the radical thinking takes effect and ways of testing things changes. Additionally the scientific method cannot prove negatives, so for you to say that another way of knowing something IS NOT is a fallacy by your own definition. There are other ways of knowing things, and just because you want the scientific method to be the only way doesn't make it so.
So please, continue to blame language, but it still doesn't hold up.
I figure I might as well anticipate your next argument and respond: Language in general is not the flaw here; your definition of knowledge is the thing that is flawed, so if you want to blame language, blame your definition. Just because you don't know how to operate the mechanism, doesn't mean the mechanism is broken. I believe in this case we have a situation of user error, so blaming the mechanism is weak and ineffectual.
this is starting to sound a little attackish. I draw the deffinition because of how different the too things are. Feelings are subjective, and thus there isn't a universal truth that can be deffined clearly. They aren't real in the same sense and so can't be "known" in the same sense. To me that is grounds for a different term. To fob it off as an excuse is derogetory. I think you feel I'm simply being dismissive of something you think I'm not owning up to, and so without the respect of believing the other debator is being honest the discussion is inevitably doomed to fail. Assuming I'm mistaken I'll continue. Language is full of failings, I have heard that they are found in every language and in many situations, plus it follows logically that would be. You haven't shown why my deffinition is unneeded. On the scientific method. The principles of the method have largely stayed the same, but new ways of using it are what changes. I follow the scientific method because it has shown to be the most accurate way of determining truths. When something currently held as a scientific truth is shown to be flawed, it is still done scientifically.
I also prefer the scientific method because of its adaptability. This I feel is drawn from the way it changes and evolves as our understanding increases. The basic tenant is you follow the evidense to its most logical conclusion without bias. It also allows us to accept that we do not know everything yet. So while in some cases we cannot draw a solid arguement for or against something, we can say we know what that data implies WITHOUT having to accept something else in the mean time. I don't feel anything needs to be 100% accurate, just more than 50%. Studies into brain chemistry and meme theory, I feel, achieve this.
I did not mean to sound attackish, and for that I apologize. Text does not always convey the correct tone. In any event, I am not saying that the scientific method is without merit. On the contrary, it is absolutely useful. You have missed my point about the the other business entirely, though. There are flaws in language, but many people have managed to communicate clearly what they want to say regardless of the flaws, and so for you to bring up the flaws in language as a reason that you cannot "express or definite what [you] want effectively" is not a good argument.
I accept that you have determined that emotions are subjective and therefore cannot be tested by the scientific method, ergo not known in the same way other information may be known. Indeed, that was my point all along. My point is that there are different kinds of knowledge: facts determined by the scientific method, and other knowledge such as the knowing if your mother loves you. See, my argument is not about just emotions, It's about information that is still true even though we cannot use the scientific method to prove it at this time. If you need further example, go tell your mother that you don't know if she loves you. Have that conversation. Tell you what, I'll save you the trouble. It will probably go something like this:
Mat: "Mother, I don't know if you love me."
Mother: "Of course I love you. How can you say that?"
Mat: "Well, I'm pretty sure you love me, but it just can't be proven with the scientific method, so I cannot actually know if you love me or not."
Mother: "Well, I'm telling you I love you. Don't you believe me?"
Mat: "I believe you. It's just cannot know if you really do or not."
Mother: "But I just told you I love you. Are you calling me a liar?"
Mat: "No. It's just that I cannot know, but I believe you, but I just can't know really." ...................................Now again, I don't know your mother and it's very dangerous ground to include people's mothers in arguments, and I absolutely mean no disrespect towards her or you in this conversation. I ardently implore you not to take any offense at it, for I definitely mean none. From all accounts, your mother is a wonderful woman and I believe that you have a nice relationship with her. It's just that sometimes, you can know that someone is telling you the truth. You can know what they say is true because they said it. (Now that doesn't mean that everything someone claims is true is actually true, but I think you see my point.)
Unfortunately everything is subjective, because when we observe something with our senses, as we do while performing experiments to prove or disprove our hypothesis during the process of the scientific method, we are using our senses, which are not impervious to subjectivity and can be tricked. What is real and what is perceived do not always coincide identically for any two people. For example, how do I know that what I call red is actually what you call red too? I know about spectographs and other instruments that can assign light particular patterns that can be compared, but such things do not work with pigments, which colours are different than light colours, and a spectograph would not work on pigments. Anyway, there is subjectivity as long as there is a human documenting or observing or whatever, because we cannot experience anything outside of ourselves.
You are right in that I do feel you are not owning up to something. I feel you are not owning up to the fact that you told me you knew something, but then when it failed the scientific method you decided you didn't know it after all. When you said you didn't let things you want to be cloud what actually is, I feel you did exactly that when you backtracked and changed your mind during our "do you know if your mother loves you" conversation. You knew your mother loved you, then because such a knowledge is not gained by the scientific method, and you want only such information gleaned from the scientific method to be considered knowledge, you changed your mind and let it could what you knew before. That's all. On this you may disagree, and I don't see any way to resolve it, so perhaps we must agree to disagree.
Again, I am sorry about the impression of attack. I did not mean it, nor did I feel I was attacking you. But I guess it's that darn subjectivity acting up again.
Would you say that the two methods are equally effective in obtaining information? I would have to say no, which is why I'm not overly convinced. As I've stated before it's easy to love someone and for them to not love you back. It's also easy to envision a situation where two people love each other, but one stops (or stops loving in the same way) but for some other reason(s) keeps acting the same way they did before. If the other person could keep that up then the other person would be known the wiser and the knowledge they think they know is now completely flawed.
The scientific method has shown to me to be the least subjective way of determining truth , I agree that so long as it is done by us it will never have subjectivity completely removed, but just because 2 things have subjectivity in them, doesn't mean information gathered by those methods should be considered equal in terms of importance or accuracy.
I think we can safely say that we won't agree that love can be known, I am being as honest with you and myself as I can be and honestly do not feel I am backtracking or dismissing the notion you're putting forward. I feel I'm being honest because to come to many of the conclusions I have done I've had to ask myself some very difficult questions in the past.
Were you going to link this analogy to the starting topic of Gods existance? If so I'd like take a step back at this stage while you outline the link.
I was not going to link this to the topic of God's existence. Nor would I intimate that the methods are equally effective in obtaining the same kinds of information. The example you use about people's perceptions of love can be equally applied to the information obtained by the scientific method. How often has what we have called scientific fact changed in the past? Would you say that information once obtained by the scientific method is always going to be accurate information?
Here is a counter example for you. Would you agree that Newton's laws of motion are, in fact, scientific fact? For hundreds of years they were considered to explain how all objects in space behaved. But, later, when we were able to observe really really really tiny things or really really really large things, we found that what we observed did not match what the laws said should be going on. So, people had no choice but to say "scrap that Newtonian physics, we need a new set of laws to describe what is going on here," and they started the scientific method again, at which time was devised quantum physics. Does that completely bely Newtonian physics? No, but when our perceptions of the universe changed, If we can do that with information gained by the scientific method, why can we not do it with other kinds of information as well? Why can we not, after a time, re-evaluate and update the situation? Just because someone may not love a person any more, does not change the fact that said someone did at one time love them.
It isn't always going to be accurate, but it is usually shown to be more accurate. There are safe checks such as scrutiny by others and experiments that can be shown and demonstrated time and time again. It's these safe checks that make me think the scientific method is the best way for determining truth, and while felt experiances are currently beyond checks that doesn't remove from the strength of the method. This isn't always the case, as the human intelligence and curiousity push us faster than our abilities to test and demonstrate can follow. This is often where occam's razor is required to follow something through to further levels of understanding.
If there is no link then I'd like to ask why it was brought up? I must admit I assumed you were going to say it through this felt method of obtaining information that leads you to believe there is a God; but I now feel I've missed a point.
And as far as importance and accuracy, when did I ever say that the information obtained by both methods were equal in import or accuracy? All I am saying is that there are other ways to know information than the scientific method. Importance is certainly a subjective quality, and to compare accuracy in information gleaned by the different methods is not really possible since a scale does not exist that describes both. Therefore a comparison is arbitrary at best.
Your defense does not change that you told me you knew your mother loved you and then redacted the statement and said you didn't know when the information could not be gleaned by the scientific method. I do not consider that a dishonesty, however. We are all allowed to re-evaluate what we know based on new or different information. What I consider dishonest is that you claim to be free of allowing what you want to be clouding what in reality is. On this we will just have to disagree.
I also take exception to your assumption that I feel the way you live or your outlook on life is somehow sad or depressing. Those were your words, never mine. I do not feel, nor ever have, that living your life in accordance with what you consider truth to be sad or depressing or harsh. If you got that impression because I said my heart broke when you changed your mind and didn't know if your mother loved you or not. Make no mistake, my heart does not break for you. If you are too narrow-minded to recognize your mother's love for what it is, than that is, in my mind, your own failing. No, it is the for the mother whose child effectively dismisses her love as unknowable, a guess, perhaps not even true, that my heart breaks. On this we will need to disagree as well, In think.
The scientific method may be the best (subjective term by the way) way, but it is not the only way, and that's all I'm saying.
they were my words, and I appologise for putting them in your mouth. I have had people say they feel sorry for me when in similar discussions and so previous experiance lead me to think this situation was the same. However I do believe my Mum loves me, and I love her in return. I don't think I'm dismissing anything because if I'm right then that is the way it has always been, and mothers and children have done very well with it for a very long time. How I label it, and how I define or understand it, doesn't actually change anything.
I did not say there was no link, I only said that I was not going to make it. The whole point of this knowledge discussion is not to prove the existence of a god, but this: that there is more than one way to get accurate and true knowledge, and that even knowledge gained from the scientific method is not infallible and is still subject to change.
When our whole dialogue began, I said you limit yourself and your understanding and knowledge by only accepting truths proven by the scientific method and under this limitation, some truths will always be hidden from you. I said that there are other ways of knowing things, and by dismissing the knowledge gained by those ways you have needlessly narrowed your scope of understanding. Then you contended that one could not really know anything that was not proven by the scientific method, in effect granting the scientific method the status of the ONLY way of obtaining truth, so it was not needless at all.
Everything that has ensued was me contending otherwise. It seems you have come around and acknowledged that there are other ways, but you feel the scientific method is the best, and that's fine. My point was never to get you to acknowledge a superiority of information obtained by one method or another, or to acknowledge that said information is necessarily true. It was just to get you to acknowledge the existence of those other ways; that information gleaned in those other ways can still be true and valid and acknowledged as such; and that the scientific method was not 100% accurate all the time and that even it has its flaws (i.e. not completely free from subjective biases, and the information that the scientific method proves today may be proven otherwise by the same method tomorrow). All the rest of the discussion was examples and tangents.
On a side note, it's good to hear that you believe your mother after all. I guess even you have a little faith (defined as a knowledge of things hoped for but not seen). Hopefully this makes a person's faith in a god a little more understandable to you.
always believed, just don't know. I have never felt that science can currently prove anything with 100% validity, only that it makes a more honest attempt at trying to show what's true beyond reasonable doubt. I don't think I've claimed Science can do this, and if I implied it then I appologise. I feel that if something can be determined beyond reasonable doubt scientifically then that is the most likely to be true.
sorry I'm not putting my points across very well, it's stupid o'clock in the morning over here.
Sorry it's so long, congratulations for getting through it. Despite the area's where things seemed a little heated we're still good friends and chat regularly. I failed to address some key issues brought up properly, my only excuse is that it was around 2-3am for me at the time (I'm English, she's American). Comments welcome.
Edited by Ohruhen, : No reason given.

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