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Thread: Can Atheism Account For Rationality

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    That kind of thinking may give rise to the concept of soul, but that kind of thinking in my opinion is not correct. The material concept of the self is derived of the complex, interelated, systems of memory. The autobiographical info therein is what gives rise to the experience of a self, or to the concept of "I". That is the "I" that is not its arm, not its body or its mind, it is the "I" that has an arm, has a body and has a mind.
    You're preaching to the choir.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    But memories are thoughts, and I really don't think that a computer is a good analogy, or maybe it is a good analogy, but not an exact example of how the brain works. It is always turned on, always in operation and doesn't need a distinct agent in order to press its buttons. In my humble opinion, of course.
    Recalling a memory is definitely a thought. But it seems to me they have to be recalled "from somewhere," which suggests storage. And I agree the computer is not an exact example of how a brain works - which is why it is an analogy. Analogies are similar to, but not exactly like, their analogs. They are a tool for fostering understanding; they are not intended to be a scientific investigation. As I have noted multiple times now, there is much about the brain that we do not know and can only guess at.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    That is true, none of us can say we know. But, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of immaterial things existing or sound reason to think that they do exist, or if they did, that they could effect the material.
    Then I suggest you are ignoring some fairly obvious facts, and a lot of evidence. Look, Jim, the "immaterial" is simply that: it lacks material. Immaterial things exist, whether or not you subscribe to them. Philosophy is a useful tool, even though so many materialists ignore or denigrate it. Historically, it is the seed-bed for all of science. And there are philosophical issues at work here that science may or may not ever address. What is the nature of "I" is one of those areas. Is it associated with brain? Absolutely. Is it dependent on brain? The evidence strongly suggests (but does not prove) that this is also the case. Does it transcend brain? Is it more than can be accounted for by the sum of the parts?

    Emergent properties are real. We don't understand them fully yet - but they exist. And given that they manifest exclusively (as far as I know) from complex systems, yet are not evident in the individual members of those complex systems, they are "something else." What? I have no idea.

    But there is still room for wonder in these increasingly older bones. I think I'll enjoy it for a bit.

    And with that, I think we have perhaps exhausted this line of discussion. I find myself repeating (yet again) and it's a habit I'm working on. I'll leave the last word to you.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Actually - that's a good point. Since the terms "natural" and "supernatural" are largely caught up with what can and cannot be investigated scientifically, there IS a bound on the supernatural - at least as the term is defined. If you want to change the definitions, again, no skin off my nose. I just need to know what definition you are using so I am "speaking your language," as they say.
    My point is that we (you) actually have no reference point. What would a supernatural universe look like compared to a natural universe? We have no frame of reference.


    I am not aware of a point of Christian theology that defines the bounds between natural and supernatural. I'd be interested in knowing exactly what branch of Christian studies deals with this.
    That is not what I am saying. We live in a rational universe because it was created and is maintained by a rational supernatural Creator. Now you don't believe this, that is fine, but the point is that the supernatural could and does include that which is open to scientific inquiry. This universe being an example. Again, not that you agree, but I see no logical reason to exclude the supernatural from that which is predictable and repeatable. Especially if there is a rational mind behind it all.


    I am using the dictionary definition of "natural." If you'd prefer to call it "flumbottomed," I'm cool with that - as long as "flumbottomed" means "operating on intelligible/repeatable principles that can be investigated by science." It does not matter to me what word you would prefer to use. If "natural" bothers you, feel free to pick another word.
    Right, but again arbitrary definitions and common usage, do not give us a logical basis for the claim. And again, we have no way to compare - what would a supernatural universe actually look like? It may look exactly like ours, how could we know? Heck, as I discussed with Tass, there are some very sober minded physicists suggesting that we are living in a simulation (and have good reasons for believing that). Who would call that "natural" by definition? Yet this non-natural simulation contains predictable, repeatable, intelligible principles.



    https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...er-simulation/
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tassman View Post
    The “natural” world refers to the physical, or material world or universe as studied by the scientific method. There is no substantiated evidence of any other sort of universe.
    Well there is some evidence to believe we live in a simulation: https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...er-simulation/

    Is that material? Natural?
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    My point is that we (you) actually have no reference point. What would a supernatural universe look like compared to a natural universe? We have no frame of reference.
    I have no idea what that means.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    That is not what I am saying. We live in a rational universe because it was created and is maintained by a rational supernatural Creator.
    This you have repeatedly said - but never substantiated. I understand you believe it. I have no reason to.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Now you don't believe this, that is fine, but the point is that the supernatural could and does include that which is open to scientific inquiry.
    That is not the working definition of "supernatural" - so you are defining a new term, apparently, or redefining an old one. As soon as you provide your definitions, I'll be able to follow the conversation.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    This universe being an example. Again, not that you agree, but I see no logical reason to exclude the supernatural from that which is predictable and repeatable. Especially if there is a rational mind behind it all.
    I have no opinion on the "supernatural" other than that it is not something I can investigate with the tools of science, and I have no reason to believe it exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Right, but again arbitrary definitions and common usage, do not give us a logical basis for the claim.
    The logical basis for the claim is the nature of the universe we inhabit. It operates according to repeatable/predictable/intelligible principles which we use science to investigate. What science cannot investigate, especially with respect to religions and gods, is deemed "supernatural." This is not a complex concept. I'm not sure why there is confusion.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    And again, we have no way to compare - what would a supernatural universe actually look like?
    Since I know of no "supernatural" universe, I have no response. I cannot compare something that is known to exist with something that is not even well defined.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    It may look exactly like ours, how could we know?
    I don't do this type of speculation, especially about ill-defined concepts and terms.

    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Heck, as I discussed with Tass, there are some very sober minded physicists suggesting that we are living in a simulation (and have good reasons for believing that). Who would call that "natural" by definition? Yet this non-natural simulation contains predictable, repeatable, intelligible principles.

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...er-simulation/
    I am familiar with the proposition. A simulation, however, is not "supernatural" by any understanding of the term I know. It would have to be running on something - and that something is presumably understandable by science - unless you posit some form of magic - in which case all bets are off and we are back to the "supernatural."
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I have no idea what that means.
    What don't you understand? How do you know what kind of universe you live in - natural or supernatural? How could you tell the difference?



    This you have repeatedly said - but never substantiated. I understand you believe it. I have no reason to.
    I'm not asking you to believe anything, that was NOT the point. Christians believe that this universe is supernaturally created and maintained, and is intelligible and open to investigation. I was countering your point that the supernatural was beyond science. that is no necessarily so - the universe being one example.


    That is not the working definition of "supernatural" - so you are defining a new term, apparently, or redefining an old one. As soon as you provide your definitions, I'll be able to follow the conversation.
    Right, again my point is the definitions are not really useful. If pushed, I would call a natural universe one that was created and maintained by natural, non-intelligent, non-intending, non-rational forces. A supernatural universe would be the opposite. As Christians believe.


    I have no opinion on the "supernatural" other than that it is not something I can investigate with the tools of science, and I have no reason to believe it exists.
    Right and that is an assumption based on an arbitrary definition, with no logical justification.


    The logical basis for the claim is the nature of the universe we inhabit. It operates according to repeatable/predictable/intelligible principles which we use science to investigate. What science cannot investigate, especially with respect to religions and gods, is deemed "supernatural." This is not a complex concept. I'm not sure why there is confusion.
    Again Carp, you are just begging the question. Why should the supernatural exclude repeatable, predictable, intelligible principles? Because you find that definition in a dictionary?


    Since I know of no "supernatural" universe, I have no response. I cannot compare something that is known to exist with something that is not even well defined.
    Right and you have no natural universe to compare to. Because you don't know that you presently live in a "natural" universe. You are arguing in a circle.



    I am familiar with the proposition. A simulation, however, is not "supernatural" by any understanding of the term I know. It would have to be running on something - and that something is presumably understandable by science - unless you posit some form of magic - in which case all bets are off and we are back to the "supernatural."
    But the simulation would caused by an intelligence that is supernatural to our simulation. And that intelligence is Supernatural: relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber carpedm9587's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    What don't you understand? How do you know what kind of universe you live in - natural or supernatural? How could you tell the difference?

    I'm not asking you to believe anything, that was NOT the point. Christians believe that this universe is supernaturally created and maintained, and is intelligible and open to investigation. I was countering your point that the supernatural was beyond science. that is no necessarily so - the universe being one example.

    Right, again my point is the definitions are not really useful. If pushed, I would call a natural universe one that was created and maintained by natural, non-intelligent, non-intending, non-rational forces. A supernatural universe would be the opposite. As Christians believe.

    Right and that is an assumption based on an arbitrary definition, with no logical justification.

    Again Carp, you are just begging the question. Why should the supernatural exclude repeatable, predictable, intelligible principles? Because you find that definition in a dictionary?

    Right and you have no natural universe to compare to. Because you don't know that you presently live in a "natural" universe. You are arguing in a circle.

    But the simulation would caused by an intelligence that is supernatural to our simulation. And that intelligence is Supernatural: relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.
    I was going to try to respond, but realized I would simply be repeating what has already been said. So I'll sum up as best I can.

    The term "natural" is conventionally defined to mean "not made by humans" and implies it can be investigated using the scientific method. By that definition of "natural," the universe is "natural." It does not matter how it came to be (which is I think what you are trying to argue): the universe we exist in conforms to that definition. We know little or nothing about how it "ultimately" came to be. The "supernatural" is not within the purview of science (by definition), so science cannot comment about it. I have no basis for believing the supernatural exists, so I have no comment about it beyond noting that "supernatural" can essentially mean anything the believer wishes it to mean, and there is no way to assess/verify/study/falsify any claim about it.

    You can say "the supernatural can give rise to the natural" and I will have to nod and smile and say, "isn't that nice." You cannot substantiate the claim - I cannot refute the claim. Ergo, to me, it's a pointless claim. I could say "the natural can give rise to the supernatural" and you would have to nod and smile and say "isn't that nice." I cannot substantiate the claim - you cannot refute the claim. Ergo, to me, it's a pointless claim. Clearly the natural can give rise to the natural. We see that around us all the time. Did the universe arise "naturally?" Well, scientists continue to investigate with the belief that nut can be cracked - bit it hasn't been yet. So I'll leave it at "we don't know (yet)."

    I don't see what more there is to say - but if you offer something with content, I promise to respond.
    Last edited by carpedm9587; 07-11-2019 at 04:44 PM.
    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Martin Luther King

    I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong. Frederick Douglas

  7. #667
    tWebber Tassman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    Well there is some evidence to believe we live in a simulation: https://www.scientificamerican.com/a...er-simulation/
    Yes, I know. I posted you a link on this previously. It is quite conceivable, even likely that we are living in, and are a part of, a simulated universe.

    https://www.simulation-argument.com/

    Is that material? Natural?
    Of course, it’s “material and natural”. What is created by advanced technology would of necessity also be material and natural. Why would it be otherwise?
    Last edited by Tassman; 07-11-2019 at 09:09 PM.
    “He felt that his whole life was a kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it.” - Douglas Adams.

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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    I was going to try to respond, but realized I would simply be repeating what has already been said. So I'll sum up as best I can.

    The term "natural" is conventionally defined to mean "not made by humans" and implies it can be investigated using the scientific method. By that definition of "natural," the universe is "natural." It does not matter how it came to be (which is I think what you are trying to argue): the universe we exist in conforms to that definition. We know little or nothing about how it "ultimately" came to be. The "supernatural" is not within the purview of science (by definition), so science cannot comment about it. I have no basis for believing the supernatural exists, so I have no comment about it beyond noting that "supernatural" can essentially mean anything the believer wishes it to mean, and there is no way to assess/verify/study/falsify any claim about it.

    You can say "the supernatural can give rise to the natural" and I will have to nod and smile and say, "isn't that nice." You cannot substantiate the claim - I cannot refute the claim. Ergo, to me, it's a pointless claim. I could say "the natural can give rise to the supernatural" and you would have to nod and smile and say "isn't that nice." I cannot substantiate the claim - you cannot refute the claim. Ergo, to me, it's a pointless claim. Clearly the natural can give rise to the natural. We see that around us all the time. Did the universe arise "naturally?" Well, scientists continue to investigate with the belief that nut can be cracked - bit it hasn't been yet. So I'll leave it at "we don't know (yet)."

    I don't see what more there is to say - but if you offer something with content, I promise to respond.
    Perhaps I can clarify my point. If God created matter, energy and the laws by which the universe operates then it is no way "natural." It's genesis is supernatural, it is not a natural event or result. And again, your definitions are arbitrary, you can not escape that. You are free to use them but again they can not be justified without begging the question. You seek to reduce the "supernatural" to that which can not be investigated, but how on earth do you, or anyone, know that? You don't and can't.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    tWebber Chrawnus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    You can if you wish, but that was not presented without evidence. You disagree with the interpretation of the evidence, and I understand that. I simply do not see an evidentiary basis for that disagreement. It appears to arise from your worldview, as best I can tell.
    Evidentiary basis? Interpreting the evidence is matter of worldview, it has nothing to do with any "evidentiary basis". You do not have any "evidentiary basis" for interpreting the evidence to support brain-before-mind anymore than I do for interpreting it to support mind-before-brain.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So your argument is, "it's supernatural - so I don't need to provide evidence?"

    Chrawnus, if that works for you, then so be it. But it is exactly that kind of thinking that began my journey out of theism. I grew dissatisfied with "it's god's mystery" and all of it's variants.
    No, my argument is "It's out of the purview of science, so there cannot be any scientific evidence". It's simply not a question that can be resolved with the help of science. Science might give us some insights into the issue, but it's not the primary way to answer the question.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    You should re-read that sentence. I think it refutes itself.
    I took "self-reports of mental states" as referring to someone else reporting their mental states to you. Under that interpretation I cannot see how my statement is self-refuting.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Agreed. The point was that we often have to study what we cannot "see," not "they are the same."
    Sometimes two things that we cannot "see" are disparate enough that we cannot study one in the same way we can study the other.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Evidence - yes. Proof - no. I think people regularly confuse those two concepts.
    I don't.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    If the mind is real, I don't see why that follows.
    Do you accept anything other than scientific evidence?

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    You keep repeating that - but without any real substantiation. The evidence I have outlined exists - is real - and tells a story. It doesn't "prove." It does strongly indicate. Why you do not see that, I am not sure.
    I don't see it because in order to get the evidence to tell the story you claim it's telling you have to start of by holding a slew of unevidenced assumptions that I simply do not accept. And I do admit I hold to a pretty decent amount of unevidenced assumptions as well, but I see no reason why I should switch out my assumptions for yours, simply to get the evidence to say what you're claiming it's saying.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    And all you would be doing is affirming the principle of identity, which I presume we both already know to be true. You wouldn't be saying anything about mind/brain.
    Do keep in mind that this discussion initially started because I claimed (being slightly hyperbolic) that mind and brain share virtually no attributes. The whole thing about mind and brain both being associated with thought was something you brought up as a counter to that. And I brought up "primary" and "secondary" association as a "counter-counter".

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    So now you have affirmed that I am having thoughts about my thoughts. Chrawnus, we can have thoughts about water, thoughts about thoughts, thoughts about philosophy, thoughts about concentrating, thoughts about....well...pretty much anything. But they are simply different thoughts - maybe different kinds of thoughts - but thought is mind and mind is thought. Why you need to create this distinction of yours is not clear to me.
    Well we do have thoughts about our thoughts, but I have not affirmed that focus/concentration is simply a different type of thought. And I don't "create" this distinction between focus/concentration and thought, I experience the distinction every single moment of my life.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    No - because a gun and a bullet are distinct things with distinct roles. If we are using your gun analogy, you are separating out the pointing of the gun from the gun as a separate thing. In the material world - it is. The gun is an object - and the will/focus of the wielder points it. But that will/focus is in the thoughts of the wielder. Now you are trying to do the same thing with thoughts themselves - or with the mind - or perhaps with the brain? I have no idea. The separation makes no sense to me.
    Well of course a gun and a bullet are distinct things with distinct roles. And you're begging the question that the will/focus of the wielder is not distinct from their thoughts.


    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Perhaps this is obvious to you. Your argument is not very obvious to me.
    I don't how it could be any clearer than I've already made it. Just because one thing is always accompanied by another doesn't mean the two things are identical. Just because concentration is always accompanied by thought doesn't mean concentration is identical to thought, in the same way thunder isn't identical to lightning simply because lightning is always accompanied by thunder.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    As best I can tell, they exist in both. They exist in the brain as neural activity that can be measured and quantified. They exist in the mind as "vision" and "smell" and so forth that the "I" can see/hear, etc. As I noted - they are input - as with any other computer.
    I would argue that the neural activity give rise to our sensory experiences, but they're not actually identical to those experiences. The experiences themselves only exist in our minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    As with the rest of the things you want to separate from "mind," imagination is nothing more than the mind/brain combining pre-existing memory/experience in different combinations. It's is simply yet another example of "thought."
    I think you might be defining thought in such a general and ambigious manner that no matter what example I give you'll still be able to claim it's "simply yet another example of 'thought'".

    Quote Originally Posted by carpedm9587 View Post
    Ahh...I see...unfortunately, the one you are counting on pretty regularly deceives. The other one is known for her honesty. Sorting them out can be a challenge, but it can be done.
    I'm pretty conversant with both of them actually, so there's no need to worry about me being deceived by the one who's known for not being entirely truthful.

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrawnus View Post
    I don't how it could be any clearer than I've already made it. Just because one thing is always accompanied by another doesn't mean the two things are identical. Just because concentration is always accompanied by thought doesn't mean concentration is identical to thought, in the same way thunder isn't identical to lightning simply because lightning is always accompanied by thunder.
    I don't really get why he doesn't understand the difference between will, focus, thought. Perhaps his mind is so filled with noise that he hasn't noticed the difference. Also, I don't know that it's even true that concentration is always accompanied by thought. In many forms of mediation, thoughtless concentration is a goal. There's even a word for this in Zen circles called mushin. A good argument for something other than "thought" found within the mind would be sensation and/or emotion. One can feel the sensation of nausea, pain, joy, pleasure, etc., without thought. In their work History of Cognitive Neuroscience M. R. Bennett, and P. M. S. Hacker discuss the distinction of feeling such things (emotions, for instance) and realizing that you are feeling it, and then the difference between realizing such things, and even having thoughts about such things.

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