GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

The Root of all Evil : The God Delusion

POSTED BY: CALHOUN
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 20:12
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Monday, May 28, 2007 12:03 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by Casual
But isn't it the case that scientists wouldn't be able to make accurate predictions about what will happen unless they assume that in the future (or the far distant past) the laws of nature will remain the same as they are now?

If you're using that as 'proof' that Religion, and Science are equivalent in 'faith', then no, sorry.

Scientists have to assume that the world exists, and that it's not a figment of their imagination, yet that really doesn't matter. Science comes up with theories and tests them, if it's theories turn out wrong then it changes them.

Religion, on the other hand, comes up with a theory, and expects the universe to conform to it. It's silly to suggest that Science is faith based because it makes certain assumptions about the Universe.

In other words, Science works within the natural laws of the universe, whatever they may be, Religion, to put it crudely, expects the natural laws of the universe to do what the hell they're told. Science works on testability, not necessarily provability, because in most circumstances testing something in every possible circumstance is practically impossible.
Quote:

it seems that the predictive activity of the sciences is strictly bounded within certain norms; namely, natural laws.
You're point being? Science is here just to test the natural world. Science has nothing to say on the Supernatural.



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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:24 AM

MALACHITE


Quote:

Originally posted by leadb:
Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Quote:

Originally posted by Malachite:
Calhoun: Perhaps it is a bit late in the discussion for this, but if we are going to discuss whether the "God Delusion" is the root of all evil, we may need to define what evil is and whether there is such a thing as absolute evil. After we've done that, we may be able to assess whether an atheist like Dawkins really has the philosophical underpinings to claim that something is evil. What I mean is, how does an atheist claim something is evil and therefore wrong? Can an atheist deduce that there are certain absolute evils? How? I thought the morals an atheist could produce was a moral relativism like, "You can have your beliefs and do what you think is good and I'll believe what I want and do what I think is good". If that is the case, how can Dawkins say something is the root of evil when it might actually be defined by someone else as good. So, from his point of view, religion is the root of evil, but from a religious person's point of view, religion is the source of good. How can Dawkins determine who is really right? I think that in order to claim something is truly evil, you have to have some absolutes on what evil is. How does an atheist do this? (I hope I don't sound antagonistic here -- this is something I've really started getting curious about lately).



Hear, hear!


I really don't want to go too far down this path, personally, I think it is silly to try and prove the 'title' of this thread as true. It is patently false.

While certainly we can refine what is good and evil, I'm willing to wager you will find that of those posting here, once all the 'fireworks are done', we will agree on 90% what constitutes good Vs. evil.

Since the topic is "going to discuss whether the "God Delusion" is the root of all evil" I can close this topic down immediately. The answer is no. Sad to say, I'm not perfect. I have committed evil, and said evil is not, and was not, religiously inspired, motivated, intitiated, caused, or any other way tied to religion. I will say I regret such occaisions, and do henceforth intend to reduce my evil and increase my good. However, this is sufficient to prove the point, you really don't need anything more.



I agree and had come to the same conclusion regarding the fact that the original topic of this thread had been resolved with a "no". I know I've done and continue to do evil since having found God and I know I was doing evil before I found God, so I can't blame the fact that I do evil on religion. Also, thanks for posting the secular humanist link -- I haven't had a chance to read it, yet.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:32 AM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
It's the demand for worship and obedience, while giving the bogus choice of free will. It causes me to reject theistic religion.


Well, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Plenty of theisims out there, simply reject the Anglo God of Punishment. Sorry, it irritates me that folks assume that if you don't believe in the Christian God, then you don't believe in -any- god. Feel free to suppose a god which is merely 'powerful beyond your imagination' and not omnipotent. god need not be perfect. Anyway...


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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:33 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
But in one case you face an additional punishment that lasts all eternity. How is there not a difference?

So what? You’re dead at that point. How does that affect how the lives are lived?
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
I have no problem with religion as a metaphor. It's the literal interpretation and personification of God as a sentient, judging entity that I have a problem with.

I’m still not seeing what this has to do with slavery. Like you said, if you can stand the consequences you can do whatever you want regardless of what you believe.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:42 AM

MALACHITE


Hey FredGiblet -- Regarding the origin of life discussion a bunch of posts back. I appreciate your reasoning and have a response. I agree, however, that this thread is not the place to have an origin of life discussion and will either pm you, start a new thread, or contribute to the old one (if it isn't too long already). Thanks.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:58 AM

CAUSAL


You know, I've commented a couple of times on why I don't like the RWE approach coming into these more calm, congenial threads, And I finally figured out what is was that I didn't like. In the beginning of these threads, people sort of just aired their opinions--and if there was disagreement, that would be raised and talked over. But you're trying to beat me. You're trying to win. You're trying to prove me wrong. And that's not a very enjoyable way of carrying on a discussion. "But have you considered ____________" is the method of argument I prefer, because then it's not about attacking and besting anyone. So at the risk of igniting an RWE-style fight, I'll attempt to respond to your objections.

Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Scientists have to assume that the world exists, and that it's not a figment of their imagination, yet that really doesn't matter. Science comes up with theories and tests them, if it's theories turn out wrong then it changes them.

Religion, on the other hand, comes up with a theory, and expects the universe to conform to it. It's silly to suggest that Science is faith based because it makes certain assumptions about the Universe.



I'm not claiming that "science is faith." And I'm certainly not suggesting that religious faith can give the same sorts of data about the world and the way it works as science can. What I am saying is that everyone holds beliefs that cannot be conclusively proven, and that religious believers ought not be maligned for the mere fact that they do. Another example might be the rules of logic. One cannot prove the law of contradiction without applying the laws of logic--which is, of course, begging the question. But since the rules of logic are the only way we have to insure accurate thinking, it's difficult to see how non-contradiction could be proven without begging the question.

The basic mistake that people are making with respect to my line of reasoning is, I think, the mistaken assumption that I'm equating religion and science. If people would stop reacting and start trying to understand what I'm trying to assert, they'd realize that that's not my project. My project is to point out that religion ought not be criticized for the mere fact that some of its beliefs are not conclusively proven.

Quote:

In other words, Science works within the natural laws of the universe, whatever they may be, Religion, to put it crudely, expects the natural laws of the universe to do what the hell they're told. Science works on testability, not necessarily provability, because in most circumstances testing something in every possible circumstance is practically impossible.



Yes, and again, this is not at all my point. I'm not making claims about religion being as accurate as science because on my view the two treat completely different subject matter. So your view that religion "expects the natural laws of the universe to do what the hell they're told" is completely irrelevant to the claims I'm trying to make. I'm actually a big fan of science (and not that creation-science junk). I'm well aware of the testability method of science. My point is now, and has always been, that science has foundational assumptions that are not testable and not provable. And I my intent in pointing that out is not to undermine science, as you seem to think. My intent is to point out that the basic criticism of religion as irrational because it accepts unprovable propositions can also be leveled at everyone else. I think the curious thing about our situation on this planent is that we have to decide that we're going to believe things (whatever they turn out to be) that are ultimately beyond proof.


Quote:

Quote:

it seems that the predictive activity of the sciences is strictly bounded within certain norms; namely, natural laws.
You're point being? Science is here just to test the natural world. Science has nothing to say on the Supernatural.



If you'd left this in its context, you'd see that the point I was discussing was the Uniformity Principle. That is, the belief that the laws of nature operated in the distant past and will operate in the distant future in the same way as we observe them operating now. My point was that the reason that the sciences can predict--with confidence--what happened or will happen is because of their belief (which seems to be pretty secure) that natural laws are pretty well uniform.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 3:58 AM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
But in one case you face an additional punishment that lasts all eternity. How is there not a difference?

So what? You’re dead at that point. How does that affect how the lives are lived?



Is it really death, though, if you've merely left your earthly vessel and still consciously suffer lots of punishment? If you utterly insist on being overtly literal with my words, we'll consider the after-death period as the one that matters.

Non-existent, thus neutral OR possible existent without punishment, thus neutral OR existent and filled with punishment, thus very much not neutral. Can you consider a difference now?

Quote:


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
I have no problem with religion as a metaphor. It's the literal interpretation and personification of God as a sentient, judging entity that I have a problem with.

I’m still not seeing what this has to do with slavery. Like you said, if you can stand the consequences you can do whatever you want regardless of what you believe.



The neutral world with its immediate consequences doesn't pretend to love us. And there is always the escape of death.

God tells us he does love us, but we really only exist to do what he tells us to do and the alternative is by definition unbearable, because it would hardly be hell if it was a walk in the park.

That's like telling a slave they are free to run away if they can stand the consequences of being caught (inevitable in the case of after-death judgment) and punished for the attempt.


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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:03 AM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by leadb:

Well, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Plenty of theisims out there, simply reject the Anglo God of Punishment. Sorry, it irritates me that folks assume that if you don't believe in the Christian God, then you don't believe in -any- god. Feel free to suppose a god which is merely 'powerful beyond your imagination' and not omnipotent. god need not be perfect. Anyway...




I apologize for being unclear.

You're right. I do merely mean the God I have come to know through the Bible, so all non-affiliated theistic believes aren't necessarily part of that rejection.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:04 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
You know, I've commented a couple of times on why I don't like the RWE approach coming into these more calm, congenial threads, And I finally figured out what is was that I didn't like. In the beginning of these threads, people sort of just aired their opinions--and if there was disagreement, that would be raised and talked over. But you're trying to beat me. You're trying to win. You're trying to prove me wrong. And that's not a very enjoyable way of carrying on a discussion. "But have you considered ____________" is the method of argument I prefer, because then it's not about attacking and besting anyone. So at the risk of igniting an RWE-style fight, I'll attempt to respond to your objection

Ok, I'm trying to beat you, and you're trying to beat, and insult me, but hey, I'm not entitled to an opinion unless its rubber stamped by you first I guess.



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:28 AM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
Quote:

Originally posted by leadb:

Well, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Plenty of theisims out there, simply reject the Anglo God of Punishment. Sorry, it irritates me that folks assume that if you don't believe in the Christian God, then you don't believe in -any- god. Feel free to suppose a god which is merely 'powerful beyond your imagination' and not omnipotent. god need not be perfect. Anyway...




I apologize for being unclear.

You're right. I do merely mean the God I have come to know through the Bible, so all non-affiliated theistic believes aren't necessarily part of that rejection.


accepted; and I'll concede I got slightly hot under the collar.

Depending on where you live, you can also "shop" the Christian churches in your neighborhood; see if any of the clergy are more of a "those whose life balances toward good" can get to heaven, then check out the rest of their approach. If you get desperate, check out the Unitarian Universalists; if nothing else the... preacher? ... might even have a suggestion on Christian Churches in the area more ameniable to your approach, and whatever you tell him(/her) you will also likely be told you are welcome to join the congregation there.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:32 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
Is it really death, though, if you've merely left your earthly vessel and still consciously suffer lots of punishment? If you utterly insist on being overtly literal with my words, we'll consider the after-death period as the one that matters.

Non-existent, thus neutral OR possible existent without punishment, thus neutral OR existent and filled with punishment, thus very much not neutral. Can you consider a difference now?

Once again, I don’t see how this amounts to slavery. If you believe that you will spend eternity in hell if you do this or that, but are willing to pay that price to live your life the way you wish, how is that different from what you said about nature? If we can stand the consequences of our bad choices, we can make them.
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
That's like telling a slave they are free to run away if they can stand the consequences of being caught (inevitable in the case of after-death judgment) and punished for the attempt.

Of course slaves got to watch as runaways were beaten; there was a physical element to it, which was much more convincing then a philosophical threat. Yet thousands of slaves in the pre-emancipation US fled at the first opportunity they got. I’m willing to bet you that if you told your slaves that if they didn’t remain your slaves working the cotton fields the only consequent they would suffer would be burning in hell, they’d all be gone by morning, and you’d be out of business.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:54 AM

AGENTROUKA


I've said before that I'm not really motivated to keep discussing this. It's my opinion. You have a different one and I am not really out to convince you of it, so... can we just leave each other in peace?

Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
Once again, I don’t see how this amounts to slavery. If you believe that you will spend eternity in hell if you do this or that, but are willing to pay that price to live your life the way you wish, how is that different from what you said about nature? If we can stand the consequences of our bad choices, we can make them.



You're not listening. I specifically mention the end of one's life as the measuring point because by then you've had all the consequences you can get in life. It's perfectly possible to live a life where at that point you are at peace and full of acceptance for what has been - and still be in conflict with God's law.

If you insert God and his post-life judgment, that's an additional amount of consequences that - if he exists - are absolutely inescapable. It's not about the people, it's about obedience. People don't really have a choice in how they want to live because "if you can stand hell" is not really a viable option.

If God was not a slaver, he would let people make their choices without the threat of hell. Instead, he forces them - either into obedience through fear, or into unbearable suffering for disobedience. There is no freedom in there.

And I'll repeat - again - yes, we are slaves to physical laws and to the idea of consequences to actions in this natural world. But the natural world is not a sentient being that creates its consequences deliberately. It's just a bunch of facts. Nature is a situation. God is a personification as a such a conscious slaver.

To Me.

Quote:


Of course slaves got to watch as runaways were beaten; there was a physical element to it, which was much more convincing then a philosophical threat. Yet thousands of slaves in the pre-emancipation US fled at the first opportunity they got. I’m willing to bet you that if you told your slaves that if they didn’t remain your slaves working the cotton fields the only consequent they would suffer would be burning in hell, they’d all be gone by morning, and you’d be out of business.



The point is, if God exists, hell exists. You can't opt out.

The question is not whether you believe, but whether within the context of that belief God allows for actual free will without insufferable consequences. God's existence is a fact in that hypothetical scenario.

Getting caught, to use the slavery example (i.e. judgment after death) in that context is also not a possibility but a fact.

If slaves knew that they WOULD be caught and brutally punished with NO chance of actual escape, would running away really be a viable option for the slaver to use as an excuse for not being a slaver?

It's like telling a kidnapping victim that they are free to leave but if they so much as move they'll be shot. Where do you draw the line when it comes to coercion and slavery?

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Monday, May 28, 2007 5:05 AM

MALACHITE


Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Quote:

Malachite wrote:
Sunday, May 27, 2007 02:01
Calhoun: Perhaps it is a bit late in the discussion for this, but if we are going to discuss whether the "God Delusion" is the root of all evil, we may need to define what evil is and whether there is such a thing as absolute evil. After we've done that, we may be able to assess whether an atheist like Dawkins really has the philosophical underpinings to claim that something is evil. What I mean is, how does an atheist claim something is evil and therefore wrong? Can an atheist deduce that there are certain absolute evils? How? I thought the morals an atheist could produce was a moral relativism like, "You can have your beliefs and do what you think is good and I'll believe what I want and do what I think is good". If that is the case, how can Dawkins say something is the root of evil when it might actually be defined by someone else as good. So, from his point of view, religion is the root of evil, but from a religious person's point of view, religion is the source of good. How can Dawkins determine who is really right? I think that in order to claim something is truly evil, you have to have some absolutes on what evil is. How does an atheist do this? (I hope I don't sound antagonistic here -- this is something I've really started getting curious about lately).



I think its fair to say that someone who straps explosives to their body to blow up civilians in some sort of religious mission or someone who fly jets into buildings to kill as many civilians as possible in the name of allah.. is evil. If you disagree with this opinion then dont bother responding, you'll be dismissed as another religious nutjob..

You dont need any special qualifications to be able to recognise something as evil. To any reasonably intelligent person it should be obvious.



Hey Calhoun: Let me start out by saying that I'm trying to ask honest questions here and I don't want to come across as inflammatory.

Let me try to flesh out what I'm getting at. My question is, does an atheist have the philosophical underpinnings to get beyond moral relativism to a framework of absolutes? From a theistic standpoint in which one can justify moral absolutes, I can and do call terrorist acts evil. If, however, one does not believe in God, how does one say that it is evil? A westerner might say the terrorist has done an evil act. The terrorist, however, could say they are doing a good act, such as fighting for independence, ridding the world of the evils of western capitalism/materialism or glorifying god , and that they will receive a reward in the afterlife. Each person is right in their own mind. (Incidentally, I think that most people believe that what they are doing is good and right and can at least justify their actions to themselves. Even the Operative from Serenity, who knew he was doing evil, justified it by saying it was for a greater good). From (my current understanding of) the atheist perspective, each person is allowed to have their own belief and it seems impossible to determine who ultimately has the correct moral read on the situation.

Why am I asking this? Because if morals are not absolute and everything is relative, Dawkins can't really justify judging something is "the root of all evil" because his opinion on morals is just as valid as the other side's opinion. All he could say is, "I think religion is the root of all evil, but there is no way to tell if I'm right because the religious person who thinks religion is the root of all good has just as valid an opinion and he might be right. But wait, since everything's relative, there is no ultimate "right" anyway. But if noone's right, why am I so angry about it and why do I feel like an injustice has been done?"

I apologize in advance if this is inflammatory.

Citizen: That is an interesting road you take us down with the definition of evil as anything that interferes with the propagation of the species (I'm not quoting you directly, I know). In relation to my above paragraphs, is there a way to justify that definition absolutely? What I mean is, wouldn't it be just as valid for me to say that throughout the hundreds of millions of years that life existed, species have come and gone. It is not evil. It is part of the natural order of things. Therefore, it doesn't matter if our species comes to oblivion because the birth-life-death cycle continues on and homeostasis or balance will be restored. If we fully imbibed this knowledge we can stop caring about the "evils" around us and stop fighting so hard to preserve our species. The absence of caring about things and the absence of fighting some other dominant culture helps us to obtain peace with the universe.

Or, here is another equally valid read on that definition of evil. If interfering with the propagation of the species is evil, it is good to find ways to perpetuate the species. This includes such things as better medicines and healthier living and food for everyone but it also could mean that in this world of limited resources and overpopulation concerns, we should get rid of the elderly, the infirm and the handicapped and any other "useless" person who consumes our resources. In fact, let's limit the breeding population to only those who do not have various diseases. That way, we'll make our population even fitter and increase our chances for survival.

Whew... This has been a long post. The short point is, I think any of these positions (and many more) could be valid in a relativistic society, and I want to know how the atheist would justify saying that one of them is right for everyone. Again, note that I'm not advocating for these positions, I'm just using these as examples.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 5:15 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
I've said before that I'm not really motivated to keep discussing this. It's my opinion. You have a different one and I am not really out to convince you of it, so... can we just leave each other in peace?

I don’t know, can we? No one’s forcing you to continue this conversation. Unless maybe my voicing a different opinion is causing you to be slave to me. In which case I would: Trim my hedges and mow my lawn, and for every leaf I find in my yard, I shall beat you!
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
You're not listening. I specifically mention the end of one's life as the measuring point because by then you've had all the consequences you can get in life. It's perfectly possible to live a life where at that point you are at peace and full of acceptance for what has been - and still be in conflict with God's law.

So basically, you’re saying that after living a free and completely un-enslaved life, then you become a slave because now you have to pay the consequences for your actions.
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
The point is, if God exists, hell exists. You can't opt out.

There are people who would take objection to that particular view, but okay.
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
The question is not whether you believe, but whether within the context of that belief God allows for actual free will without insufferable consequences. God's existence is a fact in that hypothetical scenario.

I would say that there is no such thing as free will without insufferable consequences, regardless of whether god exists or not. But what this comes down to is that you don’t want to be reminded of the consequences you will face for the poor choices in life.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 5:38 AM

AGENTROUKA


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:
I would say that there is no such thing as free will without insufferable consequences, regardless of whether god exists or not. But what this comes down to is that you don’t want to be reminded of the consequences you will face for the poor choices in life.




I'll just disagree here. I think that consequences are very often sufferable. Hell, by definition, is not.

And I take exception not to the idea of consequences but to God sitting on his throne dictating his rules and attached consequences to not obeying. And then apparently not being a slaver.

Consequences are everywhere. But God throwing his almighty weight around to punish us according to his personal ideas of right and wrong, which often revolve around worshipping him, that bothers me. What gives him the right? The fact that he has more power? Slaver.


And now, whether it be good for your lawn or not, it is apparently up to me to just call a definite end to this discussion and say I'm no longer responding. Thanks, anyway.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 5:43 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
Consequences are everywhere. But God throwing his almighty weight around to punish us according to his personal ideas of right and wrong, which often revolve around worshipping him, that bothers me. What gives him the right? The fact that he has more power? Slaver.

Okay. I sort of see that as being an extremely archaic interpretation of religion. The only people I know of who follow that particular description of god are fanatics and atheist.
Quote:

Originally posted by AgentRouka:
And now, whether it be good for your lawn or not, it is apparently up to be to just call a definite end to this discussion and say I'm no longer responding. Thanks, anyway.

Alrighty.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 6:07 AM

CAUSAL


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Ok, I'm trying to beat you, and you're trying to beat, and insult me, but hey, I'm not entitled to an opinion unless its rubber stamped by you first I guess.



Not at all! You're more than entitled to your opinion. I'd go so far as to say you have a right to have an opinion. And if you'd take a look through some of my other discussions on the thread (most notably those with Khyron and LeadB) you'd see that I'm more than willing to talk with people whose opinions differ radically from mine. I do read a lot of the "you're wrong!" attitude in your original response to me--though perhaps that's due to a defensiveness I built up during my brief stay in the RWE threads (you'll note I don't venture into those discussions very often anymore). I don't have any interest in proving that anyone else is right or wrong or stupid or any such thing. My interest lies in raising and discussing issues. If you think I'm wrong about something, why not just ask questions that challenge my assertions? That seems to be the way the threads have been going. And as far as feeling insulted, I'm not sure exactly what I said that you felt was insulting, but I apologize if I came off that way. I certainly didn't intend to insult you.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 6:16 AM

CAUSAL


Quote:

Originally posted by leadb:
If your point is, I cannot 'accurately' predict how long it will take a penny to fall from a bridge +/- 2 seconds 30 years from now (and you will have to grant any reasonable number of assumptions like 'The bridge exists' and the 'water level is still the same height below it'), I'd be willing to make a fair wager I could. And if the laws of nature change over time such I'm off by 2 seconds, I will still only grant it was a failure of man to understand properly the laws of nature.

Does this add anything to the discussion?



Of course! I'm not a scientist, so some of the numbers made my head spin. But I think that we're in basic agreement--you say that you think that you can predict the amount of time the penny will take to drop, and I think you can to. But the amazing thing about that is that the reason we think that we can predict the amount of time it will take for the penny to drop is because of the expectation that gravity will work in about the same way 30 years from now as it does today. And the amazing thing is this: from a philosophical perspective, there's absolutely no way to prove that that's true! That's what I find incredible.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 7:28 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


We can’t prove it from a scientific perspective either. We theorize that the gravitational constant is a constant, and so in theory that should be the same in 30 years. But we can't prove the General Theory, so we can't prove the Gravitational Constant. But the acceleration due to gravity is dependent on more then just that constant. It is also dependent on the mass of the earth, which we assume will remain constant over 30 years, but we can’t prove that either. The most we can do is assume it.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 7:48 AM

CAUSAL


Well, I don't know much about the scientific part of that, just the philosophical part. The problem of induction in a nutshell: what justifies us in making inferences about the future from experiences in the past? Curiously: nothing. It seems to work, but there's no way to justify it. Fascinating stuff.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 8:16 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Well, I don't know much about the scientific part of that, just the philosophical part. The problem of induction in a nutshell: what justifies us in making inferences about the future from experiences in the past? Curiously: nothing. It seems to work, but there's no way to justify it. Fascinating stuff.

Scientifically, it comes down to one’s assumption of the likelihood of a discontinuity or confidence in the rate of change in state. If you perceive the likelihood of these things as being small, then it becomes easier to extrapolate past trends into the future. We can often be confident in this assumption, but if we believe what Physics tells us, we can’t prove it since there is a fundamental limit on how accurate our initial measurements can be and that intrinsic error compounds with the extrapolation.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 8:31 AM

CAUSAL


Actually, I'm thinking something much simpler. Say, for instance, that over the course of a year, I notice that whenever dark clouds arrive, rain comes right after them. The next time I see dark clouds, I will expect there to be rain. But what justifies my expectation of future rain from my experience of past rain? Nothing, really. And any attempt to justify that inference is going to beg the question.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 8:42 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Actually, I'm thinking something much simpler. Say, for instance, that over the course of a year, I notice that whenever dark clouds arrive, rain comes right after them. The next time I see dark clouds, I will expect there to be rain. But what justifies my expectation of future rain from my experience of past rain? Nothing, really. And any attempt to justify that inference is going to beg the question.

That’s what I’m talking about too. We can assume that following dark clouds there will be rain, if past trends have indicated it. It’s a fair assumption, but proving it introduces some complications at a fundamental level, because we can’t define the system complete enough to prove it. In a classical sense, the task might be impossible in its shear magnitude, but not against any law or theory of physics. But in a non-classical sense it becomes fundamentally impossible, since there is an intrinsic uncertainty in the universe. You can never measure the initial state precisely enough.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 9:18 AM

ETHAN


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Well, I don't know much about the scientific part of that, just the philosophical part. The problem of induction in a nutshell: what justifies us in making inferences about the future from experiences in the past? Curiously: nothing. It seems to work, but there's no way to justify it. Fascinating stuff.




The really great thing about science, philosophically and scientifically speaking, is that inferences made about the future based on the past transcend the question of the true nature of it's truth at the very moment it proves true. Follow that okay?

In other words, truth in science works on a range. A scientific principle may be usefull on a micro level but once the lens is focused on a larger scale the same principles prove past their threshhold of usefullness...and vice versa. Macro principles, such as relativity fail to predict micro or quantom phenomena. However we don't throw out either theories because of what they lack, because the moments in which they accurately predict real events (both heretofore seen and unseen) are so compelling and usefull...it begs the question why we need to have a foundational reason to explain why they exist in the first place.

And oh those heretofore unseen predicted moments when they become seen for the first time...it's downright miraculous. Take the discoveries of Boise-Einstein "hourglass-eye" galaxies...time distortion due to relative speed...the existence of anti-matter...the expansion of the galaxy due to red-shift...manned flight. Excuse me if this sounds (or is) blasphemous but ladies and gentlemen, who needs god...we are gods!


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Monday, May 28, 2007 9:20 AM

CAUSAL


I think we're actually talking about two very different things. You seem to be talking about the fundamental properties of the universe (which I confess, I'm ill-equipped to discuss with you). I'm talking about inference from past experience. But we're not screaming at each other, so hurray!

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Monday, May 28, 2007 10:02 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
I think we're actually talking about two very different things. You seem to be talking about the fundamental properties of the universe (which I confess, I'm ill-equipped to discuss with you). I'm talking about inference from past experience. But we're not screaming at each other, so hurray!

Well, maybe I just don’t understand what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t seem like two different things to me. Why can’t we prove that an inference from a past experience is true? If we know that every time a rain cloud appears rain will follow, then it stands to reason that if a rain cloud appears tomorrow, rain will follow. So what prevents us from proving that rain follows rain clouds?



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 11:39 AM

CAUSAL


Short answer: because any attempt to prove it will turn out to be viciously circular--that is, it will beg the question. A prime example of question begging is as follows:

1) I know that God exists because the Bible says so
2) I know that the Bible is reliable because God never lies.

Close examination of (2) (which is supposed to provide support for 1) reveals that (2) won't work unless we assume that (1) is true. But (1) is the proposition we are supposed to be proving! (For more info: http://www.fallacyfiles.org/begquest.html)

Inductive inference (in its most basic form) is of the type that I used with the clouds and rain example. Suppose that at time 1 (T1) you observe clouds of type X followed by rain of type Y. The very next time you see X, you're probably not going to assume Y--after all, you've only got one experience with X->Y, so you're not ready to make that assumption yet. But after a dozen or so instances of observing X and then Y following after X, you'll start to expect Y every time X appears. But what justifies a person in making such an inference? Most philosophers think nothing does. The principle under question is whether or not we can be justified in making inferences about the future based on observations of the past. The most common way of trying to justify inductive inference is to say, "Well, inductive inference has always been reliable; so we can be justified in making inductive inferences." But look carefully at that statement. You'll find that the it assumes that because something has been observable in the past (namely, inductive inference) we can be justified in making an inference about the future (namely, that inductive inference will continue to be reliable. But that assumption is the very principle under question! And that's begging the question. So how can we be justified in inductive inference? This is, of course, a very old philosophical question (check out David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Section IV, if you're really enterprising). A number of solutions have been advanced (among them Popper's attempt to understand all reasoning as deductive reasoning), but they aren't very satisfying. So the basic question remains: how can one justify the idea that the future will resemble the past (such that we are able to make inferences about future events from past experience). There really isn't any way. But it works, and we continue to do so, even though we can't prove that it does.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 11:53 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Yeah. That’s a good answer. It’s not the answer I would have given, but probably a better one.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Monday, May 28, 2007 12:36 PM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Well, I don't know much about the scientific part of that, just the philosophical part. The problem of induction in a nutshell: what justifies us in making inferences about the future from experiences in the past? Curiously: nothing. It seems to work, but there's no way to justify it. Fascinating stuff.


K, I think I've figured out why you annoy us 'scientist' guys so much (though it usually, for me, only lasts as long as it takes my feable brain to understand what you really mean, then my irritation is past). It's mostly language.

I will agree that much of science is making inferences about the future, from experiences in the past; in fact it is the core of science. But we differ; I do feel we have a justification... that justification is 'it works'. Now, is that a 'logically sustainable' justification, probably not. It is an 'experiential' justification (justified based on experience). (ok, maybe that isn't a word; but I'm desperately hoping you know what I mean because I'm not finding one ;-) ).

And here's where you annoy the scientists... when you call an 'assumption' a 'belief'. The thing is the scientist does not 'believe' the assumption, he uses it. The assumption may be wrong; and a good scientist clearly labels his assumption until such time as he can fill it in with a better thing; preferably something with tons of logic behind it.

Take as an example the "Uniformity Principle". A scientist will not say he 'believes' in it; it is an assumption. For instance, lets say we want to predict how long it takes a light beam to travel from ... oh, the opposite side of the galaxy to "over here". Problem: We can only measure the speed of light in a vaccuum here. Hmm, what's the speed of light over yonder on the other side of the galaxy? No idea... problem. So... what now. Let's try something, let's assume the speed of the light is the same "over yonder", mark said assumption as covered by 'uniformity priniciple' and see if works. Seems to! Ok, well, that's some evidence that the 'uniformity principle' applies; so we'll use that until we learn better.

So, does the poor, confused scientist -believe- that the speed of light is the same over yonder? No; he wouldn't be terribly shocked if it turns out it is .0001% slower over yonder, and the poor shlock has to re-calculate everything. The question is, was he able to get some meaningful (read useful) results in the mean time; in most cases, was the margin of error introduced by the assumption smaller than, say, the margin of error of various measurements? Often, very many times, this is the case. In the above example, if the result of the measurements only were "good" to provide times +/- .02%, the introduced error of .0001% was "insignificant" to the end answer (and would have been rounded off, and assuming all the things I "speculated on for purposes of discussion are 'accurate')). Sometimes it turns out that the assumptions are incorrect to the degree that it -does- affect the 'end answer' beyond the point of insiginficance, and the rocket ends up in the Atlantic Ocean instead of nicely plopped up on Mars or whereever the thing was supposed to go.

However, if it is simpler for you to say that "LeadB believes in the 'uniformity principle'", I'm content to let you say it. If my 'scientist friends' hear you and look at me funny, I'll simply tell them I understand it's just an assumption, and they will be happy with me again ;-), and I can stay in the Geek Club.

**** Please note: I am -not- predicting that light actually travels slower in the far reaches of the universe, it was merely provided as a possible example of how the universe often refuses to nicely sit it's indicated boxes (I know Causal gets this fact and doesn't need the note, but I suspect someone out there will grab that non-factoid and make hay out of it).

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Monday, May 28, 2007 12:40 PM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by Causal:
Short answer: because any attempt to prove it will turn out to be viciously circular--that is, it will beg the question. A prime example of question begging is as follows:
[and etc]


Heh, we were simo composing; if I had seen this post, I might not have bothered. I do appreciate your post here tho, it clarifies that I was correct in stating it is not "logically" justified, but "experientially" justified. I think we are on the same page, we just tend to use different language; or sadly, the same language to mean different things. Isn't it amazing how much trouble 'jargon' can get you into?

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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:42 PM

CAUSAL


Quote:

Originally posted by leadb:
Heh, we were simo composing; if I had seen this post, I might not have bothered. I do appreciate your post here tho, it clarifies that I was correct in stating it is not "logically" justified, but "experientially" justified. I think we are on the same page, we just tend to use different language; or sadly, the same language to mean different things. Isn't it amazing how much trouble 'jargon' can get you into?



It's especially amazing when some of the jargon slops over between two different disciplines. "Belief," "assumption," and so forth both are used with discrete meanings in science and philosophy, but they mean different things. So when a philosopher and a scientist try to talk it takes two dozen posts just to define terms!

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Monday, May 28, 2007 4:51 PM

LEADB


No doubt. But if you really want to muck things over, bring an engineer in to 'translate' between the two groups.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 7:40 PM

JIGMAN


Okay, this took good while for me to read through and I love the fact it it was Firefly that could bring together such a diverse group of philosophers (for philosophers I believe you to be after reading all of this,it would not be remiss to imagine these conversations in a Greek forum with as much magnitude). However it is late where I am, so I will only comment on one of the perspectives touched on in this threat and that is the one concerning the nature of evil.

I believe (I say the word believe because I do not think it is possible to ever truly know anything in this universe) that there cannot be an absolute for evil and that it must be observed and recognized in a case by case basis. However, throughout my life there has been an average definition that has sculpted itself through the observation of case by case situations. When a person harms another (in any way) who did not harm the transgressor (in any way) and the transgressor had non harmful options to resolve whatever greivance they had against the victem (imagined or otherwise), then I believe that to be evil. So to put it simple, If a man harms his fellow man because he enjoys doing so, then that is evil.

Under such a definition (vague as it is, I know) religion would not be the root of all evil, but rather the men who enjoy feeling justified in doing harm to others by thier religion are evil, with no roots attached.

Either way you look at it, Stalin and Hitler were both pricks.

-------------------------------------------------
All good things must come to an end.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:03 AM

MALACHITE


Let me make sure I'm following you. I follow your reasoning and agree with your conclusion, but I'm fuzzy on the details. By your definition, an evil action is one in which a person makes an unprovoked attack on another person and enjoys it. Is that close enough?

That definition might apply to a truly sadistic person, but I don't think most people hurt each other for enjoyment. I think they do it because they feel angry/wronged/provoked/intoxicated/unheard/etc and see violence as a means of meting out justice or righting the situation or protecting themself. I also don't think most people, when they harm another person, think they are making an unprovoked attack. I think they feel justified/right.

So, after all that, we are left with a definition of evil as harming another person with the qualification that whether someone was "harmed" and what constitutes "harm" should be judged on a case by case basis. But then we get back to the original question. Who judges whether harm was done? Would people be able to come to a consensus? The court would be composed of individuals, each of whom might have a different point of view on whether the person was harmed. Harm would then be decided by majority opinion. But opinions of what is harm change over time. At one time, courts supported injustices done within the slavery system. Now they support equality, and even affirmative action.
I think my point with all my rambling is that with this definition, "evil" would be dependent on a person's (in a dictatorship) or a court's(in a democracy with a judicial branch)decision on a case by case basis. Thus, what is "evil" would fluctuate, depending on who is running the show. But this is unsatisfying to me. We should be able to say that the institution of slavery (with its violation of a person's freedoms and individual rights) is evil, even if the people in charge didn't think so.
Does that make sense?

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 7:45 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by Malachite:
That is an interesting road you take us down with the definition of evil as anything that interferes with the propagation of the species (I'm not quoting you directly, I know). In relation to my above paragraphs, is there a way to justify that definition absolutely? What I mean is, wouldn't it be just as valid for me to say that throughout the hundreds of millions of years that life existed, species have come and gone. It is not evil. It is part of the natural order of things.

How do those species feel about it? I never said one species should necessarily consider the extinction of another species evil.
Quote:

Therefore, it doesn't matter if our species comes to oblivion because the birth-life-death cycle continues on and homeostasis or balance will be restored.
I don't think it logically follows that, because other species have become extinct we shouldn't care about our own extinction. Seems like saying, “because other people have been killed in Car accidents, you shouldn't wear a seat belt”.
Quote:

Or, here is another equally valid read on that definition of evil. If interfering with the propagation of the species is evil, it is good to find ways to perpetuate the species. This includes such things as better medicines and healthier living and food for everyone but it also could mean that in this world of limited resources and overpopulation concerns, we should get rid of the elderly, the infirm and the handicapped and any other "useless" person who consumes our resources. In fact, let's limit the breeding population to only those who do not have various diseases. That way, we'll make our population even fitter and increase our chances for survival.
With you right up till you said “In this world”. I dare say that if this world was that over populated, and it's resources were that scarce, we'd already be allowing the 'useless' members of society to die, just as countless populations have done in the past when conditions have reached that level of extremity.

Our world is no where near that, otherwise there wouldn't be an obesity 'epidemic' hitting the western world, and where you find starvation conditions, for instance large swathes of Africa, you tend not to find all that many Elderly/Infirm/Handicapped, and so on. I think it's incorrect to say that extreme actions, under extreme conditions, are evil simply because they would be given our comfortable western environment.

Think about a doctor in a rich, well stocked, staffed suburban hospital, if they were to allow a patient to die that they could save, then it would be evil. If however, that doctor was operating triage in a poorly stocked, under staffed battlefield hospital, and allowed a patient to die that they could save, in order to save patients that had a better chance of survival, then that would not be evil. Yet the action, and outcome, are basically the same.



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007 8:43 AM

MALACHITE


Hey Fredgiblet: Back to the origin of life discussion. I couldn't figure out how to PM you and I didn't want to start a new thread. So, I'll try to briefly respond to you. I don't really see our points of view as being diametrically opposed (since we both respect the scientific method and are both aware that we don't have all the answers) and respect your reasoning, but since I said I'd respond, I will...

1) re: Your question about the early atmosphere composition. I just googled it and most links that popped up did not describe an early atmosphere consistent with the assumptions of the Miller experiment. In addition, the wikipedia link you sent me discusses the earth's early atmosphere and mentions the controversy regarding how it affects the relevance of the Miller experiment, so I don't think it is too off base to have some doubts about its relevance(But for me to say it definitely has no relevance was a bit too strong). Here is another interesting article which talks about Miller and the atmosphere and how his results were somewhat replicated by modifying the environment according to our current understanding of the past earth conditions: http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa004&articleID=9952573C-E7F2-
99DF-32F2928046329479&ref=rss


2) I still think that a "flaw" in the Miller experiment is the use of a trap (which, oddly, the Wikipedia entry didn't even mention...). I call it a "flaw" because, while I agree it was useful to separate out the biogenic molecules, it doesn't apply to a real life scenario, in which all of the molecules would react with eachother, and wouldn't form isolated pockets of just nucleotides or just amino acids to react independently of eachother. Without separating the components, you might get a few nucleotides reacting together, but some other chemical is bound to stick to it and gum up the works. Even if it were possible that multiple pools of organic matter were all running simultaneously over millions of years, I still can't see how we get beyond just muck to form something that is more complex than anything we've ever invented. Even if you got enough nucleotides together to form some meaningful piece of genetic information, it wouldn't be protected from the rest of the molecules around it and could form side reactions or be mangled by the energy sources at work around it. One further point: saying that amidst all these pools one was bound to form life given enough time is in some ways not scientific because such a statement cannot be disproven, nor can it be tested. It's like the comment about how if million monkeys typed a million years, one of them would perfectly write Romeo and Juliet. It is an interesting idea, but I don't see any compelling reason to believe it.

3) Regarding what you describe as my presuppositions that life had to be this way -- that is using all left-handed amino acids and reliant on a nucleotide based code: The problem is, we can't conceive of what alternative there is and we don't have any evidence for it. We also haven't demonstrated that proteins with equal proportions of mixed-handed amino acids fold into something workable. All we know is that if you put the wrong amino acid in a sequence, you have a significant chance (some argue as high as 50%) of producing a non viable protein. So, we can't conceive of/build a simpler self-replicator and we also haven't been able to demonstrate that functional proteins of mixed chirality exist. Where does this leave us? Without evidence that there is some viable precursor (yet). All we can do is hypothesize, which is not the firm scientific ground we would prefer to stand on. To reiterate, we can talk about the possibilities of life evolving some other way, but there isn't any evidence for it. Again, we are making a statement that cannot be disproven.

Sorry for the long (and unrelated to the current topic) post.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 4:26 AM

MALACHITE


Hey Fredgiblet: One more tidbit about the origin of life and my disagreement with the idea that with enough time, life would have had to arisen. I've already said that this statement can't be disproven. But this is approaching the concept from a different angle. This is another thought/analogy about the assertion that given enough time, something that defies the odds would become likely, or even inevitable. Here goes...

I remember discussing in either a physics or chemistry class the concept that at the atomic level, there is a relatively large amount of space between protons of the atoms in a solid. This has led some to consider whether, given all of this space between atoms, a person's molecules and atoms might shift in such a way that they could walk through a wall without resistance. Heck, I think someone even put a probability to this phenomenon occuring (which, of course, was incredibly low). (I'll use a probability of 1 in 10^54 times -- but I'm just making the number up and don't remember the actual number off hand)Have you heard of this concept?

Anyways, this could be an example of something with a very low probability analagous to the concept of life spontaneously originating. In our present day, we have millions of real life experiments occuring in which in any one of them, someone might actually walk through a wall, put his hand through a desk, or even just get a little bit fused with some object (like a cell phone) at the molecular level. Sure, the probability is low, but with all of the millions (or who knows how many?) of opportunities for it to occur, why hasn't it happened? Why aren't we seeing several reports a day about how some guy got his hand fused to his tennis racket, or some audience member's hands fused while they were clapping? Because the probability of such an anomaly occuring is incredibly small each time someone puts the idea to the test. Even if you did it 10^54 times (for example), that doesn't mean it is going to happen, because it doesn't keep track of how many times it has been done and each time the chances of a fusion/passing through occuring are 1 in 10^54. I would venture to say that it is unlikely for the event to ever happen, and a bit bold to claim that it would be inevitable.

This is where the lottery argument (that even though there are low odds to win at an individual level, the odds that somebody will win is fairly likely) doesn't perhaps apply to the origin of life question and can be dismissed by someone still claiming to be thoughtful and rational. Let me define some terms here to avoid confusion. I will define an "individual" as "one person" and "someone" as "one individual out of all the people who are taking part in the event". An individual's odds of winning the lottery are say one in 18 million. But people win the lottery almost everyday, because the odds that someone (out of all the people who bought a ticket) will win the lottery are much higher -- say 1 in 5 or so. Going back to the walking through walls analogy: the probability that an individual will spontaneously walk through a wall is very small (just like the odds that an individual will win the lottery). But, in contrast to the lottery, in which there is a good chance that at least someone will win, I think that the possibility that someone in all the earth will walk through a wall is still incredibly minute. Unlike the lottery, the chances that anyone will walk through the wall are much smaller, and, I would venture to say, highly unlikely, even though there are millions of chances for this to occur on a daily basis. Therefore, I think it is still rational to state that an improbable event does not have to occur if you just give it enough time and enough trials.

Did I explain myself clearly?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 12:46 PM

LEADB


True. But if the odds are 1 in 10^54, and it happens on the first try; you still have life, as unlikely as it may be. No matter how infinitessimal the odds, nothing is better than just being lucky.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 3:25 PM

ETHAN


Coming in from left field a little bit...but when all is said and done...doesn't the infinitessible low, yet eminantly possible chance of life occuring on it's own still provide a more tangible explanation than intelligent design?

Take the theory of the humoculous. Some of our ancestors from long past postulated that a tiny person lived inside each and every one of us. This tiny person was the house of our soul and will. This explanation by way of one degree seemed to satisfy some folks until it was asked what then could be controlling this tiny person- another tiny person? And so on and so on? If life could only be created by intelligent design, then what created intelligent design? If you are incredulous to believe life could spontaneously spring from chance...why wouldn't you be even more incredulous about an intelligent designer springing from no where?

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 3:57 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by ethan:
Coming in from left field a little bit...but when all is said and done...doesn't the infinitessible low, yet eminantly possible chance of life occuring on it's own still provide a more tangible explanation than intelligent design?



If melodiously piping flutes sprang from the olive, would you doubt that a knowledge of flute-playing resided in the olive? And what if plane trees bore harps which gave forth rhythmical sounds? Clearly you would think in the same way that the art of music was possessed by plane trees. Why, then, seeing that the universe gives birth to beings that are animate and wise, should it not be considered animate and wise itself?

Marci Tullii Ciceronis, De Natura Deorum,Book II.VIII
http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/cicero/nd2.shtml



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 4:11 PM

LEADB


What I personally think is amazing is the effort that is put into fleshing these 'theories' out when, at the end, they don't prove anything.

For instance, cannot we presume that, if God were any good at this universe creation thing, he could simply 'initiate' a universe with physical properties that the coming of 'semi-intelligent' life (I'm referring to humans here, in case anyone isn't sure) somewhere in that universe was pretty much a 'sure thing.' Why the constant need to say 'then God found the universe not quite to his liking and stuffed people into it'? In the 'God initiated the universe' view, science's only failing regarding the begining of life is to have failed to identify (yet) the means by which God very cleverly designed into the universe so this would happen as a pretty much 'sure fire' thing.

The only reason I can see for this is a need to literally interpret the bible; and for that reason, I tend to sit out the discussions. The folks holding onto the literal interpretation aren't going to be convinced, so I don't bother.

Intelligent Design as a 'wedge' will never work the way the folks with this agenda wish; because many scientists will grant that all they are trying to do is understand the mechanism God has put in place such that 'here we are.' It would be more honest if folks with this agenda simply stated, 'this is contrary to the Bible, the Bible is literally true, ergo, we don't accept this', rather than try to wrap psuedo-science around it; which just confuses things. The first stance I can 'accept', the second stance simply seems dishonest to me. O.. well, we do have the seperation of church and state... so they can't simply teach that the bible is literally true and thus the science is 'wrong' in a public school. Well. They are in a bind, aren't they?

You know, I'm not sure I've thought this through from the this perspective before. To me, it is -so- obvious that science is not 'incompatible with' or 'tries to prove religion is wrong'; but then I've never really pondered it from that perspective. Not that it changes my mind any, but they -really are- in a bind.

====
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:12 PM

CALHOUN


Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:18 PM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.


You do mean besides the person who opened the thread?

I found the intro to the book on-line; read that but it doesn't get sufficiently into the core of the book. I have put the corresponding book on reserve at the library.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 5:24 PM

CALHOUN


Quote:

leadb wrote:
Wednesday, May 30, 2007 17:18
Quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


You do mean besides the person who opened the thread?



I thought that point to be obvious since I was the person who opened the thread..


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Wednesday, May 30, 2007 7:58 PM

ETHAN


I've owned the book for quite some time now. Haven't got around to it yet though. Funny story about when I purchased it...I was qued up on the single line to pay and there were several cashiers. I thought to myself please when it's my turn to pay don't let me get the guy with the muslim skull cap because obviously he's religious..please please (ironic a prayer as any). As fate would have it I got his holiness. He took one look at the cover and said, "You know I hope you know God is great and he loves you." Aaaaawkward! I just kept the biggest cheshire cat smile plastered on my face and said, "Well that's great. I'm just interested to hear what this guy has to say." I took my bag like it contained a porno.


Quote:

Originally posted by Finn mac Cumhal:


If melodiously piping flutes sprang from the olive, would you doubt that a knowledge of flute-playing resided in the olive? And what if plane trees bore harps which gave forth rhythmical sounds? Clearly you would think in the same way that the art of music was possessed by plane trees. Why, then, seeing that the universe gives birth to beings that are animate and wise, should it not be considered animate and wise itself?




If A -> B it does not follow B -> A.

Example :

All cats are animals but all animals are not cats.

also

All Red Sox fans are paranoid narcissists but all paranoid narcissists are not...wait a minute, bad example.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:55 AM

6IXSTRINGJACK

[/i]


Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.



Caught.... red handed.

Sorry Calhoun. Short attention span. If it has a lot of sexy girls dancing around in bikinis in the background it's about the only way somebody is going to get me to sit through a documentary today. (Not being sexist or cheovenistinc... or not trying to be anyways... just sayin it like it is. I know... it's pretty sad. Be gentle ladies... I'm the one that's got to live with me everyday.)

IMO, a documentary is like watching a person's opinion for two hours. I know I do more than my fair share of posting my opinions here and that sounds hypocritical, but hey, I don't actually expect anything to read or believe anything I say. And most people don't! It's more for my benefit than anyone elses.



I know other people here addressed some of my earlier posts and questions and I've been MIA for about a week. I'm going to take the time to read this tonight and reply. I'm about to go to sleep. See ya'all later.

"A government is a body of people, usually notably ungoverned." http://www.myspace.com/6ixstringjack

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Thursday, May 31, 2007 2:59 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by ethan:
If A -> B it does not follow B -> A.

I guess that’s one way to miss the point.

Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.

I don’t know about that, but I haven’t watched it. And I doubt I will.



Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.

Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

-- Cicero

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Thursday, May 31, 2007 3:37 AM

LEADB


Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Quote:


You do mean besides the person who opened the thread?

I thought that point to be obvious since I was the person who opened the thread..


Oh, yeh, it was you! ;-)
Edit: Another o yeh; I did find some debate in .wav that Dawkins participated in; obviously on the topic, but not precisely the referenced documentary. Starting to get a feel for his position; still tending to think he's a bit extreme.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007 7:20 AM

MALACHITE


Quote:

Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.



I had to laugh at this comment... You are so right.

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Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:08 PM

CALHOUN


Quote:

Finn mac Cumhal wrote:
Thursday, May 31, 2007 02:59

Quote:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Calhoun:
Near 300 posts.. and I dont think anyone here has actually watched the documentary.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don’t know about that, but I haven’t watched it. And I doubt I will.



That seems to be the general concensus among religiousy types. Rule of faith number 3:If faith is challenged - stick head in the sand. Also referred to as the "ostrich manouvre".

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