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    The Great Contradiction

    The existence of everything has to be explained. The existence of my creator being does not have to be explained.

    Apart from compartmentalization, are there any other more compelling explanations for how a human brain can be so self contradictory and unaware of same?

    I understand natural selection, is this the simplest and most convincing explanation? I guess I'm asking an intellectual question, maybe such a brain simply lacks the neural connections to make such a contradiction obvious. 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.

    It's probably just this simple but thought to see what others think. It's still a behavior that fascinates me.

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    Following convention is a more common strategy than breaking from the group, and statistically more likely given that it's the majority who determine what conventions are.

    In lieu of being unusually smart and carving your own path, you're better served by believing in what everyone else believes in, and doing what everyone else does. The indigenous child who doesn't listen to his/her superiors goes hungry. The medieval Christian who professes their atheism is executed. The emancipated woman who decides to remain childless doesn't reproduce.

    So yes, natural selection. The questioning mind isn't helpful for reproduction most of the time, and post-conventionalism can be dangerous.

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    Contributor Cheerful Charlie's Avatar
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    The theologians have three stances they take on this issue.

    1. God is incomprehensible and mere mortals cannot 'explain' God.
    2. That everything that exists must be explained only counts for things that began to exist while God did not begin to exist but has always existed.
    3. That everything that exists needs explaining only applies to material things and not transcendent things, like God.

    Less than educated theists who use this nonsense usually don't have much of a grasp of these apologisms. This leads us back to the problem of God's simplicity. God is simple so theologians do not have to account why God's substance has the essences God has, which implies there are outside metaphysical principles that explain God but themselves need explaining, ad infinitum. But if God creates logic and other metaphysical abstractions, and is good, why doesn't God use his ability to define reality to eliminate moral evil?

    God then is not as the Bible specifically claims, fair, just, merciful or compassionate and thus not perfectly good as claimed. And that needs exolaining and has no explanation.

    Except to claim God owes us no moral obligations and is not a moral agent. Tug on that little loose thread and the whole God proposition unravels.
    Cheerful Charlie

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheerful Charlie View Post
    The theologians have three stances they take on this issue.

    1. God is incomprehensible and mere mortals cannot 'explain' God.
    2. That everything that exists must be explained only counts for things that began to exist while God did not begin to exist but has always existed.
    3. That everything that exists needs explaining only applies to material things and not transcendent things, like God.
    I think the claim of incomprehensibility is quite a normal thing for a normal brain to do. It's saying that this thought I have doesn't make any sense and I can't even place it into my normal experiences. It recognizes the fantasy even though the fantasy is satisfying. If it however has a condition wherein it struggles to separate reality from fantasy that isn't the case. In this case it will not recognize this incomprehensibility factor because the fantasy it creates is its reality. In the long term survival will be selected against, and this is of course what we see.

    This is rousseau's point as I see it. So I have a normal brain and this incomprehensibility stuff doesn't make any sense to me. Big deal. What does make sense is that if I don't tow the line, consciously or not, I don't live to talk about yesterday. There's actual survival value in not thinking about how goofy this mindset is, there's no niche to accommodate it in the environment, and I'm busy doing too many things related to day-to-day survival to even think about it. It's just not important.

    Point 2 is just clever sophistry. It's a claim that relies on scientific illiteracy, namely being an extremely poor observer. We're not all equally, cognitively gifted. I'm an extremely slow learner but a very task oriented person. I want to understand and accomplish something new but have to work extremely hard at learning a new dance step while others learn it effortlessly and almost immediately. I'll never be a research scientist or biologist but could still sit down and have a very good discussion with Richard Feynman about the nature of the universe and how it behaves and what that all means to us as humans on our little speck of same.

    Your third point for me is the best explanation for why a person does not recognize this greatest contradiction. As simple as it sounds it's obvious that our brains pretend. We love magic. We love movies where impossible things happen. We love to make believe that there are things supernatural. We love ghosts and spirits and stories about hauntings. We pay actors and actresses exorbitant salaries to pretend for us, to act out our fantasies for profit. We pay authors to write novels that are 100% literary inventions and we invest much of our living time enjoying these things.

    Is it any wonder then that we might possess a very satisfying belief that everything has to start as inexplicable, incomprehensible, childhood magic? This is what godly thoughts are primarily composed of, our need for fantasy games and entertainment. The upside, however to having these fantasy afflictions is that it strengthens our brains, makes them more fit to take on new survival challenges. It is nothing less than our brains exercising themselves.

    This is what theology is, one version of the adult pursuit of this enduring childhood need for fantasy. This need never goes away in a normal brain. The fantasy may be a John Wayne movie, romance novel, poetry, theater, ghosts or imagining how we'd spend our lottery winnings. But it's all the same thing within natural selection, it's the brain exercising itself and cognitive differences allow some of us to understand it better than others.

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    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.

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    Elder Contributor Keith&Co.'s Avatar
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    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?
    That is a poser. And it's not just that they never notice or examine the juxtaposed ideas. Critics point them out in argument and they actively resist.

    Same with the watchmaker argument. First the watch must be an artifact because it's nothing like nature, then nature must be an artifact because it's just like the watch.

    Intelligent Design is presented as perfectly secular science principles which just happen to point to a designer. But if it's defeated in court and thrown out of school, we're accused of removing God from school. And bible verses are quoted, "thinking themselves wise" and so on.

    But pointing out the contradictions just garners charges of taking things out of context, hating god, hating Christains, and being biased.

    I suspect that they have an emotional attachment to the conclusions. They did not reach them by a logical process, so logical objections are meaningless. You're attacking their godproof, means you're attacking them. Thus whatever your attack is, it's wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    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?
    That is a poser. And it's not just that they never notice or examine the juxtaposed ideas. Critics point them out in argument and they actively resist.

    Same with the watchmaker argument. First the watch must be an artifact because it's nothing like nature, then nature must be an artifact because it's just like the watch.

    Intelligent Design is presented as perfectly secular science principles which just happen to point to a designer. But if it's defeated in court and thrown out of school, we're accused of removing God from school. And bible verses are quoted, "thinking themselves wise" and so on.

    But pointing out the contradictions just garners charges of taking things out of context, hating god, hating Christains, and being biased.

    I suspect that they have an emotional attachment to the conclusions. They did not reach them by a logical process, so logical objections are meaningless. You're attacking their godproof, means you're attacking them. Thus whatever your attack is, it's wrong.
    It feels good to believe that God exists, that's pretty much the long and short of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith&Co. View Post
    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?
    That is a poser. And it's not just that they never notice or examine the juxtaposed ideas. Critics point them out in argument and they actively resist.

    Same with the watchmaker argument. First the watch must be an artifact because it's nothing like nature, then nature must be an artifact because it's just like the watch.

    Intelligent Design is presented as perfectly secular science principles which just happen to point to a designer. But if it's defeated in court and thrown out of school, we're accused of removing God from school. And bible verses are quoted, "thinking themselves wise" and so on.

    But pointing out the contradictions just garners charges of taking things out of context, hating god, hating Christains, and being biased.

    I suspect that they have an emotional attachment to the conclusions. They did not reach them by a logical process, so logical objections are meaningless. You're attacking their godproof, means you're attacking them. Thus whatever your attack is, it's wrong.
    It feels good to believe that God exists, that's pretty much the long and short of it.
    I agree.

    But I must add that it feels much better to know that gods do not exist. Being someone who was raised to think gods and other forms of woo were real I am in a position to compare the two thoughts. I can appreciate the great contradiction because I experienced it and eventually resolved it through additional knowledge. Even if they take the time, many of the people I know cannot make this comparison because the only lens they see through is religious fantasy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    It feels good to believe that God exists, that's pretty much the long and short of it.
    I agree.

    But I must add that it feels much better to know that gods do not exist. Being someone who was raised to think gods and other forms of woo were real I am in a position to compare the two thoughts. I can appreciate the great contradiction because I experienced it and eventually resolved it through additional knowledge. Even if they take the time, many of the people I know cannot make this comparison because the only lens they see through is religious fantasy.
    Wouldn't that be a subjective thing?

    I'd think in practice you get a kind of filtering mechanism - those who care about truth eventually find it, whereas those who don't typically get what they want too. For some a random world is scary and harder to navigate.

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    I should add another element to the conversation: metabolic activity.

    When contemplating where we came from 'there was a creator' is a simple, satisfactory answer that doesn't take a lot of effort to conjure up. In almost the entirety of our history people didn't have the time or energy to contemplate these matters seriously, and it wasn't until they did have the time and energy that we were able prove a real alternative (materialism).

    But even today, many people are happy to land on the simple, uncomplicated answer that resolves their dissonance. It's win-win: psychological problems are solved and they don't have to spend any more effort on the problem.

    Enter science and there are people who will go 'yea, fair enough', but the mind still works the same way. The world is still filled with a multitude of other lies, and most of us won't try to go beyond what's working for us in the present moment.

    So for many people religion is just what works for them in the context of their day to day lives. There is no incentive to change their mind.

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