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Theism/atheism debates

Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Tempo Gain » 18 Feb 2016, 01:41

No need to apologize, really.

Don't try to tell that to this collection of particles. I'm a simple man, tri. I'll stick to my simple, crazy world view where reality is real, my mind is not an illusion, and things have meaning. It works for me, what can I say.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby triceratopses » 18 Feb 2016, 07:15

Tempo Gain wrote:It works for me, what can I say.


You sound like a young person. You'll give a shit later on. With utter great fortunate I've had a compulsion since the age of 10-11yo to understand what is 'me' which i immediately surmised to mean 'what is my own mind'.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 18 Feb 2016, 11:18

Tempo Gain wrote:I find your ideas about farming totally scientific Finley. You're taking rational steps to maximize the things that are important to you.

You'd be surprised how many people dismiss this sort of approach as inefficient or mawkish mumbo-jumbo. The level of hostility from some commentators is quite astounding, despite the fact that people make a good living doing this. It all depends where you start from: some people take it as axiomatic that if chemicals or machines are involved, it must be "good", and if they're not, then it's backward, unscientific, or "bad".

I don't know. Don't you think I could do a good job? On the other hand, the history of moral progress under religion has been pretty spotty.

Well, I did say a benevolent God. Belief in malevolent deities (as in, for example, the Philippines, and Haiti I believe) is likely to produce equally predictable results, but not good ones.

There are no "universal moral truths". Yet man is capable of making objective determinations, which is all that is required.

By saying "nobody would like it if it happened" you've proved his simple point--we can make objective determinations about what is "bad" and what is "good". It's not a scenario--it's a thought exercise intended to demonstrate this fact.

I think we have different definitions of "objective". Try working this thought exercise with the slavery example, bearing in mind that there still are people today who argue that slavery is good - say, on the basis that a slave's life is "objectively" worth less than a slaveholder's. What I mean is, consider convincing another person. Convincing yourself is easy.

I wouldn't really call it "scientific." I doubt it could be tested in any real way. But it doesn't conflict with science in any meaningful way that I can see.

Science doesn't come into it at all. Harris thinks what he thinks. Philosophically, it's fine (as Brian Earp says in the link I gave earlier).

If people have this set of premises, where did they come from? They either thought it up based on some other criteria--what? Or it has divine origins, which you're saying it doesn't. What was the constraint on their selection of premises?

I see what you mean. That is indeed an interesting question, and I don't know. They say man creates God in his own image. Given the variety of gods around, this might be true. It's testable: for example, you would expect failed societies to create gods which perpetuate failure, because that's what they know. It may be that religiosity is designed into us: we do, apparently, have a bit of our brains that's dedicated to "religious experience", which is pretty bizarre. And of course if you follow a mainstream religion, you select your premises from what's written in a dusty old book.

The Old Testament scares the crap out of me - it's enough to put anyone off religion - but I've always found the decalogue interesting because it did apparently come from nowhere. I've mentioned this before: it resembles no contemporary moral code. Not even remotely. The 'rules' are utterly alien to the culture of that time and place - you can easily figure this out from the other stories in the O.T! Furthermore they're not really a set of laws (they're incomplete). Even the basic concept is off, because they don't prescribe punishments. They are, if you like, God's personality in outline: they are axioms, not the totality of The Law. Was this the one and only time the Jews actually listened to what God was saying - bearing in mind that a lot of the O.T. is God berating them for being incorrigible heathens? Was L Ron Hubbard right and the Thetans dropped in for a conference? I don't know; I'm just thinking out loud here. The fact is, it's hard to imagine those rules springing from a human head given the immediate context. BG will say: well, that doesn't automatically mean God done it. Correct; but if we ever did find out the truth, I bet it would be a big surprise because all the plausible explanations are highly improbable.

Christianity works in a similar way. Jesus didn't really hand out any hard-and-fast rules. He just lived. If asked, he boiled down his philosophy into simple phrases that could be taken axiomatically, to derive all sorts of moral principles. He actually instructed us to do what you're suggesting: build a conscience. The implication is that God gave us the facility to do so and expected us to use it, instead of waiting for commands from on high.

My life may not have a higher meaning, but it has plenty of meaning to me.

Well, that's good enough :) I was really just needling BG, who was insisting that atheists don't replace theocratic beliefs with alternative beliefs. The atheist necessarily replaces belief in God with belief in humanity; or at minimum, belief in himself. To do otherwise would be terrifying, or at least deeply demotivating. Pure rationality would suggest that, if the universe at large has no purpose or meaning, then neither do its components, including you. The meaning that you see in your own life is therefore irrational, or perhaps an illusion (as triceratopses would have it). Whatever: I can't argue that your belief is not good, positive, useful.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby BrentGolf » 18 Feb 2016, 15:45

triceratopses wrote:
Tempo Gain wrote:It works for me, what can I say.


You sound like a young person. You'll give a shit later on. With utter great fortunate I've had a compulsion since the age of 10-11yo to understand what is 'me' which i immediately surmised to mean 'what is my own mind'.


just FYI, that impresses nobody.


finley wrote:I was really just needling BG, who was insisting that atheists don't replace theocratic beliefs with alternative beliefs.


No my friend, don't mischaracterize what was said please. You said the word atheist implies other things and I simply said it doesn't. Nowhere did I say that atheists don't have other beliefs. Of course we have just as many as anybody else I reckon, perhaps minus that one :)

Many Chinese people like to eat white rice right? So would you define a Chinese person as someone from Chinese decent AND someone who usually enjoys white rice? No you wouldn't.

So why would you define an atheist as someone who rejects God claims and _______ (fill in the blank) We wouldn't, or at least, we shouldn't. It implies no such thing.

Of course I have many beliefs, and yes some of them are completely unfounded. I just don't have THAT belief, which defines me simply as an atheist.


finley wrote:The Old Testament scares the crap out of me - it's enough to put anyone off religion - but I've always found the decalogue interesting because it did apparently come from nowhere. I've mentioned this before: it resembles no contemporary moral code. Not even remotely. The 'rules' are utterly alien to the culture of that time and place - you can easily figure this out from the other stories in the O.T!


Not a dig here, I'm genuinely asking. How much of the Bible have you read? Personally when I read it, I see it as a perfect representation of the contemporary moral code. I see nothing in it that leads me to believe it was written or inspired by anybody other than pre-science iron age rather barbaric people.

What exactly is in there that you feel couldn't have sprung up directly from an iron age peasants brain?


finley wrote:Pure rationality would suggest that, if the universe at large has no purpose or meaning, then neither do its components, including you. The meaning that you see in your own life is therefore irrational, or perhaps an illusion (as triceratopses would have it).


That was really my only point on the issue of "meaning." I believe my life has no higher purpose in the universe, so by extension it has no meaning at all. But that doesn't mean my experiences aren't real and my interactions with other people don't matter to them and to me, so of course I give my life plenty of meaning. But it's just meaning to me that I add through my experiences.

Again it seems to get down to definitions of the word meaning, but as I understand that word I can comfortably say my life has no meaning. But it does to me and I enjoy life.

I'm not a nihilist. Hopefully that much is obvious to people who have met or spoken to me. If it's not, I need to seriously rethink my communication methods. :eek:
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby triceratopses » 18 Feb 2016, 15:57

BrentGolf wrote:
triceratopses wrote:
Tempo Gain wrote:It works for me, what can I say.


You sound like a young person. You'll give a shit later on. With utter great fortunate I've had a compulsion since the age of 10-11yo to understand what is 'me' which i immediately surmised to mean 'what is my own mind'.


just FYI, that impresses nobody.


I would be astonished if it did. It generally takes a high caliber person to recognize the necessity for controlling one's senses in this day and age.

Also it's a cliche to me to constantly watch the vapidity rise to the surface as the fire of youth fades in people. It becomes too apparent to themselves that they wasted most of their lives in nothingness.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Tempo Gain » 18 Feb 2016, 16:14

finley wrote:You'd be surprised how many people dismiss this sort of approach as inefficient or mawkish mumbo-jumbo. The level of hostility from some commentators is quite astounding, despite the fact that people make a good living doing this. It all depends where you start from: some people take it as axiomatic that if chemicals or machines are involved, it must be "good", and if they're not, then it's backward, unscientific, or "bad".


Clearly you're proving them wrong, on your scale and with your priorities at least.

Well, I did say a benevolent God. Belief in malevolent deities (as in, for example, the Philippines, and Haiti I believe) is likely to produce equally predictable results, but not good ones.


Even if we're talking about the "benevolent" god of the New Testament, I would argue the record has been spotty.


I think we have different definitions of "objective". Try working this thought exercise with the slavery example, bearing in mind that there still are people today who argue that slavery is good - say, on the basis that a slave's life is "objectively" worth less than a slaveholder's. What I mean is, consider convincing another person. Convincing yourself is easy.


Perhaps. To me, it seems that I can only view reality and life subjectively. I can't literally measure good and bad, but I can work from simple principles to make objective determinations about moral questions. I would say that based on such criteria, they--and slavery--are wrong. I'm starting from the principle that all people should be treated equally. My experience in life shows that fairness is important. Unwilling loss of freedom represents definite harm to a person. Clearly I don't want to have my freedom taken away from me. I can only apply such criteria to reach moral ideals. I apply them objectively to make moral judgments, such as that slavery is wrong because it violates these simple rules. I don't expect that everyone necessarily will agree, but if you don't, perhaps you can come be my slave :)

IMO, these are things that have to be worked out by consensus in a moral system. Certainly people may disagree with my criteria. They might even think my criteria are morally wrong. I can only make my argument, and preferably live in a society where people agree with me. The history of human morality has never been static which squares neatly with this view.

Correct; but if we ever did find out the truth, I bet it would be a big surprise because all the plausible explanations are highly improbable.


I don't know. I do remember you mentioning this. I don't see it--the Ten Commandments seem to me to range from mundane to unnecessary to silly. I'm not feeling the spark of divine inspiration there. You shall not kill/steal/lie are light years ahead of most of Exodus, is about as far as I'd go. But is that really saying much?

Christianity works in a similar way. Jesus didn't really hand out any hard-and-fast rules. He just lived. If asked, he boiled down his philosophy into simple phrases that could be taken axiomatically, to derive all sorts of moral principles. He actually instructed us to do what you're suggesting: build a conscience. The implication is that God gave us the facility to do so and expected us to use it, instead of waiting for commands from on high.


Maybe. I wouldn't argue with that, if you recognize that we have to make use of those facilities to do so, and may come to different conclusions. Things just come down to the question of if God actually exists or not then, and we're standing on much the same moral ground.

Well, that's good enough :) I was really just needling BG, who was insisting that atheists don't replace theocratic beliefs with alternative beliefs. The atheist necessarily replaces belief in God with belief in humanity; or at minimum, belief in himself. To do otherwise would be terrifying, or at least deeply demotivating. Pure rationality would suggest that, if the universe at large has no purpose or meaning, then neither do its components, including you. The meaning that you see in your own life is therefore irrational, or perhaps an illusion (as triceratopses would have it). Whatever: I can't argue that your belief is not good, positive, useful.


I wouldn't call it belief. I'm here--I care about me and making the most of the short time that I have in this life. My family and friends have meaning to me. That's real. I believe in various humanist values, but I don't see that as any kind of substitute for religion. I don't worship them for example, or ascribe any higher power to them. I hope that's positive enough :)

I have no way of knowing for certain if everything is an illusion or not, but I wouldn't waste precious time of this life worrying about it. Objectively speaking, it seems as if everything, including my thoughts, is really here. That is quite easy to test.

triceratopses wrote:You sound like a young person. You'll give a shit later on.


I wouldn't hold my breath :) If breathing is real, that is :)
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby triceratopses » 18 Feb 2016, 17:05

Tempo Gain wrote:I wouldn't hold my breath :) If breathing is real, that is :)


:wink:

btw it's your school of thought which makes the assertion that you find so unpalatable. Do you think it's me you're mocking? I'm giving you the argument that the grandfather of your school of thought relies on primarily. lol.

You have quite the dilemma. Mind is the brain, and yet there is nothing about moving particles which exhibits subjectivity.


I wouldn't waste precious time of this life worrying about it.


Indeed it seems most people are not interested in it. I find it the most fascinating thing, what it is and how to use it properly. What could be more thrilling... everything else is utterly boring by comparison even the vastness of space.
A Japanese man has been arrested on suspicion of writing a computer virus that destroys and replaces files on a victim PC with manga images of squid, octopuses and sea urchins. Masato Nakatsuji, 27, of Izumisano, Osaka Prefecture, was quoted as telling police: "I wanted to see how much my computer programming skills had improved since the last time I was arrested."
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby BrentGolf » 18 Feb 2016, 20:51

The idea that the Bible is a great and moral book for it's time to me just doesn't hold up. Do those who claim that really believe that a better book couldn't have been written based on the teachings and writings of already existing philosophy and ethics?

Thales, Socrates, Aristotle, Pythagorus, Zeno, Democritus, Plato, and ten or twenty others couldn't have had their teachings brought together in a similar fashion and had it be as good or better than anything on offer in the bible?

The only difference is the claim of divinity and stories of God, but as far as morality goes I think the Bible is inferior, even for its time. And if people think a claim of divinity turns an average book into the greatest book ever written, then it's no wonder the first 4 of the 10 commandments are ridiculous and entirely about the vanity of God and pandering to his proclaimed divinity. Only one of the commandments is even worthy of praise. Not bearing false witness does at least suggest an understanding of ethics, but nothing that didn't exist for hundreds of years before it appeared in the Bible.

I'm not sure there's a thing unique in the bible that wasn't written about and taught before. And that even extends to the actual divinity stories as well. The 12 disciples, the virgin birth, the crucifixion and resurrection, the healing the sick, raising the dead. Not original at all. The golden rule, love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek. Not original.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby Tempo Gain » 18 Feb 2016, 21:59

triceratopses wrote:btw it's your school of thought which makes the assertion that you find so unpalatable. Do you think it's me you're mocking? I'm giving you the argument that the grandfather of your school of thought relies on primarily. lol.


Who do you mean? I'm not even sure what assertion you refer to. It's all very confusing.

You have quite the dilemma. Mind is the brain, and yet there is nothing about moving particles which exhibits subjectivity.


I don't have any dilemma that I'm aware of. Which is fine with me lol. If I do have one, I'd like to know, but I'd have to understand what you're talking about first. If I have to spend the rest of my life not knowing about a dilemma I have because I can't understand it, I'll live I guess.

Indeed it seems most people are not interested in it. I find it the most fascinating thing, what it is and how to use it properly. What could be more thrilling... everything else is utterly boring by comparison even the vastness of space.


That's cool. I have no problem with your belief as far as I can tell. If I mock you, I believe it's because you come on a bit strong about it. There's nothing wrong with that, but can you blame me? I have a worldview as well, which I've given considerable consideration to.

finley wrote:we do, apparently, have a bit of our brains that's dedicated to "religious experience"


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... brain.html

This? Pretty interesting.
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Re: Theism/atheism debates

Postby finley » 18 Feb 2016, 22:19

Tempo Gain wrote:This? Pretty interesting.

I wasn't aware there's still research activity on the subject, but it was originally discovered a long time ago when US researchers had a lot more leeway to do horrible experiments on mental patients (60s-70s). Some patient had electrodes implanted in his brain for some unrelated reason (possibly epilepsy research) and the medics were poking around in there. Stimulating one particular area produced "intense religious experiences", IIRC.

I don't remember the precise details - I did my degree 25 years ago.


“I get attacked by everyone,” says Patrick McNamara, associate professor of neurology at Boston University and author of The Neuroscience of Religious Experience. “Atheists hate me because I’m saying religion has some basis in the brain and fundamentalist Christians hate me because I’m saying religion is nothing but brain impulses.”

:lol:

It's definitely tough being a scientist, and I'm not being facetious.
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