Religion

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Lightforge
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Re: Religion

Postby Lightforge » Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:48 am UTC

A.)
The same way that free will could exist in the past, even if you have memories now.


B.)
We don't have free will with regard to actions that have already happened. Once the decision is made, free will no longer applies to it.


If you can have free will in the present, you can have had it in the past and you could have it in the future. To say that "we don't have free will with regard to actions that have already happened" means no more than saying that the past is irrevocable. Otherwise, it's similar to saying that, being dead, one never lived. You could say that a dead person has no free will, but if you say "person" here, you are confused. A corpse is not a person. A person is a constantly changing being. Consciousness ceases to exist when it stops changing (pauses/stops). That doesn't mean it doesn't exist at all or never existed. It means its definition is about a current manifestation. There was a consciousness. There was a choice. (Or maybe both are illusions; it doesn't matter.)

Anywho, a conclusion that free will is illusory does not seem to follow from the logic presented. I'm not sure I disagree overall, but that is besides the point. In any case, regarding religion and specifically Christianity, there are logical/Biblical positions in both camps, and both sides generally agree that, to a Christian, it doesn't matter which is true, as it doesn't change anything. Perhaps it is the case that an illusion of free will is the same as free will to a mind that cannot know the future. Also, be sure to watch out for defense mechanisms, as they complicate (or make impossible) objective appraisal of the matter.

Lemme guess, it's heavily tied to/explained by evolutionary pressures, and is really based on sex?


I think he is referring to basic physics and how everything (until you get down to quantum mechanics, which seems to be better described statistically) boils down to some manner of causality. I'd actually be interested in the neuropsychological research, if the poster could present it or link it. I'm thinking of making the area my cognate and gearing my dissertation towards it, so any interesting (and somewhat current) research would be nice.

God commands plants to fruit, and instead of becoming fruit, the plants (trees specifically) BEAR fruit, which represents a choice they made on the interpretation of Gods will


Actually, that's a really interesting observation. Heck, even on a simplified level (as a literary device), it's an interesting concept. I wish I'd known that verse when I wrote an exegesis on John 15:16. Would've been the balls.
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Re: Religion

Postby Varsil » Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:01 pm UTC

Lightforge wrote:If you can have free will in the present, you can have had it in the past and you could have it in the future. To say that "we don't have free will with regard to actions that have already happened" means no more than saying that the past is irrevocable. Otherwise, it's similar to saying that, being dead, one never lived. You could say that a dead person has no free will, but if you say "person" here, you are confused. A corpse is not a person. A person is a constantly changing being. Consciousness ceases to exist when it stops changing (pauses/stops). That doesn't mean it doesn't exist at all or never existed. It means its definition is about a current manifestation. There was a consciousness. There was a choice. (Or maybe both are illusions; it doesn't matter.)


There was a choice, but there is not a choice any more. That's an important distinction. Once you already know what decision is made, there is no free choice remaining with regards to that decision. There was a choice, but there is not one there right now. Consider: I am going to flip a coin. The odds of it landing heads are fifty/fifty. Conversely, there is another coin that I have just flipped. The chance that it landed heads is not fifty/fifty. It's 100%, because it did. Similarly, if I am choosing what to eat tonight, it is a choice because I have multiple actions available. If, however, it is certain that I will eat steak, there was not actually a choice there. I might think I have a choice, but I may not have one.

Lemme guess, it's heavily tied to/explained by evolutionary pressures, and is really based on sex?


I think he is referring to basic physics and how everything (until you get down to quantum mechanics, which seems to be better described statistically) boils down to some manner of causality. I'd actually be interested in the neuropsychological research, if the poster could present it or link it. I'm thinking of making the area my cognate and gearing my dissertation towards it, so any interesting (and somewhat current) research would be nice.


I'm actually thinking of more some observed phenomena in psych/neuropsych. The evolution/sex thing was clearly just intended as a shot. Obvious troll is obvious, and all that. I don't have links handy, due to my texts being in boxes at the moment (and only about half are in my province). Anyway, a few of the interesting phenomena:
-You can evoke certain behaviours from people by such means as direct brain stimulation, and people will often explain why they did it in terms of their choices. IE, you can stimulate rage from someone by running a wire into their brain, and they will explain that they were angered by something the doctor was saying.
-If you inject a person with adrenaline (telling them that it's saline, say) before sitting them down to watch an action movie, they find it exciting. Show them a horror movie instead, and they view it as terrifying. Show them a porno, and they view it as sexually arousing.
-People with memory deficits may make decisions that are bizarre in the face of the information consciously available to them, but obvious in context of experiences that they cannot remember. They will explain these decisions in sometimes very strange ways to reconcile it with their understanding.
-Areas of the brain associated with cognition and consciousness often activate /after/ the decision is made, rather than before.

God commands plants to fruit, and instead of becoming fruit, the plants (trees specifically) BEAR fruit, which represents a choice they made on the interpretation of Gods will


Actually, that's a really interesting observation. Heck, even on a simplified level (as a literary device), it's an interesting concept. I wish I'd known that verse when I wrote an exegesis on John 15:16. Would've been the balls.


Commanding a plant to fruit means to command it to bear fruit, not become fruit. This is just the plain meaning of the word. Maybe it's different in Hebrew, but in English, that's what the words mean.

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Re: Religion

Postby seladore » Thu Sep 25, 2008 7:55 pm UTC

There is an interesting experiment involving patents who have had their brains bisected, with the result that the two hemispheres cannot communicate. So subject X sits in a room, and his/her right eye is shown a card saying 'walk out the room'.

Later, if a card is presented to the subject's right eye, with 'Why did you leave the room earlier?' written on it, the subject will happily say "because of the instruction on the card".

However, if the same question is posed via the left eye, the subject will invariably make up a reason, rather than not knowing. So, they say something like "I wanted a drink, and thought there was a Coke machine in the hall", or "I wanted to check the colour of the carpet outside", or "I fancied a walk".

We seem to have all this neural apparatus built specifically to provide post hoc justification for our actions. I find this somewhat disconcerting.


EDIT, while we are on the subject of biblical fruit and free will:

The passage where Jesus wants some figs, and curses a fig tree because 'there were no figs, for it was not the time for figs' is problematic. The tree is punished, even though it clearly had no free will in the matter (the passage specifically states that the production of figs is controlled by the seasons).

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Re: Religion

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:09 pm UTC

@selador: I think you've misread those experiments. The notion was that the hemispheres act independantly, and can be teased out with such things as the words HOT and DOG being shown to the left and right eye, and the patient, despite seeing both words is unable to conjoin them. Theres no 'people leaving rooms with instructions that half their brain cannot see' that i've heard of.

Varsil wrote:Commanding a plant to fruit means to command it to bear fruit, not become fruit. This is just the plain meaning of the word. Maybe it's different in Hebrew, but in English, that's what the words mean.


Except if you are allowing Gods creation to truly be the genesis of everything, i.e., plants now bear fruit because those early progenitors were all "Hey God said we need to 'become' fruit, so lets 'bear' fruit instead!"

@Varsils neuropsych: The notion that brain chemicals/stimulus have a direct link to behavior shouldn't be that surprising. What should be surprising is the links that get shown, like, say, women tend to find the scent of their father to be more arousing then the scent of a stranger. Or some compounds released in stress make individuals less 'trusting' of people. Or so on and so forth. But prior to conducting any sort of neurosurgery, patients are poked and prodded with electrodes to help identify regions of the brain.
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And yes, my sex comment troll was just that, a troll.

Varsil wrote:Once you already know what decision is made, there is no free choice remaining with regards to that decision. There was a choice, but there is not one there right now. Consider: I am going to flip a coin. The odds of it landing heads are fifty/fifty. Conversely, there is another coin that I have just flipped. The chance that it landed heads is not fifty/fifty. It's 100%, because it did. Similarly, if I am choosing what to eat tonight, it is a choice because I have multiple actions available. If, however, it is certain that I will eat steak, there was not actually a choice there. I might think I have a choice, but I may not have one.


It sounds like you've confused probability a bit with the past though. The argument can still be made that freewill based on probabalistic tendencies exists and just because you are a great predictor of probability, you are still capable of free will. I know that the coin I just flipped will now and forever show up heads, but that doesn't mean that the next coin I flip will. God's omniscience can easily be argued to be a sort of atemporal remembering, recalling not perhaps the specifics of how things happen, but instead the various likelihoods that they will.

I don't disagree with you Varsil that Gods omniscience is either logical or evident from the Bible, but because God is simply put, something that must be accepted on Faith, he doesn't really apply to logic. Or vice versa.
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Re: Religion

Postby seladore » Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:39 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:@selador: I think you've misread those experiments. The notion was that the hemispheres act independantly, and can be teased out with such things as the words HOT and DOG being shown to the left and right eye, and the patient, despite seeing both words is unable to conjoin them. Theres no 'people leaving rooms with instructions that half their brain cannot see' that i've heard of.


I definitely read about that experiment, in the form that I put there. Saying that though, it was in a popular level psychology book (I'm not a psychologist) and a few years ago, so it could be untrue / exaggerated. I'll try and dig out the reference out of interest...

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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

"fruit" means "bear fruit" you realise?
From Google: Fruit; 'bear fruit; "the trees fruited early this year"'

"To fruit" = "to bear fruit"

"Command to fruit" = "Command to bear fruit". You can't even read it any other way.


Anyway, you guys should totally define what the fuck you're talking about when you say Determinism and Free Will.
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Re: Religion

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:08 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:"Command to fruit" = "Command to bear fruit". You can't even read it any other way.


And in the original Hebrew?

Look, the books called Genesis. It isn't dealing with 'normal biological function'. If it wants to call reproduction the removal of a rib, or the big bang 'Let there be light', FINE. Logically nitpicking a text that is the very opposite of logical is a sure fire way to not have a discussion. I'm not saying fruiting/bearing fruit/to fruit grammatically means what it does because of some obscure interpretation of a single line in Genesis, I'm just throwing out an intriguing position some Talmudic scholar shared with me pertaining to an example of 'free will'.
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Re: Religion

Postby Outchanter » Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:20 am UTC

Izawwlgood, it's been years since I took a religious studies class, but I think it was the earth, not the plants that supposedly misinterpreted the command. I was told that according to the "sin of the earth" interpretation, the earth was commanded to produce trees of fruit (entirely edible) but instead produced inedible trees bearing fruit. Which is why after the fall, the earth was punished together with Adam ("cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life").

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Re: Religion

Postby Lightforge » Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:27 am UTC

Once you already know what decision is made, there is no free choice remaining with regards to that decision.... If...it is certain that I will eat steak, there was not actually a choice there.


You are defining your concepts in such a way that free will is impossible, even if what we mean by "free will" is real.

Consider this hypothetical example: Person "A" is about to eat dinner. Person "B" is a first-person observer. Person "C" is an omniscient observer. Now, the story branches into two realities, "X" and "Y". In X, person A is caused to choose steak; he has no free will, whatever he may think. In Y, person A chooses steak instead of chicken; this was a legitimately free choice, whatever he may think. Person B observes in both cases that person A "chooses" steak, whatever he may think about person A's free will. In X, person C knew ahead of time that person A would choose steak. He also knew that person A had no free will. In Y, person C, by definition, knew ahead of time that person A would freely choose steak. He also knows that in ten minutes, person C will also choose to eat steak, because he will suddenly be hungry and have a hankering for some nice, medium-rare beef goodness.

X is simple. How can Y be possible? It deserves a "mu", right? If you know something ahead of time, there is a 100% chance that it will happen. True. Then how can you have free will if someone knows what you will choose? Because they are completely unrelated. Probability is a description of how well you know something, often about the future. What Frank knows about Bob's choice has no effect on Bob's choice being free or not. The paradox seemingly presented by the thought experiment is an illusion created by a particular perspective on "time."

Try this thought experiment: Imagine you are non-temporal and omniscient. You view all of history as a single "event." All choices are already made (whether determined or chosen by the actor). You know every choice perfectly. When you look at a "person", you see each and every atom's "position." Now, position is tricky to imagine, because while you imagine that position relative to every other atom's position, you do so for each and every point in time simultaneously. All decisions ever made by the person are contained within the one thought, and all decisions are contained in the same moment, as far as you are concerned (you still understand the context of each and every choice). Were those choices free or determined?

Not enough information. Your original assumption is that a free will choice is impossible if it is known ahead of time. I don't see that the two are related.

There was a choice, but there is not a choice any more.


There was a choice; now that the decision has been made, how is the choice made less of a choice? If I make a free will choice, it has consequences in the future that are different than other choices. It is not obliterated by existing.

I'm actually thinking of more some observed phenomena in psych/neuropsych....


K. People explain behavior in terms of choices because it is the most effective way to view behavior. Human brains invent to fill the gaps in memories until they become coherent or complete. Same thing here. Something doesn't quite make sense, but you know certain things for a fact: you are angry, the doctor said something, and the two happened at the same time (the most important factor in learning). You may not know why it angered you, but it is reasonable to tentatively conclude that what the doctor said somehow angered you.

William James thought that a person smiled in reaction, then felt joy as a reaction to the smile (and the same for other emotions). He was vindicated by research a hundred years afterward. Facial expressions (reactions) come before feeling.

Commanding a plant to fruit means to command it to bear fruit, not become fruit. This is just the plain meaning of the word.


The assumption is that there is a reason the translation lists fruit and bear fruit somewhat differently. Anyways, a Talmudic scholar knows Hebrew, so I'm inclined to assume there's an interesting distinction there.

Areas of the brain associated with cognition and consciousness often activate /after/ the decision is made, rather than before.


Isn't that, taken as the complete story, oddly in support of free will? Or perhaps you mean that other areas of the brain were shown to be causing the decision. I dunno; in chess, I do most of my thinking before moving. I might summarize my decisions that led to my choice, though.

Jesus wants some figs, and curses a fig tree because 'there were no figs...


It is disconcerting, because it means that there is no excuse for waiting to bear fruit.

We seem to have all this neural apparatus built specifically to provide post hoc justification for our actions. I find this somewhat disconcerting.


Something is wrong with your experiment. Split-brain patients can only understand words that are in their right visual field (right half of what both eyes see), because the right visual field goes to the left brain. It doesn't go by full eyes. If you meant visual field, one side would not be able to read the card at all. Pop-psychology should always be taken with a large quantity of salt. It likes to take actual research and conclude things FAR from the results. In any case, yeah, confabulation happens. This is an attempt to make sense of something unknown. It is extremely discomforting to not know why you did something. I'd say, given the study's validity, that it's a defensive mechanism. The question is (and it remains unanswered), "do we use post-hoc justification all the time?"

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Re: Religion

Postby seladore » Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:07 am UTC

I was under the impression that the parable of the fig tree is disconcerting because the tree is punished as if it had free will, despite clearly being a deterministic system. It is even described specifically as a deterministic system: the KJV says

Mark 11:13 wrote:for the time for figs was not yet


, implying that what determines if figs are ripe is the time of year. Yet Jesus punishes the tree as if it had made the decision not to bear figs freely.


And yeah, I accept that the experiment I remember reading about was most likely wildly exaggerated, or at least badly remembered.

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Re: Religion

Postby Lightforge » Fri Sep 26, 2008 5:06 pm UTC

I was under the impression that the parable of the fig tree is disconcerting because the tree is punished as if it had free will, despite clearly being a deterministic system.


What does it mean to punish an object that has no "I" or "me", much less an object that has no decision-making processes at all (unless you get really, really basic)? This is a parable, and whether he, in person, destroyed the tree or not is irrelevant. The disconcerting part for Christians is that the parable seems to mean that followers are not supposed to wait for a "proper time" to bear fruit; it is supposed to be a "now" thing at all times.

Where is this verse, btw? It's hard to be sure when I don't know the context. Also, are there other instances of this story (or very similar) in other books? But yeah, I recognize that the behavior of anyone destroying a tree for not bearing fruit out of season is, in itself, questionable from a mental health standpoint. Then again, knowing Jesus from other stories, he wasn't exactly normal in his methods. His effectiveness, however, cannot be denied.

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:37 pm UTC

The relevant passages are:
Mark 11:12-14, 20-24 wrote:The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And his disciples heard him say it.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"
"Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
The full chapter is here.

While, I do like Lightforge's initial understanding of the point, I believe that the point was more along the lines that one, in faith, can speak their own will upon reality, and reality will conform. While it's probably hard for many of us to understand this, I have actually heard many similar sounding advice from successful people, religious or not.

Gelsamel is right that "free will" must be better defined. In some context, I would say we do have free will, and that at other times we don't. When we consider the ego and our mind's complicated way of dealing, it can be difficult to tell exactly when free will is and is not being exercised, assuming it's not an illusion.

Consider a man who chooses to eat steak over a burger. One might say, that because it was known that he would choose the steak, that it wasn't a choice at all. I don't think this complies with what I feel "true" free will to be. One could say that because the steak must obviously be better than the burger, that it wasn't a choice at all. That is, one choice was plainly superior to the other and the inferior choice makes the illusion that there was a choice, when there's not. I could certainly understand this position. If this man's friends have all told him repeatedly that steak is always better than a burger, then this man may have actually given up his choice to someone else without realizing it, and therefore has given up his free will in the matter. I could see this, too. In these various scenarios, I could start to see how one could hold a deterministic view (in the way I see it described) as steak will be eaten every time. But to me, regardless of the fact that steak is always eaten, he could decide to eat a burger. He just won't. Or will he?

The lines in all of our decisions are so blurry (mostly because most people don't actually stop to think about why they do what they do) like this that it's difficult to tell if and when we are even exercising free will if we have it. But, without having proof of any kind of free will, we have to assume that we are responsible for our own actions and our lives. If we're not, then we're not, but if we are, then we may just be giving up our free will, and our lives, to someone else.

We seem to have all this neural apparatus built specifically to provide post hoc justification for our actions. I find this somewhat disconcerting.
As I've already ranted enough, I'll just say that my position on this is much as I feel about stupidity in people in general. I believe it's a learned behavior, not something "hard wired" in our brains.

As for the age old omnipotent and omniscient debate, saying God is all-knowing and all-powerful is sort of a generalization to me. To a child, it's parents may be considered all-powerful and all-knowing, but in a literal sense they obviously are not. To us, for all intents and purposes, God may be omnipotent and omniscient, and yet, technically, that may not be the case. Who can really say? Either way, such a point of logic is hardly indicative of whether or not God exists.

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Re: Religion

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:18 pm UTC

Lightforge wrote:His effectiveness, however, cannot be denied.


I LOL'd at this. Can you clarify what exactly you mean, as I feel I can take this in all manner of contexts, not many of which are likely what you intended.
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Re: Religion

Postby alexh123456789 » Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:39 pm UTC

theonlyjett wrote:As for the age old omnipotent and omniscient debate, saying God is all-knowing and all-powerful is sort of a generalization to me. To a child, it's parents may be considered all-powerful and all-knowing, but in a literal sense they obviously are not. To us, for all intents and purposes, God may be omnipotent and omniscient, and yet, technically, that may not be the case. Who can really say? Either way, such a point of logic is hardly indicative of whether or not God exists.


Well, the bible is supposed to be the word of god, and it (i think?) says that god is omnipotent and omniscient. Anyway, the whole point i tried to bring up a while back was not whether free will exists in a deterministic universe, but whether free will exists if, in the beginning, god made the universe and essentially planned out every singe action from that point until the end of time. I was wondering how religious people consider that they have free will, and if they don't, why god punishes them for the actions the universe he created lead to. Finally, about whether god exists or not, i think it's fundamentally impossible to prove the existence of a supernatural being through natural methods.

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:46 am UTC

alexh123456789 wrote:Well, the bible is supposed to be the word of god, and it (I think?) says that god is omnipotent and omniscient.
When you say that you "think" the bible says something, it seems to me that you are starting your assertion on already shaky grounds. Even if it does use the words "omniscient" or "omnipotent," or "all-knowing" and "all-powerful," you have no way of knowing the context and therefore, the exact meaning (literal or general) of the words in question.

alexh123456789 wrote:Anyway, the whole point I tried to bring up a while back was not whether free will exists in a deterministic universe, but whether free will exists if, in the beginning, god made the universe and essentially planned out every singe action from that point until the end of time.
Depends on what we mean by free will. Also, I question the meaning of the word "planned." I don't think "planned out" is as accurate as just "knew," which also affects what we mean by free will.

alexh123456789 wrote:I was wondering how religious people consider that they have free will, and if they don't, why god punishes them for the actions the universe he created lead to.
Religious people in general believe quite a lot of different things. Some don't make any logical sense at all as, odds are, they are not theologians and might not even know much more than they learned in Sunday school when they were five. I happen to believe that we do have free will, and that a tree that doesn't bear fruit will get cut down.

Let's take this back to the beginning.
alexh123456789 wrote:If god is omnipotent and omniscient, then when he created the universe he had full knowledge of everything that would happen during the existence of the universe. Therefore, how can free will exist if god decided what everybody would do in the beginning of time?
First, from my understanding, the question isn't right from the start. You might as well ask me, "if all black people are evil, then how could MLKJ do so much good for our society?" I have reason to not accept your meaning of the first part, so the second part doesn't matter until we can agree on the premise. Second, you're forcing the religious people you talk to, to attempt to defend a literal interpretation, simply because they may have never have thought of it differently before. The general statements that God can do anything and knows everything, and that we have free will are not typically at odds with each other in the minds of most religious people, including my own. We have no way of completely understanding the nature of God, so applying a logical argument to Him, definitively, would be silly. He may transcend all current logic altogether, or He may be perfectly logical and we just don't know enough about it all yet.

alexh123456789 wrote:I have a question for Christians I talk to, and have never heard an adequate answer:
What sort of answer would be adequate? "Oh me yarm, you're so right, this whole religious thing makes no sense at all!" Probably not going to get that a lot.

From the beginning, it appears you simply want to point out how simple or illogical all or most religious people are. But it's all good, my old man often says similar things, only about minorities. Because he's racist.

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Re: Religion

Postby Lightforge » Sat Sep 27, 2008 7:34 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Lightforge wrote:His effectiveness, however, cannot be denied.


I LOL'd at this. Can you clarify what exactly you mean, as I feel I can take this in all manner of contexts, not many of which are likely what you intended.


Which contexts were so funny? Do they fit the context presented by my post? I had examples, but deleted them for brevity.

However, Now is the time for sleep.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:03 pm UTC

I'm a strong Atheist, but I'm not against any other set of beliefs. Viva la difference.

I can't see any reason why my belief is objectively any better than anyone elses. My personal experiences have led me to believe in the non-existence of any metaphysical beings or forces, but others either have experienced things which lead them to believe otherwise, or don't care much about whether their beliefs are believable and are more interested in how their chosen beliefs help them lead their lives.

Being an Atheist is difficult at times. When I'm down, there's no concept of an all-seeing being that will see I'm a good person and will lift me up. There's no objective viewer of morality to help me decide what is right and what is wrong. Basically, I believe what I believe because I believe it, but other beliefs have their strengths and I'm certainly not going to recommend my own to anyone, because there's nothing explicitly or objectively better about my way than anyone elses.

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Re: Religion

Postby Falmarri » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:33 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote:because there's nothing explicitly or objectively better about my way than anyone elses.


Yes there is, because, if you come to that conclusion correctly, it uses logic and reason instead of hand waving magic.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:44 pm UTC

What's so great about logic and reason? There's two sides to the brain, and neither one has a monopoly on ideas conducive to good living.

If you're smart and you study and think about it long enough, your life is completely meaningless, valueless, and senseless. No matter what you do with your life, the sun will expand to become a red giant which will devour any proof of your existence and eventually compress it into a mush of neutrons in a white dwarf. Logic says there's no logical reason to be alive. It's emotion and heart and impulse which make life valuable to us, and I'm not going to say that the cold and logical reasoning by which I've decided there's no god is somehow superior to the subjective benefits of a religion, theistic or otherwise.

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Re: Religion

Postby Falmarri » Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:49 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote: No matter what you do with your life, the sun will expand to become a red giant which will devour any proof of your existence and eventually compress it into a mush of neutrons in a white dwarf. Logic says there's no logical reason to be alive.


That's a little nearsighted. We could develop interstellar travel before the sun explodes. What really is the end is the death of the universe. And my goal in life is to finding a way to prevent, reverse, or otherwise live through the end of the universe, thus firstly finding a way to extend human lifespans beyond the fraction of a blink of the cosmic eye.

So yes, there ISN'T a point to life other than preserving life. Emotion and heart and impulse are only there to prevent us from going insane. Though insane is entirely relative.

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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:01 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:What's so great about logic and reason? There's two sides to the brain, and neither one has a monopoly on ideas conducive to good living.

If you're smart and you study and think about it long enough, your life is completely meaningless, valueless, and senseless. No matter what you do with your life, the sun will expand to become a red giant which will devour any proof of your existence and eventually compress it into a mush of neutrons in a white dwarf. Logic says there's no logical reason to be alive. It's emotion and heart and impulse which make life valuable to us, and I'm not going to say that the cold and logical reasoning by which I've decided there's no god is somehow superior to the subjective benefits of a religion, theistic or otherwise.

Logic and emotion are both important, but they have different domains. Logic is a system of figuring out what's true and what's false. Emotion is what gives you purpose and motivation. If you get them mixed up, things go wrong. If you use emotion to figure out what's objectively true, you end up being wrong a lot. If you use logic to find purpose, you get all nihilist and whiny.

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Re: Religion

Postby Falmarri » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:06 am UTC

Nath wrote:
SJ Zero wrote:you get all nihilist and whiny.


That should be and/or. You can be nihilistic without being whiny.

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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:14 am UTC

Falmarri wrote:That should be and/or. You can be nihilistic without being whiny.

Sure you can. But excluding emotion when coming up with your utility function usually causes both nihilism and whininess.

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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:16 am UTC

Apathy about your purpose doesn't lead to nihilism and whininess...
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
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"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
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Re: Religion

Postby Falmarri » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:35 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Apathy about your purpose doesn't lead to nihilism and whininess...


There's a difference between apathy and understanding there is no purpose.

Nath wrote:
Falmarri wrote:That should be and/or. You can be nihilistic without being whiny.

Sure you can. But excluding emotion when coming up with your utility function usually causes both nihilism and whininess.


Depends on what you consider whining I guess.

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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:02 am UTC

Of course there is a difference, but you can understand that there is no purpose and be apathetic about the fact that there is no purpose.

If you throw away emotion when understanding that there is no purpose then you'll realise that it doesn't matter. Whininess can spring only from being emotional about it.
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
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"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:08 am UTC

This is all pretty much getting to the point I was trying to make.

Life isn't about being right all the time, it's about living. If someone wants to believe something I don't believe to be true because it makes their life happier, who am I to hate on them?

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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:31 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:If someone wants to believe something I don't believe to be true because it makes their life happier, who am I to hate on them?


If and only if they realise that their beliefs are just that and are not truth or fact or objective or logical or scientific or evidenced or reasonable in any way then you'd be a asshole if you hate on them for that.
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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:43 am UTC

Unless they want to impede my freedom to live my life or impose their religion upon me, why should I try to do it to them?

I'm a huge fan of Karma and the golden rule.

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Re: Religion

Postby Kaiyas » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:51 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Unless they want to impede my freedom to live my life or impose their religion upon me, why should I try to do it to them?

I'm a huge fan of Karma and the golden rule.

Because some beliefs may be misleading/destructive. For example, Scientology denies psychology, which may be destructive to followers who are actually mentally ill.
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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:54 am UTC

SJ Zero, You're not imposing your beliefs on them... Logic, rationale, science, etc. are all well defined.

If someone insists their irrational belief is rational/logical/scientific you would not argue otherwise?
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 3:00 am UTC

If it's a powerful belief which the use as a fundamental axiom in their lives, yes. The world isn't going to implode because people around me aren't all strong atheists. There's more to life than just having factually correct beliefs.

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Re: Religion

Postby Varsil » Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:28 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:Being an Atheist is difficult at times. When I'm down, there's no concept of an all-seeing being that will see I'm a good person and will lift me up.


See, I find this reassuring, but I view it from the other side of things. If I fall down a flight of stairs, I'd much rather think it was because I was clumsy than because some omnipotent being had a plan that involved me falling down a flight of stairs, and made it happen. Similarly, if life is looking like shit at any given moment, I'd much rather think that it's not part of some divine plan that'll change when and if said being feels like changing it (and not before), but instead fluid and changeable via my direct action. I also think this leads to more useful action on my part (getting off my ass and working on fixing things, rather than asking my imaginary friend to do it and waiting for said imaginary friend).

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Re: Religion

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:46 am UTC

SJ Zero wrote:If it's a powerful belief which the use as a fundamental axiom in their lives, yes. The world isn't going to implode because people around me aren't all strong atheists. There's more to life than just having factually correct beliefs.


If you do not correctly expose what is and what is not logical/rational/science when those things are claimed to be such... then you're allowing those ideas to be diluted and over time they lose their power.

It's fine for people to believe stuff, but it's not fine for them to believe that the stuff that they believe is something that it is provably NOT (ie. rational/logical/scientific).
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
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"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No

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Re: Religion

Postby Nath » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:16 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Of course there is a difference, but you can understand that there is no purpose and be apathetic about the fact that there is no purpose.

If you throw away emotion when understanding that there is no purpose then you'll realise that it doesn't matter. Whininess can spring only from being emotional about it.

I think we are using the word 'purpose' differently. I'm not referring to some grand, overarching plan. By purpose, I mean what you want to do with your life. Logic can tell you what's true and what's false (and what cannot be determined), but that in itself does not provide you with end goals. In my experience, people who have no end goals (or who think they have no end goals) are whiny.

Emotion, on the other hand, tells you what you prefer. This implicitly provides you with a goal: to make the universe more in line with your preferences. Logic is a useful tool in achieving this objective.

SJ Zero wrote:Life isn't about being right all the time, it's about living. If someone wants to believe something I don't believe to be true because it makes their life happier, who am I to hate on them?

Who said anything about hating on anyone? All I'm saying is that some ways of generating beliefs are more accurate than others. Some beliefs are true; some beliefs are false. I happen to be against false beliefs. But that's not the same as being against people who happen to hold false beliefs.

And sure, I realize that some people are more interested in being happy than approaching the truth. That's fine. For me, it isn't really a choice: I have no choice but to believe things that seem true, rather than things that make me happy. Fortunately, I think I prefer it this way. The truth is important to me, and even if I knew how to fool myself, I doubt that doing so would make me happy. But hey, people are different, and the world is more interesting for it.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:20 pm UTC

My point of view is that the majority of society has been religious for thousands of years, and it's not going to do anything but cause unneccessary strife trying to change that.

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Re: Religion

Postby Hammer » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:22 pm UTC

Stuff about atheism and charitable works split to here.
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Re: Religion

Postby Falmarri » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:38 pm UTC

SJ Zero wrote:My point of view is that the majority of society has been religious for thousands of years, and it's not going to do anything but cause unneccessary strife trying to change that.


Wow, that's a pretty shitty viewpoint. "Oh, it's fucked anyway, let's not try to fix it." No wonder we can't get fix our political system if everyone thinks like that. "Oh trying to chance social security will cause strife, so let's keep it as it is."

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Re: Religion

Postby theonlyjett » Thu Oct 02, 2008 8:45 pm UTC

Before I even get started,
doesn't matter who wrote:rational/logical
what is rational or logical depends on a set of agreed upon axioms. When those are interpreted or viewed in different ways, then two "rational" peoples may very well come up with a different "logical" explanation.

who cares who wrote:scientific
Science cannot prove anything to be 100% true, only more (and often far more) probable. Science does prove things to be false, but only certain things that can actually be proven false. Hence the term, "falsifiable." Whether you think there is or isn't a god/force/unifying principle/teapot/unicorn/FSM/etc., it's just a belief. It can be a strong belief, but that is all it is. Even Pascal and his infamous Wager everybody here feels so good to themselves for rejecting even though there is still a sound principle to it, said that the only true wager "is not to wager at all." (In fact it's written right into his explanation of the wager.)

Varsil wrote:See, I find this reassuring, but I view it from the other side of things. If I fall down a flight of stairs, I'd much rather think it was because I was clumsy than because some omnipotent being had a plan that involved me falling down a flight of stairs, and made it happen. Similarly, if life is looking like shit at any given moment, I'd much rather think that it's not part of some divine plan that'll change when and if said being feels like changing it (and not before), but instead fluid and changeable via my direct action. I also think this leads to more useful action on my part (getting off my ass and working on fixing things, rather than asking my imaginary friend to do it and waiting for said imaginary friend).
Now see, as I consider myself a Christian, it must be odd to you then that I actually hold these same beliefs as you. I know many religious people who do have the mentality that you are comparing yourself to, but I'm not one of them. As far as getting off one's ass and into action, I find that [broad sweeping statement] there's two kinds of people. Those who do, and those who find excuses ('cause there are no valid reasons) not to. [/broad sweeping statement] Holding beliefs at all one way or another typically has little to nothing to do with it.

Gelsamel wrote:It's fine for people to believe stuff, but it's not fine for them to believe that the stuff that they believe is something that it is provably NOT (ie. rational/logical/scientific).
I know that what you say is literally true. However, there is a certain tone here that implies to me that anyone who believes anything they can't prove is stupid. You are saying that a person who believes something they can't prove is irrational. Again, I agree. But that's a strict meaning of the word. Another meaning of the word "irrational" is stupid. I assure you, that while I may hold some beliefs that are technically "irrational," I am most certainly not a stupid person and neither is anyone else simply because they hold a belief that they cannot prove.

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Re: Religion

Postby SJ Zero » Thu Oct 02, 2008 9:13 pm UTC

Falmarri wrote:Wow, that's a pretty shitty viewpoint. "Oh, it's fucked anyway, let's not try to fix it." No wonder we can't get fix our political system if everyone thinks like that. "Oh trying to chance social security will cause strife, so let's keep it as it is."


The problem is, I'm not convinced it's fucked up anyway. I don't believe in their space ghosts, but I don't really have any compelling arguement that my empirical philosophy is so intrinsically better that the world is worse off with God on people's minds.


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