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Post 80

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 5:54amSanction this postReply
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Joseph:

Do me a favor and stop telling me how sloppy my thinking is.  You have been going on and on about how irrational my belief in God is, when in fact I have offered no argument regarding such.  So who is being sloppy here?

What I have argued is that everyone's experience of free will and self-awareness as such is evidence that reality may be more than that which is merely matter, AND IF that is so, then there is room in reality for God.  To this end I have not made any appeal to God or religion or faith.  I have made an appeal to what is real:  My experience, your experience, and the experience of everyone else.

If you want to believe that all of this experience of volition as free will and consciousness as self-awareness is reducible to science, fine.  But that requires a leap of faith:  A belief that science has only frontiers not limits.  You cannot prove this; you can only hold such belief in faith.

So who here is actually grounding himself in what he actually experiences in life?

Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




Post 81

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 7:52amSanction this postReply
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Robert:
 
You hit the nail on the head with your thought experiment.
 
Your first question:  >>will any of these replicas act any different from how you act upon reading this post?<<
 
Not necessarily if conditions are identical, but it is possible.
 
Your second question:  >>can any of these replicas act at all different from you upon reading this post?<<
 
Yes.
 
Your third question:  >>if you answer no to both of these questions, does is make any sense whatsoever to talk about free will?<<
 
No, it doesn't.  A person who answers no to the first and second questions is a materialist, who believes everything is reducible to matter.  Because matter is subject to the laws of physics, then physics dictates that all events (such as a person making a choice) are predetermined by the causes leading to the event.  Thus, free will is an illusion.
 
Your last question:  >>if you answer yes to any of these questions, what is it that permits identical conditions to produce different results?<<
 
Michael answers "volition".  Well, of course.  But what is volition?  What makes it possible?  How can we be truly free to choose if volition is subject to the causation described above?  If our volition is free will as we experience it, then something other than physics is required to explain it.
 
But what do we know and understand scientifically that is not subject to the laws of physics?  Nothing.  Therefore, is it likely that there exists a part of our universe, knowable in terms of science, that is independent of the laws of physics?  No.
 
Yet we experience in free will what appears to be a non-causal bubble in spacetime free of the chains of cause-and-effect stretching back to the beginning of time.  If that experience is not an illusion, we do not have science to explain it.  Anyone who claims otherwise also has a bridge to sell you.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




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Post 82

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 1:21pmSanction this postReply
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Citizen Rat,

You seem to think that "magic" is equally good to "science", and that a preference for one over the other is faith.  You're wrong, and yes, this once again is proof of your "sloppy thinking".  Once you accept faith in any area of your life, you lose the ability to distinguish reality from fantasy.  And that's because "faith" is the acceptance of fantasy.  And now you think that it's faith to reject magic and fantasy as an explanation.  Your confusion is not  a condemnation of reason, but of faith.




Post 83

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 3:10pmSanction this postReply
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Joseph:
 
Why do you waste your time with responding to me?  What good does it do you to set up strawmen to knock down?  You know perfectly well that the discussion here is not about the belief in God, but how to account for the universal human experience of profoundly important phenomena that is at odds with everything we understand about the material universe.
 
We experience consciousness as self-awareness and volition as free will.  We experience these things as though we are truly in command of them and free without consideration of existing circumstance to invoke them as we please.  Science offers NO explanation of these phenomena, yet they are central to our lives as rational, moral human beings.
 
So how do we account for them?  This is no small matter.  If we believe science is capable of explaining all, then we must face the fact that our experience of volition and consciousness are nothing but illusions, because our actions and our awareness of those actions must have been pre-ordained by a chain of causation stretching back to the beginning of time.  If so, any doodling about morality is utterly pointless.  We are going to do what a deterministic material universe has already set us in motion to do.  We have no choice.
 
Perhaps then it is reasonable to consider that there are limits to what science can explain.  This makes our reliance upon reason all the more imperative, because we lack the authority of scientists to reveal to us the nature of our consciousness and volition (which is what all of do who are not scientists directly involved in the research of these things).  If we truly are free to experience and act as we please, this certainly mandates the need for a moral code.  Moreover, it invokes wonder as to what this reality is that allows for phenomena not enslaved to the deterministic machinations of the laws of physics.
 
A third way to account for our experience of self-awareness and free will is to not think about it.  This is the Objectivist solution.  While Objectivists have the sense to scorn materialism, they seem to fear any possibility that might allow for the existence of the divine.  So they define reality to preclude the possibility of the divine, hence all is material and explicable by science, all the while ignoring the materialistic implications of such a definition.
 
Which is precisely what you have done here.  For all your prattling about my embrace of magic and fantasy, not a word from you as to how Objectivism resolves the experience of consciousness as self-awareness and volition as free will without reducing itself to materialism.  The reason is, Joseph, you have no resolution to this fundamental problem with Objectivism.  And so you send out the strawmen instead.
 
I do not like being obnoxious with you, Joseph, but the plain fact is that you are a very intelligent person who knows his stuff.  Some others may not know better when they retreat to safe ground to make a response to me, but you do.  So I can tell you are evading, and I'm not going to pull punches, because I do respect you.  I would appreciate a modicum of respect in return.  Namely ignore me if all you desire to do is defame my intellect with trite Randisms.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




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Post 84

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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Bill,

We experience consciousness as self-awareness and volition as free will. 
 
Since these seem to be basic assumptions on which you base many of your questions, I would like to point out two errors in these assumptions.
 
First, consciousness is not "self-awareness." Consciousness is awareness, but it does not need to be aware of itself at all. Conscious is awareness of existence. My cat is conscious, but certainly doesn't have anything that could be called "self-awareness."
 
Secondly, volition is not "experienced," as, "free will," or anything else. Volition is only that aspect of human nature that makes it necessary for humans to act by conscious choice, or not act at all. There is no mystery about it. It has nothing to do with the fact the material (physical) existence is determined by the laws of physics. Volition is an aspect of life, that self-sustained process that uses the the physical organism to sustain itself and the organism as a living entity. It is the life process that is volitional, not the physical organism.
 
The proper analogy is the computer. The hardware of a computer has a fixed and determined nature, but a program running on that computer is not determined by the nature of the physical components of the hardware. The program can do anything possible to programs, and is not determined or limited by the hardware at all.
 
Regi




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Post 85

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 - 10:10pmSanction this postReply
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Citizen Rat,

I don't know perfectly well that the conversation is about free-will.  In fact, the conversation from the beginning has been about faith, and specifically faith in god.  This latest tangent on free-will is your attempt to show the necessity of faith.  Others might be interested in delving into that issue, but I'm not.  That tangent only exists because you think that if you can show that we don't have all the answers, it opens the door for faith (and god).  I reject this premise entirely.  There is never a justification for faith.  It is a destroyer of minds, and you can keep trying to change the topic, but it all boils down to that.

You think this is retreating to safe ground, but you're wrong.  We never left safe ground.  You suggested that a lack of answer to the volition question justifies faith (in god).  You're wrong, and going into volition would just be conceding the real point.  I have no doubts that the Objectivists here can beat you on the volition problem as well, which some have already started.  But that's irrelevant to the question of faith.  As much as you'd like all of us to just assume that faith can be justified in this case, you're only fooling yourself.

As for defaming your intellect, I haven't had an opportunity.  Faith has nothing to do with one's intellect.  It's the complete lack of intellect.  I'm still waiting for your alleged intellectual defense of faith.




Post 86

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 10:50amSanction this postReply
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Hi, Regi.
 
I acknowledge that your explanations of consciousness and volition are intellectually coherent if you are materialist.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




Post 87

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 10:55amSanction this postReply
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Joseph:
 
You said: >>blah-blah blah-blah-blah<<
 
Get back to me when you want to respond to what I have actually written.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




Post 88

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 11:00amSanction this postReply
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My friends:
 
I see from the number of condemnation notices I keep receiving from the Solo Adminstrator that I continue to upset many of you with all my talk about relying upon your experience to consider ideas that Objectivism requires you to reject.  As I do not wish to disrupt threads in which Objectivists are discussing matters in which an acceptance of Objectivism is generally presumed, I shall retire to "The Number of the Beast" folder where you need not fear my words lest you enter it.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




Post 89

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 11:52amSanction this postReply
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I understand, Citizen Rat.  You don't want to openly discuss faith, but instead prefer to slip it in unnoticed.  Not surprising, considering how ridiculous the position is when you talk about it openly.  Good luck trying to distract people from the infinite-pound, omnipotent, omniscient gorilla sitting in your living room 



Post 90

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 12:51pmSanction this postReply
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Hi, Joseph.
 
You charge:  >>You don't want to openly discuss faith, but instead prefer to slip it in unnoticed.<<
 
Au contaire.  Instead of weaving and bobbing, Regi asked me a few straight-forward questions about my faith in "The Number of the Beast" folder and I answered them.  No fuss, no muss.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat
 




Post 91

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 1:11pmSanction this postReply
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I don't particularly care to hear you enumerate your irrational beliefs.  The question is whether faith is justified at all (and it's not).  I noticed you slipped in the same arguments for "rational faith" that you used in this thread.  I've already shown why you're wrong on that one, and you correctly avoided responding.  And now you pretend we didn't have that conversation.  Great.




Post 92

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 1:23pmSanction this postReply
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My dear Joseph:
 
You stated:  >>I don't particularly care to hear you enumerate your irrational beliefs.<<
 
That is a cross you need not bear.  Do yourself a favor and just ignore me.  I'll understand.
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




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Post 93

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 1:35pmSanction this postReply
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Bill,

If Joe ignored your posts he would be doing you a favor. It's important to challenge what you disagree with, lest you think we can't back up our philosophy with facts.

Ethan 




Post 94

Wednesday, April 21, 2004 - 1:49pmSanction this postReply
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Hi, Ethan.
 
You said: >>If Joe ignored your posts he would be doing you a favor.<<
 
That's true.  I wouldn't have to worry about the consternation I am causing good ol' Joe.
 
You add:  >>It's important to challenge what you disagree with, lest you think we can't back up our philosophy with facts.<<
 
Oh, I don't know about that, Ethan.  Why should it matter to you and Joe what I think?  Isn't it more important that a challenge gives you an opportunity to exercise those mental muscles of yours?
 
Regards,
Bill a.k.a. Citizen Rat




Post 95

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 - 4:41pmSanction this postReply
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This has probably already been discussed, but this is the first time that I have actually found an intellectual discussion on this that I have to say something.
The woman who pushed the lawsuit to ban prayer in public schools (can't remember her name off the top of my head) once debated a Catholic priest on television. She spouted the classic atheist/objectivist argument of "Prove that there's a God!"
The priest calmly responded, "You prove to me that there isn't. I admit that I cannot prove that there is a God. I can give you good reasons to believe that there is, and you can do the same to make me believe that there isn't. But we are essentially the same: we each believe in something that we cannot prove." (please note, this is not an exact quote)

Again, you might have heard this before, but what about Pascal's Wager? (moderators feel free to delete this part if it contradicts your 'terms of agreement')
Atheists lose both ways. If you are correct, and there is no God, then after you die, you'll never know that you were right. On the other hand, if you are wrong, then you'll know you were dead wrong for eternity.
Christians win both ways. If you are wrong, and there is no God, then you'll never know that you were wrong. On the other hand, if you were right, then you're set for all eternity.
He ends with "Therefore I will be moral" or something to that effect.

Furthermore, where do most of the laws in today's society come from? The Ten Commandments. Laws against murder, rape, theft, etc. are all based in religion.

This was just a random collection of thoughts on this issue. I appreciate that I could post them here.



Post 96

Tuesday, November 9, 2004 - 5:05pmSanction this postReply
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Again, you might have heard this before, but what about Pascal's Wager? (moderators feel free to delete this part if it contradicts your 'terms of agreement')
Atheists lose both ways. If you are correct, and there is no God, then after you die, you'll never know that you were right. On the other hand, if you are wrong, then you'll know you were dead wrong for eternity.
Christians win both ways. If you are wrong, and there is no God, then you'll never know that you were wrong. On the other hand, if you were right, then you're set for all eternity.


Pascal's Wager only makes sense, though, if you assume that a belief in gods entails no consequences in the real world. So yes, given a religion in which simply professing a belief in some god (or not) is sufficient to determine between eternity in heaven or in hell, it might make some sort of sense. But I don't know of any religion that would allow this. Every meaningful religion attaches some set of actions in the real world to a belief in its god, and usually those actions are detrimental to the quality of an individual's life in the real world, requiring him to exchange happiness in this world for the possibility of happiness in the “next.”

If believing in a god (and following its moral code) requires you to give up the person you love, then Pascal's Wager just doesn't work.



Post 97

Wednesday, November 10, 2004 - 12:48amSanction this postReply
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Msr. Campbell-

Which god?

<smooch>

Charmed Mistress Shiris   ))(*)((   - "not all those who wander are lost"
 
P.S.  I do think your religion is where many of our society's laws come from, but as it turns out, those considerations may not be working out in your favor.  I think rational human beings can figure out plenty of reasons not to murder and torture and oppress each other, but your God's laws specifically encourage my murder; check Exodus and Deuteronomy.  I confess that can sometimes ruin a girl's composure.  And there is then there is the matter of the sumptuary laws.  I think the twenty-first century's past time to sunset those provisions, don't you?  Honestly, the sound of your God's voice kind of gives me the creeps and makes me just want to hang up the phone.

Besides, my goddess in prettier than your god.

Joy, O wondrous spark divine,
Daughter of Elysium,
Drunk with fire now we enter,
Heavenly one, your holy shrine.
Your magic powers join again
What fashion strictly did divide;
Brotherhood unites all men
Where your gentle wings spread wide...
                     [Choral Symphony, Ludwig van Beethoven]

(Edited by Jeanine Ring on 11/10, 12:51am)




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