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Assessing the Evidence: A Case Study


smac97

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18 hours ago, tagriffy said:

I'm sorry if I offended you. I have some knowledge of the Mennonite tradition, since I spent about a year fellowshipping with a local Mennonite congregation. They were an especially influential on me; I'm a pacifist and try (if not exactly succeed) to live a life of simplicity because of their influence. There may be a regional variation, but the congregation I associated with didn't totally reject the title reformer, and identified the Anabaptist tradition as part of the Radical Reformation.

You didn't offend me at all. Please let me clarify one thing . . . The Radical Reformation was a different event than the Protestant Reformation. It was a series of events that occurred in Anabaptist tradition prior to there being any formalized Mennonites or Amish. The term Anabaptist refers to an older tradition that morphed into the Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren. All three groups claim their own specific place in the Anabaptist tradition (not to be confused with the Baptist tradition - they are two separate histories). I was a Mennonite Anabaptist who was ordained Baptist. Now, is anyone confused? 

The Radical Reformation was a movement that was as opposed to Lutheranism, Calvinism (Reformed) - two early forces in the Protestant Revolution as they were to the Catholics. Those involved were ordinary, everyday people. Probably best understood as from the peasant class of central Europe. The Protestants were more middle and upper class. As often happens the adherents of the Radical Reformation became - - - well, they became radicalized - hence the name.  Some of the Anabaptists in Germany raised a militia, tried to establish Zion (seriously), had charismatic experiences (like at Kirtland), and were polygamists (really). All of this more than three hundred years before the LDS folks came along.

Both Will Bagley and Michael Quinn spoke with me about the similarities between the early days of what became known as the Radical Reformation and the restoration movement of the LDS. They both had a lot of interest in Mennonite history. The radical reformers were kicked out of here and there, tried to establish their own Nauvoo in a German town called Muenster, where they still exhibit the cages on the outside of the Catholic church towers where the Anabaptists were imprisoned and killed. Lots of Mennonite families look forward to taking a pilgrimage (to Muenster). To see where their ancestors in the faith were martyred. Sound familiar?

To some degree their excesses (their radicalism) caused their troubles with both Protestant reformers and Catholics. The Protestants participated in the Radical Reformation, but only to resist it. Protestants and Catholics fought each other; but they both joined together to fight the Anabaptists who gradually became what we know as Mennonites, Amish, and Brethren who scattered, some east to what we know today as Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, and eventually to various parts of Latin America. Others fled west to the Netherlands and the United States. The first group is known as Russian Mennonites, the second as Swiss Mennonites. The North American Mennonites today are still divided along those lines.

Of course today there are more non-Anglo Mennonites in the world than Anglo. I am connected to Swiss Mennonites, while the vast number of Mennonites here in Mexico are Russian Mennonites. Now you know the rest of the story . . . much more than you probably wanted! I am glad you got to live among Mennonites. Do you remember to which group of Mennonites they belonged?

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23 hours ago, Analytics said:

You are equivocating on the words "faith" and "religion." Religion is based on faith in the same way that science is based on skepticism. They are different things. 

Not the case.  You are saying that religion PRESUMES that God exists - which is not true incidentally- and science is based on skepticism.

In other words that both are biased.   Not the case.

If you get to quote Pinker endlessly I get to quote Rorty endlessly!  But Rorty can say it in two sentences.

But since no one appears able to understand Rorty's two sentences for reasons beyond me, I will make them more complicated ;)

I am planning on using this explanation of Rorty's sentences elsewhere as well, and is the only reason I am going through the exercise for those who cannot comprehend his words.

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" To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.  To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations."

"most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states. "

The CAUSES of qualia do not include human mental states.  But science tells us that qualia are just "appearances" that our brain assembles.

If our brain is assembling qualia like "red" then how can it be said we are seeing what is "out there" in the world?

THERE is your "reality" out there in the world-  kicking the stone, stepping on the lego, driving over the cliff.   The CAUSE of the phenomenon is out there in the world.

But the APPEARANCE - how we see the stone, the lego, the cliff IS AND MUST BE a HUMAN MENTAL EVENT as science tells us.   The color red, the pain, the sensation of falling off the cliff,  THE QUALIA  ARE human mental states.  So yes the WORLD is out there.  YES we postulate at this point in history that light"waves" or "particles"- not sure which yet- or both- enter the eye at certain frequencies.  THE BRAIN-  CREATES a human mental state, - a quale - which we NAME "RED".

So YES there is a world out there CAUSING/CREATING mental states called "qualia" in this case, or RED, or in another instance "Fear"?

 If you want to CALL those CAUSES of Qualia "Reality",  good for you.  But to me, "REALITY" can be seen as the human experience of red, or say, of fear,  not the cause.

FOR ALL PRACTICAL (Pragmatic) PURPOSES we literally SEE qualia as "reality"!   

So we say that the stop sign is "red" in reality, that grass is "green" in reality, that water boils at 212F at sea level, 

You are camping in the mountains in a tent.  In the middle of the night, you hear a deep growl next to your head, but outside the tent wall.  For me the "REALITY" is the direct experience- the quale- which justifiably causes a reaction of lethal fear in my body, further manifestations of more qualia.    ARE we going to call such an experience "NOT REAL" and "ALL IN OUR HEAD?"

That attitude could cost us our lives- because that interpretation of sound waves is "all in our head".

BUT DONT SAY that "RED" exists in the WORLD--  the INVISIBLE CAUSE of red- science says that- exists in the world, but do we want to call it "reality" even though the human brain cannot SEE the CAUSE, just what the BRAIN CREATES?

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most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.

True!  This is not about a brain in a vat- this is science.  WE SENSE THE WORLD THROUGH brain activities interpreting the input it gets from "the world".  

NOTICE that religious experience would be a "quale/qualia"- a mental state of a human POSSIBLY CAUSED by something out there in the world- or not- which one must take "on faith"   YET it is a possibility that there IS such a thing as yet undiscovered "refined matter/energy" which is now called "spirit"

Now let's get farther into language.

The quote is again from Rorty

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To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations."

So we have the CAUSE of the quale "red"- presumably, following science in its present paradigm, differing wavelengths of light waves/particles entering our eyes which are then produce a mental reaction by our brain in causing the quale we name "red".  

Naming is of utmost importance in this process- in fact imo naming is the purpose of language and thought itself, and highly related to spiritual issues.

In Genesis, the idea of time is "Created" by giving the experiences of the cycles of light and darkness a name called "Day".   So in one swipe we have a period experienced as "darkness"- caused by the near absence of light streaming from the sky, and opposed by the return of light streaming from the sky DEFINES time. "And they CALLED IT the "first day" which is of course the defining the first concept of time!  From that, we have the second day, third, and so forth to infinity.  But the HUMAN MENTAL EXPERIENCE of one darkness and one light period CALLED "day" is an example of naming a human experience.

Does this have anything whatsoever to do with the Bible, since this board is about religion?   Could the Bible agree with contemporary philosophy of language in any way at all?Yes, I believe it does!

Biblically I believe that "No death before the fall" refers to the fact that the human experience of "DEATH" could be said to not "exist" until some human group experienced the loss and longing and grief- a bundle of human experiences- grief/ phenomena/qualia/ experience and named that collective "quale" , or bundle of qualia,   "DEATH".

Certainly the reality of these experiences could not have been expressed in language without associating the word with the experience.

John 1 teaches us that EVERYTHING that was made was given a NAME and that consititued its "creation" in saying that "all is created by the Word", and the Jehovah is the one who created everything by the WORD, and so His Name BECOMES "The Word"- the creator and namer of all things.

And then we have Babel which shows us that language is "confounded" BECAUSE it cannot repeat experiences and therefore cannot possibly "correspond" to reality-  ie: human experience.

Words don't "represent reality"- they cannot possibly deliver back to another the full experience of qualia- you cannot teach a blind man the quale called "red" because he has never experienced it.

Words don't "correspond to reality"- they cannot possibly REPRODUCE the experience of anything- they can simply remind us of the experience we have personally had which is DESCRIBED by the name of the quale.  The word "death" cannot produce the experience of a parent of child dying.  "Red" cannot reproduce the quale in its wonderful glory.

Rorty is saying that- as perhaps we now have a better understanding- that words are NAMES OF OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE- not anything about the world "out there" that is the CAUSE of a human reaction.  And human reactions vary- "Somone died today" is VERY different in its significance from "Your mother died today".

The experience itself is different for each of us because we associate events in our personal lives to every word- based NOT on 'the world" but by our interpretation of the events and associations.   Smells are particularly well associated with personal experiences, it seems, a certain smell can take us back a lifetime to a childhood event.  The smell of moth balls might remind you of your grandma, or the smell of pipe smoke with a place or person.  

Yet LANGUAGE is the equalizer that standardizes the names of experiences with the experience we all have.  Language takes the names for personal qualia and generalizes it into something we all know.   The smell associated with "Uncle John" - becomes the smell of "pipe smoke"-  or a the color of a dress could be yellow and gold yet some see it as black and white  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dress

 We "learned our colors" as we were growing up, learning the language.  I remember having a group of plastic "donut shaped" circular toys you could put on a central post, all in different colors.  A child could pick one up and learn that it's color was named "red", another "green", another "orange" etc.   The object really was for the child to learn- NOT something about what was out in the world- the color of the object- but the NAME of the quale as our own brain saw it.

And then we have optical illusions and errors in perception

There could be no guarantee that one child's quale was the "same" as another child's quale because it is impossible to compare YOUR quale with MY quale.   But what we could and DID do was to learn the name of that particular quale - however we saw it- as "orange" or "green" etc.   So we were learning that a given quale corresponded to the NAME of that quale in our minds, not "in the world".  

For all Pragmatic purposes that is all we needed to be able to do - to learn to call quale x "green" and quale y as "red".   It doesn't matter if theoretically we could "get into" another person's mind/brain and compare qualia to see if they are the "same" or not- and perhaps what my friend sees as "x" is what I see as "y"- it does not matter as long as in language we can COMMUNICATE that the color of the stop sign is "red".   So later on, for example we are impressed with someone's car, we can say "Look at that green car!" and because the other person's NAME for that quale is the same as the NAME I learned as a child, I can instantly scan my visual field and pick out the same "green" car my friend is talking about.  Yet it does not totally solve ambiguity- one might be "aquamarine" and the other "chartreuse".

For each of us the truth is not "in the world" because we cannot perceive the world "as it is"- it is even hard to see what those words mean!   Is the chair you are sitting in solid or is it composed of millions of moving "atoms" that "actually" have space between them?

They can be seen in different contexts and that question might be answered "both".   If you need a place to sit, you see the chair as solid- if you are using it as an example of atomic theory etc, you want to point out different aspects of the material out of which it is made?

It could be either or both.

So if all we can perceive of the world is our perceptions of  what is called "reality" and those perceptions can be categorized by the purposes of a discussion, "where" is that "truth" or "falsity"?   Is the chair solid or is it in constant motion?

Which is "true"?

It depends on how you look at it and your purposes and how all of that is described in LANGUAGE!

And who created language?  It was a necessity for mankind.   Did God give it to us, did it evolve, or both or neither?   It doesn't matter.

What matters is it is a man- made tool/behavior and we postulate that God IS man, therefore if language is a creation of man even if it was created by God.

And what of qualia?

Do we have a thing like "religious qualia"?   Of course!   What is the conscience or "still small voice" that tells us right or wrong?

It was essential for social evolution that we treat others as we want to be treated, but so what?  Did these feelings and qualia evolve or are they God given, ie: created by the Man of Holiness?

Yes of course atheists are moral people!   All that proves is that morality itself is deep within us and humanity, both.

Is the still small voice a "quale" like the experience of color?  I think so.

Is that quale "out in the world"?  No, qualia by definition are mental phenomena.   Does that mean that God's communication with us is "real"?

It follows that it is as "real" as anything we see in the world, since we can only see and experience qualia.

And how do we share our personal qualia with each other?   We cannot- but like the specific quale "seeing red" or "the smell of pipe smoke" those experiences are as "real" as any other qualia we experience.

 

 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Of course today there are more non-Anglo Mennonites in the world than Anglo. I am connected to Swiss Mennonites, while the vast number of Mennonites here in Mexico are Russian Mennonites. Now you know the rest of the story . . . much more than you probably wanted! I am glad you got to live among Mennonites. Do you remember to which group of Mennonites they belonged?

I don't. I would infer they were descended from Swiss Mennonites considering the emphasis on Switzerland in the material I received, from the way they talked about history, and the predominence of Germanic family names. The congregation itself still exists, although I haven't attended for almost thirty years now. Like I said, they did have a lot of influence on me. I already mentioned my stances on simplicity and pacifism comes from them. Another thing I take from them is the emphasis I tend to place on Jesus' teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount, as contrasted with the emphasis on Paul (yes, I know this oversimplifies things) that I find in Baptist churches. As another example, as a result of my association with them, I no longer swear oaths. Unfortunately, all the material I had got lost with my library years ago. But those are the kinds of things that stand out in my memory.

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17 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

THERE is your "reality" out there in the world-  kicking the stone, stepping on the lego, driving over the cliff.   The CAUSE of the phenomenon is out there in the world.

But the APPEARANCE - how we see the stone, the lego, the cliff IS AND MUST BE a HUMAN MENTAL EVENT as science tells us.   The color red, the pain, the sensation of falling off the cliff,  THE QUALIA  ARE human mental states.  So yes the WORLD is out there.  YES we postulate at this point in history that light"waves" or "particles"- not sure which yet- or both- enter the eye at certain frequencies.  THE BRAIN-  CREATES a human mental state, - a quale - which we NAME "RED".

So YES there is a world out there CAUSING/CREATING mental states called "qualia" in this case, or RED, or in another instance "Fear"?

 If you want to CALL those CAUSES of Qualia "Reality",  good for you.  But to me, "REALITY" can be seen as the human experience of red, or say, of fear,  not the cause.

FOR ALL PRACTICAL (Pragmatic) PURPOSES we literally SEE qualia as "reality"!

We've touched a bit on this stuff in the past, but you may have to excuse me if I still don't really get it. One one level, I'm like, "Well, duh!" On another level, I'm like, "If so, so what?" I'm not really sure if these distinctions that really make a difference.

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19 minutes ago, tagriffy said:

We've touched a bit on this stuff in the past, but you may have to excuse me if I still don't really get it. One one level, I'm like, "Well, duh!" On another level, I'm like, "If so, so what?" I'm not really sure if these distinctions that really make a difference.

If you are worried about "historical evidence" for the BOM being "true" perhaps it would be helpful.   I don't think you are in that group.  ;)

For me, making the still small voice into a quale instantly makes the BOM as "real" as anything that hits you in the gut and says "GOOD STUFF"

It becomes solid philosophy to me, that's all, demonstrating an example of how one decides that it is "true philosophy" that one might want to incorporate into one's world view.

I love Alma 32 for the same reason- it is like someone put all of William James into a few lines.   Yummy!  ;)  Not new except if it is new for you!

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, tagriffy said:

We've touched a bit on this stuff in the past, but you may have to excuse me if I still don't really get it. One one level, I'm like, "Well, duh!" On another level, I'm like, "If so, so what?" I'm not really sure if these distinctions that really make a difference.

 I forgot to tell you I liked your Hume essay! Maybe you should do a thread on it, to scare some of the philosophy freaks around here out of the bushes!

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22 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

 I forgot to tell you I liked your Hume essay! Maybe you should do a thread on it, to scare some of the philosophy freaks around here out of the bushes!

No, you didn't forget! I don't remember if it was this thread or another, but you did say you liked it. I originally wrote it for English 101.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

If you are worried about "historical evidence" for the BOM being "true" perhaps it would be helpful.   I don't think you are in that group.  ;)

For me, making the still small voice into a quale instantly makes the BOM as "real" as anything that hits you in the gut and says "GOOD STUFF"

It becomes solid philosophy to me, that's all, demonstrating an example of how one decides that it is "true philosophy" that one might want to incorporate into one's world view.

I love Alma 32 for the same reason- it is like someone put all of William James into a few lines.   Yummy!  ;)  Not new except if it is new for you!

 

 

You're right I don't belong in that group. While I obviously have my thoughts about whether the BOM is a historical document, whether it is or not is simply a fact, and I'm more interested in meaning.

I do find it interesting that we so often wind up in much the same place, often using the same resources, even though we are approaching them from (radically?) different means. We both share a fascination with Alma 32, for example. When asked why I believe, I usually respond something along the lines of, "Because I choose to."

Puts a new dimension to "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Cor. 13:1), don't you think?

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19 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

BUT DONT SAY that "RED" exists in the WORLD--  the INVISIBLE CAUSE of red- science says that- exists in the world, but do we want to call it "reality" even though the human brain cannot SEE the CAUSE, just what the BRAIN CREATES?

As I may have mentioned, I would prefer to talk to scientists about these types of things rather than philosophers. Scientists have different ways of talking about the same thing depending upon the context. Talking about whether "red exists in the world" is a sloppy question based on sloppy thinking. I'd rather talk about light waves and their frequencies, photons, optic nerves, color blindness tests, the occipital lobe of the brain, visual hallucinations, etc.

19 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

YET it is a possibility that there IS such a thing as yet undiscovered "refined matter/energy" which is now called "spirit"

Not really. The most exquisitely precise and exhaustively tested theory in all of science definitively tells us that there is not a "yet undiscovered 'refined matter/energy' which is now called spirit." According to Quantum Mechanics, that question has definitively been answered--spirits do not exist. 

In the words of Sean Carroll:

Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die. If you claim that some form of soul persists beyond death, what particles is that soul made of? What forces are holding it together? How does it interact with ordinary matter?

Everything we know about quantum field theory (QFT) says that there aren’t any sensible answers to these questions. Of course, everything we know about quantum field theory could be wrong. Also, the Moon could be made of green cheese.

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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

Talking about whether "red exists in the world" is a sloppy question based on sloppy thinking. I'd rather talk about light waves and their frequencies, photons, optic nerves, color blindness tests, the occipital lobe of the brain, visual hallucinations, etc.

Dang!

Here you have solved the mind/body problem simply by asserting your paradigm is superior for mankind!

You have solved the problem for the ages!

What are you doing HERE? Wasting time on this little Mormon board?

U R Still missing the point.

Goodbye yet again.

Edited by mfbukowski
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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

As I may have mentioned, I would prefer to talk to scientists about these types of things rather than philosophers. Scientists have different ways of talking about the same thing depending upon the context. Talking about whether "red exists in the world" is a sloppy question based on sloppy thinking. I'd rather talk about light waves and their frequencies, photons, optic nerves, color blindness tests, the occipital lobe of the brain, visual hallucinations, etc.

Not really. The most exquisitely precise and exhaustively tested theory in all of science definitively tells us that there is not a "yet undiscovered 'refined matter/energy' which is now called spirit." According to Quantum Mechanics, that question has definitively been answered--spirits do not exist. 

In the words of Sean Carroll:

Claims that some form of consciousness persists after our bodies die and decay into their constituent atoms face one huge, insuperable obstacle: the laws of physics underlying everyday life are completely understood, and there’s no way within those laws to allow for the information stored in our brains to persist after we die. If you claim that some form of soul persists beyond death, what particles is that soul made of? What forces are holding it together? How does it interact with ordinary matter?

Everything we know about quantum field theory (QFT) says that there aren’t any sensible answers to these questions. Of course, everything we know about quantum field theory could be wrong. Also, the Moon could be made of green cheese.

There IS no right or wrong in science, and positivism itself is self-contradictory. A real scientist understands paradigms and knows science will never be "finished".

And haven't you yourself  mentioned that religion is about psychology, not physics?

I can agree with that easily but apparently you want God to be about physics 

VERY ODD.  I don't know of a single theologian of ANY religion who believes that God can be disproved by physics.

You have more faith than I do!

I already said goodbye anyway.

Edited by mfbukowski
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51 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

Dang!

Here you have solved the mind/body problem simply by asserting your paradigm is superior for mankind!

You have solved the problem for the ages!

What are you doing HERE?

Still missing the point.

Maybe you are the one missing the point?

As an example, the Greek philosopher Zeno "proved" that all movement is impossible. Before I could walk from here to the coffee machine, I'd first have to walk half-way there. But before I could walk half-way there, I'd need to walk half-way of that distance, ad infinitum. Philosophers have been puzzling over this paradox for 24 centuries. If somebody presented this to me I might reply, "Yes, I'm familiar with the argument. But I find that scientists such as Newton and Einstein do a much better job of describing the reality of motion than a confused ancient philosopher." 

Maybe that response would indicate that I don't understand Zeno's paradox. Or maybe it would indicate that I do understand it.

42 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

There IS no right or wrong in science, and positivism itself is self-contradictory. A real scientist understands paradigms and knows science will never be "finished".

I never said anything about positivism or science being "finished." 

42 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

And haven't you yourself  mentioned that religion is about psychology, not physics?

It depends. We could talk about religion from many perspectives. We could talk about the chemistry of turning water into wine using the power of your mind. We could talk about the geological history of Noah's flood. We could talk about the sociological pressures to believe what your tribe believes. We could talk about the cognitive psychology of how people think and feel. We could talk about psychiatric disorders associated with seeing and hearing things that just aren't there. Or we could talk about what physics has to say about the plausibility of "spirit matter."

42 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

I can agree with that easily but apparently you want God to be about physics 

"God" is an ill-defined term. Relaying what science knows about "the laws of physics underlying everyday life," how confident we are about those laws, and what those allows preclude has nothing to do with "God", whatever that means. 

42 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

VERY ODD.  I don't know of a single theologian of ANY religion who believes that God can be disproved by physics.

Theologians are more likely to spend their time contemplating whether God could microwave a burrito so hot that not even He could eat it.

And I don't know of a single physicist who disputes what Professor Carroll says about the laws of physics underlying everyday life.

The question is who knows more about physics--physicists or theologians?

Edited by Analytics
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On 10/20/2022 at 1:05 PM, Analytics said:

Maybe you are the one missing the point?

As an example, the Greek philosopher Zeno "proved" that all movement is impossible. Before I could walk from here to the coffee machine, I'd first have to walk half-way there. But before I could walk half-way there, I'd need to walk half-way of that distance, ad infinitum. Philosophers have been puzzling over this paradox for 24 centuries. If somebody presented this to me I might reply, "Yes, I'm familiar with the argument. But I find that scientists such as Newton and Einstein do a much better job of describing the reality of motion than a confused ancient philosopher." 

Maybe that response would indicate that I don't understand Zeno's paradox. Or maybe it would indicate that I do understand it.

I never said anything about positivism or science being "finished." 

It depends. We could talk about religion from many perspectives. We could talk about the chemistry of turning water into wine using the power of your mind. We could talk about the geological history of Noah's flood. We could talk about the sociological pressures to believe what your tribe believes. We could talk about the cognitive psychology of how people think and feel. We could talk about psychiatric disorders associated with seeing and hearing things that just aren't there. Or we could talk about what physics has to say about the plausibility of "spirit matter."

"God" is an ill-defined term. Relaying what science knows about "the laws of physics underlying everyday life," how confident we are about those laws, and what those allows preclude has nothing to do with "God", whatever that means. 

Theologians are more likely to spend their time contemplating whether God could microwave a burrito so hot that not even He could eat it.

And I don't know of a single physicist who disputes what Professor Carroll says about the laws of physics underlying everyday life.

The question is who knows more about physics--physicists or theologians?

Zeno? THEOLOGIANS puzzling for 2400 years?

God lifting rocks, or burning burritos?

And you are serious?

Oh my.

https://www.religion-online.org/article/empirical-theology-a-revisable-tradition/

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 10/20/2022 at 1:05 PM, Analytics said:

And I don't know of a single physicist who disputes what Professor Carroll says about the laws of physics underlying everyday life.

I don't dispute it either, I don't dispute what is irrelevant to my beliefs anyway 

Glad you have found your faith.

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On 10/20/2022 at 10:41 AM, Analytics said:

Talking about whether "red exists in the world" is a sloppy question based on sloppy thinking.

The Spirit exists the same way red exists, and I believe it evolved along with the brain.

You know like that stupid theologian and sloppy thinker Rorty

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To say that the world is out there, that it is not our creation, is to say, with common sense, that most things in space and time are the effects of causes which do not include human mental states.  To say that truth is not out there is simply to say that where there are no sentences, there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languages are human creations.

You get the last word forever if you like.

Edited by mfbukowski
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https://www.dailydot.com/irl/in-n-out-cheeseburger-no-cheese/

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The incident in question, Davis says, involved a woman who came into the In-N-Out location to order some food. “She asked for a cheeseburger with no cheese,” recalls Davis, who then clarified whether the customer meant “a hamburger,” which, by definition, is the same sandwich as a cheeseburger but without the dairy-based topping. 

However, the woman allegedly insisted that she wanted a cheeseburger without cheese and not a hamburger. The TikToker says she tried to ring the woman up for a hamburger so that she could save the customer a few cents for the cheeseburger, but when the woman saw the ticket, she went off on Davis and made the server re-ring up the order for a cheeseburger with a note for no cheese.

After some back and forth about the definition of a hamburger vs. a cheeseburger, the woman got her food. At this point, Davis says, “She comes up to me and is very upset that her cheeseburger, no cheese, didn’t have cheese on it.” The video ends there. 

 

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 10/20/2022 at 2:05 PM, Analytics said:

 

As an example, the Greek philosopher Zeno "proved" that all movement is impossible. Before I could walk from here to the coffee machine, I'd first have to walk half-way there. But before I could walk half-way there, I'd need to walk half-way of that distance, ad infinitum. Philosophers have been puzzling over this paradox for 24 centuries. If somebody presented this to me I might reply, "Yes, I'm familiar with the argument. But I find that scientists such as Newton and Einstein do a much better job of describing the reality of motion than a confused ancient philosopher." 

Zeno and Parmenides offered their paradoxes in an attempt to demonstrate that motion is an illusion. How they are interpreted, however, is subject to whether or not the reader engages in a "Moorean shift." The shift is well described by Yale philosopher Keith DeRose below, emphasis mine: 

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In “Four Forms of Scepticism,” Moore considers a skeptical argument of Bertrand Russell’s to the conclusion that he does not know “that this is a pencil or that you are conscious.” After identifying and numbering four assumptions on which Russell’s argument rests, Moore writes:

"And what I can’t help asking myself is this: Is it, in fact, as certain that all four of these assumptions are true, as that I do know that this is a pencil or that you are conscious? I cannot help answering: It seems to me more certain that I do know that this is a pencil and that you are conscious, than that any single one of these four assumptions are true, let alone all four. That is to say, though, as I have said, I agree with Russell that (1), (2), and (3) are true; yet of no one even of these three do I feel as certain as that I do know for certain that this is a pencil. Nay more: I do not think it is rational to be as certain of any one of these four propositions, as of the proposition that I do know that this is a pencil." (Moore 1959, p. 226)

This reaction of Moore’s may be attractive to the “Aw, Come on!” crowd. Rather than having to identify one of the premises of the skeptical argument as positively implausible, one can, like Moore, make the more modest — and more reasonable — claim that however plausible those premises may be, they are not as certain or as plausible as is the thought that we do know the things in question, and thus those premises don’t have enough power to overturn that thought. Indeed, as we see in the above quotation, Moore agrees with Russell’s first three assumptions, so he certainly finds them plausible, though Moore makes it clear that if it came down to it, he’d reject any of those three premises before he’d accept Russell’s skeptical conclusion. And though Moore will ultimately reject it, there’s no indication that Moore finds Russell’s fourth assumption, considered by itself, to be initially implausible.

 - Keith DeRose, "Introduction", Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader (Oxford University Press, 1999)

The "Moorean shift" basically turns the argument back around and says "well yes, these premises are plausible and I can't see immediately how they're false, but they compel me to accept a conclusion which contradicts something which is more plausible or certain than any of them, therefore at least one of them is bogus." The paradoxes are not absurd if they are interpreted to demonstrate that, since the existence of motion is indubitable, then our concepts surrounding it must be off somehow. 

There is an interesting question to be asked here, however. Carroll himself propounds a similarly counterintuitive notion regarding causation, ie it doesn't actually exist but its a useful concept for human functioning. His counterintuitive critique is motivated not by a natural language thought experiment but rather by the application of mathematics (physics). How is it that Zeno can be accused of "confusion" when he questions intuitive concepts with natural language thought experiments - but Carroll is lauded for doing the same with mathematics? Smells like methodological chauvinism to me. 

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And I don't know of a single physicist who disputes what Professor Carroll says about the laws of physics underlying everyday life.

I don't know of physicists who dispute that the Standard Model basically describes everyday life quite well, but I do know of physicists who dispute the very concept of governing laws. Paul Davies criticized the received view of "natural laws" in his essay "Universe From Bit", published in Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (ed. Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregerson, Cambridge University Press, 2010). I quote the following from this Ed Feser post where I originally encountered Davies' quote; I'm not a member of any library which can access the original and I can't otherwise get it without forking over the gratuitous sums typical of academic publishing, so I apologize for the secondhand quote. 

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The orthodox view of the nature of the laws of physics contains a long list of tacitly assumed properties.  The laws are regarded, for example, as immutable, eternal, infinitely precise mathematical relationships that transcend the physical universe, and were imprinted on it at the moment of its birth from “outside,” like a maker’s mark, and have remained unchanging ever since… In addition, it is assumed that the physical world is affected by the laws, but the laws are completely impervious to what happens in the universe… It is not hard to discover where this picture of physical laws comes from: it is inherited directly from monotheism, which asserts that a rational being designed the universe according to a set of perfect laws.  And the asymmetry between immutable laws and contingent states mirrors the asymmetry between God and nature: the universe depends utterly on God for its existence, whereas God’s existence does not depend on the universe…

Clearly, then, the orthodox concept of laws of physics derives directly from theology.  It is remarkable that this view has remained largely unchallenged after 300 years of secular science.  Indeed, the “theological model” of the laws of physics is so ingrained in scientific thinking that it is taken for granted.  The hidden assumptions behind the concept of physical laws, and their theological provenance, are simply ignored by almost all except historians of science and theologians.  From the scientific standpoint, however, this uncritical acceptance of the theological model of laws leaves a lot to be desired… (pp. 70-1)

So, the question is: do the laws of nature truly govern a la Descartes, Newton, or Plato, or are they simply descriptions a la Hume - and if they are, then what is the underlying reality? Feser offers a bit of history:

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Second, the original, explicitly theological Cartesian-Newtonian notion of “laws of nature” was intended precisely as a replacement for the Aristotelian-Scholastic metaphysics of nature.  The Scholastics held that the regularities in the behavior of natural phenomena derived from their immanent essences or substantial forms, and the directedness-toward-an-end or immanent teleology that followed upon their having those forms.  In other words, regularities reflected the formal and final causes of things.  The early moderns wanted to get rid of formal and final causes as immanent features of nature, and thus replaced them with the notion of “laws of nature” conceived of as externally imposed divine decrees.  To keep talk of “laws of nature” while throwing out God is thus not to offer an alternative to the Aristotelian-Scholastic view at all, but merely to peddle an uncashed metaphor.  So, whereas Carroll glibly asserts that “now we know better” than the Aristotelians did, what is in fact that case is that Carroll and other contemporary naturalists have not only chucked out Aristotelian metaphysics but have also chucked out the early moderns’ initial proposed replacement for Aristotelian metaphysics, and have offered nothing new in its place.  This is hardly a problem for the Aristotelian; on the contrary, it is a problem for anyone who wants to dismiss Aristotelian metaphysics.

Now, I'm still getting my head around Aristotelian metaphysics, but by now I do appreciate that the early moderns thought that the Four Causes were too unwieldy and thus deleted all but the substantial cause, in the process redefining the very meaning of "cause." There remains the essential question, however - do matter and energy act as they do because they are imposed upon by an authoritative law, or do they act as they do based on causal powers inherent in their natures? The answer to this question has the potential to break Carroll's positive argument against spirits (though I don't think it necessarily makes it even if the received view of natural law is affirmed.)

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On 10/22/2022 at 6:47 PM, OGHoosier said:

Zeno and Parmenides offered their paradoxes in an attempt to demonstrate that motion is an illusion. How they are interpreted, however, is subject to whether or not the reader engages in a "Moorean shift." The shift is well described by Yale philosopher Keith DeRose below, emphasis mine: 

The "Moorean shift" basically turns the argument back around and says "well yes, these premises are plausible and I can't see immediately how they're false, but they compel me to accept a conclusion which contradicts something which is more plausible or certain than any of them, therefore at least one of them is bogus." The paradoxes are not absurd if they are interpreted to demonstrate that, since the existence of motion is indubitable, then our concepts surrounding it must be off somehow. 

First off, thank you for an interesting and well-thought out response. I agree with your point about Zeno. I'd simply point out taking the Moorean shift is simply disregarding philosophical arguments that happen to contradict empirical reality. That is why I'm an empiricist.  

On 10/22/2022 at 6:47 PM, OGHoosier said:

There is an interesting question to be asked here, however. Carroll himself propounds a similarly counterintuitive notion regarding causation, ie it doesn't actually exist but its a useful concept for human functioning. His counterintuitive critique is motivated not by a natural language thought experiment but rather by the application of mathematics (physics). How is it that Zeno can be accused of "confusion" when he questions intuitive concepts with natural language thought experiments - but Carroll is lauded for doing the same with mathematics? Smells like methodological chauvinism to me. 

Where does Carroll say this?  I know he talks about different ways of talking about reality (i.e. poetic naturalism). For example, Carroll would agree that the Core Theory describes the particles of which I'm made on a very low level, but nevertheless it's still correct to say, that your post caused me to think about your ideas and to offer this response. 

And in another vein, I think he rejects the notion that something "caused" the big bang because "causation" is defined as the relationship of events across time in the direction of the arrow of time, and that before the big bang there was no time, therefore there could be no causation.

Anyway, I don't think it is a form of chauvinism to think that some ways of looking at reality are better than others. 

On 10/22/2022 at 6:47 PM, OGHoosier said:

I don't know of physicists who dispute that the Standard Model basically describes everyday life quite well, but I do know of physicists who dispute the very concept of governing laws. Paul Davies criticized the received view of "natural laws" in his essay "Universe From Bit", published in Information and the Nature of Reality: From Physics to Metaphysics (ed. Paul Davies and Niels Henrik Gregerson, Cambridge University Press, 2010). I quote the following from this Ed Feser post where I originally encountered Davies' quote; I'm not a member of any library which can access the original and I can't otherwise get it without forking over the gratuitous sums typical of academic publishing, so I apologize for the secondhand quote. 

So, the question is: do the laws of nature truly govern a la Descartes, Newton, or Plato, or are they simply descriptions a la Hume - and if they are, then what is the underlying reality?

I don't think there is any reason to get hung up on whether we call something a "law of nature" or not. Sean Carroll is more likely to simply talk about "how the world works" or say that within its domain of applicability, "the core theory is the correct description of nature."

The question "what is the underlying reality" might not be the right question and might not have an answer. Or maybe the answer is simply and humbly "we don't know."

On 10/22/2022 at 6:47 PM, OGHoosier said:

Feser offers a bit of history:

Now, I'm still getting my head around Aristotelian metaphysics, but by now I do appreciate that the early moderns thought that the Four Causes were too unwieldy and thus deleted all but the substantial cause, in the process redefining the very meaning of "cause."...

Ed Feser and his infatuation with Aristotelian metaphysics in support of his "traditional Roman Catholic perspective" is a great example of why I'm so jaded with philosophy. Aristotle musing about "Four Causes" is more about how he thought about the world and less about how the world really is. Feser believes in a lot of stuff that is simply made up and uses his considerable intellect to rationalize doing so. But the fact remains that it's all made up.

Feser's philosophy, combined with his Catholicism, brings to mind something Richard Dawkins said:

What impresses me about Catholic mythology is partly its tasteless kitsch but mostly the airy nonchalance with which these people make up the details as they go along. It is just shamelessly invented.

Pope John Paul II created more saints than all his predecessors of the past several centuries put together, and he had a special affinity with the Virgin Mary. His polytheistic hankerings were dramatically demonstrated in 1981 when he suffered an assassination attempt in Rome, and attributed his survival to intervention by Our Lady of Fatima: ‘A maternal hand guided the bullet.’ One cannot help wondering why she didn’t guide it to miss him altogether. Others might think the team of surgeons who operated on him for six hours deserved at least a share of the credit; but perhaps their hands, too, were maternally guided. The relevant point is that it wasn’t just Our Lady who, in the Pope’s opinion, guided the bullet, but specifically Our Lady of Fatima. Presumably Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Medjugorje, Our Lady of Akita, Our Lady of Zeitoun, Our Lady of Garabandal and Our Lady of Knock were busy on other errands at the time.

Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion (p. 56).

On 10/22/2022 at 6:47 PM, OGHoosier said:

There remains the essential question, however - do matter and energy act as they do because they are imposed upon by an authoritative law, or do they act as they do based on causal powers inherent in their natures? The answer to this question has the potential to break Carroll's positive argument against spirits (though I don't think it necessarily makes it even if the received view of natural law is affirmed.)

I'm not sure if your point is as strong as you think. Carroll claims the Core Theory successfully predicts the results of every single experiment that has ever been performed on earth. There are some things that are too big, too subtle, or too small to fall within the Core Theory's domain of applicability, but the limits of that are well defined by the theory itself. The theory predicts illusive and counter-intuitive things like neutrinos, anti-matter, and the Higgs Boson. Such things were then subsequently found in experiments, precisely where the theory said they should be.  And by the same token, the theory and subsequent experiments say that "spirits" with the property of being able to interact with our thoughts and feelings, even subtly, cannot and do not exist.

Now, maybe there is some lawgiver who causes matter to behave one way when viewed in the lab and behave totally different when somebody prays. But that is in the direction of thinking that maybe the moon really is made up of cheese, but God in His mysterious wisdom just makes it appear to be made out of rock. 

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