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Author Topic: Theory of Evolution Primer
Reshpeckobiggle
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quote:
Originally posted by camus:
quote:
basically I'm just saying that I can't answer your questions satisfactorily.
Can you at least answer this question:

3) How do you determine when something is correct?

Or at least your opinion on the best way to determine the correctness of an idea?

I can't give you my opinion on the best way to determine the correct way, because I don't know the best way. All I know to do is just absorb whatever life and learning throws my way and try to fit it all in as best as it will go. Someone with my exact same belief system may be more or less capable in making sense of it all. To each according to their ability, you know? Admittedly my less structured paradigm (I'm getting sick of that word) results in a less ordered method of figuring out what is true and what is not. But I'm not going to go with some belief system simply because of its "utility," as someone put it earlier. And whether you like it or not, that is all any of us are working with; a belief system. The whole point of my participation in this thread is to show that. If no one is convinced, that may be because of your (plural) unwillingness, or it may be because I haven't succeeded in expressing myself adequately. I think I have, though. Some of you insist on denying that you have a belief system that is in many ways equivilent to a religion in the faith department. I'm not going to say that your denial of this is evidence of your blind faith, even though it's tempting. I just hope any of what I said makes you think about, not what, but how you believe what you do.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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quote:
Originally posted by Boothby171:
quote:
my belief system is sufficiently convincing that I can reject Naturalism, and evolution as it's byproduct, while remaining intellectually honest
Now THAT, I'd love to see!
That's completely up to you, if you want to see it. I've done my best to show it.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Your "better" is subjective.
Sure. But I can tell you, step by step, why my "better" is "better," giving you definitions and processes for each step. By the end, I will have arrived at not only a definition for "better," but a solid demonstration of why my epistemology IS "better" by that definition.

You're welcome to try to do the same thing. So far, all you've done is say "no, I don't define 'better' that way." This is your prerogative, but it means that you shouldn't be surprised when people ask you for, in essence, your definition of "better."

quote:
You see, the whole purpose of all this is to show that it is possible to not automatically accept evolution as fact without being hopelessly ignorant...
Do you think you're accomplishing that goal? Note that merely being convincing to a given individual is not compelling evidence for the accuracy of a belief system; in fact, I would argue that any claim otherwise is a powerful proof of ignorance.

Consider this line, a direct quote from your recent post:
"All I know to do is just absorb whatever life and learning throws my way and try to fit it all in as best as it will go."

That may be true. I'm sure it's honest. And it's sensible, as far as it goes. But it's also a profoundly flawed way to cure ignorance.

------

My belief system doesn't have any limitation besides those placed on our observations. It makes it possible to know for certain all that CAN be known for certain. If you disagree, please demonstrate otherwise.

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MrSquicky
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quote:
My belief system doesn't have any limitation besides those placed on our observations. It makes it possible to know for certain all that CAN be known for certain.
Really? Can you tell me whether or not what we experience is genuine or if we are actually embedded in the Matrix? If not, what can be known for certain?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Can you tell me whether or not what we experience is genuine or if we are actually embedded in the Matrix?
That would be a limitation which is placed on our observations, obviously. If someone is continually feeding us false inputs, or our senses are flawed in such a way as to provide information which does not accurately reflect the functioning of the world, then there will be issues.

Consider -- as has been mentioned before -- Newtonian physics, which was mostly accurate within the limits of human perception at the time. These observations built a model which did a fairly good job of explaining and predicting other physical things we'd observe, but which fell down at odd times due to our inability to examine another level of detail. If we're a brain in a box, and there's something out there -- God, or the Matrix, or whatever -- deliberately feeding us other data in a reliable fashion, the best model we can build is a model of the way our little Matrix works. We can even try to touch on the world outside the world -- observing, for example, that some creatures appear to be Agents or Angels that can possess other people and perform supernatural, otherwise unexplainable actions -- and eventually build up a guess as to where those Agents come from and why they exist. If they're reliable and predictable enough in their behaviors, we might even be able to come up with some pretty good guesses. If we live in a model that is randomly tweaked by our gods, though, any attempts to understand the "universe" are doomed to fail; we'll never know anything more about it than we're permitted to know.

One of the basic premises of science -- a premise which MAY be false, which is a claim that I think lies at the heart of Resh's paradigm but which he hasn't bothered to state -- is that things happen for observable reasons. If those reasons are happening behind a screen and regularly and unpredictably change, there's no point at all to the scientific method.

In the same way, if we're a brain in a box, there's no REAL point to metaphysics. But we may as well live as if we aren't, because we wouldn't be able to live any differently even if we were.

This brings us back to the "what can be known for certain" question, and ironically to Resh's somewhat tortured mention of Descartes. All I know is that I seem to perceive things, and that these things appear behave in the way I would expect when I appear to act on them, or when I perceive things acting upon them. So I choose to act as if the things I perceive have reality, which is (IMO) perfectly sensible, and which I think most people do.

Note that I think people who believe in God because they think they've directly experienced God are ALSO making a rational choice. But in the same way that I can look out over hot pavement and see a wavy mirage that suggests an oasis, I believe people should look more carefully at their experiences of God and weigh the likelihood that their sensations are providing them with data that is likely to accurately reflect reality.

[ February 26, 2007, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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MrSquicky
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So, your system can tell you for certain everything that can be known for certain, which is nothing?
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
If those reasons are happening behind a screen and regularly and unpredictably change, there's no point at all to the scientific method.
I disagree. As long as there are realms of the Matrix which follow, at least well enough, certain laws, the scientific method can be brought to play there with good results. Just because it can't be used in every situation doesn't mean its worthless.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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YOu make very good arguments, Tom. I'm trying to help you see how all of your arguments are very good insofar as they are withing they structure that you are working with. It's a good, solid structure, strenghtened by over a dozen decades of tweaking. It is just not the same structure that some others are working with. You can show step-by step how it is better, and those steps are all very strong within the structure. Its a contained system. You're going to win your arguments as long as you and the person you are debating are contained by its rules. For someone like me who is outside that structure, I either must enter knowing full well that I can't make the arguments that I am required to make, or you must step outside and engage me from where I am, and then you'll have the same problem. It's pretty much a no-win situation.

It seems pretty obvious to me that this is the case. I don't think any objective observer will take me for an idiot. So why cannot you see that there is a possibility, and perhaps a strong possibility, that we "creationists" are entitled to what we believe without being immediately regarded as ignorant or misguided?

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Reshpeckobiggle
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I second mph, by the way. Within your paradigm, observable things outside the rules of the scientific method do not disqualify the scientific method. But I think you know that and agree, and so there is no point in continuing downthis line any further. An example: the platypus. It certainly has no place within the evolutionary structure (yet), and even Gould said that "mosaics like the platypus and the archyopteryx must be ignored," or something to that effect.

Personally, I think God made the platypus to test evolutionists' faith.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
An example: the platypus. It certainly has no place within the evolutionary structure (yet),
I don't think this is true. Can you support this claim?
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Reshpeckobiggle
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Not as well as actual evolutionary biologists. That's why I quoted Stephen Jay Gould, or it may have been Richard Dawkins. Plenty of postulations exist that try to explain mosaics like the platypus, but for evolutionists, they are generally a source of frustration and for some, embarrasment.

Edit, because I know it's coming: Mosaics are a hodgepodge of several evolutionary lines, and the don't fit in anywhere on the tree. Their apperance in the fossil record is oftentimes very unhelpful. I can't remember specifically which feature it is that the platypus has, but some part of it is a good deal older than where it is generally believed to have evolved in other species.

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camus
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quote:
I file encounters with the supernatural (i.e; God) under "experience."
So how do you know that those are supernatural experiences? How do you know which god is behind those experiences? If you use those experiences to define your beliefs, then you must have a pretty reliable method of interpreting those experiences.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Thanks for your imput, Sam. Seriously though, I am pleased that you're interested. I defined my paradigm by what it is not, and maybe that was a mistake.
That is a mistake, yes. On the whole, the issue is larger, though: your position is filled with logical and semantical errors and it relies on a series of common misunderstandings of methodological naturalism that you are not sufficiently addessing.

For example: earlier in this thread, you stated that the 'paradigm' for naturalism does not allow sufficiently for the possibility of God, and you use this to contrast it with your own 'paradigm.' People have tried out on no less than five (5) occasions to exhaustively detail why this dichotomy is false. They are sound points. At this point in the thread, you should at least have the capacity to understand what that counterpoint is, even if you don't agree with it. But you only demonstrate a mistreatment of these points. And there are many. It's why the issue crawls along in circles, to a degree.

Exclusively your fault? I dunno. But if the group as a whole is going to accept reason as the fundamental 'paradigm' by which either side will be argued, your points must pass logical muster.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
As long as there are realms of the Matrix which follow, at least well enough, certain laws, the scientific method can be brought to play there with good results.
Sure! Except that they're meaningless in "reality," for a given definition of "reality," because at any time one of the "operators" of the Matrix could choose to change physical law. That's one of the interesting things about the Matrix movies, in fact: it was only by learning to operate at the meta- level that anyone could hope to compete with Agents, and even the Agents didn't manipulate their environment to the extent that they could/should have. Why didn't they turn all the air to poisonous gas? Why didn't they make themselves completely immune to bullets?

If the Matrix IS reality, if scientific research in the Matrix is meaningful, then the rebels were doing something horrible. If the rebels were right to rebel, God in this scenario is doing something horrible.

quote:
So why cannot you see that there is a possibility, and perhaps a strong possibility, that we "creationists" are entitled to what we believe without being immediately regarded as ignorant or misguided?
Because there is no corrective mechanism. You could just as easily assert that atheists are inhuman and undeserving of voting rights, and I could not argue that point with you on your terms without first having to accept the premises you used to reach that conclusion.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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You're missing something, Sam. The false dichotomy is Evolution vs. God. Naturalism is not Evolution. Naturalism is quite specifically defined as "entirely natural, without any supernatural influences." Evolution is the mechanism by which Naturalism is made into a valid philosophy.
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King of Men
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quote:
It certainly has no place within the evolutionary structure (yet), and even Gould said that "mosaics like the platypus and the archyopteryx must be ignored," or something to that effect.
That is a lie, taking Gould's statement completely out of context. The quote is "Smooth intermediates between Bauplšne are almost impossible to construct, even in thought experiments; there is certainly no evidence for them in the fossil record (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do not count)". This is an argument against gradualism over the entire body plan, not against evolution! Gould goes on to state "If now it be asked what kind of transition is shown by Archaeopteryx, the answer is perfectly clear. It is a mosaic in which some characters are perfectly reptilian and others no less perfectly avian." In other words, it is a very nice intermediate form, it just doesn't show the intermediate-ness in all its characteristics at once.

As for the platypus, you've been overdosing on cretinist literature. It's very easy to place within the evolutionary scheme, as a mammal which diverged very early on in the evolution of that lineage (due to the geographical separation of Australia) and kept some characteristics which the rest of the mammals have lost, while gaining some others.

I won't speak to whether an objective observer would find you to be an idiot; but he might certainly find you to be extremely un-informed on a subject in which you nevertheless insist on making oracular pronouncements.

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Reshpeckobiggle
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So there's no corrective mechanism. So what? Maybe life just ain't fair.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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It is because of accusations like that (I am a liar) that I am ignoring KoM. If He had something good to say, someone let me know, because I'm not reading His posts.
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King of Men
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It should be noted that I'm not arguing with Resh, he has clearly reduced himself to the point where only machine guns will make any impression; I'm just correcting his false statements for the benefit of any lurkers. That said, I did not accuse him of being a liar; I said that his statement about Gould was a lie. The distinction lies in the supposition that he has been lied to by others, believed them, and is merely repeating what he heard.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
So there's no corrective mechanism. So what? Maybe life just ain't fair.
Your question was "why aren't Creationists entitled to believe what they want without being accused of being ignorant or misguided?"

The answer to that question is that some beliefs are better than others, and one of the criteria for a "better" belief is that it is possible to judge the merits of that belief. A paradigm whose merits cannot be evaluated is a paradigm which cannot be discussed, and a paradigm which cannot be discussed is going to find itself shut out of legitimate discussion.

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Blayne Bradley
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Resh you've been pwned.
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Samprimary
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quote:
You're missing something, Sam. The false dichotomy is Evolution vs. God. Naturalism is not Evolution. Naturalism is quite specifically defined as "entirely natural, without any supernatural influences." Evolution is the mechanism by which Naturalism is made into a valid philosophy.
You're talking about a theological naturalistic doctrine. This does not apply to all naturalistic determinism, and it certainly does not apply to methodological naturalism or "The Scientific Method," which by design makes no claim as to the existence of things which we cannot empirically test for, be it God or teacups in orbit around Saturn.

So as it is with evolutionary theory, which is certainly not reliant on the philosophy of naturalism. Epistemological sciences, perhaps. Biology, definitely.

Nor is naturalism using evolution to become a 'valid philosophy,' whatever that's supposed to mean.

As you're putting it, I'd say I'd have to emphatically disagree with your terms!

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TomDavidson
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What Resh means is that materialism is impossible without a mechanism like evolution to explain our origins. He's actually taking a semi-moderate stand here by pointing out that materialism is not required of evolutionists, but that evolution (or a similar mechanism) is required of all materialists.

Resh is actually being quite reasonable in this discussion, for a given definition of "reasonable." He's trying to argue what seems to him to be a middle course, but has been hampered by his unfamiliarity with typical philosophical approaches to relativism and/or epistemology. That's why I don't appreciate that some people are being hostile to him on this thread -- even if just in response to his own hostility or defensiveness -- because I think he's quite close to better understanding the issue; I don't want to drive him away from it in frustration.

He's got the sort of broad understanding of lay apologia that a lot of intelligent religious folk have, but I respect that he's able to perceive the ways in which its foundations are flawed; he detects that those foundations rest on premises which are unshared and unconfirmable, and fully concedes those points -- as contrasted with Ron, for example, who believes that the physical evidence for the Bible's complete truth (especially in matters of prophecy) is obvious to anyone with an open mind and half a brain. In other words, Resh is at least aware of the existence of his own process, and I think he deserves credit for that.

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King of Men
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I think I disagree with you there; Resh apparently did not arrive at his disbelief in evolution from a reasoned examination of which are the premises that he disagrees with, but rather from being presented with straw men and having those straw men knocked down. Then, upon having the straw-man-ness of those arguments pointed out, and the real ones substituted, that's when he goes into his 'paradigm' riff, in order to avoid having to engage with the real thing, which he apparently would find uncomfortably convincing. (Hence his admission that evolution is quite reasonable within its own 'paradigm'.)
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Reshpeckobiggle
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I'm just gonna let you guys go at it for a while. If you could figure it all out for me, that would be great. In the meantime, I will just observe how hopelessly mired you all are in your own logical constructs. Th parable of the house built on sand comes to mind. Sure, I can't prove the rock my house is built on even exists, but at least the blueprints I'm drafting are designed for somthing more solid.

By the way, I was up all night, so I'm not sure if I'm making sense anymore. Anyway, that was an unfiltered expression of how I feel about the whole thing. I hope I didn't ruin any goodwill you that may have been generated in you, Tom. After all, you did just come to my defense, though against KoM it is hardly necessary. Maybe I should just delete this post. Nah. Just don't read too much into it. I'll see you guys tomorrow.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I will just observe how hopelessly mired you all are in your own logical constructs.
I note that the alternative is to be mired in your illogical construct -- unless of course you're willing to describe your contruct in more detail, demonstrating the logic behind it.

What you're doing, quite literally, is saying, "your approach is illogical, but I can't explain mine."

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Papa Janitor
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Please feel free to keep the evolution (et al) discussion going, and to refrain from the name-calling. Thank you.
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Boothby171
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Tom,

He's actually saying, "Your approach is all mired in logical constructs, and is therefore rejected. My approach (paradigm) is not bound by logic, and is therefore superior"


"The human brain is like an enormous fish. Itís flat and slimy, and has gills through which it can see. Should one of these gills fail to open the messages transmitted by the lungs donít reach the brain. Itís as simple as that..."

"Your computerbox needs more words..."

[ February 26, 2007, 07:07 PM: Message edited by: Boothby171 ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:

He's actually saying, "Your approach is all mired in logical constructs, and is therefore rejected. My approach (paradigm) is not bound by logic, and is therefore superior"

I'm charitably assuming that's not what he's saying. He clearly feels that he HAS a paradigm and that it differs from mine in some way, but hasn't been able to articulate the details. I don't want to put words in his mouth, especially words like "my paradigm is less logical than yours!"
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Boothby171
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Well, that's because you've got to be serious all the time, and I tend to shoot off my mouth on occasion.

It means that people tend to take you a lot more seriously, and they treat me more like a court jester.

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Mathematician
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quote:
Originally posted by Boothby171:
quote:
my belief system is sufficiently convincing that I can reject Naturalism, and evolution as it's byproduct, while remaining intellectually honest
Now THAT, I'd love to see!
(For a slight digression)

I totally reject naturalism as a contradictory philosophy (where I define naturalism as "the belief that everything that happens occurs for a physically describable reason. In other words, a full understanding of the laws of physics/nature would suitably explain every possibly phenomenon"). If this isn't your definition of "naturalism", fine, skip the rest of this post.

The reason I find this contradictory is the effect this has on my views of logic. Supposing naturalism is true, the thought process of the brain become totally mechanical. Thus, "truth" is simply a potential state the brain. The brain simply scans itself to find it's molecular state, and reports to itself "ah, the information that brought me to my current state has left me in a state I've previously interpreted as true, thus it's true."

But then there's no reason to trust the rules of logic - a line of reasoning is simply a modification of states to the molecular structure of the brain in which the final state is interpreted as "true". It's too arbitrary to expect it relate in any way to truth.

To sum up, naturalism defeats all logic and reason - to believe in naturalism is to discount all forms of logic and reasoning as being in any way a truth preserving tool (i.e., when one starts with only true statements and applies logical inferencing tools to them, one expects it to output only true statements)

I guess technically I've argued that there is no non-contradictory logical argument in support of naturalism. That is, naturalism could still be true, but there simply isn't an arguement for it. Thus, naturalism has become a belief. And insofar as a belief in a naturalism precludes logic, I'll stick with rejecting naturalism.


Now, to stop a potential rebuttal of something I didn't say: naturalism and evolution are independent philosophies. One may believe none, either one, or both in an entirely consistent fashion.


<goes back to lurking>

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TomDavidson
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quote:

But then there's no reason to trust the rules of logic - a line of reasoning is simply a modification of states to the molecular structure of the brain in which the final state is interpreted as "true". It's too arbitrary to expect it relate in any way to truth.

I consider this completely nonsensical. What is your definition of "truth?"
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Boothby171
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Mathman,

Except that interactions with the natural world will verify the "true" status as valid or invalid.

"I believe that it is true that when I walk blindfolded onto a busy city street, I will make it safely to the other side"

<whump>

Nope! Not true!

Sooner or later, one must either admit that it is possible to actually "know" things (including, but probably not limited to "truth"), or else one must acknowledge that we can never know anything at all. In which case, all discourse, all learning, etc. upon etc., is futile. Heck--even acknowledging such a thing would be without meaning!


A mathemetician and an engineer were put into a room, and a great reward was placed at the other side. They were each told that at each step of the challenge, they could halve their distance to the reward.

The mathematician turned and left the room; "I'll never get there!" he (or she) said.

The engineer started walking towards the great reward; "I'll get close enough!"

I'll get close enough to the truth.

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TomDavidson
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Well, it all comes back to the "brain in the box" thing, I suppose. There are some people who find it absolutely horrifying to think that there's no way for them to know whether they're living in the Matrix or not. To these people, I say, "tough cookies."
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Boothby171
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Just because so much of it has already come up in this discussion, I'll post these again:

quote:
Sywak's five rules of theological debate:

RULE 1: Presume the existence of God. More specifically, presume the existence of your particular God. Don't say things like "I believe that God does this...", simply say, "God does this..." After all, everybody knows that God exists. Atheists are just wrong, and deep down inside they realize that. Yes, it's OK to pity them (just not yet--see RULE 5).


RULE 2: Never actually define what it is you mean by "God" or "Heaven," etc. If you define it, then it can be refuted. After all, you've already established that He exists (see RULE 1). Also, if challenged, you can always say, "That's not what I meant," or "I never said that He could do that..."


RULE 3: Once your opponent starts using observation and logic in his foolish attempt to refute what everybody already knows to be true, you can deny that both observation and logic are valid approaches to understanding. Typical responses are, "How can we ever really know anything," and "God does not operate under the rules of logic and rationality--He is beyond them." Never, under any circumstances, attempt to explain just what the hell any of that means, because it really doesn't mean anything (that's the beauty of it). More importantly, do not try and understand it yourself, as your head may actually explode. Your opponent may respond to your first statement by asking, "then how do you know if anything is true?" To which you simply respond, "I just know."

Some other good responses under RULE 3 include "But is there really any difference between the earth and the concept of the earth?" and "If I have no way of knowing if there are monsters under my bed (short of looking) but if I genuinely believe they are there, the fear of them is no different than if they really are there."

One of the other advantages of invoking RULE 3 is that you are no longer constrained to actually have to make sense in what you say or write. By discrediting logic and reason, you are no longer bound by them yourself. If you can keep this up, many times your opponent will just walk away, shaking his head, thereby handing you the "win."


RULE 4: As things start to go downhill, you may have to use the old reliable notion that "God exists because people believe that He exists." There are deep theological problems with this approach, especially if other religions have more believers in their God than yours (except you know, of course, that they're totally wrong, anyhow). But still, it keeps you away from RULE 5.


RULE 5: If all else fails, you may just have to reveal your opponent for what he really is. An idiot. A Godless, liberal, democrat, communist, baby-eating, tree-hugging idiot.


To which I guess I should add #6: You know that thing we were discussing that was so important? It's not really that important after all. Why are you so hung up on it? It's like you're obsessed or something!


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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
There are some people who find it absolutely horrifying to think that there's no way for them to know whether they're living in the Matrix or not. To these people, I say, "tough cookies."
I'm one of those people :shrug:
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TomDavidson
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Why worry? Realistically, unless you found out, what could it possibly matter? Like the existence of an afterlife, it's one of those possibilities that simply can't be effectively factored into a rational life due to the absence of measurable impact. You could be a brain in a box; you could be a dreaming butterfly; you could be an entire lifetime of memories created and destroyed in an instant by a flickering universe. In all these models, the only agency which exists is the agency you choose to believe in.

People give themselves purpose.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Of course, I believe I have found out about the existence of an afterlife, and that its affect is measurable, albeit not in any scientific manner.
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TomDavidson
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I'm not sure how you measure something unscientifically. You can say "that's a big enough clump of flour," I suppose, but that's still a scientific measurement; it's just an imprecise one. What method, scientific or not, would you use to measure the effect of the afterlife?
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mr_porteiro_head
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If the the measurable qualities of the clump of flour changed according to the belief of the observer, I don't think it could be measured scientifically, since one of the cornerstones of the scientific method is that anybody can replicate the experiment, regardless of their personal beliefs.

And whether or not I'm correct about this hypothetical situation, it doesn't really matter, as long as you now understand what I mean by "scientific manner".

I don't know if we're using the word "measurable" to mean two different things. I can "measure" the affect that my love for Mary Cate has had in my life because I can perceive its effect, but for most usages of the word, I'd say that love is not measurable.

quote:
What method, scientific or not, would you use to measure the effect of the afterlife?
Prayer, and answers to prayer. Of course, I wouldn't separate out "does the afterlife really exist" from other questions like "does God exist" and "was Jesus the Savior".
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Of course, I wouldn't separate out "does the afterlife really exist" from other questions like "does God exist" and "was Jesus the Savior".
Hrm. For this sort of purpose, I almost would. But as you've said, it all boils down to pretty much the same issue.

(Thank you for defining what you meant by "scientific manner," by the way.)

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Reshpeckobiggle
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Oh my God, I think we're getting somewhere!!! This is unprecedented!!!

quote:
Originally posted by Tom Davidson:Why worry? Realistically, unless you found out, what could it possibly matter? Like the existence of an afterlife, it's one of those possibilities that simply can't be effectively factored into a rational life due to the absence of measurable impact. You could be a brain in a box; you could be a dreaming butterfly; you could be an entire lifetime of memories created and destroyed in an instant by a flickering universe. In all these models, the only agency which exists is the agency you choose to believe in.

People give themselves purpose.

Simply a more elegant version of my argument all along.

By the way, I'm impressed you guys have been able to understand what I've been trying to say, about the paradigms and such, because *I* barely understand what I'm trying to say. I know because the questions I'm being asked are, for the most part, directly related to my posts. To be perfectly honest, I haven't felt that was the case in most of the previous threads I've participated in. Maybe my point was being obscured by my caustic manner.

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Mathematician
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:

But then there's no reason to trust the rules of logic - a line of reasoning is simply a modification of states to the molecular structure of the brain in which the final state is interpreted as "true". It's too arbitrary to expect it relate in any way to truth.

I consider this completely nonsensical. What is your definition of "truth?"
I really don't want to get into this sort of debate, but for starters, I would classify statements as "I think I exist" as truth. Naturalism, at least as I (may have incorrectly) defined it above precludes accepting even such statements as true, simply because "truth" is an arbitrary, meaningless term in the context of naturalism.

quote:
Originally posted by Boothby171:
Mathman,

Except that interactions with the natural world will verify the "true" status as valid or invalid.


But I'm trying to argue that under naturalism, a statement such as "I perform action A, and then action B happens. Thus there may be some relationship between A and B" is not reasonable. In part, you can't even trust that A actually happened, since your memory of A is simply another rearrangement of molecules. Suppose something else caused the same rearrangement?

Further, supposing you repeat A lots of times and B always occurs, all you've really shown is that after you repeat A, your brain is in the same configuration as every other time.

Under naturalism, every experience you've ever had is simply a rearrangement of molecules - you can't even honestly construct your past. You can't say "X happened 5 minutes ago", you can only say "my current brain state makes me think X happened 5 minutes ago". I guess fundamentally I'm saying that accepting naturalism means you lose all objectiveness. You have no more feelings or thoughts about things, you simply have random mental states. In short, you lose the ability to trust your own thinking.

Thus, your example isn't any sort of rebuttal since I'm arguing against the very premises of your example. In other words, your example posited some assumptions that I've already attempted to argue against. Of course, if you have different assumptions you will reach different conclusions ;-)


quote:
Originally posted by Boothby171:


A mathemetician and an engineer were put into a room, and a great reward was placed at the other side. They were each told that at each step of the challenge, they could halve their distance to the reward.

The mathematician turned and left the room; "I'll never get there!" he (or she) said.

The engineer started walking towards the great reward; "I'll get close enough!"

I'll get close enough to the truth.

Any decent mathematician would have noticed that the sum from 1 to infinity of (1/2)^n is 1, so that he/she could get there ;-) (Zeno's paradox isn't a mathematical paradox at all)

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Well, it all comes back to the "brain in the box" thing, I suppose. There are some people who find it absolutely horrifying to think that there's no way for them to know whether they're living in the Matrix or not. To these people, I say, "tough cookies."

In some sense you're right. I'm am trying to say that accepting naturalism logically leads you right back to the brain in the box.

If we take the usual way out and say "well, hey, just so we can get somewhere in our philosophizing, let's assume that we CAN know a few things like X, and Y", then X and Y become "unnatural" in the sense that we've already decided X and Y aren't fully, objectively, knowable (that is, laws of physics/nature without some extra assumptions can't fully explain X and Y), and yet we're now taking them as fully knowable.

(sorry for typos/errors/etc...it's late, and I'm going to bed)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Oh my God, I think we're getting somewhere!!! This is unprecedented!!!
Not at all. Tom and I had another pleasant discussion concerning the Matrix, brain-in-a-box, and belief in God just a few weeks ago.

Unless you meant that it's unprecedented for you to get somewhere in such a discussion. [Wink]

quote:
Maybe my point was being obscured by my caustic manner.
[Smile]
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King of Men
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quote:
Under naturalism, every experience you've ever had is simply a rearrangement of molecules - you can't even honestly construct your past. You can't say "X happened 5 minutes ago", you can only say "my current brain state makes me think X happened 5 minutes ago". I guess fundamentally I'm saying that accepting naturalism means you lose all objectiveness. You have no more feelings or thoughts about things, you simply have random mental states. In short, you lose the ability to trust your own thinking.
While this may possibly be true, it's just as true for any system involving a soul, which I would suppose is the chief alternative. After all, we don't actually know how such a thing works; there's nothing to say its memories are not false. What if Memory Gremlins are interfering with its operations and giving you false memories? This is just as likely as the random rearrangements of brain states you are suggesting - if not more so, in fact. If we assume pure naturalism, then clearly evolution is working on those purely physical brains; and presumably the more accurate ones (both for memory and reasoning) have more offspring.

In other words, the criticism you are making of naturalism cuts just as sharply on what I suppose we may call spiritualism. I suggest, therefore, that it must be discarded as not permitting any useful distinction to be drawn.

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Boothby171
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quote:
Your "better" is subjective. I can follow a certain set of rules with certain premises and create an environment where all doubt can be eliminated.
Are you sure? Are you really, really sure?

(still waiting so see what Resh's belief system is, rather than what it isn't)

My belief system (my paradigm) has nothing at all to do with hyperintelligent fish applying various voltages and frequencies of electrical currents into electrodes implanted in my brain and anus (obviously done to save on the cost of wiring)

--Steve


BTW, Math--my reference to Zeno's paradox was meant to illustrate that there is theory (never reaching the reward, never remembering a thing) vs. practical applications.

What would memory be, then, if not for a collection of chemical states?

And we're back to the statement, "I have absolutely no idea know how my system works (spirits, genies, faeries, Christ, God, etc.) , but it's better than your system (you Godless, naturalist heathen)."

About right?

(Actually, Math, I'm not sure what your theological position is, but I'm more referring to others here making veiled statements like that)

[ February 27, 2007, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: Boothby171 ]

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Blayne Bradley
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I really dont like arguements that go into the worthiness of naturallism example "then we are no better then x" and somehow magically our lives lose all meaning if we accept a naturalistic course. Pfft.
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camus
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quote:
I'm more referring to others here making veiled statements like that
Of course, it's easier to refute a statement that you created and then attributed to your opponent than it is to refute your opponent's actual statement. Not only is it dishonest, but it reveals a lack of understanding in the opponent's position.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
I really dont like arguements that go into the worthiness of naturalism example "then we are no better then x" and somehow magically our lives lose all meaning if we accept a naturalistic course. Pfft.

While I hate that argument too, in fairness to Mathematician, I don't think that's what he's saying. He's not making a moral argument against naturalism, he's making a Godelian one: If you assume naturalism, then you cannot assume the logic that led you to make the assumption in the first place. But it cuts just as hard against non-naturalist explanations, because you don't actually know anything about whatever it is you want to call the soul.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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Mph: "Unless you meant that it's unprecedented for you to get somewhere in such a discussion."

That's what I meant. Obviously I haven't read every other thread here.

Boothby: "Are you sure? Are you really sure?"

No! That's the point!

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