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[P]
The Church of the Long Now

By Shimmer in Science
Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:08:17 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

July 02004

I believe that the folks over at the Long Now project are onto something, although they don't seem to quite realize it. They point out that civilization has a "pathologically short attention span" and are addressing this problem by building a 10,000 year clock that "ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium". They have a charming way of prepending a zero onto the date (so that 2004, for example, becomes 02004) to emphasize this point of view.

Their goal is an admirable one - to focus humanity's attention on timescales that extend beyond a single life, but they don't seem to have thought very deeply about the underlying philosophy. I propose that the Long Now has profound implications for our species - implications that range from the mundane to the practical to the spiritual. What better way to organize and direct such implications than to form a new religion?

All rational thinkers, hear me: Welcome to the Church of the Long Now.


To the best of our current knowledge, the universe is about 14,000,000,000 years old. The solar system is about 4,500,000,000 years old. Life on Earth is about 3,500,000,000 years old. Intelligent life on Earth is about 100,000 years old. The age of the individual readers of this article varies from about 10 to about 100 years old. Are there possibly any dates that are more important to us than these? They teach us that we are very young, the world is very old, and that the future is immense.

Each such date leads to a "Why?" question. Each such question is a pillar in the Church of the Long Now (CLN):

  • The First Pillar: Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • The Second Pillar: Why does the Earth exist?
  • The Third Pillar: Why does life exist?
  • The Fourth Pillar: Why does intelligence exist?
  • The Fifth Pillar: Why do I exist?

Contemplating these questions is the fundamental purpose of the CLN. Even a few moments of thought tells us that what happens tomorrow is probably not so important in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps we should concentrate instead on making sure that we can continue to address these questions in the future. Not just tomorrow, but 10 years from now, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years, 100,000 years, 1,000,000 years. What are the obstacles we must overcome in order to be here in a million years, still contemplating these questions?

---

Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth. This is, in fact, the primary goal of science, but in existing religions it competes with other goals. When the teachings of religion are in conflict with the evidence of science, religious people are surprisingly unconcerned. For example, there is no evidence that God exists, or that there is life after death, but religious people consider these to be matters of faith rather than of knowledge.

How does a rational religious person reconcile these contradictions? The answer is that the fundamental purpose of religion is to provide comfort, rather than truth. At times of great ceremony or stress (such as the death of a loved one), the comfort of religion is much more important than the cold facts of science. In this way, most religion is based on wishful thinking. Where children have Santa Claus, adults have God.

For this reason, it is tempting for an atheist to disparage and dismiss religion, but this would be short-sighted. Religion is not a mistake or an accident - it exists in every human culture throughout history. Because religion serves to organize and nurture its members, it has a high survival value. Thus, I suggest that evolution hard-wired religion into the human brain. Our non-believing ancestors tended to have fewer children than the believers did. This is why atheists are a rarity today. People have an in-born, biological need for religion, especially in times of stress. It would be foolish for rational thinkers to ignore this need.

Why is there no religion based on science rather than on faith? Science provides a vision of the universe that is far larger, more complex, and awe-inspiring than that of any religion. While science may be cold and its facts sometimes uncomfortable, it does not turn away from the truth. And what we know of the truth of the universe so far is stunningly, mind-blowingly, staggeringly beautiful. This is why I consider science to be far more spiritual than any existing religion. We are at the beginning of a great journey. Moreover, we currently occupy the central role in the journey, since we are the only intelligent creatures that we know of in the universe. What better story on which to found a religion than this?

---

The First Pillar: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Martin Gardner called this the "superultimate question", and it is indeed potent. The question is so difficult that it is almost incomprehensible. We know almost nothing about the answer, and yet there is little denying the fact that the universe came into being billions of years ago and has been getting larger ever since. Why? It certainly seems simpler to have nothing instead, but that is not the way things went.

This is the coldest, most inhuman pillar of the CLN. It humbles anyone with the courage to face it and reminds us that we are all tiny specks in a nearly infinite ocean. The universe is more immense than we can possibly imagine, and yet we cannot explain why even a tiny bit of it exists. It is so absurd as to make one laugh or come unhinged.

Will humanity, or something like it, survive to witness (or perhaps prevent) the end of the universe? Not if we are wiped out first.

---

The Second Pillar: Why does the Earth exist?

The Earth is a tiny satellite of an average star called Sol. While stars like Sol are utterly commonplace, the conditions on Earth (which allow the formation of large bodies of liquid water) may be much more unusual. Still, there is every reason to suspect that the universe (and perhaps even our own galaxy) is large enough to continue many similar planets.

Following the Big Bang, matter coalesced out of the fundamental building blocks into hydrogen and helium atoms. Gravity pulled these atoms together into stars. There was essentially no other kind of matter in the universe - no carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen, no iron, copper, or gold. These stars lived, and when the largest of them died, they exploded in supernovas which were powerful enough to fuse heavy elements out of lighter ones. Eventually, the material ejected by these explosions coalesced into new solar systems, which in turn lived and died. Eventually, our beloved Sol and Earth were formed from the debris of this cycle. The solid matter that forms every object in the world was created in violent nuclear reactions during supernova explosions. Our flesh, bones, and blood are literally stardust.

While this pillar still places no value on human life, it begins to connect us to the universe at large. It shows that we are of the universe, not alienated from it. Every event that occurs follows natural law.

Will humanity, or something like it, survive to witness (or perhaps prevent) the end of the Earth? Not if we are wiped out first. Nothing protects the Earth from destruction by collision with another body. Perhaps we should begin to consider the survival value of colonizing other planets, even other solar systems? How much time do we have to work with?

---

The Third Pillar: Why does life exist?

After the basic laws of physics and chemistry, replication and evolution by natural selection may be the most fundamental forces in the universe.

Solar radiation pours over the surface of the Earth and nuclear reactions heat it from the inside. These forces mix and stir the planet's material. No intelligence directs this course of events, but some time after the formation of the Earth - perhaps a billion years, perhaps much less - the mixing resulted in a chemical that catalyzed its own production. In other words, a single molecule of this chemical, placed in a solution of ingredients, automatically assembles a copy of itself from the ingredients. Each of these copies then replicates itself similarly. A chain reaction occurs, rapidly converting the solution into a large collection of replicators, assembling and probably disassembling in equilibrium.

Unlikely? Perhaps, but many unlikely events occur in the course of a billion years. In fact, the original replicator may have originated elsewhere and fallen to Earth, but the basic story remains the same. In any case, there is no known alternative explanation that stands up to rational scrutiny.

This simple chemical replication sometimes failed to work correctly. Usually the resulting "mutant" molecule could not itself replicate. But some mistakes resulted in replicators that were slightly more efficient than the original molecule. These replicators quickly spread through the entire system, displacing the original replicator. In this way, the evolution of life began. Every living organism today, from humans to bacteria, is a direct descendent of the initial replicator.

This pillar is perhaps the most miraculous of all because its scope is small enough for us to understand it, yet mysterious enough to baffle us. Today's science can tell us very little about how the original replicator actually arose. We do not know what it was composed of, nor where it originated. All traces of its creation were probably wiped out by its own progeny. We most likely have the technology we need to create our own version of the original replicator from basic organic chemicals, and yet we have no idea how to do so. This is a puzzle that can and should be solved within our lifetimes.

Will humanity survive to witness the further evolution of life on Earth or its discovery elsewhere? Not if we are wiped out first. All known life is concentrated in a single, vulnerable ecosystem. A collision with even a relatively small object (like an asteroid) could disrupt or destroy all known life. Such a collision could be mere centuries or decades away and we would not know it. We are certainly not yet prepared to cope with such a possibility. Perhaps we should start soon?

---

The Fourth Pillar: Why does intelligence exist?

It is a common misconception that evolution naturally "progresses", producing higher and more complex life forms. In fact, evolution simply produces creatures that are well-adapted to their environments. It is not entirely clear, in fact, why anything more complex than bacteria ever evolved. The gift of intelligence is a precious one, because it was far from inevitable.

Nonetheless, one evolutionary path did indeed lead to intelligent humans and so here we are, in a position to ponder questions like why we exist in the first place. Having evolved from non-intelligent ancestors, we are now the first creatures to have escaped from the influence of evolution. With some luck, the future of humanity will not be determined by natural selection, but by rational thought and decisions. Survival of the fittest no longer applies to people.

This pillar serves as the basis for all thinking about humans as a group, be it at the level of species, cultures, or societies. No man is an island, because we all share a common heritage and biology. It is almost impossible to think of a person without considering the effect of other people around him.

Will human accomplishment end with our own accidental self-destruction? If so, perhaps the story would still end fittingly because such a species was not worthy of existence in the first place. But even the most pessimistic person among us must recognize the potential of humanity to tell a much longer and more beautiful story. We may well be the most important and precious result to date in the history of the universe.

---

The Fifth Pillar: Why do I exist?

At long last, we come to the individual. The vast scope of the universe finally reduces to something comfortable and familiar - me, my thoughts, my life. It has been said that great minds think about ideas, average minds think about events, and weak minds think about people. Perhaps more of us should strive towards greatness, but the fact remains that we are mainly concerned with the events and people in our own lives. Any world-view that fails to take this into account is doomed to fail.

Each of us the product of a long line of successful predecessors, each of whom lived long enough to reproduce. By this standard, there is quite a bit of historical momentum embodied in each one of us. And yet, we are all intuitively aware of our accidental nature, and so lucky to be alive. If my father did not happen to return that phone call to my mother in 1962, then I would never have been born. We are each truly unique, and thus precious, never to be repeated.

This pillar and the previous are the warmest and most comforting in the CLN. There is much that a church can do to bolster and nurture the lives of its members, without pandering to them or feeding them lies.

What can I do to keep myself alive long enough to accomplish what I want to do? What will happen to humanity after I die? In terms of the Long Now, I am but a single frame in a very long movie - virtually imperceptible. Time rushes on, not just the years, but the centuries and the millennia. In geological terms, I will leave no trace, and yet what I do can matter a great deal.

---

The Church of the Long Now is sorely needed. Were it to exist, it would combine science with the best of existing religions. Its ceremonies would fill a basic human need without indulging in wishful thinking or other falsehoods. Even as it humbles us, the church would provide comfort by reminding us of our place in universal history. Using rational thought based on scientific knowledge, the church would focus us on the Long Now, identifying the tasks necessary to ensure that our descendents survive to hear many, many chimes of the 10,000 year clock.

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Would you join the Church of the Long Now?
o Yes 36%
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Votes: 83
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The Church of the Long Now | 405 comments (341 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
Certain cornerstones. (1.06 / 16) (#2)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 06:27:25 PM EST

You do not know that ...The universe is about 14,000,000,000 years old. The solar system is about 4,500,000,000 years old..., and I will urge you to prove this for fact. You see, as it stands, this entire piece is built on a certain logical fallacy that the age of the "universe" as you know it is truly of this age. You really don't know this for fact. You have three hours to prove that the universe (and the solar system for that matter) are as "old" as you say. If you do not complete this task I will be forced to push the special "Move to Vote" button at the bottom of the story, which used to say "Spam!" at a point in time prior to this. Good luck, you have 3 hours.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
I think.... (none / 2) (#4)
by Saad on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 06:55:36 PM EST

... YOU should prove that the author is wrong, if you disagree with him.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
[ Parent ]
You know, (none / 3) (#5)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:01:21 PM EST

this line of thinking is what got your anscestors into bed with the Bolsheviks.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
At least ... (none / 1) (#18)
by Saad on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:29:19 PM EST

..., unlike your ancestors, they did not have look for a mate on a family reunion.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
[ Parent ]
Oh really? (1.00 / 6) (#21)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:31:19 PM EST

What's my anscestry, Pollack?


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Maybe? (none / 2) (#24)
by Saad on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:43:36 PM EST

But I doubt you have anything to do with Jackson Pollack.

On the other hand, your situation is not so bad. Even if your parents finally divorce, nothing wrong will really happen. They will still be cousins.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
[ Parent ]
3, Encouraged (1.11 / 9) (#28)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 08:23:08 PM EST

Congratuations, I have reduced you to petty name-calling on your precious discussion site.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
You are right. (none / 3) (#56)
by Saad on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 06:22:46 AM EST

But don't forget I only took a deep breath and lowerd myself to your own level. Now, please excuse me while I return to the surface.


"POST COITUM OMNE ANIMAL TRISTE EST."
[ Parent ]
LAME. (1.00 / 9) (#59)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 06:53:52 AM EST

0, Hide.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
I was going to encourage this comment, (none / 1) (#143)
by smart guy on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:36:15 AM EST

but then I realized that my rating would make all of the other ratings (which are currently all zeroes) "count."

So fuck you, Rusty Foster, for causing this moderation dilemma.

"K5 will never go back to fully open membership. Sorry, that's just the way it is, and I'm not willing to debate this issue." -Rusty
[ Parent ]

Alternative cosmologies (none / 0) (#7)
by Trevasel on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:04:52 PM EST

Which are you espousing? A religious cosmology or one of the other non-big-bang alternative cosmologies?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-standard_cosmology
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]

Cosmology is for hacks and con artists (none / 3) (#8)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:08:38 PM EST

I don't subscribe to any particular theory for the simple reason that subscribing to them is basically a shot in the dark. I know it's painful for a religious zealot such as yourself to embrace this idea.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
That's a new one (none / 1) (#125)
by Trevasel on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 06:26:00 PM EST

I don't think I've been called a religious zealot, or even religious, for quite some time. Thank you, and good night.
-- That which does not kill you only makes you stranger - Trevor Goodchild
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you're not in the target audience (none / 2) (#10)
by Shimmer on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:18:48 PM EST

I don't want to argue with you or anyone else about "facts", and I'm not trying to prove anything. As we all know, science doesn't really prove anything anyway, it simply recognizes that some statements are far more likely to be true than others.

To the best of our current knowledge, the universe is indeed about 14 billion years old. See http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/age.html. Similarly, to the best of our current knowledge, the solar system is about 4.5 billion years old. See http://pegasus.phast.umass.edu/a100/handouts/raddat/raddat.html.

If you have any evidence to the contrary, please present it. Otherwise, I would ask you to stand down.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

Don't posit theory as fact. (none / 3) (#12)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:19:43 PM EST




This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
I'm not (none / 1) (#19)
by Shimmer on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:30:03 PM EST

What I'm doing is simplifying slightly so the thing reads like a manifesto/proposal rather than a technical article such as the ones I linked to above.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are. (none / 3) (#20)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:30:42 PM EST

Read your English.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Don't dump observation for preconception (none / 3) (#22)
by Dasher42 on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 07:32:38 PM EST

Considering the overwhelming evidence given by decades of researched, capped off beautifully by Hubble, I'm inclined to consider you to be either trolling or anticompetitively religious. ;)

[ Parent ]
Religion? (none / 3) (#29)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 08:24:26 PM EST

Like the worship of theory, for instance?


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
You don't seem to understand (none / 2) (#65)
by outis on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 09:26:47 AM EST

what the meaning of the word "theory" is.

[ Parent ]
Actually, I do. (none / 3) (#131)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 11:04:47 PM EST

Perhaps you are a little fuzzy on the definition of the word "gospel".


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Other evidence (none / 0) (#335)
by d4rkst4r on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 08:21:30 AM EST

evidence:
Why the Big Bang is a fizzle and stars cannot evolve out of gas: http://evolution-facts.org/c02a.htm

Why the Earth did not evolve out of a molten state: http://evolution-facts.org/c03,htm

Why the Earth is not millions of years old: http://evolution-facts.org/c04.htm

Why long ages cannot produce evolutionary change: http://evolution-facts.org/c05.htm

Why the non-historical dating techniques are unreliable: http://evoluton-facts.org/c06.htm



[ Parent ]
Hey ass monkey.... (none / 2) (#52)
by GreyGhost on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:17:34 AM EST

Check it



[ Parent ]

What does that prove "ass monkey"? (none / 3) (#60)
by Hide Teh Hamster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:08:55 AM EST

I'll see you at six.


This revitalised kuro5hin thing, it reminds me very much of the new German Weimar Republic. Please don't let the dark cloud of National Socialism descend upon it again.
[ Parent ]
Proof? (none / 0) (#334)
by d4rkst4r on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 08:00:41 AM EST

There is absolutely no evidence supporting the claimed age of the universe there.

[ Parent ]
Lost Soul (none / 0) (#30)
by nstender on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 08:31:18 PM EST

Quoting from a talk with Paul Bloom, from Edge.

"In the domain of bodies, most of us accept that common sense is wrong. We concede that apparently solid objects are actually mostly empty space, consisting of tiny particles and fields of energy. Perhaps the same sort of reconciliation will happen in the domain of souls, and it will come to be broadly recognized that our dualist belief system, though intuitively appealing, is factually mistaken. Perhaps we will all come to agree with Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and join the side of the "brights": those who reject the supernatural and endorse the world-view established by science.

But I am skeptical. The notion that our souls are flesh is profoundly troubling to many, as it clashes with religion. Dualism and religion are not the same: You can be dualist without holding any other religious beliefs, and you can hold religious beliefs without being dualist. But they almost always go together. And some very popular religious views rest on a dualist foundation, such as the belief that people survive the destruction of their bodies. If you give up on dualism, this is what you lose. [...]"

I'm with Dawkins and Dennett (none / 0) (#34)
by Shimmer on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 08:56:39 PM EST

All the evidence suggests that your soul dies when your body dies. Note that this does nothing to deny the existence of a soul -- it just ties it to the three-pound chunk of flesh in your head.

Personally, I don't think you "lose" anything important by giving up on dualism. Any religion that is in conflict with reality must eventually fade away. I'm trying to propose a new religion that does not have this problem.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

except that ... (none / 1) (#39)
by gdanjo on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 10:20:26 PM EST

... Dawkins and Dennett are also dualist, just not in this particular example.

(Hint: Anyone who believes that light is both a particle as well as a wave is a dualist, since reduction to another state (say X) has not been possible as yet - ie: it's better to describe light as a duality than to selectively believe self-contradicting statements. Similarly, the mind and body may be of the same thing, but as soon as you try to "reduce" this duality concept, you lose something)

All the evidence suggests that your soul dies when your body dies. Note that this does nothing to deny the existence of a soul -- it just ties it to the three-pound chunk of flesh in your head.
Einstein's three-pound chunk continues to inspire, teach, etc. Has his "soul" been completely extinguished? If not then the soul has some detachment from body. If yes then how do you explain Eistein's continuing influence on the world? Whatever this is, you may as well call it soul (for now... until we find a better name).

[...] Any religion that is in conflict with reality must eventually fade away. [...]
That's a bold statement. Have any religions thus far faded away due to conflict with reality (other than conflict with a non-beleiver's gun)?

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Zombie Einstein (none / 3) (#62)
by bugmaster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:40:01 AM EST

Einstein's three-pound chunk continues to inspire, teach, etc.
Yikes ! Does Einstein like to consume human flesh daily ? If so, keep him the hell away from me; I've got a shotgun.

Anyway, it seems to me that you're confusing metaphor with reality. Einstein is dead and gone; other people may carry on the work he stared (or destroy that work, if you are into that whole "Quantum Mechanics" thing), but I don't think anyone believes that Einstein's ghost is literally guiding their efforts.

Sure, you can call "Eistein's continuing influence on the world" his "soul", but then you'd be redefining what "soul" means (especially sense 3). I mean, I could also define "orange" as "the fruit of a deciduous Eurasian tree Malus pumila", but that won't make oranges into apples. All it does is make it hard to discuss fruits with me.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

einstein (none / 0) (#127)
by gdanjo on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:16:21 PM EST

Anyway, it seems to me that you're confusing metaphor with reality. Einstein is dead and gone; other people may carry on the work he stared (or destroy that work, if you are into that whole "Quantum Mechanics" thing), but I don't think anyone believes that Einstein's ghost is literally guiding their efforts.
What do you mean by "literally"? Do you mean that Einstein does not directly talk to people? He didn't directly talk to many people when he was alive either, and yet he influenced them.

Sure, you can call "Eistein's continuing influence on the world" his "soul", but then you'd be redefining what "soul" means (especially sense 3).[...]
The question here is "to what extent does/did Einstein's phisical body influence the world?" Well, he talked directly to a miniscule fraction of people, he talked indirectly to a large number of people, and in most cases he changed the behaviour of these people.

Did you meet Einstein? If not, then did "Einstein the body" have any effect on you whatsoever? Well, yes, indirectly, because the theory of relativity came from "Einstein the body" - without it there would be no theory. But you did not meet nor interact with.

Perhaps the mind/soul/body interacts in a similar way; "Einstein the soul" influenced "Einstein the body" to create "Einstein the ideas." If you think of it this way, then we can get a useful definition of "soul" - but unfortunately, it's not scientifically useful.

I mean, I could also define "orange" as "the fruit of a deciduous Eurasian tree Malus pumila", but that won't make oranges into apples. All it does is make it hard to discuss fruits with me.
Sure, but if I DO define "orange" as "fruit from apple tree" it then gives you impotus to correct me and find the real answer. God "created" science in this way (by challenging us to prove he doesn't exist), and "the soul" is challenging us to get a corrected definition of itself such that we may be able to talk about it.

But if you were to reject my definition of "orange" and say "not applicable", then you've added nothing to the body of knowledge - in fact, even though I'm wrong, I've still made a valuable contribution: a target to be torn down and replaced by correct information, and reasons for doing so.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Influence vs Soul (none / 1) (#135)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:28:03 AM EST

I think you might be confusing a person's influence with soul. In common speech, a "soul" is the non-physical, immaterial essence that somehow contains your personality and identity. The soul is very much active: when you make any kind of choice (especially the moral kind), it's your soul in action. Most people who believe in souls also believe that the soul is housed in your material body; when the body dies, your soul goes somewhere else -- to Heaven, Hell, the Universuum, another body, whatever.

I think this is a far cry from saying, "well, if you've ever heard about Einstein, that's his soul". In fact, most Christians would probably call that blasphemy: Einstein's soul is in Heaven, not sealed up in his books. When you read a book about Einstein, you read a material artifact that human hands have produced. Sure, it was all influenced by Einstein and his soul a long time ago, but it is not spiritual in nature.

Don't get me wrong: I like the notion that we impart a portion of our divine essence to the creative works that we are passionate about. It's a nice idea (certainly a more interesting one than the bland Biblical fare), and, if I believed in souls, I'd probably embrace it. But I don't, so I, er, don't.

Sure, but if I DO define "orange" as "fruit from apple tree" it then gives you impoetus to correct me and find the real answer.
No; if you arbitrarily redefine words to mean new things (such as redefining "soul" to mean "a person's indirect influence on other people"), then you are right -- by definition. No one can argue with you; it would be like arguing with a Japanese man that he should be saying "apple" instead of "ringo" (er, or whatever the Japanese word for "apple" is). Unfortunately, too many of these redefinitions make it really hard to communicate with the other person (for example, I can't speak Japanese). If you're not careful, you can redefine your way straight out of the conversation.

Note that the definitions of words do not add or subtract anything from your "body of knowledge". You might redefine the word "orange" to mean the same thing that everyone else means by "apple", but presumably you still have the same notions about its taste, lifecycle, etc. "Orange" is just a label that stands for some idea in your head; change the label, but the idea remains the same. Now, if you believed that oranges (in the common sense) actually grow on apple trees (again, in the common sense), then you'd be wrong, and I could correct you.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

souls (none / 0) (#142)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:53:13 AM EST

[...] In fact, most Christians would probably call that blasphemy: Einstein's soul is in Heaven, not sealed up in his books.
I could care less what Christians think. I'm interested in concepts like the soul, not because of it's supposedly divine nature, but because it is a fascinating concept.

Remember, Christianity != religion. I'm a religious person - I'm also classified as Christian (Catholic) - but I have no reason to hold up their doctrine any more than it is able to hold itself up. I'm more interested in what's behind the Catholic religion - God, souls, etc. - rather than fallible man's interpritation of it.

No; if you arbitrarily redefine words to mean new things (such as redefining "soul" to mean "a person's indirect influence on other people"), then you are right -- by definition. [...]
Hang on. There's "redefinition" and there's "Redefinition." Einstein redefined the work of Newton, but this is not to say that the redefinition necessarily throws out the old to bring in the new - Newton's laws still have relevance (and a certain ethereal beauty).

I don't want to be "right by definition"; I want assume I'm right, then analyse what conditions and definitions are required to meet this assumption.

Note that the definitions of words do not add or subtract anything from your "body of knowledge". You might redefine the word "orange" to mean the same thing that everyone else means by "apple", but presumably you still have the same notions about its taste, lifecycle, etc. [...]
Swapping "orange" for "apple" is a bad example; these two are contradictory concepts (you can't have an object that is both an apple and an orange, so "redefinition" in this case means "swap-definitions").

What I'm trying to do is more like attempting to expand the definition of "smell" to include things like apples and oranges. Though these objects may not be known for their smell, it makes sense to have them contained within the "smellable" concept. Similarly, while our definition of soul does is not known for it's post-death behaviour, it may (or may not) make sense to allow an extended definition so that we can understand it better.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Ok. (none / 1) (#152)
by basj on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:55:27 AM EST

You seem to have issues with the word `definition', so how about `meaning'?

You and bugmaster are surely arguing about the meaning of the word `soul'. Bugmaster thinks `soul' means "non-physical, immaterial essence that somehow contains your personality and identity" and you seem to want to argue that`soul' means that thing from a person, other than his body, that influences other people.

So, if this were to be a fruitful discussion, how should you proceed?

Could you:

- Make up reasons why your meaning of the word is superior?
- Argue why his meaning of the word is flawed?

Not really; that would be very difficult. See, because as soon as you both take the word `soul' to mean a different thing (as you both clearly do) you cease to talk about the same thing! By virtue of the meaning of the word!

Similarly, while our definition of soul does is not known for it's post-death behaviour, it may (or may not) make sense to allow an extended definition so that we can understand it better.

This is significant. You seem to believe that there is a soul; that there is something that can be called `soul'. What that thing is, it's properties, what it can do, all that stuff, you seem to believe, is fixed. A soul is soul, and we can try to understand it, right?

But how do we go about understanding the thing called `soul'? Can we extend the definition of `soul' to do that? You seem to believe we can.

But that's problematic, because if we extend the definition, what guarantee is there we are still talking about this `soul'-thing? Just by virtue of the word `soul'?

The word alone cannot be sufficient, a word does not, by itself, reach out to the thing it stands for. If a word could do that, how can there be homonyms like `bank' (financial institution or rive shore)? Or how could you read or hear a word you couldn't understand immediately? If words could automaticly reach out to objects, without human knowledge, the meaning of all words would be crystal clear. Surely that is not the case.

So if we rethink our concept `soul', and change the meaning of the word accordingly, could we be talking of an alltogether different thing than before?

Sure! And we do! The old meaning of the word `soul' is different than the new, because if it wasn't, we wouldn't have had to redefine `soul' in the first place!

So our quest to understand what the word `soul' means, became dearly frustrated by our redefinition attempts: we tried to investigate the meaning of the word `soul', but instead, we gave it a slightly different meaning ourselves, thus changing the thing we are talking about:

If the word `soul' corresponds to object XYZ, and we change the meaning of the word `soul'. It couldn't still correspond to object XYZ, because the meaning of the word is (ultimately) the thing it stands for. But if it does not correspond to object XYZ, we are talking about something else! We are talking about, say, object ABC. So instead of understanding object XYZ, we are now investigating object ABC.

That cannot be right, right?

Then, how could this discussion be fruitful?

It is not impossible, but you really have to be talking about the same thing. If you could, for instance, show that his definition of the word allows for your interpretation, that is, (without changing the definition!) the properties that you want to attribute to the object `soul', follow from that definition, you would have made your point.

But unless you and bugmaster start talking about the same thing, this discussion will end in confusion and frustration.
--
Complete the Three Year Plan in five years!
[ Parent ]

Applause [n/t] (none / 0) (#156)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:23:51 AM EST

No Text
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
soul shmoul (none / 0) (#187)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:55:00 AM EST

This is significant. You seem to believe that there is a soul; that there is something that can be called `soul'. What that thing is, it's properties, what it can do, all that stuff, you seem to believe, is fixed. A soul is soul, and we can try to understand it, right?
No! I do indeed believe that there is a soul, but this does not mean that there is something that can be called a 'soul.' Similarly, I also believe that in my glass of water there is "waves", but there is not something that I can point to, remove from the glass, and present to the world called 'wave.'

Do you believe a 'wave' is fixed? Do you believe that a 'wave' can be understood?

But how do we go about understanding the thing called `soul'? Can we extend the definition of `soul' to do that? You seem to believe we can.

But that's problematic, because if we extend the definition, what guarantee is there we are still talking about this `soul'-thing? Just by virtue of the word `soul'?

No, we can agree that we are talking about the same thing by the functional definition of soul, even though I cannot functionally define it for you. The best I can come up with is "that part of our being that is not observable." Is it possible that there does not exist "unobservable things"? Of course. But currently we don't know everything and so we do indeed have unobservable things - and one of these is our behaviour, personality, etc.

I believe that you can observe the effect of my personality, but you cannot observe the cause.

If the word `soul' corresponds to object XYZ [...]
No! It does not correspond to an object. It corresponds to either 'something' or 'nothing', but we may never know which - if we discover the universe is fully deterministic, then 'soul' refers to 'nothing' in the literal sense, and our behaviour can be explained in terms of physical entities. If not, then we have a 'soul' that is irriducible, just as water has waves that cannot be reduced to 'physical objects.'

But unless you and bugmaster start talking about the same thing, this discussion will end in confusion and frustration.
Yeah, so? All arguments with sufficiently little knowledge will end up this way; it's called 'discourse'. But I can and will rationally batter the opinion that a 'soul', whatever it could possibly be, does not exist.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that, the fact that we are (non-trivially) arguing about it is proof that it exists. We just don't know what 'a soul exists' actually means yet.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Waves (none / 1) (#196)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:34:03 PM EST

Similarly, I also believe that in my glass of water there is "waves", but there is not something that I can point to, remove from the glass, and present to the world called 'wave.'
That's a bit of a flawed analogy. Sure, waves are a way of describing motion (well, in case of water they are), but that doesn't mean they don't exist. You can show your wavy cup to anyone, and they can see the waves for themselves, right there in the cup. They can even measure the period and amplitude of the waves, given enough patience. We did that in school, so I know it's possible. Heh.
Do you believe a 'wave' is fixed?
Probably not.
Do you believe that a 'wave' can be understood?
Absolutely. Otherwise MP3s wouldn't work :-)
No, we can agree that we are talking about the same thing by the functional definition of soul, even though I cannot functionally define it for you.
Then, it's impossible to talk to you about that thing you call "soul", seeing as you can't define what you mean by it. It could be anything -- magnetism, spiritual essence, carnivorous smurfs... who knows ? However, in the very next sentence you do provide a definition:
that part of our being that is not observable.
It certainly seems like you're defining it the same way I did: "a soul is a non-physical entity that is responsible for our personality and identity, coupled somehow to our material body". This definition is compatible with the properties that most major religions assign to souls: a soul is spiritual in nature, can go to heaven or hell, can be reborn into another body, can never be destroyed, etc. etc. So... do you accept this definition ? Note that the definition does not imply that souls exist, or that they do not exist -- it just clarifies what you mean when you say "soul", so that everyone can be on the same page.
Yeah, so? All arguments with sufficiently little knowledge will end up this way; it's called 'discourse'.
No; you're thinking of "confusion". Until every participant is on the same page, they cannot engage in meaningful discourse. For example, I could recite a passionate speech about the existence of "frumple", but until you know what the hell I mean by "frumple", my speech will sound like gibberish to you. Especially if I say things like "frumple does not correspond to an object. It corresponds to either 'something' or 'nothing', but we may never know which".
In fact, I would go so far as to say that, the fact that we are (non-trivially) arguing about it is proof that it exists.
Er, no. People argue about Middle-Earth all the time, too; that doesn't mean that Middle-Earth exists.
We just don't know what 'a soul exists' actually means yet.
Then this entire dicussion is devoid of content; or, rather, it has as much content as "kjdfiqwipewq". Sure, that's an interesting-looking word, but it doesn't actually mean anything.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
definitions and souls (none / 0) (#245)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:32:14 PM EST

That's a bit of a flawed analogy. Sure, waves are a way of describing motion (well, in case of water they are), but that doesn't mean they don't exist. You can show your wavy cup to anyone, and they can see the waves for themselves, right there in the cup. [...]

Do you believe that a 'wave' can be understood?

Absolutely. Otherwise MP3s wouldn't work :-)

What you're describing is instantiations of waves - sound waves, water waves. In that sense, the instantiation of my 'soul' is my "personality soul", "kindness soul", etc.

I'm asking Do you know what a wave is, without refering to an actual wave? You could say a wave is simply 'motion' but that just shifts the mystery to another word. Similarly, I want to know what the essence of a 'soul' is without refering to this or that 'soul' or attribute of 'soul.'

Then, it's impossible to talk to you about that thing you call "soul", seeing as you can't define what you mean by it. It could be anything -- magnetism, spiritual essence, carnivorous smurfs... who knows ?
Exactly. And if it was any different - if we declare "a soul can only be one of these subset of things" - then we immediately begin to define what it is!

However, in the very next sentence you do provide a definition:
No! I said that's the best I can come up with. I also said the statement could be 100% wrong, so we must allow for it to potentially mean anything - even carnivivorous smurfs.

For example, I could recite a passionate speech about the existence of "frumple", but until you know what the hell I mean by "frumple", my speech will sound like gibberish to you. Especially if I say things like "frumple does not correspond to an object. It corresponds to either 'something' or 'nothing', but we may never know which".
But frumple is completely devoid of even a seedling of meaning. The 'soul' has been talked about for millenia. Why can't we take this commonly-known definition as a template and see what we get out of it? You seem to be saying "unless we know what it is, we cannot find out what it is." A better analogy is if you talk about the existence of "fraggles", for there is some common knowledge of "fraggles" that we may use as the beginning of a discussion.

Er, no. People argue about Middle-Earth all the time, too; that doesn't mean that Middle-Earth exists.
But they don't argue about whether middle-earth exists, or what it means for middle-earth to exist. Or rather, if they did argue about whether middle-earth exists, the question would become scientific (since "middle-earth" refers to an external or global truth) and we could come to a satisfactory answer.

Then this entire dicussion is devoid of content; or, rather, it has as much content as "kjdfiqwipewq". Sure, that's an interesting-looking word, but it doesn't actually mean anything.
And it is here that we differ in opinion. I have some respect and admiration for the religious definition of soul such that we find out more about it; but it could turn out that the best definition has nothing to do with the religious definition.

I appreciate the underlying method of doubt that you're talking about, and it's a brilliant method. But it fails in this case, for when you doubt the existence of 'soul', then it dissapears. (Kinda like if you assume the statement "this sentence is true" to be false, then it is false - but this answer is false!).

Imagine that you have a handful of powder that performs some unimaginable feat - once. It then dissapears forever. The scientist would say that, because the feats of this "magic" dust cannot be repeated, it does not exist. Similarly, we are a structure of matter from which some "magic" seems to emerge. When you die the magic of your body will never again be repeated, and scientists are unable to "repeat" this magic in a machine of their own. Does this mean that we are nothing but dust? Perhaps. But until we get an answer, we must assume that we do have some magic. Otherwise, it dissapears.

I think I can summarise our differing views of the soul thusly: You have a definition, and wish to know whether it is true or not. I have a (weak) definition which I wish to describe certain aspects of myself; I want to deconstruct and twist this definition until it describes this aspect of me, or until it dissapears. You're "guessing" a definition which you will either accept or reject later on; I'm "creating" a definition for to explain that which I want explained, and will only be rejected if this thing I want explained is explained by other means.

But here's the kicker: if I tell you what I want explained, then I immediately imply a definition of 'soul'! So I'll, *wink* *winlk* *nudge* *nudge*, you know what I mean! to get the "essence" of 'soul' across to you so that we can be talking about the same thing, and not 'asdfagwefr.' You can either accept that there is something to be explained or not, but you must admit at the very least that there is something about yourself that so far lacks explanation.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Wink wink (none / 1) (#250)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:45:14 PM EST

Sorry, winking and nudging is not enough to have a meaningful discussion. Here's how discussions usually go:
A: I am claiming that a frumple exists.
B: A what ?
A: A frumple is the ghost of the carnivorous blue smurf that lives in my back yard. It is undetectable by any physical instrument (because it's a ghost). It likes tacos.
B: Ok, I get it. However, I find it hard to believe that your frumple exists, for the following reasons...
C: Actually, I find this frumple really compelling, for the following reasons... I also thin B's reasons are not compelling, because...
And here's how reasonable discussions can't go:
A: Hey, you know, there's this thing, with this one guy, at this one time.
B: Huh ?
A: Yeah ! Join my church with the thing and the other thing.
B: Can you explain what you're talking about ?
A: This thing, it like moves, man.
B: So, it's a car ?
A: No no no ! Well, maybe. It could be. Or not. See, you can't define it like that.
B: Then what are you babbling about ?
A: The thing ! With the deelie-boppers ! You know. That thing that everyone is talking about.
B:Bye now.
In other words, it is quite literally impossible to have a meaningful conversation, unless all the participants are on the same page. It is, of course, possible to have a meaningless conversation, but then you might as well watch TV.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
sad... (none / 0) (#263)
by gdanjo on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:17:47 AM EST

If that's what you think discussion is, then I'm afraid that not only are we on different pages, but we're on completely different planets!

By saying "a frumple is XYZ" you're immediately denying that a frumple could be ABC. In other words, you're classifying what a frumple is before you know what a frumple is.

Worse, you told me a-priori what a frumple is, so the only question is whether it exists. But here's the catch: whatever definition of 'soul' I give, it can be refuted (in fact, I can refute it myself! which is why I don't give you a definition) and yet the question of "what's this thing inside me that I know exists" is left completely unanswered. Descartes would be turning in his grave.

Actually, to be correct, to the scientist the question has been answered; for in the scientific framework, such "functional" knowledge (for example, "the answer to question A is NOT() whatever answer you give"; a statement of the form "this sentence is false" ) is completely denied (and is in fact actively removed) - and therefore, there's nothing more for the scientist to search.

And the scientist is right! Given the scientific framework, we are on the right page (and we're in the right book: the Book of Science), and we can agree on this fact.

And yet, we've said nothing.

This is what I mean by "self-referential circular reasoning" - that by the methods of science, everything that science accepts is true, and everything that science does not accept (or attempt to answer) is as meaningful as "asdlfhkjds."

I hope you see the hubris in this attitude, but I doubt you will, for you have no reason to (no moral imperitive, no desire to "change books", even hypothetically, no desire to talk about the undefined, no will to create meaning in the seemingly non-meaningful, etc. etc.).

And that's pretty sad, actually. But at least you can be safe in the knowledge that you're right (and you are!), and be comforted by the fact that everything that science rejects does not exist. Weird, that - some would say that such comfort is exactly what religion does!

Coincidence? Of course not! It's "randomness" don't you know?

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Science (none / 1) (#268)
by basj on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:50:56 AM EST

In other words, you're classifying what a frumple is before you know what a frumple is.

Worse, you told me a-priori what a frumple is, so the only question is whether it exists.

You've got this backwards. If he told you what a frumple is, he knows what a frumple is. Or, at least he knows what he thinks a frumple is... He's not doing the frumple any injustice; he's not disallowing the frumple to be anything it wants to be. Because he is not talking about the frumple itself! He is talking about the *name* of the frumple, about the *word* `frumple'! Just as if you name your kid "Bill", you don't do any injustice to all the other Bills out there. You are not taking away their right to be Bill, you are just, giving a *word* a (possibly different) meaning.

(for example, "the answer to question A is NOT() whatever answer you give"; a statement of the form "this sentence is false" ) is completely denied (and is in fact actively removed)

This I do not understand. Logic (and mathematics) has been very busy with these kind of paradoxes, but I have a feeling that is not what you meant?

I hope you see the hubris in this attitude

Sure. But but the attitude you explained here is not one of science. "Truth" in science is not determined by the acceptence of the theory by scientists. Truth is determined by correspondence to reality. But, as Descartes and Kant taught us, that is problematic: we can't really know reality naked, without human interpretation.

But, thankfully, we can approximate truth with experiments, with some conceptual thinking, with theorizing, you know, with the `scientific method'. This is not flawless of course, but it's the best we have.

I believe your confusion stems from scientists who say that if a theory is not disproved, it must be true. Well, that is nonsense, as you know and showed. But these scientists have a very elemental misconception of science, that doesn't mean their work is flawed, or their theories are meaningless, that only means they are adherring to a much too loose conception of truth.

What they really mean, and should say, is that, "If we don't know this theory is false, we should treat it like it's true". There is nothing wrong with that of course. There is no error in using the best we have, the best approximation of truth. If we couldn't use our theories as if they were true, what's the point of having them in the first place?

That does not really make them true of course. So please don't condemn science just because the philosophical sloppyness of some it's servants... :-)

Oh btw, do you have some links for me to read regarding this philosophical method you seem to employ? Am I correct in recognize quite some Derrida in your writing?
--
Complete the Three Year Plan in five years!
[ Parent ]

viva basj (none / 0) (#338)
by bugmaster on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:04:43 AM EST

I think basj responded to your comment better than I could (and earlier, too). Still, I think I could clarify my point a bit. It seems that you have a problem telling the difference between definitions of words, and explanations for the reasons that are responsible for the phenomena expressed by these words. Let me use some sock puppets again.

Let's say we've used a time machine to pull an ancient Viking from the past and into our own time. The Viking is talking to the Scientist about lightning.

S (1): Let's talk about lightning. What do you think causes it ?
V: Me English not so good. What's "lightning", puny man ?
S: Well, sometimes when it's raining heavily, you would look up at the sky and see a zigzagging flash of bright light, followed by a loud booming noise. We call the flash "lightning", and the noise "thunder".
V (2): Ah, me understand puny man now. Lightning bad for sailing. Me think Thor the thunder-god makes lightning when he angry; strike heaven with Mjollnir, his battle-hammer. He strike it because... (complicated explanation follows)
S: Actually, I think you're wrong about that. I have good reason to believe that lightning is caused by static electricity discharge, which... (complicated explanation follows)
V: Me tired of talk. Me bash puny man now. Yeearrghblle !
Can you tell the difference between (1) and (2) ? At first, the Viking did now know what the word "lightning" meant -- it was just a meaningless string of syllables to him. Thus, he could not talk to the Scientist at all about the matter. But when the Scientist got him up to speed, the Viking offered his opinions, and the Scientist offered his, and some dialogue ensued.

Note that the Viking and the Scientist have radically different ideas about what causes lightning (wrath of Thor vs electricity). They do, however, agree on the meaning of the word -- and that's why they're able to discuss the underlying concept. If the Scientist thought that "lightning" was a flash of light, and the Viking thought that it was a kind of cow, no discussion would be possible.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

well (none / 0) (#344)
by gdanjo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 07:13:29 PM EST

The problem with your dialogue is that you're using externally veryfiable phenomena - in your examples, the scientific method is indeed the best method to 'synchronise' meanings such that meaningful discussion ensues.

But what of concepts that are not externally referencable? How would your dialogue look if you tried to talk about Gods? You would (presumably) talk about a single, all-powerful God but the Viking may think that such a thing is ridiculous and refuse to go any further until you agree that there must be many Gods, not just one.

Now, to allow a many-Gods misses the essence of the Christian religion - it's a non-entity for which it makes no sense to talk about. For the Christian, the dialogue is over.

Similarly, when you try to set the limits to what 'soul' can mean, then for me to 'allow' your definition is to deny my own, and what we are talking about is no longer what's in my mind. I may as well not continue, cause I know I won't have a leg to stand on in further discussion.

And I get the feeling that you will not continue until I agree to your (scientific based) definition of soul, which incidently I find completely uninteresting and so even if I were to agree to it, I wouldn't be talking about what I want to talk about!

Now, you may see this is twisting in the wind, desperately holding onto a concept that has been thoroughly (scientifically) debunked, and that I'm holding onto thoughts that belong to the ice-ages. But the alternative - to deny that which I cannot ignore - is worse; not because it's somehow uncomfortable or depressing, but because it's undeniably there!

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

sock puppets 2.0 (none / 0) (#348)
by bugmaster on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 09:59:43 PM EST

But what of concepts that are not externally referencable?
Since you asked... *shrug*
Christian: Have you been saved by God ?
Viking (1): What you say, puny man ? I've got ten gods. I give grass to graze, they give milk and meat. Make good hat too. Did you mean "saved" or "shaved" ?
C: Uh, I think you might be thinking of "goat", a farm animal with horns that goes "meeeeh". I was talking about God.
V: What is this "God" thing, puny man ? I bash other puny man before he teach me to talk good. In retrospect, mistake.
C: (2) God is our Father in Heaven, watching over us all. You can't see him, but he's there. Sometimes he grants prayers.
V: Ah, you mean the invisible big people in the sky ! That's the Aesir. Aesir tough but fair. Except Loki, he's a bastard. Thor had indeed saved me from his fires once. Thor send rain when my house on fire. All hail the mighty Thor !
C: Uh... Actually, there's just one God. His name is Jesus. He loves everybody. All the other gods are just figments of your imagination.
V: Silly puny man. You think just one god could take care of lightning and crops and crafts and knowledge and sweet sweet lovin' ? You silly. I bash you now. Yeeargghble !
Same concept, different dialogue. Note how, though both debaters have their own ideas about god(s), they are only able to discuss those ideas at point (2), after they have agreed on their terms in point (1).

Note how, once again, the discussion is separate from the definition of terms. It doesn't actually matter what form the discussion takes: science vs. faith, deduction, faith vs. faith, whatever. What matters is that all participants agree on what is actually being discussed. Now, imagine what would have happened if our sock puppets hadn't caught on to the "goat/god" discrepancy... The rest of their discussion would have been utterly senseless.

And I get the feeling that you will not continue until I agree to your (scientific based) definition of soul
What's so frightening about defining "soul" as "the immaterial essence, undetectable by any physical means, which is responsible for our personality, morality, and consciousness" ? That's about as un-scientific as you can get, too.

Now, you may see this is twisting in the wind, desperately holding onto a concept that has been thoroughly (scientifically) debunked
No, personally I am starting to think that you're so insecure about your beliefs, that you refuse to committing to believing in anything. This way, no one can refute you, right ?
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
nothing (none / 0) (#352)
by gdanjo on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:51:14 PM EST

Same concept, different dialogue. Note how, though both debaters have their own ideas about god(s), they are only able to discuss those ideas at point (2), after they have agreed on their terms in point (1).
What you have shown is a superficial projection of your concept of God onto the Viking, thus placing his God in your God-mould. You have no idea what the Vikings God is, where he is, what he does, and how he does it - you're assuming that your values - like what God does for you - are his values.

You're making so many assumptions in that dialogue that you have already implicitly defined what the Viking's God is. Let's say that the Viking's "main" God was Thor; in the above dialogue you would immediately associate your God with what he calls Thor, but you would have completely missed the fact that he has MANY MORE God's because you cannot unambiguously communicate your concept of God to him, and he would not have associated your one-God with his other Gods. "That's a separate thing, puny man!" he would say (or not say - the question of whether or not there is a "separate thing" in your one-concept concept will never come up, because you have already pre-defined your concept of God, and he won't question it further since he has found a matching concept!).

Of course, in this case you'd be aware of the many-God's definition and you would disambiguate it - but this will not do; what if there's another defintion that you do not know about? What if, in the above example, the concept of "many God's" was so alien as to be laughable, and immediately dismissed?

What's so frightening about defining "soul" as "the immaterial essence, undetectable by any physical means, which is responsible for our personality, morality, and consciousness" ? That's about as un-scientific as you can get, too.
Because the "soul" could be material and it could be detectable.

No, personally I am starting to think that you're so insecure about your beliefs, that you refuse to committing to believing in anything. This way, no one can refute you, right ?
Yes, I'm trying to find an irrefutable definition of "soul." Aren't you?

And as for my beliefs, I really don't care whether a soul exists or not; I'm not a practicing Catholic anyway, I just find their ideas fascinating.

The bottom line is that religion has withstood the onslaught of scientific reductionism and rationalism (not undamaged, but still standing) and I want to know why. It's easy to say "because they are stoopid" or "because they want to believe" but this is saying nothing.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Did you read my post ? (none / 1) (#353)
by bugmaster on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 01:10:42 AM EST

Firstly, I don't pretend to be an expert on Vikings or their mythology; the Viking I made up is just as fictional as the Christian. It's a sock puppet analogy, not a Ph.D. thesis in mythology. Still, I don't think you read it carefully enough. You say:
in the above dialogue you would immediately associate your God with what he calls Thor, but you would have completely missed the fact that he has MANY MORE God's
And yet, the Viking says:
V: Ah, you mean the invisible big people in the sky ! That's the Aesir. Aesir tough but fair. Except Loki, he's a bastard...
V: Silly puny man. You think just one god could take care of lightning and crops and crafts and knowledge and sweet sweet lovin' ?
It would seem that the Viking believes in many gods (the Aesir, that's plural); and at least one of them is not nice (Loki). Ok, so I did give the Viking a preference for Thor, but that's just because I personally think Thor is cool -- not because I think he's the only one.

What if, in the above example, the concept of "many God's" was so alien as to be laughable, and immediately dismissed?
Again, you're confusing labels with concepts. Think back to the frumple (a carnivorous smurf that is invisible and likes tacos). The concept itself is utterly laughable, and yet it is perfectly clear. Read my first sock puppet comment, and compare the two dialogues again.
Yes, I'm trying to find an irrefutable definition of "soul." Aren't you?
Absolutely not. I am trying to figure out what you mean by the sequence of letters "S-O-U-L", regardless of how wrong I think that you are. Once I accomplish this (apparently insurmountable) task, I can proceed to pointing out why I think you're wrong, or even why I think you're right. However, right now, I have no idea at all what you mean by "S-O-U-L", and thus I can have no opinion whatsoever about it.

I think it is undenyable that "religion has withstood the onslaught of rationalism" (though I am not sure what "scientific reductionalism" is). I think it's also pretty obvious that the power of religion has been on the wane ever since the Middle Ages. It would be interesting to discuss the causes for all this... but... how does this relate to anything we've talked about before ?
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

rejection (none / 0) (#355)
by gdanjo on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:14:23 AM EST

It would seem that the Viking believes in many gods (the Aesir, that's plural); and at least one of them is not nice (Loki). [...]
But what if the concept of "many Gods" did not 'click' to you? That is, I say "many Gods" and to you it's as meaningless as "being many times Pregnant"?

In other words, for each "concept" I try to communicate, you need to find the "best match" concept to begin with - but what if you don't have a "best match"?

Absolutely not. I am trying to figure out what you mean by the sequence of letters "S-O-U-L", regardless of how wrong I think that you are. Once I accomplish this (apparently insurmountable) task, I can proceed to pointing out why I think you're wrong, or even why I think you're right. However, right now, I have no idea at all what you mean by "S-O-U-L", and thus I can have no opinion whatsoever about it.
I've given you one piece of information about the soul from where we can begin, it's just that you reject it. The one piece of information is: "it exists."

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Too Bad (none / 1) (#356)
by bugmaster on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:33:39 AM EST

But what if the concept of "many Gods" did not 'click' to you? That is, I say "many Gods" and to you it's as meaningless as "being many times Pregnant"?
Wait, so, before this I was apparently projecting my monotheism onto the Viking. But now, you're saying that polytheism should be incomprehensible to me. Can you pick one ? I will answer your direct question in a minute.
for each "concept" I try to communicate, you need to find the "best match" concept to begin with - but what if you don't have a "best match"?
Then we cannot communicate. At all. Your mindset is so alien that we can find no common ground whatsoever, and our words sound like gibberish to each other. Now, personally, I think you're being disingenuous when you claim such alien status, but who knows.
I've given you one piece of information about the soul from where we can begin, it's just that you reject it. The one piece of information is: "it exists."
This is so vague as to be no information at all. If this is the only criterion I have to go by, then I am forced to assume that the label "S-O-U-L" can stand for anything that exists -- cars, tax returns, planets, galaxies, gods, grease stains, etc.

I can envision three possibilities:

  • Your mindset is so truly alien that communication with you (at least, regarding spiritual matters) is impossible.
  • You are deliberately obfuscating your viewpoint in order to seem wise and mysterious.
  • You are honestly confused, and don't know what the words you are using actually mean, if anything.
In any case, I agree with the other posters on this thread: communication with you (regarding souls, at least) is impossible. I think this discussion is, therefore, over.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
my definition of soul (none / 0) (#358)
by gdanjo on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:03:22 AM EST

Then we cannot communicate. At all. Your mindset is so alien that we can find no common ground whatsoever, and our words sound like gibberish to each other. Now, personally, I think you're being disingenuous when you claim such alien status, but who knows.
No, no, it's an intellectual exercise. I posess a concept that I am unable to communicate to you (as in, I cannot put it into technical words) - even in concept - is it possible to "communicate" this concept (as in, to make this concept somehow appear in your mind)?

This is so vague as to be no information at all. If this is the only criterion I have to go by, then I am forced to assume that the label "S-O-U-L" can stand for anything that exists -- cars, tax returns, planets, galaxies, gods, grease stains, etc.
You're missing the point: it's something that exists but is not(thing), for all things; each time you propose a thing that might be the soul, it is a-priori not. And yet it is something.

This is the closest definition of soul I have come to. Thanks.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Take the long view (none / 0) (#82)
by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 11:12:02 AM EST

I said: Any religion that is in conflict with reality must eventually fade away.

You said: That's a bold statement.

Yes, it is. I'm trying to look thousands, if not millions of years into the future. If civilization hasn't perished by then, I fully expect that any surviving relgion would have to be based on truth rather than on faith.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

Pfft (none / 1) (#87)
by ShiftyStoner on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:38:48 PM EST

 There will always be religions that conflict with realety. I doubt the religions of today would make a couple thousand more years. But there will always be the sheep and the wolves. There will be those who will create stupid religions to control people, people who are very good at manipualtion and control. There will always be people for whom the idea of not having to think for themselves is just to damn good.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
You may be right (none / 0) (#88)
by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:46:19 PM EST

But why not try to preempt the wolves by leading the sheep to the truth rather than to the slaughter?

In the long run, humanity has to grow up, one way or another. Otherwise, we will perish.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]

What does truth have to do with survival? (none / 0) (#308)
by abburdlen on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 12:40:56 AM EST

Dinosaurs did fairly well without a silly religion, and bactria have done fantastic.

[ Parent ]
Boooooo (none / 1) (#110)
by handslikesnakes on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:04:10 PM EST

Einstein's three-pound chunk continues to inspire, teach, etc. Has his "soul" been completely extinguished? If not then the soul has some detachment from body. If yes then how do you explain Eistein's continuing influence on the world? Whatever this is, you may as well call it soul (for now... until we find a better name).

Einstein stopped inspiring and teaching way back in 1955; what continues to inspire and teach are his ideas, recorded for posterity. I see no reason to attribute this to any sort of abstract "soul".

Using religious terms and metaphors to explain non-religious ideas is a bad idea; it confuses the issues and encourages people to make silly claims.



[ Parent ]
My view (none / 1) (#128)
by epepke on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:36:53 PM EST

I stole this from somebody. Saying that the soul survives the body is like saying that 60 MPH survives the wreck of the car.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
faith (2.80 / 5) (#37)
by gdanjo on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 09:35:34 PM EST

Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth. This is, in fact, the primary goal of science, but in existing religions it competes with other goals. When the teachings of religion are in conflict with the evidence of science, religious people are surprisingly unconcerned. For example, there is no evidence that God exists, or that there is life after death, but religious people consider these to be matters of faith rather than of knowledge.
A "search for truth" has two possible meanings: is it a search for a thing that exists outside ourselves - a thing called truth? Or is the search performed to define within ourselves what "truth" means?

If it is the former, then Science definately has religion beat, for it has far more evidence of this external entity than religion. But if it is the later, then I'm afraid Science is not as far ahead of religion as you seem to think.

How does a rational religious person reconcile these contradictions? The answer is that the fundamental purpose of religion is to provide comfort, rather than truth. [...]
This is only valid if you believe that an external truth is greater than an internal (or "inherent", "self", "relative", "subjective") truth. And your guess at the fundamental purpose of religion is, at the very least, incomplete.

[...] Where children have Santa Claus, adults have God.
... and scientists have axioms.

[...] Thus, evolution hard-wired religion into the human brain. Our non-believing ancestors tended to have fewer children than the believers did. This is why atheists are a rarity today. People have an in-born, biological need for religion, especially in times of stress. It would be foolish for rational thinkers to ignore this need.
Whoa there big fella! 'Hard-wired' is a little presumptuous, don't you think? While you may find it "natural" to attribute a universal tendency in the scientific God of DNA, you must either a) show evidence for it (either GOD DNA or the GOD mind module) or b) discredit the other view, that the concept of God is universal because God himself is universal, as all religions assert.

By your reasoning, everyone wears clothes; therefore, clothes are hard-wired into our brain. While this may be "true" at a superficial level, aren't you trying to remove the superficial beleifs/knowledge from your new religion?

Why is there no religion based on science rather than on faith? [...]
What about Scientology? Just kidding :-)

There IS a religion based on science: meta-mathematics; the religion of Axioms. Science is based on faith of axioms just as religion is based on faith of God, they're just different kind of faiths (as different as Christianity and Buddhism).

Science describes a universe that is far larger, more complex, and awe-inspiring than that of any religion. [...]
Umm, I'd hate to break it to you, but religion describes the very same universe that science does - they just go about it in different ways.

We are at the beginning of a great journey. [...]
Hmm, I bet every "peoples" thought that they were at the beginning of a great journey - what makes you think everyone up to now was wrong, and you're right?

Perhaps "great journeys" are embedded in our DNA? (like, those that didn't believe in the Great Journey were killed, or left behind to eat grass, while the Journey-ers went on to get the chicks with stories of their phallic-laden Great Journey?)

The First Pillar: Why is there something rather than nothing?
Because, at the Great Epoch, the definition of "something" and "nothing" were exactly the same; thus, to ask Why is there something rather than nothing? is to ask Why is there Ice-cream rather than milk? Ice-cream is a type-of milk; milk is therefore a (negative) type-of ice-cream. Similarly, nothing and everything are both types of each other.

Personally, I find this (famous?) existential question rather insipid. Who said there's no nothing in the universe?

[other pillars snipped]

The Church of the Long Now is sorely needed. Were it to exist, it would combine science with the best of existing religions. [...]
The problem is that in answering what "best of existing religions" is, you implicitly create a dogma that will eventually strangle you into paradox. Godel told me so.

While I like the idea of a 10,000 year clock, I don't like the idea of mixing religion with science, because a) it is an insult to religious people (just as scientists may find it offensive to declare "why don't we combine religion with the best of science to create a BETTER science?!"), and b) science already has elements of faith within it; introducing another element of faith would be redundant.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT

good grief (none / 2) (#48)
by yoders on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:49:02 AM EST

It's just plain ridiculous to think that so many things accidentally went right over millenia to the point where man emerged.

And science is based on precisely as much faith as religion. After all, there is absolutely zero proof that anything exists outside of your mind. None. It is impossible for me to prove the existence of anything to you, it could all be part of your imagination. You have to take it on faith that it isn't, because there is no way to prove otherwise.

And as for believing that some all powerful God created everything... seems like a convenient cop out huh? Well, go back to the beginning... the big bang. Or the first big bang, since the last i heard there have been two previous big bangs followed by big collapses, and we're on the third. Where did that matter come from for the first big bang. Did it exist forever (like God)? Did it just magically come into existence (i.e. it was created)?

It seems like every year scientists throw out a new age for the universe, or the shape of it, which is even funnier. And take a look here: at scientific american. Scientists are peering back 10 billion years with a telescope, and guess what they found? Fully formed galaxies where they say there should be none. It debunks their theory of the evolution of galaxies. When you get right down to it, has science ever gotten anything right? Give a theory enough time and they all seem to be debunked and suplanted by the next big thing.

[ Parent ]
Oh please (none / 0) (#89)
by cdguru on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:52:36 PM EST

There are two sorts of ideas: those that can be confirmed in the shared environment we collectively call "reality", and those that cannot be confirmed. People that believe everthing belongs to the first category we choose to call "religous" or "fruitcakes" depending on their dedication to this. People who believe everything belongs to the second category have chosen an alternate plane of existance and no longer share in what many of the rest of humanity calls "reality". They are therefore irrelevant.

Religion specializes in providing untestable explanations for usually subjective events. Science is a discipline for describing and testing non-subjective events. I don't see where they intersect much, except when religion starts to invade on testable, non-subjective events.

The idea that it is impossible to prove the existance of anything is called solipsism and it is a very attractive mind trap. By this I mean that if you subscribe to this belief then obviously nothing counts for anything and there are no consequences - at least none that are useful. I offer that this is also an extremely dangerous belief, for both the believer and those nearby.

[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 1) (#100)
by ShiftyStoner on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:43:53 PM EST

If you believe in science you live in a world tht constantly changes. One day there is some sort of gas between everything in the universe the next it just so happen there is nothing until it's decided there is something. The atom is the smalest thing, turnes out there are three things smaller, until it's decided the'res something smaller. Except really the universe cant consantly change at the wim of humans perception, or can it, science says no but what hasnt science been wrong about.

So what is real. You can't prov anything, therfore only your perceptions of the world are real.

You saying that the person who believes this is dangerouse is like the religiose person who says without god you can't have morals.

The person who believs this choses not to take either of the false beliefs sysems. In realety, the religiose person, the scientist and the guy who thinks your a figmant of his imagination are all equaly dangerouse to you. They all are capable of doing horrible things. The religiouse might burn at the cross, the scientist might disect you, the guy who thinks you arn't real might use you as a tool. Humans are dangerouse to themselves and all other life on the planet no matter what they believe.

I personaly believe that the only thing thats real is my perceptions of realety. They could all be false, it's likely they are, but the perceptions are real, my thoughts and feelings on them are real and that's all I know for fact. However why am I talking to you if it's likely your not even real. Because I chose to believe that people are real, I go along with it so I can acctualy enjoy my life. But I always no in the back of my mind that this entire univers is likely a grand dream.

It would really get annoying to consatly bring up the fact that everything is fake. Not to mention confusing. Because I do have beliefs, I go with whatever I feel and think. I don't go with what science tells me to think, what the government tells me to think or what religion tells me to think. If I feel something is wrong than it is wrong, if I dont feel bad about killing you than killing you isn't wrong. And if I want to kill you I will.

But outside of me I rationalize what is wrong and right for everyone else, what the truth is about this imagined universe that I am restrained to. So I'll say the sun real, talk as if you and everything I see is real. I'm not going to go in a dream and start telling it it's a dream am I, that would be silly. Unless I was getting something out of it. Like right now, I'm thinking, I like thinking, I like seing what you silly little imagined people think about my thinking.

I am entertained by watching all youlittle imaginary freinds/enemies converse.

Of course I also know good and well that it is quit likely at least a good portion of you people are real.

The funny thing is though even if this realety is real it tells me itself it could be fake following the rules of itself. I could be dreaming, I could be in the matrix or about a million variations of it, millions of reasons i could be in a big copueter game. Millions of reason my perceptions could be fake without being in a dream or computer.  
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

So close and yet so far (none / 2) (#163)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:13:39 AM EST

If you believe in science you live in a world tht constantly changes.
Actually, if you "believe in science" (what a weird way to put it... you're using a computer now, aren't you ? powered by electricity ? just checking), then you believe in a world whose laws are virtually unchanging. You also believe that our knowledge of these laws is imperfect, and thus changes over time (Aristotle/Newton/Einstein). Your "perceptions of the world" are imperfect, and the best you can do is determine, approximately, how imperfect they are.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
Was just thinking about this the other day... (none / 0) (#364)
by unDees on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:37:36 PM EST

I was just wondering the other day why the universe seems to have fairly consistent laws in some cases. Like, why doesn't gravity just work differently across the room than it does here? Why are Newton's Laws a good approximation on a lot of the scales we care about?

Does this measure of apparent consistency mean someone must have "created" some kind of perfectly mechanical toy obeying all these laws? Or do we see consistency because that's what we're looking for? I tend to drift toward the second explanation: it doesn't really matter whether or not the universe really is consistent; we make consistent-sounding models because that's what we know how to do, and we refine the models to make them better ones. Maybe there's an invisible pink elephant controlling everything at her whim, but who cares? We can probably model her just fine with quarks and leptons and whatnot.

I don't think science requires or even asks for us to "believe" in it, as if white-coated lab jockeys had suddenly replaced black-frocked priests as purveyors of Truth-with-a-capital-T.

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

Probability (none / 1) (#319)
by ffrinch on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:40:06 AM EST

It's just plain ridiculous to think that so many things accidentally went right over millenia to the point where man emerged.

Take a six-sided die. Roll it a few hundred times, noting the results. Now multiply them together.

Oh dear! The probability that those hundreds of rolls would go in precisely that sequence is infinitesimal! It's just plain ridiculous to think that so many things accidentally went "right" to the point where that result emerged. Clearly, those dice rolls never happened.

-◊-
"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick
[ Parent ]

Axioms \cap faith = Ø (none / 1) (#146)
by esben on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:57:28 AM EST

Axioms have nothing to do with faith.

Axioms are simply major assumptions, what-ifs. They found the foundation of a mathematical theory, which, in essence, tries to answer the question: "If we assume these axioms, what will follow (logically)". "Follow" in this content means "according to the rules of logic".

Anyone who claims that science is just a religion because axioms are matter of faith do not understand axioms at all.

Oh yeah, I'm a real life mathmatician bla bla



[ Parent ]
ya gotsta have faith (none / 2) (#150)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:13:53 AM EST

Axioms are simply major assumptions, what-ifs. They found the foundation of a mathematical theory, which, in essence, tries to answer the question: "If we assume these axioms, what will follow (logically)". "Follow" in this content means "according to the rules of logic".

Anyone who claims that science is just a religion because axioms are matter of faith do not understand axioms at all.

Fine. If science is not a religion, then religion is a science. Religious axioms are "God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and wholly good" and religious discourse is "If we assume these axioms, what can/may/will follow (whether logically or not)." But in this case, mathematics is a subset of religion/philosophy in that it ignores non-logical (arational) belief.

No matter how you twist it, you cannot get away from the "larger view" of mathematics that it relies on unverified, unproved, and essentially arbitrary points of existence. These assumptions may result in better or more useful solutions than religion, but that's not the point; it's faith in all but name.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

so close... (none / 2) (#151)
by esben on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:46:31 AM EST

you are so close, but not quite there...

Mathematics changes their axioms. Faiths do not. That is a difference, and why I tried to stress the what-if. Faith is not about "what if there was a God? What consequence could be deducted from this, if it was true? How about the opposite?". Math is.

It is correct that mathematical axioms are unproven, unverified and indeed sometimes really weird. That is the nature of mathematics; it is the science of what-if-this-is-true. Math and philosophy have closely related branches; and both find in the other the closest related field. But do not say religion/philosophi. Religion does not play what-if games. Religion concerns itself about reality by trying to explain why the world is like it is; math does not. Indeed, mathematics tells us about the real world..

What confuses people are the concept of a model. A physic theory is typically a mathematical model of reality. This makes people think that mathematics have something to do with the real world. It doesn't.

[ Parent ]

molds (none / 0) (#191)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 12:19:27 PM EST

Mathematics changes their axioms. Faiths do not. [...]
Excuse me? Perhaps singular "faiths" don't change their axioms, but this is overriden by the fact that there are many religions, each with their own "faith." This has the effect of having multiple, usable faiths, and we then have a method of choosing between them.

Science also has a swathe of "-isms", but we don't go around saying they're not science because they have the possibility to be wrong - in fact, they are science precisely because they could be wrong.

Religion does not play what-if games. [...]
I find it ironic that science declares dogmas non-scientific because they are unchangeable; and yet, when a religious person tries to give their own (different) interpretation, they are struck down because we should have dogmas that are unchangable - otherwise it's not religion!

I am religious, and I play "what-if" games with religious doctrine (as have many theologians).

What confuses people are the concept of a model. A physic theory is typically a mathematical model of reality. This makes people think that mathematics have something to do with the real world. It doesn't.
Could not the same be said about religion? That it does not actually deal with the real world (as some fallible humans' interpretation of the Bible seems to imply)? That religion deals with that which is not real, like your extra-human (as in "outside of") humanity?

Of course not. If a religious person were reasonable about their faith, and the limits of it, then they are immediately labeled unreligious - since religious people are supposed to be stubborn pricks!

Sorry I don't fit your mold you created for me.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Method (none / 1) (#199)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:46:08 PM EST

Perhaps singular "faiths" don't change their axioms, but this is overriden by the fact that there are many religions, each with their own "faith." This has the effect of having multiple, usable faiths, and we then have a method of choosing between them.
What's the method ? In other words, let's say you have faiths A and B, which have diametrically opposed axioms. How do you know which one to pick ?

You are absolutely right about dogmas being unchangeable. That's what makes them dogmas, you know. Why is that ironic ? You can interpret them in whatever way you like, but, in religion, you have no reliable mechanism for determining if your interpretation is right. So, you can either start your own religion, with your own set of unchangeable dogmas that differ from every other religion -- or subscribe to one of the existing ones. That doesn't neccessarily make you a stubborn prick, though I suppose you could still choose to be one.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

stratehgies (none / 1) (#262)
by gdanjo on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:48:20 AM EST

What's the method ? In other words, let's say you have faiths A and B, which have diametrically opposed axioms. How do you know which one to pick ?
You really should get out of the habit of classifying everything religious as "stupid." The way you chose is to read up on/practice/talk to practitioners - in other words test each religion to see which one suits you. The one to pick is the one that suits you the best.

Is this not what science/maths does? Pick some axioms and see where it takes you? And you choose axioms based on what you want to get out of the answers? Oh no, that's not it, we're stoopid! We can't fink for teh-selves!

You are absolutely right about dogmas being unchangeable. That's what makes them dogmas, you know. Why is that ironic ? You can interpret them in whatever way you like, but, in religion, you have no reliable mechanism for determining if your interpretation is right. [...]
Once again you hide behind vague words to make religious faith look baseless. What's a "reliable mechanism"? Isn't it a relativistic concept? (as in, method X is "reliable" to gain answer Y). Or, in other words, what is a "reliable method" to figure out what morality should guide us?

And what's "right" in this context? Is Buddhism more "right" than Christianity? Does such a question even make any sense without a reference to what you're trying to (reliably) achieve?

You have to understand that I'm not trying to say that "religion is better than science" or "science is as bad as religion" but "science and religion have similar (but different) aims, have similar (but different) underlying assumptions, and similar (but different) target audience." The effect of this statement, if true, means that science does not contain anything inherent within it that makes it "better" than religion; they're basically the same thing - methods and reasons to search - with differing strategies.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Stupidity (none / 0) (#350)
by bugmaster on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:42:01 PM EST

What's the method ? In other words, let's say you have faiths A and B, which have diametrically opposed axioms. How do you know which one to pick ?
You really should get out of the habit of classifying everything religious as "stupid."
That doesn't answer my question at all. Or address it in any manner. Or refer to anything I've said. Try again, please.
Is this not what science/maths does? Pick some axioms and see where it takes you?
Math maybe, but not science. In science, there's the additional constraint of ensuring that your theories correctly predict experimental results -- so your choice of axioms is fairly limited.
Once again you hide behind vague words to make religious faith look baseless.
Isn't faith by definition baseless ? Otherwise it would be knowledge, or an educated guess, not faith. Note that "baseless" doesn't automatically mean "evil", in case you're about to start ranting again. But I think you understand what I'm talking about, in part, because you say:
And what's "right" in this context? Is Buddhism more "right" than Christianity? Does such a question even make any sense without a reference to what you're trying to (reliably) achieve?
This is precisely what I'd asked you in my own post. Apparently, when I ask you this, you're stupid, but when you ask me the same thing, you're smart. In any case, since I asked you this very question, I'll wait for your answer.

You keep saying that "science and religion are the same", but you've never said why. I, on the other hand, listed some actual reasons for why I think they're different. The ball is now in your court.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

But axioms are still not faith.. (none / 0) (#211)
by esben on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:50:59 PM EST

Excuse me? Perhaps singular "faiths" don't change their axioms, but this is overriden by the fact that there are many religions, each with their own "faith." This has the effect of having multiple, usable faiths, and we then have a method of choosing between them.

That, in my humble opionion, is just nonsense. The fact remain: Within one faith you cannot change a principle (say, God is immortal) with another (Godhood is passed between generations of God.) Ask question like that, and you no have a faith. On the contrary, in math, you could say "Parallel lines never meet" and work from there. The only price is that you have to start all over proven every theorem you can. That multiple faith exists is irrelevant; and besides, they are all more less the same --- Basically, be nice to your fellow believers, and you will be rewarded..

...Science also has a swathe of "-isms", ...

Science have. Math do not. I thought we were discussing math; axioms, at least, is a math-only thing (in sciences).

... That religion deals with that which is not real, like your extra-human (as in "outside of") humanity?

Maybe I am just stupid, but that was just a sequence of words for me. If religion does not deal with reality, why should I have any faith in any gOD? I cannot imagine any extra-human religius content, except maybe in aliens, which are sort of humans in different shapes (as are gods).

If a religious person were reasonable about their faith, and the limits of it, then they are immediately labeled unreligious - since religious people are supposed to be stubborn pricks!

I do not think I have ever called anyone unreligious, except delcare agnostic and aethetic people, who usually like that label. I am happy to hear that you are reasonable, which is always a good trait, and kudos for that. I just cannot, and I am very sorry for that, cannot shake the feeling that religious people can't see what's before their eyes --- which is frustrating. E.g., the bible is obviously written by humans, for humans.

I am sorry, I am rambling, and I need to go! The point was, and still stands, Axioms have nothing to do with faith.



[ Parent ]
oh no, I'm blind! (none / 0) (#248)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:17:30 PM EST

That, in my humble opionion, is just nonsense. The fact remain: Within one faith you cannot change a principle (say, God is immortal) with another (Godhood is passed between generations of God.) [...]
"God is immortal" is an underlying assumption similar to asserting that axioms should be followed.

Ask question like that, and you no have a faith. [...]
Break the rules of axioms and you have no maths.

On the contrary, in math, you could say "Parallel lines never meet" and work from there. [...]
In religion, you could say "imagine if we all behaved this way" and work from there.

[on "-isms"] Science have. Math do not. I thought we were discussing math; axioms, at least, is a math-only thing (in sciences).
Fine. Maths has a swathe of theories/proofs, some of which are wrong, but we don't go around saying that they're not maths. Better?

Maybe I am just stupid, but that was just a sequence of words for me. If religion does not deal with reality, why should I have any faith in any gOD? [...]
First, I'm not telling you to. I'm saying that my belief is God is as rational as your belief in axioms, that's all. Second, religion deals with an imaginary world in that it talks about how to reach a utopia through certain rules (dogmas) of living.

[...] I just cannot, and I am very sorry for that, cannot shake the feeling that religious people can't see what's before their eyes --- which is frustrating. E.g., the bible is obviously written by humans, for humans.
Of course it was written by humans - it was also interpreted by humans, which is where the errors come in (you know, human nature and all).

As for my blindness, belief in God humbles me - forces me - to acknoledge my blindness, and that God will help me find my way. You also have a "blindness" that you freely acknowledge: the "faith" (I don't particularly care what you call it) in axioms. Mathematics, too, acknowledges this blindness and works around it in different ways.

What makes me more blind than you? And I don't mean "you don't see X or Y or Z" - I mean, fundamentally, why is my blindness somehow leading me to a ditch, whereas your blindness is leading to "the truth"?

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Math is not seeing and axioms are stuff-o-mind (none / 0) (#371)
by esben on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 09:13:19 AM EST

"God is immortal" is an underlying assumption similar to asserting that axioms should be followed. [...] Break the rules of axioms and you have no maths.

And this is where you are wrong. I could, e.g., say "Parallel Lines does meet", use this instead of Euclid's axiom and the math would be fine... if different. But this is not wrong, and does not destroy any math.

Fine. Maths has a swathe of theories/proofs, some of which are wrong, but we don't go around saying that they're not maths. Better?

No. Baring simple mistakes (which are usually short lived). mathematical "theories" are either proved, disproved or conjectures (neither proven nor unproven) or independent (neither true nor untrue given the current set of axioms). There is no such thing as wrong; though a theorem (approx. statement) could be false. Or true. Or neither.

First, I'm not telling you to. I'm saying that my belief is God is as rational as your belief in axioms, that's all. Second, religion deals with an imaginary world in that it talks about how to reach a utopia through certain rules (dogmas) of living.

But there is no belief in axioms. I don't believe in axioms... which would be an absurd thing to do in any case. Axioms are merely a convenience: Instead of having to list them all the time, we can write them down once and implicitly or explicitly say "consider these axioms to be true. Then I can prove the following consequence."

I would not consider belief in God rational, but I do not care what label you put onto belief. I find believing in God self-deceiving, and I find self-deceit wrong. I do not want to impose my sense of right and/or wrong on you, however, so feel free to (dis)believe whatever you want. Just explaining my stance.

As for the reality/imaginary, you're saying that if everybody behaved according to some religion everybody will be more happy(?) That sounds to me like a theory about the real world, no? Of course it was written by humans

I am very happy you can see that :-D

As for blindness and truth, I do not believe that mathematics will lead you to "the truth" if there is such a thing. At best, it can help you model the real world and/or discover flawed arguments

Sorry for the lousy quoting; this forums quote system seems to be rather nonexisting.

[ Parent ]

If religion were a science (none / 1) (#153)
by outis on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:04:45 AM EST

then it would make testable predictions.

[ Parent ]
if only if (none / 0) (#190)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 12:08:44 PM EST

[If religion were a science] then it would make testable predictions.
If science were not a type-of religion, then it would not have faith in axioms.

So then my original statement must be true: science it a type-of religion.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#232)
by outis on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 07:23:34 PM EST

Science doesn't have faith in axioms. It just sees what can be deduced from them.

[ Parent ]
Yep. (none / 0) (#247)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:01:05 PM EST

Science doesn't have faith in axioms. It just sees what can be deduced from them.
Religion does not have faith in dogma. It just asserts that we will live better and please God if we follow them.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Or not (none / 2) (#159)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:37:32 AM EST

Fine. If science is not a religion, then religion is a science.
Uh, no, this doesn't automatically follow. There is a critical difference between science and religion: science makes testable predictions that yield testable results. Religion makes predictions (or flat-out dogmas) which cannot be tested in principle. Which doesn't make them necessarily invalid, but does make them unscientific.

Math does rely on a few basic axioms; however, they are not religious domgas. They are more or less agreed on by convention (and because they seem to yield interesting applications) -- not handed down from the mountain or whatnot. Additionally, mathematic axioms carry no moral imperatives; they don't tell you how to live, what to eat, etc. And, perhaps most importantly, mathematical axioms are statements about math; they are not statements about our physical reality, or some undetectable spiritual reality, or history, or anything else of that sort.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

circular circles (none / 0) (#188)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 12:05:10 PM EST

Uh, no, this doesn't automatically follow. There is a critical difference between science and religion: science makes testable predictions that yield testable results. Religion makes predictions (or flat-out dogmas) which cannot be tested in principle. Which doesn't make them necessarily invalid, but does make them unscientific.
Is it just me, or is this a self-referential argument?

"There is a critical difference between science and religion: religion makes assumptions that cannot be tested. Science makes predictions which can. This does not make them necessarily invalid, but it does make them unreligious."

Math does rely on a few basic axioms; however, they are not religious domgas. They are more or less agreed on by convention (and because they seem to yield interesting applications) -- not handed down from the mountain or whatnot. [...]
Is it just me, or is this a self-referential argument?

"Religion does rely on a few basic dogmas; however, they are not scientific axioms. They are more or less agreed on by a large body of people (and because many people continue to believe it, even if they're not forced to) -- not passed on through books and secular indoctrination."

Additionally, mathematic axioms carry no moral imperatives; they don't tell you how to live, what to eat, etc. [...]
"No moral imperative" is a moral imperative; it's called moral relativism.

And, perhaps most importantly, mathematical axioms are statements about math; they are not statements about our physical reality, or some undetectable spiritual reality, or history, or anything else of that sort.
Is it just me, or is ... nevermind. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

What the who now ? (none / 1) (#194)
by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:18:47 PM EST

Wha ??? I claimed that religion and science are critically different. I pointed out at least one critical difference: their diametrically opposed methodologies. How is that self-referential ? Well, if by "self-referential" you mean, "an argument that refers to the claim in some way", then yeah, it is. We also call those type of arguments as "relevant" or "having a point". *shrug*

"No moral imperative" is a moral imperative; it's called moral relativism.
Wrong. There's a difference between relativism, which asserts that all people are morally the same (simplification, I know), and math. "2+2=4" doesn't say anything about how you should treat your fellow man, what the value of a human life is, etc. etc. It's just a statement about numbers. Calling that moral relativism is like saying, "this thermometer doesn't tell me which way North is, so that means it doesn't matter which way I go to get out of this forest".

I have also pointed out at least one difference between religion and math: religion makes claims about the nature of our world ("god exists", "god created the Earth 6000 years ago", "god makes lightning come down", etc.), whereas math just makes claims about, well, math (symbol manipulation).

If you disagree with me, point out why, don't just wave your hand and say "that's self-referential, and therefore I'm right". All that does is make you look silly.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]

mafs and welijun (none / 1) (#246)
by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:56:59 PM EST

Wha ??? I claimed that religion and science are critically different. I pointed out at least one critical difference: their diametrically opposed methodologies. How is that self-referential ?
You're claiming that religion has a different methodology to science because religion has a different methodology to science. While I agree with this simple notion, if you go back and read your post you'll see that you're making a moral judgement on the usefulness of religion. Specifically:

Math does rely on a few basic axioms; however, they are not religious domgas. [...]
This "however, they are not religious dogmas" is an implication that mathematical axioms are somehow "better" than religious dogma. They're different, of course, but there's also a "sameness" in there as well, which you refuse to acknowledge.

Wrong. There's a difference between relativism, which asserts that all people are morally the same (simplification, I know), and math. "2+2=4" doesn't say anything about how you should treat your fellow man, what the value of a human life is, etc. etc. [...]
Sure, "2+2" doesn't say anything about morality, but the very act of NOT saying anything about morality is saying something about morality: that it doesn't exist (or, that it doesn't affect the mathematical world).

I have also pointed out at least one difference between religion and math: religion makes claims about the nature of our world ("god exists", "god created the Earth 6000 years ago", "god makes lightning come down", etc.), whereas math just makes claims about, well, math (symbol manipulation).
Sure, maths makes statements about a "world" called maths, and religion makes statements about a "world" also, which may or may not be our world (ignore, for now, man's assumption that it is about our world). The battle between the two - the place where they intersect - is in the claim to which "world view" is closer to our own. (it is in this sense that mathematics' absence of claims to morality is a moral statement).

Now, if you do not wish for mathematics and religion to "battle" in this way, then talk to your fellow mathematicians that claim that mathematics is the One True Language of the universe.

If you disagree with me, point out why, don't just wave your hand and say "that's self-referential, and therefore I'm right". All that does is make you look silly.
If you claim that religion and mathematics are different, then point out why, don't just claim they're different because one is mathematics and one is religion. Sure, there are differences between the methods, but they are essentially trying to explain the same thing, and beneath both lies the same thing: faith.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Misunderstanding (none / 1) (#252)
by bugmaster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:05:59 AM EST

if you go back and read your post you'll see that you're making a moral judgement on the usefulness of religion.
Ah, sorry if I was unclear. It was most certainly NOT my intent to pass judgement on religion, or science, or anything. I did not claim that religion was evil, nor did I claim that it was good.
This "however, they are not religious dogmas" is an implication that mathematical axioms are somehow "better" than religious dogma.
No, this was not what I meant. Earlier on you said that math and religions were identical because they both rely on axioms. I challenged this notion by pointing out that the axioms they rely on are different in nature. Again, I did not claim that one set of axioms is morally better than another in any way.
but the very act of NOT saying anything about morality is saying something about morality: that it doesn't exist (or, that it doesn't affect the mathematical world).
I confess: I believe that morality, while it does exist (well, at least in our minds), does not affect the mathematical world in the slightest. Is it immoral to take derivatives of polynomial functions ? What an odd notion. Hmm... Are odd numbers evil ?
and religion makes statements about a "world" also, which may or may not be our world (ignore, for now, man's assumption that it is about our world).
I can't, since this is what most major religions claim.

In any case, I believe that I did adequately point out at least one difference between religion and math. I can list more, if you like:

  • Religious dogmas make claims about the world we inhabit; math axioms do not.
  • Religious dogmas usually carry moral imperatives with them; math axioms are morally neutral (or "morality-agnostic", if you like).
  • Religious texts are very open to interpretation; mathematical texts generally are not.
  • Religious doctrines are concerned with individual humans and their behavior (i.e., they are "personal"); math is concerned with symbolic manipulation with no regard for who is performing it.
Of course, not all religions espouse all these traits; I just picked some of the most common ones. Note, again, that I am not claiming that religion is superior to math or vice versa; they're just radically different things.
>|<*:=
[ Parent ]
the end is nigh... (none / 1) (#264)
by gdanjo on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:31:23 AM EST

I confess: I believe that morality, while it does exist (well, at least in our minds), does not affect the mathematical world in the slightest. Is it immoral to take derivatives of polynomial functions ? What an odd notion. Hmm... Are odd numbers evil ?
Yeah, it's an odd notion, but it's one that we must face if we are to accept that mathematics is the best mechanism to describe the world.

Charles Darwin also made statements about nature that have no implication on morality, and yet these ideas became so powerful that morality was attributed to them by the Nazi party (you could say that evolution was so generic that it "fit" all kinds of world-views, including insidious and "evil" ones).

*BING* *BING* *BING* I've mentioned Nazi's, so we must now end this thread :-)

I must confess that this thread has been an intellectual challenge for me, but an ultimately satisfying one. Thank you for your insight. I'll be sure to keep an eye out on your posts in the future; I'll "get" you yet! :-)

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Axioms are definitions. (none / 0) (#367)
by handslikesnakes on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:31:21 PM EST

All language is "unverified, unproved and essentially arbitrary". Axioms are just a way of defining the way mathemeticians exchange ideas.



[ Parent ]
Science is faith-based (none / 0) (#349)
by MeowChow on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:02:48 PM EST

All science is based upon faith in inductive reasoning. As such, it is subject to the exactly same line of criticism as religion is.

People who fail to grasp the epistemological limitations of science are thus no better than the religious zealots they take such pleasure in deriding.

[ Parent ]

Science as religion = illusion of religious people (none / 1) (#164)
by marinel on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:52:44 AM EST

To claim that science is simply a religion is an illusion created by religious people and propagated thru ignorance. How can you equate
  • religion (an immutable handed down from above cosmogony either lacking almost any factual evidence if you take it literally or even if you start interpreting it) with
  • science (a process of defining everything based on evidence and redefining it again and again when new evidence is found)?

    Aren't you stretching the definition of religion a bit?

    Or maybe I don't understand your definition of religion and you are trying to say that as long as something is not proven 100% beyond any doubt, then it's a religion? Here is some news for your binary worldview: nothing is or might ever be proven 100% beyond any doubt for as long as we can't travel back in time or for as long as the possibility of a Matrix-like Universe is a non-null reality.

    In the end it could all be an illusion, but personally, I'd rather disillusion myself at the altar of science SEARCHING for truth, rather than assuming that I KNOW the truth (bowing to some arbitrary God at the altar of religion).
    --
    Proud supporter of Students for an Orwellian Society
    [ Parent ]

  • "Move to Vote" (1.20 / 10) (#38)
    by gr3y on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 10:07:19 PM EST

    And an enthusiatic "Dump it! (-1)" when it gets there!

    No new religions until we clean up that $cientology mess.

    I am a disruptive technology.

    no (none / 1) (#288)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:25:48 PM EST

    We need new religions to beat teh goddist idiots!
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Torah already forces attention on the Long Now (2.66 / 6) (#43)
    by Jonathan Walther on Wed Jul 14, 2004 at 11:44:53 PM EST

    Seventh day Sabbaths, yearly festivals, every seventh year a year of rest, and every fiftieth year a Jubilee year of rest.

    Observe these practices, and you are forced to think at least fifty years ahead.  This is why Torah followers took over the world; they have a superior time sense that no other group of people has.

    As an Israelite I am forced to ask, "What is in your religion for me?"

    (Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")


    Jubilee years are nifty... (none / 0) (#47)
    by kpaul on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:26:48 AM EST

    from what i've read.


    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    What's in it for you (2.60 / 5) (#84)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:07:20 PM EST

    I am addressing you as a human, not as an Israelite. If you think that your Jewishness is more important than your human-ness, then I will never reach you.

    Distinctions between races and cultures are irrelevant over the long run. They will all fade away or become unrecognizable a million years from now.

    Judiasm will not survive the eons, but humanity might. Will you help us?

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Nasty (1.62 / 8) (#105)
    by Jonathan Walther on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 02:20:56 PM EST

    I don't have to tolerate your anti-Semitic lies and posturing.  God chose us for a special purpose and promised we would be around for at least the next 30,000 years.  You can either get with the program or join the losers in the "going-extinct" end of the gene pool.

    (Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")


    [ Parent ]
    Whoa (none / 1) (#120)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:22:10 PM EST

    I'm an (ethnic) Jew myself. I hardly consider my remarks anti-Semitic. I think that Christianity, Islam, and all other faith-based religions will also fade away.

    Can you provide any evidence to back up your claim that a) God exists, b) he promised that Jews would survive for 30,000 years, and c) he has the willingness and means to make it come true?

    I'll make a $5 bet with you right now that there are more scientists alive in the year 32000 than there are Jews (i.e. people who believe in the Jewish religion).

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Whoa (none / 1) (#162)
    by d4rkst4r on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:10:14 AM EST

    You loose. Voltaire made precisely the same claim about Christianity. This is a fact, you will pass away long before God's word ever changes or ceases to be fulfilled.
    You ask for proof of God's existence. There are only two possible explanations for life on earth: 1) God created us as declared in Genesis, or 2) life evolved as claimed by evolutionists. The entire theory of evolution is BS, proveably so. Don't believe me, do the research yourself. That leaves only one other possibility: God created us precisely as He stated.
    You ask for proof that God fulfills His word. Every prediction God declared through His prophets has been fulfilled 100% with the exception of the 70th week and those events that follow it. As certainly as the previous predictions have come to pass, those of the last days also will.

    [ Parent ]
    I've done the research (none / 0) (#172)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:10:20 AM EST

    And explanation #1 isn't looking so hot any more.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Really? (none / 0) (#177)
    by d4rkst4r on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:18:24 AM EST

    I call bullshit. Citations? In fact you have done 0 research.

    [ Parent ]
    I really shouldn't feed the trolls (none / 0) (#180)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:56:48 AM EST

    Spend some time at http://www.talkorigins.org and then perhaps we can talk.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Troll, huh? (none / 0) (#225)
    by d4rkst4r on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:54:54 PM EST

    Sorry to deceive you, but I am most certainly not a troll. I will gladly visit the site you have suggested to see what is there.

    Having said that, I will comment now about your sig. R. Dawkins' is sadly misinformed if he believes scientific beliefs in total are supported by evidence. Bear in mind I am referring to origins as in the origin of life. Nebraska Man, the famous example trotted out for the Scopes Monkey trial was based upon conjecture around a tooth that proved to have been from a pig. Science supported by evidence, huh? That is only one example of the utter bullshit evolutionists have attempted to pull to support their faith (yes, evolution is very much a religion, and honesty plays no part in it). As to faiths not being based on evidence, I cannot speak for all faiths for surely many are based upon myth. But Christianity is not and never was based upon myth of any sort. It is based upon hard fact, attested to by the best of witnesses.

    [ Parent ]
    Did I miss something? (none / 0) (#233)
    by d4rkst4r on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 07:54:16 PM EST

    I went to www.talkorigins.org hoping to learn something. Unfortunately, I never got further then the beginning of the FAQ. Someone claiming that evolution is fact while waving their hands and repeating the statement several times but without presenting any evidence to 'support' their statement whatsoever does not constitute proof of any kind. Saying that something is a fact and proven is BS until you provide the facts to backup the statement.

    If and when you have some actual facts to discuss, I will be glad to discuss them with you and demonstrate with actual facts, not hand waving, why evolution is BS.

    [ Parent ]
    In Mud Terms... (3.00 / 5) (#175)
    by Zeriel on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:28:05 AM EST

    d4rkst4r's False Dichotomy Attack DECIMATES you! You lose intelligence points!

    [ Parent ]
    Huh? (none / 0) (#176)
    by d4rkst4r on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:17:12 AM EST

    Explain please? What do you think is my false dichotomy.

    [ Parent ]
    I think he means... (none / 0) (#365)
    by unDees on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:47:17 PM EST

    ...that you said there are only two possible explanations for our being here:
    1. Just like Genesis, or
    2. Evolution

    There are certainly other popular religious explanations, such as the one that we're just another of Vishnu's dreams. Why don't you believe that one?

    There could also potentially be other scientific explanations.

    Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
    [ Parent ]

    Oh dear. (none / 0) (#366)
    by handslikesnakes on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:13:59 PM EST

    There are only two possible explanations for life on earth: 1) God created us as declared in Genesis, or 2) life evolved as claimed by evolutionists.

    I propose 3)

    When Ymir lived
    A long time ago
    Was no sand nor sea
    Nor surging waves
    Nowhere was there earth
    Nor heaven above
    Only Ginnungagap
    And grass nowhere
    The sons of Bur
    Then built up the lands
    Created the great
    Midgard to be
    — Einherjer - Out of Ginnungagap

    [ Parent ]
    *nods* (none / 0) (#372)
    by Zeriel on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 10:42:23 AM EST

    There are numerous other possibilities besides "evolution" and "genesis creation".  

    There are other creation myths.
    There is the possibility that life here was seeded by advanced alien species for whatever reaon.
    There are different theories of the mechanics of macroevolution.
    There is the possibility that this is all a delusion one or both or all of us is having, and we've actually always existed and we just imagine worlds and lives to teach ourselves about ourselves.

    I mean, not that I'm a serious proponent of any of those (I'm a believer in bog-standard darwinian macroevolution combined with Zen religious theory), but there are SO many choices and conflicting theories, it's not just "Judeo-Christianity" vs. "Science".

    [ Parent ]

    So this is a religion entirely based (none / 3) (#50)
    by Verbophobe on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 02:35:49 AM EST

    Is this is a religion entirely based on prepending a 0 before every year?  Brilliant.

    It's almost as silly as a religion based on cutting off your foreskin.

    Proud member of the Canadian Broadcorping Castration

    Some background music? (none / 0) (#54)
    by edo on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 05:30:40 AM EST

    Would you like some background music while you wait?
    -- 
    Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
     - Oscar Wilde
    Inventiveness and religion +1 (none / 0) (#57)
    by tetsuwan on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 06:41:00 AM EST

    I'm going to create my own religion, though. I'm not planning it to encompass more people than me.

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

    we have discussed this before (none / 0) (#58)
    by khallow on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 06:44:10 AM EST

    Last year, K5 discussed this very subject. THe religion angle is new so I think the current story is worth keeping. However, for those things of a better 10,000 year clock, glance over some of the ideas in the past story. We go over all sorts of ideas for building such a clock.

    In some sense, we already have clocks of suitable and already worship the "long now". Many religious holidays mark astronomical events (eg, Christmas falls a few days after Winter Solstice, Ramadan is tied to the phase of the Moon, etc).

    Stating the obvious since 1969.

    It's a different subject (none / 1) (#117)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:15:10 PM EST

    Good link, but I'm just using the Long Now project as a launching point to discuss something very different.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Do we really need another church ? (none / 2) (#61)
    by bugmaster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:32:09 AM EST

    First of all, some people (if not most) would disagree that "Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth". In fact, some religions would claim that they have already found truth, and their current goal is to spread knowledge of their particular version of truth to every person on the planet.

    Moving on, I believe that all of your Pillars are either irrelevant, or misunderstood, or both. Ultimately, the really big questions end up being fairly vague and impossible to answer. Consider: which question would yield a more useful answer, "what is the meaning of life ?", or "how do birds fly ?" It would seem that the "meaning of life" is the more useful question; however, I would contend that it is not. The question is so vague that pretty much any answer would fit, and there's no way to check if it's the right one. The "how birds fly" question has a precise answer which is relatively easy to check (make an artificial bird, see if it works) and can even lead to practical applications (if not ornithopters, than at least airplanes).

    The First Pillar: Why is there something rather than nothing?
    This is actually a pretty interesting question; if you read Scientific American or some other popular science magazine, you may find several possible answers. All these answers are, at least in theory, verifyable; they are also very specific (expressed in math and physics formulae). Unfortunately, they also take quite a bit of education to comprehend. If this makes you "laugh or come unhinged", then you're doing something wrong.
    The Second Pillar: Why does the Earth exist?
    I think you summarized the answer to that one pretty well, actually. However, I simply don't see the connection with killer asteroids there -- that would be an answer to a different question, f.ex., "what could wipe us out in one hit ?"
    The Third Pillar: Why does life exist?
    Ditto.
    The Fourth Pillar: Why does intelligence exist?
    You say that "Survival of the fittest no longer applies to people"; I don't see how that's true. Sure, we have this really powerful adaptation (intelligence), but how does that remove us from natural selection ? It's quite possible for some other species to wipe us out (AIDS, for example); it's also quite possible for our genes to change over time (they have changed, in fact). We're still animals, not gods.
    The Fifth Pillar: Why do I exist?
    I think this question is answered adequately by the previous Pillars.

    All of the questions you pose are potentially interesting; some of them have been answered, or mostly answered. However, the answers don't really mean much insofar as your personal choices are concerned. I think you might be confusing "How" with "What For". The questions you ask are "How" questions: "How do planets form ?", "How does life evolve ?", etc. We can answer these questions by looking at the real world which we all share (that's called "science"). The "What For" questions, on the other hand, cannot be thus tested -- they are the "meaning of life" kind of stuff, and relate to nothing we see in the real world. For example, I could claim that my ultimate purpose in life is to build the best possible robo-smurf, and you can't deny it -- it's my purpose, not yours. The "What For" questions are the province of religion, but the problem here is that there's no way to pick the correct religion objectively, since all of them require faith.

    So... what's the point of starting a brand new religion ? I don't get it.
    >|<*:=

    Question 1 (none / 0) (#68)
    by wurp on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 09:58:26 AM EST

    No science I've ever heard of does or could come close to answering that question.  The kinds of answers you're talking about are "well, there's this way of calculating the energy of the universe so it comes out to zero, and quantum mechanics tells us that a zero energy system can appear out of nothing and last indefinitely".  This is no help at all - where does quantum mechanics come from?  Is QM meaningful without space or time? (no)  Where do space and time come from?

    The question is not only "why is there stuff", but "why is there a place stuff for stuff to be", "why is there time for stuff to change over", "why are there laws of physics", and, more fundamentally even, "why are there laws of mathematics".
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    [ Parent ]

    Then you should listen more (none / 0) (#71)
    by bugmaster on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:20:58 AM EST

    As I said, there are several explanations, none of them rock-solid (which is still quite good, all things considered). Most scientists agree that, before and immediately after the Big Bang, time/space/laws of physics as we know them simply did not exist. The jury is out on what did exist -- quantum foam, a previous universe, nothing at all... As I said, Scientific American has quite a few articles on the subject; I won't pretend to understand them all, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

    The jury is still out on whether the "laws of mathematics" are more similar to "laws of physics" (very well-documented theories), or the tax code (laws based on axioms made up by humans). So, it could turn out that the laws of mathematics exist because that's how we made them up to be. I am personally not sure which version is right.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    It is you who didn't listen to my argument (none / 0) (#80)
    by wurp on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:59:45 AM EST

    They assert "according to physical law X, things could have come into existence like this..."  But they give no explanation as to why law X would exist.  One would think that if you were so sure you know there are explanations of how the universe and its laws came to be you could give at least the outlines of one example.  That you can't says to me that you read articles you didn't understand and make assumptions based on that lack of understanding.

    All of mathematics falls down to symbolic manipulation.  When I talk about the laws of mathematics, I don't mean specifically dealing with numbers.  I mean mathematics as a system of demonstrating equivalences - demonstrating that a particular outcome is equivalent to the given assumptions.  I think virtually any mathematician will tell you he's certain that the truth mathematics is independent of the laws of physics or any universe.  But I couldn't begin to tell you how to prove it.

    I do actually have a BS in Physics and Mathematics, so I'm not completely talking out of my hat here.
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    [ Parent ]

    Fair enough (none / 0) (#134)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:14:17 AM EST

    As I mentioned before, I'm not a physicist. It's possible that I have misinterpreted articles such as these; if I did, feel free to point out my error.

    You're right about symbolic manipulation, of course. However, I'm not sure what you mean by "demonstrating that a particular outcome is equivalent to the given assumptions". Do you mean "outcome" in the theorem-proving sense, or what ? Just as yourself, I am also not sure how to test the hypothesis that math is "independent of the laws of physics or any universe"... We can't even prove or disprove the many-worlds theory yet. So, it seems that, for now, this one item is a matter of faith (or un-faith, whatever).
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    I'm not a physicist either (none / 0) (#174)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:23:57 AM EST

    I just took the classes (and enjoyed them) :)

    Thanks much for the examples!

    Your examples were of the sort I had read about... they say "well, look, we can interpret these physical laws in a way that suggests where the universe came from".  But even if they're right, where did those physical laws come from?  Why do we have those laws instead of some different set?

    Regarding math, I meant outcome in the theorem proving sense, yeah.  You demonstrate that a set of given, which include rules for manipulating themselves and the other givens, can be applied in a certain sequence to arrive at the outcome (theorem).  To say a theorem is proved in mathematics means it's exactly equivalent to the given, utterly different than a proof in science, in which you demonstrate that your description fits the real world more aptly than the alternatives.

    Regarding many worlds, I still wouldn't call that an answer to the fundamental question of where the universe comes from.  There's still the question of why the physical laws that imply many worlds are in effect vs. e.g. a universe in which Conrad's Game of Life is the physical law.  (Yes, I know about Wolfram's discussion of the universe as cellular automata, at least at a high level.)
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    [ Parent ]

    No sure answer (none / 0) (#179)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:40:02 AM EST

    Ok, it seems that you agree with my original statement: there actually do exist several answers to the question, "where did our Universe come from ?"; none of them are a sure thing, though. Many worlds, previous universes, parallel universes, branes... Some are more likely than others, and I am certainly not qualified to judge which ones.

    So, there are things we don't know, and we're trying to find out. To me, this seems like a pretty common-sense situation. I don't see how our lack of knowledge about the Universe's origins (or anything else, for that matter) implies that any sort of religion is necessary, or unnecessary, or valid, or invalid, or whatever. Less prayer more physics, I say.

    Mathematics-wise, I think that the theorem proving is compatible with both notions: that math is somehow a property of our Universe, and that we made up math to explain our Universe (at least, originally).
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    I don't know at all (none / 0) (#181)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:01:00 AM EST

    I don't have the slightest idea if we need religion to answer question 1.  However, I think all of the answers science has come up with so far are very weak.  I think it's easy to assert a set of rules and say they imply something should exist, or come into existence.  Justifying those rules (where do they come from?  Why them and not other rules?) is much, much harder.

    Thanks for keeping us to the point :)
    ---
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    [ Parent ]

    Religion vs Science (none / 1) (#198)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:40:01 PM EST

    So far, science has been very successfull at answering hard questions, such as "what makes lightning come down" or "how come some of these stars in the sky move all over the place". Religion, on the other hand, has a pretty poor track record as far as ontology is concerned. My bet is still on science, even though it doesn't have all the answers right at this very moment.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    It's conceivable (none / 0) (#201)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:04:26 PM EST

    It's conceivable that science will one day reduce the universe down to a ruleset that is somehow self-evident as being the only possible one, or demonstrate that all consistent rulesets are "used" in some universe somewhere and only the anthropic principle + luck puts us in the one we're in.  However...

    Of late I've spent a lot of time questioning the fact that beauty exists, questions about consciousness and our experience, and the fact that humans don't do more harm to ourselves than we do.  I don't see any reason why beauty has to exist, nor why our world should provide us all these easily worked materials that we can use to better our lives.

    Regarding consciousness, there are some Greg Egan books that made some things obvious to me (in particular Permutation City).  If consciousness is nothing more than can be emulated with mathematical manipulation, then following that to its logical conclusion seems to me to take you to a place where the universe should seem to go crazy.  My line of thought is something like this:

    1. emulating your mind + all your sensory inputs is sufficient to yield your total experience
    2. progressive discreet snapshots of your state of mind & experience are sufficient to describe you & your memories, or an ongoing experience
    3. you need no outside observer to recognize your mind-state as such for it to be real to you (if you have consciousness)
    4. your mind-state could be encrypted, and per 3 need not be decrypted for you to experience
    5. any set of data can be interpreted as being another set of data encrypted, if you have the right decryption algorithm
    It seems to me that all this leads one to conclude that your mind, at any stage in your life, + any arbitrary set of experience already exists in data patterns throughout the universe.  Stastically, the vast majority of consciousnesses should remember an arbitrary set of past experiences, and we should virtually all see the universe as a random set of past events.  The contradiction between the prediction and my experience implies to me that consciousness can't be described mathematically, and something that can't be described mathematically can't be described scientifically as far as I can see.

    Anyway, I know there's a lot of oddball leaps and handwaving in that argument, but it seems right to me.  I do recommend Egan's book, but I think he came to the wrong conclusion at the end.

    Enough rambling for today; I should work.
    ---
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    [ Parent ]

    Truth is beauty or vice versa (none / 0) (#254)
    by bugmaster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:12:32 AM EST

    Of late I've spent a lot of time questioning the fact that beauty exists
    I'm not sure what you mean by that. There are many evolutionary and cultural reasons for why we humans find certain things beautiful or ugly. For example, it makes sense that we'd find babies beautiful (or, at least, cute) -- all the cultures that didn't care for babies probably died out early on.

    I confess, I don't understand your (or Greg Egan's) enctyption argument; when I encrypt the pr0n on my drive, I sure as hell can't experience it until its decrypted again. I'm also not sure what you mean by #5; trivially, this is true, if your algorithm is just "return $data_b", but presumably that's not what you meant.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Craziness (none / 0) (#261)
    by wurp on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:13:49 AM EST

    I understand that people who want to protect their baby are much more likely to survive, but beauty seems like an odd contrivance to make that happen.  Then of course there are things that are beautiful and don't seem to have any excuse for it - especially the sky, but also afiak there's no reason to find a flower beautiful; no survival benefit.

    The particular craziness of my argument above regarding minds represented by math is mine alone; Greg went off on his own craziness :)

    What I was saying regarding encrypted data still "experiencing" is that if you have a self-contained dataset that is your mind over some period of time, plus the sensory input for your mind, then it is in some sense the data itself that is experiencing.  Let's assume that you have some program (algorithm) that you use to talk to this mind.  If it has experiences that are real (to it), then they must be independent of how that dataset relates to the real world around it.  So if you encrypt the dataset, it should be just as aware.  In fact, the algorithm is really only there to let you (an external observer) interact with the mind.  Is the algorithm required for the mind in the dataset to have experience?  If it is really conscious, I don't see how the algorithm could be required.  If the algorithm isn't required, then why does it matter how the data is represented?  In fact, why does the data even need to exist for the mind to experience... I'm not sure I can convey it at all well.  My basic point is that if you can build a representation that is independent of the medium (i.e. it doesn't matter if it's instantiated in a computer memory, or the real world, or the positions of a bunch of atoms in a rock) that is conscious, then since the only reason for the representation to need any particular pattern is so we in the outside world can relate to it.  If that's the case, then why do you need any particular data set to represent anything at all?

    I'm rambling... I'll stop now.  If I think of a clear way to put it I'll write it up.  Otherwise let's let this go as an idiosyncracy, OK? :)
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    [ Parent ]

    Flowers (none / 0) (#354)
    by bugmaster on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 02:24:45 AM EST

    I am not an expert on evolutionary biology or psychology, and yet it still seems to me that there might be natural reasons for finding beauty in the sky or flowers. It may be as simple as "bright colors == good"; in fact, this is exactly how bees see flowers (but in UV spectrum). And there is a survival benefit to finding berries, for example, so flowers might just be a false positive of the same filtering algorithm (er, so to speak). I just made that explanation up, but I think it does illustrate my point: it is at least possible that our sense of beauty stems from our evolutionary origins.

    I am still not sure how your theory of mind works, exactly. You say,

    Let's assume that you have some program (algorithm) that you use to talk to this mind. If it has experiences that are real (to it), then they must be independent of how that dataset relates to the real world around it.
    But isn't it communicating with at least a part of that world, if it's talking to us ? Also, when you say, "if you encrypt the dataset, it should be just as aware", what do you mean by "dataset" -- just the inputs to the mind, or the mind itself ? I would contend that if you encrypt the mind, you couldn't run it at all -- unless you were decrypting it on the fly, which negates your encryption efforts.

    I do, however, like your concept that "you can build a representation that is independent of the medium"; still, I'd say that it's the pattern of input/output reactions that's important, not its implementation.


    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    We're almost talking the same language (none / 0) (#360)
    by wurp on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 10:44:40 AM EST

    My point regarding the "mindset" data is that you build a set of discrete data that changes over time (again discretely) to represent an evolving mind state.  Let's say the first time you do this, you run it in a computer and give it voice input from the real world.  Let's say your name is Joe and you're the guy in the real world, and Frank is the guy being emulated in the computer.

    So Joe is talking into a mic, and Frank "hears" what Joe says in his computer emulation, and talks back to Joe via speakers.

    OK, now let's have the computer emulate everything Frank senses - Frank is no longer talking to Joe.  Frank still feels that he exists, right?  I mean, part of the definition of a consciousness is to be self-aware.  It's just that now everything Frank senses comes from the computer.

    OK, so now let's mix it up a bit... let's run Frank's mind state in reverse order in time - emulating his last thoughts first, back to his first thoughts last.  From Frank's point of view, nothing changes, right?  Everything he sensed came from the computer, and he senses the same things in the same order, from his perspective.  The same would be true if you run the data in random order, or if you have the dataset from one instant in time on one computer, the next instant on another.  If you compress all those datasets, why wouldn't Frank still have the same experiences?  After all, you could put them all in order, decrypt them, and have Joe watch Frank.  You could pick up the computation in a more normal order at some point and start giving Joe's input to Frank, ask Frank how he's been doing the last 100 million microseconds (which happened encrypted in arbitrary order) and get reasonable answers from Frank.  Frank doesn't know or care whether he's encrypted, or what order his successive mind states are run in, unless he wants to interact with the real world.

    Now, let's say your decryption algorithm is a one time pad type decryption - the Frank dataset looks like random data, the decryption key looks like random data, but XORed together they produce something recognizable as Frank's mind + his sensory input.  At this point, any random dataset with the right (apparently random) key can be decrypted to any other dataset of the same size.  It seems as if every possible mind state must already exist in the universe, if you XOR the right two datasets together.  But if the minds are self-aware, they shouldn't need decryption to represent the state of a mind & all sensory input at some instant (including all the mind's memory & state).  That implies to me that every possible self-aware mind would need to exist with every set of sensory inputs, as some dataset somewhere in the universe.
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    [ Parent ]

    I like this discussion (none / 0) (#315)
    by WorkingEmail on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:38:33 AM EST

    I'm leaning towards this answer: Even if there were a kajillion scrambled versions of 'me' out there, I can only be a very specific one, and I can't be any of the others.

    It reminds me of the good old handwaving way to predict the end of consciousness: If humanity continues to grow and expand, the future will hold many orders of magnitude more 'hosts' to consciousness than exist today and have existed in the past. Therefore it would be improbable that we would find ourselves existing today, in the small minority in the childhood of humanity. Therefore it is probable that the supply of new 'hosts' will not continue growing, and cannot be sustained forever.


    [ Parent ]

    s/discreet/discrete/ <nt> (none / 0) (#322)
    by wurp on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:05:55 PM EST


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    [ Parent ]
    Sorry about this, but actually... (none / 1) (#136)
    by epepke on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:37:41 AM EST

    They assert "according to physical law X, things could have come into existence like this..."

    All that you can really say is that, given our present understanding, it is possible to trace the universe back in time for such an amount of time (pick a number out of a hat, 15 billions years?). This does not imply at all that the universe came into existence 15 billion years ago. All it means is that there's this dimension called "time," which you can think of as one of four dimensions in Minkowski space, or you can multiply it by i and treat it like a regular dimension, or if you like quaternions (which I do, but almost no physicists do) you can treat the three spatial dimensions as imaginary and let time be real. The math comes out the same anyway. In any event, talking about "before" the universe may be as meaningless as talking about "North of" the universe.

    This has not stopped some cosmologists from making the assumption that the universe came from somewhere, but there would have to be something like "meta-time," almost but not entirely unrelated to time, to make it happen.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Disagree (none / 0) (#171)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:07:09 AM EST

    Firstly, I'm not asserting the universe came into existence, bugmaster's articles' authors are.  Secondly, if you imagine the universe as a multidimensional thing, one dimension of which is time, that thing can exist in a timeless way and yet have an end (or two) in the time dimension.

    You don't need a meta-time for this any more than you need a meta-space to have curved space.

    If time has a minimum point in the timeless structure that encompasses the universe over all of time, then that is the beginning of the universe, from our perspective of living inside this structure.  It would in fact mean that the universe came into existence at that point.  Not the timeless structure of the universe that includes time as a dimension, but to talk about things "happening" to that structure is meaningless anyway.

    I don't think I talked about things happening before time existed.  If I did, that was definitely wrong-headed.
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    [ Parent ]

    Words, words, words. (none / 0) (#192)
    by epepke on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 12:21:54 PM EST

    I don't see that "coming into existence" has any meaning while talking about the intrinsic properties of a spacetime manifold. In any event, there's at least one way of having time be measurable a finite amount backward but have no beginning, and that is if the beginning of the universe is a cusp point in the manifold. I'm not saying that it is, mind you, but that's a way.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Exactly (none / 0) (#193)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:11:22 PM EST

    Words, words, words.  Gah, I hate to be asinine in a web conversation, but this is really an impediment to conversation...  you seem to think that by putting a three syllable word in a response, you have rebutted the original.  I assure you it's not the case.

    I never said the spacetime came into existence.  In fact, I tried to take care to point out that spacetimes don't and can't "come into existence"; that's the whole reason I talked about the lack of a need for a metatime.

    From now on, I will use universe to mean the normal thing universe means (space and all that's in it) and universeT to mean the universe and all that's in it, over all time.  I.e. all of spacetime and all that is or occurs in it.

    The universe can come into existence.  That implies that the universeT has a smallest time value.  That's all.  Any spacetime bounded in T has the same property (it came into existence).

    If there's a "cusp point" then that's the beginning.  Some aspects of a normal discussion of n-dimensional manifolds fail when talking about spacetime because time is directional.

    It feels to me like you're changing your point of argument fluidly just to demonstrate your ability to throw around big words.  First you were arguing a universe couldn't come into existence without a metatime, now you're asserting how it can, without ever conceding anything about the validity of your original argument.

    This has tread far into the realm of what I consider to be the bad side of philosophy (pseudointellectualism), and I'm going to step out of the conversation now :)
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    [ Parent ]

    shrug... (none / 0) (#219)
    by epepke on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:27:56 PM EST

    I never said the spacetime came into existence.  In fact, I tried to take care to point out that spacetimes don't and can't "come into existence"; that's the whole reason I talked about the lack of a need for a metatime.

    The trouble is that a lot of cosmologists do think that it did and have ideas that involve this universe bubbling off from another universe with the connection getting pinched off. Some have suggested that this is similar to or even the same as what happens when a black hole forms.

    It feels to me like you're changing your point of argument fluidly just to demonstrate your ability to throw around big words.

    Probably the thing that's confusing you is that, since you are making "points of arguments," you're assuming that's what everyone is doing. Since I'm not making an argument at all, this is probably extremely confusing to you.

    At one end, there are the things that we think we know, based on other things we think we know. That was the point of my original response. At the other end, there are a large number of things that we can't rule out based on the things we think we know. This is what you think is "jumping around" to show off "big words."

    This has tread far into the realm of what I consider to be the bad side of philosophy (pseudointellectualism), and I'm going to step out of the conversation now :)

    That's because it isn't philosophy at all, and it's why I prefer science to philosophy. Apparently, in order to be a good philosopher, I would have to make up my mind about something I don't have the evidence to make up my mind about. But since this whole thread is about religion, there's an old Taoist saying: "To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment."


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics (none / 0) (#83)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 11:15:58 AM EST

    Seems to me that the jury is strongly leaning towards the first choice. See http://web.nps.navy.mil/~frazier/unreas.html

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Still not convinced (none / 1) (#133)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:06:32 AM EST

    From the article (disclaimer: I've only skimmed it):
    I have tried, with little success, to get some of my friends to understand my amazement that the abstraction of integers for counting is both possible and useful. Is it not remarkable that 6 sheep plus 7 sheep make 13 sheep; that 6 stones plus 7 stones make 13 stones? Is it not a miracle that the universe is so constructed that such a simple abstraction as a number is possible?
    That, to me, sounds like saying, "Look at how wondorous my feet are ! Look how perfectly they match these shoes. Surely, my feet were created with shoes in mind." The rest of the article sounds like that too. It is, however, still possible that we created math to help us understand the world, and that this is the reason it works so well. The author hints at this as well:
    Mathematics does not always work. When we found that scalars did not work for forces, we invented a new mathematics, vectors. And going further we have invented tensors.
    In any case, I am still not convinced, one way or another.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    I just skimmed... (none / 0) (#173)
    by wurp on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:13:55 AM EST

    but this guy is talking about arithmetic, basically.  I agree with him: the reason arithmetic is so darn useful is because we chose to study it because it is so darn useful.

    Full-blown "mathematics" is the study of all systems that can be represented by a set of rules that can be expressed typographically (i.e. on paper) and typographical manipulations of them.  That is a huge body of things, and arithmetic is an infinitesmal subset.

    When I personally say that I find it interesting that math matters, I mean that it's interesting that there is any logical structure at all to the world.

    Of course, you can apply anthropic principles and say "there must be logical structure for there to be critters to wonder about it", but that doesn't fully answer the question.
    ---
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    [ Parent ]

    my question (none / 2) (#144)
    by gdanjo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:39:56 AM EST

    The question is not only "why is there stuff", but "why is there a place stuff for stuff to be", "why is there time for stuff to change over", "why are there laws of physics", and, more fundamentally even, "why are there laws of mathematics".
    Ok, then my first question is: "What type of answer will you accept?" Do you want a scientifically veryfiable answer? (not possible) Do you want a religious answer? (won't be accepted by scientists) Do you want a universal answer? (necessary loss of information, which will offend someone) Do you want a relativistic answer? (which amounts to an arbitrary answer, so all answers are true) Must the answer be true within our universe? (Godel might have something to say about this).

    In other words, if you tell me what you want from the answer, I'll give you an answer that gives you what you want. Otherwise, the question is only interesting in that all answers are rejected by default.

    As I've said before, the question is quite uninteresting when you attempt to answer it, because it effectively asks "why should we question anything?" or "why should we answer any question?" or "why is this a question?"

    Dan ...
    "Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
    Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
    -ToT
    [ Parent ]

    Let's call this (none / 2) (#155)
    by minamikuni on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:10:14 AM EST

    ...the 'Bugmaster heresy'.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually (none / 1) (#253)
    by bugmaster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:07:15 AM EST

    I think I'd prefer "The Bugmasterian Heresy". Capitalized. Makes me feel important :-)
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    In our fast paced society there is no time (none / 0) (#63)
    by lukme on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:51:01 AM EST

    No time for family or to learn or to be human.

    Science education has obviously failed with the number of fortune tellers/tarot readers/astrologers that are out there. Very few people seem to take the time to learn science.

    It is for this reason that a church based on a very long time scale may make people adopt a belief system that requires them to slow down - and maybe we start to smell the coffee again.




    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    Bravo (none / 0) (#74)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:42:32 AM EST

    This is exactly what I'm trying to get at.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    But (none / 0) (#154)
    by outis on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:08:42 AM EST

    I like to go fast!

    [ Parent ]
    On the origin of religions by natural selection (3.00 / 4) (#66)
    by Peter Maxwell on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 09:35:59 AM EST

    A couple of logical flaws here:

    Religion is not a mistake or an accident - it exists in every human culture throughout history.

    Do mistakes and accidents not exist in every human culture?

    Because religion serves to organize and nurture its members, it has a high survival value. Thus, I suggest that evolution hard-wired religion into the human brain. Our non-believing ancestors tended to have fewer children than the believers did.

    That is an old theory, and unless you have some new evidence it's still not a very good one. There's an alternative which explains much more, and which has been around at least since the publication of "The Selfish Gene": Religions (and other worldviews) evolve much faster than people do. So long as religious worldviews are more infectious than non-religious worldviews (plausible, you rarely see atheists preaching in the street, and all religions seem to have a "hook" that provide a motive for believers to recruit more believers, whether by birth or conversion) they will predominate. It is even possible for a worldview to be parasitic (ie: damaging to the interests of its carrier) and still thrive.

    This is why atheists are a rarity today.

    "None" is the world's 4th largest religion, and has grown considerably over most of recorded history.

    The universals of culture (none / 0) (#77)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:49:35 AM EST

    I think E. O. Wilson addressed this pretty well in his books. See, for example: http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/bookauth/eow3.htm

    "It is tempting to dismiss these traits [e.g. religion] as not truly diagnostic for human beings, not really genetic..."

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    reposting topical (none / 2) (#70)
    by DJ Google on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:16:17 AM EST

    The First Pillar: Why is there something rather than nothing?

    Indeed this question is quite useful, especially when I find myself on the receiving part of a couple of fists (it happens quite often, living where I do), I oft ask myself that same question which promptly evokes a sort of quasi-transcendental Zen Enlightenment after which I proceed to fuckover my enemies with vigor even prospective concentration camp owners would find dubious. Those foolish enough to stick around after my first scream of pure anarchistic rage are left lying in a pool of their own brains and guts.

    --
    Join me on irc.slashnet.org #Kuro5hin.org - the official Kuro5hin IRC channel.

    Nice article. (none / 0) (#76)
    by spartaqus on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 10:49:00 AM EST

    I have a few comments on the role of religion, but I'll save them till this makes it past the voting round. Good luck.

    Write in. (none / 0) (#85)
    by ShiftyStoner on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:14:37 PM EST

     I would join the church of the long now if their main concern was to stop humanity from destroying humanety, and didn't worry so much about that meter that we don't have to worry about for at least 100 years. The threat of humanity is is humanities gratest threat. Because within the next to decaded humanity will destroy all life on the planet if some drastic changes aren't made. Things suck as globaly ilegalizing fossil fuels. Banning all wepons of mass destruction and working vigoriously to restore balance to nature. For example stop putting out chemicals that destroy entir species, or that have the capability to. Because you destroy one species, expecialy species such as beaver, you fucking dooming many other species and thus dooming even more. Destroying enough species, even if they ae not on the verge of extinction as most people see may allready be doomed, destroying several of them may destroy all natural life on the planet or damn near it.

    Along with this drug use and orgies would have to be common place.

    As for the first pillar. I believe quit simpley that there has always been something. That's just not that hard for me to believe though I know it's completly uncomprehensable to most. I beleive that there has always been protons neutrons and electons. But I don't believe that time has a beggining or an end. I believe it's a loop, a circle, a circle does not have a beggining or end. You can pick eny place you want as a startinf point and finich line but it's not real. The bigining of my life would be a starting point, the end of it would be an end.

    I don't believe that everytime time goes threw this period that everything happens the exact same I just believe that it goes threw the same procces repetedly indefinatley. Like the sesons. It's not always going to be the exact same temperature at the exact same point in the loop the second third billionth time around. But it goes threw the same procces. So you could decide that at the point in the loop were there is no matter is the beggining/end but thats not a real line, you could very well say this is the begining, because it's a loop. You can slow yourself in time, your still going around in the circle just at a diferant pace. Hell, you might even be able to change direction but your gana end up the same place.

    See, I look at it like this. The time loops just keep getting bigger and bigger, the smaller loops ar like the spawn of the bigger loops. Just like the solar systems are spons of loops bigger than them, and in the solar sytem in each loop there are smaller loops, and smaller, and smaller until your at the atom.

    So we're in our own little circle of time, the planets on it's own circle of time but each circle of time is flowing on another circle of time getting bigger until there is an infinite loop wich I am refering to as time. Just like the solar system spans out into an infinite universe. Time like the univers has no begining or end.

    But I guess that's not really an ansewer. Why hasn't there always been nothing rather than always being something. Because nothing is a figmant of your imagination.  
    ( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

    I agree (none / 0) (#86)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:21:15 PM EST

    I should have pointed out in my article that humanity is a threat both to itself and to other life in our ecosystem.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Wow. (none / 0) (#170)
    by Zeriel on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:07:05 AM EST

    You might make a lot more sense if you were sober when you posted this.

    [ Parent ]
    I doubt it. (none / 0) (#332)
    by ShiftyStoner on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:11:42 AM EST


    ( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
    [ Parent ]
    Nits, but good nits (none / 3) (#90)
    by epepke on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 12:55:35 PM EST

    Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth. This is, in fact, the primary goal of science, but in existing religions it competes with other goals.

    Science is not a search for truth as much as it is a retreat from falsehood.

    There was essentially no other kind of matter in the universe - no carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen, no iron, copper, or gold. These stars lived, and when the largest of them died, they exploded in supernovas which were powerful enough to fuse heavy elements out of lighter ones.

    Everything up to and including iron can be formed in a first-generation star. Of course, it must go nova (though not supernova) to disperse this and have it be in planets. Heavier atoms require a supernova. Gold and uranium have both played significant roles in the human species. It is interesting to wonder how the inabitants of a second-generation start might live.

    With some luck, the future of humanity will not be determined by natural selection, but by rational thought and decisions. Survival of the fittest no longer applies to people.

    I doubt it. First of all, it should really have been called "survival of the fit enough." I don't see anything that humanity is likely to do even over a vast amount of time that will have any effect other than changing what it means to be fit enough. As long as death exists at all, which it always will, there will be some pattern as to who lives and who dies.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    Thank you (none / 0) (#94)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:10:16 PM EST

    Everything up to and including iron can be formed in a first-generation star

    Good point. I had forgotten that the star starts fusing helium atoms together when it runs out of hydrogen. Can you provide a link that might help me  paint a more accurate picture in the future?

    As long as death exists at all, which it always will, there will be some pattern as to who lives and who dies.

    Yes, there will always be a pattern, but humanity is unique in that we can control the pattern. Hence, "natural" selection no longer applies.

    In practical terms, I would just point out that progress in health care will eventually make it possible for nearly every healthy newborn to have a good chance of surviving long enough to reproduce.

    It will be interesting to see how humanity's genetic makeup is different in ten million years. Obviously, anything we say now is pure speculation, but my bet is that it will be remarkably unchanged. Or, if it is changed, the change will have been deliberately engineered rather than evolved.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    So it's artificial selection, then (none / 0) (#123)
    by epepke on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:50:39 PM EST

    Can you provide a link that might help me  paint a more accurate picture in the future?

    I don't know of any, but you can probably find some on Google.

    Yes, there will always be a pattern, but humanity is unique in that we can control the pattern. Hence, "natural" selection no longer applies.

    But it's still survival of the fit enough. Anyway, Artificial Selection was known about a lot longer.

    In practical terms, I would just point out that progress in health care will eventually make it possible for nearly every healthy newborn to have a good chance of surviving long enough to reproduce.

    There will still be selection pressures. I, for instance, have survived long enough to reproduce but probably never will due to social pressures.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Another nit (none / 0) (#102)
    by Pop Top on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:54:27 PM EST

    Having evolved from non-intelligent ancestors, we are now the first creatures to have escaped from the influence of evolution.

    Memes evolve as well as genes. Escape from genetic evolution? Perhaps. Escape from memetic evolution? Nah!

    [ Parent ]

    I meant genetic evolution (none / 0) (#109)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:01:33 PM EST

    Evolution of species by natural selection, to be more specific.

    Memetics is more of a curiosity at the moment than a real science.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Memetics as a science (none / 1) (#111)
    by Pop Top on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:04:43 PM EST

    is woefully deficient. That doesn't mean memes are not rapidly evoloving all around us, it just means we cannot write credible academic papers about the process.

    Genetic evolution was happening long before Mendel ever wrote a paper about pea plants.

    Falling trees still make noise even if no one has ever written a PhD dissertation on the subject.

    [ Parent ]

    You may be right (none / 0) (#114)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:10:35 PM EST

    Evolution requires near-perfect replication. Memes don't demonstrate this very well, so I tend to think that "memetics" is not really a good example of evolution

    But I'll try to keep an open mind.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Memetic evolution (none / 0) (#119)
    by Pop Top on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:21:23 PM EST

    lacks the clear divide between genotype & phenotype found in genetic evolution and that is part of why it is so hard to create a scientific discipline for the subject. Lamarck is flatly wrong in genetic evolution yet for memetic evolution that same principle is far from clear.

    In any event, memes evolve even if we do not have a clue on how to explain it rigorously.

    William Calvin is instructive - - google on with "William Calvin & memetics" for follow up information.

    [ Parent ]

    Without a goal... (none / 2) (#93)
    by RyoCokey on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:07:36 PM EST

    ...it matters little whether we're shortsighted or not. If there's not a coherent goal, it's all meaningless. Given that we know the universe must in time end, either by heat death or by a rebirth in which no information can survive, I can't see any goal for which to strive for.

    What purpose does evolution have if it is destined to fail?



    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
    I think survival is a good goal (none / 0) (#98)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:33:19 PM EST

    All goals are arbitrary from that point of view. Nonetheless, I suggest that civilization should strive to survive as long as the universe itself. It might even be possible for us to prevent or delay the universe's eventual heat death. (I'm not trying to get in an argument with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, though.)

    I suspect that there are lessons to be learned along the way that are well worth learning. We (i.e. humanity, or something like it) might end up being more important in the grand scheme of things than we currently realize.

    Of course, this is all speculation. But one thing is for certain -- if we perish first, we'll never find out what the distant future is like.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Shouldn't you condense that into a search... (none / 0) (#122)
    by RyoCokey on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:41:32 PM EST

    ...for knowledge? It would be more logical to say: The ultimate purpose of life is to understand the universe. That'd at least propose an objective goal that is (in theory) possible (as opposed to preventing heat death, which isn't currently accepted as possible.)

    The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
    [
    Parent ]

    None. (none / 1) (#104)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 02:08:33 PM EST

    What is wrong with that?

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]
    Poet John Keats wrote this in a letter: (none / 3) (#96)
    by Pop Top on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:19:34 PM EST

    The vale of soul making:

    [February 14-May 3, 1819]

    The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is "a vale of tears" from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven--what a little circumscribe[d] straightened notion!

    Call the world if you Please "The vale of Soul-making" Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought which has struck me concerning it) I say "Soul making'' Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence-There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions--<u>but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself.</u>

    I[n]telligences are atoms of perception --they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are God --how then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them--so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this?

    This point I sincerely wish to consider because I think it a grander system of salvation than the Christian religion -- or rather it is a system of Spirit-creation--This is effected by three grand materials acting the one upon the other for a series of years--These three Materials are the Intelligence--the human heart (as distinguished from intelligence or Mind) and the World or Elemental space suited for the proper action of Mind and Heart on each other for the purpose of forming theSoul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity.

    I can scarcely express what I but dimly perceive-and vet I think I perceive it--that you may judge the more clearly I will put it in the most homely form possible-- I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read--I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that School--and I will call the Child able to read, the Soulmade from that school and its hornbook.

    Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul! A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways! Not merely is the Heart a Hornbook, It is the Minds Bible, it is the Minds experience, it is the teat from which the mind or intelligence sucks its identity

    -- As various as the Lives of Men are--so various become their souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls, Identical Souls of the sparks of his own essence--This appears to me faint sketch of a system of Salvation which does not affront our reason and humanity--I am convinced that many difficulties which Christians labour under would vanish before it--there is one wh[i]ch even now Strikes me--the Salvation of Children--In them the Spark or intelligence returns to God without an identity-it having had no time to learn of, and be altered by, the heart--or seat of the human Passions...

    Somehow, this seems relevant here.

    Long now, incranation, parallel universes, etc etc (none / 1) (#101)
    by D440hz on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 01:50:11 PM EST

    A point which i failed to note in my other comment is this:

    Almost all religions (at least in my humble knowledge) and certainly science, point to larger timescales than the individual self.

    whether its afterlife/reincarnation or cosmological/geological timescales of creation and universal annihilation, the all point to a logical/metaphysical(pick your choice) of something bigger than oneself.

    These, however true it might be, does not bode well with common human experience, our regular life spins around our own self preservation and self importance. To overcome this, is the goal of many religions, and science might help in humbling its practioner to a different perspective.

    but in most cases it does not. for the reason why humans fail to understand this higher calling, many notions in religion as well as science have been written.

    Its the devil, The selfish gene, the false ego structure, all of them are true or false. according to your preference.

    what will we do with the opponents of the church of the long now?
    We will catalog their perversions and let them practice them with consenting adults.

    D-440Hz

    We tolerate all non-believers (none / 0) (#108)
    by Shimmer on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 02:59:16 PM EST

    what will we do with the opponents of the church of the long now?
    We will catalog their perversions and let them practice them with consenting adults.

    Membership in the CLN is strictly voluntary. Non-believers will will tend to join in the end because the CLN proves to be much more effective than other churches. In the meantime, they are free to do/worship whatever they want.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Science, religion, this artictle, its comments (2.33 / 6) (#116)
    by sophacles on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 03:13:56 PM EST

    The debate spawned by this article seems mainly to be people bashing religion in the name of science and science in the name of religion.  There is a splattering of why can't we all just get along mixed in for the hell of it.  This whole debate used to give me headaches.  I was always amused by the people who argued for science with a religious zeal.  Anyway, if you openmindedly listen to both sides of the argument for a while, you eventually learn something or gain some sort of insight.

    Some personal observations of this whole mess:

    Science explains how, not why.  It's essensially a set of observations of how things interact.  Why is never really answered by science. Example:

    Why is the sky blue? Because of how water in the atmosphere refracts light from the sun. Further scientific explainations can go as far as the nature of light, how the sun makes light from fusion, and how our eyes and brain turn light into our experience of the sky being blue.  These are all processes explained by science and quite well.  Essentially it never answers why this particular set of wavelengths is mapped to blue.  Why different things are different colors and so on.  This is not a bad thing, it is just an inherent limitation of science.

    Religion is an explaination of both how and why. It also includes lots of rules and other people controlling mechanisms.  The how part is simple (the gods want it that way).  It is actually a reasonable explaination when the scientific explaination is not there.  4000 years ago, a tribe that just wandered along and didn't know the first thing about horticulture, just accepted that plants were there because the gods placed them.  New plants were a miracle.  The people who grew food laughed at that stupid beleif, everyone knew that plants come from seeds. Duh. Look at the ignorant backwards religous tribe.

    Ok so the that tribe prolly learned that seeds turn into plants and maybe even made good use of that.  Whatever, they died anyway.  At its heart religion also answers why (also with its the will of the gods).  Certain gods are given personalities, and they often do bad things to good people.  But since the gods are more powerful than people they can.  The will of the gods is just a good way of explaining why people should just go on after bad stuff -- this is just a test.

    Most of the above about religion is just spirituality.  Accepting that something is more powerful than me, and that it's whims/actions can not be changed by me.  This part of religion is vital to humans in general.  Letting go and accepting that the universe/the gods/God/whatever sometimes just does things that suck for me is essential to survival. Trying to controll everything leads to self destructive behavior.  Ask any counselor/psychiatrist type -- drug addictions, alcoholism, cutting and many more all have the same basic cause: I need to controll everything. The spiritual part of religion pretty much is a way to let go of control.

    Out of this also comes an idea at the heart of most religions: be good to my peers.  Being good to them is a way of letting go of control, you can't force them to do what you want.

    The part of religion most people have problems with is the rules and dogma.  This part of religion is just whack.  It is where a lot of the stuff the scientific folks make fun of comes from.  They are just codifications of the basic spiritual stuff.  You cant control the weather, thats thors job.  The day after wednesday is devoted to him.  If you sacrifice 2 virgins and a chinchilla to him every other year, double in leap years and at eclipses, and act right to other people he will maybe be nice about big storms during fishing season.
    According to great eagle being good to other people means this that and such.

    In general religions may work for a while, but then thier rules are just whack and outdated.  They may have been a perfect example of doing the right thing when they were set down, but things change, and then they just look funny (the earth is 6000 years old and flat).

    Anyway I'm done rambling now. I think my point was that religion =bad, spirituality + science = good.  

    Actually, it's N2 (none / 2) (#126)
    by epepke on Thu Jul 15, 2004 at 07:12:31 PM EST

    Why is the sky blue? Because of how water in the atmosphere refracts light from the sun.

    And it's scattering, not refraction. Otherwise, good post.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Not such a great example (none / 1) (#203)
    by Acous on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:18:28 PM EST

    Essentially it never answers why this particular set of wavelengths is mapped to blue. Why different things are different colors and so on.

    Blue is just the name we apply to that particular wavelength range. Our eyes have 3 sensors, one of them detects what we call blue. It's just our way of interpreting the raw data. Things are different colours because their material has formed to reflect certain wavelengths. There is no "Why?". In this case it is all explained by science.

    If your question is "Why do we interpret things the way we do?" then the answer isn't all there yet, but there's no evidence to show that it won't be at some stage. Even if it is, there won't be a satisfactory answer to the "Why?" question. It's only human to try and learn and understand things, but science can be very abstract and even if all the information is there people may never be satisfied.



    [ Parent ]
    Indeed (none / 0) (#231)
    by sophacles on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 07:12:56 PM EST

    Fantastic reply. Allows me to coalesce my thoughts a bit better. You are right, science may allow us to understand our perceptions a lot better.  One fascinating though tangentially related finding in color perception is that some cultures train people to be more sensitive to some color ranges than others.  What we see as a multitude of pinks and reds, they see as 2 or three reds.  A lot of brain development study going on there last I heard.

    On to clarifying my point:
    Science may one day find out very much of the how.  The why question implies a purpose.  People in general do things for a reason.  Science is not the quest for finding a purpose.  Science is the quest for finding a how.  The above color perception bit can be used by scientists to learn about how the brain forms.  How the culture decided that reds weren't as important. Etc.

    The one question science doesn't try to answer is: what is the purpose of it all?.  Is there a purpose of it all? That is a philisophical/religious/spiritual question.  It is a question everyone must answer for himself.  And indeed people may never be satisfied.  However on each person's quest to find himself there are guideposts and the thoughts of people who came before them. A lot of these come in the form of religion.  

    [ Parent ]

    Eliminitivism is an unconvincing argument... (none / 0) (#324)
    by cr8dle2grave on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:08:26 PM EST

    ...which conflates the methodological contrivances necessary for emprical observation with ontological assertions. "Blue" is not a wavelength, but a qualia.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Nope, (none / 0) (#390)
    by Sesquipundalian on Mon Aug 02, 2004 at 06:27:37 PM EST

    "Blue" is a meta-qualial meme.


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    A nice summary... (none / 0) (#395)
    by sandycandy on Mon Aug 23, 2004 at 07:24:31 AM EST

    i liked reading this comment... it more or less gives a better understanding of both sides of argument.
    I have been lucky enuf to read a lot and experience on both the topics namely science and religion.
    Being and software programmer and a science graduate i can very well relate to the scientific stuff and
    Being an Indian, i have been exposed to lot of religious stuff. In India religion is a way of life.
    I do think the guidelines and knowledge of both religion and science are equally important for anyone to know in order to make sense of the working and meaning of life.

    [ Parent ]
    minor fact problem (none / 1) (#137)
    by Work on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:45:38 AM EST

    Solar radiation pours over the surface of the Earth and nuclear reactions heat it from the inside.

    The earth doesn't have nuclear reactions occuring within. The earth is a few billion times too small to support nuclear fusion at its core.

    There have been some evidence of naturally occuring fission reactors in some places, but those are pretty rare and certainly not the source the earth's inner molten state. It's merely hot because of pressure. Not nuclear reactions.

    nuclear Reactions (none / 1) (#141)
    by mcrbids on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:31:48 AM EST

    The earth doesn't have nuclear reactions occuring within. The earth is a few billion times too small to support nuclear fusion at its core. Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction. So is nuclear fission, and radioactive decay. (such as the eternally glowing faceplate of many watches) Don't think that because the eart is "Radioactively heated" means that the Earth is powered by FUSION reactor....
    I kept looking around for somebody to solve the problem. Then I realized... I am somebody! -Anonymouse
    [ Parent ]
    radioactive decay (none / 0) (#186)
    by Work on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:31:28 AM EST

    radioactive elements are fairly rare. The heating of the interior of the earth isnt contributed to in any large part by them.

    [ Parent ]
    Scientists seem to think otherwise (none / 0) (#226)
    by ebonkyre on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:03:43 PM EST

    Earth's Heat Source

    Center of the Earth

    Potassium-40 Decay as source of Earth core heat?

    This last one links to an MLP on a science-oriented Scoop site, so the data may be tainted by the Evil Hand Of RustyTM, beware.



    The truth hurts sometimes... Nothing beats a nice fat cock. ShiftyStoner
    [ Parent ]

    viciously stupid. (2.25 / 8) (#139)
    by rmg on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:16:00 AM EST

    human life has a natural timescale. a finite duration in which one can only do so much and once it's over, it's over.

    as cosmic or profound as you might think it is to think about the "long term" in the sense of civilization, it simply detracts from what's important: the here and now. it does not matter what happens a thousand or even two hundred years from now. what matters is the people who are alive now.

    please cease desist promoting your ascetic cult here. these dumb nerds don't need you putting anymore stupid ideas in their heads.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean

    well put. (none / 2) (#145)
    by smart guy on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:42:56 AM EST

    you should start a cult, but espouse good ideas.

    "K5 will never go back to fully open membership. Sorry, that's just the way it is, and I'm not willing to debate this issue." -Rusty
    [ Parent ]

    Short-sightedness (none / 1) (#149)
    by flo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:06:40 AM EST

    You have perfectly articulated the exact problem that the CLN sets out to solve.
    ---------
    "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
    [ Parent ]
    in violation of my sig, i'll respond. (none / 1) (#200)
    by rmg on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:58:51 PM EST

    this is a moronic and vacuous post you've made here.

    you make no attempt to meet the argument. you only posted what you probably think is clever. you've wasted space in our threads with a pointless, one line comment that does nothing but express an empty sentiment without any discursive value.

    now, i could continue and argue with you in a long pointless thread in which you resist my attempts to explain and instead seize on irrelevant points in my posts in a desperate attempt to "win", all the while a chorus of dumb nerds will mod you up for flaming the troll, but i don't care about your opinion and i have no desire to help you grow, so i will just say you that you are the reason i troll this site instead of participating normally.

    this reply applies to at least one other response in this thread as well, if any of you are keeping score where word count is concerned.

    also, if you should decide to reply to this comment, study my sig carefully before you do.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    this is great stuff! (none / 0) (#204)
    by DDS3 on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:47:11 PM EST

    but i don't care about your opinion and i have no desire to help you grow, so i will just say you that you are the reason i troll this site instead of participating normally.

    An ego without bounds and brain of it's inverted compliment.  Previously, you argued that this is EXACTLY the reasons you troll, yet now, you claim you can't.  Yet, you then go on to claim that HE (people like him) is the reason you troll.  Wow!  What an awesome insight into the stupidity of humanity.  Oh please, give me my breath back.

    LOL.  Once again, I'm conflicted if I should simply laugh or laugh and point.  Too friggen funny.  You wonderfully highlight why trolls should be banned.  You state the obvious and somehow think you've offered an insight into humanity.


    [ Parent ]

    another response against my better judgement.. (none / 0) (#207)
    by rmg on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:31:47 PM EST

    to start, what did you expect to accomplish in writing this? does any of this speak to the issue at hand? do you think such "insight" will prevail on me -- make me see what you'd call "the errors of my ways"?

    do you imagine that your histrionics here are somehow superior to my own? -- do you not see the appeal to the standards of the readers in the post you so gleefully "challenge"? do you not also see how vapid and devoid of anything of interest your own post is? and how it so thoroughly misses the point of all that it alludes to?

    the plight of not being educated is such that one never learns where one really stands. most in the "geek" set go through their lives never seeing what is really out there and come to believe that no one is their superior in any significant way. to make it still plainer to you, though, my toplevel post was only a vague impression of mine dumbed down for the audience here, yet i still received nothing but vacuous idiocy in response. it's because there's nothing else here.

    arguing with people here, to me, is like being in quick sand. while leaves and bits of grass can float happily atop the morass that is kuro5hin, anything of substance quickly sinks in and drowns. better just to skip stones over it, i think.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    LOL! (none / 0) (#251)
    by DDS3 on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:48:13 PM EST

    Ego-fest, snoreville and dribble.

    You really are dumber than I ever previously, seriously considered.  You are, a walking joke.  The sad part is, you don't understand that we are laughing at you, not with you.


    [ Parent ]

    then we're all having fun. (none / 0) (#258)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:33:11 AM EST

    you're all a joke to me, especially the ones like you who develop an obsession with me. flame the troll -- it's like crack.

    this started with a comment from me about a vacuous comment. you haven't addressed it. i have to think you don't have an objection to it, you just like to flame the troll. well that's good. with every comment you make, this site becomes less usable, the discussion more dilute, and my points still clearer.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    Dumber steps forward (none / 0) (#267)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:29:00 AM EST

    the discussion more dilute, and my points still clearer.

    Do you have any comprehension skills?

    This has nothing to do with you being a troller.  It has to do with the fact that you're an idiot and actually think your intellect matches your ego.  That's the funny part.  Scratch that, that's the REALLY funny part.  Yet, your dribble continues.

    Can you see your self with this impression:
    Look, everyone, 1+1=2!  See my large ego!  Everyone, notice me!  Everyone!  Over here!  Everyone notice the insight into humanity in that equation?  Oh, you didn't?  Well, that's because it's soo far beyond your simple minds, you can only dream and wonder.

    Meanwhile, we roll our eyes and laugh.

    You really don't see your self there.  That's the sad/funny part.  I'm sorry, but the more I read the above, the more it just makes me want to laugh.  It's obvious that you feel the need to be validated here.  And I tick you off because I point out you're simply not worthy of your ego.

    As for your comment about me not addressing you, well, you were long since addressed.  The topic was covered.  Yet again, we see you lack of comprehension skills.  You state the obvious, get smacked down, and think that some dribble is going to change the fact that you stated the obvious and got smacked down.  Wake up already.

    Do you understand now why the "badge of troll", which you seemingly brag about, is really a badge of stupidity.  You contributed nothing here, well, rarely anyways.  And now are mad at me that I've pointed this out.  Worse, you try to make it out to be my fault that you didn't contribute.  Is that the troll in your screaming to get out or are you really that dumb?

    [ Parent ]

    rich. (none / 0) (#271)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 01:13:14 PM EST

    what's most amusing here is how you think you can explain to me a character i've created as if i'd not already know everything you have to tell me.

    the beauty of rmg is that it is something deeply offensive to nerds for reasons that they don't understand. no one seems to be able to articulate quite what it is -- they always get it wrong and fuck it up, like you have here.

    "comprehension skills" is one of the funniest attempts i've seen so far.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    So funny... (none / 0) (#272)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 01:50:18 PM EST

    what's most amusing here is how you think you can explain to me a character i've created as if i'd not already know everything you have to tell me.

    A character that is of your id.

    the beauty of rmg is that it is something deeply offensive to nerds for reasons that they don't understand.

    And the jokes just keep coming.  Offensive to nerds?  Try offensive to anyone that has a brain and can think for themselves.  You're an idiot.  That's why people find you offensive.  Not exactly hard to nail down.  Most people have a low tolerance for fools and you beam proudly of being one.  No great mystery.  No wonder.  No surprises.  No great leaps of faith or intuition required.  You're an ego bent fool that thinks you've transcended humanity.  It's a cry for help because you're so unhappy with reality.  You create this "persona", which is you alter-ego, and hide from reality with your "transcendental insights", that are only insightful to the other fools that can't see the obvious and lack common sense.  You're not fooling anyone but your self.

    I think I've said enough.  I really do pitty you.  That's not a smear, it's not made up.  It's a simple, honest, fact.


    [ Parent ]

    don't be silly. (none / 0) (#273)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 01:58:46 PM EST

    well-adjusted people do not find what you describe offensive nor do they invent psychological explanations. ultimately, what you've written here is only for you. it's perfectly clear that you have no idea either way about any of these things, especially when we throw in the troll X factor. so either you don't know how silly this exercise of yours is or something has stopped you from carrying your thought process far enough to see it.

    the interesting question here is why you're so fascinated with a character from a message board.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    I'm not (none / 0) (#274)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:29:52 PM EST

    the interesting question here is why you're so fascinated with a character from a message board.

    I rarely pay attention to the author of a post unless it stands out at me.  Even then, I generally don't retain the author's name, because I couldn't care less.  The reason why I know you is because, time and time again, your name pops up being associated with the dumber, invalid, or simply inane comments.  Which then death spirals down into this stuff.  It has nothing to do with you, other than you constantly grab my attention with things that are half-ass or plain wrong.

    But, I doubt your ego will allow you to realize that this really isn't just about you or your persona.


    [ Parent ]

    not quite. (none / 0) (#275)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:47:44 PM EST

    i'm willing to admit that this is about you -- and it is.

    how did this start? you felt the need to flame me because you thought you'd look clever. why? because i'm rmg. you just admitted it yourself.

    and just look at your irrational spittle: inane, invalid, stupid -- would you believe that there are many on this site that would say i'm one of the best contributors when i'm not trolling (and sometimes even when i am)?

    for the record: this thread started with me chastising someone for posting a lame comment. then this guy came out of nowhere and started psychoanalysing my posts (just as he has on previous occasions). he persists in doing so despite my clear warnings of what he is in fact doing and contributing to. he has not addressed anything that was at issue in this thread nor that anyone could possibly find interesting in this context.

    and he has the gall to call me dumb all the while!

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    rolling eyes... (none / 0) (#278)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:32:30 PM EST

    Here we go with your reading comprehension issues again.

    this thread started with me chastising someone for posting a lame comment.

    Actually, it wasn't that lame.  I'm willing to accept that you have your opinion.  Fine.  What was lame, however, was the fact that your wit was to state the position that everyone already has, knows, and understands.  Which is exactly the point of this whole article.  Yet, you decide that you've offered some insight.  The insight here is that you stated the obvious.  I pointed it out that you offered nothing and this came to a death spiral.  It has nothing specifically to do with YOU, the rmg persona.  But, your big ego and tiny brain can't process that fact.  It has to do with the fact that you, using whatever the name is, happened to be the person that made an insanely stupid remark.  It's not "rmg" that I'm commenting on.  It's the stupidity that comes from "rmg", or whoever else, makes such stupid, "insights".  The fact that these threads continue to happen, does allow me to have some historical context when we clash.

    And thus the death spiral continues because your ego can't handle that your obvious and transparent.

    If you truely believe that I get a hard-on hunting down, "rmg", fine.  But then how to you explain the few and far between good mods that I've given you?  How do you explain me taking each comment of yours on it's own merit?  How do you explain me offering offhanded compliments?  This is not behaviors of someone that's holding a grudge or attempting to single you out.  I couldn't care less about you.  I do care about idiots that poison the tree, which you seemingly like to do.    Thusly, you and I come into conflict.  It's not who you are, it's what you're saying.  And what you're saying is almost always crap.


    [ Parent ]

    you're a real compulsive replier. (none / 0) (#279)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:49:25 PM EST

    i should start a therapy group for your kind. there's a lot of replying to rmg addicts around here.

    now that you've finally at least meta-addressed the comment in issue at hand (though you misread the parent -- i claimed this thread began when i when i responded to the one-liner, not the article. though i feel dirty using the term, nice "reading comprehension" there, champ!), i'll say that the point was to dispel the mysticism surrounding this "church" not merely to state the opinion. while it's certainly a well-known position, people who think they're smart but really aren't tend to get carried away with "profound" sounding ideas. if someone would have wanted to pick up the idea and go with it, it could have been a good thread. unfortunately, no one did.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    mysticism? compulsive? (none / 0) (#289)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:29:32 PM EST

    i'll say that the point was to dispel the mysticism surrounding this "church" not merely to state the opinion.

    There is no mysticism involved here.  Since everyone already fully grasps the comments that you asserted, before you even wrote them, I might add, there was nothing to dispel.

    Compulsive?  You mean replying makes me compulsive?    This is another instance of me rolling my eyes and laughing.  If that makes me compulsive, then everyone that posts on these boards are compulsive.  Get a grip.

    people who think they're smart but really aren't tend to get carried away with "profound" sounding ideas.

    Did you see anyone in this thread thinking it was "profound"?  Did you see anyone getting carried away?  Again, you offer "insight", where there is none.  Specifically, in this instance, you offered insight, where it was only imagined.  I think most here easily accept the article for what it is.  It's an interesting article to talk about with a simple message, sometimes we all need to look beyond tomorrow.  There's nothing profound to found here.  It's a social construct to actively remind us there is something more than tomorrow.  Some don't need that reminder.  Some do.  It really is that simple.

    [ Parent ]

    fellas cry and want to die for (none / 2) (#291)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 08:22:08 PM EST

    Sweet Georgia Brown!

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    wow (none / 0) (#293)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:15:00 PM EST

    It's an interesting article to talk about with a simple message, sometimes we all need to look beyond tomorrow.

    You fail it. The author would obviously not agree with you.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    and? (none / 0) (#296)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:01:18 PM EST

    ...

    [ Parent ]
    I am the author (none / 0) (#297)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:02:28 PM EST

    And I tend to agree with DDS3, although I (modestly) think the message of the article is both simple and profound.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    if your article boils down to (none / 0) (#303)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:25:06 PM EST

    "We should all care a little more about tomorrow," then you need a better editor. Your article appears to this poor old reader to make grand, sweeping claims about transcendent moral imperatives transcending our individual desires, concerns, and personal contexts, the the extent that it verges on a secular religion.

    I didn't say you'd be emotionally unsympathetic to the parent poster; simply that his simple, bland reduction didn't correspond to your morally mandating the responsibility to consider the extremely long term in all actions. If you think his reading is sufficient and desirable, fine, whatever, it's your article.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    We should all care a little more about tomorrow (none / 1) (#305)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:35:38 PM EST

    Yes, I was saying more than this. It is an over-simplification, but not one I would tend to argue with.

    Once you start thinking deeply about what "tomorrow" really means, I think you end up with something close to the CLN.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    well, my point is (none / 0) (#307)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:41:46 PM EST

    The parent poster seemed content with that oversimplification, and thus either not to have followed or not to have understood your argument, with what you obviously consider to be its compelling moral and intellectual force.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Of course it's a... (none / 0) (#321)
    by DDS3 on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:55:28 AM EST

    ...simplified view that I posted.  I did not desire to write the author's article all over again.  But, should one desire to offer a simplistic synopsis of the article, I think what I posted is acceptible.  The author seems to agree.


    [ Parent ]
    you argue as if it's comprehensive, (none / 0) (#327)
    by rmg on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:38:11 PM EST

    which it isn't. that's what's at issue.

    HTH.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    comprehensive (none / 0) (#341)
    by DDS3 on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 02:56:06 PM EST

    you argue as if it's comprehensive

    Well, it is, depending on your perspective.  I touched on this many messages up when I said, "There's nothing profound to found here.  It's a social construct to actively remind us there is something more than tomorrow.  Some don't need that reminder.  Some do.  It really is that simple."

    In otherwords, if you need a reminder, then I suppose what I said might be a point of contention.  If you don't need the reminder, there there is nothing profound within and it is, while summarily, comprehensive.  I could of gone on to explain this that and the other, but why?  What I stated was the heart of the matter, regardless of which side of the "comprehensive", statement you stand.  In otherwords, I'll offer that it may be relative to your point of view.

    [ Parent ]

    don't try to paint me as a monster. (none / 1) (#342)
    by rmg on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 03:11:21 PM EST

    i know it's easy for you to do because your irrational beliefs about trolls, but try to reign yourself in.

    the point here is that i claimed there was mysticism in play, to wit: this guy has elevated the idea of "thinking ahead" to some moral level beyond any reasonable person would ever think to take it. to deny this is to miss the point of the article and to stack the deck against the argument i presented in the first place. again, i know you don't understand the subtleties (which in this case are explicit in the texts in question, but hell, to you they must be subtle since you've somehow missed them) in play here, which is why i try to avoid getting in real arguments with you guys.

    no one needs a "reminder" to "think ahead." it's either idiotic, condescending, or both to think your opponents need a "reminder" because they "don't get it."

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    no kidding (none / 1) (#346)
    by Battle Troll on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 07:57:05 PM EST

    Then the article poster comes and tells me that any 'thinking long-term' equates to getting the point of her article. It's like the Leninist concept of infiltration writ stupid.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Amazed... (none / 1) (#362)
    by DDS3 on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:18:24 PM EST

    ...I guess I stand corrected.  I'm amazed that you guys know more than anyone else...you even know more than the author about what HE meant.  I guess common sense, reading comprehension, and each person's personality, simply don't matter to you guys.  I'm sorry that facts and common sense prevent me from accepting your perspective.

    At this point, I guess the horse is dead.  Keep flogging if you like, but dead is dead.


    [ Parent ]

    simple proof (none / 0) (#374)
    by DDS3 on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 04:38:01 PM EST

    no one needs a "reminder" to "think ahead." it's either idiotic, condescending, or both to think your opponents need a "reminder" because they "don't get it."

    that you are both idiots.  You said it.  Battle troll agreed.  According to you, people don't need a reminder "of tomorrow".  Yet, a whole article was written addressing it.  But that's not the proof.  The proof is, your initial posting on this thread was a "reminder" for people to live in the hear and now.  Something, which everyone knows, people don't need a reminder.  In fact, the problem is, hardly anyone wants to look beyond tomorrow, or the next day, let alone generations ahead.  Yet, you not only proclaim your stupidity by annoucing that no one needs this reminder, but you state it on the tail end of declaring that everyone needs to be reminded to live in the hear and now.  Oh, but it gets better.  By stating that no one needs a reminder, you completely ignore the whole point of the article, which is exactly what you falsely attacked me about.  A simple reminder is what the whole "church" is about.

    You are both idiots.  I must admit, you really are profound.  You offer deep, deep insights into the depths of stupidity.  I long since thought there were limits to man's stupidity yet you proudly serve as a reminder to all of us, that limits on stupidity are there for you to break them.  One day, perhaps, you'll even get your own Darwin Award.  Please allow me to congradulate you now.

    [ Parent ]

    proof positive. (none / 0) (#375)
    by rmg on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 05:44:17 PM EST

    and i am vindicated!

    it is perfectly clear and i stated it explicitly in this thread that i did not post a "simple reminder." you argue by being stupid.

    when i attempt to bring you into the fold of the discussion, you resist me, you directly contradict my claims without argument, and you ignore the texts in question. you have displayed all the traits i've complained of elsewhere and it seems you don't even know it.

    to come full circle, you are the reason i troll. you are incapable of having a discussion with me so i have no use for you other than my own amusement.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    The reason you troll (none / 1) (#376)
    by Shimmer on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 06:18:01 PM EST

    Have you considered the possibility that you just like to be unreasonably difficult?

    I think your supposed explanation -- that others are incapable of having a discussion with you -- is... unlikely (trying to be nice here).

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    difficult? (none / 1) (#377)
    by rmg on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 06:37:41 PM EST

    my argument here is remarkably simple. that's what makes this so incredible.

    and really now, you're willing to withdraw the substance of your article simply to create the appearance that you agree with everyone here (as virtually all your comments in this article show). i'm not convinced that you have a reasonable standard of "difficulty" by any means.

    consider this: i have thoroughly explained my position and qualified it carefully, yet dds3 continues to reassert that i have said something entirely different. this sort of thing happens frequently here. i thoroughly and completely explain my argument to someone and they refuse even to grant that it is really what i am arguing or otherwise fail to grasp and meet the argument as explained. i have to assume that they are simply unwilling or unable to meet the argument.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    Ooh, my turn to take a side (none / 1) (#384)
    by Jave27 on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 03:24:10 PM EST

    I actually search for rmg responses after I read articles now. I usually like the articles, but I also like the ridiculous responses that rmg provides. Sometimes they're just stupid, but he quite often cracks me up due to the serious tone of the rebuttal. Once in a while, he'll outdo himself and make something actually make sense in a rebuttal. The DailyKos trolls were excellent, too. So, keep up the good work, it actually adds value to those that can recognize quality trolling and respect it.

    "Beating up the homeless. It's cruel, but it's a good clean work-out and leaves you feeling winded and superior." - CheeseburgerBrown
    [ Parent ]

    Reasonable (none / 0) (#383)
    by DDS3 on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 11:29:20 AM EST

    First, let me say thanks for chimming in.

    Second, I should say that there is absolutely nothing reasonable about him.  You can not reason with his tiny mind and huge ego.  Time and time again, I've presented and offered facts and he simply, happily ignores common sense, logic, and facts, any and everytime they come into conflict his his huge ego and tiny mind.  I offer all this because I can assure you that you will not change his perspective.  His mind is too small to allow that.  The only possible result you may find from chimming in here is, he will start mod trolling your future comments, without any regard for their content.

    So, unless you want to become his next target, as I have been many times, I would politely suggest you keep your head down when dealing with rmg.

    Just a friendly advisory.

    [ Parent ]

    You don't get to be excused- (none / 1) (#340)
    by Kax on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:58:32 AM EST

    the beauty of rmg is that it is something deeply offensive to nerds for reasons that they don't understand.

    You don't get to not be a nerd by provoking them.

    Sure, you know how to offend nerds, as many people do whether they can articulate it or not- You dump on their insular world of thought=power.  However, the more you strive to distance yourself from that group, the greater the chances are that the 'man behind rmg' is in that group (nerds) himself, which is why I don't take you seriously.  You'll say it's just as well that I don't, but it's not for the reasons you'd prefer.

    [ Parent ]

    ugh (none / 0) (#270)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:39:27 PM EST

    Do you have an opinion one way or the other about the putative virtue of 'long-term thinking?' Or are you just shooting your mouth off? Please try to stay on topic, even if it's hard.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Yes and no (none / 1) (#158)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:31:50 AM EST

    I think that some long-term planning is definitely a good thing. For example, Earth's resources will eventually be exhausted; in an even longer timespan, our Sun will die out. It seems like we should keep that in the back of our minds as we allocate our efforts, unless we want to get caught with out pants down. In the shorter term, conservation of our ecology is a similarly practical goal. In the even shorter term, investing your money pridently can net you tons of cash 20-30 years down the road -- and, if you're really good, set up your descendents with a nice foundation to build on.

    However, you're right in saying that all these geological/astronomical timescales have very little, if any, spiritual significance. Time passes whether we care about it or not.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    You obviously have no children (none / 2) (#169)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:07:02 AM EST

    Call us back in a few years when you do. I think you'll find that what happens in the future has become more important to you.

    I certainly recognize the importance of the "here and now". This is the purpose of the Fifth Pillar. You've just got to realize that your life is occuring in the context of something much greater and adapt accordingly.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    I don't follow (none / 3) (#282)
    by Belligerent Dove on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:20:46 PM EST

    You've just got to realize that your life is occuring in the context of something much greater and adapt accordingly.
    Adapting by living as if your life was something much greater than your life?

    Regardless of context, life is finite. And as a freethinker (an atheist specifically) I don't wish to pretend it is not. I also refuse to submit to some Grand Plan (tm) and I loathe being told it is somehow the rational thing to do.

    I think rmg is basically right; our small plans (tm) fit in the here and now. I do not believe that needs to contradict with a humanistic view on children and their future. It makes perfect sense to me that we'd want to see children grow up happy (or some other ideal). It makes perfect sense to me that we'd want to leave the world behind a better place than it was before we got here. It would also seem that we don't need narratives such as your article to act towards such humane desires. In fact, we seem to be wired first to want and work towards this and only secondarily have a slight disposition towards relgion.

    I find a view on history as an accumulation of such life stories more pleasant. It paints a humbling, yet liberating picture of an endless repetition of self-important actors in their own plays. What you suggest strikes me more as an endless line of automatons working towards an ancient goal. A goal set by god, or a goal that they, in a misguided search for meaning, read into their evolutionary fitness.

    Of course I too wish the human species a long and happy future. I just think that the burden of worrying about all generations to be, is too high. I feel that our desire for exploration and procreation will have to suffice. And if it doesn't then that's all the same to me.

    On that note: why did you, in the article, say that our extinsion would mean we — thus including you and me — wouldn't have been be “worthy” of existing anyway? And does that mean humanity needs to live forever (as in infinity)? That seems to be extremely unlikely of being possible. One wonders what, in that light, prevents you from concluding that we might as well end it all now.

    [ Parent ]

    thank you (none / 2) (#287)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:22:43 PM EST

    This "Church of the Long Now" is just a way to sneak the comforts of a transcendent meaning into an atheist worldview. If you want to reject the consolations of religion, better to do it honestly!
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    It's funny (none / 0) (#325)
    by cr8dle2grave on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 04:20:54 PM EST

    Science's most vocal partisans also seem to frequently be those people most consistantly incapable of perceiving that line where science stops and metaphysics begins.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    of course they are (none / 1) (#330)
    by Battle Troll on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:33:19 PM EST

    If they could see it, they wouldn't be emotionally fuelled by factionalism and the fire of conversion any longer.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    excellent. (none / 1) (#294)
    by rmg on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:31:52 PM EST

    exactly.

    though i don't care enough to read about this little cult to find out about their goals, i would further say that acting with a view to guide humanity toward any particular goal over the course of thousands of years is pure insanity for a variety of reasons.

    _____

    if i do not respond, it is because you wrote nothing worthy of response.

    dave dean[ Parent ]

    I don't think we're so far apart (none / 0) (#304)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:27:09 PM EST

    Of course I too wish the human species a long and happy future. I just think that the burden of worrying about all generations to be, is too high.

    This is not a guilt trip. I'm not trying to "burden" you or make you "worry" about anything. I'm merely pointing out that you can take positive actions that influence the future. If you truly with humanity a "long and happy future", why wouldn't you do what you can (not to conflict with your own enlightened self-interest) to make it more likely?

    why did you, in the article, say that our extinsion would mean we -- thus including you and me -- wouldn't have been be "worthy" of existing anyway?

    I think what I said is that if we wipe ourselves out, then we were not worthy in the first place. If, on the other hand, we go extinct for another reason (e.g. disease, asteroid collision, etc.), then it would just be a plain old tragedy.


    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    I don't see any common ground (none / 0) (#311)
    by Belligerent Dove on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:30:20 AM EST

    This is not a guilt trip. I'm not trying to "burden" you or make you "worry" about anything. I'm merely pointing out that you can take positive actions that influence the future. If you truly with humanity a "long and happy future", why wouldn't you do what you can (not to conflict with your own enlightened self-interest) to make it more likely?
    I don't see how I can avoid understanding your philosophy as a burden when you'll have me feel morally responsible for the overall worthiness of our evolutionary branch.

    If it were realistically possible I might just do something to increase the likelyhood of our species' continued survival. However, I'd take on such a project only for its temporary coolness. I wouldn't want to think of myself as carrying out some larger than life plan because at that point you make it morally imperative, a must, to continue whatever it was I were doing.

    Now, as a personal spiritiual view I can somewhat understand that you'd want to feel part of something larger than life, but when you start calling it rational and when conflate it with an absolute and objective morality, I take offence in that.

    I think it's dangerous too. If society would actually take up your ideas as rational (i.e. the one true way to look at things) and objectively moral (i.e. the one true way to judge other people), then that would marginalize people like me. Worse, it just might open the gates to the belief that the opinions of those who don't dedicate their lives to the Long Term project du jour, are irrelevant to the only thing good citizens should care about, irrelevant to The Plan. Putting aside the likeliness of such reasoning gaining credibility, I do believe your ideas contain the seeds for such anti-democratic ideas to be built upon. And history tells us that there's an abundance of people who gladly subvert ideas, especially religions, for awful purposes.

    I think what I said is that if we wipe ourselves out, then we were not worthy in the first place. If, on the other hand, we go extinct for another reason (e.g. disease, asteroid collision, etc.), then it would just be a plain old tragedy.
    I'm afraid I, as a freethinker, cannot ascribe meaning to that. I'd accept what you said if you used the word competent instead of worthy. But worthy is a moral sentiment and the only way in which what you say can be true is if we have a moral duty to survive. See the previous point for my objections on that.

    [ Parent ]
    K5 lives (2.40 / 5) (#140)
    by ljj on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:21:31 AM EST

    Now we are talking. Great article.

    The fourth pillar reminds me of my favourite scary thought. What if all this beautiful, complex intelligent life evolved, lived and died and there was nobody, no God, no alien life, nobody out there to appreciate it?

    --
    ljj

    A scary thought indeed, but... (none / 0) (#147)
    by edo on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:58:29 AM EST

    > What if all this beautiful, complex intelligent
    > life evolved, lived and died and there was
    > nobody, no God, no alien life, nobody out there
    > to appreciate it?

    Well, we are here to appreciate it, aren't we?

    I won't go so far as to say that we are God ourselves (although when I'm on mushrooms I do feel that way), but we are certainly one way the universe looks at itself.

    May I recommend Alan Moore's astounding spoken-word CD Snakes and Ladders for a fuller (and more entertaining) exposition on these thoughts?
    -- 
    Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
     - Oscar Wilde
    [ Parent ]

    but in that case (none / 0) (#161)
    by ljj on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 07:34:49 AM EST

    all memory of us will be obliterated too. Which would mean we weren't God after all.

    --
    ljj
    [ Parent ]

    We live (none / 2) (#157)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:27:49 AM EST

    What if all this beautiful, complex intelligent life evolved, lived and died and there was nobody, no God, no alien life, nobody out there to appreciate it?
    What, you mean besides us ? And what makes you think that someone just has to be there to appreciate it ? There are plenty of lifeless planets out there; no one appreciates them, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    one hand clapping in the forest and all that [n/t] (none / 1) (#160)
    by ljj on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 07:33:04 AM EST


    --
    ljj
    [ Parent ]

    You clearly... (none / 1) (#206)
    by DDS3 on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:58:08 PM EST

    There are plenty of lifeless planets out there; no one appreciates them

    ...have never known anyone that worked for NASA.  ;)

    [ Parent ]

    scary but delicious (none / 1) (#165)
    by yem on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:00:31 AM EST

    When I try to imagine a universe without intelligent  life, without humans, the thought/feeling only exists for a fleeting moment. I wish I could hold that thought for longer.

    Try it. Picture the universe spinning on through time. No end, no intermission, this is it folks.
    * shiver *

    [ Parent ]

    Thanks (none / 2) (#166)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:01:43 AM EST

    Glad you like it.

    If your "scary thought" is true, doesn't that just make humanity that much more special and important? Our job would be to colonize the entire universe. We would own the thing!

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    you misunderstand the problem (3.00 / 10) (#148)
    by nikster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:28:26 AM EST

    the problem for most people in this world is that they don't know what to do. they don't know what they want or why they want what they think they want. so after they get "it", they often wake up empty. or they need more.

    the church of the long now does nothing to address this problem - instead, it proposes a reason for existence (like: survival of the human race) which then becomes "what to do". just like all other religions. after that is established, the follower of the cult can do exactly the same thing that everybody else on this planet does, namely answer the much easier question: how to do it. religion gives you a what, then you can concentrate on the how.

    this is inherently wrong - it will not lead to happyness any more than following the "american-dream"-religion that gets propagated by business.

    the question is what to do, not how to do it. if you know what to do, if you follow your true path, if you fulfill your full purpose, then the how question becomes unimportant.

    People have an in-born, biological need for religion, especially in times of stress. It would be foolish for rational thinkers to ignore this need.

    this is inherently wrong. people have a need to know themselves, to know what their purpose is. thus they turn to religion, since religion gives answers to these questions. but they cannot be truly happy with it because the answers are not their own answers. and therefore not true. nagging doubts will remain in your heart. even religions which promote self-realization often do so in a way that it's indistinguishable from other religions.

    the basic problem is illustrated by the following sentence in the article: What can I do to keep myself alive long enough to accomplish what I want to do?
    this question is missing the point. the problem is: what do you want to accomplish, and why? 99% of people have no answer to this that will stand up to serious questioning. they will tell you "i want to be happy" or somesuch. yeah, sure, but can you do it? can you just sit down, forget about the rest of the world, and be happy? no? then what do you want to do? how can you be certain that's what you really want.

    the answers lie within yourself of course. self knowledge, and total perception which leads to truth.

    regarding truth... truth is like love - you know when you experience it. it's a major shift in perception, detached from anything you might have learned or you might have been indoctrinated with since you were a child. it's separate from anything else, and it will stand on its own no matter what. it's absolute. i don't know where the limits for this perception are, as i have only experienced it in the context of knowing myself. but i know it's there, and it hits you like a truck. amazing, really. it's very different from finding a fact, or finding a theory that matches reality. or, for that matter, for believing something. truth is not belief.

    I see your point (none / 0) (#168)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:04:26 AM EST

    But there's not much that any religion can do to bring any one individual to self-enlightenment.

    What I'm trying to do here is to show a particular vision of the truth that I find especially enlightening and inspiring. I think it might help some people answer your "what?" question.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Science&Religion: separated as they should be (none / 0) (#183)
    by augmenter on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:27:39 AM EST

    I think that Darwinian natural selection is the most important scientific theory because of its implications. Simply put, there is no point in life. Furthermore there is no point in existence and intelligence. These things just evolved and cannot have any target.

    Intelligence is not a gift to be exploited, something we can use to go to new heights of self assesment and moral/intellectual accomplishment. It's just another feature, like the trunk is for an elephant or sharp teeth for a lion. Although we can use it to try to accomplish these noble goals, they are not inherent in our nature, or simply put we are not here in order to reach these targets.

    It is very difficult to escape the restrictions of absolute thinking, eg everything has a reason or everyone has to strive for a goal. Indeed, I think that it is hard-wired in our brains, because it is more efficient to think this way, as we evolved to survive and not to philosophize.

    Personally I don't think that any religion (or moral system in general) should be based on truth and scientific inquiry. These two have pretty different purposes: Science is the search for truth. Religion is an adaptive behavior that tries to reconcile our absolute thinking with the mysteries of death and existence. The very existence of these mysteries shows that we try to put a purpose in things that don't have one (to the best of our knowledge anyway). Any hybrid of these two would either be a very dogmatic science or a very boring religion. That of course is not to say that I encourage any hatred between these two, I am just saying that they should be totally independent of one another and accept the other side for what it is.

    [ Parent ]

    rainy days (none / 1) (#184)
    by shokk on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:28:07 AM EST

    We are a species that wants to live forever, but despairs when there is nothing to do on a rainy day.
    "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
    [ Parent ]
    Nicely put (none / 0) (#318)
    by andr0meda on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:32:31 AM EST

    This comment is realy in place!  Just imagine being unable to die.. after all these years, all these dangerous things you did, all these loved ones that died on you, all the misery around you that just keeps on repeating.. what would be the point of seeing the next day.  So in fact, death gives a sense to life, like says one of the great philosophers with regard to dying.  

    Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?
    [ Parent ]

    We should be focusing on radical life extension (1.75 / 4) (#167)
    by cryon on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:03:12 AM EST

    We each have our own life, and that is ALL we have. We do not have ANYTHING else. Instead of worrying just about the future of the race, instead of sublimating your own life in order to further the cause of the race, we should be cooperating to develop radical life extension technologies. We should be developing cryopreservation protocols and materials so that we can freeze each other when our bodies no long work right, and lay frozen until a future where medicine can make us longlived. Focusing on the future of the race and forgetting your own life is animalistic slavery to the genome. That is for animals. I am not an animal. Animals sweat and worry and strive in order to perpetuate their DNA past their lifetime. They are slaves to the DNA-perpetuation trap. Just like all the birds, mammals, fish, all going through their robotic little DNA-perpetuation routines--courtship, mating, childrearing, death. And in humans, we can add worrying about the kids's schools, worrying about getting the high-social-status SUV (the better to increase you and your child's social status and reproduction prospects), that high-social-status McMansion, etc. What is REALLY tragically humorous is when humans ELEVATE this DNA-perpetuation scam into something sacred. How sad.... Feh. I reject it. I reject DNA slavery. I have made provisions to freeze my brain upon legal "death" and hopefully I will be revived in a distant future when humans have moved beyond this DNA-perpetuation trap into a new realm of rationality and clear-headed thinking.
    HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

    It is too late for you. (none / 1) (#182)
    by it certainly is on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:02:31 AM EST

    You know the brain rots and deteriorates as life goes on, yes?

    The essential centre of our humanity, the brain, dies slowly. This is the wick of our candle, when it has gone we can exist no more.

    We can replace our bodies all we like. We will still go senile. Nothing could be a greater torment than the agony of prolonged life.

    If we interfere with our brains to adapt them for longer life, we must start at the point in our lives when the brain receives its final cell, during our teenage years. We cannot transplant the brain, as it would no longer be "us". It is too late for you.

    kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

    Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
    [ Parent ]

    Solution (none / 1) (#197)
    by bugmaster on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 01:36:35 PM EST

    It seems like we need to develop a prosthetic brain, or fix our current brains so that they stop deteriorating. Personally, I would be ok with either solution, even though my own brain is long past its teenage years. Sure, it's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    BRAINS (none / 0) (#243)
    by Tezkah on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:21:43 PM EST

    If we could create a prosthetic "existence" by taking the data from our brains and placing them in machines, perhaps then we could overcome the limitations of our bodies.

    Another way would be to harness stem cells to regenerate tissues such as the brain and muscles and bones.  Who knows?  Of course, stem cell research is bad! because if humans live forever... who needs god?  No wonder the fundies are up in arms about stem cell research.

    [ Parent ]

    Prosthetic Existence (none / 0) (#402)
    by tlewis615 on Sat Dec 18, 2004 at 03:38:15 PM EST

    Won't work until you develope a memory source which endures forever with perfect fidelity. Otherwise your virtual self and virtual universe degrade over time. Bit-rot. Think of it as digital senility.

    [ Parent ]
    What is rational? (none / 0) (#314)
    by WorkingEmail on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:05:51 AM EST

    Is the mad pursuit of immortality in appeasement of your survival instincts really rational?

    Focusing on your own life is animalistic slavery to the individual. The opposite of this is not focusing on the race, but rather completeley defocusing - no bias towards my race over another race, or vice versa. No bias towards my life over another life, or vice versa.

    One day, the selfish will be upgraded or discarded as being defective. Their screams will be short-lived.


    [ Parent ]

    jumping around (none / 1) (#185)
    by shokk on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:30:49 AM EST

    The leap from the 1st to 2nd pillars is too great. I feel like there must be something in between why does everything exist ( pretty grand question) to why does our little rock exist. How about "why is reality in this *something* the way it is?" Not why is there gravity, but why does gravity behave this particular way and not slightly different. Why is E=mc^2 and not E=mc^2.1?
    "Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
    I'd like the First Pillar to handle all that (none / 0) (#189)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 12:05:13 PM EST

    My intention is that all the fundamental rules of physics/chemistry are covered by the First Pillar. Perhaps I should have been more explicit about this in the article. Thanks for the suggestion.

    It's only when you get to the second pillar that you start addressing "local" issues.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    E=mc^2.1? (none / 0) (#313)
    by WorkingEmail on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:59:20 AM EST

    Why, the units wouldn't work out right! :)


    [ Parent ]
    This jumped out at me (none / 0) (#205)
    by DDS3 on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 02:53:32 PM EST

    Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth. This is, in fact, the primary goal of science, but in existing religions it competes with other goals.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Science is about the search for truth.  Religion is about faith and everything that science can not answer.  Religion usually has nothing to do with truth, save perhaps only historical accounts.  Religion is a "social art" and not a science.  As such, it does not seek truth.  Rather, it seeks comfort from the unknown or unexplained, regardless of what the truth is.

    Please tell that to all the creationists (none / 0) (#208)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:43:11 PM EST

    They seem to think that the Bible has something to say about the origin of the universe, of the Earth, of life, of mankind (as a species), and of individual people. These are the five pillars.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Not the same thing (none / 0) (#210)
    by epepke on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:49:23 PM EST

    Many theists seem to think that their books have something to say about whatever you call the five pillars.

    Creationists are just picking a fight, for no real reason that I can make out. It's not as if every other religious tradition in the world has made its peace with evolution quite some time ago.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Peace (none / 0) (#213)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:58:40 PM EST

    They only "made peace" after the truth was shoved down their throat. Until then, they fought it tooth and nail. In the U.S., we even had a recent president say that "evolution is only a theory".

    These people need to be swept out of power.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    evolution is a theory (none / 1) (#237)
    by binford2k on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:31:42 PM EST

    Dude, evolution is a theory.  Nearly all of science is theory, it serves for now and will be discarded if and when a better theory comes along.  Your "blind faith" in the theory of evolution is just as dangerous as blind faith in religion.

    Remember, Einstein "proved" that faster than light travel was not possible.  Now theoretical physicists are saying that it just may be possible.  And before Galileo, it was proven that heavy objects fell faster than light ones.

    [ Parent ]

    Evolution is a fact (none / 1) (#240)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:46:39 PM EST

    Evolution occurs in nature. That's a fact. The theory of evolution by natural selection is science's current best explanation of the mechanism behind this fact.

    See http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html#proof

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    It's a fact and a set of theories (none / 2) (#290)
    by epepke on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 07:54:33 PM EST

    It's a fact (it happens) and there is a set of theories called Natural Selection to describe it.

    Remember, Einstein "proved" that faster than light travel was not possible.  Now theoretical physicists are saying that it just may be possible.

    This is wildly and trimphantly inaccurate. What Einstein himself showed was that, if the two postulates of Special Relativity are correct, then an object with nonzero, real rest mass cannot be accelerated to the speed of light, let alone faster than the speed of light.

    This theoretical stuff you're talking about is as old or older than Einstein, as the actual equations date back before Einstein (Einstein just showed how they could be derived in a simple way). At v=c, certain terms approach infinity. However, for v>c, they aren't infinite any more. You get other things, like factors of i popping up all over the place, but we already have factors of i in the extended equations.

    I hate to have to say this, because your observation is right; you just picked lousy examples. Everything in science is a model. Models may be more or less accurate, and nothing can ever be considered certainly true or false. However, at some point, something becomes so well established that to withhold affirmation is perverse, and we might as well call these things facts. The Electron is a theory. The behaviors associated with things that are modeled as electrons are facts.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Nevertheless (none / 0) (#259)
    by epepke on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:47:35 AM EST

    It isn't an issue these days for the vast majority of religions. I could spend my entire life being pissed off about the past, and the only thing it would do would be to shorten my life by increasing my blood pressure. The battle was won, and then the creationist microcephalics decided to pick a fight. I'll concentrate efforts on them, because it might actually do something.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    ugh (none / 0) (#286)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:20:19 PM EST

    Until then, they fought it tooth and nail.

    Who's 'they?' A small fraction of the Christians on earth. Also your generalization applies at best to subsets of Christians and Muslims (not Jews,) and speaks neither to the rest of those religious bodies nor to any others in the world. So much for your indictment of religion in general.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    I understand (none / 0) (#216)
    by DDS3 on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:14:53 PM EST

    ...but that's a question of faith, not truth.


    [ Parent ]
    No Search (none / 0) (#256)
    by bugmaster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:18:46 AM EST

    So, it seems that the Creationists have already found the one true truth (tm) -- they aren't searching for anything, unlike scientists.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    No (2.80 / 5) (#212)
    by trhurler on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 03:53:48 PM EST

    Religion is a false comfort. The reason most people are religious is not because it is "hardwired" into us any more than heroin addiction is "hardwired" into us. Our nature may make us susceptible to both, but neither is a natural state of human beings.

    Most people are religious purely because they cannot face the truth - that their lives are of significance to them and a few others, and that the vast majority of PEOPLE, let alone of the universe or of either throughout the entirety of time, will never even know they were here. I don't know why; I find a certain comfort in knowing that my significance is self made and that I do not hold sway over anything of great universal import, but most people seem able only to focus on the idea that they will one day be forgotten. As though that's a bad thing for most of us anyway...

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    Aren't we saying the same thing? (none / 0) (#215)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:03:16 PM EST

    I heartily agree that existing religions provide a false comfort.

    Wouldn't you agree that "susceptibility" to religion is hardwired? Of course, this doesn't mean that everyone is religious, but it does help explain the overwhelming popularity of religion.

    You might find this interesting: http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/bookauth/eow3.htm

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Maybe (none / 0) (#236)
    by trhurler on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:37:59 PM EST

    In the same sense that a "susceptibility to drug abuse" or a "susceptibility to being horny" is hardwired into us. But if that's all you mean, then why aren't almost all of us drug users, and why aren't there a few percent of us who really don't care about sex(as opposed to pretending, which results in screwed up people?) Clearly, the main factor here is culture and upbringing.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    Cultural universals (none / 1) (#241)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:54:21 PM EST

    Check out the link I posted above. Every culture ever studied has religious rituals. Surely this is not just a coincidence.

    "It is tempting to dismiss these traits as not truly diagnostic for human beings, not really genetic, but  ... that interpretation is easily refuted."

    The actual list of cultural universals is pretty interesting:


    age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethnobotany, etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool making, trade, visiting, weaving, and weather control


    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Hah (none / 0) (#292)
    by trhurler on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:07:06 PM EST

    There's drug use in every culture on earth too. I win.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    You are a difficult person to agree with (none / 0) (#301)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:17:02 PM EST

    But I'm trying!

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    I disagree... (none / 0) (#223)
    by skyknight on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:42:18 PM EST

    with your certainty that a predisposition toward religion is not hard wired, though I'm not sure that it is either. Religious belief has historically been a great way to fill the ranks of armies, and peoples with big armies tend to kill peoples with smaller armies, doing the whole natural selection thing on a large scale and very rapidly. I don't know that a predisposition to religion is hard wired, but I certainly wouldn't be surprised. It might be the case that peoples with a hardwired predisposition were favored evolutionarily, or it may be a matter of evolutionary memetics as opposed to genetics. If we're going to be honest, I don't think we have sufficient evidence to come down hard on either side. All that said, religion is indeed a false comfort. It just so happens that it's an amazingly viral, unifying and powerful false comfort out of which nations are forged and empires built.

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    Well, (none / 2) (#235)
    by trhurler on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:35:58 PM EST

    I still see no reason to believe human beings are inherently much more likely to be religious than to be heroin addicts, save the culture we live in. In fact, in a somewhat different culture, it is easy to imagine religion being a ridiculous notion, but heroin addiction being quite common.

    I think the truth is that progress is the enemy of religion, which is why religion has mostly become a social event in the United States rather than something people actually care about. Yes, I know, a minority are "deeply religious" or whatever. But almost all of those people who say they believe in God also say they haven't been to any religious service in years, except for weddings and funerals, most have never read the holy texts of their religions(or even significant parts of those texts,) most have false ideas about what the religion they claim to believe in actually says about how you should live, what you should do, and so on, and in general, they're "religious" because it is the path of least resistance rather than because they really care all that much. Oh, and on occasion, their supposed faith gives them some minor comfort by allowing them to ignore the reality of, say, a death in the family or whatever.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    heh (none / 3) (#285)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:16:53 PM EST

    I think the truth is that progress is the enemy of religion, which is why religion has mostly become a social event in the United States rather than something people actually care about.

    What an original thinker you are. The Enlightenment called, and it wants its archaic benighted philosophy back.

    One implications of your post that you probably won't like is as follows: Europeans are much more secular than USians; does that mean that they have progressed further? I also must ask by reflex about advanced imperial societies, like medieval China or the Byzantine Empire, as they were often more religious, though not supersitious, than their primitive nomadic neighbours. Does that mean that they were advanced in spite of their religious beliefs and their neighbours were primitive in spite of their lack of a religious structure for their superstitions?

    On a related note, isn't your theory of progress a mentalistic theory? If you're proposing that something called mind is somehow above and superior to inert matter... well... draw your own conclusions.

    But almost all of those people who say they believe in God also say they haven't been to any religious service in years, except for weddings and funerals, most have never read the holy texts of their religions(or even significant parts of those texts,) most have false ideas about what the religion they claim to believe in actually says about how you should live, what you should do, and so on, and in general, they're "religious" because it is the path of least resistance rather than because they really care all that much.

    Note the weasel word 'most.' What about the rest?

    I'll also invite you to notice that most scientific functionaries, as you are well aware, have false ideas about the philosophy of science, subscribe to crackpot anti-empirical economic theories, believe in an internally incompatible mix of mentalism (or at least vitalism) and materialism, and are in sum total scientific illiterates outside their fields. Yet this is not enough in itself to discredit science or scientists in the aggregate, just individual fools on a fool-by-fool basis.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    No... (none / 2) (#295)
    by trhurler on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:38:46 PM EST

    One implications of your post that you probably won't like is as follows: Europeans are much more secular than USians
    By stupid measures, yes. More of them are willing to admit they're not -really- religious, and that to them a church is a social circle, and more of them have chosen other ways of social interaction, but the actual rate of religious belief isn't much different in the populations. A major difference is that among those who ARE religious in Europe, they are much more likely to be really, really serious about it(just ask a European Catholic leader what they think of the US Catholics for one example:)
    On a related note, isn't your theory of progress a mentalistic theory?
    Not in the way you mean, no. My ideas on "mind" and its relationship to reality are almost certainly on the short list of "things a religious person can't even think about clearly" though, so I don't waste my time explaining them to people who still today despite all historical evidence try to pretend that religion and the progress of civilization are compatible. BUT, it is sufficient for our purposes simply for me to state that my idea of progress can for most purposes be considered as the increase in understanding of how the world works in any given civilization. Your example of Rome is telling; the Romans built bigger examples of primitive engineering, but they did not substantially advance scientific knowledge. Theirs was a military and political structure heavily based on religion, and it had little need for science more complicated than "how to build stone aquaducts," which knowledge considerably predates them. The Byzantine empire was basically Rome part II in this respect.
    What about the rest?
    A minority can be found which will fit almost any description. Is that really meaningful? Yes, there are genuine, REAL Christians in modern society. And other religions too. They "fit in," generally speaking, but how many of them are doing, have done, or will do anything that will result in tomorrow being better than today? The rate of pseudo-religious claptrap and/or athiesm among physicists, philosophers, medical doctors, and virtually anyone else who is likely to do anything of any lasting importance is nearly 100%. Sure, many physicists claim to believe in God. Ask them for details. God, for them, is nothing more than a hope that when they die, it isn't all over for them. That's IT.

    As for mentalism vs materialism and so on, this is like the supposed dichotomy between analytic and synthetic, or between coherentism and foundationalism. Any idiot can set up two obviously false but "pure" ideas and call them opposites which represent the sum total of what is possible - that doesn't make it true.

    The death knell for religion, insofar as I can tell, is this simple: a religion which tells us nothing is meaningless. A religion which, in an attempt to be meaningful, tells us SOMETHING, will either be right or wrong, and sooner or later, a lot of what it tells us will either be confirmed or disproved by scientific means. The history of every religion known to man is the history of one idea after another being gradually thrown out over a long time span in the hope that nobody would notice that an age old "truth" was actually complete bullshit.

    If no religion so far as been able even to correctly tell us simple things that our science has already determined after only a relatively short period of civilization, why would any reasonable person look to religion for any sort of truth? Answer: because he's afraid of dying. Because science cannot provide him with an answer to that fear. Because his parents are afraid of dying, and told him about their beliefs, and so he grew up with them. And so on.

    I mean, for crying out loud, the Bible claims a rabbit is a hoofed animal. Right away, we can tell that the "infallible holy text" of the west's most popular religion is neither infallible nor the word of any god any of us would like to worship. And yet, I'm sure you'll try to tell me otherwise, because you were brought up with a certain set of beliefs, or because you're afraid of dying, or probably both.

    Scientists may individually be fools, but their field produces something religion does not: useful information that actually accords with observation. The history of religion is the history of its tenets being disproven, one by one.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    heh (none / 3) (#302)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:20:59 PM EST

    More of them are willing to admit they're not -really- religious, and that to them a church is a social circle, and more of them have chosen other ways of social interaction, but the actual rate of religious belief isn't much different in the populations

    Blah blah blah, you were talking out your ass again, no surprises here; rates of church attendance are lower, more people respond no to "Do you believe in God, Hell, whatever." But the truth as you see it is many people who think they're religious in the USA actually aren't, by your fiat. Whatever. You "win" this one.

    I don't waste my time explaining them to people who still today despite all historical evidence try to pretend that religion and the progress of civilization are compatible.

    Hmm, argument by non sequitur. "If you don't agree with me on point B, you're too dumb to argue point A." Whatever, you "win" this one too, because having established that I don't agree on point B, I'm excluded ever from being heard on A. Goody.

    Your example of Rome is telling; the Romans built bigger examples of primitive engineering, but they did not substantially advance scientific knowledge.

    I guess you don't agree with Hegel that a sufficiently large distinction in quantity becomes itself a distinction in kind. Fine, the Romans were as primitive as all the other peoples of the Mediterranean even though they had cleaner cities, better roads (one of the most significant technologies in the old world,) better crop roatations, and could thus field army after army long after everyone else had given up. So they didn't 'advance scientific knowledge;' that didn't prevent them from being technologically and organizationally sophisticated for their place and time, which is obviously what I meant by calling them an advanced culture.

    The Byzantine empire was basically Rome part II in this respect.

    Nuts. The Byzantine Empire, ca 600 AD, was hundreds of years more advanced than the Roman successor states in Western Europe ca. 600 AD. The Easterners spoke Greek and so retained the intellectual legacy of the ancient world into the middle ages while advancing upon it. Your criticism of them boils down to their failure to use an empirical scientific method to mathematize physics, and by that criterion, there was never a technologically sophisticated society in human history until after Galileo. If you want to restrict your definition of 'advanced society' to exclude any discussion of comparative advancement and retardation inthe ancient world, that's your problem, not mine. Anyway, you still didn't say anything that could apply to China, which has been the most advanced society on earth for most of the history of civilization.

    Any idiot can set up two obviously false but "pure" ideas and call them opposites which represent the sum total of what is possible - that doesn't make it true.

    Be that as it may, it doesn't give us any positive information about your apparent personal reconciliation of an ontologically privileged mind with atheistic materialism.

    A religion which, in an attempt to be meaningful, tells us SOMETHING, will either be right or wrong, and sooner or later, a lot of what it tells us will either be confirmed or disproved by scientific means.

    Not likely, because the important claims of most religions are existential, not naturalistic. In fact, even Christianity, which because of those dratted creationists is the whipping boy for intellectual disrespectability in atheist circles, made few naturalistic claims in its history. It's more that in 1200 AD, the Bible was the only history book most folks had, and before the resources were available to mount archaeological expeditions and endow research chairs in universities, it was accepted as a default in the Western world, just as various traditional creation stories were accepted as a base of information in other societies. Then when the various fascist factions in the Western church felt their death-grip on power start to be shaken, they made the literal truth of the Bible into a shibboleth. No surprises here, this happens in all sorts of societies, in all sorts of contexts; it shows the same laws in action as when sclerotic old corporations are plowed under by efficient new ones today, and leverage political power, established money, and favours to maintain themselves institutionally past the date at which they remained viable.

    why would any reasonable person look to religion for any sort of truth? Answer: because he's afraid of dying.

    Well, that's obviously the only answer. I doff my hat in your general direction.

    And yet, I'm sure you'll try to tell me otherwise, because you were brought up with a certain set of beliefs, or because you're afraid of dying, or probably both.

    You shnook, if you weren't so ignorant of my history I'd think you were trolling me. I was a convinced atheist until a couple of years ago, when I realized I was an asshole and decided to change my ways. I became a Christian in spite of myself and in spite of my upbringing.

    It's as possible to be a scientific empiricist and a religious Christian as it is to be a scientific empiricist and a religious Randroid. In both cases, the religious person looks to his religion to answer the question of how he should live, and to science to answer questions about the behaviour of physical objects. In both cases, the religious person accepts that his religion has often been wrong whenever it was so silly as to step outside its competence. In both cases, the religious person is also aware that the appearance to outsiders of his religion's frequently stepping outside its competence is because of enthusiasts and cheerleaders, rather than serious thinkers.

    The history of religion is the history of its tenets being disproven, one by one.

    No offense, but you're not going to get anywhere until you figure out the difference between religion and superstition.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Ok (none / 2) (#310)
    by trhurler on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:06:54 AM EST

    I'd love to use block quotes, but I'm on an old laptop and my hands already hurt from it, so I'm not going to. I'll just try to reply to everything that I ought to, and hopefully that works out.

    First, we obviously disagree about what it means to be religious. To me, someone who claims to believe in God, but says nothing else, is religious, or at least I must presume him to be so. BUT, someone who claims to believe in a specific religion - now that's another matter. Is he really religious, if he claims to believe a, b, and c, but in fact only holds to b? I don't think so; his religion is a comfort, and if it becomes inconvenient, he discards the part that offends him. Take for example, pro-choice Catholics(or even Catholics who think condoms are better than pandemic via overpopulation.) Very reasonable, but are they really serious about their religion? "I must believe this because the kingdom of heaven is all that matters in life, but I ignore this part because it is a pain in the ass"? Nah, that can't be right.

    Now, regarding the supposed impossibility of an athiest understanding of mind and universe: here's the outline, without any pretense at scientific sophistication. Whatever a mind is, I have one, and it is my reasonable belief that other people also do(I can't really prove that, but this doesn't matter - I can't prove in any mathematical sense that I'll die if I don't eat, but I still eat.) There is a universe which exists, regardless of the presence of minds. Odds are, minds are a consequence of some peculiar arrangement of material in this universe, but I cannot prove that either. This universe apparently was here before there were minds, and may well be here long after all are gone, but what really matters is, its existence and nature are not conditional upon our existence, our opinions, or our possibly mistaken notions about it.

    If it is free will you're after, you've defined it improperly. Everyone does. Free will obviously does not mean the ability to do anything you want without any concern except some arbitrary whim that arises from(where exactly?) Clearly, all it means is the ability to choose based on whatever knowledge you have, and with the exception of people we commonly judge to have mental disorders, people generally choose what they think is best, whether for themselves, someone else, or whatever. In that sense, our lives are somewhat deterministic - and yet why should this matter? We still experience them, and we still live them, and we still have choices enough in ambiguous situations that life is not merely a script we read from our circumstances, and what more does anyone really need?

    Be careful here though; my position is not necessarily "athiestic materialism" OR an ontologically privileged mind, and if you cling too tightly to those ideas, you won't grasp what I'm saying. There are many possibilities, and to say that I am not religious is not even to say there is no God - but merely that I do not believe in one without a better reason than I have now. I am not absolutely convinced that minds do not in some manner originate in a way that is different from the origination of a "mere" material construct, although I doubt seriously that any deviation from this seemingly reasonable norm is necessary to account for the human mind.

    China really strikes me much as does Rome or Byzantium. Advanced? Yes, in some ways. Not in understanding of the world. (And yes, Hegel was wrong. On that point conflating quality with quantity, and a great many others as well. He made a career out of espousing numbskullery, insofar as I can tell.) At the end of the day, the Chinese, the Romans, and the Byzantines(?) did the same things everyone else did, only with greater success. And in the end, that's why their glory days came to an end, ultimately.

    You must have an interesting definition of "Christian," if it does not involve treating the Bible as the word of God. If it does involve such a treatment, then please explain why God does not know that a rabbit does not have hooves. Also, what Christianity is it that has historically not made many "naturalistic" claims? The Christianity I'm familiar with has been an intensely political, intensely materialistic, and ever-increasingly arcanely complex belief system since at least the earliest reliable history that survives regarding its activities and precepts. I suppose you can say "those aren't real Christians," but if not for Catholicism, as one example, Christianity would be nothing but a bunch of long dead Jewish messiah cults by now.

    How can religion tell me how to live in a world where my survival and well being is dictated by natural things?

    How can science not impinge upon moral questions when it is science we use to provide the basic facts upon which moral decisions are made?

    What is the difference between religion and superstition? It appears to me that one man's religion is another's superstition. I'm kinky, you're twisted, and those people over there are perverted, as the saying goes, can be modified to fit this situation: I'm religious, you're well intentioned, and those people over there are superstitious freaks.

    Finally, you're still an asshole, but I don't see any problem with that. The most interesting people I know, me included, are all assholes. That's just how life is. The cult of niceness, self-negation, and conformity that defines "not being an asshole" is also a recipe for someone who could wield boredom as a weapon, were he not such a spineless waste of flesh.

    Also, even religious people brag about the fear aspect. Surely you've heard the rumor that there are no athiests in foxholes. I doubt it is true, but surely you've heard it.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    I'm only going to address half your post (none / 3) (#316)
    by Battle Troll on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 09:54:40 AM EST

    Because I have to finish some stuff today. Sorry about that.

    You must have an interesting definition of "Christian," if it does not involve treating the Bible as the word of God. If it does involve such a treatment, then please explain why God does not know that a rabbit does not have hooves.

    Most Christians today don't believe that the Bible is a document written by God either directly or indirectly. Probably in the USA that's mostly what you hear, combined with equivocations from half-miseducated liberal Protestants and Catholics who aren't literalists but who don't really understand their own churches' official hermeneutics. But serious Catholics, Protestants, and more importantly Orthodox Christians believe the Bible the be a historical document coming out of 1) the history of ancient Jewish encounters with and responses to God and 2) the early Christian communities.

    Most fundamentalists you'll encounter are hazy on the origins of the New Testament. The truth is that there were many, many candidates for books of the New Testament; the canon of scripture wasn't set by Church councils until the fourth century AD, and in that time, all kinds of weird stuff had been promulgated as apostolic in origin. The early Church made decisions as a corporate body about which books were the most widely accepted and most in tune with what they considered Christianity to mean, and cut everything else (btw, Revelations was by far the most controversial of the books to be left in. It's fun to speculate what the JW's and the like would draw upon had it not been included.)

    So Christians who are more intellectually responsible than the fundamentalists answer the question of 'word of God' quite differently. As I make it, the Old Testament is of significance not because of its physical cosmology or mythology, which is fairly typical of nomadic tribesmen of the time, but because the ancient Jews were the first people to decide to worship an omnipotent, omniscient non-contingent universal creator instead of big rocks, wild animals, and their own sex organs. The Old Testament is the record of the Jews' collective wrestling over about 1000 years with the idea of God. Lots of stuff in it is archaeologically shaky, like for instance if such a man as Abraham ever lived, he never saw a camel, and the Jews were probably never slaves in Egypt for a variety of reasons.

    Also, what Christianity is it that has historically not made many "naturalistic" claims? The Christianity I'm familiar with has been an intensely political, intensely materialistic, and ever-increasingly arcanely complex belief system since at least the earliest reliable history that survives regarding its activities and precepts.

    The earliest non-literal readings of scripture on record date to a Greek monk's allegorical reading of the Genesis stories from the 5th century AD (including a note that the creation story is probably more a story than a reliable account.) Early Christianity had very little coherent theory at all; it was a liberation movement among slaves.[1] Whatever naturalistic claims might have arisen from the only ancient historical work that society had were not a matter of dogma or anything; they were just a societal 'base' of knowledge, kind of a combination of the roles of the Iliad (in pervasiveness) and Works and Days (in 'wisdom,' in the ancient meaning of that word; meaning as a guide to the tribal ethos more than anything else.) Remember, the world was full of illiterate barbarians in 600 AD. It was more important at that point that they be brought into the fold of civilization than that an extensive natural history be researched.

    Anyway, the short answer is that Christianity only explicitly became concerned with addressing the truth-claims of science in the 16th century; that the Orthodox Church never was concerned with this question at all and thinks that the Catholic Church was extremely misguided to do so; that insofar as the Bible was taken as a historical record, the Greek-speaking Christian intelligentsia always took it as a contingent one.

    How can religion tell me how to live in a world where my survival and well being is dictated by natural things? How can science not impinge upon moral questions when it is science we use to provide the basic facts upon which moral decisions are made?

    I wish I saw more coherent arguments like this one, because it cuts to the chase. You're right that your survival depends in large part upon the sciences; Christianity is not in a position to tell anyone how to perform a heart transplant or build a nuclear reactor. However, the faction of the Church to which I belong, which is definitely the closest in belief and practice to the early church, is concerned with not with that but with telling people what attitudes to take to the relations between themselves and other people and between themselves and God. Scientific knowledge is morally neutral, and can serve good people and brutal despots equally well. I might do well to reverse the question and say 'how can science tell you which options to choose beyond the comparatively simple question of profit and loss?' That's why we need existential systems, such as Christianity.

    The cult of niceness, self-negation, and conformity that defines "not being an asshole" is also a recipe for someone who could wield boredom as a weapon, were he not such a spineless waste of flesh.

    An interesting note. A Greek-speaking monk told me recently that the word 'meek' as rendered in English ('the meek shall inherit the earth') has a completely different connotation in Greek. It refers to the disposition of a wild horse that has barely been tamed. Quite a contrast: he said that in the original rendering, that passage means that those people who are filled with energy to work and do good in the world are going to find themselves in control of worldly power but not be inclined to abuse it. Quite a contrast from the usual reading of that line in the English-speaking world...

    What is the difference between religion and superstition?

    Superstition is folk science. Religion is a philosophy. In my opinion, the legitimate sphere of religion is existential questions, not scientific questions, full stop.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Hmm (none / 1) (#361)
    by trhurler on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 03:33:22 PM EST

    I'm going to let go the stuff specifically about Christianity, because I don't think it is really at the root of our disagreement anyway, and also because I obviously have never heard of the particular beliefs you hold, and can't say much about them, whereas you obviously have heard of the ones I know of, and we agree that they're pretty much ridiculous. But, I'll say this: I've never seen any organized religious movement that didn't, if it was successful enough, adopt a political stance sooner or later.

    As for people with energy and the will to do good, I understand the meaning, and it is interesting, but it is also ripe for abuse. Yes, there are such people. There are also a much larger number of our old friends, the busybodies, who will apply this to themselves. The problem is, they ARE inclined to abuse power, and they have no problem tricking their way into getting it.

    Now, on to our real difference. Religion, if it is philosophy, is philosophy by assumption. It answers "the big questions" by way of a story that people accept, not only without verification, but with the claim that asking for verification means you lack faith, and that lacking faith is a morally bad thing. I suppose that's ok for those who believe it anyway, but why is it so desirable to have an answer to a question that doesn't really affect your life anyway that you are willing to suspend your rational judgement for this purpose?

    Now, you mention existential questions, and I'm assuming they would be your first answer. But, you list two kinds of questions: how should I deal with others, and how should I deal with God? The latter is only a valid question if you're religious in the first place, so I hope you'll pardon my choice to focus on the former and see if, indeed, I actually need religion.

    In a very simplistic, popularized view, morality is the discipline of interpersonal interaction. I see it more generally, as a guide to choices. We, as human beings, are uniquely or nearly uniquely capable of making "a conscious decision," rather than acting on instinct or a learned reflex. We need a guide to making choices. A standard of measurement, so to speak, of the quality of various alternatives. Most religions and, as it happens, most philosophy, accept without comment, or at least without meaningful comment, the altruistic standard: that good is what you do for others, and evil is what you do for yourself. Certainly, this is deep rooted in the mindset of your average Christian, although I cannot say anything about your particular belief set.

    The basic problem with altruism is that it subverts the entire purpose of morality. If we are moral, it is because we think there is a benefit to being moral. Altruism tells us that morality is against us - it is sensible to feed ourselves, but moral to feed others even at the expense of going hungry. It is sensible to build a shelter against the elements and put my family in it; it is moral to build such a shelter for someone else's family. And so on. Kids learn this from the earliest days, when the candy they were given by Mommy is taken away by some self righteous teacher, who gives it to some other kid, eats it herself, or worse yet, just throws it away, claiming that "if everyone can't have one, you can't either." This is why most people, by the time they are adults, learn that morality is something you pay lip service to so that you can get on with your life. It becomes a hypocritical social lubricant rather than a real yardstick for life's hard choices.

    I have never been able to ignore or overlook the failings of that morality. It is quite possibly the most evil doctrine in the history of man, if by evil you take me to mean "harmful to both man and men." Not only does it harm individuals, but it sets one against another in a perpetual race to game a moral system whose basic precept is that winning means you're a bad person.

    I am, instead, a champion of enlightened self interest. We can argue its merits if you want, but I think you can agree that this moral standard does not require, nor does it benefit from, the existence of a deity who somehow personifies it. So my question to you is, what does religion have for me? I can't see anything at all. It would hold me to a standard I don't accept, and my endorsement of it would be an endorsement of that standard - I would be giving moral mandate to those who steal candy from kids "for the greater good," no matter what the candy or how old the kids.

    As for the big questions, I quit caring a long time ago, except in an idle curiosity kind of way. The universe is a mystery? Yep, sure is. Not much I can do about that. Life is wondrous? Yeah, and I'm awestruck, but that doesn't help me to live it, which is what I'm here to do. And so on. The big questions are a nice conversation to have with a girlfriend. They're not a reason to adopt a belief set.

    --
    'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

    [ Parent ]
    This thread... (none / 1) (#369)
    by skyknight on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:25:54 PM EST

    is precisely the reason why I'm upset that Scoop doesn't have any kind of "reply notification" for threads that build up underneath your replies, but that aren't directly attached to a reply of your own. If I hadn't neglected to revisit the original post, thus wiping the notification of your reply to mine, then I wouldn't have seen this thread at all.

    Incidentally, I particularly like your use of the phrase "enlightened self interest". I think that most people, when spitting out the word "selfish" as if it were a mouthful of bile, really mean selfishness that is foolishly short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating. I particularly like dealing with people who are optimally selfish, because they tend to realize the value of treating other people well in a very utilitarian way.



    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    footnote (none / 0) (#392)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Aug 19, 2004 at 08:36:49 PM EST

    I particularly like dealing with people who are optimally selfish, because they tend to realize the value of treating other people well in a very utilitarian way...

    And callously fucking over those who couldn't possibly matter to them, such as menial employees in a buyer's labour market.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    You're failing to think this through... (none / 0) (#393)
    by skyknight on Sat Aug 21, 2004 at 10:00:59 AM EST

    There's always a cost to being cruel. If you treat employees like chattel property, then the quality of their work will be indicative of the fact that they are straining against their chains. When the Nazis had Jews in forced labor camps, one of the things the Jews did as a passive aggressive attack was to manufacture defective munitions. Sure, the price was right for the German war machine, but the quality was sadly lacking, as many soldiers found out when their grenades just didn't go off. Now, mind you this is an extreme example, but this kind of stuff happens in industry all the time. As you intimate, managers often think that they can get away with abusing employees, but time and time again employees come up with ways to spite cruel task masters. If they are working in warehouses, they will smash containers. If they are working with computer systems, they will deliberately write flaky code. And so on... Of course, it won't be obviously deliberate. They will just cut corners and do a shoddy job, causing the business to die the death of a thousand cuts. There is indeed a very definite cost to managers shitting on employees, even if it's an employer's market. Smart managers realize this and optimize their output by treating employees well.

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    no, you need to free yourself from fundamentalism (none / 0) (#394)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Aug 21, 2004 at 11:12:01 AM EST

    Market fundamentalism, that is.

    There's always a cost to being cruel. If you treat employees like chattel property, then the quality of their work will be indicative of the fact that they are straining against their chains.

    There are a lot of industries that don't require skilled work. It is dumb to 'sweat' skilled senior mechanics at an established auto shop, but not to do so to workers in high-turnover positions, such as fast food or debt collection, because there is enough oversight to ensure that they do their jobs to 80% of capacity and beyond that point the cost of better treatment would not provide commensurate increases in productivity.

    There is indeed a very definite cost to managers shitting on employees, even if it's an employer's market. Smart managers realize this and optimize their output by treating employees well.

    There are entire billion-dollar industries founded on a contradictory point of view. What could possibly be a better refutation than that?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    I'm not a market fundamentalist... (none / 0) (#396)
    by skyknight on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 11:22:48 AM EST

    I realize that with certain parameters markets can be very abusive to labor. If jobs are so scarce that losing one means death, then employees are apt to be abused. Even then, though, outright abuse isn't all that smart. There's a balance to be struck. Humiliated and degraded employees are not optimally productive employees. The thing is, a lot of people don't realize this, and it's only the perception of utility that matters, not actual utility, and thus abuse occurs.

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    more (none / 0) (#386)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 24, 2004 at 12:02:06 PM EST

    Religion, if it is philosophy, is philosophy by assumption. It answers "the big questions" by way of a story that people accept, not only without verification, but with the claim that asking for verification means you lack faith, and that lacking faith is a morally bad thing.

    I disagree. All religions have a history of philosophical investigation, and some (Eastern Christianity, some kinds of Buddhism, some kinds of Islam,) have a very rich history of it. My religion doesn't ask me to believe anything without verification or insist that failure to do so is evil; you're projecting Anglo-American fundamentalist ideology onto what is effectively a different religion in that sense. My religion is much less about belief than action: "theology without practice is evil," as St. Maximus the Confessor said, meaning that the articulation of your experience of God through loving action toward your fellow human beings is the measure of faith.

    Most religions and, as it happens, most philosophy, accept without comment, or at least without meaningful comment, the altruistic standard: that good is what you do for others, and evil is what you do for yourself. Certainly, this is deep rooted in the mindset of your average Christian, although I cannot say anything about your particular belief set.

    This is one of the things that the West screwed up, frankly. The East doesn't distinguish between the individual and the community in the same way; most good actions will affect both simultaneously. How else could you explain monasticism? What does a hermit do for anyone else directly?

    I think it was St. Basil of Nyssa who said that wisdom without love was the wisdom of snakes and lizards, and that love without wisdom was a dangerous flood in place of a nourishing rain. You can't do evil to yourself without doing evil to the community, and likewise for good.

    Altruism tells us that morality is against us - it is sensible to feed ourselves, but moral to feed others even at the expense of going hungry.

    St. Paul said that any man who failed to provide for his family was no Christian. You have responsibilities to humanity as a whole, but it's not morally correct to fulfill those at the expense of your greater responsibilities to those depending on you; 'charity begins at home.' Every society will have hystericals who think that they can save the world single-handed, but fortunately for the East, this partkaes of condemned heresies and is not encouraged.

    I am, instead, a champion of enlightened self interest.

    A Christian in sympathy with my beliefs would say that enlightened self-interest doesn't end with material gain; you wouldn't call L D Kozlowski a paragon of enlightened self-interest but rather a greedy brat. Part of enlightened self-interest is, as Epicurus would have said, learning to master the passions, so that the greed and cruelty inherent in us all don't overwhelm us and make us subhuman.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Just my useless comment (none / 0) (#397)
    by Kehvarl on Tue Sep 21, 2004 at 07:54:19 PM EST

    I've had to resist posting several times up to now becuase I keep hoping someone will make my points for me, but they won't and I refuse to (I don't want to get any more involved in this discussion than this post will make me).  However, I feel compelled to comment on something here.  Your posts tend to be polite, rationally thought out, and touch on many of the points that were brought up.  The individual you are replying to seems to be much more crude, no less intelligently constructed, and also seem to touch on many or all of the relevant points.
    The comment I have, actually more of a question, is:  Why is it that the side of the debate that I tend to agree with also tends to be represented by the least pleasant of the individuals involved in the debate?
    In addition, What I would enjoy seeing here, is some links to good, verifiable references to support either or both sides.  These tidbits of information are, quite simply, driving me nuts.  

    Yes, I'm done whining now. Carry on.

    [ Parent ]

    Get it straight (none / 0) (#363)
    by handslikesnakes on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 04:36:06 PM EST

    I mean, for crying out loud, the Bible claims a rabbit is a hoofed animal.
    They're not hoofed, they chew the cud. Also, bats are birds.

    [ Parent ]
    Yours is unitarian, mine Christian. (1.50 / 6) (#214)
    by chris at redeeming us on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:01:02 PM EST

    Your view is basically unitarian.  The "church" is really already well established.  It's basically a religion searching for a religion.

    I reject your view though.  I accept the Bible as the word of God and that Christ came and died to save me from sin.

    I gladly give him the honor and praise that he deserves.  Thanks for my family, my friends, money for the things I need, and the experience of living.  

    I have no problem with science.  I have a degree in science (computer science).   I also have no problem thinking long term.  

    It is my religion that gives me the ability to think long term.  If I didn't know that when I die I will be off to heaven...well then I would be a pretty shallow and self centered person.  

    No thanks.  I think I will keep my religion.  It makes sense to me.  Sure sometimes things in the Bible are like being talked too as if you were a child.  By in large though most people are selfish stubborn willed children in grown up bodies. Sometimes I even act that way.

    When you have children you learn that sometimes it's easier to give simple answers.  That make logical sense.  While not being a lie it may leave a lot left untold.

    Yes, God probably did do that when inspiring the bible.  It would be hard not to.  The bible God inspired but still written by men who would have a difficult time understanding some of what was revealed to them.

    We rarely "get it" all.  We just try our best.  Nevertheless, most scientists still think there was a big bang.  Unless they can tell me what natural occurrence triggered that I will take the explanation that God did.  

    Hell, even if a scientist could tell me I would tell them it's just a theory.  Let's wait till we die and see who is right.  Me living contently with the belief that God loves me and that when I die I will get the great honor of worshiping at his feat for eternity in heaven or the scientist living in fear of death, fighting just to prolong his life.  No thanks.  

    I would rather live happy and be wrong than live in fear and be right.  

    Not to mention what happens if you are wrong?  Well then you get the great honor of spending all eternity in hell.  Either way, you lose.

    I beg you all to reconsider.  Christianity offers a better path.  Gods heart aches for you to return to his loving embrace.  

    Don't miss your chance.

    If you are unsure or questioning your faith or you want to know about the bible and *TRUE* bible based Christian beliefs then send me an email.  I would love to talk to you.  I am an independent Christian and I am not a leader, preacher, or anything special.  Just a geek that loves God.

    -Chris
    chris {a}{t} redeeming {d}{o}{t} us


    Unitarianism is too squishy (none / 2) (#217)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:22:01 PM EST

    Your view is basically unitarian.

    I don't know much about it, but Unitarianism seems to be a religion based on the idea of "I'm okay, you're okay". I'm looking for something a bit more hardcore than that. In fact, I admire orthodox religions like Catholicism for being serious about their beliefs. I would be an Orthodox Jew/Muslim/Christian/Whatever if any of those religions were based on truth, rather than faith.

    When you have children you learn that sometimes it's easier to give simple answers. ... Yes, God probably did do that when inspiring the bible.

    That is just revolting. I'm tired of being treated like a child. I am ready for the full truth. It's time for humanity to grow up.

    I would rather live happy and be wrong than live in fear and be right.

    By all means then, keep your head buried in the sand. You just let us grown-ups deal with reality for you and we'll tell you what to think.

    If you want, though, you can grow up and face reality with the rest of us. Let us know when you're ready to burst the shiny happy bubble you currently live in.

    Your kind of willful ignorance and wishful thinking is precisely what humanity needs to leave behind.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    Bah. (none / 0) (#221)
    by skyknight on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:34:47 PM EST

    *waves hand dismissively*

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    [ Parent ]
    Religion is a clever invention of man (none / 0) (#222)
    by Begbie on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:35:55 PM EST

    Religion is an extremely clever idea that was invented by man. It was used by rulers to build nations by controlling the population through the rule of law (god's law).

    Much of the bible is really blueprint for a successful nation. There are biblical rules for social order (the 10 commandments). People are strongly urged to have many children (be fruitful and multiply) because many young men will be needed to defend (and expand) the national boundries. Young men will be willing to fight and die for their leader because "god is on their side". They will listen to their leader because his power comes through god. They won't fear death because they'll go to paradise when they die. Commandments disallowing consumption of certian foods (pork, shellfish, etc) are simlar in purpose to todays governmental health regulations.

    So much more could be written on this subject, but I do not have the time. You just need to step back and think about religion rationally, you can only come to one conclusion: religion was an early form of government that was understandable and acceptable to uneducated people. Unfortnately one of religion's most successful aspects (which has greatly contributed to it's overall success) is blind faith. People who are deeply influenced by religion live by blind faith, and no arguement or evidence that you can provide will sway them. Rational arguments are twisted by faith in order to fit faith, which is good enough for relgious folk.

    [ Parent ]

    What came first (none / 0) (#257)
    by Eater on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:28:09 AM EST

    While it is easy to simply assume that religion was designed to go hand in hand with government because it does so easily, that may not necessarily be true. I completely agree with you that many religions set up guidelines that fit very well with early government, but the Bible has a lot more in it than just the regulations to make perfect national citizens. After all, many parts of the Bible stress loyalty and faith in God over a national leader - surely if the Bible was a tool specifically designed to inspire obedience, it would place more emphasis on earthly kings and their role in representing the will of God. Add to that the commonly accepted idea that Jesus was executed largely for disloyalty against the established religious (Jewish) and government (Roman) system, and you have a religion that does not at all seem to be engineered for the purposes of pacifying or controlling anyone. Of course, over the centuries, kings and emperors have emphasized certain aspects of Christianity over others, and it's understandable how the points I've brought up could have gotten lost in ideas like loyalty and faith in the Catholic Church, Divine Right, etc.

    Eater.

    [ Parent ]
    Some points (none / 0) (#368)
    by Begbie on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 06:23:59 PM EST

    Men are faulty, but God is flawless, so of course you want total faith to God. Why would someone want to worship a man? It's not like that will distract from the rulers who will claim to be 'messangers of god' (or claim some other godly affiliation). It would actually strengthen the rulers since they are associated with a perfect god. For a modern example, look at how many Americans will vote for George Bush because of how he has be able to 'market' his faith to them. It could be argued that he has acted in an "unchristian" manner in the past, but it doesn't seem to matter. A sense of shared faith is a strong tool.

    As for Jesus being disloyal against the establishment you must look at it in a historical context. At the time there was a movement to rid Israel of their foreign occupiers (the Romans) and those who collaberated with them (the religious elite). It was thought that a rebel figure such as Jesus could help rally the people into an open rebellion. Unfortunatly it failed (a revolt under Bar Kochba was put down 136 AD) and the Romans occupied the area for another 200+ years.

    Notice that the religious elite (the Jews) were helping support the rulers of the day. The ones who were rebelling would later become christians and use their faith to resist the Romans, leading to their eventual adoption by the Roman Empire.

    [ Parent ]
    your assuming (none / 0) (#228)
    by fleece on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:05:47 PM EST

    you've chosen the right god to worship, out of the many choices.

    For all you know, if you get it wrong, you could spend eternity getting a hot poker shoved up your arse by Zeus.



    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    [ Parent ]
    No no no (none / 1) (#255)
    by bugmaster on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:17:13 AM EST

    Zeus would just electrocute him repeatedly. Hot pokers are Allah's weapon of choice. Get your facts straight man ! :-)
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Great idea (none / 1) (#224)
    by LilDebbie on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 04:46:04 PM EST

    As I understand it, the purpose of this church is to help give people context about how their lives fit into the rest of the Universe using science and reason as guides. Well, let me prophesy for you: the Universe is a closed system. It has a beginning, therefore it has an end. Either by the Second Law of Thermodynamics or the Law of Gravity, the Universe will end up as diffuse infra-red radiation with absolutely no pattern whatsoever or it will collapse to a single point. Both scenarios remove any possibility for the persistance of intelligence of any kind. Therefore, no matter if you carve your name on diamonds and cast them into deep space, or send out sequences of polarized light bearing your existence, all will be erased. All will be forgotten. All will be destroyed. You cannot persist into eternity, neither can the consequences of your existence. Therefore, you may as well have never existed. Congratulations, I hope that does wonders for your ailing self-esteem.

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    Yeah, but (none / 1) (#227)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 05:20:49 PM EST

    It will be many billions or trillions of years before the universe ends. In the meantime, I think there's plenty of worthwhile tasks to attend to, don't you?

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    Science demands (none / 0) (#337)
    by LilDebbie on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 10:38:07 AM EST

    we take these things to extremes.

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    You mean... (none / 0) (#234)
    by McMick on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 08:08:58 PM EST

    ...as far as you know, that is.

    [ Parent ]
    Closed Universe (none / 0) (#265)
    by kurtmweber on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:44:04 AM EST

    If the Universe is closed and will eventually collapse due to gravity (an idea that has fallen into disfavor in the past few years due to the results of the Cosmic Outer Background observations), then Dyson's Eternal Intelligence and Tipler's Omega Point theories are interesting.

    If, however, the Universe will not necessarily end but will simply fall into a state of extreme entropy (which is now believed to be more likely) then those theories are meaningless.

    Kurt Weber
    Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
    [ Parent ]
    the first pillar (none / 2) (#229)
    by fleece on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 06:13:46 PM EST

    makes the correct assumption that something exists, based on the fact that the question is being asked. ("I think, therefore something is"

    ( The other four pillars make all sorts of assumptions that there is absolutely no reason to believe are true, such as, "sensory input for the being I think I am is accurate", and "Interpretation of that sensory input it accurate".

    So in a sense your just as guilty as making the sort of blind faith assumptions that those cwazy religious type do.
    The cornerstone of this church is blind faith



    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    We'll have a special pillar for solipsists (none / 2) (#300)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:15:58 PM EST

    You all can stand around it and debate whether it exists.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    aha very good (none / 0) (#328)
    by fleece on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:03:25 PM EST

    but I guarantee that's what it would boil down to, until the Revivalist Church of the Long Now reared its ugly head.



    I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
    [ Parent ]
    Good Question, Bad answers (none / 2) (#238)
    by bonius on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:43:29 PM EST

    You are posing questions "Why does X exist?" but your answers are to the question "How did X come to exist?"

    I don't think people who ask "Why do I exist?" are looking for a lesson in reproductive biology.  For me, at least, "why" translates to "For what reason/purpose do I exist?"  

    My earliest recollection of asking a question similar to your 1st pillar:

    At approx. age 9, after I asked my father what would it be like if there had never been a creation. (IIRC, he was trying to teach me the christian creation myth)

    He told me it was best not to ask such questions, because doing so makes you go crazy.

    10 years later, I was Philosophy major (asking all sorts of such questions). 2 years after that, I had to leave univeristy due to mental illness.

    Father knows best, eh?  :-)


    Young Earth, Small Universe (1.81 / 11) (#239)
    by Gina Mission on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 09:43:31 PM EST

    Your new religion will be death for whoever adopts it.  Only Torah-obeying worshippers of YHWH will survive and prosper in the long run.  It is the ultimate religion, debugged and developed since the dawn of mankind.

    YHWH worship is the only religion where science is the chief wife of the main god.  Science, a feminine goddess, is otherwise known as "Wisdom", and does whatsoever YHWH desires.  As our mother, she teaches us how to do whatever we desire too.

    Science proves that the Bible is right in every aspect, historical, archeological, astronomical, and geological.  Science proves the earth is only 7000 years old.  Science proves the sun goes around the earth.  Science proves the universe is less than one light-day across.  Science proves one species does not evolve into another species.  Science proves racial purity is important. Science proves the speed of light has been decreasing logarithmically.  Science proves oil is a renewable resource.

    Proof of Fixed Earth

    The Laws of Israel

    Proof of Young Earth

    Science glorifies YHWH in every way.  Any who oppose YHWH will die in infamy, and one day lie trampled in the street, blood pumping from their guts straight into the gutter.


    pretty good post (none / 3) (#242)
    by IlIlIIllIIlllIII on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:09:19 PM EST

    nowadays it doesn't even matter if the source is a troll or not. i haven't come across those sites before, thanks for pointing them out.

    [ Parent ]
    Jonathan, you are a scary dude [n/t] (1.25 / 4) (#244)
    by Shimmer on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 10:25:35 PM EST



    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    eh??? (1.75 / 4) (#249)
    by Gina Mission on Fri Jul 16, 2004 at 11:33:08 PM EST

    WTF

    [ Parent ]
    Corrected link to the Laws of Israel (1.75 / 4) (#260)
    by Gina Mission on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 12:57:46 AM EST

    Click here here to read the Laws of Israel

    [ Parent ]
    Wow! (none / 0) (#277)
    by DDS3 on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 03:17:43 PM EST

    Very interesting links.  Scary stuff.

    Thanks for sharing.


    [ Parent ]

    Scary? (none / 3) (#280)
    by Gina Mission on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:29:24 PM EST

    What is scary about it?  YHWH worship is a joyful worship, full of laughter, feasting, dancing, and drinking.  And it has the least amount of violence and bureaucracy of any system.  Income tax is limited to 10%, and land taxes are forbidden entirely.

    [ Parent ]
    attention: bullshit (none / 0) (#333)
    by meatsockx on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:57:28 AM EST

    okay, so if i go ahead and worship your version of god, my income tax automatically goes down and my property tax automatically goes away? this is fascinating.. does YHWH call the IRS for me or do i have to fill out some sort of form? please, tell me exactly how beliving in some imaginary ghost changes my tax status, i'm curious to know!

    [ Parent ]
    You need a getting high technique (2.25 / 4) (#266)
    by limivore on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:00:36 AM EST

    The foundation of every religion is a good way to get high. Meditation, rhythmic breathing, shrooms... Nice ideas aren't enough to get those parishners tithing and slaying infidels. U need a crack communion or something.

    One major flaw (none / 0) (#269)
    by hershmire on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 09:25:07 AM EST

    You're religion promotes thinking of the future for coming generations so that the human race may prosper and so on and so forth.

    You fail to address why I should care. I've got about 76 years on this Earth, if I'm lucky. Compared to the age and immensity of the universe, I'm nothing. I'm not even a blip of nothing. A giant stepping on a mosquito would be affected more than the universe is by me, and by you as well.

    Once I'm gone, I'm gone. I'll never see the fruit of my labours, and the coming generations won't even remember my name, let alone what I've done. This religion doesn't comfort. Instead, it makes one feel more apathetic and ineffective.
    FIXME: Insert quote about procrastination
    Do you have any children? (none / 0) (#281)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 04:41:13 PM EST

    If you did, I think you might feel differently about the future.

    Even without children, I think you have a vested interest in doing whatever you can to advance the human cause during your lifetime. Don't you want future generations to be able to enjoy the "fruit of your labours", even if you can't?

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    So? (none / 0) (#339)
    by svampa on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:53:16 AM EST

    Other religions do it better, they promise you, for you as a single person,a haven if you are a good boy. The idea of a loooong and faaaaar tomorrow doesn't sell.

    Yeah, I can think about the future of my childrens, and the rest of the childrens of the world may go to hell.

    The only way to fight against human selfish is inmediate punishes and rewards. Fighting against selfish by a promising a far future of common good is absurd



    [ Parent ]
    Heaven (none / 0) (#343)
    by Shimmer on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 04:31:44 PM EST

    They can promise heaven, but you know they can't deliver it. Use your head.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    What's the difference? (none / 1) (#345)
    by svampa on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 07:48:02 PM EST

    How do you know such heaven won't be delivered? The magic of faith, it can't be refuted.

    Let's asume I'm a selfish man, and after deep thoughs I have concluded that christian churches may right and perhaps such heaven exists. What do I do now?: try to be a good boy.

    Let's asume that I'm a selfish man, and after deep thoughs I conclude that the CLN is right and being a good boy will be good for next generations. What do I do now? tough luck for next generations, I'm going to enjoy of my life now, future is a people's of future matter.

    Every moral just says "You can't do whatever you like whenever you like, you must respect certain rules". To stop the natural impulse of doing his whim, those who break the rules are punished (and the first punishment is the feeling of being rejected by your own people). Selling them heaven and hell may help. Selling them CLN won't

    What I mean is that CLN is a nice philophic game, but as religion or support to a moral is ridiculous



    [ Parent ]
    Re: What's the difference? (none / 0) (#404)
    by StangDriver on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 05:12:56 PM EST

    Good point. But you are coming from the point of view where it doesnt really matter if you are good boy or not. Either way it wont matter in the grand scheme of things. If you join the CLN, you are doing so because you are a moral person and you are doing your part to return the favor that the Newtons and Einstiens of the world did us the service of. Where would we be without them? Fortunatly for the people of the future, the CLN ensures their prosperity. While none of this matters in the grand scheme of things, it is not a bad thing to do. The selfish christian, on the other hand, is a fool. He is being tricked into living a life he does not want to live. He is being made miserable for a promise that *probably* cannot be delivered. While this too does not matter in the grand scheme of things, it is probably not the good thing to do. When looked at in this way, the traditional religious institutions appear criminal, commiting the most immoral act possible.

    [ Parent ]
    Easier as a eunuch (2.50 / 4) (#276)
    by Fen on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 02:57:28 PM EST

    It's a lot easier to ponder these deep questions when one is a eunuch. I'm so much calmer, even more thoughtful!
    --Self.
    Reflections. (none / 1) (#283)
    by xaphod on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 05:55:34 PM EST

    This promised to be a very good read. Only I'm afraid I lost interest after reading the list of the five pillars. Yes, we do have short historical attention spans. Yes, I do think religion is a good way to organize and direct implications. Only it's "the implications of what" that I think is wrong here. I can't be the only person who thinks Focusing outwards looking for the answers within is the wrong way. It's like standing in a room trying to see a painting on the wall behind you by looking for reflections in the window in front of you.

    I'll accept your premise (none / 0) (#298)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:12:19 PM EST

    I can't be the only person who thinks Focusing outwards looking for the answers within is the wrong way.

    But what can I do to help you find the answers within? That seems to be a journey that each person has to take on his own (with help from loved ones). How can an institution such as a church help with this process?

    Personally, it was only after I finally managed to "fix" myself internally that I came to understand which external issues are truly important. So I guess I'm assuming that most members of the CLN will have already gone through this internal process.

    In any case, I'm certainly open to suggestions on how to improve the CLN if you have any.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    you idiot (2.83 / 6) (#284)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 06:05:23 PM EST

    Science isn't about searching for 'truth;' insofar as it is, it isn't science.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    Okay, I'll bite (none / 0) (#299)
    by Shimmer on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:13:19 PM EST

    What is Science about, if not the search for truth?

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]
    you're confusing a theory of truth with (none / 2) (#306)
    by Battle Troll on Sat Jul 17, 2004 at 10:40:24 PM EST

    A theory of empiricism.

    I don't mean to imply that scientific theories can't be 'true' or that 'they're only just a theory.' What is necessarily the case is that they are representations of reality, not reality itself, and thus subject to constant revision and correction. The problem with taking a very good theory to be the truth is that you project its theoretical apparatus onto reality, and there are many useful abstract tools (eg: the number three) that do not correspond to entities in nature.

    The second problem is that the sciences can only describe reality, not prescribe behaviour[1], and certainly not directly bring about behaviour; so, they usually don't answer existential questions very well. The sciences don't address moral questions and thus do not address subjective truths; in fact, from a scientific viewpoint, the notion of a subjective truth is probably incoherent.

    [1] Above the gross level of telling us which of several simple acts is in our direct self-interest: eg, 'lower your HDL cholesterol to reduce your statistical risk of heart attack.'
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    He's right (none / 0) (#320)
    by p3d0 on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 11:32:43 AM EST

    If you are searching for truth, that's philosophy and/or religion. Science is the search for falsifiable hypotheses.
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    I hypothesize... (none / 1) (#331)
    by jnana on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 01:07:01 AM EST

    that the Moon is a giant ball of shit, and I am the Emperor of the United States.

    Whoopeeeeeee! I'm a scientist now. These are surely both falsifiable.

    I think your thesis is a bit sloppy. Science may not be the search for the truth, but it most certainly is not *just* the search for falsifiable hypotheses.

    You could further restrict your definition to come up with something tolerably accurate, but the original poster didn't specify what he meant by truth, and there are conceptions of truth that amount to the same thing as your definition would if it weren't so overly broad.

    Having said that, any definition will be inadequate when considered carefully, because the notion that any complex human activity such as science can be captured in some definition that expresses its essence is laughable.

    [ Parent ]

    Yeah ok (none / 0) (#373)
    by p3d0 on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 03:10:15 PM EST

    Good points. My statement was ill-conceived and poorly phrased. What I was trying to capture is that when Einstein says "gravity bends spacetime" then you can take that as a model with high predictive value and good agreement with astronomical observations, or you can view it as a statement about the nature of the universe. The former is scientific, while the latter is philosophical.
    --
    Patrick Doyle
    My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
    [ Parent ]
    science isn't so much a search for truth (none / 1) (#326)
    by broken shift key on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 06:25:44 PM EST

    as it is an escape from falsehood

    ,br.,i.fear my sig1,/i.
    [ Parent ]
    Ultimate Goal: Technology (none / 0) (#357)
    by wanders on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 05:34:04 AM EST

    If science can be said to have an ultimate goal, it is to provide us with its pay-off - useful technology. If science only held forth increasingly more complicated theories of "the truth", it would rightly be considered a loony fringe religion.
    ~
    ~
    :x
    [ Parent ]
    civilization (none / 0) (#309)
    by cronian on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 01:19:28 AM EST

    Don't you see civilization is the root of all evil. As you said yourself civilization has a short attention span. All problems stem from this one root cause. Come join my cult so we can destroy it, and all its terrible influences.

    Destroy it before it destroys you

    Just look at all the evils in the world. You need not have faith in anything. Just think rationally. You know those laws you don't like. They are a part of civilization. You those people you don't like, you know of them because of civilization. That music you don't like comes from wretched civilization. Just think of all the terrible things in your life, and they are all related to civilization. It is root of all evil.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    eh ? (none / 0) (#317)
    by andr0meda on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 10:18:02 AM EST

    I mean if you had some grey matter, you'd actually realize that yes, civilisation comes at a price, and that some good stuff happend because of civilization, and some bad stuff, too.

    We can all start banging eachother's brain's out with a oversized toothstick again, but what would be the point of that.

    I hate (and boy d I mean "hate") to see the bad stuff happening, every day in the news, in my street, my town, my city, my country, and on the rest of this enlightened rock where some dreams do come true.  Your negative approach to anything bad makes me want to puke.

    Do not be afraid of the void my friend, is it not merely the logical next step?
    [ Parent ]

    Answers to the questions (none / 2) (#312)
    by WorkingEmail on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 05:51:17 AM EST

    1. Because I exist, therefore something exists.
    2. Because I exist, and I am an Earth dweller.
    3. Because I exist, and I am life.
    4. Because I exist, and I'm intelligent (I hope).
    5. Just because.

    I'm serious about these answers. Perhaps you are not satisfied with them. That's because you didn't say what 'why' meant exactly. :)

    Certainly you're not satisfied with the last one.

    Fortunately, the answer to the last question is inconsequential, because it is untestable. I cannot perform an experiment on my own existence. So it doesn't matter which of the many reasonable answers you pick.


    Serious or not, it's silly (none / 0) (#391)
    by Gartogg on Sat Aug 07, 2004 at 09:47:02 PM EST

    While I agree that what you say is true, it happens to be completely trivial. The fact that your "correct" answer is equivalent to admitting a lack of understanding, and thought, seems not to bother you. That's fine, but you do not need to point it out to others. And without any answers, of course it doesn't matter what he thinks.

    The fact that you proclaim you "seriousness" about you answers seems to be a sign that you expect others not to share it. Smart of you.

    [ Parent ]

    Infinity (none / 3) (#323)
    by Znork on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 03:06:47 PM EST

    You fail to take into account that in an infinite time, an arbitrarily long now is no more noticable than the pitiful human lifespan. The lifespan of Earth, the lifespan of our star, the lifespan of humanity as a whole is a no more than a mote of dust within the vast expanse of immesurable nothing.

    We're truly unique but forever to be gone.

    Projecting ourselves and our selfworth onto our progeny and our effect on the world is no less delusional than any other religion. Comforting but not true.

    If you're looking for the truth dont flinch from it. Just as you will be gone, so will your children, so will humanity and so will any record of our existence.

    Come big crunch, heat death or the twist of multidimensional membranes wrenching our universe from existence in the blink of an eye, it's all the same from infinity.

    In the face of infinity there will be no gravestone for us.

    We were never here at all.

    No no no! (none / 1) (#329)
    by Dont Fear The Reaper on Sun Jul 18, 2004 at 07:19:21 PM EST

    You must take the long view, but not the long view! Aieeeeee!

    [ Parent ]
    I don't think our extinction is inevitable (none / 0) (#336)
    by Shimmer on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 09:50:11 AM EST

    Although current science doesn't provide a mechanism, we might learn enough in the next few billion years to escape from the big crunch or heat death. It doesn't hurt to try, anyway.

    Also, there is no guarantee that time is infinite, so I don't accept your premise.

    Wizard needs food badly.
    [ Parent ]

    True (none / 0) (#382)
    by Znork on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 09:19:49 AM EST

    "escape from the big crunch or heat death"

    Well, even escape from heat death doesnt help; as there's no perpetual motion machine one couldnt power the existence of thought or perception indefinitely anyway, again coming back to the infinity problem.

    "there is no guarantee that time is infinite"

    Well, even worse scenario that one, I think.

    "It doesn't hurt to try, anyway."

    Yep, that's pretty much what it comes down to. The realization of the ultimate futility of wanting life to 'matter' does not really change the fact that we're actually here right now, or that there will be people here after us. Even though their lives may be as doomed as ours, that should not make your enjoyment of improving and extending their lives any less.

    It may all be a pointless game, but playing it the best you can to yours and others enjoyment still remains the best option.

    [ Parent ]

    re: I don't think our extinction is inevitable (none / 0) (#389)
    by naringas on Sat Jul 31, 2004 at 06:09:45 PM EST

    you don't accept it because you don't want to
    you cannot accept nor deny that premise using reason

    [ Parent ]
    The Only Things Left (3.00 / 2) (#370)
    by Alamais on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 12:14:54 AM EST

    Rather pessimistic. Perhaps it is true, perhaps everything will fade and timelike infinity will shrink the entire timeline of the existance of matter itself into oblivion. I believe, that with this in mind, the great philosophers Bill Preston and Ted Logan have shown us the only reasonable course of action: "be excellent to each other" and "party on, dude."

    [ Parent ]
    Yes but you're using infinite incorrectly, (none / 0) (#400)
    by Sesquipundalian on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 11:03:56 PM EST

    The way you use it, the word infinity seems to mean a sort of darkness that exist beyond certain limits in your imagination.

    In each of the strange but popular (demular?) scenarios you suggest, I am more intrigued by the sorts of things that could be happening in those branes, crunched parts, zones of thermo-equilibria and such.


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    The Long Now (none / 0) (#351)
    by Typical Male on Mon Jul 19, 2004 at 11:21:07 PM EST

    God has decided when the world will end and there is nothing you can do to prevent it. All of the pillars can be answered quit simply, God. There is no since in dwelling on the future, what happens happens and it is Gods will. All you should be worried about is not getting left behind.

    There is something that this religion could never offer you. The holy spirit and the love of that spirit. It will never give you fulfillment and happiness that God brings to your life.
    I'm normal, what can you say about yourself.

    I can say that... (none / 0) (#381)
    by sserendipity on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 02:22:57 AM EST

    I haven't been indoctrinated by a cult.

    ..bIz...


    (º·.¸(¨*·.¸.¸¸...¸¸.¸.·*¨)¸.·º)
    «.· ° ·.groovetronica.com.· ° ·.»
    _(¸.·º(¸.·¨'"'¨¨"¨¨'"'¨·.¸)º·.¸)_


    [ Parent ]

    Church of that fella what died... (none / 0) (#359)
    by toychicken on Tue Jul 20, 2004 at 07:27:18 AM EST

    Er, science can't be a religion, because religion is based on faith, and science proof. Nice idea though.

    I'm always slightly sceptical of an essentially conservative notion like this though, because it gently suggests that we should only make changes over glacial periods of time. No room for revolution (even scientific ones) in the CofLN?

    - - - - - - -8<- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Just how many is a Brazillian anyway?


    I'm not quite so sure of that. (none / 0) (#379)
    by thanos on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 11:21:13 PM EST

    Of course it should go without saying that science is the religion of the modern age. But beyond this hackneyed observation exist deeper issues. One should carefully consider statements exalting science and the scientific method as unassailable pillars built of rock-solid truth. Modern science is grounded in fundamental assumptions about the nature of reality. For example, it is purely assumption for one to state that his observed reality is equivalent to objective reality. In fact it is impossible for one to know this.

    Indeed, this type of discussion can quickly degenerate into half-understood metaphysical nonsense, but there are some real issues here. Science and our theories of the universe are best understood as models we use to help us perceive the true nature of the universe, rather than discoveries of that true nature. This point is expressed particularly well by David Bohm (check out "Wholeness and the Implicate Order"). This view has great support in the history of scientific advance (see: Copernicus, Einstein).

    Science must restrict itself from attempting to bridge the gap between our observations of the nature of the universe and ultimate reality, at least for now. :)

    Similarly the job of the philosopher, as Wittgenstein instructs us, is to tell us that which can be said, and that which we must pass over in silence.


    Savinelli testified that Pickard said on two occasions that he had accidentally spilled LSD on himself, dosing himself with the drug. Pickard acted "giddy" and was less focused and organized for about a month after the second dosing.
    [ Parent ]

    Science and religion (none / 0) (#378)
    by bwaldow on Wed Jul 21, 2004 at 10:46:13 PM EST

    Science and religion share a common motivation: the search for truth.

    No, Science explicitly does not.

    Science is the practice of exploring what is - from the point of view of "what can be proved?", and differentiates from Religion over the issue of faith, as faith based issues cannot be proved.

    Kurt Godel showed that there may be truths which cannot be proved - Science cannot address them at all, even though they may be true.

    The Scientific Method requires that something can be proved or disproved or it remains outside of the reach of Science.

    Science is the search for truths that can be proved - it offers no path for dealing with truths that cannot be proved.

    In reply to your suggestion, I would say you are attempting Social Engineering. If the institutions you propose are adopted, society will behave in a way you would prefer.

    Nice try... (none / 0) (#380)
    by sserendipity on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 02:21:28 AM EST

    Science is the process of finding out what is true. It is a process that involves being very interested in things that _might_ be true and then devising ways of determining that.

    Religon, on the other hand, is the process of deciding what you would like to be true, and then finding ways of dancing around the fact that they may or may not be, in order to avoid spoiling all the other nice benefits it gives, like a social group, a sense of belonging, santa claus, and the opportunity to condescend to outsiders.

    ..bIz...


    (º·.¸(¨*·.¸.¸¸...¸¸.¸.·*¨)¸.·º)
    «.· ° ·.groovetronica.com.· ° ·.»
    _(¸.·º(¸.·¨'"'¨¨"¨¨'"'¨·.¸)º·.¸)_


    [ Parent ]

    No it isn't (none / 1) (#387)
    by spiralx on Mon Jul 26, 2004 at 12:42:13 PM EST

    Science is about modelling the Universe as best as we are able. It makes no claims to be the Ultimate Truth about anything, just to provide a model that works in the sense of fitting experimental evidence. The model might be completely wrong, but as long as it makes useful predictions then we can use it.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Godel vs. science (none / 0) (#385)
    by Gumpzilla on Thu Jul 22, 2004 at 04:54:24 PM EST

    The kind of "proof" that science is interested in is not the logical proof in formal number theory systems that Goedel was talking about. Science takes the inductive tack: what have we seen, what can we measure? The mathematical side of science is generally based on trying to extract information from what we have seen, and then using what we learn to predict new phenomena. I think it's safe to say that nothing in science is proven in the way that you mean. There are many things that we really, really believe to be true, and would be shocked if they weren't; this still does not constitute proof.

    [ Parent ]
    Questionable Commentary (2.50 / 2) (#388)
    by xee on Tue Jul 27, 2004 at 10:45:30 PM EST

    First of all, you ask that your pillar questions be taken seriously due to their natural places in time. But what is time? Or more precisely, why is time a good reason to take questions seriously? Perhaps a precise notion would be more useful than the various intuitions brougt into the temple by members of CLN.
    That said, here's some food for the thought of my fellow CLN patrons...
    • Why is there something rather than nothing?

      Consider first the set of things that exist. If there is one thing in existence then this set has at least one member. Suppose this set is empty; nothing exists. That would mean that the set of all things that exists has no members. So we say that the empty set is the only thing that exists. Here we have just assumed that nothing exists and in doing so we have instantly and immediately created something (the empty set). Therefore there must be something since the very act of assuming that there is nothing causes something to be created.

    • Will anything live on to see (or prevent) the end of the universe?

      This question is utterly confused. The end of the universe is akin to death. I ask you: Will you live on to see your own death or perhaps prevent it? If you are living on, you have not died. If you have died, by definition, you are no longer alive to bear witness to the fact. If you have acted to prevent your own death then you are still alive and hence still able to die, rinse, repeat.

      Stephen Hawking likes to remind people that there is, by definition, nothing that is not within the universe. And so do I, for that matter.

    • The massive, unexplored depths of the Earth's oceans harbor life which has withstood asteroid impact after asteroid impact. Many went completely unnoticed.

    • Intelligence as an evolutionary trait has simply not been on Earth long enough to have been subjected to any significant evolutionary pressures. This, as anyone might notice, is trivial. Things don't evolve until they have to. So we intelligent humans have not yet had to evolve. Does this mean we will not have to in the future? The only species which seem to be so lucky are those which have the odds of time on their side -- like us. The funny thing about evolution is that it has no timetable, so you can never check to see how well it's progressing -- or if it has stopped. This becomes evident if you consider time deeply, and consider how much time evolution has to play with versus how much time we (as a species) have to play with.

      In highschool my science teacher once told me that evolution does not make much sense on the individual level. Environmental changes which demand special (as in "of the species") adaptation, not individual adaptation, count for evolutionary factors. Why is it special adaptation? Because no one individual can do it. In college a professor tried to tell me that human evolution has ended becuase of medical science. But medical science operates on an individual level. There have not yet been any special treatments -- treatments of the homo sapiens sapiens as a species. Do not be fooled. We are no more special than any other species.

    • You know what they say, having kids is hereditary. If your parents didn't have children, chances are that you won't either.
    What if it was all created moments ago, memories and all? What if the previous question is affirmed at some later date. Then the present is itself a memory. God's memory? That would explain why we can't remember all those evolutionary paths which have gone extinct... they didn't lead to God, so God could not remember them. That would also explain why we have free will... at this point in God's memory things could have lead to extinction or they could have lead to God who is remembering. In the future the extinct paths will be forgotten, all those free choises which lead to nothingness. Perhaps this is why, even though nothing is simpler than something, something continues to exist. And in the end, it will be asked, if all events lead to God and each had a reason, then how can God have free will? And at that point, all paths being explored to the end, God will itself have exhausted all freedom. Now, I ask you, at the final moment when God realizes that nothing more can be done, will God be aware that such a truth had been realized?


    Proud to be a member.
    Flawed logic -- hidden assumption (none / 0) (#398)
    by parabolis on Fri Sep 24, 2004 at 12:32:00 AM EST

    Consider first the set of things that exist. If there is one thing in existence then this set has at least one member. Suppose this set is empty; nothing exists. That would mean that the set of all things that exists has no members. So we say that the empty set is the only thing that exists. Here we have just assumed that nothing exists and in doing so we have instantly and immediately created something (the empty set). Therefore there must be something since the very act of assuming that there is nothing causes something to be created.


    This argument has two serious flaws. The first is that there is no set of all things that exist. If it did exist then it would be a member of itself and that is not possible.

    Secondly this argument is misleading. You first assume things exist (namely the empty set (ie the axiom of the empty set)) and then "prove" nothing cannot exist. You can obtain the same results from the following argument:

    (0) Assume (implicitly) the empty set exists.
    (1) Assume nothing exists.
    (2) Something exists (from (0)).
    (3) (1) and (2) is a contradictoin therefore (1) is false.

    The truth is less likely to suggest nothing-ness is really impossible and more likely to suggest that nothing-ness simply is not something which can be discussed meaningfully in set theory.

    [ Parent ]
    The set of all things includes itself, (none / 0) (#399)
    by Sesquipundalian on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 10:40:44 PM EST

    (1b) Don't conflate nothingness with nothing.


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    Please elaborate (none / 0) (#401)
    by parabolis on Thu Nov 18, 2004 at 02:06:27 PM EST

    (1b) Don't conflate nothingness with nothing.

    Please elaborate more on your comment. I have found three ways of interpreting what you have said and would like to understand what you meant. See you next month?

    [ Parent ]
    Empty Set? (none / 0) (#403)
    by StangDriver on Tue Jan 04, 2005 at 03:57:59 PM EST

    A "set" is not a thing. It is an abstract idea to help mathmaticians solve problems. Have you ever seen or touched an empty set?

    [ Parent ]
    Ootid? (none / 0) (#405)
    by xee on Tue Sep 06, 2005 at 02:27:32 AM EST

    Ever seen or touched an ootid?


    Proud to be a member.
    [ Parent ]
    The Church of the Long Now | 405 comments (341 topical, 64 editorial, 0 hidden)
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