Anthropological Motivation For Not Fighting About Politics

For context, look up popular American news articles for March 12th, 2016.

Raja Yoga (the Hindu philosophy of using physical movement to achieve a higher spiritual state–called simply “yoga” by most westerners) seems to have arisen out of a collection of movements and postures practiced as part of human life. From bowing to a king, to taking a wide stance in preparation for delivering a sword blow, to stretching in the morning and evening to alleviate muscle and joint pain, to picking up a baby–this is a system of kinetic learning intended to explain and teach the human condition and how to function within it.

Humans are loving. Humans are powerful. Humans fight for survival, spend their days gathering resources; humans follow leaders; humans battle for control over the followers and means of acquisition. (Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably seeing you as their follower…) This method of teaching translates literally to “royal yoga”. As profound as it once was, it fails to teach apt governance or understanding in the absence of the cultural understanding that could only be truly had in the more revered and wealthy circles of the ancient world.

What would such a system look like, if it were created out of the successful strategies of governing and being governed within our own society? Are there any motions that we can still use to universally increase our usefulness and success as a part of the human meta-organism? Today, we crave a method that works for almost everyone, and mourn the absence of any such thing that can make us happy. There is currently no “one size fits most” method for anyone born after 1980, or, perhaps, before.

In politics and religion, alike, we are bereft of truly effective guidance. We celebrate the death of “storge” love while complaining about lack of agreement in public matters. (This is a contradiction.) We seek ancient wisdom that hardly translates to how to make a real living, today. We are amply taught, in school, church, home, and in casual society everything but what is known to be truly, universally effective–because nobody knows of any universally “human” means of survival that has, itself, survived the test of time.

In the last decade, much of the world has awoken to this predicament, and we are fighting each other because nobody can figure out how to make things work, again. The information age arose out from Pandora’s box, and our greatest minds have yet to tame it in a way that lets everyone live happily, who is willing to keep trying.

Or maybe that is the nature of the human condition: as the Buddhists say, “suffering exists”, and it’s up to us to figure out how to deal with that.

It is a part of human nature to fight. We committed genocide against every human species that came before us, until only Homo sapiens remained. (A chilling thought, but true, according to archeologists, evolutionary biologists, and anthropologists.) A new way of living will one day emerge out of the ashes of analog society and the minds of those who, like Homo erectus, failed to adapt (despite having a larger brain). In the mean time, let’s limit our battles to the ones that actually matter.

If an idiot or a fool gets elected president, let them show us how not to do things.

Some arguments can only be won by letting your opponent win, and then realize, on his own, that he should have been wiling to compromise (A.K.A. “adapt”). We decided in the late 40s that killing all the stupid people is wrong, so if such people end up running things, and we don’t crash and burn because of it, we will have proven that the antiquated morals of centuries past–survival of the fittest, when you boil it down enough–are truly not as good as the softer ones we revere, today.

And if letting stupid people self-actualize turns out to be a problem, we can always decide that Hitler had the right of things and commit genocide until all the stupid people are extinct, and we evolve into a species that’s better than Homo sapiens. (Personally, I don’t advocate this method.)

Seriously, folks, don’t get into physical fights over political beliefs unless you think we should silence, cage, and eventually extinct all the imbuciles–including, possibly, you.

Trump and Sanders fans, I’m looking at you.


Proverbs That Last Forever

“However, a much older Near Eastern origin is suggested by a near equivalent in the 6th century BC Proverbs of Ahiqar: ‘a sparrow in thy hand is better than a thousand sparrows flying’.”

I love finding proverbs that have somehow survived 25 centuries of linguistic translations and societal changes. Such proverbs are almost certainly somewhat accurate (in the right context), because the only way people would keep saying them for 2,500 years is if they feel like they have a decent reason to do so, themselves, and to teach their children to say them, too.

Interestingly, it’s possible that personal adherence to old texts of philosophy, poetry, mythology, scripture, and fable–stems from the same phenomena; and that, therefore, religion, philosophy, ethics, and more are a result of old thoughts being consistently seen as worthwhile enough to repeat and teach future generations to repeat.
The historic use of force to enforce adherence to ideas skews this effect, somewhat. This includes classic examples of European churches imposing laws and punishments, as well as popular non-religious philosophies making law with legislation and court cases (incl. case law), and punishing those who violate those laws. It can’t really be argued that the modern law and punishment is as brutal or authoritarian as ancient law and punishment; but when an armed person can come to your home and put you in shackles (handcuffs) for not obeying, one can neither argue that this isn’t the use of force. Sure, the methods are different, but disobeying gets you punished.
How do we decide whether and when old ideas are more/less valuable to us than new ideas? How effective have those uses of force been in making a given idea persist? Does an idea that has been appreciated (even/especially out of pure expediency) for 2.5 millennia have more (objective) believability than an idea that’s been around for 50 years? Each person chooses how to weigh these and other factors to create a personal philosophy. Then, they explain their philosophies to their children using proverbs.

When It’s “Worth It”: The Ratio of Human Interaction

There’s an inherent calculation of human interaction that goes something like this:
(How much they improve your life) : (How much trouble a person causes you)
Put another way, it’s a ratio of Benefit:Cost or Happiness:Trouble.
Most people phrase this in an emotional context, but the meaning is ultimately the same. Personally, I find a simple mathematical ratio easier to convey than the amount of prevarication it would take to express such a thing emotionally.
When that ratio is consistently greater than 1:1, that’s a person who is worth “keeping”. If it’s only greater than 1:1 in some situations, then those are the only situations when it’s worth interacting with that person. When that ratio is consistently less than 1:1, it’s time to let that person go, and avoid him/her as necessary.
Naturally, foresight and personal preference comes into play, here. If a person is mostly troublesome, right now, but you foresee him/her being beneficial in the long term, then it might be worth keeping them around. If you’re OK with 1:1, even if it’s never greater than that, then that’s your threshold for deciding whether it’s “worth it”. Most people require a ratio much greater than 1:1 to consider it “worth it”. People with large circles of close friends that they consistently have problems with are less picky (requiring a lower ratio to be satisfied); whereas those who only really want to hang out with a few people who are particularly valuable to them are more picky (requiring a higher ratio to be satisfied). I’ve noticed that this level of “pickiness” directly corresponds with the amount of energy a person has for social interaction. Those who are more concerned with other things tend not to have any interest in those with less than, say, a 2:1 ratio of benefit:cost or happiness:trouble.
If you’re not providing at least a 1:1 ratio for someone, you’re doing it wrong. If you really want someone in your life, you need to provide them a higher ratio, and be sure that they’re doing the same for you, before committing to anything long-term.
Charity is an exception to this rule. (I’m using “charity” to refer to selfless love, rather than “giving money”, which, as an exclusive term, is a perversion of the original concept.) Charity is when someone offers you less than you would otherwise accept as a ratio of happiness:trouble, but you give that person your time, energy, and resources, anyway. You self-sacrifice for that person out of kindness. We can only do this to the extent that we have personal resources (time, energy, patience, emotional stability, money, etc.) to spare, and when we run low on this excess, we can no longer afford to give without receiving; otherwise, our own lives will suffer quite substantially. One only allows that for those we love most, such as family members. We give what we can, when we can, because we choose to; “obligation” is anemic to true charity, unless it’s someone we’re truly responsible for taking care of (such as an aging parent, a sibling in distress, or a child). Nevertheless, charity is what makes society worth having. We care for people who can’t give back as much as we give them, and, in turn, people do the same for us when we’re in need. Sadly, our society isn’t quite at the point when we can do this for each other very effectively (due to economics, and anger, mainly); but as we improve our way government and interpersonal interaction, this will slowly change–as it has been since the dawn of civilization.

A Centrist’s Analysis of the 2016 Presidential Election

A.K.A. “You heard it here, first!”

This started off as a Facebook post, about a week ago.  Many of the people who replied to the original post are of a liberal persuasion, and some took umbrage to my assertion that Sanders isn’t as intelligent as some of the other candidates.  The second half of this essay is a response to those objections.  As with all my posts, I take no offense at being disagreed with, but do request that any disagreements be presented respectfully and intelligently.

The Analysis

As a self-described centrist, I’ve watched the most recent Republican and Democratic presidential primary debates. I’ve noticed some striking differences that have influenced my opinion substantially, at this juncture.

1) Right or wrong in her policies, Hillary Clinton is the most intelligent person in the running.

2) Sanders is the only one who seems to care about or understand the major concerns of the millennial generation. He is, however, extremely vague (compared to Clinton) about how to fund any of the changes he wants.

3) The Republican candidates disagree with each other a lot less, but they don’t go into as much detail about their positions, or how they intend to accomplish their goals.

4) The Democratic debate facilitators ask much harder questions. Their candidates often dodge the question, but have stayed on topic better than in past elections. Republican debate facilitators ask much easier questions, and their candidates don’t dodge them as often.

5) The Democratic candidates put more focus on how they intend to do things, and are more specific about what they intend to do. The Republican candidates focus more on who they’re angry at.

6) Governor O’Malley makes much more concise, salient remarks, and asks harder, more intelligent questions than the facilitators or other candidates. He seems to lack the assertiveness to lead effectively at the presidential level, but he adds much to the election by way of keeping the other candidates honest.

7) Sanders and Trump are more childish than the other candidates, in their mannerisms and speech patterns. Trump is extremely so, to the point that I wonder if he suffers from a neoteny-related disorder.

8) Bush made more sense than any other Republican candidate, and seems to have some understanding that issues that have yet to be solved are unsolved because they’re complex and are trade-off centric. Clinton has a much better apparent understanding of this than any of the other candidates, including Bush, although Bush may be catering his responses to the less detail-oriented format of the Republican debates.

9) Sanders and O’Malley seem to be the least corrupt, in terms of taking money from special interests.

10) Sanders and Clinton get almost all the attention, and are rude to O’Malley when he tries to speak.

11) Trump really is an idiot. He has basically no understanding of politics, diplomacy, foreign affairs, economics, the economics of immigration, etc.  (Research early 20th century immigration and it’s effects, if you don’t believe me.)

12) Sanders is also pretty stupid, but he has a handful of ideas that could basically save my generation if he implements them with sufficient foresight (which he may or may not possess). If elected, he would screw a lot of stuff up, but maybe fix the things that most need fixing. He also doesn’t understand foreign relations, many aspects of economics, diplomacy, etc. In other words, a vote for him is a vote for sacrificing a lot of things that (mostly) work in favor of fixing a few things that are severely broken–if he’s clever enough to pull it off, which is worth questioning.

13) Clinton would hold down the fort with stunningly apt alacrity, but not seriously work on our country’s most severe domestic problems. She would make small, incremental improvements, and do a darned good job of that…slowly. Under her rulership, we should expect small, consistent improvements across the board (barring unforeseen circumstances). She has foresight, leadership ability, and genius-level I.Q. She’s one of the greatest diplomats alive. What she lacks is out-of-the-box thinking on some pressing issues.

14) I’m sad to admit that, in spite of my centrism, I can’t see any of the Republican candidates’ proposed solutions as being very sapient or realistic. Sorry, guys: you’re going to lose, this year.

15) Clinton listens intently to each of her opponents and nods appreciatively, apparently to herself, when they say something particularly intelligent. I expect that, like Obama, she’ll ask some of her former opponents to join her cabinet. Sanders is an ideologue who is too busy concentrating on making his next point to listen very well. (Referring to active listening, not hearing loss.) He may or may not have the wisdom to hire his former competitors.

16) Sanders has an annoying demeanor. Those I was watching the debate with (stalwart democrats) kept turning him down because he was a “loud mouth” and a “hot head”, which mostly speaks to his presentation, rather than his ideas. If people can’t stand listening to you, it doesn’t matter how good your ideas are.

In conclusion, either Sanders or Clinton will most likely be our next president. I like what Sanders is trying to do, but his demeanor is unpalatable, and he lacks the intellect to do a good job, on most fronts. He has admirable compassion, but precious little logistical sense, and would end up a lot like Jimmy Carter, in the eyes of history, were he to win. Clinton will probably be our next president, and will almost certainly do a very solid job of it, taking into account the quirks specific to her party (fixation on gun control, LGBT/race/female issues–all of which are sometimes sensible, and often not), and a penchant for small, safe changes, rather than large, riskier ones (some of the latter we seem to need). To put it simply, we are probably in safe hands, this time around, and the big changes will probably have to wait.


“But I like Bernie Sanders, and I think he’s smart!”

“He’s been working for decades to do what he claims to want, so shouldn’t we give him more credit?”

I don’t doubt that Sanders is sincere, or that he’s been working toward his goals for a very long time. He is, indeed, very committed. My concerns about his intellect come from a variety of things about him, most of them small and hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t also noticed it. Here are a few that seem relatively easy to communicate.

1) He stays “on message” a lot more than the other candidates. When asked about gun control, he talked about Wall Street. When asked about digital security and Constitutional concerns, he talked about Wall street, and then, eventually, about terrorists. When asked about racial inequality, he talked about Wall Street. Yes, the financial sector (which is larger than just Wall Street in New York City!) needs to be sat on for the way they have screwed up our economy and some other stuff. Yes, they’re crazy rich, while their employees are just getting poorer. They’re on my “sh*t-list”. They are not, however, the cause of every evil in the world, and changing how we interact with them isn’t going to solve most of our problems. That’s lazy thinking. He’s been on the job for long enough to know better…but he apparently doesn’t.

2) His vocabulary is limited.

3) He’s reactionary in the same way as people I know who have a fanatically-held set of beliefs, but who lack the wherewithal to justify those beliefs saliently to others. He gets upset, raises his voice, interrupts incessantly, gesticulates to get attention, etc. This is another sign of a weak mind.

4) His facial expressions are very limited. This one is a bit harder to explain, but I’ll try. For illustration, watch Trump speak and count how many distinct expressions he has. That’s an approximate number that can be used to extrapolate his range of emotions. People who have only, in the extreme example, “happy” and “sad” make you think of what group of people?  According to psychologists, what is the average IQ of people with that kind of disorder? (Down Syndrome sufferers are one example.  They have an average I.Q. of 80, whereas “normal” is ~100.) A person without nuanced feelings is probably incapable of understanding partial victories, mitigated defeats, trade-offs, moral gray area, etc.; if they did understand these things, they would have a decidedly more developed range of emotions, which would result in more unique facial expressions. Trump regularly displays fake sadness, sullenness, child-like delight, and anger–and not much else. Now, watch the same length of video and count Sanders’ unique expressions. There aren’t many more. Now, take a look at either of the Clintons (who have approximate IQs of 138 and 140, respectively). Do they look sideways in amusement? Do they smirk, wink, look ponderous, etc? You bet they do. They have also been shown to understand things like partial victories, mitigated defeats, trade-offs, moral gray area, etc. I know this might not make a lot of sense unless you’ve already noticed it, but here’s hoping…

5) He doesn’t seem to know when he has made his point, and people have stopped listening intently.

6) When he was asked whether he was raising taxes on the middle class to pay for universal health care, he prevaricated for over 2 minutes, apparently without realizing that everyone with half a brain cell would see that he was doing so. If you boil it down enough, his answer was, “Yes, I’m raising taxes on the middle class, but the savings from medical costs will be bigger.” For many, including me, this is probably true. However, anyone with a little life experience knows that some people get sick and/or go to the doctor more than others, so for the latter group, the math doesn’t add up. (I go to the doctor more than most people.)  Having worked on this problem for several decades, he should know better than to make such a brash assumption, but either he doesn’t know better, or is lying. It’s been previously agreed (by most in the conversation, so far) that he’s genuine; therefore, he’s stupid.

7) As obtuse as Congress is, if he were even a little bit good at explaining his ideas in a way that made other people who knew about the subject matter agree with him, he would have gotten the Democratic Party leadership on-board with his plan, after all this time.  Overwhelmingly, his colleagues seem to think of him as being unrealistic.  Often, when he seems to have “stumped” his opponent with a response, the expression on the opponent’s face isn’t one of concession or sullen disappointment about being bested in an argument, but of bafflement that he would even say such a thing.  How do you deliver a snappy retort to a statement that’s factually incorrect on a dozen different levels?  If you think back to a time when someone made such an argument to you, that debate dynamic will become painfully clear.  As previously mentioned, he consistently dodged Clinton’s questions about his previous voting record, and likewise refused to explain in any detail how he intended to mitigate the negative side-effects of his proposed changes.  Many of the bills he authored are only a couple of pages long, and make no effort to state, in practice, how they are to be accomplished, if made law.  Valid questions include: How do you enforce it?  What are the specific rules that businesses, individuals, and government agencies must follow, in day-to-day life?  Are those people actually able to follow those rules without it putting them out of business or turning everyone into a criminal–technically or judicially, depending on enforcement?  A 2-page bill can’t address these concerns, and Sanders repeatedly presents such bills, trying to make them into laws.  They are consistently voted down by his peers.  (Yes, he has managed to pass a handful of laws in the 25 years since he first got elected to Congress, which means that he occasionally writes a law that his colleagues don’t think is asinine.)  To my understanding, his biggest accomplishments as a member of Congress center around adding a little “heart” to bills that others have written–which makes him a decent Congressman, but doesn’t qualify him for the duty of vetoing poorly-written laws.

I could go on, but this should provide a little justification for my assertions about his intellect. Again, I think he has a few really good ideas; but I doubt that he has much understanding of what the side-effects of those ideas will be.  Therefore, I’ll reassert that a vote for Sanders is a vote for sacrificing a lot of things that (mostly) work, in favor of fixing a few things that are badly broken.  This comes down to the priorities of an individual voter; but be warned: some of the things he wants to change will make essential goods like food, fuel, clothing, and building supplies more expensive.  Will his other ideas counteract this by making you richer?  Will you be made richer in a way that doesn’t prevent industrialists from making those goods at a reasonable price?  Maybe, if he’s smart enough.  Do you care to roll the dice?  Vote according to your mind, heart, and conscience.

The Effects of Sociability Genetics on Nations

I recently read an article linked on about a sociability gene discovered in fireants–the first such gene to be found.  I’ve long suspected that such genes exist (or more precisely, huge bundles of related genes, as the article states), and seeing the inklings of my suspicions confirmed with modern science has given me cause to voice some of the things I’ve been considering relative to why various nations and peoples behave as they do–and why other nations and peoples have difficulty understanding why.  These, below, are my thoughts.  Please read the linked article for a better understanding of how I use the term, “sociability.”

If, indeed, other creatures than fireants–such as humans–inherit personality traits (such as sociability or the lack thereof) genetically–in addition to learning skills in these matters (through experience and “nurture”)–then this leads to a potentially very fairly impactful syllogism:

1. The sociability (or lack thereof) of a human being is largely determined by genetics.
2. The social structure of a society is largely determined by the values and traits of its comprising members.
3. Those who are highly-sociable tend to thrive in societies where social interaction is closely related to power structure.
4. Highly-sociable individuals who live in societies where the power structure is traditionally more monolithic (such a theocracy, monarchy, dictatorship, fanatical regime, harsh regime, etc.) tend to become marginalized because they’re seen as a potential threat to the traditional power structure (by way of gathering followers, potentially questioning authority, etc.).  This occurs both on the governmental level and in business, etc.
5. Sexual selection (that is, natural selection by way of how mates are chosen) is highly sensitive to how a society sees a given individual’s value and long-term viability (that is, perceived “potential” and “success”).
6. Sexual selection leads to genetic traits being favored or not favored, such that desirable ones (including those chosen by societal “momentum,” as above) are emphasized, and undesirable ones are made less common.
7. Because of #6, the genes for high sociability will be largely “bred out” of societies wherein such a trait is not valued.
8. Populations tend to reject and marginalize those who are of a minority genetic makeup (i.e. foreigners, “ethnics,” etc.)

Conclusion: Sexual selection among humans–largely driven by societal determinations–will cause, and has caused certain parts of the world to become genetically predisposed AGAINST all societal structures and customs that require a high degree of sociability and a distributed power structure in order to function properly. This included democratic government (in its various forms), free religion (i.e. not strictly governed by monolithic or oligarchic authority), freedom to demonstrate, freedom of speech, and so forth. This hereby calls into question whether it’s valid to impress or force such structures and customs upon a given population unless/until these populations see themselves as being ready for, and desirous of these things.

Notably, what a society desires changes dramatically over time. “Public consciousness” shifts, and thereby changes what is seen as “desirable” in mates (as well as what is a survivable/unsurvivable genetic trait). Therefore, it’s not only possible but likely that societies which are not ready for such social structures/customs now will be ready in the future–and likewise, that those which were unready for them only a few years ago are ready for them now. I believe we’re seeing this in what has been dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Likewise, much of the world seems to be “awakening” from the state of accepting monolithic authority/power structures, and bucking long-standing traditions which prevent individuals from flourishing independent of such structures. Could it be that for the last generation or two (or several), those who were more willing to freely join with one another, and to question authority and customs became more desirable as mates than they were previously? The “hippy”/”baby boomer” generation of the United States certainly seems to support this theory. (Sadly, our cultural apathy is yet extremely powerful.)  Perhaps in yet another generation–if things continue to go this way–the world will be largely or wholly unrecognizable–on a social, economic, and political level–from the one that those born around the 1920s knew.  I, for one, greatly look forward to this change, and have high hopes for the generation born just a couple of decades after me!  (I was born in 1982.)

I don’t know if my theories are correct, but I think the syllogism is good (in the logical sense). If my conclusion truly follows from the premises, perhaps it’s worth asking whether those premises are, indeed, as correct as I suspect they are.  If so, then does the world gasp in anticipation for the great change that’s, perhaps, shortly to come?

On the Inability to Prove or Disprove Religion

I recently felt inclined to respond to one of the less enlightened posts on Slashdot ( about the argued nature of the existence of deity.  This is, as some of you might be aware, a topic that comes up at every possible opportunity on /. discussions, and it usually devolves into a conversation that goes something like this:

A: God exists!

B: No way!  Prove it!

C: You suck!

D: Science says you’re a butt-head!

You get the idea.  Of course, there are some people who try to discuss the subject in reasonable and/or logical terms, but even those comments tend to lack a certain something in the realm of analyzing the nature of that very discussion–which I find must be done before any such discussion can be productive.

Normally, as you might expect, I don’t bother engaging in such asinine debate, but on this occasion, I decided to take the time and bother to prove–with logic–just how pointless a typical incarnation of religious discussion is.  My response is below (omitting content related to other, mostly unrelated parts of that thread.)  This quote, immediately below, is a response to my prior statement (in-passing) that atheism and agnosticism are, despite common conceptions, beliefs about God, and could thereby be reasonably considered religions of a sort.  (This has, in point of fact, been argued in several US court cases, so as to allow certain angry people the rights to do certain angry things–as well as to affirm the sensible right to avoid having religion unreasonably pressed upon them–but in normal conversation, most atheists and agnostics seem to take offense at such a claim.  Such is human nature, I think.)

Being theism-free is “being theism-free”. Understanding that superstition is not supported by evidence is not strictly necessary to being free of theism, as one may merely be indifferent to teachings of witch-doctors.

Prove your god exists or f*** off [censorship added for civility and child-safety]. Do it now. Here. Immediately, with no Faith as a requirement for belief. If your Sky Fairie is real, prove it and end the discussion for all time.

–couchslug on Slashdot

Excellent points, but the points you’ve just made are not the ones you think they are.

If I understand correctly, you believe that being concerned with deity is invalid. Hence, you have a specific belief about how ideas of deity ought to be treated. Thanks for the clarification.

Furthermore, I would note that the concept of “faith” and “proof” are yet at-debate amongst mathematicians, who have yet to determine what about geometric proof or logic–in any of their various forms (current/past)–make them provable at all. According to Godel, Escher, Bach, by Douglass Hofstadter (with works cited therein), this very problem of circular proof requirements (called “Strange Loops”)–such as, “geometric proofs are valid because we can prove them with geometric proofs” (or with logic, which, itself requires proof; and on and on)–has been a topic of major debate and study since before the 20th century, and remains so to this day. Principia Mathematica was written to deal with this problem (through the creation of non-self-referencing sets, and complex rules that govern them), until an enterprising individual by the name of Kurt Gödel proved that the system of Principia Mathematica can only function insomuch as it can prove that it is, itself, valid–which violates many of the essential, core doctrines that make it valid at all, since in P.M., no system or statement is allowed to refer to itself; thus:

“Principia Mathematica is valid because of X Y Z…”

…violates hierarchical set theory, and therefore INVALIDATES Principia Mathematica. Of course, further systems have been developed, but as Dr. Hofstadter so well indicates in his Pulitzer-winning discourse, none have adequately exorcised the problem of Strange Loops, and as such, no form of mathematical logic (including that used in a formal debate) has yet been determined to be indisputably valid, itself.

So, with relation to proving that there is or is not a God (or multiple):

Religion cannot prove the existence of God, even if he manifested himself in-person and said “hi,” because the idea of a deity is an inherently religious belief, and could be seen with roughly equal validity as a manifestation of technology, biology, or physics; thus, no miracle at all can ever possibly be considered a miracle, unless one first subscribes to the religious idea of miracles–and thereby violates any prohibition against circular logic by requiring self-evident proof.

Likewise, religion cannot be DIS-proven, since in order to do so, one must accumulate the sum total of all possible knowledge and understanding, and then use that understanding to say, in essence, “there’s nothing else out there”–which, itself is a “circular” statement, in that it’s predicated on the truthfulness of the presumption that all knowledge has, in fact, been acquired and understood, already.

Therefore, the best that either side can ever prove, in isolation from faith of any kind (A.K.A. assumptions)–whether it be faith in the completeness of the set of knowledge being used, or faith that an un-provable religious belief is correct, despite a lack of deductive evidence–is that neither position is, in fact, able to be proven at this time.

Therefore, to state that a conversation or theory about religion or deity is, in the first place, invalid commits the “begging the question” logical fallacy by requiring the conclusion that deity cannot exist to be true, before one can deduce that conversation about deity is invalid–which, as deduced above, cannot be done with logic or mathematics as we currently understand them. In point of fact, sensible theologians are willing to admit that religion is something that you essentially “know in your heart” or some such–which is a flowery admittance that religion is a strictly personal belief system (regardless of what certain organizations want people to think) that can only be “proven” by inference internal to whomever wishes to believe. This, incidentally, cannot be logically termed valid or invalid, in a factual sense, for the reasons noted above. One can, of course, say that the “road” to such a conclusion of religious belief exists outside the realm of logic-as-we-know-it; and that would be a correct statement–but still wouldn’t invalidate any conclusion reached in that fashion, since a correct conclusion can be reached by incorrect premises and still be correct.

So, my dear couchslug, you have committed at least two logical fallacies with your assertions and demands above:
1) That the existence of deity, or lack thereof can be proven at all depends upon the ability of our current logical systems to self-reference in order to prove truth–which our current systems prohibit (via the broad description of what makes a “non-sequitur,” essentially).
2) That discussion or belief about God is already proven to be invalid, since God cannot be proven to exist, which itself is an assertion based partly upon the conclusion that he/she/it does not, in fact, exist–which requires your conclusion–and ultimately the outcome of the issue at-debate–to be true, in order to prove your conclusion (“begging the question”).

In conclusion, it should be noted that I do, in fact, have a specific set of religious beliefs that are almost entirely encompassed by the official doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  (The remainder are things I’ve discovered on my own, which have not [yet] been declared in any official statements.)  I simply choose to admit that my beliefs cannot be proven to an unbeliever; such a person who wants to know/understand what I do about religion simply must find a way to get there by faith, as logic has demonstrated itself to be an entirely inadequate tool for determining religious truths.  I think this is as-intended.

References: [] []
(as well as the text of the above book, itself)