Monday, July 16, 2007

Who's Minting the Mind?

I wasn't planning on posting anything today, but I read this WSJ editorial on The New Atheism, and it got me to thinking. Perhaps I should discoonvert to atheism, since there's big money there:

"Some 500,000 hardcover copies are in print of Richard Dawkins's 'The God Delusion' (2006); 296,000 copies of Christopher Hitchens's 'God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything' (2007); 185,000 copies of Sam Harris's 'Letter to a Christian Nation' (2006); 64,100 copies of Daniel C. Dennett's 'Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon'; and 60,000 copies of Victor J. Stenger's 'God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows that God Does not Exist' (2007)."

I'm sure I could write a more convincing and entertaining book than these five. Let's say I sell half a million copies. I live pretty simply, so I could retire and use the proceeds to spend the rest of my life laying in the hammock in the back yard, reading mystical theology and thinking about God.

But I just don't see how any logical person can arrive at atheism. To be fully craptized into the faith, I would have to pretend to be so ignorant -- such a metaphysical rube -- that I don't know that I could be very convincing. If you're going to be an atheist, you obviously have to be passionate, even hysterical, since cold logic won't get you very far. I was noticing this the other day with the amazon reviews of Michael Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution. It seems that it's impossible for the Darwinian fundamentalists to express their objection to Behe's ideas without all the strident hysteria. It really is as if he is a scientific heretic. Burn him!

One of my favorite Western philosophers is the much misunderstood Schopenhauer. In a way, I don't think he has been surpassed -- or can be surpassed -- because he takes reason as far as it can go, which is to the noumenon, the ultimate unknowable reality (O) behind appearances (he used the singular "noumenon" rather than "noumena," because he understood that whatever else it was, it had to be one, which I will explain later). Schopenhauer realized that science does not -- cannot -- disclose the noumenon, only the phenomena which are its expression.

I have so little time this morning that I'll probably end up oversimplifying, but here goes....

Schopenhauer wrote that "the solution to the riddle of the world is only possible through the proper connection of outer with inner experience." He begins with Kant's idea that the human body and brain are by definition limited to dealing with an object of possible experience -- which doesn't necessarily have to be a material object. Rather, it can be a work of music, a mathematical equation, a memory. "But whatever these are, the totality of them constitutes the outer limit of what we can have any thought or awareness of."

However -- and this is where the atheists commit their howler -- "it does not follow from this that it is also the outer limit of what exists." Rather, "What is just is, independently of us and the apparatus with which we happen to find ourselves equipped; and we have no grounds whatsoever for believing that reality, the totaltity of what exists, coincides with what we are able to apprehend -- and nor could we ever have any such grounds, for that would involve our being able to see on both sides of a line when that line is, as we have just said, an outer limit." Nevertheless, the intellect has a naive bias toward confusing its abstractions with reality.

Of course, it is always possible that the scientific ideas capable of being hatched in the mind of man just so happen to coincide with ultimate reality. But the chances are so remote that we may dismiss them out of hand. In a way, the atheist is asking us to believe something far more unbelievable than religious revelation, which is that the cosmos reveals its true inner and outer nature to man just by sheer luck.

But as Magee points out, "The only plausible possibility of a reality completely corresponding to our conceptions of it rests on the possibility that reality itself could be mind-like, or could be created by a mind, or by minds." Ironically, it is the atheists and other flatlanders "who most confidently do not believe this... [and] who are most tightly wedded to an epistemological criterion of reality. That is one of the incoherences of their position."

Shopenhauer wrote that the relationship between the noumenon and the phenomenal world is not a causal one. Rather, they are "the same thing understood in different ways." For example, consider the physicist's equations that disclose a mysterious realm of flowing, unbroken wholeness, or "implicate" order "beneath" the explicate world available to our senses. Is the quantum world the "cause" of the familiar Newtonian world of solid bodies moving in space? No, it is not. It is the same reality, only regarded "in a totally different way from the way I normally perceive and think about it. The same object is being apprehended in two ways which are completely different, and yet both are valid -- both, if you like, 'true.'"

Some of Shopenhauer's deepest insights about the nature of ultimate reality came from his great appreciation of art. He believed that "it is the specific function of the arts to convey profound and unique insights that are unamenable to conceptual communication." Although this kind of insight is "not communicable in concepts, it is, nevertheless, communicable.... Even when a great work of art is constructed out of words, as is a poem, play, or novel, it is nevertheless impossible to say in words what it 'means.'" In other words, "the meaning of a work of art is something that the work conveys but cannot state."

If this is true of art, how much more true it is of revelation, including the revelations of the cosmos, of life, and of the human mind itself. Put another way, the existence of man's mind tells us much more about the nature of this cosmos than any of its particular mental content.

To be continued. (All quotes taken from Bryan Magee's very enjoyable Confessions of a Philosopher, although his biography of Schopenhauer is also a great read. Having said that, Magee is not a religious man, in that he stops short of following Schopenauer into the Upanishads and what they reveal about Reality.)

44 Comments:

Blogger CrypticLife said...

Good luck on your atheist book. You might, however, look into how many copies religious books have sold during the years those works have been in publication; I suspect the balance would be not be tipped in favor of atheism.

I agree cold logic doesn't get you very far. Specifically, it doesn't get you as far as assuming the existence of a deity or deities. But I was under the impression that we agreed on this, as your assertion relies on a brand of "self-evidence" that falls outside logic. Of course, there is passion in populist works -- that's simply because passion sells, cold logic does not.

7/16/2007 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Distaste never fails to deliver results, Bob.

7/16/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Nevertheless, the intellect has a naive bias toward confusing its abstractions with reality."

Now there's a mouthfull. Open mouth, insert ideology, swallow whole.

Not only confusing its abstractions with reality, but their pattern of progressing through those abstractions (careful not to step in the facts) without straying outside the saftey lines. I wonder where the tipping point is between what Ayn Rand called a persons Psycho-Epistemology, and a Mind Parasite....

7/16/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Anonymous will said...

cryptic -

>>passion sells, cold logic does not<<

Yup, but the passion of the atheists, the eco neopagans, the leftists who embrace "anti-Zionism", etc., exceeds all sales potential requisites. I think it's obvious that it's approaching a ferver level, an actual hatred. I think it would do us well to ask, why now and for what ultimate purpose?

7/16/2007 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Is the quantum world the "cause" of the familiar Newtonian world of solid bodies moving in space? No, it is not. It is the same reality, only regarded "in a totally different way from the way I normally perceive and think about it. The same object is being apprehended in two ways which are completely different, and yet both are valid -- both, if you like, 'true.'""

Context is King, and attempting to ignore or drop it, is the signature of the leftie thought pattern.

A self-evident fact which is on display at the top of the page here with cryptlife's comment "...as your assertion relies on a brand of "self-evidence" that falls outside logic."

7/16/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Will said " I think it's obvious that it's approaching a ferver level, an actual hatred. I think it would do us well to ask, why now and for what ultimate purpose?"

Why, because they've exhausted all their side and emergency exists, and still found themselves face to face with reality. Nothing succeeds in escaping that, not marxism, dadaism, pomofo-isms, or anyother isum-isms - and they are in a panic to cling to the ship, all the more so that they know its going down.

For what ultimate purpose? Ultimate? I don't know, but the immediate purpose lays in the last of The Gods of the Copybook Headings

"...
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return. "

7/16/2007 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger juliec said...

"...why now and for what ultimate purpose?"

Why, indeed. A few thoughts come to mind - one, this could be viewed as the anti-quickening, in a sense. Two - these ideas are very popular because they tell people what they want to hear; if there is no God, then they aren't sinners, and anything they do (or don't do) is just fine. It's a license to misbehave.

At the heart of all this - the hunkering down that someone (yesterday?) mentioned, the drawing in and building up of rabid frenzy, there is (in my mind anyway) a strong resemblance to the formation of a black hole, or to the vision of hell Bob quoted recently. The thing most worrisome about that is that a star, before drawing into itself completely, must explode (I think - my science here is a little fuzzy, and I'm too lazy to check my facts right now; feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). If a psychic black hole is being formed here, what will the initial explosion look like? (And no, I don't really want to know the answer to that one... yikes!)

7/16/2007 10:33:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

"...why now and for what ultimate purpose?"

Well, every action has an opposite reaction?

Quickening, and such.

7/16/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

The advent of the new athiesm has caught me by surprise. I really didn't see that tsunami coming. We've always been awash in a sea of religious choice, and the books to go along with them, but this? It's a full frontal attack.

Early Warning System
any mother's son
scene from an old disney film
sound of snapping twig

7/16/2007 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm sure I could write a more convincing and entertaining book than these five."

That's pretty big talk from someone who's sitting at #283,643 at Amazon. What is that, like, five books?

7/16/2007 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

aninnymouse said "That's pretty big talk from someone who's sitting at #283,643 at Amazon. What is that, like, five books? "

That whole post of red meat, and you seize on the parsley? How embareassing for you.

7/16/2007 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"anything they do (or don't do) is just fine."

I don't know of any atheists who maintain this. As to your first reason (the anti-quickening), I understand it as a description, but not as a cause. Can you say why calling it an anti-quickening explains why it would happen now?

On your black hole analogy, I'd suggest you not worry about actual astronomy, so long as you're not claiming the same underlying process.

I think the "fever pitch" of atheism may be something of an illusion based on the recent marketing, but can appreciate why you'd feel that way. "Why now" is always a good question, but I suspect the ultimate purpose is largely related to the flow of funds.

Van, if you knew most of my views, I really don't think you'd call me a lefty. Context or not, I think few would call the posts here strictly logical. Bob will likely have some clever term for it such as "hyper-logical", but I don't think he'd maintain that all his arguments are purely based in traditional logic.

"the atheists, the eco neopagans, the leftists who embrace "anti-Zionism", etc., exceeds all sales potential requisites."

Do I take that to mean you're lumping all these into one group?

7/16/2007 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I think the black hole analogy was in reference to 'a world above or below the material'. To get a literal, material (if it really is..) black hole, you would need to more or less implode a star, or do some gymnastics with a big supercollider.

Interesting stuff @ hotair:



profitsbeard:

"The Isa (Jesus) in the Quran appears to be derived from fragmentary and non-canonical gnostic texts and heretical folklore that survived in Arabia.

Did any earlier Church father’s mention this?

Or, any Muslim scholars?"

Muslim scholars, no. But St. John of Damascus wrote about Islam as a Christian heresy is the 8th century.

There is a great deal of fascinating material in this line. My first writing on Islam was back in college in 1981 or so — a term paper on how Islam’s denial of the crucifixion of Christ (Qur’an 4:157) is related to and may be derived from the denial of the crufixion contained in several Gnostic gospels, particularly since both affirm that Judas was made to resemble Jesus and put on the cross in his place. There were many heretical Christians in Arabia during the time of Muhammad.

Robert Spencer on July 16, 2007 at 8:26 AM

7/16/2007 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

cryptlife said "Van, if you knew most of my views, I really don't think you'd call me a lefty."

Though I've noted it before, but it surely can be misleading, lefty doesn't apply only to libs, but those who follow in the patterns of thought flowing from Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Pierce, Wundter, Marx, etc (yes there is a traceable connection, you just have to look wider than their 'position papers'). Many Republicans fit the 'lefty' bill, many Libertarians as well. Lefty is a lot quicker to type than the preceding.

Probably a good subject for me to post on again at my site.

7/16/2007 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous cousin dupree said...

Anonymous, that's Bob's point. He might sell more than five books if he switched teams and wrote about something the 8th grade mind can grasp. But after he made his mound of moolah, he'd switch back to our side. Frankly, I like the plan.

7/16/2007 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

Why not stealth-lace it with esoteric filling? Sounds like a challenge.

7/16/2007 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

Cryptic, that may well be true for you and quite a few others (Kim du Toit comes to mind), but let's be honest. For a lot of anti-theists, there is a strong undercurrent of hatred for God based on the fact that, from the Biblical perspective, a lot of the things they love to do are frankly "right out" (adultery, homosexuality and prostitution come to mind). They don't want to feel bad about doing what pleases them, so instead of working on changing their behavior they declare God non-existent. This way, they can take the moral high-ground for doing what feels good while "Christers" and religious fanatics stupidly deprive themselves for fear of Holy retribution (and since they're all repressed, they're pretty creepy, too, probably closet queers and child-molesters). Don't tell me you haven't encountered this mentality - it's everywhere.

But don't take my word for it. As one very public example, Larry Flynt is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can give evidence of Republicans engaging in sexual scandals, thus supposedly revealing themselves as hypocrites. He doesn't care about Democrats behaving badly, because they generally aren't religious (that's the perception, anyway) and are not acting against human nature when they fool around, therefore they are not hypocritical but are in fact good for being true to their nature.

However, taken to its logical extreme, atheism is essentially a license to do whatever you want. If there is no God or Devil, there is no Good or Evil, except that which we choose to call good or evil. The only morality that matters is your own. Ultimately humanity, in the great cosmic scheme of things, is irrelevant; we are simply another brief species on a teensy backwater planet, which will someday be consumed by the star it orbits, and ultimately it will be as though we never existed at all. So who cares how we act while we're here? We're all just stardust anyway, right?

7/16/2007 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger River Cocytus said...

I would argue you only have good Atheists when times are good. If Atheism is purely rational, then there are times when it will be rational to be evil.

Unless someone's got a good refutation.

7/16/2007 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger juliec said...

And apparently, I need to elaborate on my black hole analogy. I first thought of it in reference to hell (from an earlier OC post). Hell was described as a place of unimaginable heat without light, so closely packed that the souls therein would not be able to move.

A black hole is essentially matter packed so tightly into a space that not even light escapes, though it would contain tremendous amounts of heat from all the compression. If you've ever tried to imagine what it would be like to be squished into one, the word hellish does come to mind.

The reason this, to me, applies to frenzied leftists is that they seem to be compressing - their ideas are becoming rigid, unable to cope with reality, and so they turn to each other for more support, drawing in to each other. At the core, they are not exposed to unpleasant truths, but the unbearable heat of the falsehoods they surround themselves with makes them wail.

As to the Why, there are a multitude of reasons, but at a guess I would say it's Quickening (and anti-quickening) thanks, in large part, to the internet, where like minds can gather (yes, just as we do here) and share their ideas. On the internet isolated people find others like them, which can be both good and bad.

7/16/2007 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

Venezuela is expelling Christian missionaries.
China is expelling Christian missionaries in the largest expulsion of missionaries since 1954.
Heathens voices are getting MSM play.
It's time for some fire and brimstone.
Write the new book Bob, make oodles of cash.

7/16/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

>>Do I take that to mean you're lumping all these into one group?<<

Pretty much.

7/16/2007 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

Dupree - re: any of Bob's future books, he can stay true to his vision while claiming his books have been channeled. That'll boost sales.

7/16/2007 01:44:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

" 'anything they do (or don't do) is just fine.'

I don't know of any atheists who maintain this."

You're probably right, in that to "maintain" that, they would have to be consciously aware of the fact that, when all is said and done, they actually do believe in a world that absolves them of responsibility for their actions. But in terms of what I think you meant to be saying, I think you're exactly wrong.

Maybe the best way to get that across is to suggest that you think about how behavior tends to change when one is or is not being observed, and then to consider how this plays out in the mind of someone who believes (i.e. an atheist) that they are completely alone when there are no other humans around. Their susceptibility to temptation, even if they have a harsh superego, just has to be much greater than for someone who genuinely acknowledges the presence of God, especially if they also feel that presence in the moment.

There are also, of course, those atheists who are consciously aware of the license that they bestow upon themselves, and those with the will to power have shown just how extensive the justification of evil can become in the absence of an awareness of something greater than the self.

None of this is to imply that those of us who believe in God are immune to the same impulses, only that we are helped to be less self-justifying to whatever extent we are able to remain aware of something greater that is always present. And, as I said, to agree with others who say that such self-justification is implicit in atheism.

7/16/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

river and juliec,

Yours is the criticism of atheism that does concern me most: you are right, a pure rationalist philosophy could lead one to conclude that evil is sometimes the best course (tossing aside for the moment whether a pure rationalist would believe in such a concept as good and evil). And while I would not call atheism a license for licentious behavior, it does not restrict it either.

Gagdad has brought up before that atheism isn't much of a philosophy, and he's absolutely right. Atheism is only the lack of belief in a deity. Atheism is empty because that's all it is. It can be understood by 8th-graders because it can be described in a single sentence. There certainly can be good atheists, and there's nothing about atheism that binds them to rationality any moreso than it binds the religious.

I'm not really particularly pleased with the character of the recent growth of atheism. Many atheists are young, between 15 and 25, and though some of these are thoughtful many (likely most) are not. This age group, though, has not really needed all that much justification for deviant behaviors for the past 40 years. I'd question whether any belief in a deity has actually stopped any significant number of homosexuals, or child molesters, or petty thieves.

That said, maineman's suggestion is a very interesting one that could be used to test this. There are studies on the behavior of people who believe they're being watched versus people who believe they're alone, though to the best of my knowledge these have never been correlated with religious belief. I'd suggest, by the way, that you don't mean that the atheist's temptation is greater, but that their restriction is less. This assumes the religious person will not justify away behavior. A legitimate and unbiased study which examined this would be quite interesting, wouldn't it? A very basic and simple test of morality -- something that would be difficult to question or discredit.

Regardless of the results of the study, it wouldn't affect my atheism. Whether belief in a deity influences morality would not cause me to believe in a deity. However, I would be a lot more quiet about being an atheist if it were for the good of society.

7/16/2007 02:51:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

cryptlife said -
"- you are right, a pure rationalist philosophy could lead one to conclude that evil is sometimes the best course (tossing aside for the moment whether a pure rationalist would believe in such a concept as good and evil).

- And while I would not call atheism a license for licentious behavior, it does not restrict it either.

- Whether belief in a deity influences morality would not cause me to believe in a deity. However, I would be a lot more quiet about being an atheist if it were for the good of society. "

(Stare)

So the ends do justify the means? Abandoning the concepts of good and evil, leaves you with only the expedient, which will eventually just be evil by another name.

7/16/2007 03:13:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

Cryptic,

I'm not very up to date on it, but there is a body of literature on self-awareness, and one of the things I remember is that it has been found that people behave more in keeping with their expressed moral values when they are in front of a mirror than when they are not.

But I don't think we need to study anything other than our own behavior to know that we act differently when we're with other people or when we feel like someone is watching us, as the song goes.

7/16/2007 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"- I would not call atheism a license for licentious behavior."

It seems to me you're overlooking the implications of what atheism boils down to, which is the atheist appointing his or herself master of their universe.

7/16/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Wherever you identify your values as coming from, above, below, within, without... your behavior will be influenced by:

-are your values(or principles, if advanced to that point) coherent or incoherent. If coherent, then

-do you understand/believe that abiding by them is important to your life? If yes, then

- you will seek to behave in a moral manner
otherwise

- you'll do whatever is pleasing to your most visible desire at the moment, limited only by the fear of adverse consequences - the more immediate the consequence, the more it will affect your behavior.

If your guiding Values/principles are themselves seen as values, you'll tend towards following them, regardless of whether you feel you are being watched or are in front of a mirror.

If being Good is not seen as a Good itself, the watcher, no matter whether or not it is thought to be watching from above, below, inside or in the mirror, if it doesn't have a credible club in its hand, it will have little persuasive power over your actions.

I don't think its much more complicated than that.

7/16/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

I don't have a problem with Crypticlife and people like him. The idea that the Absolute Source should be some guy is indeed rather dubious. Then again, I don't think any greater religion claim that either. That God appears to most humans as a person rather than a void is hardly caused by a limitation on God but rather a "limitation" on humans. If we are to have more than the most abstract relation to the Absolute, it needs to meet us in a personal form. And why not? So far this is the highest form of knowing we are capable of, is it not? To truly know a person is far more than knowing a book by heart, or know the ins and outs of a place or a trade. To really know a person means that this person always lives inside you, not in his full form but in a very recognizable representation. In light of this, I find theism overall superior to atheism, but it is certainly not something that could possibly be forced on anyone.

Now, God-haters is a completely different chapter and worse. They believe in an evil God who also in a sense lives on inside them, and whom they fight against, sometimes desperately.

7/16/2007 07:03:00 PM  
Anonymous believes petey said...

The question of Petey is essential to understanding Bob; I would even say that all major gains to us and the world through Bob are and will be mediated by Petey.

Bob is obviously not kidding about Petey. Petey is not an artifact of Bob's personality in any way, or an invention of Bob's poetic faculty; Petey is a separate being that speaks through Bob. Petey is a channeled source in the classic sense of the word.

Anyone care to challenge this position?

Petey was a once living man who died on his farm and now inhabits a bona-fide afterlife from which he can possibly see God far more clearly than the living.

He somehow articulates with Bob's mind/body to produce text on the Blog that we read.

If we take this as a given, then we must take it as a given that Petey can give us revelation from beyond the range of human perception.

Will anyone join me in asking for maximum output from Petey?

Petey, I ask you, come forth ever more strongly in Bob, as strongly as you can. Teach us, Petey.

Give us answers to questions we aren't even able to concieve of and never thought to ask.

7/16/2007 07:59:00 PM  
Anonymous PSGInfinity said...

To pick up on the thread, I suspect we can "look forward to" some sort of conflatulation as Lefty's approach some critical mess of insanity...

...I'm on record, and I repeat:
We will see a Formal Linkage betwixt the Left and the Islamists if a Republican wins in '09, particularly if they also lose Congress. If Queen Hillary wins, that pushes it back a bit; what happens next becomes a messy game.

WV: gopuzvbm, GO Pick Up a Virtually-Based Machine?

7/16/2007 08:09:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"Give us answers to questions we aren't even able to concieve of and never thought to ask."

Okay, I'll bite. Petey, aren't you the pit bull from the Little Rascals?

7/16/2007 08:19:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"Now, God-haters is a completely different chapter and worse."

There is an argument that says that all atheists are God haters.

7/16/2007 08:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Petey said...

And I'll be there
To shine in your Japan
To sparkle in your China
Yes I'll be there
Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva

7/16/2007 08:29:00 PM  
Anonymous buckwheat said...

Dat beez rite maineman!

7/16/2007 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

Within the context of Semitic religion, there truly is no difference between "atheist" and "God-hater". In this culture, which of course includes nearly the entire American population, God is taken as a given. (Too much so, one might argue, since people go "meh, so what" at the mention of God.)

Things are entirely different in the East Asian cultures of Buddhism and perhaps even more so Taoism. There, the Absolute Source is if anything best seen as a void. (Obviously I am missing the subtlety of the actual culture here.) Theism would seem irreverent to them, as if the Absolute could be some guy.

This is actually a risk we live with in the West. It is way too easy to see God as just some guy up there playing Sims with our lives, rather than the experience that explodes all former boundaries and defies all description.

In a sense, the two traditions are doomed to see each other as blasphemous and idiotic. The only way to reconcile them is through actual experience of the Divine, I think. I much doubt that any scholarly debate will go anywhere.

The proselytizing "new atheism" is not a creature of reason, and certainly not of reverence, but vehemently emotional. Its goal is a change of society.

7/17/2007 03:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could try inserting some absolutist fundamentalist reductionistic materialist empiricist gibberish a la Chuchlands or Dennett; along the lines of;
Lets get rid of the awkward subject of subjectivity by denying its existence.
Lets deny its existence by claiming it is just a folk convention or mutual construction that in any case rests on purely material (whatever matter ultimately is) processes in the brain.
Or to summarise; Lets use subjectivity to create objectivity that then denies that subjectivity even exists, even though through our convoluted logic we have used the very thing we deny to frame this theory!
Bit like sawing off the branch you are sitting on.
Bob, if you could make this nonsense sound remotely logical then good luck to you and your atheistic fortunes!

7/17/2007 04:05:00 AM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"If your guiding Values/principles are themselves seen as values, you'll tend towards following them, regardless of whether you feel you are being watched or are in front of a mirror."

I agree but think you're talking about only very advanced human beings there. The bulk of us don't seem to do very well without some kind of external structure that tells us how to put one foot in front of the other. (Not that we always do well under those circumstances, since the external structure matters, too.)

And there also is the problem of those who are that advanced but get confused, say who believe passionately in love and the sanctity of the individual yet think someone who's pro-life is a Neanderthal.

I guess I'm just saying it seems more complicated than you're making it out to be. And while that might only get us to "religion as a useful delusion", it also argues that there is potentially something inherently pathological, in a cosmic sense, about increased emotional distance between humanity and God.

7/17/2007 05:05:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Maineman said "I guess I'm just saying it seems more complicated than you're making it out to be."

Yeah, I thought about that before posting, but I'm talking about the essentials, not the details of applying them.

Yes of course there can be enormous confusion about the correct way to DO what you Know, but you don't need experiments to see whether someone behaves one way or another if they feel they are being watched, in order to validate whether or not people can behave ethically.

The person who only does what is 'right' because they feel they are being watched, is NOT behaving ethically, he's playing games and nothing more. That's what "However, I would be a lot more quiet about being an atheist if it were for the good of society" is doing.

I'm certainly no advanced human being, but I wouldn't knowingly violate my principles, not out of fear of retribution, just that it would be... yucky. Like asking asking a ballerina if she's ever tempted to be ungraceful in the middle of a ballet... it's just a yucky thought.

It doesn't take an advanced being or only a deeply advanced understanding of morality, ethics, just an understanding of what they are. They aren't a set of arbitrary rules for life, they are what enable you to live life. That simple lesson is too often not taught.

7/17/2007 06:13:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"The person who only does what is 'right' because they feel they are being watched, is NOT behaving ethically, he's playing games and nothing more. That's what "However, I would be a lot more quiet about being an atheist if it were for the good of society" is doing."

Huh? No, Van.

If I thought it would be dangerous for others or general society to hold my views, I would not propagate them. It doesn't mean I would deny them. Atheism has no philosophical mandate to spread itself. If it were dangerous to society to proselytize atheism, the misbehavior would be in the proselytization, not being an atheist. I wouldn't advocate atheism only when I thought no one was watching, I simply wouldn't initiate the conversation at all.

7/17/2007 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

cryptlife said "Huh? No, Van. If If I thought it would be dangerous for others or general society to hold my views, I would not propagate them."

Uhm, Yes, cryptlife. If you are presently inclined to announce your views, which you obviously are (and whether or not you want to use the "P" word, it is a form of proselytization), but would refrain from doing so to keep the natives from getting resstless, then what you are advocating is just a passive form of Socrates's 'Noble Lie'; that it is best for the people to go on believing lies, in order to keep things running smoothly for those elite's who are in the know.

In other words, the ends justify the means. Allow snowball to roll down hill. Get out of way.

The closest you could get to justifying this is if what you were advocating you would not spout off the deepest truths which are the culmination of an intricate heirarchical structure of thought, since without the context of the full structure, such words would not contain their meaning; but it seems clear that that is not what you are maintaining.

To advocate others to do what is wrong in order to achieve what you seek - is mere game playing, and is wrong.

If it is True, it is right, and an end in itself - the ends determine the means. It may require following a detailed process to fully understand, appreciate and reach those ends, but you are doing what is right each step of the way, not as a means to different ends.

That is one of those self evident truths which you have placed yourself outside the reach of.

7/18/2007 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"then what you are advocating is just a passive form of Socrates's 'Noble Lie'"

1) And you feel the analysis of a passive form of this lie is the same as active? Would you similarly vilify those who, if they propagated their views, would be killed? Are Christians in Muslim-majority nations immoral for not preaching to their neighbors? I do not hold proselytization as a moral mandate.

2) "that it is best for the people to go on believing lies"
: That is what would have to be shown before I stopped my "proselytization", Van. That's the condition, not the starting point.

3) " for those elite's who are in the know"
: I implied no elitism in my post.

7/19/2007 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all why I neither ignore or totally accept the idea of a deity: While these posts could be filled with many fine philosophical arguments or conclusions, they are instead filled with jabs at the other side. Why be so concerned about atheists? I've mentioned the same to them being concerned with you. But, the only real loss I suppose is the potential for a great conversation on this subject. Shamefully, it will not be found here. Instead of giving the mind something to ponder, we're bashing. It almost seems like your not as interested in what you believe as much as you are in what others shouldn't.

7/19/2007 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous
I suspect 'jabs' are used for want of long lingering philosophical musings about atheism, because of peoples time and most importantly because atheism today is all about being militant and making jabs.
If you doubt this, check out the atheist intelligentsia (a contradiction in terms!) of Dawkins and Dennett earnestly plugging their latest books with zealous enthusiasm.
What is at stake is what sort of society we wish to live in and what vision for human kind in the cosmos and on earth we subscribe to.
For me, the ethics of militant atheism lead only to a sterile and impoverished view of the cosmos and of a human being, which leads to a type of nihilistic despair the only temporary fix for is to go shopping at the mall.
Jabs and ridicule can be a valuable tool in dismantling opposing pernicious worldviews, provided we can keep the compassion there.

7/20/2007 04:41:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home