Do you believe in free will? - Page 4

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View Poll Results: Does free will exist
Yes 20 80.00%
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Old 12-18-2009, 06:26 PM   #61 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ArmChairGM View Post
BUMP.
Discussing this issue with religious people is pointless because, to varying degrees, they believe in the supernatural, substance dualism and host of other garbage that falls outside the realm of science and concrete observation (even on a speculative level).
I'd like to know your thoughts on the pre-big bang, singularity, strings or whatever you believe was the beginning of the universe as we know it, within the constraints of time that we believe.

I would like to know your explanation on "the beginning" of everything (ie.. the universe).
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Old 12-18-2009, 06:38 PM   #62 (permalink)
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Wow.... I feel like I just stepped into an upper level philosophy course. lol.

Going to have to take some time getting caught up on this one.
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Old 12-18-2009, 09:23 PM   #63 (permalink)
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I'll see if I can keep the ball rolling. I've spent more time investigating free will and determinism since this thread.

I think it is best to approach the problem by looking at determinism first. When we talk about determinism, we mean that there is a causal chain that exists between everything. When we make a choice, that choice is influenced by what you believe, which is influenced by everything you've experienced. The choice may be influenced by emotions, which are influenced by your environment and, again, your past experiences.

So let's ask for a second what it would mean for the world to be non-determinist. This would be truly random, and gets us no closer to free will. When we make a choice, we weigh these influences against each other and make what appears to be a conscious decision. If our choice was not determined by past events or influences, then we have as much control over our choices as we do the results of a toss of dice, for we would indeed have no reason to expect or desire any one choice over another. So in this sense, I think we must agree that determinism is likely true.

So how does this work with free will? Review what I said about determinism: whether the world is determined or not, we're still no closer to free will as conventionally defined. So what exactly are we saying when we talk of free will? The only sensible way in which I can define free will is that we are free to act in the way that has been determined; we have the volition to do what we want to do, without some sort of impinging outside force, which is determined by our past experience. I should re-iterate that when I speak of past experience, I mean every single experience, thought, emotion prior to the choice being made.

n this light, I think that we can say that free will and determinism are compatible, which is why I would present myself as a compatibilist. If we define free will in a different way, as some way of being directly opposed to determinism, then I would have to move to a position of incompatibilism and side with determinism, since this definition of free will seems to me an impossibility.

So now on to the question of how one's metaphysics shapes their view on this topic. To address atheism specifically (as an atheist myself), I would say first of all that atheism doesn't necessitate a materialist or philosophical naturalist position; an atheist disbelieves in one particular type of supernatural entity, but may believe in ghosts, as an example. I think that when we compare the epistemology behind each type of claim, I think there's some inconsistency in holding such a position, but all we can ascertain from the word atheist is that they don't believe the theistic claim. So I think it is best to say this is a question of how a philosophical naturalist, materialist, or physicalist (essentially synonymous terms) accounts for free will. For clarity's sake, I subscribe to naturalism.

Is there a natural account for free will? Again, we still come back to this problem of definition as discussed above. I personally feel that if we define free will as I chose to define it, then there is a perfectly natural account of free will. If you define it otherwise, then I don't think there's a natural account for free will, though this still does not preclude there being one.

To say that the soul or consciousness can be attributed to some supernatural force is, to me, a complete non-answer. What we are really doing is putting a place-holder in for an area of knowledge in which we are but lowly amateurs. I think the naturalist can confidently say the following:

Though there be no natural account of X (say, consciousness) yet, there is no well-defined or demonstrated supernatural account of it, either. We know or are reasonably certain that the natural world exists. Past precedent has shown that natural explanations are increasingly adequate for that which we do not understand. Though we know that there is no guarantee that natural explanations will eventually explain everything, it is reasonable to say that we don't know for certain, but hold reasonable belief until anything supernatural is demonstrated.

In simpler terms, there is a far more real dualism to be considered here: what we're reasonably certain we know of (material), and what we don't know enough about (the unknown). I subscribe to the position that what we don't know is not synonymous with the supernatural, and thus only the position of naturalism is a tenable one given our understanding so far.

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Old 12-18-2009, 11:00 PM   #64 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArmChairGM
Although Cory was not doing a good job of articulating the position
I'm not naive enough to think that you need to draw on science to prove the illusion of free will. I realize some people need to be bamboozled by complexity and eloquence in order to submit to an argument, but wise people simplify without destroying the truth.

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Originally Posted by ArmChairGM
Cory should have phrased things differently
lol dude, you are a riot.

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Originally Posted by ArmChairGM
Cory was dumb for saying logic predetermines things, since there are multiple logical answers to questions.
Nice Straw man!

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Originally Posted by ArmChairGM
See, Cory never mentioned consciousness once. Not once.
?? I talked about reasoning and emotions. How is that not talking about consciousness?

If you do reply, please try to be concise and avoid long rants, I'm interested in a discussion, not a lecture.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:13 AM   #65 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cory
If you do reply, please try to be concise and avoid long rants, I'm interested in a discussion, not a lecture.
Okay, Cory, let's have a chat. But you know as well as I do that I can't promise I won't lecture. It's not meant to come across that way, but I can't control how one will experience my posts. And, seriously, dude, you did the same line by line crap that you pulled with Trane. You take words completely out of context. It's ridiculous when you do it so much. It's funny, though, in a way. I saw your post and I was like....wtf...lol!

You said:

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Originally Posted by Cory View Post
I'm not naive enough to think that you need to draw on science to prove the illusion of free will. I realize some people need to be bamboozled by complexity and eloquence in order to submit to an argument, but wise people simplify without destroying the truth.
Congratulations. You see the illusion. Pat yourself on the back. Oh, wait, you can't because it was determined that you would see the illusion. No reason for you to take so much pride in your views, Cory, given that you didn't "will" them; they were determined. Cory, if you're not naive to think you need science to prove free will, why did you use the analogy of computers which are rooted in science? Why use scientific language at one point? Since you drawed on that scientific based analogy, what the fuck is the point?

When communicating an idea to a person, you need to try and convey it in a manner they will acknowledge, if possible. Sometimes there are types of constraints that prevent that. I think it's fair to say that you don't necessarily need science to prove the illusion of free will (depends on how you define it, though. Semantics can be a problem.), but many aspects of science DO support your position, Cory. If aspects of science support your position, and you're speaking to someone who respects the scientific method (such as Trane, in this instance), why not incorporate those other scientific points into your argument in order to better convery your position? Why not elaborate further on the analogy of processing unit doing computations? If you're going to bring up the analogy, you might as well back it up with the best explanation you can come up with.

Then you said:

Quote:
lol dude, you are a riot.
That was in response to me saying you could have "phrased things differently." Do you disagree? I could have expressed all of my thoughts better than I did. And in a different manner than I did. In fact, that's why I apologized at the end of my post for being so convoluted. Furthermore, my point about the "delayed feed" is obviously not necessary to recognize the illusion of free will. If I could do the post over, I would just leave it out, since it sort of ditracts from the causal chain argument. I think knowing about the delayed feed is important, to a degree, though, because it touches on the fact that humans are governed by certain physical laws. There is no way for someone arguing in favour of free will to get around those physical laws, unless they start incorporating the supernatural. I'm quite sure others could express this view much better than I could.

Legeia did a much better job of explaining determinism than I did. If she/he wanted to say that I could have phrased things differently/better in various parts of my post, I would have absolutely no problem with that.


You said:

Quote:
Nice Straw man!
Yeah, after rereading the exchange between you and Trane, I think you actually should have been left out of that part of my post. I simply should have restated what you tried to explain, which was the primary purpose of that section. See, you were not dumb at all, but the way you explained your position, left room for someone unfamiliar with your determinist outlook to misinterpret how you were talking about logic. In fact, I am familiar with your determinist outlook, and I possibly misinterpreted what you meant by logic, at least initially. It is reasonable to conclude that you were trying to convey that the manner in which logic is done has a personal quality. My apologies for suggesting you (or your manner of conveying the point) were dumb.

Then you said:

Quote:
?? I talked about reasoning and emotions. How is that not talking about consciousness?
No. Cory, I meant the literal word "concsiousness", not talking about aspects of consciousness. In that part of the post, my saying you didn't mention concsiousness isn't meant as a slight against you. When placed in the whole context of the paragraph, you can see that it's me trying to work out whether or not Trane was completely dodging Legeia's scientific point about "consciousness." See, I was assuming that if Trane was intending his response to be directed at both of you, then he would have used the word "consciousness." He was calling Legeia's post "a misdirection at best." But I wasn't certain if he was talking about the whole post, or just the part that used similar language to what you said. The part of my post that you clipped off is an example of me expressing my ideas in a way that can be interpreted more than one way. Language can be a motherfucker sometimes. But you removing quotes from context only further obfuscates the root of the miscommunication, Cory. If you want to clear shit up, pulling people's words out of context doesn't help get at the truth, that you claim to hold so dear. It makes it far more difficult. It's kind of funny when you clip people's words down, but it's not useful for sorting out miscommunications/misunderstandings.

Finally, you said:

Quote:
If you do reply, please try to be concise and avoid long rants, I'm interested in a discussion, not a lecture.
I doubt this will meet your standards for concision. And, to be honest, given your attitude, I don't really care. If you were really interested in sorting things out (which would be the reason for a discussion), you wouldn't clip people's quotes out of context. This isn't the first time you've done it. And given the fact that you admitted you think people do things for selfish reasons, it begs the question of what your true motivations are for doing that.

If you reply, I dont care if you rant, since I'm interested in a discussion and want you to use the amount of words you feel are required to convey your thoughts.

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Old 12-19-2009, 11:29 AM   #66 (permalink)
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I'm interested in ur answers to my question above AC GM.
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Old 12-19-2009, 12:10 PM   #67 (permalink)
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ArmChairGM,

Quote:
In fact, I am familiar with your determinist outlook, and I possibly misinterpreted what you meant by logic, at least initially. It is reasonable to conclude that you were trying to convey that the manner in which logic is done has a personal quality. My apologies for suggesting you (or your manner of conveying the point) were dumb.
Ok, well no worries pal.

Quote:
No. Cory, I meant the literal word "concsiousness", not talking about aspects of consciousness. In that part of the post, my saying you didn't mention consciousness isn't meant as a slight against you. When placed in the whole context of the paragraph, you can see that it's me trying to work out whether or not Trane was completely dodging Legeia's scientific point about "consciousness." See, I was assuming that if Trane was intending his response to be directed at both of you, then he would have used the word "consciousness." He was calling Legeia's post "a misdirection at best." But I wasn't certain if he was talking about the whole post, or just the part that used similar language to what you said. The part of my post that you clipped off is an example of me expressing my ideas in a way that can be interpreted more than one way. Language can be a motherfucker sometimes. But you removing quotes from context only further obfuscates the root of the miscommunication, Cory. If you want to clear shit up, pulling people's words out of context doesn't help get at the truth, that you claim to hold so dear. It makes it far more difficult. It's kind of funny when you clip people's words down, but it's not useful for sorting out miscommunications/misunderstandings.
Ok, I'll try to be more skillful at clipping in the future.
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Old 12-19-2009, 10:58 PM   #68 (permalink)
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IMO Life is essentially meaningless, aside from the meaning you apply through your free will (doctrine of existentialism)..We're immersed in a random confluence of nothingness, yet have the ability, through the volitional decisions me make, to apply as little or as much meaning we desire within the physical laws that govern us. However, those decisions are sparked by arbitrary neurological signals in your brain...Did some external force coerce me into having two bowls of cereal this morning, or was it of my own conciousness, or was it just random neurological signals influencing me?..
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Old 12-19-2009, 11:57 PM   #69 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ArmChairGM View Post
Lonewolfpoet, are you an atheist? Or are you saying that you "choose" to excercise a "free will" that you believe God gave you? Just seeking clarification.
Atheism does not necessarily always have to be equated to the notion of free will..I consider myself an existentialist, but not an outright atheist. I don't run around claiming god is dead or anything. Too completely deny one end of the spectrum is narrowminded IMO..If I do believe in a god though, it's in a 'deistic' fashion. That is to say, god created the universe in a non fatalist manner and implemented the fundamental physical laws that govern us, but does not intervene..at all. Lets face it, if god does and has always intervened, than he would make a horrific GM..

I agree with LoneWolf..and I'll quote the exalted George Contanza to build upon his statement: "it's not a lie if you truly believe it". It all depends on how you choose to define freewill. Basically, I wouldn't endorse taking into account the potentially pseudo works of scientists regarding the abilites of the brain to surmise an opinion. It's subject to too much fabrication.

Just follow the ways of Thomas Falsetta and these metaphysical queries will no longer trouble you..

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Old 12-20-2009, 12:35 AM   #70 (permalink)
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For clarity's sake, atheism isn't a claim that there is no god (a knowledge claim), but simply a lack of belief in the theistic claim (a belief claim). You have the epistemological claim of whether you can know (gnosticism vs agnosticism) and the theological claim of what you believe (theism vs atheism). Of course these are semantics, but this is how I would define the various positions:

1. Gnostic Theist - Someone who is certain that god exists
2. Agnostic Theist - Someone who is not certain that god exists but believes there is either enough evidence or good enough reason to believe in god
3. Gnostic ("Strong") Atheist - Someone who is certain that no god exists
4. Agnostic ("Weak") Atheist - Someone who is not certain that no god exists but believes there is insufficient evidence or reason to believe in god
5. Anti-theist - Someone who finds the concept of god dangerous or harmful and would not believe in god regardless
6. Deist - Someone who feels that god created the universe and its laws but does not intervene or operate on personal revelation

Even an atheist like Richard Dawkins, who is often called shrill and strident, falls into the 4th category of "weak" atheism, and I subscribe to it, too. I think it's the most intellectually honest position, though I really hold no quarrel with deists other than that we differ in opinion on an essentially irrelevant area of our epistemology.

So far we've looked at how an atheist (or more specifically, a naturalist) might account for what we often call "free will". I think, though, that it is interesting to look at it from the religious perspective.

Free will is incredibly important to the three main monotheistic religions. These religions claim an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent creator who cares about the outcome of humans. Now historically, an interesting challenge to these omni-premises is that of the presence of evil in the world. It is often credited to the philosopher Epicurus, and I'll sum it up roughly as:

If god is willing but unable, then he is not omnipotent.
If god is able but not willing, then he is malevolent.
If god is neither able nor willing, then why call him god?

Often called the problem of evil, it has a religious apologist's response associated with it called a theodicy. From the apologist's perspective, the best argument is usually that god provides us with the free will to do act as we please, and this is a wonderful gift for god to give us. If he did not, we would, by some views, be robots.

This sort of apology is challenged by what is referred to as the problem of natural evil, which argues that a great deal of seemingly natural evil (tornadoes, hurricanes, cold weather, etc.) occur that are beyond human control, and thus cannot be attributed to our free will.

An apology comes again that argues there is nothing logically inconsistent with the occurence of evil if there is to be some human development expected. So the counter-apology is that while there is nothing wrong with the theodicy for what is called the philosophical problem of evil, there is something wrong with the theodicy for what is called the empirical problem of evil. This latter argument says that free will and growth of humans cannot account for the sheer quantity of evil that exists; there's just too much.

So though I consider these theodicies to be quite weak in general, they are even weaker if free will doesn't exist, and thus free will is a critical question in the monotheistic traditions.


I'll go a little further off the map and talk about free will in heaven, and how that relates to heaven. Remember that the typical view of heaven is the perfect place where no evil occurs. Now the first question this raises for me: if planet Earth has evil because it allows free will, is the corollary that a place free of evil is also without free will? In other words, if there is no evil in heaven, does that mean that there is no free will? It seems to me that this is a reasonable argument. A response I've often heard is that heaven is so perfect that no one even wants to commit evil, but we are again left with a burning issue: why is there then evil on Earth? If god can make a heaven so perfect that no one even wants to commit evil (and yet still exhibit some form of "free will"), then why could he not do the same on Earth?
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Old 12-20-2009, 11:00 AM   #71 (permalink)
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I'll go a little further off the map and talk about free will in heaven, and how that relates to heaven. Remember that the typical view of heaven is the perfect place where no evil occurs. Now the first question this raises for me: if planet Earth has evil because it allows free will, is the corollary that a place free of evil is also without free will? In other words, if there is no evil in heaven, does that mean that there is no free will? It seems to me that this is a reasonable argument. A response I've often heard is that heaven is so perfect that no one even wants to commit evil, but we are again left with a burning issue: why is there then evil on Earth? If god can make a heaven so perfect that no one even wants to commit evil (and yet still exhibit some form of "free will"), then why could he not do the same on Earth?
One of the fundamental dogma's of science is that energy (matter) cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. So where the hell did everything come from? There had to be something, or some form of energy that is outside our concept of time. Something BEYOND the laws of science had to have started everything, because from our view of time, the beginning of the Universe started with some energy already in place.

Now regarding Atheism and God. If you have read a little about the parallel universe theorem (if you believe it), you know how small and insignificant we are. And if you do believe there is a God, and he was there before all of this was started (outside of the time dimension), then you have to realize that He is not only outside our notion of time, but would also be outside our concept of everything else. The human mind is nothing, it's so limited and convoluted that if there is a God, we have no right to question him or anything he does or the reason for anything... we don't even know how we got here. The problem with atheism is that it revolves around pride: Why did God do this, Why is there suffering, Why do I need to believe in a God? .. I have the right to question God lol.

If there is a God, he is outside everything our mind is capable of knowing, and questioning stuff he does is ridiculous (although it might be fun to think about).

And if you don't believe in God... from our concept of time... what was the starting point of the universe? or many universes?
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:21 PM   #72 (permalink)
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One of the fundamental dogma's of science is that energy (matter) cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. So where the hell did everything come from?
It always existed. Eternity has no beginning or end, it just is.

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And if you don't believe in God... from our concept of time... what was the starting point of the universe? or many universes?
There was no starting point. It always existed.
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:09 PM   #73 (permalink)
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It always existed. Eternity has no beginning or end, it just is.

There was no starting point. It always existed.
So energy has always been there. There's no scientific evidence to prove any of this... energy was just there. So why is it so outside the realm of everything to say God was just there?

Or, in other words, that energy was God. I'm not trying to argue this, but to explain how science can't explain everything, and why religion tries to explain things that science just can't.

And it was in response to

"BUMP.
Discussing this issue with religious people is pointless because, to varying degrees, they believe in the supernatural, substance dualism and host of other garbage that falls outside the realm of science and concrete observation (even on a speculative level)."

Well tell me AC GM, "energy always being there" is outside the realm of science and concrete observation as well, so what is your stance on the beginning of the universe? You're just going to believe that energy was already there to be transformed?
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:27 PM   #74 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Bmats7 View Post
One of the fundamental dogma's of science is that energy (matter) cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed. So where the hell did everything come from? There had to be something, or some form of energy that is outside our concept of time. Something BEYOND the laws of science had to have started everything, because from our view of time, the beginning of the Universe started with some energy already in place.
I'm not a cosmologist, so any answer I give will not, ultimately, bear a lot of fruit, though I will attempt to address this form of deism you're representing.

1) I watched a lecture by the physicist Lawrence Krauss that ended up with the conclusion that the "something" could have come from "nothing" as a result of quantum fluctuations. I don't have the technical know how to challenge his authority, nor have I read anything that contradicted what he said.

2) It is possible that there is more than one dimension of time, or that the universe is in an eternal cycle of big bangs and big crunches.

3) The conservation of energy, or the first law of thermodynamics, is not dogma. It is an empirical observation. If evidence arises later that would call it into question, it would be abandoned, which is the exact opposite of dogma.

4) There is nothing logically incoherent about a universe which did not require a creator. The cosmological argument relies on the important premise that anything that begins to exist has a cause. So we can avoid this if the universe has always existed in some form, or we can counter that this sort of causality is something we believe to be true based on inductive experience, and we cannot be certain of its application to the beginning of the universe.

5) Undoubtedly we know very little about how the universe began. This doesn't, however, allow us to fill in the gaps of our knowledge with god.

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Now regarding Atheism and God. If you have read a little about the parallel universe theorem (if you believe it), you know how small and insignificant we are. And if you do believe there is a God, and he was there before all of this was started (outside of the time dimension), then you have to realize that He is not only outside our notion of time, but would also be outside our concept of everything else. The human mind is nothing, it's so limited and convoluted that if there is a God, we have no right to question him or anything he does or the reason for anything... we don't even know how we got here. The problem with atheism is that it revolves around pride: Why did God do this, Why is there suffering, Why do I need to believe in a God? .. I have the right to question God lol.
That is not a problem with atheism. You are attempting to buttress your claim by saying "Look, we can't even know anything about this claim", which gives me even more reason to doubt it. I believe we all have the right to question everything.

Tell me: what is more prideful than thinking that we're special creations who the most perfect being cares about above all other things?

If you want to define god as basically the nebulous character you've outlined so far, that's up to you. If it is impossible for me to discern the difference between a god that exists and a god that doesn't exist (which is what you're suggesting), then I have no good reason to suppose that god does exist.

Then of course we have the question of why can't we have some particular knowledge about god, if he is in fact the creator most claim him to be? What you are doing is working backwards from your conclusion:

1) God exists and is the most perfect being.
2) The most perfect being is beyond our understanding.
3) God exists and need not be demonstrated as he is beyond our understanding.

This is an assertion, and by no means a demonstrated or well reasoned claim.



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And if you don't believe in God... from our concept of time... what was the starting point of the universe? or many universes?
To re-iterate my earlier point, you're committing a few fallacies here (god of the gaps, argument from personal incredulity, argument from ignorance). How the universe started, and whether god exists or not, are two separate questions, and I personally have no problem saying I don't know how the universe began (or if "began" is even a truly appropriate term). I will not fill in that lack of understanding by ascribing it to some nebulous idea of "god" which I understand even less than I understand the beginning of the universe. I have no good reason to do so.
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Old 12-20-2009, 07:30 PM   #75 (permalink)
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Or, in other words, that energy was God. I'm not trying to argue this, but to explain how science can't explain everything, and why religion tries to explain things that science just can't.
On what grounds does religion explain anything justifiably? It is all assertion and personal revelation; there's no real knowledge to be discovered there.
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:15 PM   #76 (permalink)
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So you claim that God doesn't exist because you can't comprehend it and it doesn't make sense to you. However, earlier in your post you admit knowing nothing about the beginning of time, just like everyone else. So how would it make sense to you?

I know what your saying, because we don't know something, it doesn't allow us to fit God into what we don't understand. However, ACGM said this:

"Discussing this issue with religious people is pointless because, to varying degrees, they believe in the supernatural, substance dualism and host of other garbage that falls outside the realm of science and concrete observation (even on a speculative level)."

What does that mean? There is nothing outside the realm of science and concrete observation? Then tell me how the universe started. There are many things outside the realm of science, you might attribute it to nothing and say energy has always been there. Others might say that God has been there from the beginning. You can't throw religion out the door because there is no concrete evidence that God exists, there is no concrete evidence that energy was there from the beginning either, so can we throw science out the window??? Of course not.

And by the way, it's pride to say, because I dont understand God, he doesn't exist lol.
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:38 PM   #77 (permalink)
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I don't think believing in a deity precludes believing in free will. While being raised as a Catholic, I learned that God gave us free will, that he gave us the freedom to choose to sin or not. It might be trying to have things both ways, but I think the same can be said of saying there is no starting point but that everything is determined by various external starting points for any individual all the same.

There is an enormous gap out there. The unknowable. Religions approach it one way, science another, but it doesn't make it any more knowable. I fail to see any wisdom in insisting on making obvious uncertainties into claims of certainty. Science and religion both do so only at their own peril. Progress comes through learning just how much we don't know, because that increases with actual knowledge. I can recognize the possibility of us all being intricate, biological automatons of a sort, or of us being each our own gods in a sense. What always stands out for me is that in the end the ideas come from us. Who created the creator, or energy? Ultimately we did. Where did the ultimate blueprint originate? Within minds the workings of which are largely unknowable, but which we can claim as our own. We can only experience what we experience, we cannot step outside of ourselves and our experiences, and then trace out the ultimate true workings that lie therein.
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:45 PM   #78 (permalink)
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So energy has always been there. There's no scientific evidence to prove any of this... energy was just there. So why is it so outside the realm of everything to say God was just there?
Mainly because it's no big deal if he was. I say no big deal because such a God would be constrained by the limited nature of consciousness just like humans are, and ultimately we have know way of distinguishing God's wants and values from our own personal values. So it's up to us as individuals to decide what's right for us, and thus we need not worry about what God would want or what he has done. Atheism isn't necessarily about knowing God doesn't exist - for me it's about not needing him, or seeing no value in him.

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Or, in other words, that energy was God. I'm not trying to argue this, but to explain how science can't explain everything, and why religion tries to explain things that science just can't.
I agree science is a method that's limited to accumulation and evidence. The problem with accumulating data is that there is always more data waiting to be accumulated, and you just can't get it all at once, so you always have an incomplete picture. But instead of using religion to fill the void that science cannot fill, I say we use philosophy.
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Old 12-20-2009, 08:46 PM   #79 (permalink)
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Hey 'Trane, I'm hoping you're still around and reading this, perhaps you'd like to continue with this debate?

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the randomness that you allude to is precisely choice.
A pretty horrible way to live though wouldn't it? Imagine if all your decisions were based on a flip of a coin or something... What kind of freedom would that be?

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when faced with a number of competing possibilities we don't flip a coin, we choose. you've pretty much proved that
Flipping a coin is a particular way to choose. The other ways of choosing involve listening to our involuntary feelings/emotions or it involves listening to the involuntary language of our logic.


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Cory:
Also, I forgot to mention random action - when we make a choice arbitrarily without reason or emotion.


Trane: is free will.

Then free will sucks! Think about if everything we did was without reason or emotion... We'd just randomly be buffeted around by our environment like some mindless billard ball.


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and when we make a choice after carefully considering the available options, that's free will too.


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it may be logical, it may not, it may be guided by emotion, it may not. but we choose how to proceed. we may do what feels good, but we often do what doesn't feel good. we have moments of super-erogation. we have moments of martyrdom, we have moments of sacrifice and of suffering by choice. we may do none of these things because they are logical and because they are emotional and make us feel good, even in the abstract. i don't sacrifice myself for the betterment of others because i derive happiness from being the kind of guy that does that.
Then why do you do it?

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i'm not saying it's impossible - there certainly are people that do it for that reason - but there are also others that do it because they choose to. not for the way people are looking at them in society but because out of a number of competing possibilities they thought it was the right thing to do.
What makes them think it's the right thing to do?


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in all of your responses to me, you somehow missed the most crucial piece. in any computation there is the moment of choice that pre-exists it. the moment that you choose which factors to include in that computation.
doesn't that stem from the urge to be correct? Whenever we are faced with a decision, we desire to make the best decision, and so we gather all the relevant information.

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If you want to boil it down to an emotional/logical computation (which i also disagree with for reasons stated above) how do you factor in the way in which the boundaries of that calculation are determined?
The boundaries of the calcuation are determined by all kinds of things, but the most relevant things I can think of are a) our desire to be correct, and b) a brain's threshold for information. Humans want to be correct, but they can only take in so much information before they get overwhelmed and upset, so our decision making will involve a limited amount of variables, only because too much information confuses us. None of that is voluntary. That's just the way it is.

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Is any human capable of understanding the totality of complex situations? we choose what to include and what not to inlcude in the calculation. and then, as i have argued, we choose again when we inevitably come up against competing possibilities and outcomes in which we may or may not act rationally/irrationally/towards our happiness/towards someone else's happiness.
Whenever you use the word "choose" I see a better word to use: "desire". We desire to include and not include, and this desire is what largely determines our behavior.
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:38 PM   #80 (permalink)
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So you claim that God doesn't exist because you can't comprehend it and it doesn't make sense to you. However, earlier in your post you admit knowing nothing about the beginning of time, just like everyone else. So how would it make sense to you?
Where have I ever claimed that god doesn't exist? Did you intentionally ignore the paragraphs where I very clearly spelled out what, exactly, atheism entails, and what, exactly, my position is?

I will re-iterate very briefly: my position is that there is insufficient evidence and reason for me to believe the theistic claim. Thus, I am an atheist. That simple.

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Originally Posted by Bmats7 View Post
What does that mean? There is nothing outside the realm of science and concrete observation? Then tell me how the universe started. There are many things outside the realm of science, you might attribute it to nothing and say energy has always been there. Others might say that God has been there from the beginning. You can't throw religion out the door because there is no concrete evidence that God exists, there is no concrete evidence that energy was there from the beginning either, so can we throw science out the window??? Of course not.
You are so fundamentally confused that I can see why this is difficult for you. Sorry to go a bit ad hominem but it is made necessary by your repeated assertion that this has anything to do with pride.

You are mixing up the question that is really being asked: "What grounds do we have to believe that a theistic claim is true?" Certainly the fact that we don't know the answers to event A is not, in itself, even remotely positive evidence to support the theistic claim. You're saying "You can't prove your own account for event A, therefore my account is right." On the contrary, you must provide your own positive evidence and argument for why your account is correc and, failing that, we return to the default position (atheism).

By the way, science is a method of epistemological discovery. It is not something that you could throw out because we couldn't explain the big bang. What you mean to say is that, given we don't know what really happened, a naturalistic account is just as poorly supported as a supernatural account. I counter this argument by suggesting that we are completely certain that the natural world exists, and that a lack of a natural explanation does not on its own make a supernatural explanation worth providing assent to.

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Originally Posted by Bmats7 View Post
And by the way, it's pride to say, because I dont understand God, he doesn't exist lol.
To return to this, you're misunderstanding the point that is being made. I'm not saying that god doesn't exist; I'm saying I have no good grounds to believe that he does. There is no pride in saying "I don't know what the answer is, and therefore refuse to make one up", whereas there is utter and complete pride in saying "I know that god made us in his image and we're a special creation who get to go to heaven when we die." On the contrary, there is something humbling about acknowledging our kinship with everything else in the universe.

Last edited by Ligeia; 12-20-2009 at 09:57 PM.
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