Thursday, September 06, 2007

On Giving the Finger to Atheist Wonkers

Yesterday reader Magnus made an excellent point: "On the commute I read an article about the co-evolution of the dog. It seems man's best friend has lost a part of its brain that kept much of its wolf instincts. On the other hand [paw?], it has gained the ability to understand pointing. When we point at something, a fellow human automatically transfers its attention to the object we point to, rather than just staring at the hand. So does a dog with just a little training. Wolves do not, and neither do chimps or any other species known to man.

"I wonder if 'religiosity' is not something equivalent. We have gained an ability to understand God's pointing and this alone can replace a multitude of instincts that would be necessary if living apart from God.

"Imagine a dog trying to explain the concept of pointing to a wolf. The wolf would just look dumbly and say: 'It's a hand. No matter how it moves, it is still just a hand. Can we eat it already?'"

I replied that, in a way, the capacity to point and to understand pointing is everything, for it is what lifts us out of our engulfment in matter and imprisonment in the senses. It is the essence of Polanyi's philosophy, what he calls the distinction between subsidiary (the finger) and focal (the moon) knowledge. The obligatory atheist is essentially fixated on the finger while barking at the moon.

Continuing along the lines of yesterday's theme, how does one establish faith, anyway? For me, it really started not so much with me knowing, but knowing with increasing certainty that someone else knew. By immersing myself in that person's knowledge and reading their wrotetrails, I eventually came to assimilate a bit of personal knowledge, but that's another storey of a complex ediface.

When you think about it, most of our knowledge of reality ultimately falls into this category. For example, few of us really have much personal understanding of economics, so we put our faith in someone else who seems to know, and who appeals to our Reason. A leftist will put his faith in a Paul Krugman or Robert Reich, while I put my faith in Tom Sowell or Friedrich Hayek. Immediately you realize that many people who profess to know what they are talking about, really don’t -- not just the “followers” (necessarily) but the experts themselves.

Thus, despite my rudimentary knowledge of economics, if Tom Sowell is right, then I know much more about economics than Paul Krugman does. (Here I am using “know” in the naively old-fashioned way of connoting truth; we need a different word for all the untrue things that people, especially experts and wackademics such as Krugman, “know”... maybe the opposite of know, which is w-o-n-k... Krugman is not a knower, but a big wonker. But you knew that already.)

Given what I have outlined, if the Creator exists, then the most humble and unsophisticated churchgoer who has an intuitive acceptance and understanding of that to which faith points, knows infinitely more -- literally -- than a Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, to cite a couple of famous godless wonkers.

But atheism is an outrageously grandiose enterprise. One thing you notice immediately is the false humility of the atheist, who at once ridicules the notion that human beings are of any cosmic significance whatsoever, and then proceeds to confidently reveal the Ultimate Truth of existence to the rest of us. In my view, any being that may possess Ultimate Truth -- even if it is only to set Ultimate Limits on what the Mind may know, as does the atheist -- is pretty special. Such a being is most definitely “the center of the universe,” but only if we shift our perspective from a horizontal to a vertical view -- which is demanded by the atheist’s own metaphysic.

That is, if you begin with the premise that all is random and that everything is equally meaningless, then you truly have a horizontal cosmos with no possibility of rising above it and knowing any objective truth. Not only are human beings not the center in such a flatland cosmos, but there is no possibility of a center or of knowedge. Nothing points to anything else.

However, verticality implies hierarchy, origin, and increased centration as we ascend the scale. Imagine a pyramid, with each level representing a new degree of complexity and depth in the cosmos. On the bottom floor there is mere matter or energy. On top of that is a second floor, biology. Obviously biology is a narrower subset of matter, but it is not “off to the side” like a little growth, but right at the center -- if viewed vertically.

Likewise, human psychological and spiritual development represent increased degrees of both verticality and centration, which is why God is the only entity that can truly say “I AM” with a straight face. According to Rabbi Mo, we cannot see this face -- and therefore know I AM -- and live.

And this is why the key to spiritual growth -- and vision -- is to “die before you get old and die,” so Pete Towenshend was half right. In ether worlds, ego death -- or transcendence, if you prefer -- is the road to the toppermost of the poppermost of the universe, the center and Origin of existence, the mysterious within of withinness, the Truth of truth, the El Supremo at the Top of the Stairs, the Starman Waiting in the Sky, for all hierarchies are conditioned top to bottom, and there is no incomplete hierarchy.

Atheists are bothered by such ideas. Again, they do not merely reject metaphysics, they are hostile to it. An anonymous poster on Dr. Sanity confessed that “this is something which never ceases to bug me”:

“While it is true that this universe is indeed marvelous, beautiful, coherent and logical, vast and detailed, and so on, it is also very clear (or at least should be by now) that it's not set up for our benefit. Mankind is not the center of the universe. We're not it's focus. (Every time people stumble over this fact, they react in shock and indignation). It is not adapted to suit us. Rather, mankind is adapted to be able to survive in the universe.)”

I would respond: who says the universe is beautiful? Is that true? Why should a universe in which we are completely beside the point convey its beauty to us? In order for something to be beautiful or true, mustn’t there be a subject capable of knowing those things? In other words, the cosmos is neither true nor beautiful without a subject that may love beauty and know truth. If we are not the focus - -and therefore center -- of the world’s beauty and truth, what is? As Magnus suggested yesterday, the cosmos is always pointing at something else, and only humans are able to discern the direction and content of this pointing. For example, other animals merely see a world, not the beauty or truth that radiate through it.

It reminds me of what liberals say about Iraq having nothing to do with the war on global jihad. Oh really? Then why are terrorists from all over the world flocking there? You may not think it is the center of the war on Islamofascism, but Islamofascists certainly do.

Likewise, you may not think that human beings are the center of cosmic truth and beauty, but the cosmos clearly feels otherwise. You are the only way for the cosmos to say "I AM... and damn, I sure am beautiful. And dignified. And coherent" (and whatever other category you choose to add). Our ways of knowing the the cosmos are freakishly adapted to the way it is -- unlike other animals, who cannot escape their subjectivity and know objective truth about existence.

Another commenter on Dr. Sanity said that “My schema starts with the fact that the Universe -- a concept of the Everything, not just our little Steven Hawking, Big Bang Universe -- is infinite.”

Hold it right there, wonker. Your schema actually begins with the faith that there is a cosmos -- a strict totality of coherently interacting objects and events, despite the fact that you have never seen it -- and a mysterious ability to know the truth of this cosmic order, to have a tacit vision of where the cosmic finger is pointing.

As I have mentioned before, the philosopher of science Stanley Jaki pointed out that philosophers constantly get into trouble because they try to get to second base before they have gotten to first. As all baseball fans know, “you can’t steal first base.” But this is what philosophers habitually do.

Therefore, once this larcenous wonker has assumed first base, he proceeds to steal second and third: the cosmos “never ‘began’, and nothing can be ‘outside’ of it. So I consider the concept of the ‘Supernatural’ to be literal nonsense -- a connection of words which look sensible, but are not, unless the term refers to something actually going on within the Universe. Or unless it refers to the Universe itself.”

There you go. He has stolen home without ever having hit a real ball. He possesses Truth -- which is by definition supernatural -- without having to acknowledge that inconvenient fact. For every physicist worth his NaCl knows that nature herself is supernatural. Every great mathematician is a platonist, either explicitly or implicitly. This is the great truth disclosed by Gödel’s theorems, which demonstrate that any logical system can be either complete or consistent, but not both. But Gödel never intended for this fact to be used as a blunt instrument by deconstructionists to undermine the reality of truth. Rather, he was merely attempting to account for the obvious fact that human knowing vastly exceeds the limits of reason. Duh!

Most of the comments left by angry atheists yesterday (actually, it was now last year) on Dr. Sanity -- for example, those of the aptly named "Arational Human" -- were either logically self-refuting or were adequately addressed by other commenters. There was one other comment by Lionel, who wrote that,

“The concept of god is a grab bag of inconsistent floating abstractions that is intended to stop thought and rational discussion.... That is what I hate and will do whatever I can to undercut its existence. I hate it because its anti-mind, anti-reason, anti-human, and anti-life. Reason, reality, and logic are of prime importance to me. Emotion is simply the way we experience our values. God, being a nonexistent, has nothing to do with it one way or the other.”

If Lionel wishes to be logically consistent, then he must concede that his hatred of God is nothing more than “the way he experiences his values.” He claims to hate God because the concept is “anti-mind, anti-reason, anti-human, and anti-life.” In each case, his emotional rejection of God causes him to invert reality and to believe things that are patently illogical and untrue.

For reason is only a faculty of knowing something indirectly in the absence of direct vision, while God is known directly, the same way one knows one is alive, perceives reality, or is aware of free will. In order to see something, it is not necessary to logically prove the existence of sight. Many of the most important truths are known simply by their “superabundance of clarity,” by pure intellect, not by the reason which us its servant. Reason is not Intelligence in itself, only an instrument of intelligence. Few things create more mischief than reason in the hands of an unintelligent or immoral wonker.

Likewise, any form of pure rationalism is an attack on mind itself, because it reduces the cause -- intelligence -- to an effect -- reason. In the words of Schuon, rationalism is “perhaps the most intelligent way of being unintelligent.” For “Existence is a reality in some respects comparable to a living organism; it cannot with impunity be reduced, in man’s consciousness... to proportions that do violence to its nature; pulsations of the 'extra-rational' pass through it from every quarter. Now religion and all forms of supra-rational wisdom belong to this extra-rational order, the presence of which we observe around us, unless we are blinded by a mathematician’s prejudice; to attempt to treat existence as a purely arithmetical and physical reality is to falsify it in relation to ourselves and within ourselves, and in the end it is to blow it to pieces.”

Not for nothing did Richard Weaver say that “every attack upon religion is inevitably an attack upon mind.” Naturally there are many forms of stupid religion, for there is nothing touched by humans wonkers that cannot be made stupid. But at least religion as such does not exclude the possibility and priority of Intelligence, and therefore, Truth.

32 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

"...literal nonsense -- a connection of words which look sensible, but are not..."

Lots of that floating around-and-about the non-theists. I say, "Go to the mirror, boy!"

9/06/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger J. Peden said...

Bob, I am that wonker commenter you quoted about the Universe being infinite, and thus the concept of the Supernatural being self-contradictory in this respect.

But I think we are only having a semantical debate, which I agree becomes irrelevant in the face of the wonder of our creation and capacities. So I completely agree with you that "'You are the only way for the cosmos to say'I AM... and damn, I sure am beautiful. And dignified. And coherent'...."

The way I have phrased it in "my schema" is to note the completely stunning, and 'pointing', fact that "The Universe has created an entity which wants to understand Itself - the Universe, including us." - not meaning a merely materialistic scientific understanding.

I don't see any materialistic evolutionary reason for our having the capacity and extreme desire to "understand" the Universe at this 'vertical' level. Or to even our being able to ask the question to begin with.

And I certainly don't believe in the God of Randomness as contributing anything whatsoever towards explaining the existence this kind of capacity and desire. I don't even know that at this point randomness itself explains much of anything very well. But I digress.

Regardless, it doesn't bother me at all that you have chosen my statements for teaching purposes, though I hope I have managed to clarify my position.

J. Peden

9/06/2007 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

"Few things create more mischief than reason in the hands of an unintelligent or immoral wonker."

Overcome
elements aflame
dragon breath disturbs the loch
deer and rabbit flee

9/06/2007 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

A civilized, if opaque, response from J. P. It's easy in Bob's position occasionally to be off-and-typing before the nuances settle... Maybe that happened here, but I can't exactly tell.

"The capacity to point and to understand pointing is everything" is very helpful on the religion front, and helps tame the automatic adversarial chant, "imperfect! imperfect!" Observable religion-on-the-ground is probably has about the same ratio as the hand has to the moon's geology, itself some philosophical distance from Platonic Light Itself. Analysis based on perception short of the actual entry into the process is itself a pointing finger, both constituting and describing merely hair, bones, and nails made of gelatin.

Johan made an interesting point yesterday:

"...not to suggest that Christians should [or should not] practice Eastern yoga postures or breathing techniques, or even meditation techniques from the Far East, but to denote a path within Christ’s teachings that is a personal way for each of us to take."

Steinsaltz says of Judaism that there are 600,000[=number of souls by some reckoning] gates. I think he means not 600,000 different improvised religions. Two ways, and a trillion gates into The Way. I hope Bob will tell his story of "someone knows...", sooner rather than later.

Wie Gates?!

9/06/2007 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

OT-just found History News Network - cool site for those of us interested in current events/historical context (a-la Victor Davis Hanson)

"Because the Past is the Present, and the Future too. Aspires to put news in historical context by publishing articles written by historians on current events topics"

I was reading: Why We Should Expect Insurgents to Use Petraeus's September Report to Launch a 'Tet Offensive'

http://hnn.us/articles/41147.html

9/06/2007 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

From Thomas Sowell's latest 'random thoughts"

Wise people created civilization over the centuries and clever people are dismantling it today. You can see it happening just by channel surfing on TV or hear it in rap music or read it in the pompous nonsense of academics and judges.

Amen

9/06/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

and

Many on the political left are so entranced by the beauty of their vision that they cannot see the ugly reality they are creating in the real world.

9/06/2007 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous jehovahs deposition said...

My intuition is that stars are sentient. If you concentrate, you can detect the mind-pattern of Sol 3.

So, humans are not the only way the universe can appreciate itself. That is absurd. In additon, God can appreciate the universe any way It pleases without needing us.

Are humans the "center of the universe?" Absolutely not. Giant black holes are in front of us in the line for that honor, among other entities.

There is beaucoup sentience out there; its everywhere. We're not the center but we're certainly not the armpit, either. We are enjoyable wankers and It really digs us.

9/06/2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Did you guys check this out yet? It just cracks me up!

http://youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww

I hope all these leftwing semi-professors are happy with the state of their edumacation. Remember, there is no wrong answer!

9/06/2007 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"if the Creator exists, then the most humble and unsophisticated churchgoer who has an intuitive acceptance and understanding of that to which faith points, knows infinitely more -- literally -- than a Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, to cite a couple of famous godless wonkers"

An interesting statement, but I think it might need some slight modification. You assume if a creator exists, then it is the Christian (or some other "church") one. The believer's "knowledge" may well mislead, in which case they are certainly no better off than the atheist.

At the risk of being banal, I'll point out that your use of the work "know" is not related to conceptual understanding, but to belief. Obviously atheists can understand the idea of a creator without subscribing to it, just as you can understand the idea of not believing while remaining a theist. The reason I point this out is because you later say you became convinced that "someone knew". I'd be curious how you became convinced of this, and what specific sort of knowing you're talking about. It seems it would have to be you were convinced that "someone had a specific belief that a deity existed and was 100% correct regarding it". But if this were the case, you were already convinced yourself that the deity existed. Perhaps you can clarify?

9/06/2007 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous maineman said...

"You assume if a creator exists, then it is the Christian (or some other "church") one."

This implies that the Christian (or some other "church")creates God rather than the other way around, doesn't it?

It's not apparent to me that theists are no better off than atheists, because they seem less vulnerable (although not immune)to such narcissistic perspectives.

Washington said something like, "If man is wicked with religion, what would he be without it?"

Seems like we're finding out the answer to that one.

9/06/2007 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"You assume if a creator exists, then it is the Christian (or some other "church") one."

Actually, Cryptic, I think it's pretty fair to say from reading Bob's posts for quite a while (and I know you have been, so I don't think you can plead ignorance on this score) that Bob didn't start off by assuming Christianity was the only (right) option. Rather, the important distinction is that some people know - and not simply believe, as you maintain, though I am fairly certain from past distinctions that you will disagree on that point - that there is a God. Because they know this, regardless of intellectual capacity, they have a better grasp of Truth than someone who does not have this knowledge. If you pretend for a moment that there is a God, you will see that it is an accurate observation.

"At the risk of being banal, I'll point out that your use of the work "know" is not related to conceptual understanding, but to belief."

As to that, I have another analogy for you. My husband is a football fan. I enjoy watching the games, but am much less invested in them. Even though we are watching exactly the same plays, with equivalent eyesight, we are not in fact seeing the same things. I can pick up the broader patterns - Sumdood has the ball, throws it to Sumuthadood, who catches it and gets a first down. He, on the other hand, makes note of individual players (I can't even track the numbers, frankly), comprehends specific plays and strategies, and over all gets vastly more out of the game than I do. So when he says that a team is in a passing formation, even though the formations all basically look the same to me, I believe him, because I know he's right. It is possible that I could train myself to follow all of this with greater comprehension, but it is a virtual certainty that I will never see this or any sport with the clarity with which he perceives it. Now I could sit here and claim that he couldn't possibly see all of that, based on the fact that I can't perceive it. Or I could admit that even though I lack literacy in a particular area, it doesn't mean that knowledge of that area is a fantasy.

wv: jckbt - I dunno, I don't think I'm being too harsh here, am I?

9/06/2007 01:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

"...past distinctions" - that should be past discussions. Obviously, I haven't cleared all the cobwebs yet.

9/06/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Johan (cosmic swede) said...

"Continuing along the lines of yesterday's theme, how does one establish faith, anyway? For me, it really started not so much with me knowing, but knowing with increasing certainty that someone else knew."

Why do you think I'm reading your blog? :)

But it is almost scary, I picked up your book, because of just a short comment and a link on a blog, because of that feeling I got - that someone else knew!

9/06/2007 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

"...how does one establish faith, anyway? For me, it really started not so much with me knowing, but knowing with increasing certainty that someone else knew."

Growing up in a non-religious family, I had no belief in God, nor "feel" for spirituality, at all. But I recall that when I began to read philosophy, I noticed that a great many great thinkers did believe in God, and I recall deciding to be agnostic, pending further investigation. Over the years, amongst people and authors who I felt described reality most accurately, I noticed that the acceptance of God, by one description or other, was nigh-unanimous. Also, this testimony emerged from all traditions in all times, as far as I could determine.

Of course, everyone comes to such understandings in their own way, and someone else might have been unimpressed by what I considered "Evidence" -- or, by selecting for other types of data, reached a different conclusion. But certainly, noting that "someone else knew" was where the search began for me.

A long-winded "Me too" to what Johan said.

9/06/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger J. Peden said...

At the risk of introducing more opacity into my alleged clarification, as well as some provocation, let me say that I tend to subscribe to this statement by Luther Standing Bear, Ota Kte, Oglala Sioux:

"For after all the great religions have been preached and expounded, or have been revealed by brilliant scholars, or have been written in fine books and embellished in fine language with finer covers, man -- all man -- is still confronted with the Great Mystery."

It's not that the Great Mystery can't be known because of its very mystery, but instead that we are always "confronted with" it and in fact can see it very clearly if we look, in all of its mysteriousness - a feature which I take to be an invitation to wonder and see further, not an impediment.

At which point perhaps I can also refer to Bob's statement that, "Many of the most important truths are known simply by their 'superabundance of clarity,' by pure intellect, not by the reason which us its servant. Reason is not Intelligence in itself, only an instrument of intelligence", and say that I subscribe to it also, given Bob's definition of reason as not encompassing intelligence.

Imo, we are necessarily confronted with the Great Mystery, regardless - though many people seem to be spending most of their time trying to avoid this confrontation as opposed to seeing it as nearly all-important.

So, in brief, I have simply chosen to conceive of the Great Mystery as the Universe, which I claim encompasses everything, and therefore also as the ultimately not-finally-understandable* processes of the Universe, which I see as, nevertheless, having most wonderously created us and our amazing capacitiy and desire to understand the Universe - on something like Bob's "vertical" plane, that is, apart from a merely materialistic, scientific understanding of how things work, yet as necessarily connected to us as its part and creation.

In "my schema", the Universe has created an entity which wants to understand the Universe. That's the amazing thing, imo.

Well, since that might not have worked very well, either, I better quit while I can still see some light above my head.

*what I mean by this is that even a scientific Theory of Everything would not explain itself, which I think was well-stated in Bob's post, too.

9/06/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"This implies that the Christian (or some other "church")creates God rather than the other way around, doesn't it?"

I don't think so, Maineman. If we suppose there's a deity creating religion(s), let's suggest it's probable that he hasn't created all of them, or at least that not all of them are correct (I guess we could argue that they're all correct, too, though we will end up with a number of contradictions that way). So, to say a "churchgoer", implying specific religion(s), knows more than an atheist is to suggest that a particular religious branch is correct.

If you agree that some religions are incorrect, then clearly some people may be led into false beliefs by their faith. Some theists may be far more subject to narcissistic perspectives due to their beliefs about their deity. I am under the impression that not too many here agree with Islam, particularly the aggressively vicious sects which hold beliefs which encourage slaughtering people who've done nothing to them. If the Christian belief is correct, the beliefs of this brand of Islam would put them at least on equal footing with atheists, if not lesser footing in getting at truth.

Certainly, Julie, I'm aware of Bob's history and the angle here seems to be more deist than doctrinaire. He could replace "churchgoer" with "theist" or insert "Judeo-Christian" (or whatever) before "Creator" to have the phrase be more sensible.

The only reason I think this makes much of a difference at all is that there's a lot less consensus on the "intuitive acceptance and understanding of that to which faith points" among theists generally than among a specific religion.

I'd be curious, julie, what might happen if one of your husband's friends came over to watch the game, and he and your husband disagreed. Suppose one of them said the formation was for a screen pass and the other said it was for a handoff to the halfback. They argue about it back and forth, and don't come to an agreement. Are you still convinced either of them know? Are you convinced someone else does, if neither of them do?

Thank you for the insight into your own development, walt.

9/06/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

CL: "They argue about it back and forth, and don't come to an agreement. Are you still convinced either of them know?"

Isn't the point that there is a game, there are rules, there is a victory? At some point-of-origin hegemonic level. Thus the argument itself, in the metaphor you have described, suggests someone knows how it works, in at least a pragmatically approximate fashion. Or at least, better than "I" do.

Otherwise, one is clinging to the rather blinkered idea that one's own level of knowledge/ignorance necessarily sets the pace for humankind in this important matter. Unbecoming and unlikely for any of us...

9/06/2007 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Thank you, Dilys - you just put it much better than I could have. I would add only that my opinion as to who was correct would depend mightily upon how familiar my husband's friend was with the game compared to him, in combination with the actual results of the play. Also, I might add that one of the interesting things about sports, and indeed about life, is that often even the best of players, coaches and referees, who presumably know far more than we armchair quarterbacks, sometimes get it wrong. This does not mean, usually, that they are just making it up as they go along (even if it sometimes seems that way).

9/06/2007 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

From wiki:

The possiblities defined by Pascal's Wager can be expanded more fully, though it should be noted that Pascal did not address the last two possibilities explicitly in his account, nor did he mention hell.

You live as though God exists.

▪ If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
▪ If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

You live as though God does not exist.

▪ If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
▪ If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

With these possibilities, and the principles of statistics, Pascal attempted to demonstrate that the only prudent course of action is to live as if God exists. It is a simple application of game theory (to which Pascal had made important contributions).

9/06/2007 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Voltron said...

"A leftist will put his faith in a Paul Krugman or Robert Reich..."

I know some leftists who put their faith in Wilhelm Reich does that count?
LOL

(where did I put that damn orgone accumulator?)



HEY! That reminds me, bob likes music, I wonder what he thinks of "Hawkwind"?

"I've got an Orgone Accumulator
It makes me feel greater
I'll see you sometime later
When I'm through with my Accumulator

It's no social integrator
It's a one man isolator
It's a back brain stimulator
It's a cerebral vibrator

Those energy stimulator's
Turn your eyeballs into craters
But an Orgone Accumulator
It's a superman creator"

9/06/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger E6B said...

I love the brilliant analogies (and puns) in your posts, but, as a dog trainer since my Army days, I disagree with the writer of the article that Magnus quoted. (I wouldn’t bother to mention this except that you have a pup that you are training. [I’ve raised a son, also; it’s roughly the same process.]).

A dog’s response to its owner pointing is learned during the “fetch” phase of play or training. They remember the “follow through” of the tossing hand as they watch the “prey” item fly downrange. As they mature, your hand pointing triggers the “look” or “follow” response.

I haven’t done it but I’m sure a wolf will learn this as well. There are some good documentaries on wolves in which you will see that, although the alpha doesn’t point with his paw, his body language clearly tells the others where to look.

As for chimps. . .I’m pretty sure that they are just hairy little human boys.

Pat

9/06/2007 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Tossed Salad said...

God is best approached via a very crisp head of Romaine lettuce, some vine ripened tomatoes and an aged balsamic vinagrette.

9/06/2007 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

Blah, blah, blah. You don't have to go too far into what Paul wrote to the Romans a couple thousand years ago. The TRUTH is known by ALL...EVERYTHING points to it. You can, however CHOOSE to REFUSE. There's the rub.

9/06/2007 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Van said...

cryptlife said "If you agree that some religions are incorrect, then clearly some people may be led into false beliefs by their faith. Some theists may be far more subject to narcissistic perspectives due to their beliefs about their deity. I am under the impression ... blah...blah..."

Ah, the risky business of banality. Missed this part I guess:

"Naturally there are many forms of stupid religion, for there is nothing touched by humans wonkers that cannot be made stupid. But at least religion as such does not exclude the possibility and priority of Intelligence, and therefore, Truth. "


Too tired to say more, fortunately it doesn't really need saying.

It's really annoying when trivial things like work get in the way of important things like slackin' at the OC.

9/07/2007 12:09:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Crypticlife:
Have you ever tried to keep track of how much mental energy you expend defending yourself against the existence of God? Are you looking for that one sure airtight reason to disbelieve? (I know people have them) Or maybe you can confirm your disbelief if you win an argument with a really really smart person of faith. Maybe convert them to agnosticism, or something.
And then you'd win and- what?
Here's the rub. Both faith and disbelief require an investment of energy and effort. Some people do seem to have a natural born faith. It's as much a part of them as their smile. There are natural born atheists as well. But that's not you, or you wouldn't be here.
But I'm not telling you anything new when I say that faith has not come easily to most of the regular folks here. It takes work. Just ask Theresa.
You have invested a lot of energy into disbelief. How's the payoff?

JWM

9/07/2007 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger phil g said...

Krugman is a WANKER. He is either a liarer (probably) or is educated beyond his intelligence (quite likely).

9/07/2007 04:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

The illustrated Finger to Atheist Wonkers.

9/07/2007 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Mizze, I almost ruined my keyboard just now. Fortunately, I swallowed my coffee before I clicked the link.

9/07/2007 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

Not really, Van. Just not excluding truth doesn't mean you won't get to complete falsehood.

Interesting post, jwm. The energy I invest is actually in being here and posting, not in the belief itself. I could go away, maintain my beliefs, and save energy. As for the energy I spend here, I think the payoff has been rather well worth it so far. It is largely fruitless for me to post on atheistic websites for various reasons.

"Isn't the point that there is a game, there are rules, there is a victory?"

Indeed it is. And in the football analogy, it's beyond any doubt there is a game, rules, and victory. However, in the debate between theists and nontheists, that is precisely the question.

Suppose instead on the screen, there are a bunch of people running around, some holding hands. Some may argue it's a complex game, and try to explain the rules. Others may disagree and propose different rules. And still others will claim it's not a game at all, but that there is some other survival impulse causing the people to act that way (maybe a nearby volcano unseen offscreen or something). Or maybe they all have different motivations.

There may be a game, and there may not, but just because some assert vigorously that there is doesn't mean they're not ignorant of whether there actually is one or not.

voltron,

I'll assume you're familiar with the various atheistic arguments on Pascal's Wager? I notice you say "live as though God exists" not "believe God exists" -- certainly accurate, though the distinction becomes a bit murky as many religions demand belief in their deity. Even if I were to follow the 10C's, as an atheist I still would have no access to the "infinite" rewards Christianity (for example) offers.

9/07/2007 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger CrypticLife said...

"one's own level of knowledge/ignorance "

Which, arguably, is why I look for someone whose level of ignorance is less than mine. Though, I do gain benefit out of the search itself, even if no such person exists.

9/07/2007 08:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voltron:

I'll take your Wilhelm Reich and raise you a Francis E Dec, Esq:

"FRANKENSTEIN EARPHONE RADIO CONTROLS! THE BIT OF BONE REMOVED! THE FRANKENSTEIN EYESIGHT TELEVISION! MAKE COPIES FOR YOURSELF! THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS COMMUNIST GANGSTER COMPUTER GOD ON THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON PARROTING PUPPET GANGSTER ASSASSINS THROUGH FRANKENSTEIN EARPHONE RADIO CONTROLS!"

-- an aficionado of The Weird

9/07/2007 09:34:00 AM  

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