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First post. Introduction and invitation.
Posted: 04 February 2008 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]  
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keith - 04 February 2008 11:48 AM
John Brand - 02 February 2008 12:41 AM

Hello, Keith.  I realize that your question below was directed to Burt.  However, as you are looking for confrontation with the theist mindset, below is and exmple of how I would respond to your question.


Hello John,

I think that I will be speaking for Burt also in noting that you are welcome to join our conversation. You response here was a good one. So I’ve copied and taken it offline, somewhat in the manor of a crocodile taking a drowned antelope back to its den; and I will return with it as soon as circumstances permit.

All the best,

Keith

I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation, and will try to keep up but am on the road for the next 3 weeks so will have to communicate from scattered coffee houses that have free internet connections. 

One thing about my belief that one of the things required in the world today is a general raising of consciousness, not in any specific way, but in terms of greater self-knowledge.  This is not a quick fix but for the long term I think it is the only fix—otherwise people will just idolize some other set of beliefs and start killing unbelievers over that.  I hope you have had a chance to read the Lilla essay—it might help dispell some of your darker feelings about Plato.  Will continue when possible.

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Posted: 04 February 2008 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]  
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keith - 04 February 2008 11:48 AM
John Brand - 02 February 2008 12:41 AM

Hello, Keith.  I realize that your question below was directed to Burt.  However, as you are looking for confrontation with the theist mindset, below is and exmple of how I would respond to your question.


Hello John,

I think that I will be speaking for Burt also in noting that you are welcome to join our conversation. You response here was a good one. So I’ve copied and taken it offline, somewhat in the manor of a crocodile taking a drowned antelope back to its den; and I will return with it as soon as circumstances permit.

All the best,

Keith

Burt and I are in discussion in another thread which is moving along the same lines as the discussion here (btw I posted a response to your comment of 14 January today).  You might find the topics that have been discussed in that conversation just as delectable. As you have time, I can provide you with other drowned antelopes such as the following:

1. Is the New Testament reliable?

2.  Is Jesus Christ a man of history or character of mythology?

3. Why did the NT writers think that Jesus was God?

4. Where and when did Christianity go wrong?

etc.

Essentially, answers to questions such as the above are the basis for my particular theism.  There is a lot to digest  wink but with a little patience, I will be glad to move you through the ins and outs of my belief system.

John

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Posted: 05 February 2008 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]  
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keith - 03 February 2008 10:07 AM

[quote author=“burt”]What seems important to me, if we are to get out of the cycles of madness that seem to infect humanity, is that people develop a deeper understanding of themselves.

We agree on the problem, but people developing a deeper understanding of themselves doesn’t strike me as an executable solution. It’s rather general, and contains no action item. What, specifically, do you want people to do? I think that it will become part of the solution at some level, but for now, and to get the ball rolling, let me outline the following dastardly plan:

As many of us as can understand the strange proposal that I am offering in ‘Truth?’ actually give up our use of the concept that we can see (per Point 4) to mean either ‘a redundant knowledge justification’ or ‘an absurd knowledge justification’. We stop passing on the ancient curse (of ‘truth’) to our children. We stop telling them anything about a qualitatively superior kind of knowledge, as which and in terms of which it is OK to embrace clearly irrational proposals as knowledge. We finally start telling them instead exactly the things that we believe, exactly on the basis of our reasons for believing them. No more ‘because I say so’, or ‘because that’s just how the world is’, or crude direct use of our independent justification basis as in ‘because it’s the truth’. If we can’t justify it – as honest, rational, ‘merely human knowledge – then we don’t propagate it. We let it die with us, and let our world become a better place. Most simply, instead of passing our children two separate and potentially opposable epistemological bases for knowledge ((A) that X can be seen to make sense, (B) that X is the truth) we pass them only (A). But a much broader and deeper (A) than most of us would now associate with pure reason. An (A) whose root is still precisely reason’s root: Hard core, read-‘em-and-weap, on-demand-repeatable physical observation. But which then hierarchically shades down through our more subtle understandings of reason (through the entire gestalt of our already established rational knowledge, apparently authoritative texts, one time observations, and even the advice of trusted elders) and eventually brings in the subjective/emotional needs of our ancient mind components (our Carl Sagan ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile). We continue to let all of this stuff count; but at last, with all of it operating on the same epistemological playing field (Truth?’s Point 1)  from which its large differences in relative value and trustworthiness will finally be obvious.

We run interference for our kids; by taking down the intellectual leaders of all of our ancient systems of institutionalized irrationality. By finally looking into these guys’ eyes and asking them quietly to either put their cards on the table, or admit that they have no cards. To either show us at last their coherent justifications for their maintenance of their irrational proposals as knowledge, or else go ahead and own these proposals as the pure desire and fear based ‘thinking’ (ancient mind components snorting and slithering) that we’ve long suspected them to be. As increasing numbers of people ‘come over’ – to our abandonment of ‘truth’ – and as increasing numbers of kids are taught in this new way (helped to develop full mature reason, and encouraged to intellectually dance as free humans, rather than being mind crippled and taught to march as good little Americans, or Muslims, or Capitalists, or whatever the hell) we will start to kick the ass of ‘The Human Condition’. To bring this full circle, we will start ‘to get out of the cycles of madness that seem to infect humanity.’ This, in a nutshell, is my proposal. ‘Truth?’ is its longer and more detailed presentation.

Gad, Keith, your prescription for child raising reminds me of many of my Dad’s practices when I was growing up.  I think the main point where we might disagree is what seems to me to be your desire to eliminate the word truth (and any associated concepts) from language and thought, while I find it a useful concept that requires a PG rating.  grin  Along with the caveat that as far as we humans are concerned, it is always approximate.

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Posted: 05 February 2008 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]  
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burt - 05 February 2008 07:45 PM

Gad, Keith, your prescription for child raising reminds me of many of my Dad’s practices when I was growing up.  I think the main point where we might disagree is what seems to me to be your desire to eliminate the word truth (and any associated concepts) from language and thought, while I find it a useful concept that requires a PG rating.  grin  Along with the caveat that as far as we humans are concerned, it is always approximate.

Sounds like your Dad and I might have gotten along pretty well. As to ‘it’s’ always being approximate: Welcome aboard! But now, having got that settled, shall we not go ahead and take the obvious step to eliminate from our speech and thoughts the dangerous illusion that ‘it’ is not approximate?  smile

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Posted: 05 February 2008 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]  
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John Brand - 02 February 2008 12:41 AM

Hello, Keith.  I realize that your question below was directed to Burt.  However, as you are looking for confrontation with the theist mindset, below is and exmple of how I would respond to your question.

keith - 30 January 2008 08:26 AM

I’d … urge you to take an intellectually honest look at the Bible, or Quran or Torah; and then, in juxtaposition, at a text like Darwin’s Origin of Species’, or Crick and Watson’s report of their discovery the DNA molecule’s structure. I don’t want to know what your heart tells you about the comparison. Your heart, in the absence of reason’s leash on it, would tell you that you can fly like Superman, or should be the ruler of the world. I want to know what your reason tells you. What you can simply, intellectually honestly, see to be the case.

Our definitions of reason, of course, differ.  Yours might be called technical reason or post-Hegelian; whereas mine would be defined in the classical sense of reason as an extension of the divine mind. From my vantage point, we both have access to the extension and benefit from that extension though you, obviously, deny the wider definition.

I deny the wider definition only in the sense that I can’t find any coherent reason to accept it. Let’s return for a moment to Russell’s Teapot. [Remember; a small green teapot, with a beige stripe around it, and little chip out of the spout about a third of the way up… which is now in independent orbit around our sun]. Let me ask if you, John Brand, believe in the existence of Russell’s Teapot? I suspect that your honest answer must be ‘no’. If it is, then you will perhaps be able to understand my inability to believe that my reason is ‘an extension of the divine mind’ for precisely the same reason that you do not believe in the teapot.

[quote author=“John Brand”] However, using reason and having looked at as well as having discussed with both Jewish and Christian scholars the torah as contained in the Bible, and having both looked at as well as discussed the Qu’ran with Muslim scholars, I am able to juxtapose what I gather from these ancient texts with Darwen et al.  And here is what I come up with in part:

I understand the process of inspiration to be both a divine as well as a human process and widen those who might be inspired to include any and all (wo)men. On this basis, Darwin et al as well as the authors of the texts found in the Bible and the Qu’ran are inspired.

We are again back to the teapot problem. I can find no reason for supposing any or our inspiration to be divine, so I don’t do it. What I would really like to know (and so keep asking you) is; why do you do it? What is your basis for postulating the existence of a supernatural being? I also have a couple of problems with your implication (on the assumption that you are a monotheist) that the same source inspired all of these works. First problem: The theistic works are logically exclusive. Each claims to be inspired by a supernatural being who has certain properties and desires. But these properties and desires differ radically among the three works. Trivially, the obsessively unitary/monolithic Islamic god cannot simultaneously be the tripartite Roman Catholic god. Could this god not make up its mind, or was it trying to confuse us? Second problem (and this is the one that I wished to highlight in my question to Burt): The non theistic works are almost infinitely better written. Through any criteria of judgment that can be applied to a written work (wit, clarity, brevity, self explanatory organization; and yes, even esthetic appeal) the two non-theistic works can be seen to be superior to the three theistic works. Very simply, why didn’t the god(s) do a better job?

[quote author=“John Brand”] The goal of those who inquire into what might be wrong in a given situation and what would need to change, is to develop programs of behavior which are adapted to the present situation as per the following definition of consciousness:

a process in which information about multiple individual modalities of sensation and perception is combined into a unified multidimensional representation of the state of the system and its environment, and integrated with information about memories and the needs of the organism, generating emotional reactions and programs of behavior to adjust the organism to its environment E. R. John (Foundations of Cognitive Processes (New Jersey, 1977) as quoted in Daniel C. Dennett’s essay Consciousness in The Oxford Companion to The Mind ed. Richard L. Gregory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Please forgive me: But on the basis of my preceding observation I might be prepared to believe that in writing this Mr. John was being divinely inspired.

[quote author=“John Brand”] Thus, I can agree with Darwin’s conclusion to his Origin of Species:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. (Chapter 14)

Here, at last, we can agree. This is one of everybody’s favorite Darwin paragraphs.

[quote author=“John Brand”] All of the social groupings in the world at the present time as well as in the history of the world, are products of someone’s attempt to [ii]adjust to his/her environment.  Adaptive groups continue while the maladaptive do not.  I think that what we see in terms of world conflict is groups from differing environments clashing in their competition for the present environment.  It makes sense to me that each group should evolve according to known laws of evolution according to the time that this would naturally take.  Just as it does not make sense to expect a guppy to become a shark, it does not make sense to expect a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew to dump his ancient faith in favor of a non-faith.  What makes more sense is to expose the faith to other faiths and to non-faith and allow each of these to evolve within its own framework, as I have argued previously.

Your implication here appears to be that we should relax, and carry on with the stuff that we’ve been doing, and wait for evolution will solve our problems. Let me offer two comments to this: First: Why? If we can see that ‘sharks’ is what we really want to be, and we can understand how/why some minds become guppys and others sharks, then why shouldn’t we go ahead and apply* our knowledge and all become sharks?
2. The final way that evolution can be seen to solve most species’ problems (over 98% so far, if I remember right from one of Salt Creek’s recent posts) might not be entirely to our liking.

* In reference to my ‘dastardly plan’, in my yesterday’s Post to Bruce.

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Posted: 06 February 2008 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]  
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John Brand - 04 February 2008 10:11 PM

Burt and I are in discussion in another thread which is moving along the same lines as the discussion here (btw I posted a response to your comment of 14 January today).  You might find the topics that have been discussed in that conversation just as delectable. As you have time, I can provide you with other drowned antelopes such as the following:

1. Is the New Testament reliable?

2.  Is Jesus Christ a man of history or character of mythology?

3. Why did the NT writers think that Jesus was God?

4. Where and when did Christianity go wrong?

etc.

To 1.: It cannot be. It is self contradictory.

To 2.: The non-vested-interest data is sketchy and inconclusive. Probably ‘character of mythology’.

To 3.: Two main components: First; the initial big scam, by Paul of Tarsus had a lot going for it. An excellent con man; emotionally appealing con; good timing; and some luck. Second; the really major item of the luck, which arrived about 250 years later: Constantine. An emperor with a disintegrating empire. Looking for a virulent ‘catholic’ (in the Latin meaning) syncretic religion to knit the collapsing mess back together and get at least another few decades of mileage out of it.

To 4.: How far back do you want to go?  I’d trace the original deep mistake, of which Christianity is just one superficial symptom, back at least 60,000 years.

[quote author=“John Brand”] Essentially, answers to questions such as the above are the basis for my particular theism.  There is a lot to digest  wink but with a little patience, I will be glad to move you through the ins and outs of my belief system.

John,

I really do want to do this. But I first need to have some idea of why you believe anything. In the absence of this we’ll just keep playing our present game: You telling me what you believe, and me telling you why I don’t believe it (broadly, and in most cases, for the same reason that neither of us believes in Russell’s Teapot). So let me ask you again and very simply: Why do you believe only some things, rather than all things? Or to phrase it in a way that may make it more immediate: On what basis, in your own mind, do you embrace your theistic proposals as knowledge yet reject Russell’s Teapot?

If we can start from this level then I really think that we may be able to make some progress.

Best regards,

Keith

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Posted: 06 February 2008 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]  
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Hello, Keith. I am still in preparation of a response but want to acknowledge your proposal:

keith - 03 February 2008 10:07 AM

We agree on the problem, but people developing a deeper understanding of themselves doesn’t strike me as an executable solution. It’s rather general, and contains no action item. What, specifically, do you want people to do? I think that it will become part of the solution at some level, but for now, and to get the ball rolling, let me outline the following dastardly plan:

As many of us as can understand the strange proposal that I am offering in ‘Truth?’ actually give up our use of the concept that we can see (per Point 4) to mean either ‘a redundant knowledge justification’ or ‘an absurd knowledge justification’. We stop passing on the ancient curse (of ‘truth’) to our children. We stop telling them anything about a qualitatively superior kind of knowledge, as which and in terms of which it is OK to embrace clearly irrational proposals as knowledge. We finally start telling them instead exactly the things that we believe, exactly on the basis of our reasons for believing them. No more ‘because I say so’, or ‘because that’s just how the world is’, or crude direct use of our independent justification basis as in ‘because it’s the truth’. If we can’t justify it – as honest, rational, ‘merely human knowledge – then we don’t propagate it. We let it die with us, and let our world become a better place. Most simply, instead of passing our children two separate and potentially opposable epistemological bases for knowledge ((A) that X can be seen to make sense, (B) that X is the truth) we pass them only (A). But a much broader and deeper (A) than most of us would now associate with pure reason. An (A) whose root is still precisely reason’s root: Hard core, read-‘em-and-weap, on-demand-repeatable physical observation. But which then hierarchically shades down through our more subtle understandings of reason (through the entire gestalt of our already established rational knowledge, apparently authoritative texts, one time observations, and even the advice of trusted elders) and eventually brings in the subjective/emotional needs of our ancient mind components (our Carl Sagan ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile). We continue to let all of this stuff count; but at last, with all of it operating on the same epistemological playing field (Truth?’s Point 1)  from which its large differences in relative value and trustworthiness will finally be obvious.

I can work with this proposal as outlined in Truth?.  To make our conversation meaningful and to the point, I will take some time to put together a response to what you have provided in our conversation.

All the best,

John

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Posted: 07 February 2008 12:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]  
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John Brand - 07 February 2008 03:26 AM

I can work with this proposal as outlined in Truth?.  To make our conversation meaningful and to the point, I will take some time to put together a response to what you have provided in our conversation.

All the best,

John


John,

Thanks for this interim advice; and I will look forward to your main response. I’m always happy to get criticism to ‘Truth?’, and/or we can go ahead and hammer out a knowledge basis and apply it together to your theistic proposals.

Best regards,

Keith

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Posted: 07 February 2008 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]  
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Hello, Keith let’s cut to the chase.

keith - 06 February 2008 11:20 AM

I really do want to do this. But I first need to have some idea of why you believe anything. In the absence of this we’ll just keep playing our present game: You telling me what you believe, and me telling you why I don’t believe it (broadly, and in most cases, for the same reason that neither of us believes in Russell’s Teapot). So let me ask you again and very simply: Why do you believe only some things, rather than all things? Or to phrase it in a way that may make it more immediate: On what basis, in your own mind, do you embrace your theistic proposals as knowledge yet reject Russell’s Teapot?

Any knowledge proposal agreed upon by two or more individuals should satisfy basic values shared in common.  For instance, a proposal should be simple.  It should be accurate within the domain delineated and agreed upon by all parties involved in the consideration of the proposal.  Part of the accuracy value is the matter of prediction and falsification.  In some sense the proposal should be falsifiable in terms of what it predicts will happen in a given set of dependent and independent variables. A proposal should be consistent with what is known to be the case within the domain being considered.  It should be fruitful in terms of its explanatory power even outside the domain.  And, a proposal should have scope in that it incorporates what is observable within the domain better than other proposals.

My theistic proposal can be stated simply as God is love.  I am not proposing a god who exists outside of what can be validated.  Rather, I am proposing an idea of god intrinsic to what is observable.  As love God is immutable, for instance:  He does not and cannot be changed.  In other words, my proposal denies nihilism which claims that reality can be defined in any terms.  In terms of adaptation any human society which seeks to propagate itself must come to terms with love.

We will have to decide on a domain and the matter of falsification.  I propose a domain below.

keith - 03 February 2008 10:07 AM

… we pass them only (A) [that X can be seen to make sense]. But a much broader and deeper (A) than most of us would now associate with pure reason. An (A) whose root is still precisely reason’s root: Hard core, read-‘em-and-weap, on-demand-repeatable physical observation. But which then hierarchically shades down through our more subtle understandings of reason (through the entire gestalt of our already established rational knowledge, apparently authoritative texts, one time observations, and even the advice of trusted elders) and eventually brings in the subjective/emotional needs of our ancient mind components (our Carl Sagan ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile). We continue to let all of this stuff count; but at last, with all of it operating on the same epistemological playing field (Truth?’s Point 1)  from which its large differences in relative value and trustworthiness will finally be obvious.

Note:  I am unable to find a reference to “subjective/emotional needs of our ancient mind components (our Carl Sagan ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile”—can you provide me with this.  This will be pertinent to our discussion re: transformation of the idea of god.  For instance, Plato transformed the immanence of god into a similar metaphor:

Of the nature of the soul, though her true form be ever a theme of large and more than mortal discourse, let me speak briefly, and in a figure. And let the figure be composite-a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent, but those of other races are mixed; the human charioteer drives his in a pair; and one of them is noble and of noble breed, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble breed; and the driving of them of necessity gives a great deal of trouble to him. (Phaedrus)

I am already with you in that I am saying “X can be seen to make sense”:  God is love makes sense, for instance, in that those who do not love, tend to create a great deal of trouble in our world.  I would like to move through the more subtle understandings of reason as part of the domain in which my knowledge proposal is tested.  But I want to add an important note on observation:

‘Perception’ is, from over here on the post-truth hill, mainly a function of on-demand-repeatable physical observation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…etc. then I perceive it to be a duck.

And you might still be mistaken … it might be a Platypus! And, if you had never heard of or seen a Platypus, your incredulity might hinder you from drawing a conclusion which would be second nature to someone who has grown up in Tasmania.  In short, without realizing it, you would have to go through a paradigm shift in order to incorporate your new experience.  There are certain personality types which will not make a shift.

A study done by Leo Postman and Jerome Bruner (1949) is pertinent as part of what I am underlining here.  The study is available at this URL:

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Bruner/Cards/

The study examines perceptual expectancies using 28 subjects at Harvard and Radcliffe.  They were shown successively by tachistoscopic exposure five different playing cards.  From one to four of these cards were incongruous (i.e. the color and suite were reversed).  The study examined their responses.  The assumption of the study was simple:

It would be our contention ... that for as long as possible and by whatever means available, the organism will ward off the perception of the unexpected, those things which do not fit his prevailing set. Our assumption, and it is hardly extravagant, is simply that most people come to depend upon a certain constancy in their environment and, save under special conditions, attempt to ward off variations from this state of affairs: “Thar ain’t no such animal,” the hayseed is reputed to have said on seeing his first giraffe

It is through a process of trial-and-check that the organism finds out whether a given perceptual expectancy will ‘pay off.’  But there are some who will not move through this process:  “It is either a very sick organism, an overly motivated one, or one deprived of the opportunity to “try-and-check” which will not give up an expectancy in the face of a contradicting environment.”

I would be interested in your response to the study and its findings.

I’m not sure where or how humility would come into this. I’m not saying that it would be a hindrance; just that it would seem to me to be neutral in the consideration.

A basic problem with the human observer is his/her addiction to filling in the blanks.  Cognitive psychologists have demonstrated our intolerance for ambiguity [“Intolerance of Ambiguity as an Emotional and Perceptual Personality Variable,” Journal of Personality (Volume 18, 1949), 108-143)].  This study by Else Frenkel-Brunswick demonstrates the strong motivations behind our intolerance for ambiguity.  H.E. Murray (1933) had demonstrated the influence of fear on perception; M. Sherif (1936) added the influence of the need for conformity; and Frenkel-Brunswick added want and social influences.  G. Murphy (1947) characterized these findings under the rubric: ‘needs keep ahead of percepts.’

In other words, I am saying that demonstrating that God is love within the domain of ancient texts, for instance, is going to require a heightened tolerance for ambiguity.  These texts are not easy to interpret and they have meanings which are best understood within their own framework of time and circumstance. Also, moving into present day problems is going to require the same tolerance: How can God be love, when religions are anything but loving? Etc.

Hopefully, this will suffice for a primer, Keith.

All the best,

John

[ Edited: 08 February 2008 08:48 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 08 February 2008 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]  
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John Brand - 08 February 2008 12:31 AM

I am already with you in that I am saying “X can be seen to make sense”:  God is love makes sense, for instance, in that those who do not love, tend to create a great deal of trouble in our world.  I would like to move through the more subtle understandings of reason as part of the domain in which my knowledge proposal is tested.  But I want to add an important note on observation:

‘Perception’ is, from over here on the post-truth hill, mainly a function of on-demand-repeatable physical observation. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…etc. then I perceive it to be a duck.

And you might still be mistaken … it might be a Platypus! And, if you had never heard of or seen a Platypus, your incredulity might hinder you from drawing a conclusion which would be second nature to someone who has grown up in Tasmania.  In short, without realizing it, you would have to go through a paradigm shift in order to incorporate your new experience.  There are certain personality types which will not make a shift.

Sadly, for JB, all the criteria must be considered at once. A platypus does not “quack” like a duck. Nor does it walk like a duck, as it walks on four limbs rather than two.

JB has also trotted out the Bruner study in one of his previous attempts at glossolalic polysyllabic obfuscation which includes liberal use of italics as seen in the KJV. (The thread on the Meme for the Object of Faith).

I will say this: He may be onto something vaguely falsifiable in trying to trace what he is after back to the existence of the kinds of things that tend to create a great deal of trouble in our world.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the antithesis of the troublemakers. What JB wants is not even equilibrium, which has a bit of a dynamic inside it. JB wants a world without troubles. A paradise. A stasis. JB wishes he were dead, which is his prerogative. It may unfortunately be that he wishes this for the rest of us, as well.

There are (indeed) certain personality types which will not make a shift (to JB’s point of view). In JB’s world, these types are nothing but trouble.

[ Edited: 08 February 2008 07:20 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 08 February 2008 04:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]  
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Hello, Salt Creek. 

Salt Creek - 08 February 2008 12:13 PM

Sadly, for JB, all the criteria must be considered at once. A platypus does not “quack” like a duck. Nor does it walk like a duck, as it walks on four limbs rather than two.

JB has also trotted out the Bruner study in one of his previous attempts at glossolalic polysyllabic obfuscation which includes liberal use of italics as seen in the KJV. (The thread on the Meme for the Object of Faith).

I will say this: He may be onto something vaguely falsifiable in trying to trace what he is after back to the existence of the kinds of things that tend to create a great deal of trouble in our world.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they are the antithesis of the troublemakers. What JB wants is not even equilibrium, which has a bit of a dynamic inside it. JB wants a world without troubles. A paradise. A stasis. JB wishes he were dead, which is his prerogative. It may unfortunately be that he wishes this for the rest of us, as well.

There are (indeed) certain personality types which will not make a shift (to JB’s point of view). In JB’s world, these types are nothing but trouble.

Your argument in this post is typical of arguments which you have presented in past discussions which we have had.  It is a good example of the reason why I tend to ignore what you have to say as well as the point I was making to Keith in this comment.

keith - 02 February 2008 12:46 PM

[quote author=“John Brand”] Intolerance of theism as evident on this forum is viewed as immaterial to the progress of the non-theistic views.

I think that this sentence captures the core of our present disagreement. You seem to me to be conflating our concepts of ‘intolerance’ and ‘intellectual opposition’. I understand intolerance to be unwillingness to listen and honestly consider. I understand intellectual opposition to be the only reasonable response if – after having listened and honestly considered – one believes the other person’s proposals to be wrong.

From my vantage point, the inadequacy of your argument is self-evident and not in need of further comment.  I am not convinced that you will take the time to see what is inadequate about your style of presentation.  However, there may be other forum members who will be able to see where you are falling short and why your mode of presentation does not foster good dialogue.  Keith is proving to be an exemplar of the kind of discussion that should be normative on this forum and your mode of argument is an exemplar of the kind of argument that should gradually be abandoned. I am not convinced that you are the kind of person who will be able to make this shift but I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you what I think of how you are coming across. Perhaps others will deomonstrate that my perception is wrong so that I can shift to a position where I find your style helpful.

All the best,

John

[ Edited: 08 February 2008 04:59 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 08 February 2008 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]  
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John,

Just to say, I am following the discussion on this thread with great interest.

Ggd

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Posted: 09 February 2008 05:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]  
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John,

My apology, again, for delay. I’m right in the middle of trying to get a client to sign off on a large fabrication project that they don’t now need for a couple of years, and so have no incentive to accept. So working silly hours.

I’ve started my reply to your proposal (God is love), but before going too far with it I thought I’d better go ahead and send my conditional acceptance – i.e. with serious caveats – of your knowledge qualification process. I will accept the challenge of showing you that neither of the coherent interpretations* of your proposal can be seen, through application of your own process, to qualify as knowledge. But before going to this trouble it would be good to have your clear agreement regarding the caveats. See below, after your paragraph.

*The proposal can be read as singular and hypothetical “If ‘God’ exists then he/it is love”, or as double and declarative “God (A) exists, and (B) is love. I must assume that, as a theist, you intend the second interpretation. But it would be good to have clarification. In the event I will then also assume your understanding that – from the logical default condition of non theism – both assertions will need to be established.

Note: To your later question about Carl Sagan’s ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile’: The reference is to his early book ‘Dragons of Eden’. [Which is still a very good read.]

John Brand - 08 February 2008 12:31 AM

Hello, Keith let’s cut to the chase.


Any knowledge proposal agreed upon by two or more individuals should satisfy basic values shared in common.  For instance, a proposal should be simple.  It should be accurate within the domain delineated and agreed upon by all parties involved in the consideration of the proposal.  Part of the accuracy value is the matter of prediction and falsification.  In some sense the proposal should be falsifiable in terms of what it predicts will happen in a given set of dependent and independent variables. A proposal should be consistent with what is known to be the case within the domain being considered.  It should be fruitful in terms of its explanatory power even outside the domain.  And, a proposal should have scope in that it incorporates what is observable within the domain better than other proposals.


Compared to the simple linear hierarchy of my own knowledge selection process this looks very complex. It seems to include four selection criteria, but with no guidance as to their relative importance. At a minimum this begs the question: Does a proposal need to satisfy all 4 of your requirements, or only 1 (or 2 or 3) in order to qualify? It then seems to have an additional layer of complexity in its assumption of ‘domains’. Do you really need these? Can a proposal qualify as knowledge through your process in one domain but not in another? If your answer to my first question is “All four”, and to my second “No”, then I think that we can move forward with this. I don’t think that our progress will be fast or elegant. But your process does seem to be functional, in offering enough constraint for our elimination of at least some proposals. I fear that ‘God is love’ will fall into that set. But we shall see.

John Brand - 23 October 2014 06:09 AM

God is love.  I am not proposing a god who exists outside of what can be validated.  Rather, I am proposing an idea of god intrinsic to what is observable. As love God is immutable, for instance:  He does not and cannot be changed.  In other words, my proposal denies nihilism which claims that reality can be defined in any terms.  In terms of adaptation any human society which seeks to propagate itself must come to terms with love.

We will have to decide on a domain and the matter of falsification.  I propose a domain below.

[quote author=“keith” date=“1202062077”> … we pass them only (A) [that X can be seen to make sense]. But a much broader and deeper (A) than most of us would now associate with pure reason. An (A) whose root is still precisely reason’s root: Hard core, read-‘em-and-weap, on-demand-repeatable physical observation. But which then hierarchically shades down through our more subtle understandings of reason (through the entire gestalt of our already established rational knowledge, apparently authoritative texts, one time observations, and even the advice of trusted elders) and eventually brings in the subjective/emotional needs of our ancient mind components (our Carl Sagan ‘horse’ and ‘crocodile). We continue to let all of this stuff count; but at last, with all of it operating on the same epistemological playing field (Truth?’s Point 1)  from which its large differences in relative value and trustworthiness will finally be obvious.

I am already with you in that I am saying “X can be seen to make sense”:  God is love makes sense, for instance, in that those who do not love, tend to create a great deal of trouble in our world.  I would like to move through the more subtle understandings of reason as part of the domain in which my knowledge proposal is tested.  But I want to add an important note on observation .

I truncated here for this reply; but think I can safely assure you that your reservations regarding observation’s limits will re-emerge and be dealt with in our main discussion.

Best regards,

Keith

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Posted: 09 February 2008 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]  
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Hello,

I hope you will excuse my intrusion into your discussion.  I found it interesting and I wanted to share some insight into some of the discussion of evolution.

keith - 06 February 2008 03:16 AM

[quote author=“John Brand”] All of the social groupings in the world at the present time as well as in the history of the world, are products of someone’s attempt to [ii]adjust to his/her environment.  Adaptive groups continue while the maladaptive do not.  I think that what we see in terms of world conflict is groups from differing environments clashing in their competition for the present environment.  It makes sense to me that each group should evolve according to known laws of evolution according to the time that this would naturally take.  Just as it does not make sense to expect a guppy to become a shark, it does not make sense to expect a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew to dump his ancient faith in favor of a non-faith.  What makes more sense is to expose the faith to other faiths and to non-faith and allow each of these to evolve within its own framework, as I have argued previously.

Your implication here appears to be that we should relax, and carry on with the stuff that we’ve been doing, and wait for evolution will solve our problems. Let me offer two comments to this: First: Why? If we can see that ‘sharks’ is what we really want to be, and we can understand how/why some minds become guppys and others sharks, then why shouldn’t we go ahead and apply* our knowledge and all become sharks?
2. The final way that evolution can be seen to solve most species’ problems (over 98% so far, if I remember right from one of Salt Creek’s recent posts) might not be entirely to our liking.

I believe we need to be cautious in assuming that human groups will still evolve according to the natural laws of evolution.  Remember, a central part of Darwin’s theory is that those organisms who are less fit will not survive or succeed in reproducing.  Fitness, therefore, is a measure of reproductive success. 

Now there is research that shows human evolution has increased dramatically during the last 40,000 years.

John Hawks, Eric T. Wang, Gregory M. Cochran, Henry C. Harpending, and Robert K. Moyzis
Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution
PNAS 2007 104: 20753-20758

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/104/52/20753

Two important points are that large populations result in more adpative mutations and that as populations become increasingly adapted to their environment, adaptive mutations should become less common.  The article certainly provides evidence for the former.  But the latter may bring up an interesting question when applied to humans today.  Have we increased our fitness (our apaptation to our environment) so much, by ways other than genetic variation, that we should no longer expect significant, directional changes in genetic variability?  In simpler terms, does being born in a world with modern medicine, super-markets, public education, shopping malls, etc. provide the fitness required to successfully reproduce. 

Of course the examples I gave (medicine, super-markets…) are not common to all parts of the world, which leads to other questions regarding where our species is going in different geographical areas. 

So, perhaps it will be our ingenuity and intelligence, which has increased our fitness most recently, rather than the natural path of evolution that will prevent us from eventually succumbing to the same fate as the 98% of species before us. 

Again, I know this is off-topic.  Feel no need to respond.  Just wanted to share those ideas with you.

Matt

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Posted: 10 February 2008 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]  
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matt2442 - 09 February 2008 04:54 PM

Hello,

I hope you will excuse my intrusion into your discussion.  I found it interesting and I wanted to share some insight into some of the discussion of evolution.

Hello Matt, and welcome to this thread. [Which, like Bacon’s ‘New Organon’, “takes all human knowledge as its province”. So your comments are not at all out of place].

keith - 06 February 2008 03:16 AM

[quote author=“John Brand”] All of the social groupings in the world at the present time as well as in the history of the world, are products of someone’s attempt to [ii]adjust to his/her environment.  Adaptive groups continue while the maladaptive do not.  I think that what we see in terms of world conflict is groups from differing environments clashing in their competition for the present environment.  It makes sense to me that each group should evolve according to known laws of evolution according to the time that this would naturally take.  Just as it does not make sense to expect a guppy to become a shark, it does not make sense to expect a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew to dump his ancient faith in favor of a non-faith.  What makes more sense is to expose the faith to other faiths and to non-faith and allow each of these to evolve within its own framework, as I have argued previously.

Your implication here appears to be that we should relax, and carry on with the stuff that we’ve been doing, and wait for evolution will solve our problems. Let me offer two comments to this: First: Why? If we can see that ‘sharks’ is what we really want to be, and we can understand how/why some minds become guppys and others sharks, then why shouldn’t we go ahead and apply* our knowledge and all become sharks?
2. The final way that evolution can be seen to solve most species’ problems (over 98% so far, if I remember right from one of Salt Creek’s recent posts) might not be entirely to our liking.

I believe we need to be cautious in assuming that human groups will still evolve according to the natural laws of evolution.  Remember, a central part of Darwin’s theory is that those organisms who are less fit will not survive or succeed in reproducing.  Fitness, therefore, is a measure of reproductive success. 

Now there is research that shows human evolution has increased dramatically during the last 40,000 years.

John Hawks, Eric T. Wang, Gregory M. Cochran, Henry C. Harpending, and Robert K. Moyzis
Recent acceleration of human adaptive evolution
PNAS 2007 104: 20753-20758

http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/104/52/20753

Two important points are that large populations result in more adpative mutations and that as populations become increasingly adapted to their environment, adaptive mutations should become less common.  The article certainly provides evidence for the former.  But the latter may bring up an interesting question when applied to humans today.  Have we increased our fitness (our apaptation to our environment) so much, by ways other than genetic variation, that we should no longer expect significant, directional changes in genetic variability?  In simpler terms, does being born in a world with modern medicine, super-markets, public education, shopping malls, etc. provide the fitness required to successfully reproduce.

I find this an interesting question; not in that its apparent answer (‘yes’) is difficult, but in that it’s disturbing. One of those instances in which reason tells us something that we really emotionally don’t want to hear; so we tend to put the issue aside. If we combine the factors that you’ve mentioned with even the minimum level of socially provided welfare that most of us in the ‘enlightened west’ can bear to imagine (basically, nobody – and especially babies and children – blatantly starving to death) then we would seem to have established a gradient for negative evolution. In reducing adaptivity pretty much to a matter of highest volume production of babies we will be ‘breeding’ for the emotional and psychological characteristics most conducive to this. In crudest terms; forget about all of our higher mental functions and abilities. We’ll be selecting for ancient-brain-structures/limbic-system-driven-thinking individuals whose primary focus is on eating and copulation. To point this out, or even think about it, has all sorts of disturbing elitist and social darwinist overtones. Yet there it sits. I think that there is an answer, and that it lies at the same bedrock epistemological level of philosophical change and consequent radical education reform that I sketched out in my ‘dastardly plan’ rant further back along this thread…. So I’ll spare you the dive back into it here.

[quote author=“matt2442”] Of course the examples I gave (medicine, super-markets…) are not common to all parts of the world, which leads to other questions regarding where our species is going in different geographical areas. 

So, perhaps it will be our ingenuity and intelligence, which has increased our fitness most recently, rather than the natural path of evolution that will prevent us from eventually succumbing to the same fate as the 98% of species before us.

Following from my observation above; I think that if we are ultimately going to be banking on help from this quarter then we might do well to look at changes that could aid our development of the needed characteristics. I don’t think that we are doing much for them now. Offhand and throwaway observation: Randomly switch on your TV to any channel. ‘One gets you ten’ you will find pap that has been designed to appeal solely to our old limbic system mind levels. It will be about supernatural beings, and/or humans with supernatural ‘powers’, who will be ‘following their hearts’ and experiencing intense emotions. Objectivity and reason will be conspicuously absent; or, if present, will be portrayed as characteristics of the villain. Our bodies may be ‘what we eat’. But our minds are what we read, and - unfortunately for most modern humans - what we watch.

Best regards,

Keith


PS: In regard to your tortoise: He is standing of course on the next tortoise, who is standing…… and so on ‘all the way down’. But the final tortoise, and therefore ultimately the whole magnificent construction of airy fairy BS, is standing on a little concept whose five letter name begins with T.

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