I am in a long-running email battle with a Christian who is trying to argue that reality is subjective. No matter how hard I try I can't get this guy to see the hipocracy and intellectual ineptness of such a statement. Anyone have a sentence that may get through to him?

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Perception of reality is subjective.

Reality is objective.

That is why science works so well is because it controls for the subjective in order to realize the objective.  Religion embraces the subjective in order to ignore the objective.

Reality is "that which is the case." 

The idea that "reality is subjective" embodies an internal contradiction. Anyone who  understands both words will realize that if everyone has their own reality, then everyone is irretrievably alone.

But is that not true in itself?  Aren't we all truly and irretrievably...alone?

Don't get me wrong here.  I am not contradicting what Reggie is saying, but I simply ask these questions to make a point.  Do you really think that in order for anything to make sense that a contradiction cannot take place? 

I am playing devil's advocate a bit here, so just know that I am interested in what you have to say in regards to your remarks.

But is that not true in itself?  Aren't we all truly and irretrievably...alone?

No, it is not true. 

Do you really think that in order for anything to make sense that a contradiction cannot take place?

I don't know if you have ever studied logic in any formal way, but it's truism that "anything can be proven with a contradiction." This is why nothing can make sense within the scope of a contradiction.


1 cats are mammals AND cats are not mammals (the contradiction)
2 cats are mammals (simplification of 1)
3 cats are not mammals (simplification of 1)
4 either cats are mammals or cows are fish (a dysjunction)
5 cows are fish (follows from 3 and 4)

Substitute anything you like there for "cows are fish" and you can prove it using the contradiction in the first line.

I would add that not only our perception but our interpretation and definition of reality is subjective..  I mean whatever 'IS'.... 'IS'... but our perception and interpretation of that is malleable as new information comes to light.

Its like an optical illusion..  You think you know what you are seeing until you change position and see it from another angle.  The reality from both perspectives are 'real' as far as that goes but are limited to the angle and position and other factors.

Well worded indeed Reggie.

What Reggie said.

To quote Philip K Dick: Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

The scientific method helps us to asymptotically approach the truth about reality. New data could always cast doubt on or partially disprove any particular theory but science ensures that we are generally less wrong than we were before. If that isn't good enough for some people then they are free to come up with a better system, but "making shit up" isn't it.

I have to agree.. Reggie nailed it. 

I'd like to add...

It's because perception of reality is so subjective that there are so many religions and so many sects of religion. If perception wasn't subjective there would be just one religion. 

It's also why an event can happen and you can have as many different versions of it as there were people who witnessed it. Then science comes in gives it an objective stance and show it was only a weather balloon or a rare atmospheric condition caused by agitated atoms as a result of the sun's rays hitting at a particular angle... 

It is better to Object than to Subject? I don't know. Try putting a rock in a shoe box, putting the lid on it, and tell the Christian to try to believe absolutely that the box is empty. Opening the box to reveal a rock would prove that it doesn't matter what you believe to be true, there's still a rock in the box. Then tell the Christian to try to absolutely believe that despite the fact that he just saw the box empty, that there is now a lock of Jesus' hair in the box. He can pray for it if he thinks it will help. Then show him the empty box.

Or, just to screw with him, find a lock of bright pink hair and put it in while his head is bowed in prayer, because you'll sometimes hear theists talk about a God-shaped hole in your life. It's actually a critical thinking and understanding shaped hole that god seems to fit just nicely in, without leaving any room for the other two.

The more knowledge one has of reality, the less subjective fluff one needs to fill in the blanks.

Blind men and elephants example:

What is your basis for saying reality is subjective from a philosophical point of view? I ask because I've been in lots of philosophy courses and a statement like that would be the starting point for a discussion, not a conclusion. Philosophy isn't a body of knowledge. The history of philosophy is, but not philosophy itself.

SOMETHING must be out there as the cause and basis of our perceptions. Whatever that is is simply there. That makes it objective.

I haven't read much philosophy (yet), but my take on it is that it's the starting point for describing reality. I include religion in the category of philosophy, except that religious proclamations are accepted as universally "true" in nature without question, for longer (if not eternal) periods of time.

In that sense, philosophy (and some fiction) are like pre-science. It gives us ideas about how to test and then accurately describe reality. Reproducibility of tests/experiments and measurement of accurately predictable results is what separates subjectivity from objectivity. When results are accurately predictable, then and only then can it be considered scientifically useful knowledge. We can use the word "prove" in most of those cases, but even "proof" is subject to described conditions, e.g. Newtonian physics work until velocity approaches the speed of light. Still, Newtonian phyisics is useful and provable in 99.9999% of our daily experience on earth.


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