An apology and an explanation

Discuss arguments for existence of God and faith in general. Any aspect of any orientation toward religion/spirituality, as long as it is based upon a positive open to other people attitude.

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QuantumTroll
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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by QuantumTroll » Wed Feb 20, 2008 5:44 am

KR Wordgazer wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote:You once said "We have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of transcendental signified since the universe does seem to fall into line with the meaning we bestow upon it." This touches on my #3. If the TSed is real, then it should be real regardless of whether or not meaning is bestowed on the universe.
What about going back a step from "meaning"? What about talking about the basic predictability of the way the universe acts, which is what gives the scientific method its foundation?
I think this "basic predictability" is likely to be a human invention, and there are two little arguments for this. First, there's the inherent unpredictability of the universe on the fundamental level. Second, there's the fact that nobody in the world has ever been able to predict the future, in the sense that we never know what we'll find next. A hundred years ago, or two decade ago, nobody could say what sort of things we'd learn about the universe in the last decade. If the universe were truly predictable, then why don't we see a clear pattern in the way it works? If our minds were so in tune with the way the universe operates, then why is it so impossible for humans to understand quantum mechanics? In my experience, the human mind has been trained for one thing only: to propagate ape-like creatures on dry land.

That's why I'm skeptical when people extrapolate from the human perspective to the universe at large. For an argument to be acceptably true, there needs to be "independent verification"... otherwise it's just so many words.
I suppose you might say from here that the TSed is the material universe itself. But that brings me right back to the quote from Chesterton I posted earlier:
"[The materialist] understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world. . . If the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. . . The whole of life is something much more grey, narrow and trivial than the many separate aspects of it. The parts seem greater than the whole."
If the material universe is the TSed, then why does it seem too limited, too inadequate for the TS?
I think the material universe is awesome. I'm sorry it doesn't live up to your expectations. Actually, it boggles my mind that the universe can be viewed as "inadequate". We're part of the universe, too, you know! We're also animated bits of planet Earth, so I think our planet is really awesome as well. And think about it, you're here because 3 billion years of ancestors were successful "winners". That's a pedigree proud enough for anyone.

In other words, I found your last statements baffling. Can you explain what you mean?

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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by Metacrock » Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:23 am

hey QT I'm still waiting for someone to do the 1x1 board with me. How about it? why we have a debate on this, or anything you want.
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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by QuantumTroll » Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:50 am

Metacrock wrote:hey QT I'm still waiting for someone to do the 1x1 board with me. How about it? why we have a debate on this, or anything you want.
Hehe, I've had a post in a thread of yours on the 1x1 board for some time now. I'm not sure why you didn't see it. Here, the URL in cleartext: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=40&p=603#p603.

The topic of that post has interested me for a long time, and I hope you'll pick up the thread. Frankly, I have no idea what your argumentation is going to look like, because I see very clearly that the premise we're arguing is false. The general idea I have is that the effects of mystical experiences in do not prove the existence of the divine, because they're completely consistent with the mundane material world that we see every day. I wish you good luck in this debate! This seems like the sort of nut we might actually be able to crack, and find a consensus on.

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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed Feb 20, 2008 3:34 pm

QuantumTroll wrote: I think the material universe is awesome. I'm sorry it doesn't live up to your expectations. Actually, it boggles my mind that the universe can be viewed as "inadequate". We're part of the universe, too, you know! We're also animated bits of planet Earth, so I think our planet is really awesome as well. And think about it, you're here because 3 billion years of ancestors were successful "winners". That's a pedigree proud enough for anyone.

In other words, I found your last statements baffling. Can you explain what you mean?
Did I say I thought the universe was inadequate? If I did, that's not what I meant. I meant II thought the materialistic, naturalistic view of the universe was inadequate. For example, I give you two of your own statements:
In my experience, the human mind has been trained for one thing only: to propagate ape-like creatures on dry land.
The general idea I have is that the effects of mystical experiences in do not prove the existence of the divine, because they're completely consistent with the mundane material world that we see every day.
(Emphasis on "mundane" mine]

In answer to the first quote, about humans propagating ape-like creatures, I give you Lord Byron:

"There be none of Beauty's daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull'd winds seem dreaming:

And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain oe'r the deep,
Whose breast is gently heaving
As an infant's asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion
Like the swell of Summer's ocean."


But what you want to do is reduce all this to "the propagation of ape-like creatures on dry land." Love is only a mating urge coupled with imagination. You've turned the human experience into a mere firing of nerve cells, like dissassembling a machine, And then (I'm guessing based on your next quote about peak experiences) you want to inform me that my deepest, most sacred religious experiences and sensibilities are only some kind of physical reaction to some "mundane" stimulus, or the tinglings of mis-fired brain cells.

How could I not find this "more grey, narrow and trivial" than the actual universe I experience? How could I not prefer the poets? And the preachers? How could I not think them more true to what life really is? How could I not believe the TSed is something outside and above the mere movement of particles, which is all the universe is to the materialist?

As for this:
I think this "basic predictability" is likely to be a human invention, and there are two little arguments for this. First, there's the inherent unpredictability of the universe on the fundamental level. Second, there's the fact that nobody in the world has ever been able to predict the future, in the sense that we never know what we'll find next.
Then why bother with making and testing hypothesis at all? In fact, why bother with science?
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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by QuantumTroll » Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:09 pm

KR Wordgazer wrote: Did I say I thought the universe was inadequate? If I did, that's not what I meant. I meant II thought the materialistic, naturalistic view of the universe was inadequate.
I know what you meant, but since the naturalistic universe is the only universe that I believe exists, what you said is equivalent to saying that my universe is an inadequate one. Apparently, you mean it too..
But what you want to do is reduce all this to "the propagation of ape-like creatures on dry land." Love is only a mating urge coupled with imagination. You've turned the human experience into a mere firing of nerve cells, like dissassembling a machine, And then (I'm guessing based on your next quote about peak experiences) you want to inform me that my deepest, most sacred religious experiences and sensibilities are only some kind of physical reaction to some "mundane" stimulus, or the tinglings of mis-fired brain cells.

How could I not find this "more grey, narrow and trivial" than the actual universe I experience? How could I not prefer the poets? And the preachers? How could I not think them more true to what life really is? How could I not believe the TSed is something outside and above the mere movement of particles, which is all the universe is to the materialist?
Knowing how the universe really is and how we operate is on par with the greatest poetry. The subjective experience is an important part of life, and it is in no way diminished by the understanding of how the experience comes to be. Personally, I think the world becomes enhanced, more detailed, and more satisfying when scientific understanding is brought to bear. I'm a photography enthusiast, and was temporarily a student of computer graphics. The entire aim of this pursuit is to make images that move people. You don't take pictures to show people how things usually look, you take pictures to show people the way things are. By learning more about the camera, how light interacts with the world, and how people see pictures, I become better at photography. Other people have other pursuits, and I'm sure that a deeper understanding of the world has brought more appreciation and also more success.

Take the people who try to heal mental illnesses. They learn everything about how the mind works and how the brain is put together, and dedicate their lives to treating troubled people. If more scientific knowledge of the human mind were harmful to one's perception of reality, how could psychologists and psychiatrists have enough strength to deal with the situations they see? Would a sky bereft of its naive mystery hold so many astronomers captive, if greater understanding did not lead to greater appreciation? I still don't find anything gray or drab about the material universe. Hehe, maybe you might as well explain color to a blind man?
As for this:
I think this "basic predictability" is likely to be a human invention, and there are two little arguments for this. First, there's the inherent unpredictability of the universe on the fundamental level. Second, there's the fact that nobody in the world has ever been able to predict the future, in the sense that we never know what we'll find next.
Then why bother with making and testing hypothesis at all? In fact, why bother with science?
There's no telling if science is able to answer all the questions. I think it probably can't. Maybe some of the questions we'll find will be of a type that is unanswerable by human type intelligence, or maybe we can't even formulate those questions to begin with. We do science because science includes a kill-switch for ideas that are inconsistent with reality. That means we'll stop doing science when science stops working. But honestly, the quote by me that you quoted wasn't very thought-out or relevant. It was intended as a little warning to question whether the assumption that things are nice and regular holds - there are always large and small surprises just around the corner, chaos and randomness are nature parts of existence.

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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by KR Wordgazer » Wed Feb 20, 2008 9:16 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:
KR Wordgazer wrote: Did I say I thought the universe was inadequate? If I did, that's not what I meant. I meant II thought the materialistic, naturalistic view of the universe was inadequate.
I know what you meant, but since the naturalistic universe is the only universe that I believe exists, what you said is equivalent to saying that my universe is an inadequate one. Apparently, you mean it too..
:P Don't take it personally. Since you are convinced my God, the most important aspect of my life, is all in my head, I think we're even. :mrgreen: I won't take it personally, either, heh, heh.
Take the people who try to heal mental illnesses. They learn everything about how the mind works and how the brain is put together, and dedicate their lives to treating troubled people. If more scientific knowledge of the human mind were harmful to one's perception of reality, how could psychologists and psychiatrists have enough strength to deal with the situations they see? Would a sky bereft of its naive mystery hold so many astronomers captive, if greater understanding did not lead to greater appreciation?


I don't recall saying "more scientific knowledge" was "harmful" in any way. I'm all for scientific knowledge. Science has its limits, that's all. It's a tool. You don't use a ruler to measure air pressure. You don't use science to understand transcendence.
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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by QuantumTroll » Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:49 am

KR, it's really pretty interesting to find how differently people see the world. Your God is in your head, my Universe is drab and incomplete. I guess I was fishing for more of an explanation why you think a material universe is only the watery cabbage on the buffet table of existence. Maybe it's just that I've learned to enjoy watery cabbage, or maybe the buffet table is different from what you think. Or something.

So science is a tool, and it has limits. Yes, I agree with that. "You don't use science to understand transcendence." gets at the crux of the problem, I think. While only science can't be used to understand transcendence, I think science can still be used as a part of the investigation (to check if your answers are self-consistent, and to make sure your answers don't contradict other things we know). That's essentially how I think scientific methods should be used in domains where it traditionally "doesn't apply". Now, I must admit that some of the things I've written in this thread don't rigorously adhere to this guideline, but do you agree with this idea in principle?

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Re: An apology and an explanation

Post by Metacrock » Thu Feb 21, 2008 10:38 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:KR, it's really pretty interesting to find how differently people see the world. Your God is in your head, my Universe is drab and incomplete. I guess I was fishing for more of an explanation why you think a material universe is only the watery cabbage on the buffet table of existence. Maybe it's just that I've learned to enjoy watery cabbage, or maybe the buffet table is different from what you think. Or something.

So science is a tool, and it has limits. Yes, I agree with that. "You don't use science to understand transcendence." gets at the crux of the problem, I think. While only science can't be used to understand transcendence, I think science can still be used as a part of the investigation (to check if your answers are self-consistent, and to make sure your answers don't contradict other things we know). That's essentially how I think scientific methods should be used in domains where it traditionally "doesn't apply". Now, I must admit that some of the things I've written in this thread don't rigorously adhere to this guideline, but do you agree with this idea in principle?
I agree. like all those scientific studies about religious experince. :mrgreen:
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