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Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 5:30amSanction this postReply
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Ed, I share your admiration and frustration regarding Mortimer Adler.  I got great value from How To Read a Book and How To Speak, How To Listen.  The man clearly respected reason and objective knowledge.  Yet he could not seem to let go of some Catholic notions like God, etc. nor could he overcome his faith in the concept of a world government.

Regarding your conclusion, I feel puzzled that you came to a "soft atheism" position.  Are you attempting to use Adler's own premises to draw that conclusion?  I ask because Objectivism clearly takes a "hard atheism" position using the basic axioms.




Post 1

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 11:57amSanction this postReply
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Thanks for the question, Luke.

The reason I took the position I did is because of the conceptualist notion of the primacy of epistemology (as against the Scholastics notion of a primacy of metaphysics). Rand spoke about how philosophers -- philosophers with warped epistemologies -- were projecting a warped metaphysics. The warped epistemologies were leading them to believe in the warped metaphysics.

Before you can, conceptually, know what you know -- you have to know how you can know anything in the first place. Again, Rand talked about how you can misuse a mind; and about how it's man's job to figure out how to use his mind right. When I focus on using my mind right, I can't even get to the notion of God. The notion doesn't even have enough existential status to even DESERVE to be actively denied -- to even deserve attention at all.

I could make a long list for you, Luke, of posited things without any relation to reality -- a book with more entries than the Oxford Dictionary; none of them related to reality (all imaginary, arbitrary things). Then, I could plop this 20-lb book on your desk and say: "Get started" (go through all of these and actively deny them). Do you see the pointlessness of that? And if you took the bait the first time, I'd merely create a 2nd book, 3rd, etc.

If thinking men are called upon to actively deny the arbitrary, then evil has the upper hand -- because arbitrary imagination, with it's perpetually-distant horizon, is not a proper battleground for the rational human mind. Here's Peikoff on the matter ...

==========
Since an arbitrary statement has no connection to man's means of knowledge or his grasp of reality, cognitively speaking such a statement must be treated as though nothing had been said. ...

... If it is arbitrary, it is entitled to no epistemological assessment at all; it is simply to be dismissed as though it hadn't come up ...

... the false is pronounced false because it contradicts the evidence. The arbitrary, however, has no relation to evidence, facts, or context. It is the human equivalent of [noises produced by] a parrot ... sounds without any tie to reality, without content or significance. ...

... It is not your responsibility to refute someone's arbitrary assertion--to try to find or imagine arguments that will show that his assertion is false. It is a fundamental error on your part even to try to do this.
==========


And here's Rand ...

==========
... there is no room for the arbitrary in any activity of man, ...
==========


Ed




Post 2

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 3:40pmSanction this postReply
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I'll come back to question #1

On question #2

quoteHe outlines the position of the pantheist as such as "the world and God are coextensive, in a sense; God's whole being is in the world, the world itself the body of the Divine Being. It is here (p. 499) where Adler asks the wise question: "We must ask about God's nature before we ask about God's existence. We must have some meaning for the term God."
 
Now (p. 499), Adler outlines the 3 possible conceptions of God:

1) As totally unlike anything else that we know (where we can have no "conception" of God).
2) As essentially like all the things we know -- all the things in our experience (ie. finite, corporeal, mutable, and imperfect).
3) As both like and unlike all the things that we know (and here is where the Adlerian argument breaks down).





Adler appears to be taking a position here in alignment with a theistic view of God which would more properly be aimed at the "Desert Religions"; when he outlines his "possib[ilities]" they would all fall into a concept of God as creator in relation to the created. Herein problems start arising immediately as
not all religions follow this tenor nor do all belief systems fall into the category of what I mentioned on another thread as being above and unknowable to our conscious


On #3

Can we know God's existence and nature (independent of revelation and religious faith)?




If there was a God( and I uses this term in a very generic manner) the way to know it would be through understanding man more throughly and more precisely consciousness and intent.


# 4

Same as # 3




Back to # 1 where Adler states and I reply:



4) The idea of God's existence is ultimately arbitrary and, therefore, not even worthy of a focus of our limited mental time and energy (soft atheism).



In conclusion and also to respond to Ed's mentioning(in another thread) of me falling into the soft atheist category I would have to say that I agree with the matter being arbitrary, but  insofar as a mental exercise and a total waste of my time, I find it no more so than a lot of things I engage in for nothing more than pleasure.

(Edited by Mr. L W Hall on 4/26, 7:51pm)




Post 3

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 8:00pmSanction this postReply
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L W,

Now (p. 499), Adler outlines the 3 possible conceptions of God:

1) As totally unlike anything else that we know (where we can have no "conception" of God).
2) As essentially like all the things we know -- all the things in our experience (ie. finite, corporeal, mutable, and imperfect).
3) As both like and unlike all the things that we know (and here is where the Adlerian argument breaks down).
To be clear, what I meant by this quote (though it wasn't obvious enough for clarity) -- was that Adler did, indeed, adopt the 3rd position (noting the tangling implications of the first 2 positions).

Back to # 1 where Adler states and I reply:

4) The idea of God's existence is ultimately arbitrary and, therefore, not even worthy of a focus of our limited mental time and energy (soft atheism).
Actually, that's me stating ... I had formed MY OWN conclusion here. Adler would have disagreed with this conclusion of mine.

Ed




Post 4

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 8:14amSanction this postReply
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Ed,

Belief in a God without evidence -- requires (at least partial) paralyzation of an otherwise-active mind. A mind that works on evidence in a reasonable way. An active belief in God requires a rejection of the foundation of human consciousness (ie. a rejection of evidential reasoning, as the standard for truth).

 

The 'scientific method' provides no proof that consciousness even exists.




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Post 5

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 8:27amSanction this postReply
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Sigh.

Robert, "proof" is a concept that presupposes the existence and validity of consciousness -- and of existence.

To say "you can't prove existence or consciousness," there must be a conscious "you" doing the saying.



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Post 6

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 9:23amSanction this postReply
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And if he is not conscious, then there's no 'you' to be conversing with [which makes this an interesting conversation]...



Post 7

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 12:38pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

I did not say you could not prove consciousness. I said the so-called scientific method can't prove it.  The reason for this is that consciousness is immaterial.  Science can tell everything about a watch, for example, except how it came to be.

(Edited by Robert Davison on 4/28, 12:41pm)




Post 8

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 1:17pmSanction this postReply
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Wolf, you quote me ...

=============
Belief in a God without evidence -- requires (at least partial) paralyzation of an otherwise-active mind. A mind that works on evidence in a reasonable way. An active belief in God requires a rejection of the foundation of human consciousness (ie. a rejection of evidential reasoning, as the standard for truth).
=============

... then you responded ...

=============
The 'scientific method' provides no proof that consciousness even exists.
=============

Be sure, when I say that "evidential reasoning" is the "standard for truth" -- all I'm saying is that you have to use your mind right. The 2 necessary ingredients for all (conceptual) truth -- are evidence, and reasoning. If either one goes, then so does the truth. You can't reason on "no" evidence, that's Kantian (ie. what I'm trying to expose in this very essay).

I wasn't trying to limit truth to that which is discovered by the special sciences, our communication merely broke down.

Ed




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Post 9

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 1:26pmSanction this postReply
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That a watch could ever have been created without reference to science would come as a real surprise to centuries of watchmakers.

And to posit an undefined, unlimited, indefinite, insubstantial, non-sensory, non-anything-anyone-can-objectively-describe-or-point-to, magical "cause" for a watch (or for anything else) does not solve your problem of "explaining" the existence of a watch. What in hell does a contentless, asserted word without objective attributes ("God" or "Allah" or the Tooth Fairy) "explain"?

Try this one:

"Klorg exists. Prove to me that it doesn't."

Wouldn't any reader have the right to ask me: What in hell are you talking about?










Post 10

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 5:35pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

If a scientist who had never seen a watch were to come across and examine one for the first time, he would, in short order, be able to tell you what it was made of, its dimensions and composition, and by what principles of mechanics it functioned.  He could not, within his frame of reference, determine or even, permissibly, speculate as to its origin.  It would take a philosopher to do that. 

I am trying to make a point about the 'scientific method'; that not everything that exists has to be touched, smelled, seen, heard or tasted.  That is the only point I am making.  I am somewhat perplexed and frustrated that you don't realize I am limiting my argument.




Post 11

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 5:39pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

Clearly, from Robert's replies, communication did break down.  I was merely trying to make a distinction between philosophy and science.




Post 12

Friday, April 28, 2006 - 11:39pmSanction this postReply
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Pivotal Question #4 -- What is God's relation to the world and to man?


"God" is a vague concept, which depending on context, stands for creator, authority, orchestrator, ideal form.

God is an arbitrary concept -- not derivable from perception or reason.


I should think the concept of a god was derived from both, since it indeed exists. Even unicorns exist and serve a purpose.

In a political sense, the concept of God is, orchestratively, utilitarian (think Marx: aka "the opium of the masses"). But in a principled sense (note the contradistinction of the political, with the principled!), God can only be a manipulative concept (there is NO other way that the concept of God can be viewed). An otherworldly dictum for a sacrifice here and now (for the sake of some ineffible future gain, in some unfathomable heavenly paradise).


Theists often argue "God" is the source of natural rights and freedom:

http://www.law.indiana.edu/uslawdocs/declaration.html
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights...


Of course, most here no doubt attribute these to our identity as rational animals. But to such theists, to deny god is to deny independence.

belief in God requires a rejection of the foundation of human consciousness (ie. a rejection of evidential reasoning, as the standard for truth).


Not necessarily. Ignorance usually suffices, and since our knowledge is incomplete, ignorance doesn't necessarily demand rejection or even abscense of reason.

Conclusion:
The idea of God's existence is ultimately arbitrary and, therefore, not even worthy of a focus of our limited mental time and energy (soft atheism)


Often problems (fields and diffusion come to mind) are solved by considering an "arbitrary", fictitious test-charge or particle, and acting on it according to principles to analyse a systems evolution.

"God" can be posited, indeed the concept of which has been and remains, an arbitrary starting point for an ultimately integrated philosophy. Rand acknowledged such.

Besides, its best not to take candy from children. Especially armed children. Demonstrate that what they're eating will rot their teeth, then show them how cook with the sugar, than eat it raw.

Scott



Post 13

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - 5:44amSanction this postReply
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Scott,

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that creation presupposes a creator

This argument is not all that different from:

To say "you can't prove existence or consciousness," there must be a conscious "you" doing the saying.




 What is irrational is not the positing a creator, unless Aristotle was irrational, the irrational is what is attributed to a creator.  An effort to separate the concept of creator from religious superstition was the focus of the Enlightment, and is manifest in what you quote from the Declaration of Independence. 

(Edited by Robert Davison on 4/29, 11:16am)




Post 14

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - 4:04pmSanction this postReply
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Scott, I appreciate the intelligent and subtle analysis. In closing, you wrote ...

===============
Besides, its best not to take candy from children. Especially armed children.
===============

I understand what you are saying here, and you do have a point -- but if I were to take it totally sincerely, then my next step would be to arrange to get my head chopped off and sent to Mecca (because a compromise with evil -- is, itself, thoroughly evil).

You have a different conception of man than I, Scott. I don't believe in perpetual children (though you're right that the ones we have now -- will be their own worst enemy).

Ed




Post 15

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - 8:22pmSanction this postReply
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Robert,

What I had in mind is ancients observed they had parents, their parents parents, but who were there ultimate ancestors? Different religions attribute male & female qualities to their gods.

If it isn't irrational to suppose an ultimate, omnipotent parent, it only remains for some wise-guy shaman to earn his dinner by entertaining the tribe, peddling placebos, claiming credit for cures and good weather, and concocting excuses and blame for his failures.

Ed,

Wouldn't your argument necessitate initiating force to disarm and "fix" anyone you consider inferior?

I recently was chatting about the Iranians (elsewhere). Some thought we better and would attack before they developed nukes. I would have agreed, up to a couple years after the Iraq war II.

I must admit to initially dissenting with Libertarians Ron Paul and Harry Browne, but now reconsider. And reading Rhodes' "Dark Sun", an historical account of the H-bomb, I'm inclined to agree with Eisenhower (as much as I admire Bomber Harris) that its un-American to launch a first stike, even against commy-bastards, while the traditional Clauswitz admonishion that only an incompetent statemen would not attack an immenently beligerant foe first.

The principle "I'm better than you are, so I have a right to pre-emptively dis-arm you" is too cheap and easy to say, and as power corrupts, as we so clearly see of our present government, and how are enlightened liberal leftist elite want to disarm us, I can't bear to see that principle acted on habitually.

Jim Jone's and Applewhites are individual flukes, like rogue generals (which Harris wasn't - he followed orders in spite of his ability to single-handedly order an attack). I give the Iranian government a bit more credit than risk vitrification and vaporization.

People need freedom to out-grow stupidity and learn from their mistakes, if they survive them. The force used against them distracts them from themselves. Christians won't fight among themselves, say ridiculous things, and recover while anti-theists are attacking and galvanizing them.

Scott



Post 16

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - 10:24pmSanction this postReply
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Scott, again -- good points. Your intellect is formidable (and I don't think you didn't know this -- but now you know that I know this).

Ed




Post 17

Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 12:19pmSanction this postReply
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God made several mistakes with his first attempt. Instead of chastising him about it, let's give him a do-over.



Post 18

Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 3:09pmSanction this postReply
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WHAT??? God was imperfect?????????



Post 19

Sunday, April 30, 2006 - 3:25pmSanction this postReply
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Reminds me of that old maxim.

"If God can stop evil(suffering) but doesn't, he is not benevolent. If he wants to but cannot he is not god"

---Landon




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