Thought Experiment for the Theists

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by sonisis, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    You've misunderstood. Modern physics has revealed that reality itself can not be measured objectively, because we are part of the equation. The experimenter is part of the experiment.
     
  2. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Even philosophy has its limitations. Mental feedback loops serve only to obscure the mind from comprehending...when one finds themselves in a mental feedback loop it is best to step aside and disregard the artificial results...because "reality itself can not be measured objectively, because we are part of the equation. The experimenter is part of the experiment," as you said.

    I forget now the name of the conundrum you raise here, but the "matter" comes down to "existence." Do *you* exist? From your perspective, *I* am no more than some pixels forming symbolic words to present intangible ideas on a computer screen. I could be a figment of your imagination. And again from your perspective, I would think you would be likely to agree that you do, in fact, exist...whether or not I really do.

    Just like it is for me, from my perspective. You may be a figment of my imagination, but rest assured I am very real from my perspective.

    Hypothetically, and only to serve the point, if my reality punches your reality in the nose, there will occur a very real nose bleed. That nose bleed *will be perceived* differently from both of our realities, but a nosebleed will occur nontheless. That nosebleed will in fact be real, and by definition that is an objective reality.
     
  3. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    People have been arguing these same matters for centuries. People have been seeking to understand for centuries. People have warred over these same issues...for centuries.

    When I first entered the fray, I thought I could enlighten the world. After more than 25 years I am still amazed at how little I truly *know.*



    That is because so many, especially the minimally involved laity that are only too happy with the skeletal explanations so they can get on with other matters in their lives, accept without question the symbol as the thing.

    As BB pointed to briefly here, but has expanded upon many times elsewhere, G-d in the Old Testament particularly is referenced by both male and female referents. How can He be She?, at the same time? :)

    There are many people content to point to the menu and say, "see, there's G-d!" But the menu is not the meal. This is a very common misunderstanding among theistic adherents...and it is a residual fallacy that continues into atheism. Atheists "shout from the rooftops" their need for and direct attachment to religion in perpetuating the same misconceptions, attaching a *human personality* onto the Divine. As BB is fond of saying...G-d is not some big grey beard or (sagging) tits (reclining on a cloud) in the sky looking to hurl thunderbolts at whomever displeases them...yet that is precisely the strawman atheists routinely set up to knock down! And a great many theists fall for it every time.

    I haven't been around here for a while, but I know I have explored the subject of spirituality in pre-history on a few threads. I know one where I tried to collect a series of related findings was the Applied Anthropology thread, and there might be a couple of pointers in there to help find the threads I'm thinking of.

    My point being...why would our ancestors go to the trouble and expend the precious energy to "create" G-d out of nothing? It is clearly evident by many of the cave paintings and artifacts and burial goods that there was a universal preoccupation with spiritual matters very far back in human history. "G-d" didn't arise at one point and spread..."He" has always been with humanity as long as humanity has existed. Now, in fairness that is my own extrapolation, but the evidence is pretty clear from the findings of not only Cro-Magnon (modern humans), but also findings among Neandertal and Homo Habilis...and I won't be the least surprised if they find evidence among Homo Floresiensis...all of which at some point were contemporary with each other.

    And that brings us back around to symbolism and communication...which is something that distinguishes us from our simian cousins, who don't quite fully grasp the concept of symbolism. I could argue that symbolism is a requisite for language, the two seem to require each other. Other apes communicate, but that communication is a series of screeches and howls and inflections, and is focused on real time matters of concern. Only humans symbolically convey abstract thoughts that may have no direct relevence to the here and now...we call that phenomenon "teaching." (Yes, apes learn...by watching, not by communication of ideas...totally different and unique to humans)

    As for a "referent for G-d," good luck. If we had that, all of the arguments and wars and jostling for cultural supremacy would end. We could collectively point to an absolute source and "prove" everything. That source doesn't exist...that doesn't mean G-d doesn't exist. There are many sources that do not exist in science...time has a way of eroding sources much more often than it preserves them.



    Where is the silver cord attached?

    Poetically we say it is the heart...so do heart transplant people have no spirit?

    Some want to believe what makes us, us, is in the mind...so do people with certain brain abnormalities have no spirit?

    It's a great question, but another that has been asked for centuries with no clear answer. I know I feel it...I have known for a very long time where mine is. I sense that I can let it go, and I will not be in this existence any more. I can feel it even now as I write this. It is in the area of my diaphragm.

    But I cannot prove it.

    Stephen J. Gould noted the two non-overlapping magisteria, of science and religion. I mention him because (yet again, as so many before) you are attempting to answer matters of spirit with techniques of science. Science is about proof and disproof, validation and invalidation, collection of evidences and statistical bell curve expectations. But the subject matter simply does not lend itself to that form and kind of inquiry.

    It is just as arrogantly ignorant of "science" to believe it can lord itself over understanding of spirit as it is for religionists to believe they can lord themselves over a scientific matter such as evolution. They are each speaking in completely different languages and talking past each other. In the end it is like explaining "love" by looking through a microscope. The tools are simply not appropriate to the task.



    If you maintain the attitude expressed here...and retain a mind open to possibilities but not so open that your brain spills out, you will do as well as anybody can hope to.

    But you will not solve the problem for anyone else. In part because others must want to change for their own being and self, and in part because it is not yours to do.

    "I'm looking at the man in the mirror...if you want to make the world a better place, you've got to look at yourself and make the change..." - Michael Jackson
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  4. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Schroedinger's cat (sp?)...I think that is the essence of what c0de is suggesting. Basically it amounts to the point that quantum phenomena locally impacts the experimentor every bit as much as the experiment...and can confuse the results regarding quantum principles on a much larger scale.

    How can we explain spooky action at a distance, if we cannot be at both ends at the same time? How can we prove the sub-atomic particles (whose name I forget) that travel backwards in time if we do not know to look before the experiment even begins? I don't think anybody yet has fully explored the implications of neutrinos; subatomic particles that are not subject to matter or gravity in any way we are routinely familiar with, streaming through walls and bodies and entire planets.

    For that matter...what is gravity?

    Yep...and what is to say that other race or being is not energy based? For that "matter" (pardon the pun), why would that energy being necessarily be a "being" or race?



    I know that is the propaganda perpetuated in the books sacred to science...but is it factually true based on the evidence that the scientific method ALWAYS frees the tester from bias?

    I don't think so.

    Neither did Thomas Kuhn when he wrote "the Structure of Scientific Revolutions."

    I think the more intellectually honest approach is understanding one's own bias and seeing it for what it is...and then accounting for that bias when reviewing the data and evidences.
     
  5. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    That's fine, but Cogito Ergo Sum is an empirical judgment, not apriori knowledge.
    my point was/is that everything we think we "know" is posteriori
    (which doesn't bode well for objectivist notions)

    and as long as we're talking about perspectives, from mine, even I'm not "real"... so there u go
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I'm not at all sure I follow...what bearing does this have on the OP?

    "G-d" in the western traditional sense of an anthropomorphic super-human sitting on a throne in the clouds *is* a learned pattern of thought. So are a great many other traditional attempts to understand the Divine. Surely that is what you imply is posteriori knowledge...but I hesititate to call it knowledge when it is more like mythos or symbolism. If that symbolism is sufficient to convey the concept, then all is well. But as happens when traditions carry on across centuries, subtlties get lost and confused as the story is told and retold, and people in time begin to mistake the menu for the meal.

    The apriori knowledge, and again knowledge is a misleading term here, is that spiritual connection that is felt across the globe; regardless of tradition, regardless of teaching, regardless of culture, regardless...

    Religous pursuits are endemic to the human condition. Why? If there is no reason *at all* for humanity to pursue the Divine, then why the hell does every culture do so across time? The methods vary. The mythos vary. The *knowledge* varies. But those open to intuit spirit are free to do so around the world...and *do* so, around the world.

    I can't tell you or anyone a thing about love...but I know when I feel it. I bet you do too. I bet that for intents and purposes every living soul knows love *when they feel it.* It isn't something measured by a yardstick, or photometer, or geiger counter...but it is still there. I can't *think* myself into love, love is a process of spirit. And that process long predated language or thought. Which, if I understand you, makes it apriori.
     
  7. sonisis

    sonisis New Member

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    This is a striking point. It is common to see Atheists using the personification as a strawman.

    Could this not simply be a matter of psychology? Man fears his own death and meaningless existence, and so must create meaning. It seems logical that once humankind evolves to a certain level of intelligence, humans become capable of seeking understanding in regards to their existence, however being unable to find the answers are forced to draw a conclusion in order to not feel confused and despairing.

    It is not simply poetic. I cannot find the exact reference, but "The Happiness Hypothesis" by Jonathan Haidt references studies that suggest there is a biological reason love and warmth, particular in regards to altruism, can be sensed in the heart.

    Acknowledged. The aim is always to improve the quality of available knowledge and understanding. Not to make it understood.

    If one replaces the word 'divine', simply with 'knowledge', then one can make more sense of it in terms of some evolutionary need. We pursue knowledge and understanding in all directions, hence the advancement of technology. We seem to be compelled to understand, and when we can't we are unsatisfied. If I were to speculate the evolutionary purpose of this compulsion, I would say that those that were able to improvise, to seek out answers to problems were the one's who solved the problems and survived. Thus the gene pool has become filled primarily with the genes of those who are unsatisfied by a lack of understanding.

    Why then is the word 'God' considered to be a sufficient symbol in conveying an experience which is subjective?

    For me, the analogy 'God is Love' is one I can relate to. Love can also be evidenced, by certain behaviors, language, feelings and and a describable state of mind. It is a universal emotion and the means by which to achieve it can be described. It is transactional, where as the common personification or more vaguely - externalization of 'God' arguably brings an unnecessary proxy in to the transaction.
     
  8. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    I was just responding to your comment that you are certain of your own self as existing. I just wanted to remind you that this sense of yours is based in "intuition," as Locke described it, nothing more.

    Yea but I don't subscribe to that "western traditional sense"

    According to my understanding, there is no answer to such questions, other then: God decided that's the way it is, and that's that. Of course, such an answer is inherently antagonistic to the "western tradition" from the time of the Greeks and onwards. But modern science is based on exactly the same types of laws; e.g, entropy in a closed thermodynamic system always increases, and that's that.

    a priori is that which is independent of (prior to) experience of the thing itself. Without a sense to experience love, there wouldn't be any love.
     
  9. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    .

    p.s.

    I should state clearly here that my opinions are not really reflective of any single branch of philosophers (as I seem to disagree with pretty much everyone, to some degree or another). I'm trying to understand the (very complex) inter-relationships between the Greeks, Avicenna, Asha'arites, and European rationalists and empiricists. The complications arise, imo, from the fact that many thinkers of these schools tried so hard to refute the other, that they ended up ignoring the similarities and influences of their own theories with those they were critiquing.
     
  10. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    p.p.s.


    Also, to give an example of how even the most intuitively rational ("a priori") statements can be challenged, refer to W. V. O. Quine's argument that all statements can be revised and no statement is "necessarily true" not even something like "all bachelors are unmarried." With this he attacks the dogmatic empiricist belief that there is a distinction between empirical truths, and "matters of fact" as Hume put it.

    ... and of course, after all of this, there's "quantum logic," Michael Dummett and everything coming back to platonism vs intuitionism (realism vs anti-realism)
     
  11. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I should have known not to stop by at 2 am as I'm getting ready to go to sleep...

    I don't think so.

    Let's consider from a purely animal POV with no concept in any form of spirit...

    Death is merely an ending. Yeah, fear would exist, that is a self-defense mechanism. That is what keeps you from becoming somebody else's supper while you go about finding your own supper. But hey, once your number is up, lights out, game over.

    Now, place this reasoning in a preshistoric cave dwelling hunter-gatherer environment.

    So, Ug goes out today looking for a nice tasty mega deer for dinner, and he is pretty well occupied with the concerns of the day...the here and now...what's the weather?, hot or cold?, wet or dry?, hungry or thirsty?, clothed or naked?, that kind of thing. It is really easy to trivialize, but think of a person in a survival situation...the movie Castaway comes to mind, but even that is really limited in its portrayal.

    So, we have Ug looking for his next meal, worrying about concerns of the day, and watching out for the local man-eating sabre-tooth tiger. In this prehistoric situation...and here the movie falls short because there are other tribe/pack/herd members to aid and assist so loneliness derived insanity isn't the excuse...attention must be focused on a number of serious concerns at all times. Pragmatism is a matter of course...entertainment is for practical purposes non-existent...in such a situation why would one person "invent" an entire concept and philosophy of spirit and "G-d"? Let alone, why would all peoples at that time invent "G-d"? They would invent "G-d" only if there were something behind it all to begin with.

    What, exactly, I can't say. They were more in tune with their bodies than we are. They were not distracted by trivia and stress and entertainment like we are. Their bodies were not poisoned by various chemicals and byproducts of industry like ours are. There is a list of mitigating factors that need to be proved or disproved before blanket assessments can be levelled. The simple unmistakable truth out of it all is that prehistoric peoples had a concept of spirituality, and from that I can extrapolate that there had to be something for them all to have bothered with the pursuit.


    I didn't mean to make light, but I have also had atheists level that one...well if the soul is in the heart, then I guess heart transplant people have no soul...:rolleyes:

    I think the reference, or at least one similar I have heard of, is how altruism impacts the heart...perhaps it is felt in lowering blood pressure and such things.

    The point I was making is that the heart pump is not the silver bowl where the soul resides or is connected.


    Well, we could replace the words with apricots too, and have a nice little lunch. Not to be trite, but I just got done attempting to show how human knowledge really isn't quite the tool...I'm struggling for the right words here...

    When I think of the word "knowledge," I am thinking book learning, facts and figures, plotting and planning, applied mental faculties. Spirit is unrelated to that. Spirit can function perfectly well without any of that. I think that is one point that perplexes atheists, is they can't see a "soul" outside of a "personality." The two are related, even intertwined, but they are not the same thing.


    Thousands of years of use. Confusing the menu for the meal.

    Symbols only have a value if they are shared. Shared symbols lead to culture, from there to civilization, from there to places we would not be otherwise; some good, some not so good.

    Otherwise, you might as well ask why humanity bothered to invent spoken language. We don't have source material for that either, by the way.

    Well OK, and if that is sufficient symbol for you to convey the essence of the reality...great!

    Personally I think there's just a bit more to it then that, but I think you have the better part of the gist.
     
  12. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    If "G-d," or even the concept of "G-d," appeared on the scene only last week, or last year, or even a thousand years ago...I could agree.

    But G-d, in one form or other, has been a part of human activity we know since the time of Hammurabi, and it is very reasonable to presume for quite some time prior to Hammurabi. In other words, G-d has been with humanity throughout *all* of recorded history.


    And yet, in spite of increasing entropy in a closed thermodynamic system, life seems to find a way...:eek:

    Does that not prove my point?

    Fine by me...I don't know half of them and I don't want to know the other half.

    Forgive me but...why?
     
  13. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 New Member

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    Your illustration is true but, sadly, describes a common incident of wooly thinking/selective memory. What people "tell" one another about (in words) in this example is not the first communication but the second. I think it all too easy to under-estimate the amount of information conveyed by the eyes and face.

    In another scenario, lovers often speak of "eyes meeting across a crowded room" because that is the first communication, all subsequent communications, including hugs, are just working out the details.

    Of course, love is not the only thing that eye contact can convey. An initial communication of hostility would make all subsequent communication dangerous if not impossible. For example, Rotterdam zoo introduced gorilla-viewing-glasses, which have an image of a pair of eyes looking to the side on them, specifically to prevent eye contact with the gorillas. In gorilla language eye contact means "trouble". Similarly many human cultures have rules about eye contact. eg. Saxon and Japanese peasants were forbidden to look their Norman or Shogun nobility in the eye.

    I would certainly not recommend initiating a hug with this type unless you are prepared to lay down your life and, possibly, jeopardise the lives of anyone associated with you.

    In addition to the basic "love" or "hate" that faces convey, there is cultural symbolism to take into account. I teach English as a second language to people from around the world and it is essential that Somali/Arabian women not wear veils in class. Some women find this painfully embarassing while others have no problem, but I have to be sensitive to each. When a shy lady manages to pronounce "crisps" correctly I would like to celebrate with a hug, but that would symbolise something to her that I would neither intend or desire. In such a case it is sufficient to smile or dance like an idiot to convey various degrees of pleasure.
     
  14. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    I don't follow... I was just saying there's no absolute "point" for anything, other then what God says... (according to my POV) and that this is not a very popular way of thinking.

    A flash in the pan dude, that's all we are.

    huh? how ??

    Why what ??? Dude, you're like totally confusing me with this post, lolz
     
  15. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    The only possible actual absolute point was at the Big Bang.

    Even taking this at face value, there are many instances in science where the odds are stacked against...and yet the proof is standing in front of all to see.

    Even if one didn't wish to couch in miraculous terminology, one must of necessity admit that if entropy were all there is to the story, life would not evolve...it would devolve.

    I suppose I could quote and reference James, Freud, and Jung...throw in a bit of Kant and a dash of Pascal's Wager, and boil that all in a stew of pragmatism and stoicism, flavor liberally with Rand and Sun Tzu and say that my amalgam trumps yours.

    Wouldn't serve much purpose, but it sure sounds intimidating to those who don't know enough not to care... ;)

    So instead I chose to dodge by saying "why?" I mean really...what purpose does it serve?
     
  16. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    How so?

    But life is a product of entropy.

    No dude, I mean't I didn't understand what you were asking "why" to?

    Were you asking why is aprioricity itself debatable?

    Because we as a species have finally found more flaws in the concept.
     
  17. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    You're funnin' me, right? The beginning of all beginnings is the beginning of everything...that is, at least among those who ascribe to such a beginning.

    All else stems from that moment.

    Working backwards, what do we do?...we keep running into things that require an earlier beginning...writing requires language which requires symbols which require thought which require ability to vocalize....and on back until eventually, a few billion years ago, you still end up in primordial soup and even that requires the mix of chemicals and elements and gravity and stuff that came out of the Big Bang some ten plus billion years even before that.

    How so?

    No, I wasn't asking that at all.

    What I was trying politely to say is "why bother?"

    Chicken and egg puzzles by their very nature are not solvable...so what purpose is served trying to solve an unsolvable puzzle? Tail chasing might be a fun sport for some, but I find it is a waste of creative energy that can be better spent pursuing matters that can be productively explored.

    But to each their own, if you find entertainment value in such pursuits, far be it from me to suggest you cease. By all means, continue with what inspires you.
     
  18. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    funnin' ??

    If there's a God, then He set off the big bang (assuming the big bang actually happened.) If there's no God, it was all just a random freak occurrence. > In both cases, where's "the absolute point" for your life? >> In both cases, you're merely an effect.


    It took over 13 billion years of increasing entropy to produce the conditions for life to exist on earth



    Unfortunately (imo) much of the academic community agrees with you.

    They wanna just ignore the stuff that sounds like a downer.
     
  19. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Yeah, you know...pullin' my leg, yankin' my chain, joshin' me...

    OK, well, for one I've already laid down the requisite evidence that at least in a circumstantial manner confirms the notion of G-d for me...so from my vantage G-d is a given.

    Another point of consideration is that it is moot whether G-d "made" the Big Bang...or the Big Bang made G-d. Either way, G-d still supercedes humanity by far in scope and scale.

    So if the Unmoved Mover has "His" source in the Big Bang, then that is the "Absolute Point" for *all* of creation.

    In fairness, our understanding of the universe is still quite young...we presume at this stage that the entire universe has a single set point beginning. Now I hear hypotheses that suggest "local" Bangs, although I have yet to find out how this accounts for or ties into anything. Much like sting theory at this point, it is purely speculative.

    As for "merely" being an effect, so what? I am the effect of a bottle of beer and a back seat in a car...and I know I'm not the only. ;)

    Isn't that counterintuitive?

    How can creation come naturally out of destruction? Better said...how can building up come from wasting away?


    Its not about ignoring stuff that's a downer, its about stepping aside from pointless activity.

    You want "ignoring the stuff that's a downer?" Try getting anybody to speak about the ramifications of blood sacrifice! That's too hard to look at, NOBODY wants to see themselves in that mirror, and yet that is a very real aspect that impacts upon every one of us.

    No, it is not ignoring. Quite the contrary, it is seeing it for what it is, and what it is is a dead end, so what is the sense of chasing a ball down a dead end street? There is no profit to be gained, so why bother?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2011
  20. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    I meant you shouldn't use that word... it just sounds... fruity : P


    Fair enuff

    Hey, it's a fact of thermodynamics.

    Perhaps some scripture quoting is appropriate here, amidst the physics:

    By the time,
    Verily man is in loss,
    Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds...

    This is my favorite chapter of the Quran, #103

    I disagree...

    It's a beginning.
     

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