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Thread: The Great Contradiction

  1. Top | #31
    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    It serves emotional and political goals to presume an ultimate authority and that requires that their be nothing that preceded the authority.
    The Christian, Inca, Aztec religions and others certainly all do this by their rulers claiming direct descendancy from these magic beings.
    I'm not sure where you would draw the line between true belief, and being disingenuous for political goals. In practice political goals may often have been served, although my reading of history so far suggests that more often rulers truly believed their power was divinely inspired.

    To the indigenous, or Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Chinese, it was an entirely different world, which is my point. Imagine having no naturalistic explanation for something as simple as the sun, for example. Surely living in a world like this would precipitate extreme religiosity. So it's really only in retrospect from the perspective of naturalism that these people look like living contradictions. Where in practice religious thought was reality back then.

    Maybe it makes sense to point out the contradiction now, but I think we can at least respect that in 21st century North America it's an utterly different world.
    I think it is very helpful to see ourselves as the same superstitious people we read about. What is very revealing is to have conversations with persons who are still just as religiously superstitious and realize how well they would have assimilated into these ancient cultures, how in fact they really haven't changed at all over the intervening millenia save for technology. I feel this way whenever I am at religious events. I feel very invisible as I look around and see all the initiates of some ancient, irrational, comforting ceremony.

  2. Top | #32
    Senior Member remez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    The existence of everything has to be explained.
    THEN......
    How do you explain the universe? That is the context when compared to God. That is a classic question regarding first cause. Context?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    I understand natural selection, is this the simplest and most convincing explanation?
    Of the universe? Isn’t that the context?
    or
    Of the brain? ....and you don't see the contradiction in your faith of that understanding?

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    I guess I'm asking an intellectual question, maybe such a brain simply lacks the neural connections to make such a contradiction obvious.
    Try this one…….. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. ... And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.
    vs.
    Your faith in natural selection producing a brain that you can trust.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    That's not really so mysterious. And if the behavior has been selected for over generations it will be there like any other behavior. Maybe we can call it a passive behavior.
    To that I respond………..
    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Apart from compartmentalization, are there any other more compelling explanations for how a human brain can be so self contradictory and unaware of same?

  3. Top | #33
    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remez View Post
    ...if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...
    That's a massive non sequitur.

    Whether or not "I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true" is entirely unrelated to whether or not "my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain".

    You could just as well say "if my mental processes are determined partly by the whim of a supernatural being I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true", or "if my mental processes are determined wholly by an immaterial soul I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true".

    Do you think that if the output of a CPU is determined wholly by the motion of electrons in the chip you have no reason to suppose that the output is correct? If so, you have no way to tell whether I even wrote this, so you would be crazy to respond to it.

  4. Top | #34
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    ...
    I feel this way whenever I am at religious events. I feel very invisible as I look around and see all the initiates of some ancient, irrational, comforting ceremony.
    I know the feeling. Kind of like being a ghost or other out-of-body experience. Now that I think about it, maybe it's because we usually look to anchor our identity in how we relate to others near us. When I find myself so completely divorced from that experience it feels like some part of me is missing. Actually this could go a long way in explaining what is sometimes called a spiritual experience. A separation from some part of our identity.

  5. Top | #35
    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ronburgundy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    I've been reading the religion section of Weber's 'Economy and Society' recently and he made a good point.

    The cause / effect fallacy of religion is only noticed when looked at retrospectively from the perspective of science, but from the perspective of those who believe in religion it would be considered economic, purposeful behavior. The rain-maker truly believes he / she is bringing forth rain.. etc. To those in a pre-scientific world effects have causes, the world is an effect, therefore it must have a cause. Without a scientific perspective this is a rational view point, and even with a scientific perspective it may be too - the universe must exist for some reason.

    So in a certain light it's not a contradiction, it's just that when the idea of spirits, Gods, God came into existence it was the best explanation to many minds, and still is to many. And it's only now that we're seeing nuanced alternatives that many are becoming pure materialists.
    That explanation only accounts for why a maker would be inferred, not why it would be believed that the maker has no maker. All maker's directly known to humans have their own beginning and end and were themselves "made". The concept of God (like all concepts) is derived entirely from experience and empirically observed concepts. Which is why all God's are basically super-humans. So, even in a prescientific world it never made sense to view God as an uncaused cause. It's unlikely that most theist did hold this view. It's more of a rationalization created by authorities of monotheism to manufacture a seeming intellectual defense of a singular first and only maker.
    I'm not really coming at the problem from pure rationalism, but rather why such a contradiction would come to be. To the pre-modern, average human God or Gods are a compelling argument, and just one option in an array of metaphysical possibilities, one being pure materialism.

    It's very easy to break the argument retrospectively from the perspective of the natural sciences, but to the Inca, or the Frank the world was a very different and mysterious place.

    I agree with you though - at some point theology was being built to rationalize power structures.
    I think it might be that in early human history people were satisfied with simply the creator aspect of a god. One that might have existed within the larger limits of existence as a whole. Something that would explain the apparent design present in all things. Meaning and purpose were derived from family and community and the necessities of daily survival. It was only later when the Greeks introduced the philosophical concept of absolute perfection that they needed to find a way to assign to their God or gods that the contradictions arose. Of course Plato's politics were all about aristocratic control.

    ETA - What I mean is that by creating the concept of the absolute perfect Form he introduced the prototypical aspect of western epistomology, within which all knowledge has been categorized in a hierarchical taxonomy. Of which the tri-omni God is an unfortunate artifact.
    Last edited by Treedbear; 12-09-2019 at 09:38 PM.

  6. Top | #36
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    I've always thought if God can be eternal and uncaused. Then why can't Everything be eternal and uncaused.
    Everything has the advantage of being obvious to most of us. Throw a rock at my head, I'll duck.
    A Creator being unnecessary, disappears into retirement after being surplussed.

  7. Top | #37
    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    When you say "I've always thought..." you don't literally mean always do you?
    Surely there must have been a moment at which you started to think that.

  8. Top | #38
    Senior Member remez's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by remez View Post
    ...if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true...
    That's a massive non sequitur.

    Whether or not "I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true" is entirely unrelated to whether or not "my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain".

    You could just as well say "if my mental processes are determined partly by the whim of a supernatural being I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true", or "if my mental processes are determined wholly by an immaterial soul I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true".

    Do you think that if the output of a CPU is determined wholly by the motion of electrons in the chip you have no reason to suppose that the output is correct? If so, you have no way to tell whether I even wrote this, so you would be crazy to respond to it.

    Perhaps in my haste to respond I shouldn't have assumed that the quote I cited was well known. I thought it to be common knowledge, and that is my fault. But your reply does not reflect that you knew this quote and why it fits this context.

    I say that because your reply sort of seems to be making my point and your charge of my reasoning being a non sequitur does not seem to fit.

    So here is the quote........properly stated..........

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

    ― J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds


    Care to change your thoughts?

  9. Top | #39
    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    ‘Puzzled emoticon’

    Or

    ??????

    (Emoticon apparently not available online phone).

  10. Top | #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by remez View Post


    Perhaps in my haste to respond I shouldn't have assumed that the quote I cited was well known. I thought it to be common knowledge, and that is my fault. But your reply does not reflect that you knew this quote and why it fits this context.

    I say that because your reply sort of seems to be making my point and your charge of my reasoning being a non sequitur does not seem to fit.

    So here is the quote........properly stated..........

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

    ― J.B.S. Haldane, Possible Worlds


    Care to change your thoughts?
    Why on earth would bilby change his thoughts? What, because we atheists all believe what we are told as long as it's by a famous authority figure? Do you accept Haldane as an authority figure you have an intellectual duty to follow? (You know he was an atheist, don't you?) Well, if you don't take for granted that "There's no God." must be a good idea because Haldane said so, then why in blazes would you expect us to take for granted that the quote you cited must be a good idea because Haldane said so? We all get to think for ourselves. Welcome to freethought.

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