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Worse than creationism: Dualism

post #1 of 195
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This article argues that people's belief in dualism is an ever greater problem than the belief in creationism:
Quote:
The second clash between common sense and reality concerns how we think about minds and brains. There is considerable evidence that people are natural-born dualists; we see ourselves as non-material things, separate from our brains. Common sense tells us that conscious experience and free will can exist without a brain at all, making it possible for the self to survive the destruction of the body, perhaps ascending to heaven, descending to hell, joining the spirit world, or occupying some other body, human or animal.
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But there is a difference between creationism and dualism. From the standpoint of law and public policy, creationism matters less. If every adult became a staunch Darwinian, it would make little difference for how we live our lives. Like the origin of the universe, the origin of the species is an issue of great intellectual importance and little practical relevance. In contrast, our beliefs about mind and brain matter a lotthey bear on such issues as abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia, cloning, cosmetic psychopharmacology, and the legal definition of insanity.

A dualist world-view, for example, makes it sensible to draw sharp lines with regard to abortion and animal rights, differentiating creatures on the basis of whether or not they have souls. It also makes possible a distinction between actions caused by a person and those caused by a brain, leading to the excuse we can call to use Michael Gazzaniga's nice phrase "My brain made me do it."

The problem is that dualism is mistaken. Science tells us that the brain is the source of mental life. While there is no accepted theory as to how a physical thing can give rise to conscious experience and some scholars are skeptical that we will ever have such a theory it is clear that Cartesian dualism is wrong, as wrong as creationism.

I believe that the mind is nothing more than the brain. But it's difficult to really believe it, because it feels so different. My guess is that he's right, that most people are dualists, and this leads to all kinds of beliefs inconsistent with reductive materialism - souls, afterlife, etc.

Are you a dualist? Is this really as bad of a belief as this author makes it out, worse than creationism?
post #2 of 195
I just spent a couple of days talking about this in one of my classes. I introduced them to Plato's Allegory of the Cave, which they all thought was stupid, then I talked a little bit about the idea of metaphysics, which they thought was insane.

And then I said "I am MORE than my physical body! I am my mind! My body is just a vehicle for my mind!"

And they said "Yeah, and?"
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post #3 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Are you a dualist? Is this really as bad of a belief as this author makes it out, worse than creationism?

This is no worse than thousands of generations of occidentals who have slaughtered and tortured "soulless" animals because they lack our "spiritual essence."

The most interesting explanation that I've heard about human exceptionalism is the linguistic one: that we are special and advanced and "beyond this realm" because everything we know or think we know is based on our ability to create symbols, an artificial reality, through language.

The most personally satisfactory / verifiable description of human essence is the Buddha's five aggregates. I can think of nothing that my brain does that falls outside of those five things.

--B
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post #4 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Are you a dualist? Is this really as bad of a belief as this author makes it out, worse than creationism?

I don't know that I'd label myself one way or the other, because the distinction between mind and brain can be a matter of context.

If one thinks of the brain as analogous to a computer, the mind can be thought of as the software running on that computer -- there's nothing mystical or superstitious about making the distinction that way. Of course, since patterns of the mind influence the physical structure of the brain, the distinction isn't quite so sharp as in the case of computers and software.

To go a bit sci-fi, it's not totally inconceivable that someday we might be able to store a mind outside of a brain, and then either copy that mind into another brain or "run" that mind from within a compatible simulator.

Then, of course, all the wonderful sci-fi dilemmas regarding the meaning of "self" follow.

In the here and now, I'd certainly hope a court would make a distinction between "mind" and "brain" if I were to have committed a crime under the influence of a brain injury or brain tumor, especially if the problem had been rectified and the danger posed to others had been removed. "I" wouldn't feel that it was "me" who was totally responsible for how a defect in my brain caused my mind to operate.
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #5 of 195
As an aside: BRussell...have you read Julian Jaynes's The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? I had an interesting discussion with one of my psych colleagues about it the other day, and I'm curious about whether there was a point at which the brain side of the mind/body dualism wasn't at work....that is, whether it was, at some point, all mind and no brain.
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post #6 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
I don't know that I'd label myself one way or the other, because the distinction between mind and brain can be a matter of context.

If one thinks of the brain as analogous to a computer, the mind can be thought of as the software running on that computer -- there's nothing mystical or superstitious about making the distinction that way. Of course, since patterns of the mind influence the physical structure of the brain, the distinction isn't quite so sharp as in the case of computers and software.

To go a bit sci-fi, it's not totally inconceivable that someday we might be able to store a mind outside of a brain, and then either copy that mind into another brain or "run" that mind from within a compatible simulator.

Then, of course, all the wonderful sci-fi dilemmas regarding the meaning of "self" follow.

In the here and now, I'd certainly hope a court would make a distinction between "mind" and "brain" if I were to have committed a crime under the influence of a brain injury or brain tumor, especially if the problem had been rectified and the danger posed to others had been removed. "I" wouldn't feel that it was "me" who was totally responsible for how a defect in my brain caused my mind to operate.

I like the software-hardware analogy, but like you say, it can mislead into a dualism that I don't think exists. I prefer to think of the mind as what the brain feels like. Consciousness is that (small) slice of brain activity that we can experience.

But I've got a question for you: You said "patterns of the mind influence the physical structure of the brain" - could it be the other way around instead? Can the mind really influence the brain, or is that just an illusion?
post #7 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
As an aside: BRussell...have you read Julian Jaynes's The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind? I had an interesting discussion with one of my psych colleagues about it the other day, and I'm curious about whether there was a point at which the brain side of the mind/body dualism wasn't at work....that is, whether it was, at some point, all mind and no brain.

I read that in college, but it's been a while now. I even went to one of his talks back about 12 years ago. Frankly, despite being a cognitive psychologist, I've never heard a real psychologist ever talk about that book.

But I'm not sure what you mean by no brain. Obviously humans have always had brains, so do you mean that we had these brains but then the mind came into the picture on its own, kind of like Jaynes suggests (if memory serves)? I don't know. As a reductive materialist, I believe that as long as the hardware is there, you're going to have mind. Take away the necessary brain parts and you're not going to have mind. Put some of them in there, but not all, and you're going to have mind but less of it.
post #8 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
I read that in college, but it's been a while now. I even went to one of his talks back about 12 years ago. Frankly, despite being a cognitive psychologist, I've never heard a real psychologist ever talk about that book.

But I'm not sure what you mean by no brain. Obviously humans have always had brains, so do you mean that we had these brains but then the mind came into the picture on its own, kind of like Jaynes suggests (if memory serves)? I don't know. As a reductive materialist, I believe that as long as the hardware is there, you're going to have mind. Take away the necessary brain parts and you're not going to have mind. Put some of them in there, but not all, and you're going to have mind but less of it.

I wasn't clear enough. What I meant was whether there was a point at which there might not have been this "split" in the notion of consciousness/selfthat is, whether it was possible that there was at some point no locus for the consciousness that was physical, or has consciousness always been identified with some part of the body (yes yes, I know about spleen and whatnot...I'm asking whether there might have been a point at which the idea of consciousness being located at some place inside the body would have been preposterous, and if, perhaps, there was a point at which consciousness was self was body and so on, and not consciousness was riding along inside some part of the body.)

Edit: And I should say that when I talked to my colleague, I held up the book and said "do you know this book?" "Yes." "Is he insane?" Pause. "I take it from your silence that that's a 'yes.'"

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post #9 of 195
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Oh I see, you're talking about where people perceived the mind to be located, if anywhere. I don't know, but is it really perceived to be in the brain even today? I mean really - not just "yeah yeah I know" but really felt to be there.

I'd be interested in cultural differences on this question too. Is the Indian-Chinese-Japanese tradition dualist?
post #10 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Oh I see, you're talking about where people perceived the mind to be located, if anywhere. I don't know, but is it really perceived to be in the brain even today? I mean really - not just "yeah yeah I know" but really felt to be there.

I'd be interested in cultural differences on this question too. Is the Indian-Chinese-Japanese tradition dualist?

The reason I ask, and I'm a bit reluctant to go into too much detail about this here, is that I keep wondering whether something happened in the early 18th century in Western Europe to change, in a fundamental way, how we thought about the notion of the self.

I think you're right. I think that, even now, we don't really think about the self as "located" in the brain. It's something else...something much more metaphysical.
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post #11 of 195
Hmm. I know and feel very vividly that my mind is inside my skull. Before I open my eyes in the morning I am very much aware that my foot is further away from "me" than my shoulder for instance. My mind is my brain, no doubt about it, not even on a "feel"-level.

I think its because the most of my senses is located around on my head: hearing, sight, and the sense of smell and taste. And we can even recognize that the sense of touch is registered in the brain by crued manipulation of our nerve cells. Headaches helps a great deal too since it affects our abilities to think more than any other everyday deceases. And of course it also helps having seen MR scannings of people doing different kind of thinkings.

I don´t say that everybody would come to the same conclusion based on all that. You at least need the suggestion that the brain is you and then you can add up all your own evidence to really believe it.
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post #12 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
The reason I ask, and I'm a bit reluctant to go into too much detail about this here, is that I keep wondering whether something happened in the early 18th century in Western Europe to change, in a fundamental way, how we thought about the notion of the self.

I think you're right. I think that, even now, we don't really think about the self as "located" in the brain. It's something else...something much more metaphysical.

Do you mean something like Physiognomy (face-based)
Quote:
English physician and philosopher Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), whose Religio Medici Lavater read and praised. Browne discusses in this work the possibility of the discernment of inner qualities from the outer appearance of the face thus:

there is surely a Physiognomy, which those experienced and Master Mendicants observe....For there are mysyically in our faces certain Characters which carry in them the motto of our Souls, wherein he that cannot read A.B.C. may read our natures. (R.M. part 2:2)

Late in his life Browne affirmed his physiognomical beliefs stating in his Christian Morals (circa 1675):

Since the Brow speaks often true, since Eyes and Noses have Tongues, and the countenance proclaims the heart and inclinations; let observation so far instruct thee in Physiognomical lines....we often observe that Men do most act those Creatures, whose constitution, parts, and complexion do most predominate in their mixtures. This is a corner-stone in Physiognomy...there are therefore Provincial Faces, National Lips and Noses, which testify not only the Natures of those Countries, but of those which have them elsewhere. (C.M. Part 2 section 9)

and/or Phrenology (skull-based)?
Quote:
Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and very popular in the 19th century, it is now discredited as a pseudoscience. Phrenology has however received credit as a protoscience for having contributed to medical science the ideas that the brain is the organ of the mind and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions.

For the Skeptic's Dictionary view (with more dates and references), read their entries on physiognomy and phrenology
Quote:
Although phrenology has been thoroughly discredited and has been recognized as having no scientific merit, it still has its advocates. It remained popular, especially in the United States, throughout the 19th century and it gave rise to several other pseudoscientific characterologies...

Or were you specifically looking for earlier references? (Wiki notes some Greek philosophical interest)
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post #13 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
This article argues that people's belief in dualism is an ever greater problem than the belief in creationism

I am actually sort of shocked that there is anything worse than believing in creationism. I almost could not stand I was so shocked. I pretty much thought that belief in creationism was about as dumb, moronic, ignorant, etc. one could be. Well...other than a belief in God perhaps.

It is interesting to note the article's source...the American Psychological Society. Are we to assume from this, that their position is that belief in Creationism (as well as dualism) is a psychological disorder?

On to the article...

A great line: "Both intuitive creationism and intuitive dualism have social consequences." I would agree...but not with what the author says the consequences are.

Funny article actually.

post #14 of 195
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
The reason I ask, and I'm a bit reluctant to go into too much detail about this here, is that I keep wondering whether something happened in the early 18th century in Western Europe to change, in a fundamental way, how we thought about the notion of the self.

It makes sense to me. That's right after Descartes and during the real heyday of the scientific revolution and the enlightenment. We started thinking in terms of actually being able to understand the world, and religion - a dualistic notion if there ever was one - started becoming less of a presumption.
post #15 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Cuilla
I am actually sort of shocked that there is anything worse than believing in creationism. I almost could not stand I was so shocked. I pretty much thought that belief in creationism was about as dumb, moronic, ignorant, etc. one could be. Well...other than a belief in God perhaps.

It is interesting to note the article's source...the American Psychological Society. Are we to assume from this, that their position is that belief in Creationism (as well as dualism) is a psychological disorder?

On to the article...

A great line: "Both intuitive creationism and intuitive dualism have social consequences." I would agree...but not with what the author says the consequences are.

Funny article actually.


Look out, here come the victims.

You actually ought to look at that issue of the APS Observer. I'm a member, so I got it in the mail, and it's an issue devoted to psychology and religion. The lead editorial is that "Science and Religion Should not be Adversaries."

Quote:
It is vitally important, though, that we not fall into the trap of allowing anyone to pit science against religious beliefs. For most people, science and religion can and do co-exist quite comfortably. Many scientists are religious, and followers of most religions have no major conflicts with modern scientific thought. It is, as always, the zealots at the extremes who cause most of the problems. Some biblical literalists are threatened by the answers being provided by modern science. And there is a group of "evangelical atheists" who believe science can or has disproved the existence of a god. From my perspective, both are equally wrong-headed.

There's another piece by David Myers, who's a religious psychologist and studies psychology and religion, focusing on the benefits of religion.
Quote:
Like most people of faith, I start with two axioms: 1) there is a God, and 2) it's not me and it's not you. If, indeed, humans are finite and fallible creatureswith dignity but not deitythen some of our beliefs are sure to err. We had therefore best hold our own untested beliefs tentatively, assess others' beliefs with open-minded skepticism, and, when appropriate, use observation and experimentation to winnow error from truth.

Historians of science report that faith-based humility and skepticism helped fuel the beginnings of modern science. As part of a religious tradition that calls itself "ever-reforming," this science-supportive attitude not only tolerates my participation in free-spirited scientific inquiry, it mandates such. The whole truth cannot be found merely by searching our own minds. So, we also test our ideas. If they survive, so much the better for them; if not, so much the worse.

So maybe everyone isn't out to get you or call you stupid.
post #16 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
It makes sense to me. That's right after Descartes and during the real heyday of the scientific revolution and the enlightenment. We started thinking in terms of actually being able to understand the world, and religion - a dualistic notion if there ever was one - started becoming less of a presumption.

It gets even wackier than that: all more or less at once, in the generation or so immediately after Descartes, we get Locke and Hume talking about the relationship between memory and the selfso much so that Locke, I believe, says that you're only conscious (and therefore a self) so far back as you can remember). And then, right around the same time in England (and exacerbated tremendously by the American Revolution), there is a MASSIVE rethinking of the prison systemthey become houses of correction instead of places of punishment. People's narratives, in other words, can be edited.

And the really weird thing? This is also when the first English novels appear. All in a generation. And those novels? Generally first-person narration. Robinson Crucoe. Joseph Andrews. Pamela. Shamela. Tom Jones. Moll Flanders. Fanny Hill (porn).

So what I'm wondering is this: before people thought about themselves as stories, how did they think about themselves? Before you were the result of your memories (say, for the ancient Greeks, when you were what you DID, not what you thought), how did people think about themselves?

It's not like it's such a whacky thing. We know that there are strange delays in cognitive development where, for instance, if you ask a child "which word is bigger, 'car' or 'television'?" that they'll say "car" because they think through the semiotics of it all.

Rambling now. Must. Stop.
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post #17 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
And there is a group of "evangelical atheists" who believe science can or has disproved the existence of a god. From my perspective, both are equally wrong-headed.

Equally wrong headed? So people have to believe that the possibility exists that the Flying Spagetti Monster created the universe, or else they are wrong headed? Do they have to acknowledge the possibility of every conceivable human myth being true? The Earth on the back of an invisible turtle?

There is no evidence to support the existence of a god, so believing that there is no god is no more "wrong headed" than believing that there aren't any fire gnomes living in the sun.
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post #18 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Look out, here come the victims.



Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
So maybe everyone isn't out to get you or call you stupid.

Never said everyone was out to get me. Not that paranoid.

Of course you did start the thread with a reference to an article that "argues that people's belief in dualism is an ever greater problem than the belief in creationism"...immediately suggesting that belief in creationism is a "problem".
post #19 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
Equally wrong headed? So people have to believe that the possibility exists that the Flying Spagetti Monster created the universe, or else they are wrong headed? Do they have to acknowledge the possibility of every conceivable human myth being true? The Earth on the back of an invisible turtle?

There is no evidence to support the existence of a god, so believing that there is no god is no more "wrong headed" than believing that there aren't any fire gnomes living in the sun.

You don't have to believe it or even hold out the possibility that it's true, but it would be wrong to say that any specific research (e.g., in evolutionary biology) has disproven it.
post #20 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
You don't have to believe it or even hold out the possibility that it's true, but it would be wrong to say that any specific research (e.g., in evolutionary biology) has disproven it.

Only if you don't consider Occam's Razor to be important to the scientific method.

Explaining things via devine intervention makes the whole system more complex, because the dieity must be more complex than the evolutionary system it replaces.
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post #21 of 195
I don't think you guys are using "dualism" in the traditional sense (or am I missing something?).

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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post #22 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by dmz
I don't think you guys are using "dualism" in the traditional sense (or am I missing something?).

Maybe there are other kinds of dualism, but I think it's clear that we're talking about dualism in the context of the mind-body problem. In that context, dualism means the belief that mind and body are fundamentally distinct things, as opposed to the belief that they are the same. What is the traditional sense that you're talking about?
post #23 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Maybe there are other kinds of dualism, but I think it's clear that we're talking about dualism in the context of the mind-body problem. In that context, dualism means the belief that mind and body are fundamentally distinct things, as opposed to the belief that they are the same. What is the traditional sense that you're talking about?

Indeed. I was just wondering the same thing.
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post #24 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Maybe there are other kinds of dualism, but I think it's clear that we're talking about dualism in the context of the mind-body problem. In that context, dualism means the belief that mind and body are fundamentally distinct things, as opposed to the belief that they are the same. What is the traditional sense that you're talking about?

Dualism a la Zoroastrianism or Manichaeism.

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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post #25 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
Only if you don't consider Occam's Razor to be important to the scientific method.

Does Occam's razor mean that more complex things are false? It seems to me that usually things are a lot more complex and not nearly as neat as they originally appear. The orbit of the planets isn't a circle, pi isn't equal to 3.0, etc.
Quote:
Explaining things via devine intervention makes the whole system more complex, because the dieity must be more complex than the evolutionary system it replaces.

Is divine intervention really more complex? It seems a lot simpler than reality to me. Saying that God put everyone here sure seems simpler than evolution.
post #26 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by dmz
Dualism a la Zoroastrianism or Manichaeism.

So, a religious dualism - what is it, body and soul? Or good and evil? Aaron Burr's favorite past time?
post #27 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Does Occam's razor mean that more complex things are false? It seems to me that usually things are a lot more complex and not nearly as neat as they originally appear. The orbit of the planets isn't a circle, pi isn't equal to 3.0, etc.
Is divine intervention really more complex? It seems a lot simpler than reality to me. Saying that God put everyone here sure seems simpler than evolution.

It means that you can safely ignore more complex explinations unless they provide a more complete match with observed behaviour. If you want to have a more complex hypothesis accepted, the burden of proof is on you - but you don't have to prove it wrong to rationally disbelieve.

Devine intervention is incredibly complex - you are ignoring how complex the actual god has to be, you can't just look at the works of the god and ignore the complexity of the actor.
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post #28 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by dmz
Dualism a la Zoroastrianism or Manichaeism.

Yeah. That's the one that comes to mind when talking about the mind/body split.
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post #29 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
Devine intervention is incredibly complex - you are ignoring how complex the actual god has to be, you can't just look at the works of the god and ignore the complexity of the actor.

Huh?
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post #30 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Huh?

A god is a complex being, much more complex than a human, for example.
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post #31 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
So, a religious dualism - what is it, body and soul? Or good and evil? Aaron Burr's favorite past time?

I don't see how you can use admittedly purely contingent tools to describe transcendent ideas. It's a contradiction.

In our desire to impose form on the world we have lost the capacity to see the form that is there;
and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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and in that lies not liberation but alienation, the cutting off from things as they really are. --...

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post #32 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
A god is a complex being, much more complex than a human, for example.

Begs the question.
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post #33 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Begs the question.

Not at all. If you are thinking of a god that can create the universe, while being a simple creature at the same time, then you are way beyond the pale.

Everything that we know points to an increase in complexity that corresponds to an increase in intelligence. God looks to be infinitely intelligent (omniessent and infallible), so should be infinately complex.
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post #34 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
Not at all. If you are thinking of a god that can create the universe, while being a simple creature at the same time, then you are way beyond the pale.

Again. It begs the question.
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post #35 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Again. It begs the question.

When I am talking about an imaginary god, it is hard not to.
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post #36 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
When I am talking about an imaginary god, it is hard not to.

If that's supposed to be a dig at me being some kind of Godless somethingorother or believer-hater, you're digging in the wrong patch of ground.

But your point stands: you are trying to act as if God is some sort of empirically provable thing, which, for my money, is not only impossible without resorting to all kinds of logical and rhetorical gymnastics, but is tremendously dangerous: it destroys the necessity of faith and attempts to transform God into something as mundane as gravity.
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post #37 of 195
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Quote:
Originally posted by e1618978
It means that you can safely ignore more complex explinations unless they provide a more complete match with observed behaviour. If you want to have a more complex hypothesis accepted, the burden of proof is on you - but you don't have to prove it wrong to rationally disbelieve.

But look at the original quote again: "And there is a group of "evangelical atheists" who believe science can or has disproved the existence of a god." It's not saying that people should believe in x, it's saying that we haven't disproved x. I agree with that.

And, to bring it out of the abstract, I do think that some scientists have argued that research has disproven Christianity or religion. I think it's safe to say that some religious beliefs have been disproven (e.g., that 10,000 years ago God put us all here on the planet as is). But it hasn't disproven Christianity or religion. In fact, I'd argue that it would be virtually impossible to disprove them. It can always change if it needs to, in response to whatever science finds out.
post #38 of 195
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
Begs the question.

Wow, you're using that phrase with the correct meaning. That might be a first on the internet.
post #39 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by BRussell
Wow, you're using that phrase with the correct meaning. That might be a first on the internet.

Lemme check...


/me runs over to the internets's archive....


Nope. It seems that in October of 1996 on alt.ensign.wesley.crusher.die.die.die there was a spirited discussion about whether or not someone used the term correctly. They were, unfortunately, unable to come to a conclusion about its meaning, as they tend to hide that kind of information in books.
Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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Gangs are not seen as legitimate, because they don't have control over public schools.
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post #40 of 195
Quote:
Originally posted by midwinter
If that's supposed to be a dig at me being some kind of Godless somethingorother or believer-hater, you're digging in the wrong patch of ground.

But your point stands: you are trying to act as if God is some sort of empirically provable thing, which, for my money, is not only impossible without resorting to all kinds of logical and rhetorical gymnastics, but is tremendously dangerous: it destroys the necessity of faith and attempts to transform God into something as mundane as gravity.

Wait a minute - I am the godless somethingorother...

Weather or not god is a physical being, I don't see how you can think that it simplifies a complex process to say "god did it". Adding a god to a process makes it more complex, even if you think it is a sin to look under the hood and see what makes that god tick.

Regardless of what the god is made from, astral ether or whatever, the result is the same - you have to be orders of magnitude more complex than the world that you manipulate.

And why is it dangerous to remove the requirement of faith? That is kind of like saying that it is dangerous to remove ignorance. If there is a god that has no detectable physical impact that we can see, then there is no reason to believe that he exists.
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