Print Story Apparently HuSi is boring
Shall we spice things up with a controversial yet honest question?

Is it possible for humanity to generally abandon the concept of a supernatural god?



If you're a big fan of "intelligent design" or some other sort of fundamentalist nonsense you can pretty much just screw off at this point because I'm not talking to you here.  There's really no question that belief in a omniscient creator God in the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic tradition is pretty ridiculous, that much is obvious enough.  However for whatever reason those beliefs have persisted long past the point where there was any real chance of them being true.  Nietzsche pointed out quite some time ago that God was dead, but still people cling to their faiths.

Why do they persist?  For one they accompany traditions, a link to the past via rituals that some people have come to enjoy.  Another important point is that they provide comfort in times of severe distress, I know from experience how some people rely on faith to deal with the loss of a loved one.  And I cannot discount the personal experiences of people who feel that they have been "touched" somehow by an experience they attribute to the supernatural.  For those reasons and more it seems that humans cling to these religions long after they have been utterly discredited by science.

Over the years I have come to accept this as a reality, that while I am strangely missing the "religious capacity" which seems to be a general human feature... it's here to stay as a human need whether I like it or not.  This leads directly into another question, which is how can civilization thrive while believing in things which are obviously false?  You can then probably see how it becomes paramount to try to ensure that the "foolish humans" cling to religious beliefs that are compatible with civilization.

This thought process led to some of the more heated conversations I've had in the past where I had the gall to suggest that Islam is actually worse than the other major religions, which of course received the predictable and offensive retort that I must be a xenophobe racist bigoted etc for making the suggestion.  But it remains true that for whatever reason you'd prefer to assign Islam has shown itself to be less compatible with civilization than it's counterparts.  This is obviously controversial but it seems only logical that people such as myself who are interested in progressive civil society that Islam should be discouraged and that people should instead be encouraged to take on beliefs which are less destructive to society.

However lately I've been reading the delightful new book by Richard Dawkins based on his Root of all Evil? series, The God Delusion.  He makes a persuasive argument that contrary to my perhaps arrogant suggestion, humanity in general is capable of abandoning these kinds of false beliefs entirely.  This would make my controversial suggestion a moot point because we would then discourage all religion not just the worst ones.

So which is it?  Is it naive to think that we could have an atheistic society without the use of force that was applied for example in the USSR?  Or perhaps it is too arrogant of me to suggest that people in general are incapable of dealing with life without the crutch that religious belief provides.  As with all life's difficult questions, this will be resolved by a multiple choice poll on HuSi.

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Apparently HuSi is boring | 167 comments (167 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Buy an add. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:18:39 AM EST
n/t

And then teach me to spell. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:22:39 AM EST
n/t

[ Parent ]
But... by theantix (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:23:34 AM EST
I already bought a subtract and if I buy an add they will cancel each other out.  Then I'll cry because I'll have nothing but will have spent all my hard earned money.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Logic Is Evil. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:26:40 AM EST
It leads to non-subjective insights, and we all know where those lead...

Gay marriage.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Yup by theantix (2.00 / 0) #9 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:29:09 AM EST
When they let The Gays marry in Canada I had no choice but to flee the country.

I assume it's mostly ashes now from the hellfire that has been raining down steadily since I left, right?
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
The omnipresent snow cancelled it out by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #24 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:14:24 PM EST
And now it's all slush and sodomy.

[ Parent ]
it might be really uncool to say this, but by theantix (2.00 / 0) #27 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:20:08 PM EST
lol
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Mmm... Sodomy slushies... by Gully Foyle (2.00 / 0) #76 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 12:40:33 AM EST
nt

[ Parent ]
Err, by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #78 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 12:52:18 AM EST
plsdon'tpstpixkthx.

[ Parent ]
I wondered what happened to that Dawkins guy by georgeha (4.00 / 4) #3 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:23:00 AM EST
He kind of dropped out of sight after that Schwarzenegger movie and the Family Feud. I figured a jealous husband got him after too many kisses with the moms.


hrm by theantix (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:39:36 AM EST
I'm missing the reference, can someone enlighten this dumb antix?
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Here you go. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #13 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:48:34 AM EST
nice by theantix (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:54:47 AM EST
The wording of the question makes it easy to answer you with a single word: you.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawson (xp) by lolwhat (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:53:31 AM EST

--
If cigarette packs are required to have pictures of diseased lungs, college brochures should be required to have photos of grads working at Starbucks.
[ Parent ]
OMG!!! by calla (2.00 / 0) #62 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 04:27:15 PM EST
He married one of the women he met on the show.

Did the whole affair start with one of his famous kisses?

"but i have a vested interest in keeping the people who see me naked interested in continuing to see me naked." 256

[ Parent ]
IANAZ... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:24:00 AM EST
I am not a zealot, but it seems to me that many of the reasons usually trotted out to defend the need for religion (hardwired theory, social cohesiveness theory, soul maintenance theory) aren't necessarily hinged on supernatural belief.

That is to say: I believe one can live a psycho-emotionally fulfilling life without investing belief in magic.

I wholeheartedly deny the image of atheists as uniformly morally adrift, spiritually bereft husks with no notion of the sacred.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the world needs more spiritual frameworks or soul searching clubs that are not predicated on imaginary mega-parents. Anybody got any bright ideas?


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
Addendum: by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:25:24 AM EST
If it wasn't clear from my remarks, I'd go with Poll Option #2.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
re: IANAZ... by theantix (4.00 / 1) #8 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:28:04 AM EST
"So, I guess what I'm saying is that maybe the world needs more spiritual frameworks or soul searching clubs that are not predicated on imaginary mega-parents. Anybody got any bright ideas?"

Really, I had not properly considered this idea before.  I freely admit that the most likely cause is arrogance, or perhaps exhaustion.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
taoism by 256 (4.00 / 1) #126 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:38:01 AM EST
rinzai zen
Spinozan pantheism
---
I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
So, What You're Saying Is... by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #133 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 12:33:56 PM EST
...we should forcibly convert everyone to Taoism!

We'll call it the Zhengyi Inquisition and give it a good spin for TV. After a brief period of inarguably necessary horror everything will come up peachy keen.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
More interesting questions are by yicky yacky (4.00 / 4) #10 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:31:02 AM EST

Is it necessary for humanity to generally abandon the concept of a supernatural god?

Is it a good thing for humanity to generally abandon the concept of a supernatural god?

Would we want an atheistic society?

I'm something of a teapot agnostic and I find the majority of atheists overwhelmingly tedious.


----
Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
more interesting to you, maybe by theantix (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:37:50 AM EST
Your questions are of a different sort, the answer is likely not the same for everyone because they contain subjective judgements.  Neccessary for what purpose, good thing for whom, who is the "we" who wants?  I'm more interested in if it's even possible as it relates to the thought process I laid out in the initial diary.

"I'm something of a teapot agnostic"

Seriously dude, teapots exist.  You can even buy them on Amazon.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
The majority of athiests... by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #26 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:17:27 PM EST
Probably won't share their beliefs unprompted.

[ Parent ]
In general, yes by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #33 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:36:05 PM EST
but here, the ratio of atheist proselytising to religous proselytising is pretty high. I find that where belief systems clash here, it's generally the former who do it with rudeness, if rudeness occurs.

[ Parent ]
Really? Where do you live? by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #66 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 07:45:30 PM EST
Generally if I encounter proselytizing, it's religious. I don't know that it's possible to proselytize politely, it's rather rude by definition.

[ Parent ]
I was talking about on HuSi. by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #71 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 10:58:04 PM EST
I'd say that this article counts as proselytism. Wouldn't you?

[ Parent ]
No... by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #72 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:05:20 PM EST
It was specifically directed at the non religious. Is a church sermon proselytism?

[ Parent ]
It is if it's given in public. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #74 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:41:53 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Last I checked by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #75 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 12:26:34 AM EST
Churches were considered public buildings. Most allow and encourage members of the public to drop by. Here, the first thing said was "God botherers please go away".

[ Parent ]
If you go to a church, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #77 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 12:50:57 AM EST
you know what you're getting.

When you say most atheists won't share their beliefs unprompted, I think it's fair for me to point out that in this place, the only place we all have in common, there is plenty more sharing of atheist beliefs and plenty more ridicule of people who don't share them than there is ridicule and sharing going the other way.

I don't object to the article, and I'm certainly not going to argue explicitly in favour of my own beliefs here, but I did step in to correct what I see as a misperception.

[ Parent ]
You knew what you were getting... by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #79 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:17:17 AM EST
After reading the first paragraph. You knew you weren't the nominal intended audience if you're religious.

That said, I don't think there's anything particularly offensive about ridiculing religious beliefs. Sometimes people need to vent, and it usually not trying to convert anyone, just annoyance about people pushing their religion where it does not belong. It's really no different than venting about spam.

[ Parent ]
Exactly. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #80 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:38:27 AM EST
The article's fine by me, and there's some interesting things to read in it and the discussion following.

My original point was that almost the only unsolicited proselytising I experience in my life was occasional hectoring of the religious here and in a few other places on the internet, and that's the point I was making. I didn't mean to draw this article into it, but I wasn't concentrating when I did.

Ridicule is always offensive to those ridiculed of course, but I accept that sometime it's fair game. Many times, of course, it isn't.

Anyway, I'll bow out here, because I don't want to take over the story explaining how my minor quibble was just a minor quibble.

[ Parent ]
fair enough by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #83 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:37:02 AM EST
I'll roll my eyes along with you at atheists with the zeal of the converted.

[ Parent ]
That's probably true of most people in general by lm (4.00 / 1) #47 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:54:44 PM EST
Look at the US. The overwhelming majority of US citizens self-identify as being Christians. Yet only a small, albeit vocal, minority of US Citizens constantly push their beliefs on others whether they want to hear them or not.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I don't think so by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #68 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 07:53:20 PM EST
I'd say the majority of Americans of my parents generation or older approve of pushing Christianity on others. I'm not sure what the portion of younger generations would be, but I doubt it could be called a minority. 50% of voting Americans supposedly voted for Bush, after all.

I don't know how productive it is to look at Americans for this, though. The US is rather unique in the western world in religious penetration.

[ Parent ]
Were your parents from the Bible belt? by lm (2.00 / 0) #81 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:11:38 AM EST
Less than half of Christians in the US label themselves as Evangelical, Mormon or as a Jehovah's Witness. These are the only significantly sized Christian movements with strong traditions of proselytization and even within those movements, it isn't universal.

According to adherents dot com, 54% of US citiens label themselves as Protestant, Mormon or as a Jehovah's Witness. Once you remove the groups that are not known for proselytization (most Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterians) you've got a minority. Sure some of these groups I've named as not being known for proselytizing do proselytize, but some Evangelicals don't.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
No by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #84 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:41:21 AM EST
I'm Canadian, and the son of an Irish Catholic mother and an Irish Anglican father, but that's another story.

I wasn't really referring to Bible thumping on the corner or protesting funerals because god hates fags. I meant the quieter sort that votes for pro life politicians because the Church says that's not kosher.

[ Parent ]
There's that sort too by lm (2.00 / 0) #86 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:25:21 AM EST
But all the polls I've seen say that the vast majority of US citizens want to keep abortion legal regardless of whether or not they are Catholic or Protestant. While I have no reason to assume that the same is true in Canada, I would be surprised if things were different north of the US/Canadian border.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
It's a bit different by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #150 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 12:02:29 AM EST
Canada has a lot more outright non-religious people, where as I believe the US doesn't have a significant percentage. Perhaps it polarizes things a bit.

[ Parent ]
The US has 5% by lm (2.00 / 0) #151 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 01:55:59 AM EST
Behind Christianity, non-believers are the single largest grouping in the US by religious beliefs (or in this case lack thereof).

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Yeah... by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #157 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 08:20:58 AM EST
I looked it up, and it's about 16% overall in Canada. 35% in BC, where I am, and probably much higher in Vancouver.

[ Parent ]
Silly question by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #135 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:46:36 PM EST
Are there many churches called "evangelical" simply due to biblical mandates that may not reflect the churches actions? I know my mother said that as a girl she would refer to her church as "Zion Evangelical Luthran and Reformed" (I'm not sure about punctuation). I suspect that there was a group of German Prostants simply calling themselves "Evangelicals" and acting and believing much like Luthrans".

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Only the good Lord knows by lm (2.00 / 0) #138 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:23:52 PM EST
On the one hand, the ``evangelical'' movement is a well defined section of Christianity that centers around those sects that consider themselves to be ``born again.'' Almost all fundamentalist groups are a subset of the evangelical movement.

On the other hand, there are quite a few congregations that have the word in their names that don't seem to have any evangelical fervor. The evangelical Lutherans that you named, for example, don't typically display evangelical behavior.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
sure. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #115 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 07:33:17 AM EST
that's why we've had what, 5 atheists are great, all religion is stupid posts in the past 2 days and 0 convert to my relgion posts ever?


[ Parent ]
I don't recall the others... by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #149 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 11:49:03 PM EST
But how many of them are reactive rather than proactive? ie, a response to something like creationism in schools, or religious mores in laws?

[ Parent ]
I suspect by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 1) #90 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:25:28 AM EST
Most people who claim to be atheists are actually agnostics.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Those who misunderstand Nietzsche ... by lm (4.00 / 3) #16 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:56:15 AM EST
Nietzsche pointed out quite some time ago that God was dead, but still people cling to their faiths.

That's a pretty bad distortion of what Nietzsche was all about. His point was that science had replaced God as the object of faith in the modern world. Belief in modernism (notably the Cartesian method which is the foundation of all modern science) killed God, but modernism itself (God's shadow) remains in its place. For Nietzsche, the great must transcend even this and go beyond Good and Evil.

But let's get practical. Soviet era Russia seems to have done a fairly decent job in driving out belief in God in a very significantly sized segment of the population. I think it safe to conjecture that this points towards the possibility of human society existing on a functional level without belief in God.

But I'm with yicky yacky. I don't think that this is a very interesting question. There are far more interesting questions about God and belief (or lack thereof) in God.

And your last paragraph is pablum. Imagine if elements of the most radical of the Christian Right came to complete political power in all of Europe and  North America. 1000 years after this event, Christianity would look much like the picture you paint of Islam. What Islam needs is a Rennaissance where its thinkers look back to the golden age of the nineth and tenth centuries in much the same way as the Rennaissance looked back to ancient Greece and Rome. The problem with Islam was the political triumph of the political philosophy of al-Ghazali.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
heh by theantix (4.00 / 2) #22 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:01:04 PM EST
"Soviet era Russia seems to have done a fairly decent job in driving out belief in God in a very significantly sized segment of the population. I think it safe to conjecture that this points towards the possibility of human society existing on a functional level without belief in God."

Heh, amazing how despite my explicitly saying if the change could occur without a use of force such as in the USSR, you come back with a reply about how it happened with a use of force in the USSR.  Well done, sir.  Well done.

"That's a pretty bad distortion of what Nietzsche was all about. His point was that science had replaced God as the object of faith in the modern world."

That's a pretty bad distortion of what Nietzsche was all about.  Perhaps in your philosophy classes you've come up with a clever but ridiculous reinterpretation of those texts as academics are prone to do, but this is divorced from any sort of connection to the actual writing.  Wikipedia's explanation fits my pre-existing understanding perfectly.  So if it's an unfair distortion I'm certainly not just making shit up, it's just reading what he wrote and not trying to cleverly re-evaluate it 100 years later for a PhD thesis.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
That's a pretty bad distortion of what Nietzche by 606 (2.00 / 0) #32 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:35:01 PM EST
was all about.

Altered is Zarathustra; a child hath Zarathustra become; an awakened
one is Zarathustra: what wilt thou do in the land of the sleepers?
  As in the sea hast thou lived in solitude, and it hath borne thee
up. Alas, wilt thou now go ashore? Alas, wilt thou again drag thy body
thyself?"
  Zarathustra answered: "I love mankind."
  "Why," said the saint, "did I go into the forest and the desert? Was
it not because I loved men far too well?
  Now I love God: men, I do not love. Man is a thing too imperfect for
me. Love to man would be fatal to me."
  Zarathustra answered: "What spake I of love! I am bringing gifts
unto men."
  "Give them nothing," said the saint. "Take rather part of their
load, and carry it along with them- that will be most agreeable unto
them: if only it be agreeable unto thee!
  If, however, thou wilt give unto them, give them no more than an
alms, and let them also beg for it!"
  "No," replied Zarathustra, "I give no alms. I am not poor enough for
that."
  The saint laughed at Zarathustra, and spake thus: "Then see to it
that they accept thy treasures! They are distrustful of anchorites,
and do not believe that we come with gifts.
  The fall of our footsteps ringeth too hollow through their
streets. And just as at night, when they are in bed and hear a man
abroad long before sunrise, so they ask themselves concerning us:
Where goeth the thief?
  Go not to men, but stay in the forest! Go rather to the animals! Why
not be like me- a bear amongst bears, a bird amongst birds?"
  "And what doeth the saint in the forest?" asked Zarathustra.
  The saint answered: "I make hymns and sing them; and in making hymns
I laugh and weep and mumble: thus do I praise God.
  With singing, weeping, laughing, and mumbling do I praise the God
who is my God. But what dost thou bring us as a gift?"
  When Zarathustra had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and
said: "What should I have to give thee! Let me rather hurry hence lest
I take aught away from thee!"- And thus they parted from one
another, the old man and Zarathustra, laughing like schoolboys.
  When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: "Could it
be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it,
that God is dead!"

I'm no philosopher but the way I interpret this passage from Thus Spoke Zarathustra is that the concept of God as an unattainable ideal beyond human grasp is dead (and laughable). Instead we must strive to be the best that we can become as humans, the Superman. The Superman is not explicitly tied to science but science is an important part in developing the Superman. But Nietzche talks about the death of God in lots of other places too, so I could be wrong.

-----
imagine dancing banana here

[ Parent ]
Let's distort like it was 1999! by theantix (2.00 / 0) #35 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:45:42 PM EST
Unfortunately TSZ was written after Gay Science which was the origin of Nietszche's term.  From that book (yes I lazily copied and pasted from wikipedia) it explains what he means.  The quote you pasted "has he not heard it?" makes it very clear that it is referencing a previous definition.

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? That which was the holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet possessed has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we purify ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we need to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it?

____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
You've yet to show any distortion by lm (2.00 / 0) #41 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:24:11 PM EST
Nothing you've presented and nothing in the Wikipedia article you've linked to contradict my explanation of Nietzsche as being opposed to the way that you've addressed his ``God is dead'' quote. In fact, my understanding is the conventional understanding. From the article you linked to:

This is why in "The Madman", the madman addresses not believers, but atheists — the problem is to retain any system of values in the absence of a divine order.

The Madman in the ``God is dead'' vignette is preaching to atheists. The shadow of God that remains is modernism, specifically Enlightenment modernism that believes in science as a route to absolutes, and is the object of disdain to the Madman. This is Nietzsche's argument against not only religion but against any objective truth.

Consider another portion of The Gay Science:

After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave--a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but give the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be sown.  --And we--we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.

This is actually the first appearance of the doctrine of ``God is dead'' in Nietzsche. The key to understanding it is to take it context of the rest of Nietzsche. Knowledge in his view is never absolute, but convention, an artifice of men. Truth itself is a value assigned to ideas by men. Modernism, scientific rationalism that believes in objective truth, is one of the very problems that Nietasche is arguing makes men mediocre instead of aspiring to greatness like the Greeks of old that Nietzsche so admires.

Go back and read Book I of The Gay Science which contains a full frontal assault on science itself. Then read the pericope about God being dead with understanding of the context in which Nietasche himself placed it.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
hahahahahahah by theantix (4.00 / 1) #48 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:57:48 PM EST
Fucking language.  By which I mean that I'm a terrible writer.

I get it now.

I wrote Nietzsche pointed out quite some time ago that God was dead, but still people cling to their faiths.  What I meant was "Nietzsche pointed out that God was dead, but even though that was a quite some time ago people still cling to their faiths. 

I did not mean what you (quite  reasonably) read, being Nietzsche pointed out quite some time ago that "God was dead, but still people cling to their faiths".  Because of this interpretation of my bad writing you then went into an explanation about the shadow representing modernism.  But as you were addressing a position I didn't intend to make I was baffled by your response and missed the point and thought you were challenging my very simple remark with a bunch of obfuscation.

Sorry for the confusion, I guess I'm just so used to disagreeing with you I ignored the very interesting point you were actually making.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
I don't see the difference by lm (2.00 / 0) #51 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:10:21 PM EST
Except in one you put the words in Nietzsche's mouth and in the other you use Nietzsche's words to buttress the point coming out of your mouth. Nietzsche thought that society was esssentially atheist by his time, or at least that anyone who mattered was an atheist.

The salient point of all this pedantry about what Nietzsche menat is twofold. First, that Nietzsche would  most likely place Dawkins' argument in the ``Shadow of God'' category so use of his ``God is dead'' quote is kind of ironic, or at least humorous. Second, Nietzsche believed that the world you're wondering about was sufficiently achieved not only in ancient Greece but also in his day.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
among the elites, sure by theantix (2.00 / 0) #56 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:20:16 PM EST
I'm not talking about the elites -- for all intents and purposes the intellectional elites in our society are atheistic today, which for all I know may have been true then as well.  I'm talking about the general population who have persisted in these beliefs long past the point where it was intellectually defensible. 

My point was not to debate the finer points of what Nietzsche did or did not think, just that it's a famous quote that illustrates how long it has been since you could get away with seriously contemplating supernatural causes and creator gods.  If you want to turn that into a joke about what Nietzsche would have thought about Dawkins, be my guest.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
You're the one that introduced Nietzsche by lm (2.00 / 0) #88 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:57:33 AM EST
But I'll stop the pissing match over his relevance to the point at hand.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I have to admit I've not read Zarathustra by lm (2.00 / 0) #43 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:43:01 PM EST
But The Gay Science and Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche argues that science stands in the way of individuals becoming great. Science, in Nietzsche's view, leads to the Cartesian reduction of the Genesis problem which has as its solution the creation of an infinity of devices to satiate every imaginable desire and the perfection of medical science to alleviate every ailment up to and including death. This is anathema to Nietasche who believes that one of the cardinal problems of modern society is the flight from pain and suffering. Without great suffering, Nietzsche argues, there is no greatness but only the middle ground of mediocrity.

Mediocrity, Nitezsche argues, is the product of science which we moderns put up in the former place of God. Science is God's shadow and it remains despite the fact that we've killed God.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
My apparent problem with Nietzche by 606 (4.00 / 1) #131 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 11:46:13 AM EST
is that when I read his stuff directly (and only bits and pieces I've read) I think "wow, he's so right! What a great thinker!" but then when people come around to tell me what he actually meant I think "wow, Nietzche was a complete nutcase!" Hmm.

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imagine dancing banana here
[ Parent ]
My guess is that you haven't /read/ Nietzsche by lm (2.00 / 0) #134 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:11:50 PM EST
Taken by themselves, Nietzsche penned quite a few aphorisms that make quite a lot of sense. He also wrote a fair number of works (Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks for example) that were seminal in the field and contained some absolutely brilliant insights.

But when you sit down and read works like The Gay Science and On the Genealogy of Morals all the way through and tie together all the various pieces, he comes off quite differently. Most of what I put forth as being the consensus view of Nietzsche comes straight out of Book I of TGS.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Atheism in the former Soviet Bloc by lm (2.00 / 0) #42 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:33:26 PM EST
Very large segments of former Soviet Bloc countries are still quite atheist. As far as I'm aware, they are no longer being forced to be so. The last poll I've seen of Russians, as one example, showed that less than half of Russians believe in God.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
The real reason was to replace by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #136 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 01:52:20 PM EST
religeon with Communism. It doesn't look like Communism is all that effective a religeon. I suspect that a prophet should never allow his followers to judge the effects of following the prophesy while he's (or his heirarchy) still stringing them along.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Actually, not by lm (2.00 / 0) #139 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:31:52 PM EST
Faith in God was utterly incompatible with Marxist-Leninism because Marxist-Leninism is built on materialism. Anyone that is not a materialist, which Christians aren't, poses a threat to Marxist-Leninism. Sovietism wasn't really trying to replace religion because the true believers thought that religion would wither on the vine all by itself once the revolution was complete. It just so happens that all those pesky Christians were held to be part of why the revolution was running into stumbling blocks.

Unfortunately, the Soviets never really took Marx to  heart. If they had, they'd have realized that Russia was not ready for the Revolution as it had yet to be come an industrial capitalist society. Marx would have argued that the real Revolution can't happen until until society truly only contains two classes: the capitalists and the workers. At that point, the overthrow of the ruling class leaves only one united class: the workers. A revolution before that point leaves several unresolved problems: a bourgeoise, artisans, feudal lords, etc. The result is just a big mess.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Not faith in God by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #153 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 03:30:10 AM EST
Faith in Communism.
It didn't work, too few true believers.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Which is why if failed by lm (4.00 / 1) #154 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 03:46:59 AM EST
Communism, at least in the Marxist school, isn't supposed to take faith. Faith in Marx's materialist view of history is an ideology, the product of the social relations that can be built on the particular mode of production that forms the base of a given society. The idea behind Marxist is entirely one of empirical fact. If a regime needs `faith' in the system after the revolution, the revolution wasn't The Revolution.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
So by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #161 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 03:03:25 AM EST
The US just about fit's Marx's needed state.  The current practices of the Republican Party probably pushes us all that much closer.  Fifty to a hundred years more maybe.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't say `just about' by lm (4.00 / 1) #163 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 03:16:42 AM EST
But certainly on the way.

Although I don't know what Marx would have made of the growing service economy in the US. Marx assumed that industrial capitalism was the final mode of production before The Revolution but industrial capitalism assumes a manufacturing base. I think that Marx also overlooked the possibility of reverting to something more akin to feudalism.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Good points by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #164 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 04:28:52 AM EST
Marx has come across as being a bit naive and I don't doubt that he wouldn't have considered that economic/political systems aren't necessarily evolutionary.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Marx was a closet Aristotelean by lm (2.00 / 0) #165 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 04:53:51 AM EST
He was a firm believer in a teleological universe. He maintained his Hegelian heritage at least on that point, that human society is on an predestined voyage to its final destination.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Makes sense by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #166 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 05:44:08 AM EST
Fits the time period of his writing.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
Hari Seldon - Hari Seldon - Hari Seldon by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #167 Sat Oct 14, 2006 at 03:32:38 PM EST
Late comment, sorry.

Wumpus
Didn't Asimov (but to be on topic, not Marx) live long enough to see the notion of computable future history impossible? He died in the 90s, during roughly the era where chaos was red hot.

[ Parent ]
I concur wrt Islam by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #28 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:20:56 PM EST
It's also important to note that the Enlightenment probably wouldn't have happened if the Islamic world hadn't kept the products of Greek and Roman civilization safe from the Christian barbarians.

[ Parent ]
I don't know about that by lm (4.00 / 1) #45 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:51:58 PM EST
The Enlightenment was more a product of the Reformation than the translation of Aristotle from Arabic into Latin. Descartes, as one example, owes his reasoning more to his experience in the Thirty Years war than to Aristotle. One of the notable elements of the Enlightenment was almost universal approbation of Aristotelean philosophy that Enlightened thinkers thought were holding back the growth of human knowledge.

Look at the Christian east that never lost Aristotle. There was no movement comparable to the Enlightenment.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I agree for the most part by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #67 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 07:49:17 PM EST
The Reformation did play a part in the Enlightenment (though you could argue it the other way around). Another aspect was the reintroduction of various lines of thought, even if they were then largely discarded. Sometimes you have to knock over all the anthills to get something new.

[ Parent ]
logically, Enlightenment should predate Reform by lm (2.00 / 0) #82 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:15:21 AM EST
But chronologically, the Reformation is generally dated to start with Martin Luther (16th century) while the Enlightenment is generally dated to start with Rene Descartes (17th century).

I used to argue that the relationship was the reverse, but the facts keep getting in the way of that assessment.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I don't think you can look at it that surgically by ShadowNode (2.00 / 0) #85 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:46:32 AM EST
The Reformation certainly started with Martin Luther, but it dragged on quite a bit after that. You could even reasonably count some American inventions, like Mormonism, in it, or at least as close descendants. In the other direction, you can't really count da Vinci or Galileo entirely out of the Enlightenment.

[ Parent ]
Galileo was 17th century by lm (4.00 / 1) #87 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:42:40 AM EST
At least the parts of his thinking that are interesting. I don't think Galileo's parents had even met each other yet when Martin Luther was hanging up his 95 theses in 1517.

You'd also be hard pressed to find anyone including da Vinci in the Enlightenment. He was a Rennaissance figure, not an Enlightenment figure. It may simply be a case of my ignorance, but I'm not aware of any of da Vinci's writing that actually advocates Enlightenment philosophy. If anything, da Vinci was squarely Aristotelean which would have made him anti-Enlightenment.

Both the Reformation and the Enlightenment did have antecedents. That Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the thirteenth century Marsilius of Padua claims that he was the first real Protestant because of his attacks on the power of the Pope. And in many ways, Marsilius was also the intellectual predecessor of Thomas Hobbes. But in truth, the Reformation was in full swing by the seventeenth century when the Enlightenment was just really getting started.

Like I said, logically this doesn't make much sense. The Reformation seems as if it requires the ideals of the Enlightenment to be squarely in place prior to its coming to be. But history does not agree with this thesis so I have to reject it in the light of the facts. Of course, a good deal of my former way of thinking came from ignorance. Until I actually studied Enlightenment thinkers, I hadn't realized just how anti-Christian the Enlightenment was.

By and by, most of the uniquely North American variations of Christianity (Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses) have no connection to the Reformation at all. Neither subscribes to either of the slogans that defined the Reformers: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
sidebar by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #73 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:15:21 PM EST
Soviet tactics appear to have had patchy results. Someone I know around my age who grew up in the eastern block as part of a committed soviet family looked on the church as a particular form of architecture. But travel around Lithuania, subject at least nominally to the same tactics, and you see not only new wooden churches in old styles, but also little pagan sites being used again. Travel around Poland, feel the Catholicism.

People seem to really want to believe in things outside themselves, and preferably less explicable ones. Up to you whether you confine this to 'God' or not.

[ Parent ]
My theory: by thenick (4.00 / 1) #17 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:57:54 AM EST
Communist leaders had it all wrong. If they could have embraced religion and controlled it, it would have been a lot easier to get people to go along with the purges, famines, and comparably low living standards, if the populace believed that when they died they would live forever in a land of plenty. Dissidents who died at the hands of the NKVD might have been comforted by the fact that after their death, they'd be exonerated in the after life.

In the same vein, Capitalism doesn't need religion because your reward is here on Earth, if you're willing to bust your ass. After working for a company built on "Christian Ideals", I have witnessed just how incompatible Christian beliefs and practices are with our current economic system. They weren't thinking WWJD when they called a guy in from vacation just to fire him.

 
----------------------------

"'Vengence is Mine', quoth Alvis. And then he shot the guy, right in the freaking face!"

Only in theory by ShadowNode (4.00 / 1) #29 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:24:40 PM EST
In practice, since we don't all start on a level playing field, capitalism does a fairly efficient job of keeping people where they are. There will be the occasional commoner who makes it into the nobility, but that's useful for propaganda purposes. Similarily, it's technically possible for the nobility to be disenfranchised, but they have to screw up really badly, and again it's mostly for propaganda (ie, Enron).

[ Parent ]
It's not capitalism per se by lm (4.00 / 1) #49 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:58:35 PM EST
Any socioeconomic structure that contains the mechanism of inheritance will tend to keep people in the socioeconomic position in which they are born. Which is why both capitalist and feudal social structures both tend to keep the poor in their appointed place.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Two sides to the question by The Fool (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:58:27 AM EST
  1. Is it possible for "Tastes Great" people to live meaningful lives without having the "Less Filling" folks to denigrate?
  2. Is there such a thing as a religious experience, or is it just snake oil peddled by charlatans?
I submit that the answer to #1 is definitely "No". If there were no infidels, we would be forced to create them. And no damned vi-user is going to tell me different.

As to the existence of bona fide religious experience, I will personally attest to having been involved in two: one while wandering in the desert in a state of mind illegal in the state of California, and another when I discovered the miracle of the front-closing bra.

I agree on both counts by theantix (4.00 / 1) #23 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:06:05 PM EST
Humanity seems to require an us v. them grouping as we seem to do it whenever possible.  Not just religion and even as you say to the bizarre degree of what beers they prefer.  I'm certainly no exception to this rule.

And secondly, I'm not so arrogant as to suggest that people are lying when they've had those sorts of experiences -- just that a supernatural explanation for them is silly.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Et tu, Brute? by lb008d (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 12:38:35 PM EST
I am strangely missing the "religious capacity" which seems to be a general human feature

I believe the thread I started here shows that you are quite capable of "religious capacity"

heh by theantix (4.00 / 1) #20 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 12:47:08 PM EST
I'll be the annoying person who replies to a joke with a serious answer for a bit, hope you don't mind.

Those sorts of debates are called "religious" in common language but really they are nothing of the sort... a more correct word is simply "passionate".  You and I are both capable of looking at new platforms and re-evaluating our choices, there is no dogma we have which forces us to cling to our existing beliefs.  For the example you pointed to, I am not tied to Linux, I am eagerly looking forward to the day when OpenSolaris can provide a working alternative.  So I might be passionate about what I believe right now but I don't think it will be static and unchanging.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Oh, it wasn't all joke. by lb008d (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:15:20 PM EST
Basically in that discussion you could not believe that any knowlegable computer user would use XP and find the "experience" superior to Linux. Yet that is what I claimed, and, even after using Kubuntu for the past two weeks at home, am still claiming about my own experience.

The question of who's "right" in this "my experience vs. your experience" debate is totally subjective, much like any "my religion is better than yours" debate. Yet it seems you couldn't accept my conclusions about my own experience. That is the sort of "religious capacity" to which I referred in my original comment here.

[ Parent ]
wow by theantix (4.00 / 1) #37 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:51:47 PM EST
If that's what you thought I was saying in that thread, no wonder you disagreed.  There are lots of reasons why knowledgeable computer users  could and do prefer XP.  The specifics though are peripheral to the point of this thread though.  Besides, I fully acknowledge that I am just as guilty of the us v. them trap tendancies that all humans seem to fall into -- I'm sure that's a big part of why I dislike Microsoft so much though I attempt to justify it with supportive arguments.

I see religion as a special case and not just another us v. them because there is no question at all who is right and who is wrong.  You've got facts and the people who refuse to believe in them, what makes this case special is the impossibilty of debate.  With vi and emacs or whatever you've got a passionate difference in preferences, none of those are overtly "wrong" such as believing in miracles is.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
As is so common on teh intarwebs... by lb008d (4.00 / 1) #65 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 07:30:26 PM EST
I did totally misunderstand what you were saying and/or implying.

[ Parent ]
not in my lifetime. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 12:55:39 PM EST


In doing so by debacle (2.00 / 0) #30 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:27:21 PM EST
Humanity would have to transcend it's animal nature.

IF YOU HAVE TWO FIRLES THOROWNF MONEY ART SUOCIDE GIRLS STRIPPER HPW CAN YPUS :OSE?!?!?!?(elcevisides).

Not only that by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 2) #31 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:28:29 PM EST
I think we should just give up believing that the world is round. Anybody can look out their window and see the earth is flat!

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

You need to move by theantix (2.00 / 0) #36 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:46:52 PM EST
Cleavland may be flat, but where I'm at we have nice mountains and such which are very pretty.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Are you implying by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #61 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 04:04:08 PM EST
that it is possible to use more subtle observations/measurements to determine the existence of God? I'd like to hear about these.

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Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline
[ Parent ]
No by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 2) #89 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:15:30 AM EST
I'm merely pointing out that what we believe as fact tends to change over the course of thousands of years as we get better information.

Frankly I thinks it's pure silliness for either side to claim for a "fact" that God does or does not exist. We simply don't have enough information.

But it does make for interesting Internet fodder I suppose, in a special Olympics sort of way :)

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
'fact'--an abused word by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #91 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:36:09 AM EST
I don't understand why I keep having to have this conversation, but here it goes again: A scientific "fact" is merely a statement that appears to be true according to best available evidence. Thus when someone asks "How can you possibly KNOW with 100% CERTAINTY that $X?", they are missing the point. "Facts" are based on evidence in science--if new evidence comes to light, the "facts" may change.

But in religion, "facts" are based on....I don't know, actually. Random neural firings? Whatever it is, it pretends to 100% CERTAINTY and then ends up with egg on its face when it turns out not to be true.

Thus it is a scientific "fact" that God does not exist, just like it used to be a scientific "fact" that the Earth was flat. Later evidence caused this fact to be revisited. The fact of God's non-existence may also need to be revisited, but only if some evidence of God existing turns up.

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Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline

[ Parent ]
For various definitions of the word fact I suppose by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #93 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:03:14 AM EST
(n) fact (a concept whose truth can be proved) "scientific hypotheses are not facts"

You simply cannot prove that God does or does not exist. You are certainly welcome to believe what you want, based upon the facts at hand, and I have no problem with anyone who chooses not to believe that some greater power doesn't exist in the universe simply because they can't touch or see it. Personally I look around and see lots of stuff we can't explain and I'm willing to believe there is some greater/more-evolved power involved somehow.

WRT organised religion - I've always had a problem with it as well, but I view it as a different issue than the "does a greater power exist" question. Just because some people use organised religion to manipulate people doesn't have any bearing on the existence, or lack thereof, of God.

Frankly I submit more people have died for their "country" which is just as silly as dieing in the name of God in my opinion.

I'd be willing to believe that God doesn't exist if someone can explain/prove where the planets originated from.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Why can't you? by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #94 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:07:58 AM EST
You can prove Saturn does or does not exist. You can "prove" (i.e. show beyond a reasonable doubt) that unicorns do or do not exist. Why not with some being named "God"?

Free your mind

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Now accepting suggestions for a new sigline

[ Parent ]
Fine by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #95 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:15:53 AM EST
Prove to me that unicorns do not exist.

re Free your mind: - I see a lot of scientific hypothesii, but I see no proof as to where the solar system came from. And if one wants to believe it came from clouds of gas and dust one is disregarding that we don't know where the clouds came from and as such it's all just made up speculation. Hocus Pocus crap and not science at all.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Prove *beyond a reasonable doubt* by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #96 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:32:41 AM EST
Here's my proof: We've explored pretty much the entire surface of the Earth and it is unlikely at this point that an animal the size of a horse could be hiding somewhere. There are fewer sightings of unicorns than Bigfoot, for crying out loud.

Once again, you are using "proof" to mean "100% CERTAINTY", when that is not what it means in science. You can't "prove" anything (other than your existence, and even then only to yourself) that way. You can only provide evidence of varying quality and make a judgement call that you think others will support you on. That's what peer review is all about--other experts take a look at the same data and see if they come to the same conclusions. If they do, you've "proven" your "fact" beyond a reasonable doubt.

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[ Parent ]
Newsflash: You just lost by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #98 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:54:23 AM EST

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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Odd thing by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #99 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:54:29 AM EST
Your "proofs" always seem to be contingent upon certain assertions that you make in order to further your cause. I'll agree that it's likely that unicorns don't exist on planet earth, but I wouldn't be willing to bet my life on it, certainly not based upon your "proof" anyways.

re: We can prove tonnes of stuff. I can prove that my coffee cup is breakable simply by tossing it on the ground. I can prove that I didn't kill Kennedy. I can prove that paper is a flammable material. I cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, even, that some sort of greater intelligence doesn't exist in some form that we cannot at this time understand.

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Betting one's life by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #100 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:02:25 AM EST
Like I said--evidence and proofs of varying quality and strength. Would you be willing to bet your life on Newton's Second Law? Because you do, every single day.

How do I know you didn't switch the cups? How do I know you didn't pre-fracture it? How do I know you didn't implant some tiny explosives in there? How do I know you haven't hooked my brain up to a machine that, etc, etc, etc. Throwing it on the ground proves it beyond a reasonable doubt, but doesn't PROVE it.

The fact that there has never been a shred of evidence given for the existence of God despite looking for it pretty intensely for a long, long time is support that such a being does not exist. Lack of proof is proof of a lack when the lack of proof isn't for lack of trying.

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[ Parent ]
Help file by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #102 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:09:02 AM EST

Problem of Induction.

You cannot prove the non-existence of something. This is a really, really well-established part of logic. The fact that a.) you don't know about it and b.) seem incapable of acknowledging it speaks volumes. Yours is a religious position.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Um...duh by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #104 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:13:49 AM EST
That's why the "reasonable doubt" part.

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[ Parent ]
Then why do you think by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #109 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:21:55 AM EST

you can prove the non-existence of God? The two positions are mutually incompatible. You have, literally, been educated stupid and are arguing a question which is essentially settled (and not in your favour). This is why these debates are so fucking tedious. There are interesting questions in this area, but those able to discuss them never do because the banner-waving Dawkinists take up most of the bandwidth. Dawkins himself doesn't make half the arguments his adherents extrapolate from his writings; he's actually smarter than that.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Have you been following the thread? by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #110 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:25:09 AM EST
"Prove" == "show beyond a reasonable doubt".

I'm a little skeptical of your implied claim that God exists (or that there is evidence supporting that hypothesis), but I won't bore you by asking for enlightenment, O wise one.

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[ Parent ]
There is no implied claim by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #112 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:39:10 AM EST

You really haven't got the hang of this, have you?

For starters: "Prove" != "show beyond a reasonable doubt".

Secondly: "Not being able to prove God doesn't exist" != "Proof that God does". Thinking it does is just cretinous, and is a position more associated with the disingenuous evangelical fanatic than a self-professed enlightened atheist.

Thirdly: "Proof beyond reasonable doubt" is a legal position which implicitly accepts the uncertainties of everyday pragmatism. It has almost nothing to do with logic or natural science. Read Hume, Wittgenstein and Popper and then get back to me. Actually, once you've done that, read Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". You really won't like it but it will prove helpful.

According to your logic, the coelocanth didn't exist prior to 1938.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Done and done by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #113 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:51:31 AM EST
Already read these, since I minored in philosophy and was only interested in the sciency classes.

I hope you aren't under the impression that a mathematically perfect proof can be made for any scientific claims, because it can't. All "proof"s in science are "beyond a reasonable doubt" (with the evidence at hand). All you ever get is error bars, never a pinpoint of certainty.

And yes, I freely admit that, according to my logic, the coelacanth's status as "extinct" was reasonable, given only what was known in 1938. And Earth's status as flat was a "fact" in the same sense at some point. And it may well be that at some later date, evidence will turn up proving that God exists. But here in 2006 we don't have any, so he remains an unproved claim.

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[ Parent ]
Well, by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #114 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 07:14:26 AM EST

now you're caught on the horns of a dilemma, because either you're lying and haven't read them, or you managed to read them all and systematically miss the point all the way through. Neither of which speaks very well of you.

Don't argue the scientific corner again. Please.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
i don't think he's by 256 (4.00 / 1) #128 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:55:56 AM EST
denying the problem of induction.

i think he's trying to pointing out that even deduction only proves things within an axiom framework and that it's pretty damn hard to get good axioms.

though i admit i'm finding the whole thing a little hard to follow.
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
What's evidence?? by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #103 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:13:02 AM EST
The fact the we can't explain how the solar system came to be could be used as evidence.

Or how about the fact that tree's exist?

Or how about the evolution? You can say it's just all one big willy nilly stroke of good luck, others can point to that as evidence of some sort of intelligent design.

Regarding my coffee cup - it hardly matters how I break it so long as I'm able to break it, as my assertion was only that it is indeed breakable.

I'm this -><- close to invoking a big ol QED on your arse unless you bring it really strong with your next reply...

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
We can't explain how the solar system came to be? by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #105 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:15:49 AM EST
I just linked you to several explanations. Your only objection at the time was that we didn't know if the explanations were *right*, not that they existed.

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[ Parent ]
We've closed the circle! by Bob Abooey (4.00 / 1) #108 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:19:31 AM EST
Then my explanation is that some greater power that we don't at understand is responsible for it!

As the seems to meet your criteria for a proof I'm now going to invoke a:
QED

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Oh.. and also by Bob Abooey (2.00 / 0) #106 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:16:14 AM EST
Lack of proof is proof of a lack when the lack of proof isn't for lack of trying."

Congratulations - you just proved that the earth was flat circa 1400's!

Warmest regards,
--Your best pal Bob

[ Parent ]
Not only did I prove it by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #107 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:19:17 AM EST
I said so at the beginning of the thread.

Not that the Earth was actually flat, but that it was a scientific "fact" at the time. (Although not really--even the ancient Greeks were able to "prove" that the Earth was round. But the point remains that a "fact" is only as good as the evidence used to prove it. The "fact" of God's existence has zero good evidence at all, and therefore is a very poor fact.)

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[ Parent ]
Have you read Life Of Pi? by 606 (4.00 / 1) #34 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:39:39 PM EST
I know, it seems totally unrelated to this discussion... until the last 20 pages at which point your brain explodes. With knowledge.

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imagine dancing banana here
I haven't by theantix (2.00 / 0) #38 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:53:43 PM EST
But you're the guy who said that I'd like House MD, so if you say I should add this to my list I'll trust you.  :-)
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
yeah by 606 (4.00 / 1) #132 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 11:52:16 AM EST
It's like... for the first 100 pages you're thinking "this book is pointless, what is this?" and then for the next 200 pages you think "well this is still pointless but at least it's really exciting", and then for the last 20 pages you either come up to an amazing realization about what the book was trying to say or you throw it across the room in disgust for wasting your time. But the argument the book makes is subtle and delicate that I can't really even explain it to you. In the end it actually does argue that there are some good things about religion and spirituality in general.

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imagine dancing banana here
[ Parent ]
wait by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #39 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 01:54:00 PM EST
I wanna know all about the gods who are not supernatural.

--
Blizzard of Death '06
People by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #40 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:01:36 PM EST

typically use the 'supernatural' qualifier to rule out Spinozan conceptions of deity, which are often used as get-out clauses, or grounds for accusations of "You too"-ism.

Of course, it doesn't actually solve the problem as it simply moves the definition bubble, but people seem to be having fun ...


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
I thought by ad hoc (2.00 / 0) #44 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:44:57 PM EST
it was to rule out things like trees. Trees are natural and can be gods. Supernatural is things like spooks and ghosts.
--
Once you get used to the idea that everything is equally true, decisions get much easier. -- johnny
[ Parent ]
Well ... yes. by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #46 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 02:52:20 PM EST

Although it is, of course, possible to ascribe "supernatural" (whatever that means) agency or capabilities to "natural" (whatever that means) objects. I'd heard Dennett, Dawkins and Miller mostly use it to delineate between a godly intentioned agent and cosmic awe.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
supernatural gods only go back to about 700bc by lm (4.00 / 2) #127 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:44:12 AM EST
If you look at the most ancient depictions of gods, they don't act outside of nature, but are part of nature and while they have superhuman powers, they themselves are bound by what is natural and are subject to the natural order. From about 700 to 500 BC, a number of different people groups started to speculate about a God that transcends the natural order. Trito-Isaiah in Judaism, Zoroaster, the God of Greek philosophy, the One giving birth to the Tao in the east, etc. (I should probably leave that last one off so that ucb doesn't yell at me.) If you read the old epic poems and holy scriptures that predate this era, you'll see what I mean.

Aside from the old Titan-esque view of gods, there is also another naturalistic view of God that came about in the modern era. The monism of Spinoza and the materialism of Hobbes both conclude with a God that is something like the sum total of the cosmos rather than a being that transcends the cosmos as in the monotheism from antiquity. Neopagan forms of this exist in Gaia worship, Wicca and Joss Whedon films.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
ucb isn't the only one by 256 (2.00 / 0) #130 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 11:11:22 AM EST
When you talk about "the One giving birth to the Tao" you are either speaking nonsense or vastly oversimplifying and misrepresenting.

The Dao was never born, and to the best of my knowledge there is no mention of it being born anywhere in the Dao De Jing (though there are metaphorical passages involving the Dao giving birth).

The Dao is transcendant and immaterial, but in the same way that language is, not in the same way that Jehovah is. The Dao is about the world, not of it or separate from it. And the One (in as much as it is actually anything, personally i think the capitalization of One in respect to Taoism is unforgiveable) is a purely naturalistic idea. It is nature. It is everything in the simple state of being.

There is a pretty strong parallel between the pantheistic naturalism of Daoism and that of Spinoza.
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
Or misremembering ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #140 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:34:16 PM EST
I should have said that the One (the Tao) gave birth to the two (The Yin and the Yang) which gave birth to the many (all that there is). The `true' Tao which is nameless and can not be truly named bears no small resemblance to the apophatic God of Plato and others in that first group of true monotheists.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
bullshit by 256 (2.00 / 0) #143 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:57:17 PM EST
nt
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni
[ Parent ]
sorry by 256 (2.00 / 0) #146 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:52:20 PM EST
that off the cuff "bullshit" was impolite.

what i meant to say was:

even given the tremendous range of possible interpretations of the Dao De Jing--both due to its poetic nature and its age--there are no reasonable interpretations which make that statement of yours even remotely true.

nice word though: apophatic. i like that.
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
I liked the ``bullshit'' answer better by lm (2.00 / 0) #147 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:01:11 PM EST
It made the inherent quality of your reply much more clear.

The Tao that can be told of
Is not the Absolute Tao,
The Names that can be given
Are not Absolute Names.
The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth;
The Named is the Mother of All Things ...

There is a thing confusedly formed,
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void
It stands alone and does not change,
Goes round and does not weary.
It is capable of being the mother of the world.
I know not its name
So I style it ``the way.''

I think that there are many reasonable interpretations of such passages that make my synthesis at least remotely true.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
certainly by 256 (2.00 / 0) #148 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 07:40:48 PM EST
but the first chapter of the dao de jing is prehaps the most opaque in the entire book.

if chapter one were the only document of daoism that esixted, then yes, your interpretation would be one of infinite valid ones.

however the other 80 poems--not to mention the chuang tze writings--clearly show the absurdity of attempting to interpret it in that way.
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
Chapter one? by lm (2.00 / 0) #152 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 02:01:36 AM EST
That second bit was from chapter 25.

Perhaps your argument would be stronger if instead of just saying that this interpretation is absurd you would give a quotation that blatantly contradicts this interpretation and has no possible reasonable interpretation that agrees with it.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
after spending a couple of days thinking about it by 256 (2.00 / 0) #159 Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 09:42:14 AM EST
i want to revert to my original answer of "bullshit".

i suppose that you may be right.

i can say things like:

The Dao is the true and sacred part of all of is

The Dao is not something that can be seen directly, yet it is expressed in everything

Every thing in the world contains The Dao in its entirety

but, i suppose, for a sufficiently loose definition of "God" you could replace "The Dao" with "God" in all those statements. though even then i would argue that you've got a pretty pantheistic and non-agent looking God there.

so, i retract my statement that it is an impossible interpretation and instead posit that it is a hopelessly wrong one.
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I don't think anyone's ever really died from smoking. --ni

[ Parent ]
Interesting response by lm (2.00 / 0) #160 Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 02:34:36 PM EST
Heavy on the 256. Low on the Lao Tze.

Also note that God being expressed in everything is not the same as everything expressing the entirety of God. God can be part of everything and still be transcendent. Few Christians would deny that God is in everything but that doesn't meant that they don't believe that God also transcends everything.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Question. by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #50 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:00:38 PM EST
What's the point of life?




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
That question assumes a lot. by theantix (2.00 / 0) #52 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:12:40 PM EST
That (a) there is a point; and (b) that there is a universal point.  If you want someone to hold your hand and tuck you into bed, you're looking at the wrong person.  I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I know enough to know what the answers are not.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
It's a leading question by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #54 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:16:49 PM EST
Answer that question in a manner that all people will find acceptable over the existence of a divine spirit and you can acheive a world in which people will not believe in a divine spirit.  




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
oh! by theantix (4.00 / 2) #59 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:49:51 PM EST
So what you're saying is that it's really easy then.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Answer. by CheeseburgerBrown (2.00 / 0) #53 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:15:31 PM EST
define 'atheistic society' by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #55 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:17:08 PM EST
Does that have to be 100% supernatural-free or can it just be marginalized? Because there are many societies already in the latter.

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You know by theantix (2.00 / 0) #58 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:49:23 PM EST
I think you pretty much destroyed my entire line of inquiry.  I spent so much time thinking about how fucked up north america and the middle east are that I didn't properly consider those other parts of the world.  I mean, obviously religion is still a problem in Europe what with the Islamists blowing shit up on a semiregular basis, but I'd be willing to believe that religion has been marginalized to a point where my pondering is moot.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Sorry by DesiredUsername (2.00 / 0) #60 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:55:20 PM EST
But God Delusion has been sounding pretty good, from the reviews I've read. Maybe my library will get it.

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[ Parent ]
It's pretty good so far by theantix (2.00 / 0) #63 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 05:18:50 PM EST
I'm about halfways through right now.  He goes into tangents not really related to his arguments an awful lot which are interesting but logically weak.  So it's not really the thorough and meticulous work I was hoping for and more just preaching to the converted... which makes it a good read but doesn't live up to the hype in my opinion.

Also it's like $16 on amazon if you can't spare the wait.  $16 for a hardcover?  C'mon...
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Ramblings by skippy (2.00 / 0) #57 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 03:23:02 PM EST
It's interesting that you raised this question, in that I have been thinking about some of the various points mentioned in your text.  Given that the two of us were raised in the Menno region of the Lower Mainland - though my parents had more of the fundamentalist viewpoint - perhaps my rambling will be of some interest.

On death:

While I have found it easy to shake off the dogma of the religion that I was raised in, dismissing some of the "spiritual" (if we can call it that) elements has been more difficult.  Mostly it is that I have yet to come to grips with the utter finality of death.  It's not that I am concerned with wanting to meet up with deceased loved ones in the afterlife (though that would be a bonus), but that personally ceasing to exist remains a frightening concept.

On tradition:

On a different note, $Wife and I have been considering how to raise our [future] children.  Part of our concern is that if we neglect to indoctrinate them with some sort of Christianity, my parents will take the liberty of doing it themselves, and their brand is likely to be more fundamental than anything we would choose.  Kids can be extremely susceptible to standard religious manipulation methods, and so we want to be somewhat proactive on that front.  It would have the side effect of introducing them to religious dogma, to be sure, but hopefully a more liberal and half-assed approach to it (ie, not allowing the religion to affect our daily lives in a dramatic fashion) will keep them open-minded.

On religious experiences:

Once upon a time, I did have a "religious experience" and it was very convincing.  In retrospect it was most likely due to emotional manipulation techniques combined with reinforcement post-experience that it was real - talking with others who had experienced their own religious phenomena, and so on.

Summaryish:

An atheistic society could indeed exist.  People do not require the crutch of religion to deal with life's problems.  However, once deeply ingrained it is very difficult to purge some of those spiritual elements from one's belief system.

Yeah by theantix (2.00 / 0) #123 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:00:09 AM EST
I totally respect what you are saying, as like you've said we've had a similar background and even had similar experiences with the death of loved ones.  What you describe are good examples of my thoughts on why religion has persisted so well despite how silly the dogma itself is.  If one needs it, a crutch is not necessarily a bad thing at all.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
hey asshole by persimmon (4.00 / 4) #64 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 06:04:16 PM EST
What's wrong with a crutch, as long as it gets you along, as long as you don't hobble through life thwacking people upside the head with it?

Oh, also someone told me that Kraft Dinner with catsup (which I'm pretty sure is an axiom of your personal philosophy) is silly.
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"Nature is such a fucking plagarist."

that's my current position, really by theantix (4.00 / 2) #69 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 08:37:49 PM EST
Dawkins suggests that people could and should reject religion so I figured as HuSi was declared to be boring in the poll I ought to put it to the audience to see what they thought about the could part.  Interesting discussion to me at least, so I say Mission: Accomplished.  I'm even wearing a flight suit!

Oh and there is nothing at all silly about KD and catsup except that it's actually spelled ketchup.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
Except for the fact that ... by Ignore Amos (4.00 / 1) #70 Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 08:52:14 PM EST
... "Kraft Dinner" is actually spelled "Macaroni & Cheese".

[ Parent ]
don't even get me started by theantix (4.00 / 2) #121 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:47:07 AM EST
In america they call pamplemousse "grapefruit".  I mean really, who the fuck looks at pamplemousse and thinks "oh I know, this like a grape but it's fruit so let's call it grapefruit"?

For one, grapes are fruit.  Why are grapes not grapefruit?  Also, pamplemousse is much much larger than a grape and has a totally different taste, it's baffling to me how anyone could thing that one is even remotely similar for naming purposes.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
But pamplemousse sounds dirty. by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #155 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 05:16:33 AM EST
Like something you'd have to pay extra to get from a hooker.

A french hooker.

--top hat--

[ Parent ]
stupid french hookers by theantix (2.00 / 0) #156 Fri Sep 29, 2006 at 06:32:59 AM EST
in AMERICA, hookers give out pamplemousse at no extra charge.  Just another reason why AMERICA is superior to French.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Genuine question. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (4.00 / 1) #92 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:44:35 AM EST
I have not read his new book, but I did see his recent BBC interview about the work.

In the interview, he said that purpose of human existence is to propagation of DNA.

How does Dawkins's claim that religion is harmful jibe with the fact that, in the US anyway (but I suspect in other places as well), the religious tend to produce more offspring? Certainly, some religious folks - priests, nuns, members of specific cults - may not have children; but on the whole, church-goers out-breed their strictly secular counterparts?

Exploiting the Selfish Gene by CheeseburgerBrown (4.00 / 1) #97 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 05:47:15 AM EST
In the interview, [Dawkins] said that purpose of human existence is to propagation of DNA.

Glib as it may be, I don't think this contention can be seriously doubted without invoking a higher destiny ordained by magic -- however, it must be said that the definition of "purpose" may be confabulated with "function."

The function of human existence is indeed the propagation of our favourite acid, but purpose implies an additional layer of meaning. And (again, unless you're big into magic), meaning may well be something the universe (and its contents) does not inherently possess. Meaning is a product of mind.

So, while I see your point that those of us who reproduce the most are clearly the most functional of us on a biological level, I deny that this pragmatic success construes a victory of purpose.

If we were to abstract the criteria by a level, we could argue that propagating complex life is the meta-purpose of propagating our strains of DNA. In this case, however, we would need to note that reproductive behaviours which continue to overpopulate this planet and cultural behaviours which cause those overpopulated inhabitants to feel justified in killing one another over senseless distinctions of magic are inhibiting the larger civilization's efforts to, for example, spread complex life to another globe so that we're not keeping all our eggs in one basket.

In this light, being anti-science could be construed as being anti-life, if we take the long view.

I guess it depends how we chunk out the timescale for sampling human success. On the short term fucking like rabbits represents some gains, but on the other hand working for a more stable civilization capable of reproducing itself on a planetary level represents a more lasting win.


I am from a small, unknown country in the north called Ca-na-da.
[ Parent ]
Indeed by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #101 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:03:34 AM EST

It's really just an equivocation error over the word 'purpose'. The 'purpose' of my monitor is to transmit information from the computer hardware to my eyeballs. Leaving it on all the time doesn't, however, make it a better monitor, or mean that it is fulfilling its purpose more.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Evolutionarily speaking . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #111 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 06:35:11 AM EST
Isn't that a bit of a just so story to justify one side after a presumed scenario has "proven" itself the "right" side of the argument?

If Dawkins is right, things should persist only in so long as they serve the purpose of spreading DNA. I assume this also includes the "meanings" we give ourselves. The form of complex-life is, no matter how complex, still just an elaborate DNA delivery device. Presumably meanings last only as long as they help humans make little thems. Meanings that cock-block (see Shakers) or meanings that kill to much (see Easter Island) most evolve or die out with their holders.

In this case, wouldn't we have to say that religion must serve a purpose (hence its persistence through recorded history) and will continue to be around until it no longer does. When it no longer does, it will evolve or die out.

To single religion out as uniquely destructive or mal-adaptive or "evil" (to use Dawkins term) seems contrary to his own theories. It is adapted or it dies out - evil ain't in it.

[ Parent ]
I think that's a misunderstanding of evolution by lm (4.00 / 1) #116 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 07:50:17 AM EST
When you write:

If Dawkins is right, things should persist only in so long as they serve the purpose of spreading DNA.

You're wrong. But if you had written:

If Dawkins is right, things should persist only in so long as they don't prevent the  spreading of DNA.

You would have been right, but it would have killed off your conclusion. Evolutionary theory predicts that vestigal elements can hang around for aeons after they've become worthless vis a vis gene propagation so long as they are not an impediment to gene progagation. Consequently, the new (and much weaker) conclusion is that religion can potentially hang around until such time as its widespread adherence is an impediment to gene propagation.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Not me. Dawkins. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #117 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:34:51 AM EST
According to the Selfish Gene, and perhaps I'm mistaking this, organisms evolve to maximize their inclusive fitness. They "strive" to maximize the number of global gene copies.

In the same book he suggested memes act in the same way. Since we can assume that religions of various sorts are memes, we must assume that they are always striving to maximize the number of memes copied from them (on a global, and not individual scale).

According to Dawkins, this maximization will occur until a population reaches a "evolutionary stable strategy" - defined as a strategy that cannot be invaded by another strategy. Evolutionary stable strategies, as Dawkins has them, preclude rational forethought from attempting strategies that have no short term gains (a Nash equilibrium). In short, you cannot "plan" the organization of memes and the organization will always work for short term benefit.

So, according to Dawkins (and not me) religion memes would have to be constantly trying to maximize their copied numbers until such time as no other memes could invade their strategy. Not every organization would work, but unfit organizations would never reach an ESS and be invaded. As such memes must always be in conflict or they must be at an ESS point, meaning they've maximized their adaptive capacity.

I don't see that Dawkins's theories allow for vestigial memes.

This isn't my point of view, mind you. It is only my (possibly incorrect) understanding of Dawkins.

[ Parent ]
If that's what Dawkins says ... by lm (2.00 / 0) #118 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:37:24 AM EST
... then he's wrong. If he were right no living organism would retain any vestigal organs.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Perhaps . . . by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #120 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:46:34 AM EST
Some other Hulverite understands it better than I.

I have numerous problems with the theory. For example, an ESS represents the maximized reproductive capacity of a global population of a group. But how can that ever be determined? In theory, aren't all populations just one random mutation away from increased productivity? Do organisms just stop mutating after they reach an ESS?

I don't get it.

[ Parent ]
hi! I am a snotty bio student by persimmon (4.00 / 3) #144 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:12:59 PM EST
Perhaps this is more intuitive: an ESS is a population's evolutionary stalemate with itself. The population has reached a point at which there is no reproductive differential between its different segments based on genetic differences. Moreover, the population's fitness is at a local maximum, where all mutations represent loss of fitness at an organismal or genetic level and are rapidly selected against. The evolutionary landscape, so to speak, has to be constant for a population to reach an ESS; the only actual organisms I can think of offhand that might be approaching an ESS are parthenogenetic lizards and some pathogenic microbes, for whom the human body is a constant environment relative to their generational time.

Populations are not all theoretically one random mutation away from increased productivity because the vast majority of mutations have no effect, those that do are usually deleterious, because it takes more than one generation to propagate an allele through a population, and because factors like genetic drift can kick out a perfectly good allele before it can get some reproductive differential traction.

And no, you can't measure ideal fitness, so you can't determine if a population has arrived at an ESS except by determining that the variation in reproductive success is not heritable (based on genetic variation).
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"Nature is such a fucking plagarist."

[ Parent ]
I can't get inside his mind by theantix (2.00 / 0) #119 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:43:47 AM EST
I think Cheeseburger already answered this pretty well but I'll have a stab at it anyhow.

Dawkins is really big on promoting natural selection on the level of genes instead of individuals or groups.  So I suspect that contrary to what you said, he actually claimed that the purpose of life is to propagate genes.  In this case purpose meaning "your genes were naturally selected for their ability to continue passing themselves onto further generations".  Specifically, that's the function of how we came to exist, our genes were selected for the purpose of further genetic propagation.

However, that is just the inherited purpose.  It doesn't mean that we have to respect that purpose slavishly, the paradox is that our sentience means we are uniquely able to select our own "purpose" as we see fit.  We were still selected for the "purpose" of propagation but that doesn't mean we have to do it if we don't want to.

Anyhow, regarding your final paragraph, Dawkins addresses just that point with the topic of memes.  Religion is a very successful meme which as you point out can lead to a long-term relative genetic success (or failure).  But relating to my previous point, humans have the intellectual capacity to not simply slavishly restrict ourselves to our genetic construction, and is in our long-term interests to think about our collective actions outside of the direct benefits our of genes.  Because we can.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
That's what the man said. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #122 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 08:57:17 AM EST
Dawkins exact quote was "In one sense, there is a purpose to our existence, which is the propagation of DNA." He might have been dumbing it down for the home audience, but that's what he said.

According to Dawkins, the idea that humans can choose their memes is not accurate. Memes, like genes, organize themselves without forethought and these organizations persist only if they have short term payoffs. In Dawkins's theory, we don't really have any intelligent control over them.


[ Parent ]
Wow by theantix (2.00 / 0) #124 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:07:52 AM EST
Dawkins exact quote was "In one sense, there is a purpose to our existence, which is the propagation of DNA."

That really flies in the face of everything he has said in the past 20+ years since he helped popularize the concept of the selfish gene.  I'm really surprised he would promote an individual-level theory of selection no matter what the audience is.  I trust that you're telling the truth, I'm just surprised given how is so contrary to what he has been trying to hammer home for decades.

According to Dawkins, the idea that humans can choose their memes is not accurate. Memes, like genes, organize themselves without forethought and these organizations persist only if they have short term payoffs. In Dawkins's theory, we don't really have any intelligent control over them.

I'll try to answer this part after I'm done reading the section of his book that deals with this, one I'm just getting into.
____________________________________
I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.

[ Parent ]
If I've got the meme thing wrong, let me know. by Christopher Robin was Murdered (2.00 / 0) #125 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 09:29:05 AM EST
I've never understood it myself.

[ Parent ]
There really are two Dawkinses, by yicky yacky (4.00 / 3) #129 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 10:13:13 AM EST

one who talks moderately reasonable sense to informed individuals and another who takes his Charles Simonyi position so seriously that he often "uses plain language as normal people would use it" to the extent that he runs off the edge of all reason. I suspect the French and Wittgenstein would have had a field day with him, were they still kicking - language shaping the mode of discourse etc. For example: He frequently uses 'God' to mean "an active agent from the dogmatic Judeo-Christian mode" on the basis that "that's what most people mean". Firstly, I'm not sure this is actually true and, in addition, think that this methodology creates more misunderstandings and grief than it prevents, but hey; it's his bag, baby ...

I've not read the new book but, IIRC, his original description of memes was far less provocative and controversial than that which has subsequently been read into it. As far as I can remember, he was simply suggesting that, wherever you have replication, modification and one (or more) selection pressure, the basic idea of Darwinism could be applicable in other areas, e.g. ideas. I know that he has supposedly been professing a more radical form of the idea of late but, not having read or heard him do so, couldn't comment. I do know that Daniel Dennett has run with a more extreme form of the basic premise and is loosely in cahoots with Dawkins. Even so, Dennett (and Dawkins, inasmuch as I've read him) are very careful not to get involved in the conscious vs. unconscious transmission vector issue because, as I understand their stance, neither way actually makes a difference to "memetic theory" in itself. We can have a debate as to whether it does (in some cases, it may and may not in others, for example) but they choose not to.

Personally, memetic theory sits much more uncomfortably with me than genetic Darwinism. Actually, it's not that I don't like it; it's that I don't like being professed as somehow scientific in the bullet-proof sense, as much of it is patently unfalsifiable in a way most of genetics isn't, but that's just IMO.


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Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
On the subject of teh flat earthers by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #137 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 02:06:40 PM EST
A couple of weeks ago somebody knocked on my door to spread the word of creationism. Is this all that common in USia? I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is about the last place I could possibly expect such a thing (bluer than blue, presumably well educated, go figure).

Wumpus

no idea by theantix (4.00 / 1) #141 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:01:27 PM EST
I wish it was more common though, I love berating people.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
on the subject of berating by persimmon (4.00 / 1) #142 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 03:42:46 PM EST
WERE more common.
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"Nature is such a fucking plagarist."
[ Parent ]
don't make me by theantix (2.00 / 0) #145 Thu Sep 28, 2006 at 04:15:34 PM EST
use the NU-KU-LAR option.
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I'm sorry, but your facts disagree with my opinion.
[ Parent ]
Been a while by jimgon (2.00 / 0) #162 Mon Oct 02, 2006 at 03:12:20 AM EST
But I remember Maryland having a strong and growing conservative movement mainly being fed out of Virginia and the Carolinas. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
MLP: congress merges chuch and state by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #158 Sat Sep 30, 2006 at 05:25:35 AM EST
Step one

Wumpus

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