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|Pascal's Wager converted me from Catholicism to Agnosticism!|
If you want some half-convincing arguments for God’s existence that you can analyze and think over yourself, read up on some Aquinas and Paley. They’re still flawed, and have opponents that effectively question them, but they’re more successful than Pascal. You could also try out some Kant, but thats a bit more difficult to get the hang of.
For anti-God purposes, Hume’s your man. He pretty much invented religious scepticism.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 6:58AM||View Drakodan's Profile | #|
Log in to see images! Hume
One part of the exam for Philosophy A-level was a 4-5 thousand word essay (we drafted it, condensed it to 100 words of notes, then had to type up the real thing in 4 hours under exam conditions) from a choice of questions — mine was comparing Descartes vs. Hume on the subject of what we can know about the external world.
Descartes pulls a lot of bull**** and concludes that because we know we exist (I think therefore I am) and hence that god exists (ideas in our mind that supposedly can’t come from anywhere else) and we know that god isn’t deceiving us (because he’s perfect, and deception indicates a fault of character) then we can know that the world exists and is as we perceive it.
Hume took the other tack; we can’t trust our senses, we can’t ever escape the fact that our experience of the world is subjective, and anything we think we know about the world is founded on cause and effect, which can’t actually be proven to be a valid principle. Thus we can’t know **** about the world, but we carry on bumuming we do out of habit. He did also challenge even the seeming certainty of our subjective existence (essentially what Chawin said; “there are thoughts. thoughts do not mean i exist. thoughts mean there are thoughts”.) but I wasn’t so taken by the idea that a thought could exist independently of a mind.man-man edited this message on 01/30/2010 7:47AM
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 7:47AM||View man-man's Profile | #|
Write this on a slip of paper:
“Here is a thought”
Then read the piece of paper: Is it a thought? Does it exist without a mind to hold it?
A much better example from modern times: The computer. It can take a thought, replicate it, and send it to other computers, and even to paper.
Does the computer hold a mind, and if so, then from whence is the mind?
Now, if computers can continually create thoughts, then can there exist a mindless state that can create and be a progenitor of thoughts?
The state of a thought without a mind, and even of transmitting and creating thoughts, seems to me to be a simple idea to grasp, given familiarity with todays technology.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 8:20AM||View Duncecap's Profile | #|
What you’re talking about is Existentialism, and some people do indeed believe that nothing exists if it is not being perceived.
Of course, this runs into the crippling fact that the Big Bang theory invalidates this, since there was NOTHING before it, therefore, nothing existed to perceive it, yet it still came into being.
Either the Big Bang theory is wrong, or Perceptive Existentialism is. The two are hugely incompatible.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 8:28AM||View Drakodan's Profile | #|
Either way, the great big daddy of all modern attacks on rationalism is Kant, by explaining that reason can never penetrate the essence of the world we live in, but rather the phenomenal world we perceive. This is funny to me because this idea was his attempt to save the rational approach from Humes’ attacks.
Edit: I now realize how off-topic i was. My bad.Patently Chill Prestidigitator edited this message on 01/30/2010 11:48AM
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 8:40AM||View Patently Chill P...'s Profile | #|
man-man Posted:In every recorded case were this happened, the leader drew on gods for his authority. As in, people might have gotten together for agricultural reasons, but the reasons they were told were religious ones. The structure of the society relied on gods to originally enforce its laws and give people reasons to stay together and listen to the leader.
Now, of course, that’s unnecessary, but when humans were first starting out, that’s was was used every time.
You consider becoming agnostic extreme lengths? I agree with your reasoning in this point of my life, however, people are motavated by self interest. Sometimes enlightened self interest.
The argument become moot when I became agnostic.
You can prove things based on bumumptions, but you can’t prove the bumumptions, they proved it:
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 10:39AM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|
Who said anything about Christian denominations?
I don’t think doing good deeds will get anyone into heaven either, but for somewhat different reasons Log in to see images!
Does that make it one of the oldest, if not the original Poe?
That’s ink and paper, nothing more. When your mind perceives what’s on the paper, interprets the shapes it sees into letters, bumembles those letters into words and those words into a meaning, then it becomes a thought. But then it’s in a mind, not on paper.
A computer can be used to store electronic versions of things that we use to represent our thoughts (letters, pictures, sound etc). The computer need not think, only copy electric signals. Once again the representation is only that.
Mmm, could well be. It’s been an effective tool for convincing people to do things for a long time.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 12:47PM||View man-man's Profile | #|
Indeed. When people first start doing stuff as a large group it seems you need gods to “trick” them to stay inline. Before you think of other forms of philosophy to show why its a good idea, and hire cops.
In a small tribe its not a issue because humans have genetic tendencies to be nice to “close friends” and everyone is your close friend in a small tribe, but that stops working as the size of the tribe increase to a chiefdom or something.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 5:17PM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|
hume is a whiny ****.
although saying that i still agree with a lot of his theories.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 5:27PM||View Chawin's Profile | #|
I’m a Zeus man myself. I mean there is a logical back story there – he got to be the supreme god by castrating and banishing his father who was the previous supreme being. Then he beat the rest of the titans in a war, then a big dragon or snake or something, then a bunch of giants. Where did your Jehovas and Allahs and such derive their authority from I ask you?
Credible back story people, it’s fundamental.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 7:11PM||View Malaise's Profile | #|
i have to agree with you.
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 7:34PM||View CrinkzPipe's Profile | #|
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 9:18PM||View man-man's Profile | #|
Right, religion was the first “tool” used to get over ‘the monkey space’ problem. Which means, at one point, it was VERY useful.
Right now its more of something that makes you part of a “group.”
“I’m gender X, nationality Y, play game Z and am religion W.”
|Posted On: 01/30/2010 10:35PM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|
Promoting the strength of an in-group is good when there’s room for mutually exclusive groups to be separate from each other and not have to interact much.
When we then clump millions of people together in single cities, (or really, even having them in separate countries that have to live next to each other) having divided groups forced into close proximity can get ugly.man-man edited this message on 01/31/2010 7:03AM
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 7:02AM||View man-man's Profile | #|
Sounds about right. However, some religious groups ARE open to ‘othersides,’ but some are VERY closed, it’s true.
I think history has taught us that people need very little provocation to hate one another anyway. If religion can’t be used, something else is.SoronTheBeast edited this message on 01/31/2010 10:27AM
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 10:26AM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|
People naturally form groups, that’s our instinct. Then any perceived difference between groups that are in semi-close contact (close enough to be aware of them, not so close as to be friendly) can lead to friction.
Somewhere around the internets I read someone describing the low-level hostility between the morning shift and late shift of a fast food place they used to work at; each group thinking the other had less to do or weren’t working hard enough. The person telling this little story had worked both shifts on occasion and could see that it wasn’t all that different.man-man edited this message on 01/31/2010 10:34AM
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 10:34AM||View man-man's Profile | #|
Well, right. Humans naturally fear ‘outsides.’ It was a very useful trait back in the day. Religion was initially used to help get over that. “Why should I not steal from the guy 3 blocks down, I don’t even know him?” “Because the storm god might burn your hut down if you do.”
Larger tribes that worked well together did better than the smaller tribes that did not. And the larger tribes had superstition/religion holding them together.
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 12:22PM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|
What about World War II?
Religion and nationality seem to create a natual rivalry, like prefessional sport teams. You want your guys to win.
Unlike science, where they leave it to more or less intellectual jokes.
There’s quite a bit of rivalry and mudslinging within the scientific community. Who gets ridiculed and dismissed? Who gets grants? Actual science may be impartial, but scientists are still apes and the direction of scientific inquiry is shaped by monkey business.
You haven’t made a compelling argument against belief in God so much as an observation/philosophic stance: doing good just for the sake of getting into Heaven isn’t really doing good.
I agree with you.
A good counter, though: regardless of your reasons, doing good still helps people.
Also, in the case of Christianity it’s not by good works but God’s grace (and/or faith) that one receives salvation. Like Shii says.
Yeah, you see philosophers making claims and then others working with the validity of their arguments ( “Is this logically self-consistent?” ) more often than anything else.
Pascal’s Wager is a satire? I hadn’t heard that before, but it makes sense. If you can post a link or explanation, I’d love to see it.
“This is a thought” is not a thought except in a mind. It is convenience that leads us to treat the words themselves as a thought. They evoke the thought when read, they represent the thought, but the meaning of symbols is arbitrary.
If you are prepared to say thoughts exist without thinkers, meaning can exist outside of minds, and the period at the end of this sentence inherently contains the meaning of life. Does it?
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 2:14PM||View Anansi's Profile | #|
To extend on my previous post, (in response to multiple people):
First of all, my argument isn’t existentialism. Certainly existentialism deals with it, (in that existentialism doubts the existence of thoughts themselves),but the root question is not of existence, but of definition.
The argument’s conclusion deals with existentialism. It says that there exists a possibility that we do not exist.
(Existentialism does not say that nothing happened if it was not perceived, it says that if something CANNOT be observed, then it does not exist. The big bang is observable.)
(Further, on a tangent, the big bang theory does not say that nothing came before it, merely that we have not, (and implies cannot), observe anything from before it. But of course, if you believe in both big bang and existentialism, then nothing came before it, because we cannot observe it).
Okay, take that piece of paper declaring “Here is a thought”, and cast it into space. Imagine that long after humanity dies out, (bumume we do), an alien race finds it, and decodes the message.
The message is something external to them. If you want to state it that way, yes, it causes thought in someone else, a thought that would not have occurred if they had not read the message, and it is the same thought as you were thinking when you wrote the sentence.
Even better, take a really large, really complex computer, and get it to simulate a human brain. Can it think? We do indeed have this technology, and we we can, in fact, with a large enough cluster, do exactly this right now. If any of you have heard about “Blue brain”, a couple of research teams are competing against each other with a simulated cat brain to discover more about neuronal interaction.
But I digress, the point is, would such a machine be able to think?
Now, can a slightly stupider machine think?
If no, then would you say that a very special human is incapable of thought?
And certainly we can think of stupider humans than some animals.
And certainly we can think of stupider animals.
At what point are they incapable of thought?
I ask the same question of a simpler and simpler computer.
At what point is a computer not able to think?
Now, here’s where I blow your mind: A computer does not need to be made of silicon or use electricity. A grid of stones in a field could be a computer, and technically speaking, with enough time, space and stones. run exactly the same software as your computer on your desk.
So even once a computer becomes too simple to be held in electronics, we can simplify it further into rocks. Or trees. Or the movement patterns of unladen swallows.
So the root question is: What is a thought? Having defined that, when is a “mind”, (seeing that ANYTHING can hold, represent, contain, change and create a thought), incapable of having a thought?
Further if we define something as having a mind if it thinks, than would we have to extend the set of things that have minds to include the universe?
I offer the definition of a mind to be an abstracted arrangement of [anything] that is capable of holding a thought.
Than, can there be a thought without me existing?
Well, how to define a thought?
We don’t need a full definition, merely an inkling, and if you agree that a thought can be had by simpler and simpler computers by comparision with things that are known to have thoughts, then yes, a thought can exist without me as part of the state of a ‘mind’.
There can be an arrangement of say, frogs on lilypads, that form “my” mind, and therefore thoughts, so the thoughts exist. But does the mind, the abstract arrangement of the frogs on lilypads, really exist?
It cannot be destroyed, it cannot be created, it can merely enter a different state.
The thoughts can all be destroyed: the system can enter the balnk state (The frogs and lilypads all die or move away),
But something does exist, though it might not be me, and the thought being a communication, much like the piece of paper, also exists, (it merely needs to be interpreted). Certainly, you can create, destroy, and act upon it. Although indirectly.
But I do not necessarily exist. Because the ‘mind’ cannot be created or destroyed, merely ‘defined’.
So yes, for some interpretation of the period at the end of your sentence, it does indeed contain the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Now, try to pick an interpretation that makes sense.
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 2:58PM||View Duncecap's Profile | #|
I would like to just state, I have argued about religion, for and against, in many places, and this has been one of the more civil discussions I have ever had, on the internet or otherwise… which is VERY surprising to me. Log in to see images!
Anansi Posted:Well, I would agree, but the idea at the time was I would still go good, regardless of heaven or not. And without heaven, the good I was doing would have ‘better’ motivation.
Anansi Posted:Right, but I was taught in sundayschool that nice non-Catholics would still get into heaven. (I formed this logic while I was still quit young.)
|Posted On: 01/31/2010 2:58PM||View SoronTheBeast's Profile | #|