Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Religion, Health, and Happiness: What Causes What?

I've posted before about the correlation between religious belief and/or attendance with longevity, fewer depressive symptoms, and low blood pressure. At the time, I assumed that religion caused those benefits, and asked, What's an Atheist to Do?

Turns out, I may have jumped the gun on causation. Via Abandoning Eden, a new experiment shows that
the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people's capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality because drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. But now they have proof from brain scans linking the capacity for spirituality with a major biological element.

The concentration of serotonin receptors normally varies markedly among individuals. Those whose brain scans showed the most receptor activity proved on personality tests to have the strongest proclivity to spiritual acceptance.

I take from this that there's a good chance that a common underlying factor may cause both increased religiosity and increased health and happiness.

What does this mean for atheists? Well, for one, it means that even if we "found" religion, it might not bring with it the health and happiness benefits.

Second, ironically, it's just more confirmation that we're probably right about the whole God thing. Read the quote again. "The presence of a receptor... correlates with people's capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively." That's kind of a polite way to say that the presence of that receptor correlates with people's capacity to see things that aren't there.

That confirms previous research, summed up by psychologist Martin Seligman:
[T]here is clear evidence that nondepressed people distort reality in a self-serving direction and depressed people tend to see reality accurately.

Maybe religion is just a side-effect of a "reality distortion gene," which evolved to increase happiness and health, even at the expense of clear seeing.

89 comments:

abandoning eden said...

you can't ignore the social factor either- people who are religious and are part of synagogues, church's, etc, have a pre-established social network that they can call on in times of trouble. That can both help when those times actually come up,and help even when they don't- just by virtue of knowing they are there.

But does this imply that atheists are more likely to be depressed? 100% likely? I wouldn't characterize myself as depressed ...although in the past I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which is associated with serotonin levels as well...

Jewish Atheist said...

The authors studied the relationship between religious belief and psychiatric and medical status in 30 elderly women recovering from the surgical repair of broken hips. Religious belief was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and better ambulation status.

B. Spinoza said...

maybe Atheists can take LSD to make up for the lack genetics

abandoning eden said...

b. spinoza- they'd have to be on it constantly...the effects of it (including any spiritual revelations) tend to fade after a day or two. Not that I've tried it or anything. :)

Reader said...

"[T]here is clear evidence that nondepressed people distort reality in a self-serving direction and depressed people tend to see reality accurately."

Oy, these findings are so depressing.

XGH said...

> That's kind of a polite way to say that the presence of that receptor correlates with people's capacity to see things that aren't there.

I think you are oversimplifying a little. It seems that genetically, some people have more of a capacity for 'transcendence'. People with this capacity might then project such feelings onto God, Karmah or whatever, but at their core, these feelings are not about belief.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Jewish Atheist it doesn't show one way or the other about the reality of transcendence. When involved in physics one also can experience the transcendent and postulate accordingly. If each of us are predisposed to certain outlooks does that make it any less real. We have an ability to experience love and hate and any other feeling. It doesn't mean that they don't serve as experiences we can use to learn more about reality.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Suppose a study were to show that Atheism is traced to a fear of the transcendent feeling, some malfunctioned allergy to the transcendent feeling the brain generates. Would that mean atheism is wrong? No.

Jewish Atheist said...

Suppose a study were to show that Atheism is traced to a fear of the transcendent feeling, some malfunctioned allergy to the transcendent feeling the brain generates. Would that mean atheism is wrong? No.

Not definitively, but it would provide some evidence that atheists have a bias towards atheism that would reduce our credibility.

Rabban Gamliel said...

In order to make a decision you have to at least on the spot develop a bias to decide this way or that. Einstein had a bias that caused him to come up with the theory of Reality. In any event it doesn't undermine your credibilty because the argument is not bound up with the one making the argument. If the argument makes sense or not it is independent of who says it or else forget about making any argument. They wouldn't be able to be evaluated. We would just do brain scans.

jewish philosopher said...

I am currently be treated for depression (it's a hereditary thing). So believe me, I'm seeing things clearly.

Rabban Gamliel said...

" Einstein had a bias that caused him to come up with the theory of Reality."

Whoops meant to write the Theory of Relativity.

Rabban Gamliel said...

One possibility you are also not thinking of. Suppose for two opposite attitudes you need the brain to dump some chemicals. That cannot disqualify either opinion. In order to have emotions expressed for anything you need the brain to be able to supply them.

Jewish Atheist said...

RG:

I agree that this isn't a very strong argument for atheism. I posted it more as a response to the idea that religion causes the correlated improvements in health and happiness.

Comrade Kevin said...

Indeed, and there must be a reason that one of the side-effects of a manic stage in a bipolar patient is hyper-religiosity.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"I posted it more as a response to the idea that religion causes the correlated improvements in health and happiness."

It is probably also cause and affect. It is in and of itself a weak argument to say that if you have a study indicating improvements in health and happiness because of what subjects do that that can be dismissed as being that only those people with a certain bilogical condition are the ones who will engege in this lifestyle and so have improvements in health and happiness. It's especially so since we know behavior causes changes in the brain so the chicken and the egg isn't being fully addressed in this study. Bnei Brak is said to have the highest life expentancy for its residents than any other city in Israel. Practically everyone there is Orthodox. It surely cannot be that they are all Orthodox because of brain chemistry. The city is too big for that. With so many born there you can't even claim it is as it is because of Orthodox moving there.

Jewish Atheist said...

Another good point. I think the community is probably a bigger factor.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Martin Seligman:

[T]here is clear evidence that nondepressed people distort reality in a self-serving direction and depressed people tend to see reality accurately."

Nondepressed people have to interpret reality in a way to get along in the world. Depressed people can simply be more asocial they can live with data and not try to make anything of it. That could amenable to atheism as well as the inability to judge whether say people have independent thoughts or only exist around you. Insanity seems to help close off a person from social interpretations of reality the kinds we use whether we believe it is ab illusion like some faiths say or real as other faiths say. Don't ask about science. Science can tell you that reality isn't so real but it can't tell you reality is really real. Science is a tool.

Anonymous said...

The idiocy of this post shows you are looking for whatever potshots you can through at theists.

Kinda like the whole gay thing. Gay advocates made up the whole there's gotta be a "gay gene" thing to justify homosexuality; but we are still waiting to find one.

And just like the gay activists I believe what you are doing is applying pre-conceived notions and then lookings for what ever scientific mumbo jumbo that can back it up.

Conclusion. Atheism is a mental disorder caused by hyper skepticism brought on by the devil. May sound wacky, but hey does it make more sense than this blog post? Ponder on that.

wil said...

1. Correlation does not equal causation!

2. Can your (subjective) sensation of the color red be explained objectively? If not, does that mean your sensation of the color red doesn't really exist?

Orthoprax said...

JA,

""The presence of a receptor... correlates with people's capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively." That's kind of a polite way to say that the presence of that receptor correlates with people's capacity to see things that aren't there."

Now that's a leap. Maybe it gives them the ability to see something that others cannot since they lack the receptor?

CyberKitten said...

ortoprax said: Maybe it gives them the ability to see something that others cannot since they lack the receptor?

But the issue surely is this: Are they 'seeing' something that is *really* there or are their brains internally creating the *illusion* of something being there. Surely the object of their vision needs to be idepentently verified?

Rabban Gamliel said...

And just how are you going to do that? If you say only what you see is real that's the end of that. Although that is also problematic as ultimately how do you verify that. Suppose we would have an existence in which we live only asleep and dreaming. We could notice things are strange if we somehow could transcend our state of conciousness. Of course that would only be a subjective feeling on our part relative to the other dreamers who would laugh at us and say it is all a feeling in the head and we indeed could not verify it to them. All we could do is make logical arguments and they would say they detect nothing. All their science points to you being just some guy or gal with your own scientifically unverifiable contrary philosophy. They would be right for their world but clearly we in wakeland would be laughing as it really is apprehending something there as far as we are concerned.

Jewish Atheist said...

ortho and rg:

It's of course possible that they are able to comprehend something real that the rest of us can't... but we already have so many obviously bogus examples of people who think they can do that, like psychics. I see no reason to believe that religious people aren't doing the same thing -- especially because so often the people who "see" these things disagree with each other.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Jewish Atheist said...
ortho and rg:

It's of course possible that they are able to comprehend something real that the rest of us can't... but we already have so many obviously bogus examples of people who think they can do that, like psychics. I see no reason to believe that religious people aren't doing the same thing -- especially because so often the people who "see" these things disagree with each other."

Your analogy is incorrect. It is not being claimed anyone is seeing something the rest of us can't. We can all have a feeling of transcendence. Whether the feeling of transcendence is only a feeling allowing us to think in ways about reality that would not occur to someone else as easily if at all, is the question.

Something not brought up by the study is that the feeling of transcendence is not reserved for religion but is found amongst also the more profound scientists causing them to come up with ideas others don't easily do if at all. Claiming religion is reduced to believing a feeling of transcendence is real is false and in any event not every religion may involve such a feeling. In my analogy to the dream world all feeling of unreality on the part of the dreamer sensing something wrong with his supposed reality is just allowing him to think in ways others don't. The feeling doesn't prove his case. His arguments about the inconsistincies in the dream world would be proof for us but in his dream world he is mocked by those who say there is no scientific proof for his case. What this means for us is that one way to test whether there really is something to transcendence is to point out inconsisinecies in our reality to be resolved by postulating something beyond it. Your way of dismissing it on the basis of those who are wrong precludes the more reasonable method of dealing with logical arguments to decide the matter. Your way by contrast would have the man in the dream dismissing his feeling that his dream world is not real. Just because you have contradictory claims and fakes for those advocating transcendence means nothing and you have the same in science. Also again the study doesn't deal with the fact that scientists also have come up with ideas inspired by feelings of transcendence and they are not anymore than all relgionists believing they did anymore than experience the feeling of it and not that it is a direct experience of revelation. It just opened them to other thoughts. Anyone who believes in values experiences the feeling of belief by direct feeling. They feel that somethings are morally right and others morally wrong and of course these beliefs are not scientifically verifiable just internal feelings. The feeling of being drawn to ones cultural norm which in our case is Judaism is the manifestation of this in our case. Any time we decide to believe one way or another it is ultimately just a feeling. You can't escape what to a neurolgist would be reduced to chemical reactions but to you would be your freewill of course manifesting itself in the only way your body can if it is alive. It is just the chicken and the egg issue.

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Surely the object of their vision needs to be idepentently verified?"

Ideally, sure. But sometimes things simply cannot be objectively verified.


JA,

"It's of course possible that they are able to comprehend something real that the rest of us can't... but we already have so many obviously bogus examples of people who think they can do that, like psychics. I see no reason to believe that religious people aren't doing the same thing -- especially because so often the people who "see" these things disagree with each other."

I was mostly just making the point to make the point. I don't know what the significance of these correlations may be. Perhaps it is as you say or perhaps it is just the opposite. Suppose it represents a means of perception that is only poorly developed in most people. Where many people sense a hazy 'thing' and fill in the details with their own bias, cultural milieu, or whatever.

It could also be entirely secondary effect where those who think more of certain topics and train their minds in certain ways induce through neural feedback the production of more of those kinds of receptors.

CyberKitten said...

Orthoprax said: Ideally, sure. But sometimes things simply cannot be objectively verified.

So how can we know that they exist? Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified.

wil said...

"Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified." -- That seems to be the crux of the problem.

Isn't consciousness subjective? I just assume you're conscious...I take your word for it, but I can't objectively verify your consciousness. So according to the objectivity requirement, I should assume you're not conscious? I should assume you have no inner thoughts?

Rabban Gamliel said...

"CyberKitten said...
Orthoprax said: Ideally, sure. But sometimes things simply cannot be objectively verified.

So how can we know that they exist? Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified."

So forget about science. Science goes beyond the data to explain what is behind the data. No one needed Isaac Newton to realize the earth attracts objects to it. We can't picture a fourth dimension or space and time bending but Einstein used these concepts to explain gravity. If we are to be strict skeptics we should just see data and not extrapolate from there, forget the human mind then. Nothing has to make sense then. But then forget about natural law.

CyberKitten said...

wil said: Isn't consciousness subjective?

Yes. Pretty much - although an EEG can tell the difference between a conscious person & an unconscious one. But I presume you mean things like being self-aware & such...

wil said: I just assume you're conscious...I take your word for it, but I can't objectively verify your consciousness.

Yes, that's right. We use cues & clues to determine if we are actually interacting with 'people' That doesn't mean we can't be fooled by a clever simulation though.

wil said: So according to the objectivity requirement, I should assume you're not conscious? I should assume you have no inner thoughts?

You can if you wish - though I suggest it might make interacting with people (or those who appear to be people) rather difficult - in fact how *would* you behave if you thought that other apparent humans around you were not actually people at all? Don't they call that some form of insanity?

Rabban Gamliel said: So forget about science.

I don't see why...

Rabban Gamliel said: Science goes beyond the data to explain what is behind the data.

You mean theories... that can actually be verified by the data we collect? Yup agree with you there...

Rabban Gamliel said: No one needed Isaac Newton to realize the earth attracts objects to it.

Strangely enough we did need him to explain gravity. In Ancient times it was believed that objects had a 'natural affinity' for the Earth which is why they fell towards it in the same way that water has a 'natural affinity' which prompts it to return to the sea...

Rabban Gamliel said: We can't picture a fourth dimension or space and time bending but Einstein used these concepts to explain gravity.

So he *could* picture it - and with a bit of effort we can too. Space bending has been verified through experimentation.....

Rabban Gamliel said: If we are to be strict skeptics we should just see data and not extrapolate from there..

Actually if you *really* want to be a strict skeptic you shouldn't even believe the data!

Rabban Gamliel said: ...forget the human mind then.

I'm actually rather skeptical about that.....

Rabban Gamliel said: Nothing has to make sense then.

I'm not entirely sure if anything *does* make sense or whether *we* make sense of things. I don't think that anything *has* to 'make sense' (whatever you mean by that) in the 'big picture' sense....

Rabban Gamliel said: But then forget about natural law.

What do you mean by 'natural law'?

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"So how can we know that they exist? Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified."

I would've thought you'd understand that things can exist irrespective of whether they have been verified, objectively or otherwise. It isn't human knowledge which grants existence to things.

And given, of course, the limits of human knowledge you are essentially conceding that your views on existence are undoubtedly wrong. Innumerable things really exist out there even if you haven't verified them.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"You can if you wish - though I suggest it might make interacting with people (or those who appear to be people) rather difficult - in fact how *would* you behave if you thought that other apparent humans around you were not actually people at all? Don't they call that some form of insanity?"

Science doesn't say what "really is." If we call it insane that's psychology how we are programed to think at least untill challenged.

"Rabban Gamliel said: Science goes beyond the data to explain what is behind the data.

You mean theories... that can actually be verified by the data we collect? Yup agree with you there..."

The data alone doesn't confirm it. It is the claim that the data indicates something that causes the data to be as it is.

"Rabban Gamliel said: No one needed Isaac Newton to realize the earth attracts objects to it.

Strangely enough we did need him to explain gravity. In Ancient times it was believed that objects had a 'natural affinity' for the Earth which is why they fell towards it in the same way that water has a 'natural affinity' which prompts it to return to the sea..."

We needed him to explain gravity but whatever the cause the data already let people believe in a thing called gravity before Newton. Mewton was the founder of universal gravitational theory. That was his contribution.

"Rabban Gamliel said: We can't picture a fourth dimension or space and time bending but Einstein used these concepts to explain gravity.

So he *could* picture it - and with a bit of effort we can too. Space bending has been verified through experimentation....."

Well no one can picture the fourth dimension or space bending but if we postulate that there is reasoning behind the data then space is bent.

"Rabban Gamliel said: If we are to be strict skeptics we should just see data and not extrapolate from there..

Actually if you *really* want to be a strict skeptic you shouldn't even believe the data!"

Yep. Skepticism is only smart if you come up with its limits.

"Rabban Gamliel said: ...forget the human mind then.

I'm actually rather skeptical about that....."

Since when do two processes have discussions especially intelligent ones with each other? We gain nothing in pretending consciousness doesn't exist but is just a chemical process. We can argue our perception of color doesn't really exist outside of our heads and yet we still have the perception. No amount of redefinition will help.

"Rabban Gamliel said: Nothing has to make sense then.

I'm not entirely sure if anything *does* make sense or whether *we* make sense of things. I don't think that anything *has* to 'make sense' (whatever you mean by that) in the 'big picture' sense....

Rabban Gamliel said: But then forget about natural law.

What do you mean by 'natural law'?"

Things making sense in the physical world.

CyberKitten said...

Orthoprax said: I would've thought you'd understand that things can exist irrespective of whether they have been verified, objectively or otherwise.

Indeed things can apparently exist independently from our knowledge of them. But how can we say something exists if that existence has *not* been verified. I can quite easily say that unicorns or gods exist but that's just an assertion and nothing more. Unless such assertions can be verified how can any of us be certain that something *actually* exists? That's the point I'm trying to make.

Going back to JA's original post - it's easy to *say* that people can experience the divine (or whatever) because their brains are configured in such a way to facilitate that experience but (and this is the important part) just because an individuals brain is wired enabling them to 'see' something that people not wired in that way cannot 'see' doesn't mean the object exists independently of the brain perceiving it.

Orthoprax said: Innumerable things really exist out there even if you haven't verified them.

I certainly *assume* so. I can however never be certain on that point.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"CyberKitten said...
Orthoprax said: I would've thought you'd understand that things can exist irrespective of whether they have been verified, objectively or otherwise.

Indeed things can apparently exist independently from our knowledge of them. But how can we say something exists if that existence has *not* been verified. I can quite easily say that unicorns or gods exist but that's just an assertion and nothing more. Unless such assertions can be verified how can any of us be certain that something *actually* exists? That's the point I'm trying to make."

Well you can't verify anything exists unless you agree on what you would condider verification. That involves making assumptions based on what you think because of your logic and it may not be shared by everyone. There is no getting around making positive assertions open to attack unless you say you doubt all apparent existence and everything one could about them.

wil said...

CyberKitten,

According to your earlier statement ("Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified."), YOU should assume that no other being is self-aware...but as you say, "it might make interacting with people...rather difficult." That's a great statement regarding belief in god(s) as well. If you go around assuming god is make-believe, it might make interacting with believers rather difficult.

CyberKitten said...

Rabban Gamliel said: There is no getting around making positive assertions open to attack unless you say you doubt all apparent existence and everything one could about them.

I think I can doubt pretty much anything.... When it comes right down to it nothing can be proven beyond any doubt.

wil said: YOU should assume that no other being is self-aware..

Nope. I cannot say with certainty that other people are self aware (indeed I cannot say with any certainty that *I* am self aware). What I *can* do is assume that other people are self aware for purely practical reasons. There is actually no way of knowing for certain what, if anything, is going on in other peoples brains (or indeed my own).

wil said: If you go around assuming god is make-believe, it might make interacting with believers rather difficult.

Well, firstly I don't often interact with believers (or at least with people who I know are believers). Being such a sceptic does make it difficult for *them* to be around *me* though... I tend to ask a lot of awkward questions if the topic of conversation gets onto religious matters....

Generally, being in the company of religious people - the few times I've done that - just makes me very confused....

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Indeed things can apparently exist independently from our knowledge of them....Unless such assertions can be verified how can any of us be certain that something *actually* exists? That's the point I'm trying to make."

And it's a good point, but flawed - for *certainty* is a very high condition to satisfy before giving a proposition credence. All the time we form beliefs and act on conclusions based on mere human reason or preponderance of the evidence. And oftentimes even much less than that.

You wouldn't fault a doctor for beginning antibiotic treatment for pneumonia (using his mere clinical judgement) even before the sputum cultures return from the lab, would you?

Now expand this and imagine what you would do for propositions that simply are not amenable to lab verification. I say you should use your best judgement rather than blanketly assuming all of them are invalid.

And, to examine the issue more fully, even if a proposition _has_ been 'verified' that still doesn't lead to 100% certainty, now does it?

"...but..just because an individuals brain is wired enabling them to 'see' something that people not wired in that way cannot 'see' doesn't mean the object exists independently of the brain perceiving it."

Of course. But conversely you cannot say with any certainty that the 'wiring' only leads to misperception. Evidently that hasn't been verified either.

Orthoprax said...

"...but..just because an individuals brain is wired enabling them to 'see' something that people not wired in that way cannot 'see' doesn't mean the object exists independently of the brain perceiving it."

Hmm..imagine blind people investigating the propositions of the visual arts. :)

Rabban Gamliel said...

Ok Cyber so you would be forced to contend that maybe those dinosaur bones were just placed there and never were dinosaurs. The argument between you and more fundamentalist types assuming you profess belief in dinosaurs
becomes whether in our potentially make believe world we have to act as if dinosaurs existed. While science can never say whether things only appear to be as they do, the scientific method was made as a tool to arrive at your own ideas to make positive assertions as to what we feel (as opposed to strictly speaking science feels) has been proven. Skepticism as an end to itself leads to the conclusion that anything no matter how absurd looking could be possible and reality then absurd.

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: And it's a good point, but flawed - for *certainty* is a very high condition to satisfy before giving a proposition credence.

Yes, it is and its not what I have been saying. In the main (probably apart from mathematics at best) certainty is impossible. This does not mean that we should reject everything (apart from math) out of hand. We should, however, remain sceptical about everything else - and keep a watchful eye on mathematics too [grin]

orthoprax said: All the time we form beliefs and act on conclusions based on mere human reason or preponderance of the evidence. And oftentimes even much less than that.

Yes we do otherwise life as we know it would be impossible (or at least very difficult). We make assumptions about lots of things on a daily basis through necessity.


orthoprax said: I say you should use your best judgment rather than blankly assuming all of them are invalid.

Ah, I think I'm seeing where we are misunderstanding each other. When I say 'doubt' you seem to be hearing 'disbelief'. I can easily doubt that the Universe exists. This does not mean that I do not believe the Universe exists nor does it mean that I believe the Universe does not exist - just that I have my doubts....

orthoprax said: And, to examine the issue more fully, even if a proposition _has_ been 'verified' that still doesn't lead to 100% certainty, now does it?

Not at all. Probably apart from mathematics (again - though I'm not a mathematician) nothing can be verified with 100% certainty (which is why I'm sceptical of pretty much all propositions - especially the more outrageous ones!)

orthoprax said: But conversely you cannot say with any certainty that the 'wiring' only leads to misperception. Evidently that hasn't been verified either.

As you know it is very difficult to *prove* that something does not exist. That is why my position is that I do not *believe* that God (or anything else supernatural) exists rather than saying that I *know* such things are fantasy. Saying that, I have yet to come across any credible evidence or reasonable argument to support the 'supernaturalist' position so am more than happy to remain very sceptical on the subject.

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Ah, I think I'm seeing where we are misunderstanding each other. When I say 'doubt' you seem to be hearing 'disbelief'."

No, I didn't misunderstand you. That simply wasn't what you had said earlier. You are now changing your statement.

Quote: "Being of a sceptical disposition I am of the opinion that if something cannot be objectively verified then it does not exist until or unless it *is* verified."

"[It] does not exist" does not equal "doubt."

"As you know it is very difficult to *prove* that something does not exist."

That depends on what we're talking about. Again, while "proof" is virtually always an impossible height to reach, we can certainly come to very strong conclusions about many subjects.

"That is why my position is that I do not *believe* that God (or anything else supernatural) exists rather than saying that I *know* such things are fantasy. Saying that, I have yet to come across any credible evidence or reasonable argument to support the 'supernaturalist' position so am more than happy to remain very sceptical on the subject."

That is your prerogative, though I can't see any reasonable way in which nature could be self-producing. So your skepticism may protect you from accepting numerous falsehoods which are inevitable when entering speculative territory, but it may also restrict you to being entirely incorrect.

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: No, I didn't misunderstand you. That simply wasn't what you had said earlier. You are now changing your statement.

[grin] That'll teach me to be intemperate with my use of language!

What I *should* have said is that I will continue to be suitable sceptical about any claim for something to exist until it has been verified independently. I shouldn't have been so certain about the non-existence of something - I guess my emotions got the better of me [laughs] Point to you I think [grin]

orthoprax said: Again, while "proof" is virtually always an impossible height to reach, we can certainly come to very strong conclusions about many subjects.

Indeed we can - and do on a regular basis.

orthoprax said: though I can't see any reasonable way in which nature could be self-producing.

...and that is *your* prerogative. BTW - apparently things self-generate at the quantum level. Maybe it was one of these self-producing effects that 'lit off' the Big Bang?

orthoprax said: So your skepticism may protect you from accepting numerous falsehoods which are inevitable when entering speculative territory, but it may also restrict you to being entirely incorrect.

I'm willing to take that risk. I consider scepticism - even taken to extremes - to be a pretty good default position and to be certainly superior to leaps of faith.

Rabban Gamliel said...

It's not superior as it is saying not to reason to decide one way or the other. It doesn't make more sense. There's a truth out there and if you don't acknowledge it because of the possibilty of error you certainly are not closer to the truth but not even starting on the roasd to it.

"...and that is *your* prerogative. BTW - apparently things self-generate at the quantum level."

No. It is not selfgenerating. It is rather that the uncertainty in measurement allows in between measurements for the uncertainty to be utilized and it has to be paid back upon a measurement. There are rules for everything and everything needs an origin explained even the rules of the Quantum.

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"What I *should* have said is that I will continue to be suitable sceptical about any claim for something to exist until it has been verified independently."

Of course - as will I. We only differ on the suitability of skepticism to various propositions.

"BTW - apparently things self-generate at the quantum level. Maybe it was one of these self-producing effects that 'lit off' the Big Bang?"

Quantum physics - an aspect of the nature of this universe - self generated the universe before the universe (and quantum physics) existed? You're saying that quantum physics created quantum physics. This makes sense to you?

If the universe had an origin, it only makes sense to look for 'natural causes' external to it, ergo a supernature.

"I'm willing to take that risk. I consider scepticism - even taken to extremes - to be a pretty good default position and to be certainly superior to leaps of faith."

Positivism is intellectually conservative - to a fault. Confidence in what you do believe may be high, but you can't cobble together a satisfying life philosophy on it alone.

Is it better to believe nothing and be surely wrong than to believe and be somewhat right? I'm pretty confident that the answer to the greatest questions is not *nothing*. Though maybe you think you know better.

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: We only differ on the suitability of skepticism to various propositions.

Quite possibly. Though I think you have some underlying assumptions that I don't have.

orthoprax said: Quantum physics - an aspect of the nature of this universe - self generated the universe before the universe (and quantum physics) existed? You're saying that quantum physics created quantum physics. This makes sense to you?

It makes a whole lot more sense than a God saying 'Let there be light'! Basically we don't know (yet) how the Universe came into existence but I'm betting on a natural explanation rather than a supernatural one.

orthoprax said: If the universe had an origin, it only makes sense to look for 'natural causes' external to it, ergo a supernature.

I disagree. Looking for an external cause is, I think, an unfounded assumption. All that we can say is that we don't know what, if anything, caused the Universe to exist.

orthoprax said: Confidence in what you do believe may be high, but you can't cobble together a satisfying life philosophy on it alone.

I think my philosophy of life is perfectly satisfying (at least to me). I certainly don't feel the need to add anything 'supernatural' into the mix to bolster it.

orthoprax said: I'm pretty confident that the answer to the greatest questions is not *nothing*. Though maybe you think you know better.

There is much I don't know - and much I don't know that I don't know. Though I'm pretty confident that the answer to the greatest questions is not *God* though maybe you think you know better....

Rabban Gamliel said...

But there are answers out there and they do not depend on how we arrive at them. According to your way of thinking why should we believe science even for your act as if its true philosophy?

CyberKitten said...

Rabban Gamliel said: But there are answers out there and they do not depend on how we arrive at them.

Actually I think that its very important how we arrive at our answers.

Rabban Gamliel said: According to your way of thinking why should we believe science even for your act as if its true philosophy

Probably because it produces repeatable results - that are actually rather useful.

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Though I think you have some underlying assumptions that I don't have."

Right back atcha.

"It makes a whole lot more sense than a God saying 'Let there be light'!"

Does it? What you proposed is actually nonsense, whereas taking the mythos of God literally can at worst only be wrong.

"Basically we don't know (yet) how the Universe came into existence but I'm betting on a natural explanation rather than a supernatural one."

Based on what? Pure assumption? Faith?

"I disagree. Looking for an external cause is, I think, an unfounded assumption."

It's not an assumption - it's a conclusion based on inductive reasoning and human logic. Something that does not exist cannot cause it's own existence. Since we know that the universe had a beginning - in what way do you believe it 'naturally' caused itself?

"All that we can say is that we don't know what, if anything, caused the Universe to exist."

Ok, but you've already said you're making the claim that processes that exist within the universe are sufficient to self-generate the universe at a point when they did not exist. That's hardly playing the agnostic - that's making a leap of faith. A huge one actually.

"I think my philosophy of life is perfectly satisfying (at least to me). I certainly don't feel the need to add anything 'supernatural' into the mix to bolster it."

I didn't say anything about the supernatural, I said items that Positivism would not permit one to believe. Virtually everything you hold of value cannot be verified as actually being of value. You'd be stuck with no ability to form value judgements - an intolerable life philosophy.

"Though I'm pretty confident that the answer to the greatest questions is not *God* though maybe you think you know better...."

Whatever the answer is - that *is* God.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Rabban Gamliel said: According to your way of thinking why should we believe science even for your act as if its true philosophy

Probably because it produces repeatable results - that are actually rather useful."

The results of reasoning successfully predicts the data we see. Your way would have denied science for the comfort of no decision.

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: Right back atcha.

Of course. We *all* have underlying assumptions that inform & mold our world views.

orthoprax said: What you proposed is actually nonsense, whereas taking the mythos of God literally can at worst only be wrong.

Actually I consider the 'mythos of God' to be nonsense on stilts.

orthoprax said: Based on what? Pure assumption? Faith?

Based on the fact that a naturalistic approach to things actually produces workable results. We know *far* more about how the universe actually works today than non-naturalistic 'explanations' ever came up with in the entire recorded history of mankind. I think that's a pretty good record & don't think that looking for 'alternative' explanations really stacks up to that record of success.

orthoprax said: Something that does not exist cannot cause it's own existence.

You mean like God? Unless you're saying that something else created Him?

orthoprax said: Since we know that the universe had a beginning - in what way do you believe it 'naturally' caused itself?

I have no idea what caused the universe to come into existence. No one (AFAIK does - yet)

orthoprax said: Ok, but you've already said you're making the claim that processes that exist within the universe are sufficient to self-generate the universe at a point when they did not exist.

If I did make that claim I certainly shouldn't have. I put forward the idea that it could have happened that way. I'm hardly a Cosmologist so I can't really make cosmological claims [laughs].

orthoprax said: Virtually everything you hold of value cannot be verified as actually being of value.

Of course. My values derive from my culture my upbringing. They most certainly cannot be verified independently nor in a lab. I would be amazed if they could! My values would be completely different if I had been born into a different culture or a different time. I suppose that its *possible* to have some kind of science of morality/value but I have no idea how you would even begin to construct such a thing. You see values are *subjective* not *objective* so it makes a Positivist approach a bit tricky.

orthoprax said: Whatever the answer is - that *is* God.

Erm... So if at some point in the future its discovered that the cause behind the universe is completely natural.... *that's* God? Huh?

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Actually I consider the 'mythos of God' to be nonsense on stilts."

No, you just consider it to be wrong. You do understand what is proposed by the idea. In comparison, what you proposed actually does not make sense.

"Based on the fact that a naturalistic approach to things actually produces workable results."

Only within the limits of our universe. Then trying to use what only exists within the universe to explain the universe is clearly unworkable. You must look externally. Nothing can create itself.

You might as well try to explain the origins of basketball by studying the rules of basketball. Nonsense.

"You mean like God? Unless you're saying that something else created Him?"

No, the concept of God is something which never did not exist. You can't get away with that for the universe because we know it had a beginning.

"If I did make that claim I certainly shouldn't have. I put forward the idea that it could have happened that way. I'm hardly a Cosmologist so I can't really make cosmological claims [laughs]."

In one mouth you claim no knowledge of anything and from the other you're still confident enough to strongly object to distinct possibilities. Based on what? Pure bias.

"Of course. My values derive from my culture my upbringing. They most certainly cannot be verified independently nor in a lab."

Ergo, Positivism alone cannot produce a fulfilling life philosophy. Thanks for agreeing with me.

"Erm... So if at some point in the future its discovered that the cause behind the universe is completely natural.... *that's* God? Huh?"

Personally I don't make a big distinction between what is 'natural' vs 'supernatural.' Supernature is just a more fundamental order of existence. That which makes the universe exist is basically, by definition, a supernature because the universe's nature is based on it. The point is just that the nature of our universe cannot create itself - that is nonsense.

The most fundamental order or existence *is* God. Whether you call it natural or supernatural is of no consequential meaning. Ultimately it's all the same existential order on which the whole of Being is founded.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Cyberkitten said;
"orthoprax said: What you proposed is actually nonsense, whereas taking the mythos of God literally can at worst only be wrong.

Actually I consider the 'mythos of God' to be nonsense on stilts."

Nothing for you can be nonsense as to you reason is not how we know what's true.

"orthoprax said: Based on what? Pure assumption? Faith?

Based on the fact that a naturalistic approach to things actually produces workable results. We know *far* more about how the universe actually works today than non-naturalistic 'explanations' ever came up with in the entire recorded history of mankind. I think that's a pretty good record & don't think that looking for 'alternative' explanations really stacks up to that record of success."

Because people actually took a stand and decided what they feel is true. They didn't have your attitude. Using your method they wouldn't have known where to start. Further science still also has loose ends and unexplained phenomena so you should using your method also question science.

"orthoprax said: Something that does not exist cannot cause it's own existence.

You mean like God? Unless you're saying that something else created Him?"

Oh so since in human language whatever we would say ultimately caused all would be refereed to as a something, we are precluded from saying it was the ultimate cause. So forget about causes. Forget about science then. You are not consistent. You advocate an absurd reality and claim the benefits of science. Forget it. You get the spaghetti monster not science.

"orthoprax said: Whatever the answer is - that *is* God.

Erm... So if at some point in the future its discovered that the cause behind the universe is completely natural.... *that's* God? Huh?"

No because science still leaves us with a why, heck with a what. Science limits itself and so cannot answer ultimately why and what.

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: No, you just consider it to be wrong.

Indeed I do - because I believe it to be nonsensical.

orthoprax said: In comparison, what you proposed actually does not make sense.

Well, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that one!

orthoprax said: Only within the limits of our universe.

Huh? You're going to have to explain that one!

orthoprax said: Then trying to use what only exists within the universe to explain the universe is clearly unworkable.

I don't agree. We understand the universe by studying the universe. We don't understand the universe by making up comfortable fantasies.

orthoprax said: You must look externally.

As far as I'm aware this *is* no 'external' to the universe. So its going to be a bit difficult looking there.

orthoprax said: Nothing can create itself.

So where did God come from?

orthoprax said: No, the concept of God is something which never did not exist.

As far as I'm concerned the 'concept of God' arose some time in our pre-history to explain the then (apparently) inexplicable. The concept was invented by man. Therefore it had a begiining. Therefore there was a time before the existence of such a concept. Our concept of God cannot pre-date humanity.

orthoprax said: You can't get away with that for the universe because we know it had a beginning.

Apparently. But just because it had a beginning doesn't mean that some 'thing' or some 'one' caused it to happen.

orthoprax said: In one mouth you claim no knowledge of anything and from the other you're still confident enough to strongly object to distinct possibilities. Based on what? Pure bias.

If you want to call it a bias feel free. My bias is towards naturalist explanations for things. My bias is towards science and reason. Your biases appear to be in other directions.

orthoprax said: Ergo, Positivism alone cannot produce a fulfilling life philosophy. Thanks for agreeing with me.

My pleasure. But I have never considered that there are two ways of living your life - that of science *or* religion. It is not (and never has been) a case of either/or. Science cannot tell us how to live our lives or help us make value/moral judgments. That's not what science is about. For things like that we can turn to thousands of years of philosophical teachings from around the globe - or religion.

orthoprax said: Personally I don't make a big distinction between what is 'natural' vs 'supernatural.'

That explains a great deal. Personally I *do* make distinctions between the two and reject the supernatural.

orthoprax said: Supernature is just a more fundamental order of existence. That which makes the universe exist is basically, by definition, a supernature because the universe's nature is based on it.

Sounds like semantics to me. Presumably there are fundamental foundations to reality but I wouldn't call it (or them) supernature - just nature.

orthoprax said: The point is just that the nature of our universe cannot create itself - that is nonsense.

So you keep saying....

orthoprax said: The most fundamental order or existence *is* God. Whether you call it natural or supernatural is of no consequential meaning.

Actually calling 'it' God has no meaning - consequential or otherwise. If the universe is God why not just call it the universe. If the quantum froth is God why not just call it quantum froth. I really can't see people going to church to worship quantum fluctuations though....

Rabban Gamliel said: Nothing for you can be nonsense as to you reason is not how we know what's true.

Actually I'm a big fan of reason - and I believe that I can call some things nonsense if I believe them to be so.

Rabban Gamliel said: Because people actually took a stand and decided what they feel is true.

Actually what people 'feel' to be true is irrelevant to what actually *is* true. Truth is independent of how people feel about it.

Rabban Gamliel said: Further science still also has loose ends and unexplained phenomena so you should using your method also question science.

Of course there is much we don't know. It's a big universe out there and we're pretty much just starting out. Scepticism is important to scientific advancement & I'm pretty sceptical about science too - just less so than things which are plainly nonsensical.

Rabban Gamliel said: You are not consistent. You advocate an absurd reality and claim the benefits of science. Forget it. You get the spaghetti monster not science.

Now you've really lost me.....

Rabban Gamliel said: No because science still leaves us with a why, heck with a what. Science limits itself and so cannot answer ultimately why and what.

Science is pretty good with the how, when, where and what. It really doesn't touch the why of things. That's for religion and philosophy. Guess which one of those I choose?

Rabban Gamliel said...

"orthoprax said: You can't get away with that for the universe because we know it had a beginning.

Apparently. But just because it had a beginning doesn't mean that some 'thing' or some 'one' caused it to happen."

Physicists would beg to differ with you. Science looks for causes.

"Rabban Gamliel said: Nothing for you can be nonsense as to you reason is not how we know what's true.

Actually I'm a big fan of reason - and I believe that I can call some things nonsense if I believe them to be so."

Based on what? You don't feel the universe has to go according to reason. You even feel the universe could have just come into being because of no reason, So much for science.

"Rabban Gamliel said: Because people actually took a stand and decided what they feel is true.

Actually what people 'feel' to be true is irrelevant to what actually *is* true. Truth is independent of how people feel about it."

I know that. So how does reason then have to bow to your unwillingness to speculate?

"Rabban Gamliel said: Further science still also has loose ends and unexplained phenomena so you should using your method also question science.

Of course there is much we don't know. It's a big universe out there and we're pretty much just starting out. Scepticism is important to scientific advancement & I'm pretty sceptical about science too - just less so than things which are plainly nonsensical."

Try some skepticism yourself. How can anything for you be plainly nonesensical? You claim to know for sure now and you who thinks the universe could pop into existence with no cause? You really are inconsistent here.

"Rabban Gamliel said: No because science still leaves us with a why, heck with a what. Science limits itself and so cannot answer ultimately why and what.

Science is pretty good with the how, when, where and what. It really doesn't touch the why of things. That's for religion and philosophy. Guess which one of those I choose?"

Science deals with why as science asks for causes. It involves seeing how things work but it declares things as happening because of causes and that is a why but it cannot answer fully why as science doesn't go beyond the repeatable.

Your whole philosophy is confused between denial and a lack of position.

CyberKitten said...

Rabban Gamliel said: Your whole philosophy is confused between denial and a lack of position.

I can say with a degree of confidence that you are pretty confused by my position. I most certainly don't feel confused by it.

Orthoprax said...

Cyber,

"Indeed I do - because I believe it to be nonsensical."

No. There's a difference between a propostion you believe to be wrong and what you proposed which is internally inconsistent.

"I don't agree. We understand the universe by studying the universe. We don't understand the universe by making up comfortable fantasies."

As I said, you cannot explain the origins of the universe by what exists only within the universe. They didn't yet exist to create the universe before the universe existed!

"The concept was invented by man. Therefore it had a begiining. Therefore there was a time before the existence of such a concept. Our concept of God cannot pre-date humanity."

Sigh. I wasn't saying that the conception of the idea didn't have a beginning, but that the idea itself is that God did not have a beginning.

"So where did God come from?"

Like I said, God always existed.

"Apparently. But just because it had a beginning doesn't mean that some 'thing' or some 'one' caused it to happen."

Oh ok. And I guess this makes *more* sense to you than believing that it did have a cause? How? You wouldn't accept this as a valid argument for anything else that had a beginning.

"If you want to call it a bias feel free. My bias is towards naturalist explanations for things. My bias is towards science and reason."

Actually, it is clear that it is not. What part of science or reason leads you to prefer a causeless origin? What part of nature can explain the origins of nature? It is completely your personal bias dressed up in the clothes of science.

"My pleasure. But I have never considered that there are two ways of living your life - that of science *or* religion. It is not (and never has been) a case of either/or."

Again, I agree. We continue to demonstrate the limits of Positivism. It is then fully warranted to sometimes believe things that the objective evidence may not support.

"Sounds like semantics to me. Presumably there are fundamental foundations to reality but I wouldn't call it (or them) supernature - just nature."

Alright, it is semantics. But I was clear in using 'nature' to describe the order of our universe and 'supernature' to describe the order of a larger reality of which our universe is only a part. But yes, as I said, ultimately there is only one order on which all else is founded.

"That explains a great deal. Personally I *do* make distinctions between the two and reject the supernatural."

Heh! You just said it was only semantics!

"Actually calling 'it' God has no meaning - consequential or otherwise. If the universe is God why not just call it the universe. If the quantum froth is God why not just call it quantum froth. I really can't see people going to church to worship quantum fluctuations though...."

The difference between you and I is not in the metaphysical construct inasmuch as we differ on its fundamental characteristics. In the end, I don't believe that our physical universe is the limit of all that exists, nor is the foundational reality of existence merely a matter of random quantum foam. This is why the term God is appropriate and very different from what you believe.

S.O.S. said...

Like I said, God always existed.

Orthroprax, your aware of the fallacy known as "special pleading" right?

CyberKitten said...

orthoprax said: As I said, you cannot explain the origins of the universe by what exists only within the universe. They didn't yet exist to create the universe before the universe existed!

So *you* say.

orthoprax said: Sigh. I wasn't saying that the conception of the idea didn't have a beginning, but that the idea itself is that God did not have a beginning.

As God is a human invention it's easy to say that He does not have a beginning. It is however a meaningless statement. I could just as easily say that my favourite slime creatures from the planet Zog neither evolved nor where they created by a higher being. Maybe *they* created our Universe?

orthoprax said: Like I said, God always existed.

Because we had to make Him 'special', but think about it for a few seconds. How can something have *always* existed? It defies logic, reason and common sense - very much like religion itself.

orthoprax said: Oh ok. And I guess this makes *more* sense to you than believing that it did have a cause?

As I have repeatedly said I have no idea what (if anything) brought the universe into existence - though my bet is that it wasn't a super-being clicking His fingers.

orthoprax said: What part of nature can explain the origins of nature?

I have no idea - but that doesn't mean that I have to start pulling magical rabbits out of mystical hats to explain it. I simply say that I do not know.

orthoprax said: It is then fully warranted to sometimes believe things that the objective evidence may not support.

Such as? UFO's? Ghosts? Fairies? Demons? Magic? God?

orthoprax said: But I was clear in using 'nature' to describe the order of our universe and 'supernature' to describe the order of a larger reality of which our universe is only a part.

..and I question the existence of this supposed 'larger reality'. What do you mean by that & what evidence to you have to support its existence?

orthoprax said: ultimately there is only one order on which all else is founded.

There may indeed be foundations on which the universe is built. Maybe one day we will discover them.

orthoprax said: Heh! You just said it was only semantics!

Yes, you seem to be playing with words. I am distinguishing between them. Without such distinctions how do we know what we're taking about?

orthoprax said: In the end, I don't believe that our physical universe is the limit of all that exists...

..and I think that it probably is. I see no evidence to draw other conclusions at this point.

orthoprax said: nor is the foundational reality of existence merely a matter of random quantum foam.

It's probably something like that.

orthoprax said: This is why the term God is appropriate and very different from what you believe.

Oh, we can definitely agree that what you believe & what I believe are very different things. You see God & I do not. No one and nothing has yet convinced me to change my mind. I'm still waiting to be convinced though I'm not exactly holding my breath at this point.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"S.O.S. said...
Like I said, God always existed.

Orthroprax, your aware of the fallacy known as "special pleading" right?"

S.O.S. Unless you get specific you've said nothing at all and have engaged in special pleading with your comment.

Rabban Gamliel said...

" CyberKitten said...
orthoprax said: As I said, you cannot explain the origins of the universe by what exists only within the universe. They didn't yet exist to create the universe before the universe existed!

So *you* say."

Well if they existed then the uiniverse would have existed by definition and so since they didn't they couldn't have created the universe by definition. Checkmate.

"orthoprax said: Sigh. I wasn't saying that the conception of the idea didn't have a beginning, but that the idea itself is that God did not have a beginning.

As God is a human invention it's easy to say that He does not have a beginning. It is however a meaningless statement. I could just as easily say that my favourite slime creatures from the planet Zog neither evolved nor where they created by a higher being. Maybe *they* created our Universe?"

We postulate something to have created the universe that would make sense to us to have made it.

"orthoprax said: Like I said, God always existed.

Because we had to make Him 'special', but think about it for a few seconds. How can something have *always* existed? It defies logic, reason and common sense - very much like religion itself."

For it to have come by itself to you doesn't defy logic, reason and common sense. Amazing. But it is strange for you to argue that something could not always exist. Untill the Big Bang theory took hold science said that the universe always existed and many atheists are trying to argue away a begining to time. This despite the fact that that would make for an unnecessary break with Relativity irrespective of other problems with such a breach. Further time only has meaning within a universe. Before the universe and after any death it would suffer time does not exist. So before after and now would have no meaning. Whatever caused the universe was outside of time and always existed. Our universe relative to another one always existed and always was dead as time only has meaning within a universe.

"orthoprax said: What part of nature can explain the origins of nature?

I have no idea - but that doesn't mean that I have to start pulling magical rabbits out of mystical hats to explain it. I simply say that I do not know."

With your philosophy of not positing anything the logical conclusion is that it can be turtles all the way down.

S.O.S. said...

S.O.S. Unless you get specific you've said nothing at all and have engaged in special pleading with your comment.

The irony of perpetrating exactly what you accuse me of aside, you'd do yourself well to learn what the said fallacy actually means before you start throwing the term around so carelessly.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"Orthroprax, your aware of the fallacy known as "special pleading" right?"

I am and it does not apply here. I was just explaining the idea, not justifying the idea itself. If you want to go further in this then we may.


Cyber,

"So *you* say."

No, not because I say. If something doesn't exist it can't *do* _anything_, much less create itself. You're being intentionally obtuse.

"As God is a human invention it's easy to say that He does not have a beginning. It is however a meaningless statement."

No, it means something very specific. Ultimately, whatever it is that started it all cannot itself be dependent for its existence. It must have always existed.

"I could just as easily say that my favourite slime creatures from the planet Zog neither evolved nor where they created by a higher being. Maybe *they* created our Universe?"

Sure, could be. But if they're from Zog then it suggests that Zog existed before they did. And if Zog is a product of our universe then it probably is not a good candidate for creation.

"Because we had to make Him 'special', but think about it for a few seconds. How can something have *always* existed? It defies logic, reason and common sense...

Oh, how so? What rule of logic, sense of reason or perception of 'common sense' is violated by a permanently existing entity? Why don't you think few a few more seconds and get back to me.

"I have no idea - but that doesn't mean that I have to start pulling magical rabbits out of mystical hats to explain it."

Right, you just use different words. BS *quantum* rabbits out of *quark* hats and voila!: Universe!

You are fooling yourself!

"orthoprax said: It is then fully warranted to sometimes believe things that the objective evidence may not support.
Cyber: "Such as? UFO's? Ghosts? Fairies? Demons? Magic? God?""

How about your own values, which we already went over? Are you having difficulty following? As we went over, there are hundreds of things that you conclude are real without verification every single day of your life.

Some ideas are patently absurd and should not be given credence but other ideas - including my ideas about God which you have seemingly never been able to comprehend - are worth at least putting on the differential of possible explanations.

"..and I question the existence of this supposed 'larger reality'. What do you mean by that & what evidence to you have to support its existence?"

I only mean that it is an order of existence that gave rise to our universe's order of existence. My evidence for it is that our universe had a beginning and had to come from somewhere - ergo from that superexistence.

This is not a crazy idea. The conception of a Metauniverse is popular among modern cosmologists.

"Yes, you seem to be playing with words. I am distinguishing between them. Without such distinctions how do we know what we're taking about?"

I am not playing. I already explained a couple of times, very precisely, exactly what I meant by the words.

"orthoprax said: nor is the foundational reality of existence merely a matter of random quantum foam.
Cyber:"It's probably something like that.""

Oh, what happened to you making no claims? Of having "no idea"? Your bias is transparent.

"No one and nothing has yet convinced me to change my mind. I'm still waiting to be convinced though I'm not exactly holding my breath at this point."

It's pretty clear at this point that you aren't willing to actually be convinced or even to have a real discussion. Your responses are not following our topics of conversation and you have consistently applied inconsistent methods to support your position.

There's a huge gap between a 'super-being clicking His fingers' and the 'quantum foam' but these appear to be the only metaphysical options on your plate. Go check out what else they have by the shmorg and maybe next time we'll have something to discuss.

Rabban Gamliel said...

" S.O.S. said...
S.O.S. Unless you get specific you've said nothing at all and have engaged in special pleading with your comment.

The irony of perpetrating exactly what you accuse me of aside, you'd do yourself well to learn what the said fallacy actually means before you start throwing the term around so carelessly."

I know what exactly what it is. I haven't engaged in it. You have. You are just bandying about the label. Just because someone disagrees with you here doesn't make it special pleading. By you doing this you are engaged in special pleading.

S.O.S. said...

Orthoprax said...
I am and it does not apply here. I was just explaining the idea, not justifying the idea itself. If you want to go further in this then we may.


Yes i would like to go further in this and I apologize if I've misunderstood you. Would you mind clarifying your stance?


Rabban Gamliel said...
I know what exactly what it is. I haven't engaged in it. You have. You are just bandying about the label. Just because someone disagrees with you here doesn't make it special pleading. By you doing this you are engaged in special pleading.


Your going in circles here.

Rabban Gamliel said...

SOS I'm not going in circles. I'm stating a fact. To quote you "the irony of perpetrating exactly what you accuse me of aside, you'd do yourself well to learn what the said fallacy actually means before you start throwing the term around so carelessly." I say that about you.

I challenge you to tell me or Orthoprax how we have been using special pleading. All you've done is label. If you can't do more that it indicates insecurity on your part.

s.o.s. said...

I challenge you to tell me or Orthoprax how we have been using special pleading. All you've done is label. If you can't do more that it indicates insecurity on your part.

Oh please, now your psychoanalyzing me? Why are people so good at performing detailed personality analyses based on thread posts?

In terms of your challenge, if orthroprax requested an explanation for my point I would have happily given it to him. He didn't, so I would venture that he did understand my point(although he may not have agreed with it.) I never once claimed that *you* were engaged in special pleading so I don't know where that point comes from.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"Yes i would like to go further in this and I apologize if I've misunderstood you. Would you mind clarifying your stance?"

Well, you see, it's only special pleading if I was trying to justify the assertion. In that context I was just explaining the concept of God, not justifying it.

To justify it though, you're probably already familiar with the basic cosmological argument. We have the universe, where did it come from? You've really only got two possible explanations - either it's turtles all the way down or the buck stops somewhere. (Having something 'poof' itself into existence when it doesn't exist is nonsense.)

I don't believe it is special pleading to prefer the second horn - that something exists independently, especially since even with the endless turtle horn- it must all exist within a larger order that permits endless turtles in the first place. I think an ultimate non-contingent existence is the inevitable conclusion.

It is that concept which I identify as God.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"s.o.s. said...
I challenge you to tell me or Orthoprax how we have been using special pleading. All you've done is label. If you can't do more that it indicates insecurity on your part.

Oh please, now your psychoanalyzing me? Why are people so good at performing detailed personality analyses based on thread posts?"

I didn't mean anything psychological unless you would only be able to cry fallacy without saying why.

"In terms of your challenge, if orthroprax requested an explanation for my point I would have happily given it to him. He didn't, so I would venture that he did understand my point(although he may not have agreed with it.) I never once claimed that *you* were engaged in special pleading so I don't know where that point comes from."

Never mind. But I think readers until now would say that you indeed said such a thing.

s.o.s. said...

Orthoprax said...
It is that concept which I identify as God.


So you've just taken a metaphysical stance and labeled it god. What value does the word "god" have in that context? You may as well label it the theory of primacy. For all you know this eternal force is simply a chaotic one that spits out universes arbitrarily. Perhaps it is even the laws of psychics that are "non-contingent."

Rabban Gamliel said...
Never mind. But I think readers until now would say that you indeed said such a thing.


Then they would unfortunately be mistaken.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"So you've just taken a metaphysical stance and labeled it god. What value does the word "god" have in that context? You may as well label it the theory of primacy. For all you know this eternal force is simply a chaotic one that spits out universes arbitrarily. Perhaps it is even the laws of psychics that are "non-contingent.""

Could be. But I have other reasons for why I don't think those other two options are compelling hypotheses.

Is it likely that a chaotic creative force would form the very well ordered universe in which we live? We'd either have to be incredibly lucky or you'd have to posit a near-infinite number of alternate universes concurrently created in order for this kind of ordered universe to be nothing special. So, I think on balance, you'd be hard pressed to assume the existence of a near-infinite number of alternate universes just to explain the existence of the one we live in. Sir Ockham would have a field day.

And how can the laws of physics be non-contingent? Do they exist outside of the universe? As far as modern cosmology can determine the laws of physics do not even hold true at the first few fractions of a second after the Big Bang! So they don't seem like very good candidates.

The 'value' of the term goes on to indicate what other characteristics I believe the non-contingent existence has - which is, in particular here being non-chaotic and not just the natural laws of our universe.

s.o.s. said...

Orthoprax said...

Is it likely that a chaotic creative force would form the very well ordered universe in which we live? We'd either have to be incredibly lucky or you'd have to posit a near-infinite number of alternate universes concurrently created in order for this kind of ordered universe to be nothing special. So, I think on balance, you'd be hard pressed to assume the existence of a near-infinite number of alternate universes just to explain the existence of the one we live in. Sir Ockham would have a field day.


What your doing is silly. Occam's razor is a principle of our universe, not necessarily any other universe and certainly not the creative force. For me to call this non-contingent force chaotic is no more unreasonable then you calling it orderly.

And how can the laws of physics be non-contingent? Do they exist outside of the universe? As far as modern cosmology can determine the laws of physics do not even hold true at the first few fractions of a second after the Big Bang! So they don't seem like very good candidates.

By laws of physics I simply meant whatever natural laws allowed the big bang to occur, I was not referring to psychic's current body of knowledge. Perhaps I should have said the big bang itself is "non-contingent."

The 'value' of the term goes on to indicate what other characteristics I believe the non-contingent existence has - which is, in particular here being non-chaotic and not just the natural laws of our universe.

Why does this matter? Even if the the universe is "non-chaotic and not just the natural laws of the universe" (I am not quite sure what you are implying by that) you have just set the conditions for the theory of primacy. So now you have a primacy theory that is orderly. I still don't see where "god" comes in. Orderly is a far cry from "intellegent."

Rabban Gamliel said...

S.O.S. we start from ground zero in any argumentation since you are not saying I was guilty of special pleading. Thank you. I appreciate that.

"What your doing is silly. Occam's razor is a principle of our universe, not necessarily any other universe and certainly not the creative force."

Amazing. So in one universe miracles happen everyday. In another the Spaghetti monster rules etc. etc. Occam's razor was made with logic in mind independent of a universe. You just underminded atheism and certainly Dawkins with his hopes built on many universes.

"By laws of physics I simply meant whatever natural laws allowed the big bang to occur, I was not referring to psychic's current body of knowledge. Perhaps I should have said the big bang itself is "non-contingent.""

But since you've confined Occam's razor to this universe then before the Big Bang it shouldn't apply. Spaghetti Monster meet S.O.S.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"What your doing is silly. Occam's razor is a principle of our universe, not necessarily any other universe and certainly not the creative force. For me to call this non-contingent force chaotic is no more unreasonable then you calling it orderly."

Rabban Gamliel is right on this one. If you're going to throw out any sense of logic then anybody can claim anything. Of course people do that anyway, but with nothing else the most reasonable conclusion should be given a good measure of respect.

"By laws of physics I simply meant whatever natural laws allowed the big bang to occur, I was not referring to psychic's current body of knowledge."

Right, so since "natural law" is only the law which exists within our universe, you are appealing to a supernatural law, are you not?

"Perhaps I should have said the big bang itself is "non-contingent.""

The Big Bang is an event, not an entity. You might as well say "now" is non-contingent. Could be, but it sure seems like it's contingent on what came 'before'.

"So now you have a primacy theory that is orderly. I still don't see where "god" comes in. Orderly is a far cry from "intellegent.""

Heh, it's much closer to it than 'nothing' or 'chaos' which are the other options being promoted. But of course you are right - however I never claimed intelligence. Does God have a mind? Seems rather anthropomorphic to me.

Familiarize yourself with concepts like the Hindu Brahman, the Neoplatonic Source, the Taoist's Tao, Spinoza's Hypokeimenon, and the Kabbalistic Ein Sof and perhaps you'll understand what kind of idea I'm getting at.

s.o.s. said...

Rabban Gamliel said...
Amazing. So in one universe miracles happen everyday. In another the Spaghetti monster rules etc. etc. Occam's razor was made with logic in mind independent of a universe. You just underminded atheism and certainly Dawkins with his hopes built on many universes.


1) How have I "underminded atheism"? Are you saying I have proven god's existence?

2) Why do you believe Dawkins has "hopes built on many universe" and why is this even relevant? Dawkins is a biologist not a physicist.

3) How could we possibly know what happens in another universe (at this point)? Perhaps we cannot even comprehend what reality means in another universe. In fact, just try comprehending quantum mechanics on an intuitive level.

But since you've confined Occam's razor to this universe then before the Big Bang it shouldn't apply. Spaghetti Monster meet S.O.S.

I would actually confine Occam's razor to human intellect as it is more of a heuristic then a law. I hope you don't think that all of logic and coherent reality is somehow based on the razor. I was simply saying how this hypothetical is out of the scope of the razor.


Orthoprax said...
Rabban Gamliel is right on this one. If you're going to throw out any sense of logic then anybody can claim anything. Of course people do that anyway, but with nothing else the most reasonable conclusion should be given a good measure of respect.


As I told him I have not thrown out logic at all. I have just questioned the value of the razor in a case of a pure hypothetical. Could I use the razor to decide that single headed pixies are more plausible then five headed ones? What would it even mean if I did?

Right, so since "natural law" is only the law which exists within our universe, you are appealing to a supernatural law, are you not?

No your playing a semantic game. If by "universe" you mean everything, then our universe (from the big bang) can be considered a sub-universe. If by "universe" you mean only our universe, then everything would be called the multiverse. Even if other sub-universes have their own set of laws there is no reason to assume they are "supernatural."

The Big Bang is an event, not an entity. You might as well say "now" is non-contingent. Could be, but it sure seems like it's contingent on what came 'before'.

Maybe the big bang was just the beginning of a process that is still continuing. Maybe the entirety of the incident requires no beginning. Since we are groundlessly speculating this is just as plausible as your "eternal cause/being."

Heh, it's much closer to it than 'nothing' or 'chaos' which are the other options being promoted. But of course you are right - however I never claimed intelligence. Does God have a mind? Seems rather anthropomorphic to me.

Yes but if he doesn't have some sort of awareness then you've just chosen a clever label for a completely unproven (and very likely unfalsifiable) scientific theory. Actually, that is quite similar to theism.

Familiarize yourself with concepts like the Hindu Brahman, the Neoplatonic Source, the Taoist's Tao, Spinoza's Hypokeimenon, and the Kabbalistic Ein Sof and perhaps you'll understand what kind of idea I'm getting at.

I'm not too impressed by "great oneness" theories. To me they just show the amazing power consciousness has to turn perspective into personal reality. If I look for unity, I'll see it, if I look for duality, I'll see it as well.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"s.o.s. said...
Rabban Gamliel said...
Amazing. So in one universe miracles happen everyday. In another the Spaghetti monster rules etc. etc. Occam's razor was made with logic in mind independent of a universe. You just underminded atheism and certainly Dawkins with his hopes built on many universes.

1) How have I "underminded atheism"? Are you saying I have proven god's existence?"

Well if our universe is only where Occam's razor applies then it follows that before the universe was created it wouldn't apply. If you had wished to argue that Occam's razor precludes G-d's creating the world you now can't do that by definition. The Big Bang started the universe. More exactly the universe is the Big Bang. It never ended. We are still expanding from the force of it.

"2) Why do you believe Dawkins has "hopes built on many universe" and why is this even relevant?..."

He would rather have an infinity of universes in which supposedly anything possible would just happen by chance. I don't see it that way for even an infinity nor am I alone. Recent studies cast doubt that a multiverse can explain away finetuning for the universe.

"Dawkins is a biologist not a physicist.""

And as could be expected it shows.
"3) How could we possibly know what happens in another universe (at this point)?..."
We can infer about other universes from activity in ours.
"Perhaps we cannot even comprehend what reality means in another universe. In fact, just try comprehending quantum mechanics on an intuitive level."
We don't really know enough about reality. We can try. Reality in another universe should be the same for us as a universe is a spacetime. There are I believe states beyond spacetime. Our experience of what reality means I think is limited. I think there are states of reality. We are never going to penetrate beyond the veil of our senses if the same logic that we use for our universe doesn't apply to others.

"But since you've confined Occam's razor to this universe then before the Big Bang it shouldn't apply. Spaghetti Monster meet S.O.S.

I would actually confine Occam's razor to human intellect as it is more of a heuristic then a law. I hope you don't think that all of logic and coherent reality is somehow based on the razor. I was simply saying how this hypothetical is out of the scope of the razor."
You are right that the razor is more heuristic. Frankly it says to pick out the simplest explanation but that doesn't tell us what is simpler as what explains something fully to one does not to another. That is why atheism doesn't get its support from Occam's razor. On the contrary taken to the extreme then Occam's razor would say that just what we see is real and so forget about Relativity's postulating space-time for instance. It would hamper science. I do not think as you do that Occam's razor cannot apply to hypothetical's. It works well for space-time and Quantum Theory which involve lot's of activity that could be termed hypothetical and not concrete.


"Orthoprax said...
Rabban Gamliel is right on this one. If you're going to throw out any sense of logic then anybody can claim anything. Of course people do that anyway, but with nothing else the most reasonable conclusion should be given a good measure of respect.

As I told him I have not thrown out logic at all. I have just questioned the value of the razor in a case of a pure hypothetical. Could I use the razor to decide that single headed pixies are more plausible then five headed ones? What would it even mean if I did?"
If we needed to postulate them it would mean something.

"The Big Bang is an event, not an entity. You might as well say "now" is non-contingent. Could be, but it sure seems like it's contingent on what came 'before'.

Maybe the big bang was just the beginning of a process that is still continuing. Maybe the entirety of the incident requires no beginning. Since we are groundlessly speculating this is just as plausible as your "eternal cause/being.""
The Big Bang started space-time. There was no before or after until it. If the universe is destroyed time will as well and before and after will nonexistent again.

'Familiarize yourself with concepts like the Hindu Brahman, the Neoplatonic Source, the Taoist's Tao, Spinoza's Hypokeimenon, and the Kabbalistic Ein Sof and perhaps you'll understand what kind of idea I'm getting at.

I'm not too impressed by "great oneness" theories. To me they just show the amazing power consciousness has to turn perspective into personal reality. If I look for unity, I'll see it, if I look for duality, I'll see it as well."
We are not just looking for something. We are saying that we need something to explain things.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"As I told him I have not thrown out logic at all. I have just questioned the value of the razor in a case of a pure hypothetical. Could I use the razor to decide that single headed pixies are more plausible then five headed ones? What would it even mean if I did?"

It's not a pure hypothetical. There are only so many ways we can reason out how the universe could have come to be. The most reasonable of those is the most credible.

"No your playing a semantic game. If by "universe" you mean everything, then our universe (from the big bang) can be considered a sub-universe. If by "universe" you mean only our universe, then everything would be called the multiverse."

My point is that by definition the rules of a 'multiverse' would technically be supernatural since they'd be acting on a higher plane than our common universe. The point is that there's no difference in meaning. If you believe in them, you could just as easily call Heaven and Hell products of natural law too.

"Maybe the big bang was just the beginning of a process that is still continuing. Maybe the entirety of the incident requires no beginning."

Well, that just begs the question now doesn't it? You can posit such things and heck maybe you even believe them, but they certainly don't seem like compelling conclusions. Why do you suppose you prefer those kinds of answers?

"Yes but if he doesn't have some sort of awareness then you've just chosen a clever label for a completely unproven (and very likely unfalsifiable) scientific theory. Actually, that is quite similar to theism."

It's more like a philosophical position than a scientific theory - at best it would be a hypothesis - but I thank you for the compliment. Why you think intelligence, as we understand the term, is the deciding factor between meaningful religious concepts and an inconsequential cosmological theory is something I'm afraid I do not understand.

"I'm not too impressed by "great oneness" theories. To me they just show the amazing power consciousness has to turn perspective into personal reality."

Well I don't know what you mean by that, but I think there's more to it than just the concept of Monism. Of course you can just reject the whole enterprise out of hand, but maybe there's something there worth looking into. I leave that up to you.

S.O.S. said...

Rabban Gamliel,

I'm sorry but your post is far too confusing for me to reply to. You seem to have even quoted me quoting you!

Orthoprax,

It's not a pure hypothetical. There are only so many ways we can reason out how the universe could have come to be. The most reasonable of those is the most credible.

Since when did science work this way? In ancient times it very well may have seemed most reasonable to believe in a flat world. In fact a spherical planet still is fairly counterintuitive. The razor only became applicable when actual evidence for a round world was discovered.

My point is that by definition the rules of a 'multiverse' would technically be supernatural since they'd be acting on a higher plane than our common universe. The point is that there's no difference in meaning. If you believe in them, you could just as easily call Heaven and Hell products of natural law too.

Who said anything about higher? Maybe just different. If by supernatural you simply mean greater encompassing natural laws that we haven't discovered yet, then okay, thats fine with me.

Well, that just begs the question now doesn't it? You can posit such things and heck maybe you even believe them, but they certainly don't seem like compelling conclusions. Why do you suppose you prefer those kinds of answers?

Why do you prefer the "buck stops here" conclusion? That doesn't seem very satisfying to me at all. To believe that everything requires a cause except one thing? I need a very good justification to believe this, not simply an appeal that we don't have a choice.

It's more like a philosophical position than a scientific theory - at best it would be a hypothesis - but I thank you for the compliment. Why you think intelligence, as we understand the term, is the deciding factor between meaningful religious concepts and an inconsequential cosmological theory is something I'm afraid I do not understand.

It doesn't need to have "intelligence" in a human form but definitely needs some sort of awareness. Otherwise what does this have to do with god? Simply because it was first? A definition of god in this sense is tantamount to a label. Unless you can explain how a non-conscious entity can somehow be equated with a deity this seems equivalent to naming rocks "Terra, the Gods of quiet peacefulness."

Well I don't know what you mean by that, but I think there's more to it than just the concept of Monism. Of course you can just reject the whole enterprise out of hand, but maybe there's something there worth looking into. I leave that up to you.

Perhaps, but now we are talking about something outside the realm of science. It may be beneficial to believe these things but it doesn't make them any more true. I think its important to make that distinction since we are talking about reality here and not helpful beliefs.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"S.O.S. said...
Rabban Gamliel,

I'm sorry but your post is far too confusing for me to reply to. You seem to have even quoted me quoting you!"

I did not give any quote of mine as being from you, so you can reply.

"To believe that everything requires a cause except one thing? I need a very good justification to believe this, not simply an appeal that we don't have a choice."

Science works that way to find a final cause not causes within causes ad infinitum. By definition one thing doesn't have a cause in something else but exists by necessity. It is not really a thing in the same sense as something within our universe but reality itself. You yourself would say that. If everything previously didn't exist what did was the absence of all that exists now. Of course it had no cause in some other entity. Science postulates a reasonable universe and it follows that there is no reason to limit it to what you can see with your eyes. Not all science is so limited either. Using your philosophy science should be limited to what we see and not postulate anything beyond it. Science doesn't work that way. It postulates from what we see to what we can never see to make as full a picture as the experimental method can render. It is not data but the explanation for data. Any idiot can see data. Science introduces explanations for data that is used to predict further data for confirmation but the explanations do not limit themselves to what we can see hence untrammeled exploration into hypothetical other universes whether there would be direct benefit for our universe in understanding or not.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"Since when did science work this way?"

I wouldn't call it science, more speculative philosophy. But even so all the greatest scientific theories were thought up and defended before the due evidence had come back to support them.

"The razor only became applicable when actual evidence for a round world was discovered."

Actually that would be an example where the razor was shown to be wrong. Only in the absence of conclusive evidence do we need to rely on a rule of thumb like Occam's razor.

"Why do you prefer the "buck stops here" conclusion?"

Oh, answering a question with a question, hmm? I prefer it because it makes the most sense. I suspect you prefer the other ones because this one smacks too much of religious sensibilities.

"That doesn't seem very satisfying to me at all. To believe that everything requires a cause except one thing? I need a very good justification to believe this, not simply an appeal that we don't have a choice."

No, all you really need is to understand why this option is better than the other options on the table. That's why this is philosophy and not science.

"It doesn't need to have "intelligence" in a human form but definitely needs some sort of awareness. Otherwise what does this have to do with god? Simply because it was first?"

No - because it is the metaphysically foundational order of reality, by which we should seek to apprehend and live with in harmony. I leave it as an open question the possible characteristics of this foundation. The fact that you chalked the whole concept up to mere monism indicates that you have never given this whole field of thought much consideration at all.

"Perhaps, but now we are talking about something outside the realm of science."

Of course. But there is no doubt in my mind that you hold beliefs and values which you do not justify through science.

"It may be beneficial to believe these things but it doesn't make them any more true. I think its important to make that distinction since we are talking about reality here and not helpful beliefs."

I wasn't talking about it being beneficial. I was talking about reality. That it may also be beneficial hardly means that it is ipso facto wrong either!

Right now your conception of the universe is basically just a big blank if you truly limit yourself to what science has demonstated about its fundamental nature. So in the absence of scientific conclusions I'm offering you a reasonable methodology of understanding the world we live in. Imperfect? Yes. Flawed? Of course. But it's a decent approach and far more fulfilling than just throwing your hands up at the mystery and rejecting every reasonable conclusion merely because science hasn't sufficiently peer approved it for you yet.

S.O.S. said...

Rabban Gamliel said...
I did not give any quote of mine as being from you, so you can reply.


If your not going to bother to take the time and actually read what I wrote then its hardly fair to expect me to return the courtesy.

Science works that way to find a final cause not causes within causes ad infinitum. By definition one thing doesn't have a cause in something else but exists by necessity. It is not really a thing in the same sense as something within our universe but reality itself. You yourself would say that. If everything previously didn't exist what did was the absence of all that exists now. Of course it had no cause in some other entity. Science postulates a reasonable universe and it follows that there is no reason to limit it to what you can see with your eyes. Not all science is so limited either. Using your philosophy science should be limited to what we see and not postulate anything beyond it. Science doesn't work that way. It postulates from what we see to what we can never see to make as full a picture as the experimental method can render. It is not data but the explanation for data. Any idiot can see data. Science introduces explanations for data that is used to predict further data for confirmation but the explanations do not limit themselves to what we can see hence untrammeled exploration into hypothetical other universes whether there would be direct benefit for our universe in understanding or not.

Whats your point?


Orthoprax said...
I wouldn't call it science, more speculative philosophy. But even so all the greatest scientific theories were thought up and defended before the due evidence had come back to support them.


Yes, but no great theory was treated as anything more then speculation until it was backed up by evidence.

"Actually that would be an example where the razor was shown to be wrong. Only in the absence of conclusive evidence do we need to rely on a rule of thumb like Occam's razor."

I think you are right that the razor would not apply in the same way but it would still seem to apply. Once evidence was accumulated for a round world then it would require more hypothesis to justify the flat world theory. We would switch to the round world explanation as soon as the unsubstantiated hypotheses included in the flat world theory outnumbered those in the round world theory. (A better example might be how we switched from the geocentric model of epicycles to the heliocentric one.)

Oh, answering a question with a question, hmm? I prefer it because it makes the most sense. I suspect you prefer the other ones because this one smacks too much of religious sensibilities.

I wouldn't say I "prefer" the other ones (although it does help that Chaotic Inflation theory was thought up by a physicist and not a philosopher or a monk.) I have been arguing for them because I find them, at the very least, equally likely. The stance I do prefer is to say "I don't know" as this is by far the most honest stance. I don't mind holding speculative theories for speculation sake, but this is very different then me claiming these ideas "make most sense". In terms of religion, I think they have a tendency to make people very afraid of not knowing.

No, all you really need is to understand why this option is better than the other options on the table. That's why this is philosophy and not science.

You only have to guess whats behind a locked door when you don't have the key. The most honest stance seems to be acknowledging that despite how good your guess may sound, it will probably be wrong (unless you have some evidence for it.) This is especially true when your not even sure if the door leads to a room, a car, or a giant wormhole.

No - because it is the metaphysically foundational order of reality, by which we should seek to apprehend and live with in harmony. I leave it as an open question the possible characteristics of this foundation. The fact that you chalked the whole concept up to mere monism indicates that you have never given this whole field of thought much consideration at all.

I've actually given this area plenty of consideration. I would of considered myself an adherent to this kind of view until fairly recently. If you could convince me of some sort of pantheism I would actually be pretty grateful. It was much easier for me to justify morality when I believed that all life stemmed from the same collective source and that there was an overall meaning to it. Unfortunately, I just can't see any way of justifying these kinds of ideas any longer.

Of course. But there is no doubt in my mind that you hold beliefs and values which you do not justify through science.

This may be true, but I would still maintain that I use the scientific process. I hold a number of theories and test them regularly throughout the day. I choose to hold on to some of these ideas if they seem to produce results and discard others when they don't. As I said before I also admit to holding some speculative ideas, but I hold them as ideas and nothing more (unless I were find some evidence for them.)

I wasn't talking about it being beneficial. I was talking about reality. That it may also be beneficial hardly means that it is ipso facto wrong either!

Right now your conception of the universe is basically just a big blank if you truly limit yourself to what science has demonstated about its fundamental nature. So in the absence of scientific conclusions I'm offering you a reasonable methodology of understanding the world we live in. Imperfect? Yes. Flawed? Of course. But it's a decent approach and far more fulfilling than just throwing your hands up at the mystery and rejecting every reasonable conclusion merely because science hasn't sufficiently peer approved it for you yet.


You seem to feel that "not knowing" is a weakness rather then a strength. I find this quite interesting, as not knowing is a very big part of being human. It as a freeing attitude that gives us much humility and perspective and leaves us more free from biases that would stop us from some great discoveries. The picture you paint of the unknown is very similar to one a theist would paint, it is a scary harsh world of uncertainty and this picture seems to echo of an appeal to consequences. I think the world would be much better off if more of us could start admitting that as much as we would like to, we don't actually know.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"Rabban Gamliel said...
I did not give any quote of mine as being from you, so you can reply.

If your not going to bother to take the time and actually read what I wrote then its hardly fair to expect me to return the courtesy."

I read what you wrote. I didn't ascribe to you any words you didn't say. My words were outside of the parenthesis and anything else including you quoting me to refute me was lifted from you quoting me. It's the same style of quotation as others do and in this case you.


"Whats your point?"

You can't on one hand look for ultimate causes in the name of science and then claim consistency in blocking off the same approach when it doesn't suit you.

"Orthoprax said...
I wouldn't call it science, more speculative philosophy. But even so all the greatest scientific theories were thought up and defended before the due evidence had come back to support them.

Yes, but no great theory was treated as anything more then speculation until it was backed up by evidence."

Oh and the fact that all the greatest scientific theories were thought up and defended before the due evidence had come back to support them can be treated as having no consequence for what our ideas should be on topics science can't cover? If that's the case don't say we should come up with scientific theories in matters science can cover, as just because they were theories that made sense to the mind shouldn't mean anything then. You are ignoring when convenient lessons we can learn from the type of answers science gives us. You are inconsistent then in claiming Occam's razor as pragmatic for our universe as why should we prefer scientific theory in it if we can willy nilly ignore the type of answers that work for it in other areas beyond science? One thing also is while you tell Orthoprax to reject philosophy as conclusive I must remind you scientific conclusions of people are also not conclusive and can be just as challengable. It is not true that science is a collection of facts. The facts are the data. You can't escape making conclusions and it is more likely to be right than if you avoid an answer or even a speculation to avoid being wrong. No answer or speculation postulated as the true response is for sure wrong as it doesn't bring you closer to truth but closer to nothing. You can't even have scientific hypothesis using your method. Forget about speculating.

S.O.S. said...

You've lost my RG. That or I have a problem comprehending you. All the same...

Rabban Gamliel said...

Sigh.

Orthoprax said...

SOS,

"Yes, but no great theory was treated as anything more then speculation until it was backed up by evidence."

Well, yes, technically. But lots of people take such speculative ideas very seriously even before they're granted 'consensus theory' status.

String theory, the Copenhagen interpretation, even the Multiverse are all concepts that await true fact-based demonstration.

"I wouldn't say I "prefer" the other ones (although it does help that Chaotic Inflation theory was thought up by a physicist and not a philosopher or a monk.) I have been arguing for them because I find them, at the very least, equally likely."

I see that. But I would suggest that if you really take a whole long look at the world, something like chaos being at the root of it all just doesn't ring true.

"The stance I do prefer is to say "I don't know" as this is by far the most honest stance."

Well, of course. Nobody knows and I freely say that about myself as well. But the point is about what you *believe*. I believe many things that I don't know to be true - and I believe you do as well.

"You only have to guess whats behind a locked door when you don't have the key. The most honest stance seems to be acknowledging that despite how good your guess may sound, it will probably be wrong"

I think that a poor analogy. We're not discussing particular characteristics of what may be behind existence, but of broad classifications. With a door the other side is most likely going to be a material universe similar to what's on the first side of the door. I can confidently believe this.

"I've actually given this area plenty of consideration. I would of considered myself an adherent to this kind of view until fairly recently."

So what happened?

"If you could convince me of some sort of pantheism I would actually be pretty grateful."

I think that depends more on you than anything I could do. Frankly, I think your problem is with basic epistemology than anything to do with metaphysics or ontology. Scientific skepticism is a great model for objective fact-building, but poor for a personal conception of life and reality - it just cannot or does not address those kinds of questions. And since it is incomplete we *know* that it is wrong in this global sense. Why choose that method of truth-seeking over less specific but more sensitive approaches within philosophy? Pantheism is a robust worldview that has few philosophical weaknesses.

"You seem to feel that "not knowing" is a weakness rather then a strength."

Yes, I think ignorance in general is something we should try to fill up with knowledge. And in the absence of knowledge, especially for matters that impact our fundamental understanding of the world and how we live our lives, we should work out the most reasonable conclusion and operate as though it is true until it's demonstrated otherwise.

S.O.S. said...

Orthoprax,

I'm enjoying this but unfortunately that means I'm going to have to do some more disagreeing :)

"String theory, the Copenhagen interpretation, even the Multiverse are all concepts that await true fact-based demonstration."

These theories are considered because of their mathematical consistency. Of course, no one besides a string theorist will use string theory to explain anything because so far it can not be verified scientifically. These are theories and very well may turn out to be wrong. I don't think anyone in these fields are under any illusion, hopes probably, but not illusions. Still, these are scientific theories and not philosophical ones, their value is tied to their explanatory power and not their utility to conscious beings.

"I see that. But I would suggest that if you really take a whole long look at the world, something like chaos being at the root of it all just doesn't ring true."

Your right, but things like "intention", "higher meaning" and "greater cause" don't ring true either.

"Well, of course. Nobody knows and I freely say that about myself as well. But the point is about what you *believe*. I believe many things that I don't know to be true - and I believe you do as well."

I am actually suggesting "admitted ignorance" as an epistemological stand. In this model beleif is not necessary although it may serve pragmatic purposes. Essentially not knowing is default rather than gap beliefs.

"I think that a poor analogy. We're not discussing particular characteristics of what may be behind existence, but of broad classifications. With a door the other side is most likely going to be a material universe similar to what's on the first side of the door. I can confidently believe this."

Yes you confidently believe that a similar universe is on the other side of the door, but someone else believes that what can only be described as "god" is on the other side. I can understand you claiming that evidence points to there being a similar universe on the other side of the room, I can't understand you claiming there is a causeless orderly entity there, a kind that has never been observed before.

"So what happened?"

It occurred to me that I had invented the whole unified conception on philosophical grounds in my own head. There was no evidence to back up anything in this theory, it just seemed very plausible to me and little could be said against it (the illusionary power of an unfalsifiable theory.) I also realized that my attachment to this theory came from a underlying fear of there being a world I couldn't understand. Upon reflection it became obvious that there is no reason for me to believe that I should be capable of an intuitive understanding of a world much beyond the realm of human existence. As much as I'd like to fight my limitation as a human, there really seems little I can do about this humbling reality.

"Frankly, I think your problem is with basic epistemology than anything to do with metaphysics or ontology. Scientific skepticism is a great model for objective fact-building, but poor for a personal conception of life and reality - it just cannot or does not address those kinds of questions."

I used to believe this, now I am not so certain. It appears that philosophy based on the scientific method has produced far more then philosophy based on reason alone. This seems like a paradigm shift to me. To go back to the old model may seem tempting in areas where our knowledge is lacking, but I see little justification for this.

However, I do have to mention that scientific skepticism is *not* my core epistemological model for "life and reality." I don't believe that people are scientific machines, as we make fairly poor scientific machines anyways (emotional distortions, memory misinformation, selective attention, ect.) Its more that we are experiencing machines with scientific decoding tools. I guess one way to describe my model for these areas is living, loving, learning and experiencing.

"Yes, I think ignorance in general is something we should try to fill up with knowledge. And in the absence of knowledge, especially for matters that impact our fundamental understanding of the world and how we live our lives, we should work out the most reasonable conclusion and operate as though it is true until it's demonstrated otherwise."

Perhaps I misunderstand you but that stance sounds dangerous. Your claiming that because we lack knowledge we should simply make up something that sounds reasonable? I could have imagined a phrenologist performing a dangerous brain surgery based on that same type of reasoning. That is the antithesis of science, to make up bad science to fill in the gaps of our knowledge.

What strikes me as really odd about your argument is that it actually is a theistic one in nature. "We can't prove or disprove god, so we are dealing with an area in which we have no knowledge. It is more reasonable to believe in god then not believe in him because he explains so many things that we can't otherwise explain (first cause, afterlife, ect.) Therefore we should accept god as the reasonable conclusion and operate as though it is true until it's demonstrated otherwise." Are you a theist?

Rabban Gamliel said...

"I can't understand you claiming there is a causeless orderly entity there, a kind that has never been observed before."

Have we observed other universes before. It is no argument to say that since we haven't seen something you can't introduce it. Science is full of such things. The fact is you are williong to postulate a causeless universe and remember this universe started with tremendous order. You are being inconsistent in your objection.

""So what happened?"

It occurred to me that I had invented the whole unified conception on philosophical grounds in my own head. There was no evidence to back up anything in this theory, it just seemed very plausible to me and little could be said against it (the illusionary power of an unfalsifiable theory.) I also realized that my attachment to this theory came from a underlying fear of there being a world I couldn't understand. Upon reflection it became obvious that there is no reason for me to believe that I should be capable of an intuitive understanding of a world much beyond the realm of human existence. As much as I'd like to fight my limitation as a human, there really seems little I can do about this humbling reality."

Then why believe science? The data is objective but if we are so dumb the explanations we come up with to explain the data should not be trusted. In both cases with theories we use in daily life and with theories we use in science we can base ourselves on repeatanble phenomena. The scientist doesn't need to use special instruments to see that the sun rises. We can postulate ideas far from our experience. That's what science does and it has been successful at it.If we take your attitude forget about science but we will never be wrong...or right. We would never learn anything.

s.o.s. said...

RG,

If I may ask, what is your intention with asking these questions? The reason I had pursued this discussion with orthoprax was because I was interested in having a god discussion with someone that had non-theistic conception of the entity. It seems from what I can tell that you are a straight out theist. Are you just trying to disprove my position or was there something you were hoping to learn though this discussion?

The fact is you are williong to postulate a causeless universe and remember this universe started with tremendous order. You are being inconsistent in your objection.

I am willing to postulate *absolutely anything*, a non-traditional concept of god being included. This is exactly my point, there are far too many possibilities to assume the veracity of a single conception until evidence is presented.

That's what science does and it has been successful at it.If we take your attitude forget about science but we will never be wrong...or right. We would never learn anything.

I think you must have a misunderstanding of my approach. Not only is it completely consistent with the scientific method, it compliments it.

Rabban Gamliel said...

"s.o.s. said...
RG,

If I may ask, what is your intention with asking these questions? The reason I had pursued this discussion with orthoprax was because I was interested in having a god discussion with someone that had non-theistic conception of the entity. It seems from what I can tell that you are a straight out theist. Are you just trying to disprove my position or was there something you were hoping to learn though this discussion?"

You commented so I responded. Nothing more, nothing less. I was disproving to my mind, not trying to.

"It seems from what I can tell that you are a straight out theist."

Define what you mean and then I can answer that question otherwise it's meaningless and sounds like (wrong headed) apologetics.

"I am willing to postulate *absolutely anything*, a non-traditional concept of god being included. This is exactly my point, there are far too many possibilities to assume the veracity of a single conception until evidence is presented."

We disagree about what is evidence but the moment you declare that there is a method of deciding what is evidence you contradict your noncommital attitude and then we differ on what we consider evidence. Because I am willing to entertain more as evidence than you I entertain less in the end. I consider logic and reason to be able to rule out a lot and postulate a lot. Why should logic and reason and likelihood reign in science but not in philosophy? If it worksd well in one area shouldn't it do well in general? I'm not saying it is for values but otherwise hell yeah.

Rabban Gamliel said...

Wasn't the whole idea of science to be audacious enough to think that we can actually know things about the universe? When did it become scientific to think the mind can't do that. I thought the latter idea is where myth stepped in.