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God impotent or evil?
Posted: 30 January 2007 02:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]Of all the different kinds of life on this world, humans are the only ones who have a problem with evil. If you take mankind out of the picture, evil will disappear with him. What would take our place? Badgers? Asteroids filled with evil purpose?
Evil is an invention of minds. Even our bodies don’t believe in it.

This got me to thinking about God as if it were a formulation of a physical law, sort of like the standard model in physics. You know, a force that determines the moral trajectories of particles called “humans”.

Here we have a law that does not seem to apply to any particles except human beings, in any meaningful way. “Cruelty” does not apply to animals unless humans are present.

As a physical law, God has such restricted applicability in the universe at large that only such self-centered beings as humans could ever take it seriously.

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Posted: 31 January 2007 01:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Hey Salt, that’s interesting…

“Cruelty” does not apply to animals unless humans are present.

I suppose that’s true of mercy as well.
I wasn’t thinking of evil or God as force in nature, just as patterns of brain activity. Do you see it as a force?

As a physical law, God has such restricted applicability in the universe at large that only such self-centered beings as humans could ever take it seriously.

Doesn’t that suggest God isn’t? Am I getting your point?

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Posted: 04 February 2007 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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“nothingbutthebloodofjesus” wrote:


Those of us that are Christians believe that all things happen for a purpose, not just by chance
.


I see this a lot - and not just from Christians either. Human beings really, really don’t like to think that things might just happen by chance.

Why - other than the obvious consequent feelings of personal unimportance - do we hate the idea of Chance so much? Is there an actual, grown-up reason for why the Universe could not - or should not - be determined by mere probabilities?
I know it’s not a very comforting idea, but ‘It’s not true because I don’t like the implications’ isn’t much of a rebuttal…

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Posted: 05 February 2007 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]Doesn’t that suggest God isn’t? Am I getting your point?

Sorry I took so long to get back to this. Somehow I failed to be alerted to replies in this thread. That’s basically it. The analogy to a physical law is intended to show that God does not work as a Theory of Everything, since God has no systematic influence on other creatures besides humans, or on rocks, or on tornadoes, and so on. Actually as a “force” (I’ll put it in quotes so no one mistakes my intent), God only has an influence on “souls” (which are “particles” or “fields” that are even more undetectable than neutrinos).

Yet people talk about God as if it were something real. Insofar as something “in your head” can be “real”, I guess God is. It’s not in mine. Go figure. to some extent, an empiricist has to make a distinction between the things that are in his head because they are “out there” and those that are in his head because, specifically, they are not “out there”.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 01:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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an empiricist has to make a distinction between the things that are in his head because they are “out there” and those that are in his head because, specifically, they are not “out there”.

That’s a great line. I spend a lot of time on that issue. I am curious to know how you would respond to the following statements. Whenever you have the time.

-A biblical or other name brand God does not exert force on the physical world or make a very good TOE. This type of God has influence only on human minds who’s actions then provide the only observable evidence of His influence and any suggestion of His existence. There are many reasonable arguments that can handily disassemble any explanation of physical reality based on these ancient Artifacts and their well preserved lore.

-Any such arguments, however reasonable, would not have any bearing on the issue of whether or not reality has a creator or intent behind it. Whether such a creator exerts force on the physical world would be a different debate. We are in fact surrounded by physical forces, any and all of which might have something actually alive at its source. Science and an objective consensus are the best tools for tackling these issues.

-A non-religious approach to the question of creation should not be burdened with religious issues like the problem of evil, omniscient paradoxes or human moral dilemmas. We should be free to explore the possibilities unencumbered by tiresome clichés or supernatural stereotypes. Believing in a creator does not always mean one wants to tell everyone else what to do or think. Short of such rude behavior, any and all voices should be welcome in a communal search for a consensus. Our primitive and often clumsy application of science should not confine or restrain the discussion, just the results.


All are welcome to have a go at these.

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Posted: 06 February 2007 02:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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[quote author=“Nhoj Morley”]-A non-religious approach to the question of creation should not be burdened with religious issues like the problem of evil, omniscient paradoxes or human moral dilemmas. We should be free to explore the possibilities unencumbered by tiresome clichés or supernatural stereotypes. Believing in a creator does not always mean one wants to tell everyone else what to do or think. Short of such rude behavior, any and all voices should be welcome in a communal search for a consensus. Our primitive and often clumsy application of science should not confine or restrain the discussion, just the results.

The quest to deal with the issue of “creation” is quintessentially human, as it is only an analogy or metaphor reflecting what people think they do with their own hands and minds. Attributing a “creative impulse” to the Universe itself (or to its origin) is still unshakeably anthropocentric.

No wish to silence any voices here, or “constrain” the discussion, but if you are going to go there, it may help you to employ an irretrievably fractured narrative style, along the lines of 20th C post-structuralist literature. This will be much more suited to your ecumenicalist impulses. You could begin with Pynchon and work your way back to Beckett and Joyce. Best stop there.

Ecumenicalism is not part of the practice of science. This is due in no small part to the fact that ecumenicalism and consensus are antithetical. It is possible to value the search for consensus far above actually achieving it.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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The issue of “creation” is only an analogy or metaphor reflecting what people think they do with their own hands and minds. Attributing a “creative impulse” to the Universe itself (or to its origin) is still unshakeably anthropocentric.

I did say unencumbered by tiresome clichés or supernatural stereotypes. In the first two parts above, religion is dismissed from any explanation of the physical world and reconsidered as an explanation of our minds. As for plunging into explanations of the depths of the real world; people will have experiences, they will share the results and any emerging consensus will have to pass with everyone concerned, even crabby, dismissive old farts. I’m serious. Maybe that’s pointlessly utopian, but it’s hardly ecumenical. Ouch.

It is possible to value the search for consensus far above actually achieving it.

Amen. Especially if “achieving” it means stopping the search. We have to take what we know and use it, which is sort of like stopping. But that’s technology, not science, and our technologies should catch up with science whenever it’s practical.

Getting religion out of the way of the search is the point. It’s shadow haunts the writings on this site. Even those that have left it behind still have to recognize it all around them. We still think religiously when we think of science and that can be a constraint on the search. Not an easy case to make, but I’m trying. My failure here suggest two possibilities:

1-I already have a irretrievably fractured narrative style.

2-You are as weighed down by religion as the faith-filled posters you make sport of.

I’m still having fun. Let ‘er rip, Salt Creek…

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Posted: 07 February 2007 03:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]The quest to deal with the issue of “creation” is quintessentially human, as it is only an analogy or metaphor reflecting what people think they do with their own hands and minds. Attributing a “creative impulse” to the Universe itself (or to its origin) is still unshakeably anthropocentric.

If you didn’t keep coming off as smug, self-important and condescending you would be far more persuasive.

Best to fight fire with fire: 

Everything human is “unshakeably anthropocentric.”  Duh.  How can is be otherwise?  It’s an existential fact.  Science is human, no less than religion and philosophy are human, albeit empirical and based upon evidence.

The difference:  hallucination, superstition, faith, etc.  are comprised of an “in here” with no corresponding “out there.”  They are purely subjective.  They are imaginary, if you will.

Science and empiricism, granted, show a rational, measurable, verifiable etc. correspondence and relation between the “in here” and “out there.”  Which is great, and superior to the former, as far as it goes.

But you can NEVER divorce the observer from the observed.  There is no such thing as a purely objective reality.  There is no “out there” independent of an “in here” to interpret or even create it.  This is not merely philosophical or mystical mumbo jumbo; it is not a layman’s misinterpretation or bastardization of quantum mechanics.  It is an empirical, existential fact as plain on the nose on your face (go look in a mirror; but then figure out what is “real.”).

Why is this so hard to get?  As a realist/materialist, just where to you get off “imagining” a “purely objective” world/reality/universe?  Everything you perceive via senses and conceive via thoughts is “unshakeably anthropocentric.”  It’s just a human interpretation of whatever “out there” may be, purely “in itself” - which is something that by definition cannot be grasped.  You can only grasp your own, purely human, purely relative to you piece/idea/reflection of “it.”  But never “it”, purely as it “is.”  The moon, indeed, only exits qua moon, so long as you or any human perceives it. 

Epistemology 101: imagine no humans.  What exists?  The moon? Water, earth, trees, elements, atoms, quarks, galaxies, photons, black holes, dark matter, stars, planets, things, consciousness, etc., etc., etc.?  Newtonian physics, Einsteinian physics, quantum mechanics? Well, if there are no humans to conceive of it, how do you KNOW?  You don’t and you can’t.  If there are only cockroaches to perceive, there is only cockroach reality.

Some sort of matter/thing/stuff must have evolved to a point where “human consciousness” developed - I’m typing this now and you will be reading this later.  Cogito ergo sum.  But what “it” was before you were conceived to interpret it, is just another purely imaginary, hallucinogenic journey into complete an utter speculation and bullshit.

There ain’t nothing without a consciousness to know it.  All mystical philosophy from the date we humans starting thinking to the present over and over an over again comes to the same conclusion.  Quantum physics - whether you like it or not - reaches the same conclusion from a purely empirical starting point.

So quit being such a know-it-all.  You don’t KNOW squat.  I don’t KNOW squat - except the fact that I don’t know squat.

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Posted: 07 February 2007 06:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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The comments by Parable ignore the situations involving a natural event such as a hurricane for example.  Folks like Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwel claimed Katrina was direct punishment from God for the US being liberal about abortions, gay marriage, and everything else they don’t approve of.  The 5 reasons put forward by Parable appear more appologetic than reasonable.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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[quote author=“mahahaha”]As a realist/materialist, just where do you get off “imagining” a “purely objective” world/reality/universe?  Everything you perceive via senses and conceive via thoughts is “unshakeably anthropocentric.”....The moon, indeed, only exists qua moon, so long as you or any human perceives it.

You might like this:

http://www.cyberconf.org/~cynbe/facts/monthgrowth.html

[quote author=“mahahaha”]Well, if there are no humans to conceive of it, how do you KNOW?  You don’t and you can’t.  If there are only cockroaches to perceive, there is only cockroach reality.

Or nautiloid reality. See link above.

[quote author=“mahahaha”]Some sort of matter/thing/stuff must have evolved to a point where “human consciousness” developed - I’m typing this now and you will be reading this later.  Cogito ergo sum.  But what “it” was before you were conceived to interpret it, is just another purely imaginary, hallucinogenic journey into complete an utter speculation and bullshit.

I dunno. I think you have steeped yourself in a bit of post-theistic constructionist gibberish, plus maybe a few too many bong hits, and you are now sliding down off the cognitive continental shelf toward the abyssal plain of senescence. You seem to think that the abstractions you are worried about here are related to quantum mechanics.

[quote author=“mahahaha”]There ain’t nothing without a consciousness to know it.  All mystical philosophy from the date we humans starting thinking to the present over and over an over again comes to the same conclusion.  Quantum physics - whether you like it or not - reaches the same conclusion from a purely empirical starting point.

I already know that your comprehension of quantum mechanics is far superior to mine, and that arguing with you about QM matters will only embarrass me, as I can only bring mathematical rigor to bear on a subject that has such emotional resonance for your audience.

[quote author=“mahahaha”]So quit being such a know-it-all.  You don’t KNOW squat.  I don’t KNOW squat - except the fact that I don’t know squat.

I wish we had the chance to discuss this over a beer. It would be much more fun. After about the third beer, I’d be totally agreeing with you. :D

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Posted: 08 February 2007 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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[quote author=“Salt Creek”]Or nautiloid reality.

A nautiloid exists as a nautiloid only because a human being, which possesses a certain type of neuron arrangement, is able to process with its senses the perception of certain coherent configuration of molecules, and then conceive it as “a nautiloid.”  Who knows what a nautiloid perceives, but we can agree, can we not, that it does not have a “name” or a “concept” for itself, because it lacks the neuron complexity to achieve conceptualization?  To a cockroach, what is a “nautiloid”?  To a virus, what is a “nautiloid”? To a dog, what is a “nautiloid”? 

My dog does not see what I see, because my eyes are keener than hers, but her senses of smell and hearing are keener than mine.  Whose perception of a nautiloid is “true”?  How does a nautiloid “appear” to a dog? We don’t know, but we do know that only humans have “names” and “concept” for “things.”  Therefore, things don’t exist as concepts without a human to conceive them.  “In themselves”, they are just a bunch of atoms and molecules - although “atoms” and “molecules” themselves are human concepts of whatever it is that is.

But do you get my drift on this?  You criticize human “self-centeredness” - yet it is inescapable, as an existential fact of human existence.

I wish we had the chance to discuss this over a beer. It would be much more fun. After about the third beer, I’d be totally agreeing with you. :D

Actually, you would need the beers PLUS some weed in order to totally agree with me.  rolleyes

Unfortunately, neither would help me get the math in order to be able to agree with you.  Hey, which brings up the point:  is your perception/conception of reality superior to mine because you can do the math :?:

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Posted: 08 February 2007 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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One thing that god apologists overlook is that the omnipotent, creator god can, by definition, achieve any end whatsoever.  Therefore, there could not possibly be some ‘benefit’ to suffering that the omnipotent deity could not achieve without suffering.  If there were some benefit that could not be achieved without suffering, then, by definition there would be something the deity couldn’t do and hence the deity would not be omnipotent.

Only way the benefit argument can work is you give up the omnipotent thing.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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But do you get my drift on this?

Ummm, sort of. See below.

[quote author=“mahahaha”]Unfortunately, neither would help me get the math in order to be able to agree with you. Hey, which brings up the point: is your perception/conception of reality superior to mine because you can do the math :?:

Well, sure, in that I’m capable of duplicating each of your broad assertions about the “nature” of a nautiloid, plus, I can do the math. So really, I have just that one more card in my hand than you do as I try to bluff reality into folding. Because of that, you’ve already folded, in essence, by denying there’s anybody sitting across the table from you.

Bhoyo, neither of us is going to succeed in that poker game, although I suspect you hold out some hope of a higher plane on which to perch your “consciousness” after you depart this vale of tears.

You did not read the article I linked to, or else you didn’t get the point of it. At any rate, you make no mention of the concepts therein. Those poor Devonian nautiloids had to get through 400 days of work each year to earn a living. The days were shorter, sure, but the wear and tear of getting out of the clambed each morning was concomitantly increased.

I wanted you to read it to to try to get you to envision that the moon was out there doing its thing, 350 million years before human consciousness emerged. The reefs are rife with evidence. If it is not fun for you to think about this, feel free to skip the seminar.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Salt Creek, I take it that you don’t exactly disagree with mahahaha? Whenever it’s raining, such as today, a neighborhood cat cons its way into my house for as long a stay as possible. The wooden slab supported by slender poles that I think of as a table are, no doubt to this cat, not anything resembling a table but rather a lofty forbidden zone containing aromatic temptations.

I know with full certainty that it’s a table, but the cat sees things very differently. Extending this analysis style to everything else in existence makes sense to me. At the bottom level of literality, nothing exists. No matter, at least according to theoretical physicists. Or is it the top level? Maybe the three of us will share a beer and a joint together someday.

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Posted: 08 February 2007 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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[quote author=“homunculus”]Salt Creek, I take it that you don’t exactly disagree with mahahaha? Whenever it’s raining, such as today, a neighborhood cat cons its way into my house for as long a stay as possible. The wooden slab supported by slender poles that I think of as a table are, no doubt to this cat, not anything resembling a table but rather a lofty forbidden zone containing aromatic temptations.

No, I don’t disagree in each and every particular. So, let’s take that example and run with it.

How do you and The Cat decide that “it’s raining”? Clearly both you and The Cat have experienced something that makes it more appealing to remain indoors. What is “It” when “It” is raining? It’s the sky, dude. Rain is falling out of the sky. Rain is wet. It gets down in your fur and feels yucky, because it’s harder to stay “warm”. What’s warm? I guess it is the state of not being “cold”. You see how this could quickly get ridiculous.

And a table, man? It’s a force field that allows you, and cats, and dinner plates to remain suspended three feet or so above the floor! And what’s a “floor”, by the way? And what’s a dinner plate, except a force field that allows your dinner to be suspended a fraction of an inch above the table top?

And what’s the “sky”? It’s where the rain floats until it’s ready to come down. And what is this watery rain stuff? Why do watery things rush out of our way when we swim through them? And what the heck is The Cat, anyway?

And so on.

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