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Posted: 10 February 2008 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 91 ]  
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Just as individual rationality comes to terms with the absence of an afterlife, so it comes to terms with the fact of species extinction. It is not the demolition of the Creator that freaks out the religious nuts as much as it is the Damoclean sword of species extinction. Perhaps those really are one and the same. I mean, when it’s all over, there won’t even be anyone around to read the history of all our strivings.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 92 ]  
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Salt Creek - 10 February 2008 01:09 PM

Just as individual rationality comes to terms with the absence of an afterlife, so it comes to terms with the fact of species extinction. ... I mean, when it’s all over, there won’t even be anyone around to read the history of all our strivings.

Well, here’s one up the creek without a paddle ... let me expound a potted version of my post-millenial eschatology. It’s all happening! All will be well in the best of all possible worlds! Prophetic guru Ray Kurzweil points the way!

We, the human species, are creating our successors. They are currently called robots, but they will evolve fast, very fast, to embrace our entire genomes as fun things to tweak and grow as pets. They will become androids with robot bodies around biocores built on tweaked genomes. They will call themselves Homo superior and will find good reasons to make haste clearing the trash of pretechno feral humans.

Nietzsche, move over: Thus spake the Eisegete. Yea, verily, the androids will inherit the Earth.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 93 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 10 February 2008 03:43 PM

let me expound

What you need to do, AE, is a little research on speech recognition software (not simply speech-to-text). After you do that, try talking to a machine the way you talk to us. Expound away.

In its inimitable style, the machine will reply succinctly: “Fuck you.”

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Posted: 10 February 2008 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 94 ]  
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Salt Creek - 10 February 2008 03:49 PM

What you need to do ... try talking to a machine the way you talk to us.

Touché. The annual farce of the Turing test shows the problem. This is why a robot will need a biocore to get smart enough. The Kurzweil scenario is that genomics, nanotech and robotics will all evolve fast and synergize. We (and it will be we, maybe Western or Chinese humans) will build robot suits for ourselves. Hell, we’re doing it already - we call them cars. We will soon (in evolutionary terms) become inseparable from them. Imagine a world so polluted that the life-support systems in the cars are all that stands between life and death. Whatever the detailed scenario, the effect will be the same. A synergistic lifeform with a biocore of some sort and a robotic exterior will have its consciousness permanently online. That leaves precious little room for individual deviancy, which in a world of exploding fundamentalists will be seen as progress.

So these androids will be in effect all tech (the bio part is just a name for DNA tech) and always online. The real control will be a distributed superconsciousness in the net, or rather in the Global Online Dominion (a tad beyond Google).

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Posted: 10 February 2008 09:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 95 ]  
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AtheEisegete - 10 February 2008 04:21 PM
Salt Creek - 10 February 2008 03:49 PM

What you need to do ... try talking to a machine the way you talk to us.

Touché. The annual farce of the Turing test shows the problem. This is why a robot will need a biocore to get smart enough. The Kurzweil scenario is that genomics, nanotech and robotics will all evolve fast and synergize. We (and it will be we, maybe Western or Chinese humans) will build robot suits for ourselves. Hell, we’re doing it already - we call them cars. We will soon (in evolutionary terms) become inseparable from them. Imagine a world so polluted that the life-support systems in the cars are all that stands between life and death. Whatever the detailed scenario, the effect will be the same. A synergistic lifeform with a biocore of some sort and a robotic exterior will have its consciousness permanently online. That leaves precious little room for individual deviancy, which in a world of exploding fundamentalists will be seen as progress.

I liked the part about the exploding fundamentalists. When is this supposed to happen? But no, on second thoughts, don’t tell me. From their track record on ‘the second coming’ or ‘rapture’ or whatever it’s apparent that they never make their delivery dates.

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Posted: 10 February 2008 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 96 ]  
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keith - 11 February 2008 02:10 AM

When is this supposed to happen?

I hope you’re not getting confused between the present situation with all of its exploding fundamentalists and the remedy dreamt-of-in-Horatio’s-philosophy. This is getting sooooooooooo tedious by now. Transhumanism long since has its own propaganda page at wikipedia. Few need be surprised that our flash-in-the-pan-psychist brings this with him as well. Not that we really needed another new moonbat religion. For some strange reason, these folks remind me of cargo cultists.

I guess one can always adopt more of the Groundhog Day rubric: For those who’ve had it up to here with exploding fundamentalists, anything different is good.

AtheEisegete - 10 February 2008 04:21 PM

Hell, we’re doing it already - we call them cars. We will soon (in evolutionary terms) become inseparable from them.

Screw that. People are already living in their automobiles. Their situation is called “homelessness”.

[ Edited: 10 February 2008 09:56 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 11 February 2008 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 97 ]  
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To SC:

The problem is simply that they’re not ‘exploding’ in quite the right way. I was thinking more along the lines of spontaneous human combustion.

But seriously, I wish them no harm. I’d just like them to go ahead and get on with their rapture business. We’ll then have a clearer field for sorting out the mess that has been made here by the teaching of absurd BS as a special and superior kind of knowledge. And of course, we can donate all those empty sets of clothing to the homeless people who are driving around in AtheEisegete’s cars.  cheese

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Posted: 11 February 2008 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 98 ]  
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keith - 11 February 2008 09:04 AM

The problem is simply that they’re not ‘exploding’ in quite the right way. I was thinking more along the lines of spontaneous human combustion.

Right, then. What we need is a more “clean-burning” human, one that lights easily and burns smoothly. I think we may be approaching that in, say, the ones who dine too often at McDonalds. We could call them “Trans-Fat Humans”.

Even if AE and Kurzweil were able to get the tech stuff to work, there’d still be problems. AE would take it with him wherever he went in that automobile. The stain of disdain.

We might then refer to it as OriginalSim™.

http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=1207813

[ Edited: 11 February 2008 07:22 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 11 February 2008 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 99 ]  
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Keith,

To quote you from 2/10/08:
“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.”

In my opinion, this is a fascinating topic, in that it highlights the importance of the issues concerning religion’s affect on the progress of humanity.  You are quite right when you say that the discussion of such a topic may be disturbing to some, but I say that it is necessary. 

To quote Pascal Boyer from his book Religion Explained: “Evolution does not create specific behaviors; it creates mental organiztion thats makes people behave in particular ways.”  It should seem obvious to us that intelligence conveyed an evolutionary advantage in the past.  However, we have no reason to assume that this is still the case in modern nations.  Simply, the increased mental capacity that was selected for in the past gave us the ability to improve our fitness in ways extending far beyond what could be selected for by natural selection of genetic variation.  The advancements increased the fitness of the species as a whole, not just those who possessd the genetic variation for the mental frameworks necessary to conceive such fitness improvements.

The reason why I condemn religion as an impediment to our progress toward solutions to this question and others, is that it prevents us from putting our existence in the proper perspective.  If we choose to believe that we were created by an all-powerful deity, should we not assume that we need not concern ourselves with the future of our species?  It seems to me that such a belief would trivialize all of our progress toward understanding the universe.  Instead, if we choose to believe what the evidence shows us, it creates a much more promising picture of the future.  It creates a future in which we may be able to determine our own fate if we become smart enough.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 11:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 100 ]  
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matt2442 - 11 February 2008 02:34 PM

It should seem obvious to us that intelligence conveyed an evolutionary advantage in the past.  However, we ... may be able to determine our own fate if we become smart enough.

Don’t be such a girlie man! If you think you’re not smart enough to determine your own fate, you’re not smart enough. Yea, verily, the smart shall inherit the Earth. And build androids to help them do it - and live in their cars and fill the atmosphere with engineered viruses to keep down the cave dwellers. Won’t be long now ... The Singularity is nigh!

Seriously, guys, tech is getting better and better every day in every way. My team develops a search engine that will soon be able to parse a sentence! At this rate, in just a few more rounds of Moore’s law, the machines will be writing classics by the billion. Ah, irony is a fine thing. Will they get it? Or will the last man standing be a comic?

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Posted: 11 February 2008 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 101 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 09 February 2008 12:24 AM

John,

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

Ggd

I am, also, finding it interesting. Thanks for recommending the discussion to me.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 06:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 102 ]  
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AE, you may have gotten my use of the word ‘our’ confused with the word ‘my’ when speaking of fate.  It is a simple thing for a person to take control of their own fate, but quite a different task to try to shape the destiny of a species when it seems the inevitable outcome will be extinction at some future point in time.

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Posted: 11 February 2008 07:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 103 ]  
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Hello, Keith.

keith - 09 February 2008 10:26 AM

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.


Not a problem …

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.]

Can God is love be seen in a third gestalt: what is called God in ancient texts corresponds to what is called the limbic cortex by Paul MacLean [as quoted by Carl Sagan in The Dragons of Eden, (Ballantine Books, 1985), 55]?

Sagan refers to Plato’s Phaedrus (Ibid., 55) an apt ‘metaphor for the human psyche’ [i.e. Greek: soul].  In the theology of Plato, the soul consists of a divine element sometimes called Logos which is the transformation of the immanence of god.  If this third organization of gestalt is accepted, then whether or not god exists is a question of semantics.  What is called god exists as proven by the studies of the limbic cortex.  The second question would then be the point of the discussion:  Is the limbic cortex best described in terms of love?

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.

There are five values rather than criteria (i.e. we should not think of them as rules).  Your own knowledge selection process probably corresponds to my own under normal conditions That is, we normally accept a good number of matters at face value if they are not questioned by our community; however, our acceptance of these must be defended when in dialogue with another community.  In our discussion the situation is not normal because I must defend my the view that god falls within the sphere of knowledge. 

The values operate individually and separately as techniques of persuasion when defending an upstart paradigm against an established one.  Because this is your thread and the forum is primarily for non-theists, I am in a place where I must justify my paradigm. 

Let me discuss the matter of domain: I have chosen a concise (i.e. simple) formulation for my paradigm; however, it exists in a domain where the existence of God was not in question.  Here is a fuller statement of the domain in which this statement has meaning:

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The domain can be delineated as post-gospel, Jewish, second temple era, axial age.  This means that a proper understanding of this paradigm must take into account the factors at play (i.e. Jewish interaction with the Greco-Roman community).  In this domain my statement is accurate, consistent, contains the broadest scope and is fruitful in terms of the immediate domain and in terms of the historical domain after the epistle was written.

There are other domains across world history where this statement can be seen to make sense (Point #1, Truth). But the immediate domain you are considering in truth is the domain in which it will be the most fruitful in terms of adaptation.  At present, the religious systems of our world tend to ignore God as love and emphasize his being the one who receives sacrifice.  A gestalt switch from the understanding of God as the one to whom we sacrifice to God as love will satisfy the end that you have in view.

It might be most profitable to begin with the adaptation of an organism in terms of how love would be most fruitful.  Karl Popper’s “The Rationality of Scientific Revolutions” (The Myth of the Framework) develops an excellent model toward this end.

I, too, am short of time … I hope this will help us prime the pump for the discussion!

[ Edited: 11 February 2008 09:52 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 11 February 2008 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 104 ]  
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John Brand - 11 February 2008 09:38 PM
goodgraydrab - 09 February 2008 12:24 AM

John,

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

Ggd

I am, also, finding it interesting. Thanks for recommending the discussion to me.

John,

Good to know that you’re still out there. I’m still awaiting your response to my ‘acceptance with caveats’ clarification request (post #88). On receipt of this we can dive right into our critical analysis of your proposal “God is love”. But in the meantime I think that I should in fairness question whether these properties (‘existence’, and ‘being love’) are really all that you wish to establish. Are you sure that you don’t also want ‘answers prayers’ or ‘enjoys praise’ or ‘is in some coherent sense more accurately described by the Bible than by the Quran’? To be clear, even full rational acceptance of your proposal as it now stands would not justify - or even slightly indicate - the continuation of any of the operative/practical beliefs or practices that we now subsume under the heading ‘Christianity’.

BR,

Keith

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Posted: 11 February 2008 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 105 ]  
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keith - 12 February 2008 12:36 AM

John,

Good to know that you’re still out there. I’m still awaiting your response to my ‘acceptance with caveats’ clarification request (post #88).

See 11 February 2008 08:35 PM, post #103.

On receipt of this we can dive right into our critical analysis of your proposal “God is love”. But in the meantime I think that I should in fairness question whether these properties (‘existence’, and ‘being love’) are really all that you wish to establish. Are you sure that you don’t also want ‘answers prayers’ or ‘enjoys praise’ or ‘is in some coherent sense more accurately described by the Bible than by the Quran’? To be clear, even full rational acceptance of your proposal as it now stands would not justify - or even slightly indicate - the continuation of any of the operative/practical beliefs or practices that we now subsume under the heading ‘Christianity’.


The statement, as it stands in its domain, is very powerful.  For instance, Jesus said that all the torah and the prophets are summarized under the head: ‘love the Lord your God ... and love your neighbor.’  Outside of this domain, the statement’s power is no less potent.  In terms of the Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) the statement can be used as a benchmark for encouraging a gestalt switch for those who choose these faiths.  Beyond these faiths, ancient texts which form the basis of religions all over the world have traces of love as the basis of acceptance with God.  For instance, Confucius said,

‘Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you’ (Analects.xv.23).

He also said,

‘He whose heart is in the smallest degree set upon goodness will dislike no one’ (Ibid., iv.4).

From ancient Babylon, the same thought echoes: 

‘Like the water of eternal springs, there shall be enduring seed for the doer of good deeds,’

[Hymn to the Sun-God.iii.10 from Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old Testament, ed. James Pritchard (Princeton University Press, 1955), 389].

Are you sure that you don’t also want ‘answers prayers’ or ‘enjoys praise’

No. You would be amazed at how adequate this statement is in terms of the domain in which it arose.  For instance, Isaiah’s critique of the cult of his own day was based on the idea that God is love and, therefore, requires love rather than sacrifice:

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.

New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies.

Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts
my soul hates.  [i.e. festivals of praise]

They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.

When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even if you offer many prayers,
I will not listen.

Your hands are full of blood;
wash and make yourselves clean.

Take your evil deeds
out of my sight!

Stop doing wrong,
learn to do right!

Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.i.e. the criteria of love

The pertinence of this simple statment is astounding in terms of what the prophets thought was wrong with the pre-Second Temple Cult.  And the implications of what they saw have a tremendous relevance in looking at what is wrong in the big 3 of today. 

However, in discussion with you, I must establish the truth of this statement using what is known about the process of evolution as described by Popper in “The Rationality of Scientific Revolutions.”  If you are able to accept the equating of limbic cortex with logos as per post #103, then we have a good vantage point from which to move ahead from Plato to the NT and backward from Plato to the OT and ancient Mesopotamia.

It should be interesting!

[ Edited: 11 February 2008 10:20 PM by John Brand]
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