Monday, July 21, 2008

Proof of Proof is Proof of God

Oops! I was suddenly called away early to work. I'm going to quickly skim this to make sure it makes minimal sense, then I'm outta here. Forgive typos and other infelicities.

****

First some unfinished isness before we begin. It's too short a subject to justify a post, but probably too important to warrant just a comment. But the other day, a commenter suggested that I was being a little unfair about Alan Watts. So let's put it this way: if you folks discovered that I was actually an alcoholic and an indifferent and irresponsible father with a spanking fetish, would it make any difference to you?

Would you look at my writings in a different way, if my main purpose in composing them were to trawl for Raccoon chicks and impress them with my continental charm and buoyant repartee? If I enjoyed going on speaking tours of college campuses not because that's where the ignoramuses are, but because that where the nubile babes are?

Here's the point: what I write and who I am are absolutely of a piece. In fact, if they weren't, I would have no right to say them. You will never learn anything about me that surprises you in a negative way, unless it is something that happened 30 years ago, which I enjoy writing about anyway, since it's mostly just funny rather than malicious.

Everything I write is a realized and assimilated truth (or at least "on the way" to it), not just "intellectually," but in terms of being. For better or worse, the writing comes from who I am, not what I think -- which is the only way I can do it on a daily basis. Along these lines, I'm currently reading an excellent book about Plotinus, and he clearly had the same attitude -- more on which later, because this is starting to turn into a post, when I just meant for it to be a quick thought.

I wanted to offer some reflections on something I read at Just Thomism, entitled Evidence For God. I'm going to expand upon it a bit for the purposes of drawing attention to myself and impressing the chicks, but if you read the post, you will see that I am largely playgiaphrasing with the original.

If someone asks what the evidence is for the expanding universe, one could give a simple three word answer: “the red shift.” However, this answer is unlikely to be persuasive or even make sense to someone who doesn't already have a background in science. For example, if you say it to a primitive person, or to someone with a high school diploma from one of our liberal-run schools, they will probably just give you a blank stare.

Furthermore, even if you ask the average person why they believe in the big bang, or global warming, they won't be able to tell you. Rather, they will simply be relying upon authority, or "thinking with the head of another." Suffice it to say that you are in much safer hands if you are "thinking with the head of Aquinas" than with the head of Dawkins. To "think" in the latter manner is to accept materialism on faith and authority -- except that there is no "truth" or "understanding" at the end of the line, just incomprehensibility and absurdity. This is "stupidity as such" masquerading as wisdom.

You could go on to provide a basic explanation of the red shift based upon the behavior of light we see from distant parts of the universe, but this is again unlikely to be convincing enough to overturn the common sense and everyday empirical observation of a scientifically untutored person who can see with his own eyes that the universe is obviously not expanding.

In an analogous way, if someone asks for evidence of God, we might say "truth," or "beauty," or "virtue." For a soul of sufficient purity and depth, this will be an adequate argument, especially once the implications are fully appreciated and worked out in an ontologically consistent manner. However, materialists, Darwinists, Lizards, and other metaphysical yahoos imagine that they can reject the whole of religion based upon a single argument taken out of context, just as a savage could reject the big bang based upon the obvious empirical evidence that refutes it.

Thus, as Just Thomism explains, both types of primitives "want more than evidence; they want the whole science by which their mind could be moved by the evidence" (emphasis mine). They essentially want to see the tree that will prove the existence of the forest, when the forest is on a different ontological level than the tree.

Do you see the dilemma? We get the occasional materialistic barbarian who demands "proof of God," but this is certainly no less difficult to provide than proof of the Big Bang to an eight year-old, which, even if you accept it, doesn't mean you actually understand it. Rather, you are accepting it based upon the authority of hordes of scientists who have worked out the math and physics to come up with the theory, a theory that is also grounded in a paradigm full of assumptions about how the universe works. In turn, many of these assumptions cannot be accounted for by the paradigm, as per Gödel, but the experts don't concern themselves with that. Science is science, not metaphysics, so few scientists care that their paradigm is irrevocably incomplete or inconsistent.

Bear in mind that we are usually dealing with an unintelligent person who is demanding evidence that would satisfy his intellect. Now, this is something I could never do, as I have long since forgotten how to be so stupid. In this regard, I take full responsibility for my failure to persuade trolls that the Permanent Real necessarily exists as a first principle. Likewise, in order for my intellect to be persuaded by the arguments of Dawkins, or Harris, or Charles Johnson, I would have to extinguish my intellect and become stupid, plus ignore years of experiential/phenomenological evidence.

First of all, mere logic and evidence are going to be insufficient for these people, being that they are not inclined to accept it to begin with, nor are they willing to undergo the traditional means of verifying the truths of religion. Furthermore, Just Thomism makes the key point that "what is usually meant by evidence" for the flatland materialist is evidence that will be persuasive to a hostile opponent in the heated context of a verbal combat or short debate -- or “evidence that I can just look at and immediately understand the whole scientific or religious structure in which it reveals itself as evidence.”

As Just Thomism properly notes, "Under this restriction, there is no 'evidence' for God’s existence, or for any other scientific, mathematical, logical, or academic truth." Also, Schuon notes that "in the spiritual order a proof is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand, and who, by virtue of this wish, has already in some measure understood; it is of no practical use to one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his position, and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire."

But this is true of all proof. O.J. is innocent to those who wish to believe it, just as "Bush Lied" is a dogma for the liars of the left. You could go so far as to say that truth only applies to good and honest people, but that doesn't mean that we don't hold the bad and dishonest ones to account, or invent a new truth that conforms to their wishes and doesn't bruise their feelings. But this is the essence of the compassionate left: truth as comforter, rather than truth as True.

Thus, logical "proofs of God" aren't really necessary. For example, it is more common for people to arrive at God through "spontaneous intuition which, if it is authentic, necessarily contains in an infused manner the certitude transmitted by the proofs of God or of the supernatural" (Schuon). Again: something is not true because it is logical, but logical because it is true, especially when we are dealing with truth of this order.

Another important point is that human intelligence "coincides in its essence with certainty of the Absolute." The existence of the Absolute is the first principle of any coherent metaphysics, whether "secular" or religious, as it is the condition without which there can be neither coherent thought nor communication of truth. But for the average man, "awareness of 'accidents' has stifled the intuitive awareness of 'Substance'; hence an intelligence that is systematically superficial, fixed upon a fragmentary reality."

Now, I have no objection to the existence of these people. They are often the "intellectual worker bees," and they have their role to play in elaborating the periphery of this or that relative domain. Again, the problems begin when this relativity is absurdly elevated to the Absolute, which ushers in the wrecking ball that brings down both religion and intelligence. These tenured children are completely blind to the fact that if their stance were correct, "we could never prove anything at all."

In a certain sense, proof itself is proof of the supernatural, being that it obviously exists in a realm above matter. The metaphysical transparency of the world is all the proof the Raccoon requires, but all men are not Raccoons, and I do not write for the wider non-Raccoon world. In short, while truth is surely unqualified, it takes a qualified person to realize that.

There is a translogical component to acceptance of any truth. We are not merely "logic machines." In other words, we must make a free act of assent to truth, and this cannot be reduced to the principles of logic. For example, there is no logical proof that one should abide by logic. What if I want to live a life a life guided by absolute spontaneity and transgression of logic, like people who live in San Francisco?

75 Comments:

Blogger walt said...

"What if I want to live a life a life guided by absolute spontaneity and transgression of logic, like people who live in San Francisco?" Or, near that city, in Richardson Bay, on the SS Vallejo?

Though Watts was one of many influences in my life and times, I thought your comment the other day, that he "had squandered the gift," was remarkably complete.

So often so-called "spontaneity" -- just as has been discussed here about "freedom" -- is squandered as "spontaneity to", rather than an expression of being, which would be "spontaneity for."

7/21/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: "Imagine you seriously want to understand what quantum mechanics is about. There is a mathematical underpinning that you must first aquire, mastery of each mathematical subdiscipline leading you to the threshold of the next. In turn you must learn arithmetic, Euclidean geometry, high school algebra, differential and integral calculus, ordinary and partial differential equations, vector calculus, certain special functions of mathematical physics, matrix algebra, and group theory. For most physics students, this might occupy them from, say, third grade to early graduate school -- roughly 15 years. Such a course of study does not actually involve learning any quantum mechanics, but merely establishing the mathematical framework required to approach it deeply... So how is a shamanistic or theological or New Age doctrine different from quantum mechanics? The answer is that even if we cannot understand it, we can verify that it works... the predictions of quantum mechanics are strikingly, and to high accuracy, confirmed."

Not quite the same thing as Bob's talking about, of course. On the other hand, some of the 'predictions' of the model here, as I've mentioned, don't match my experiences.

It's also worth reading today's post in mirror image. Imagine it had been an atheist writing regarding "one who, deep in his heart, does not want to change his position, and whose philosophy merely expresses this desire." Would the same words seem as impressive if they were spoken for the 'other side'?

Sagan cites Morris Cohen, in Reason and Nature: "To be sure, the vast majority of people who are untrained can accept the results of science only on authority. But there is obviously an important difference between an establishment that is open and invites every one to come, study its methods, and suggest improvement, and one that regards the questioning of credentials as due to wickedness of heart, such as [Cardinal] Newman attributed to those who questioned the infallibility of the Bible... Rational science treats its credit notes as always redeemable on demand, while non-rational authoritarianism regards the demand for the redemption of its paper as a disloyal lack of faith."

(Not saying that that's a common attitude here, exactly, but y'all might want to watch yourself for signs of such an attitude from time to time.)

7/21/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Everything I write is a realized and assimilated truth (or at least "on the way" to it), not just "intellectually," but in terms of being. For better or worse, the writing comes from who I am, not what I think -- which is the only way I can do it on a daily basis. Along these lines, I'm currently reading an excellent book about Plotinus, and he clearly had the same attitude"

Had to stop reading there for a moment, I was syncoonistically thinking of Plotinus last night. After reading Saturdays post, and the comments on meditating and focusing, I was thinking that holding the thought of a Truth in mind, focusing on that... knowing that we as creatures of the Logos, we can proceed down in thought to the Three Axioms (which ever way you phrase it:
Philosophically as 1. Existence exists, 2. what exists, exists as that which it is - Identity, and 3. Consciousness is that which grasps this,
or Poetically/Religiously as The Good, The Beautiful and The True, or The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost
) and no further - every thought we have, involves all three, one cannot be used to prove the other without referencing itself in a never ending circular reference - they just Are, Axioms, the ground floor of all our Thought. We cannot proceed beyond them (one of the errors of Humian and scientifismic skepticism, is that it tries to establish existence without referencing consciousness, or the Descartesian flipside of grasping Consciousness without reference to existence), but with that being a given, if a Truth is contemplated upon, clearly, to its essentials, might it resonate with that which they ultimately are of, does it reach beyond the Three wall... or establish a sympathetic vibration through it...?

That took me to Plotinus, and the One which precedes thought, and Beauty:

"Then again, all the virtues are a beauty of the soul, a beauty authentic beyond any of these others; but how does symmetry enter here? The soul, it is true, is not a simple unity, but still its virtue cannot have the symmetry of size or of number: what standard of measurement could preside over the compromise or the coalescence of the soul’s faculties or purposes?

Finally, how by this theory would there be beauty in the Intellectual-Principle, essentially the solitary?

2. Let us, then, go back to the source, and indicate at once the Principle that bestows beauty on material things.

Undoubtedly this Principle exists; it is something that is perceived at the first glance, something which the soul names as from an ancient knowledge and, recognising, welcomes it, enters into unison with it.

But let the soul fall in with the Ugly and at once it shrinks within itself, denies the thing, turns away from it, not accordant, resenting it.
"

Those easy going non-judgmentalists, pacIfists, integralists and other leftists who claim that it is ok and even cool & contradictorily Deep to live lives after Watt's example, attack that which is One ("...a realized and assimilated truth (or at least "on the way" to it), not just "intellectually," but in terms of being..."), pursue ugliness and shatter their Own selves.

On the other hand whether in the actions of your daily life, or in moments that you focus upon, or meditate upon an Object, something of Beauty, or a fundamental Truth... are you not engaged in the same actions? Towards the same ends? The integrative ideal of the Three of One of The Good, The Beautiful and The True?

And then it was off to bed... and now back to work... and today's post, as able.

7/21/2008 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

(Ah, Ray, it's good to know that we can always count on you to demonstrate the truth of Bob's point, precisely.

Okay, back to blogcation)

7/21/2008 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Ray said:

"On the other hand, some of the 'predictions' of the model here, as I've mentioned, don't match my experiences."

It helps, for quality checking purposes, if you provide a self-referential link to yourself, or even a link to Van if you feel like it.

Not that you're a troll. Or that you need to be quality checked. But it makes argument easier and more productive.

I also noticed that "Ray's math fact of the day" is more abstact that usual.

7/21/2008 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous coonified said...

"something is not logical because it is true, but true because it is logical"

I think that's backward ain't it? Something is logical because it's true, not true because it's logical. Truth is primary, and logic is a horizontal reflection of that truth.



On the topic of Watts:

I discovered and devoured his lectures at 19 after first being attracted by his eloquent voice on the local collage radio station. Compared to what I was coming out of at the time, he was a light in the darkness.

Though, I never could think of him as a guru because of some of the things that he said, like the purpose of life being coitus, or the perpetuation and interdependence of light and darkness, what seems to be a blatant and eternal insult to the person. I'm glad he happened, though. Some people on earth seem to be given natural gifts in order to accomplish a specific task, or maintain balance. This probably has little to do with who they are as a spiritual being beyond this life.

7/21/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous bob at work said...

coonified -- that's correct. No time to fix.

7/21/2008 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Ray

Don't worry Christ already spoke about you.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6-44

Wish I could help you out, which way did you come in ;-)

7/21/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Warren said...

"The existence of the Absolute is the first principle of any coherent metaphysics"

Agree. This is, in fact, the main problem I have always had with Buddhism (to tie this in to last week's post), which denies the existence of an Absolute.

Re Watts: To his credit, he's fairly honest about what he is (if you read between the lines a little bit), especially in his autobiography, "In My Own Way". Also a few of Watts' early books remain well worth reading, such as "The Supreme Identity", written when he was an Episcopal priest (!) and very much under the influence of Rene Guenon.

7/21/2008 10:58:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Godel - a big name in my thought. He showed that any sufficiently powerful system, like math, that has the possibility of describing the All in a verifiable and repeatable way will also have within it the capacity for generating propositions of self reference which are unverifiable in the system.

That is a huge statement.

It means that no matter what I do to close the circle of metaphysics these statements will remain and demand verification outside of metaphysics, by which I would guess that means in experience. Thus the fundamental correctness of stating that the fact of proof in any way demands God, but that cannot be a statement in the system but about the system. A meta metaphysics.

In philosophy that is called one of two things: tautology or an axiom depending on one's take and just at this moment, I recall Schuon's assertion that any religious system, which would include the Perennial Philosophy itself, can be criticized from outside.

If that is a condition of thought in itself, then I would hesitate to call people who have difficulty with certain conclusions or starting points dumb. Scientists love absolutes. They do. They like the laws they discover to be true for all time and space. They hate quantum mechanics for the enforcement of statistical fuzziness that the experimental results demand. Some of these guys are atheists on a variety of grounds. The point that the Rayman was making as I saw it is that with the rigorous training involved, that weeds out dullards, then the issue is not stupidity. Since they are otherwise perfectly ordinary citizens, some even Republican and Bush supporters, then at least in some cases it is not malevolence either.

Sometimes I wonder if God leads in this matter of belief in Him. If God decided to hide Himself from me from the beginning so securely that even my willingness to believe couldn't work (which happens to some of us in the middle of the Dark Night even as believers), then what would I in all sincerity do? Just a thought experiment.

My dad was atheist. My mom was not. I was lost until it all changed for me. Thank you Father.

Don't try to make all this fit together. Like GBob I have taken work time to write this.

7/21/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Alan said...

Ray: Implicit in your post in how you approach learning quantum mechanics is the fact of required submission to an authority you believe to know the truth and to transmit if faithfully.

How can you learn if you don't believe that a teacher is teaching you truthfully?

One must submit to their own ignorance before being able to learn. As well, one must provisionally accept a truth until one has properly learned it to the point of being able to test it themselves.

If I don't believe that 1+1=2, I'm never getting to quantum mechanics. If I don't believe in Truth, I'm never getting to God.

True, there are many in Christianity who don't believe that Truth is knowable (only faith-able) - however, there are strains of exactly what you say you require - rationality, openness to testing, etc).

7/21/2008 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Robin Starfish said...

Carlos Casteneda had more early influence on me than Watts, and like Watts his lifestyle was similarly decadent if some accounts are to be believed.

I treat some of these guys as I do musicians - Miles Davis, Sinatra, or Coltrane - all less than stellar examples of whole beings but who left behind some transcendent and timeless jewels in spite of their weaknesses.

Nevertheless, if Bob were a scoundrel who in spite of himself still channeled Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the Raccoonosphere wouldn't exist. It's the real-ization and assimilation that make the OC difference as they so profoundly and consistently penetrate to the Essential. I never get the impression that Raccoons are interested in using O, but in living in O.

So as long I understand that, I experience no cognitive dissonance in being uplifted by a Miles solo. It's Opples and Oranges.

7/21/2008 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous ximeze said...

Ray,
Bob & others here are not trying to obscure anything. Rather the reverse: it's hidden in plain sight, for those who Can See. Nobody is withholding a secret treasure, wrapped in a ball, that can be handed over as a unit to someone else.

Why do some 'get it' while others 'don't'? Beat's me. It seems to either makes sense as Truth to someone, or it doesn't .

We've often discussed here whether some sort of 'capacity to See' isn't involved from the get-go. Some of us would call that Grace or the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Can it be learned? Have no idea as to other people, since it's always made sense to me. Perhaps other Raccoons will weigh-in as to that.

You've written in the past that you had schooling in Catholic institutions, haven't you? Are you quite sure that your stubborn resistance to Seeing isn't a holdover from being endlessly drilled by The Penguins?

7/21/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Warren, not to belabor the point I have been making in many different ways, but here goes one more time.

Buddhism does not deny the Absolute. Buddhism says that the practice which facilitates freedom does not require the Absolute for its success somewhere down the line. I am not aware of any place in Buddhism which says that the Absolute cannot participate in that practice should I want His participation.

Pure Land Buddhism includes worship of Amida Buddha. It is the most popular Buddhism in Japan and is growing here in the US.

7/21/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Robin - indeed.

7/21/2008 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous ersamus said...

christopher says:

"Buddhism does not deny the Absolute. Buddhism says that the practice which facilitates freedom does not require the Absolute for its success somewhere down the line."

Kind of like citizens of a city who don't care where the electricity comes from as long as they can still turn on the lights.

7/21/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Referring to the "capacity to see," Ximeze rhetorically asked, "Can it be learned?"

We could debate this with 'yes' and 'no,' and find quotes to justify our positions. But I, myself, think we cannot answer this for sure, i.e. ultimately.

However, we can answer it conditionally, and simply -- we know from experience there is "movement," that there are "degrees of seeing" possible -- we can see this by looking back, in retrospect -- and we can observe "growth" in organic life all around us.

So it seems pretty likely that our "capacity" can be enhanced, that our "seeing" can be made clearer, that the divine spark does respond when fanned -- these are all simple observations we can make for ourselves. And in the context of Tradition or religion they will lean toward being.

7/21/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

"a proof is of assistance only to the man who wishes to understand"

How true.

I think you hit it, Robin. Most days we seem happy just to hang out with God.

7/21/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Johan said...

Since I saw that Ximeze asked in the comments of a earlier post...

Definition of good life:
Eight o'clock Saturday evening, a clear blue sky, a warm summer breeze, lovely girlfriend by my side, cold beer in my hand, and a nice crowd of people around us, watching Van Morrison live at Stockholm Jazz Festival.

Even if I think that he was in a good mode, but was performing a lot on routine, what a great routine!

"Behind the ritual, is the spiritual."

Gotta say thank you to all of you here who has been promoting the guy all the time I've stuck around.

Now I'm going to read todays posting.

7/21/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Walt said:

"Referring to the "capacity to see," Ximeze rhetorically asked, "Can it be learned?"

We could debate this with 'yes' and 'no,' and find quotes to justify our positions. But I, myself, think we cannot answer this for sure, i.e. ultimately."

I'm going with the assumption that free will is involved - i.e. a choice has to be made.

I think that Christopher made some sort of choice when he stuck his hand in a spiritual light socket - before he went to East Pakistan. Christoper would have to be the one who would explain whatever he was doing at the time.

I'm more inclined to use the Ben USN (Ret) "Just ask" approach rather than the light socket approach. I don't want to run around thinking about the sentience of asparagus. (Although in Christopher's defense, plants do "talk" to each other using chemicals and seem to "like" certain music)

Ray can probably run around all day asserting that he's a "weak atheist" (I think that's what I got from his F.A.Q.) and have nothing whasoever happen.

7/21/2008 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Johan said...

I guess it is as simple as to say that since God is a peronal god, then you can have only "personal evidence", i.e. personal experience of God.

Anyone who wants you to prove God to them are just lazy bastards, incabale of bringing their minds in tune with the will of the heart.

7/21/2008 01:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

Speaking of the of the True, the Beautiful, and the Good (as Van did in his post), here is a great quote from the pope a couple days ago that seems pertinent to much of the recent discussion around these parts:

"Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose (cf. Gen 1:28)! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy. Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth."

Speaking of the pope, Bob (hey I like the sound of that--Pope Bob), it would be great sometime if you could do a couple day discussion of one of Benedict's books as you have done with so many other books (maybe his book on Jesus). Pope Bendict is the first pope in some time who is a true professional philopsopher, and one learned in many areas beyond christian and cathloic theology, so it would be interesting to hear your take from a coonish view.

I must say that I have been quite taken with Pope Bendict, something that would not have been expected given my background. One, in the great grace, light, and kindness that comes through him (as I think you noted Bob) and two in his stunning words in his homilies and other talks. I was riveted to his recent trip to the US and have been watching the World Youth Day proceedings as well.

7/21/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger BabbaZee said...

Gagdad

I love you with all my heart and half my pancreas

I am linking this in tomorrow's "Missing Links"

Check out Titus Quinticus Cincinaticus if you have not yet

http://recrudescentreligion.wordpress.com/

7/21/2008 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

But what about people who never, never, feel that emotional connection with "God". People who have grown up going to church and learning all the right verses and phrases and rituals yet they still do not receive an emotional "Truth" connection to "God"? If all they have to fall back on is a desire for a logical knowledge of the existence of God based on how plants look, or the way society was shaped. Does that make their "relationship" any less valid? Or perhaps someone who once had a relationship and years of working within the structure and ritual of the Christian church drained that relationship of all joy and feeling? Is their knowledge that at one time their belief was true enough or does their need to be a form of evidence?..........(I trail off here, confused and upset as is really the norm for me.)

7/21/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If I were a psychologist, I might suggest that you need psychotherapy. Usually there is a psychological barrier that must be overcome one way or the other, i.e., through some sort of unplanned breakdown when your life hits its designaughted cul de suck, or through the "controlled breakdown" of real therapy.

7/21/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

erasmus said

"Buddhism does not deny the Absolute. Buddhism says that the practice which facilitates freedom does not require the Absolute for its success somewhere down the line."

Kind of like citizens of a city who don't care where the electricity comes from as long as they can still turn on the lights.


Damn! youse guys is good!

Exactly like that, and with the supreme confidence that God Loves to be used. To my understanding, Buddha felt God to be so self evident and benevolent that understanding and knowing Him was beside any effective point. He felt the suffering/suffocating to be so critical that working to lessen it, even erase it was the emergency triage. The rest would take care of itself when there was time.

7/21/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Lance, I'll leave the wise advice to our Dear Leader.

Myself, I don't trust emotions much -- they are transitory and, while they made help motivate initially, they will not sustain you.

I do know how you feel -- doing the right thing but not getting much "out of it" myself.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Read that whole 11th chapter of Hebrews and you will see lots of people going just on faith.

It may be a dry season but you know the truth and you're not going to give it up. I'll be praying with you.

7/21/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

"Buddhism does not deny the Absolute."

Christopher,

This would have been very big news to all the great Buddhist and Vedantic philosophers of a millenium ago, since this was the central focus of the fierce debate between the two schools that raged in India for centuries. (BTW, the Buddhists were always claiming to be totally misunderstood by their opponents even back then, although there were certainly no "translation problems", all parties sharing a common language.)

But I certainly agree with you that, to the extent that Buddhism is a Way rather than a philosophy, it has no use for such questions. Buddhist philosophers, on the other hand, have for the most part denied the existence of an Absolute - although to be fair, they have usually gone all post-modern (even the ancient ones :-) and also denied the non-existence of an Absolute. Which I never really understood, since Gautama in the Pali texts affirms an Absolute (without calling it that) quite clearly and unambiguously.

7/21/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leave the gays alone!

7/21/2008 02:31:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

erasmus said

"I think that Christopher made some sort of choice when he stuck his hand in a spiritual light socket - before he went to East Pakistan. Christoper would have to be the one who would explain whatever he was doing at the time."

I was in despair. Life had become intolerable and I knew I was going to die of it somehow. Something was wrong with me or the world. I didn't know which and didn't care. I was terrified. I just wanted it over. That night I was looking for a way out and got smacked sideways with this lightsocket thing. It was not in any way what I was looking for. I was not a religious boy.

The most accurate thing I can say about it was God decided I needed an intervention. To Him, it was worth the price I was going to pay. So He did a battlefield triage on me in a run down apartment in San Jose.

Battlefield triage - That's the operation under nasty conditions, where the medic hopes you don't die from it or its complications but that you certainly will die from not having the operation. That's the consequence of this kind of radical stretch in the absence of preparation - of not working with a master or even taking guidance and discipline from a book, not being anything like ready and then having everything change. The time itself was joyous and everything anyone else has to say about it, but it shattered me.

The odd thing about that sort of mind space is that the insides and the outsides are so out of synch. People will see you as one way and you will be thinking another. I have journals from the next few years and they are remarkably depressed from my current eyes. I would have sworn to you I was not depressed then.

For a long time, not knowing how dangerous my condition had become I simply said I entered God's mansion not through the front door but around the back, the servant's entrance. I was excited by that experience and driven by it. And of course I still am.

As for asparagus, I love to eat it often if I can, hardly ever hear the screams. Yet I still will take serious that all sentience is involved from the Buddhist perspective. There are many Buddhists who are careful and precise in the disciplines of living and eating to utterly minimize adding to their karma.

7/21/2008 02:34:00 PM  
OpenID thomism said...

Bob,

This is true not just of scientific evidence and religious evidence, but it might be clearest in moral evidence, where "moral" is understood broadly as any evaluation of what is good for human beings as such. The evidence that the rule of law is better than the arbitrary will of a strong man is about as obvious as it gets (so much so that we figure if other cultures just see it they'll go for it), but its surprising the number of people who don't see the evidence for this. Every kind of learning or knowledge is based on fundamental awarenesses that aren't learned- and which can easily be denied at least in speech.

A sense of humor might be a less controversial point. I remember hitting on Dallas girls (long ago) and I was struck by how often you would tell a joke that would have the rest of the world rolling on the ground, but the Dallas girls would just look at you and say "yer so FUNny!" What can you do? Nothing is more humorless than explaining humor; how much of explaining religion is religious? You can't explain people into laughter or salvation. One has a little more of an ability to explain relious impulses, and we even have an obligation to do our best to explain, but our power is not Absolute.

7/21/2008 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Warren, there you go, stating that Gotama himself never denied the absolute. I am afraid I don't know that much about the later history, not Buddhist enough to see the point of it. The Hindus won to the effect that Buddhism doesn't have much presence in India. Lately the Untouchables are embracing it, I read in Tricycle. This Indian dispute and my holding to the words of Gotama reminds me of the fairly recent efforts to sift the Gospels for what is authentically Jesus, identifying the later dogmatic insertions of the early church.

But there is a difference in that the Buddhist canon records a much longer teaching life of the Master. As for me, I am more Hindu than Buddhist for just that reason, that I want, must have God. Even this is a migration from my early years, when Taoism seemed the best language to think in when I looked at what happened to me that one night.

7/21/2008 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous christopher said...

Y'know what??

I just had a thought that the religious argument between Hindus and Buddhists had real emotional heat to it. I read in Schuon that if the Buddhist vision is right then Vedanta is voided :)

They were fighting for survival. In that atmosphere everything will harden like diamond and the truth will distort in the light and heat of it all. Neither side was probably speaking Truth in the critical moments.

Hinduism won in India but the world has more Buddhists, I think...

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi.

7/21/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Lizard does not seek proof of God. This Lizard seeks proof of God's non-presence in such things as atheists, ugly buildings, lies, greed, envy, trolls, and even Lizards.

Convince me the Master isn't present even underneath my ugly green hide and you win this one, GDB.

Otherswise, watch what you ssssaaayyy about us, sssssssseeeee?

7/21/2008 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger lance said...

Bob, That is the nicest way anyone has ever told me that I need therapy. :) Thanks. I have considered therapy but at this time finances do not permit such an expense. As far as knowing the truth, I am not sure that I know the truth or if I am permitting myself to actually know the truth. The only thing that I feel like clinging to right now is Aristotle's Virtue Theory.

7/21/2008 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I certainly don't mean because you're crazy -- I'm thinking more like Jungian-type analytic therapy that can break through knots, get you in touch with the collective unconscious, and open you out to the noumenal. Often this can be done relatively inexpensively at a training institute. It's the best place to get therapy for someone on a tight budget, as the people being trained are post-Ph.D or MD, and they're always looking for guinea pigs.

7/21/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LMAO Ugly Buildings.

I have never appreciated a comment more.

7/21/2008 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I might add that it is very rare for a Raccoon to be younger than age 40, for a variety of sound reasons. For one thing, if I weren't crazy and stupid when I was young, I'm afraid I'd always wonder what it was like.

7/21/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Mrs. G. got THIRTEEN YEARS of therapy at a training institute. It's the secret of our happy marriage.

7/21/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If I add it all up, I had, let's see, 1... 2,3... 4... 5, 6, 7. I guess seven years of therapy, give or take. It ended in 1991 -- the same month my mother died, as a matter of fact. Which is purely a coincidence.

7/21/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

"I just had a thought that the religious argument between Hindus and Buddhists had real emotional heat to it.... They were fighting for survival."

Christopher,

You're absolutely right about that - it was no dry debate between academic types, there was real juice in it and for just the reasons you give. I don't think either side ever did, or could, "win" such an argument. I think that Buddhism was basically destroyed in India by the Muslim conquest, and that ended the argument.

I was very moved to read your description of the Dark Night you went through, and give thanks that you emerged from it. May God always continue to bless you and give you light.

7/21/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

When I was 19, I was speaking with a man who referred to himself as a Sufi. I expressed to him feelings similar to what Lance expressed to Bob. This man told me that a huge oak tree grows from an acorn, and never once worries about its progress as it gets larger.

I listened, but at 19, did not "hear" him, of course. And I spent the next two decades scrambling after "something Real," trying to get my hands on it, or my mind and heart wrapped around it. As Bob alluded, it wasn't till I turned 40 that a lot of that inner conflict . . . well, it just dropped away. By degrees, the inner Raccoon began to predominate.

It would sound very condescending to say I "outgrew" my conflicts, so I won't. But something grew, and many things seemed reconciled as that happened -- and by golly, the old debris did not return, by and large.

But I can still vividly recall the inner tension, and pray for the resolution of that in others.

7/21/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

Lizard, I see much proof of the presence of your master under your green hide. I need not look for an Other.

But perhaps you should.

:o)

7/21/2008 06:44:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

Hard to believe it hasn't happened yet since I came so late to the discussion but......... I'm calling first dibs on the nubile babe overflow. ;*)
With only the purest of intentions and strictly for the therapeutic value, of course.

7/21/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Ron said...

So, Bob, are saying that you would generally recommend Jungian analysis as a preferred type of therapy, esp. for someone generally healthy and of a coonish disposition?

7/21/2008 08:39:00 PM  
Blogger NoMo said...

"Proof of proof is proof of God."
I love that.

Everyone knows God is there. The problem is believing it.

You get it or you don't. You live it or you won't.

7/21/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Ron:

That's a good question, but difficult to answer. Certainly a Jungian would be more receptive to spiritual matters, but they tend to conflate the spiritual and psychic dimensions, and inflate the unconscious to a kind of god.

Back when I was keeping up with these things, there were three main schools of Jungian thought, that broke down into a kind of left-right-center. The orthodox Jungians follow Jung, and therefore throw in a lot of the errors of their master. Then there is the Jungian "left," represented by James Hillman, who is a pompous and grandiose ass. But at least back when I was in school, there was a movement that was trying to ground Jungian psychology in the insights of modern attachment and developmental theory, and with people like Bion and Melanie Klein. That struck me as a potentially extremely fruitful approach, that eliminated the cult-like and pseudo-religious aspects.

So the short answer is, I don't really know.

7/21/2008 09:30:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A review of the Van Morrison concert in Stockholm, apparently attended by our Johan. It's translated via google, so it's pretty funny.

Looks like you can actually hear the concert, but I can't figure it out....

7/21/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"The Belfast cowboy laughs and smiles several times, yodel, Jokes about Clint Eastwood and becomes even really filthy when he freestyle at its best in "In the afternoon."

"And it is also a long time ago it was pleasant. For he has a fun, highly alert ties with them, which become infected by the main character pepper, and we may be delicate versions of the classic "Vanlose stairway" and the new album's most powerful track, "Behind the ritual."

"The buttre little man is in a relatively good mood -- which means that he yodel and escape the hint of laughter -- but, as usual, plays a type of music that is designed for small inomhuslokaler, not utomhusfestivaler with jazzinriktning.

"The first half hour is solely hubby cozy feel good-jazz of the anonymous nature. The remaining time devoted more attention to the Celtic soul he is associated. The set includes Pink Floyd Comfortably numb and as the last song he throws pliktskyldigt in Gloria."

*****

What I want to know is, how can a buttre little man throw a filthy pliktskyldigt in a small inomhuslokaler instead of a utomhusfestivaler with jazzinriktning? That's crazy.

7/21/2008 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Over 40, huh? So even by raccoon standards I'm odd :)

Great comments today; this blogcation is killing me. Must get back to it.

7/21/2008 11:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Johan said...

Over 40?

Then I guess I would have to call myself no more than a "raccoon apprentice", being as young as turning 33 in September.

7/22/2008 01:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

"It's translated via google, so it's pretty funny."

No kidding.

It hilarious if you know Swedish and get all the errors... one good example is the use of "Sin." in the text.
In Swedish the word "synd" can mean both "shame" and "sin", and the accurately translation should then be "It's a shame".

"What I want to know is, how can a buttre little man throw a filthy pliktskyldigt in a small inomhuslokaler instead of a utomhusfestivaler with jazzinriktning? That's crazy."

ROTFL! Swedish Chef must be working for the Google Translation dept.

7/22/2008 01:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Johan said...

If you want to listen I think you can use this link below. You will get to a page with links to different formats (external player like Windows Media Player or Real Player) and bandwidth choice.

http://www.sr.se/webbradio/include/incExternalPlayer.asp?Id=1261730&Type=broadcast&IsBlock=0&real=1&wmlow=1&wmhigh=1

The concerts starts about 14 minutes into the program.

7/22/2008 01:49:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie and Johan-
Well, I'm certainly glad that you guys are exceptional.

Along with River, I look at y'all as Raccoon Prodigy's, not apprentices.

I mean, if you guys were my apprentices I would be stealing your ideas all the time. :^)

7/22/2008 02:29:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Speakin' of "y'all", Ray is the very first atheist I have ever heard use that term.
Not sure if he uses it while talking, but it would sound kinda funny to hear an atheist quoting Carl Sagan sayin' "y'all" in a southern accent.

Good ol' boy atheism? :^)

7/22/2008 02:34:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie-
Well, you are on a blogcation, not a commentcation, so you're not explicitely breakin' any rules or nothin'.

7/22/2008 02:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Robin said-
"Nevertheless, if Bob were a scoundrel who in spite of himself still channeled Truth, Beauty and Goodness, the Raccoonosphere wouldn't exist. It's the real-ization and assimilation that make the OC difference as they so profoundly and consistently penetrate to the Essential. I never get the impression that Raccoons are interested in using O, but in living in O."

Bravo Zulu, Master Robin!
Not to mention the "behind the scenes work" of Cousin Dupree.
The man has brought the use of blowtorches and pliers to the heights of artdom.

7/22/2008 02:45:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ersamus-
"Kind of like citizens of a city who don't care where the electricity comes from as long as they can still turn on the lights."

That is the best analogy I have heard yet! :^)

7/22/2008 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ersamus-
"I'm more inclined to use the Ben USN (Ret) "Just ask" approach rather than the light socket approach."

Yep! You can either ask questions about the shorting probe or become the shorting probe (a little inside Navy joke).

7/22/2008 02:57:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Ximeze-
"Are you quite sure that your stubborn resistance to Seeing isn't a holdover from being endlessly drilled by The Penguins?"

Maybe he just needs more drilling. Where's Scatter?

7/22/2008 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Mornin' Ben! I guess it's kind of a commentcation too, since my current means of commenting has its limits. It's rather cumbersome and slow - not good for maintaining a coherent train of thought. Plus I'm supposed to be entertaining family. So while I can sneak in time to read, time to write is much more limited.

I'm trying to look on this as an exercise in patience and holding my tongue. Or fingers. It's not my favorite exercise.

Well, time to head for bed.
G'night, Ben!

7/22/2008 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

My condolences, Julie.
I just found out recently that my mother-in-law has a severe case os BDS.
Now she thinks we are lunatics because we don't see all of the evil President Bush is responsible for which includes practically every evil and bad thing known to man, to hear her talk.

Wisely, Patti suggested I not talk with her mom during these episodes.

7/22/2008 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Thus, as Just Thomism explains, both types of primitives "want more than evidence; they want the whole science by which their mind could be moved by the evidence" (emphasis mine). They essentially want to see the tree that will prove the existence of the forest, when the forest is on a different ontological level than the tree. "

So true, see Hume, for reference (Ray probably needn't bother, since that is where he refers from to begin with). Where Hume wanted to see the hidden packet of 'causation' in colliding billiard balls (as if it were somewhere separate from its Identity), to see 'proof' that the cue ball hitting it 'caused' it to roll away. Failing to see it spelled out for him as he demanded, he denied that there was causation at all. In his defense, he did realize that any world view or life lived by such misosophy would quickly lead to destruction, but he nevertheless didn't see how to avoid it, and so endorsed it.

Tying in Ximeze's question, I think we are able to rise to "getting it"... just as I think we are able to stray from, or lose it, and modern philosophy has made it much more difficult to realIze, due to its assault on reality - demanding Proof of what is unprovable, they've undermined the source of all proof, as well as certainty and imagination. From one of
my posts on Hume

"How this pertains to Hume, is that because of his peculiar manner of making his observations, he observed what he did not see and succeeded in convincing others that his myopic perspective was in fact the whole vista of what was there to be seen. In his blindness was sown the seeds of not seeing what was clearly there to be seen with two good eyes - but necessarily missed with a single microscope. He not only convinced others that what he didn’t see, was there to be seen by all, but that in order to claim to see, you had to shut one eye and refuse to see the full picture. "

Hume's skepticism convinced people to deny what they couldn't explain in a flatly quantified way, corroding our grasp of Reality. Without Reality and our own Consciousness, we lose The Good, The Beautiful and The True, and all that goes with it - Certainty, Virtue, and the healthy and inspired Imagination they fuel.

Imagination giveth, and it can taketh away "Without a vision, the people perish...", it is the inspired religious/poetic imagination which is able to create and clear that space reserved for accessing all that comes below it, our accomplishment 40,000 years ago, was to create the imaginative view that created Lascaux, that let mankind become Human, from out of darkness "...let there be Light!". Without that, we are less than human, we ARE the stories we tell and resonate to - see modern art for evidence. But just as Hume didn’t see causation because he didn’t examine the properties of the billiard balls, that they behaved as they did because of the Identity of what they were, we don’t just cheaply make up the religious/poetic place, but by leaping towards it, reveal it as the central culmination of all we are, and it extends deep into all we know.


Poetry, reading and memorizing Poems, let alone scripture, was once a mainstay of any Education. Walk into any public screwal today, and try to find even a teacher who can read a real Poem ("... smokestack as pretty as a tree..." bilge doesn't count), let alone a student, and I'm afraid you'll be looking for a long time - look for someone who can recite one from memory... and you're on a fools quest. And please, wild fancy, isn't the same as Imagination, being the Poetic equivalent to the libertine as opposed to Liberty issue. C.S. Lewis's An Experiment in Criticism gives an excellent view on this.

That higher perspective it took so long to create, can be eradicated.

Fortunately, it can be regrown, as Ben mentioned, "Just ask". You have to imagine it is so, that is how the spiritual space is cleared for you to stand within.

And no, you won't find little packets of 'proof' that God is real, anymore than Hume could find little packets of proof that causation, reality or himself, were real. You have to - in a very imaginatively real way - Realize it yourself, and it is private, and all the 'proof' you find can only be handled within, we can't bring any artifacts out for Ray to examine and sully, personal and pure, and relies on you to keep it aflame.

7/22/2008 05:48:00 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Suffice it to say that you are in much safer hands if you are "thinking with the head of Aquinas" than with the head of Dawkins.

That's not fair. Why not compare Aquinas to Darwin or Russell? Dawkin's is the atheists' Jerry Falwell, not our Aquinas.

Regarding the substance of your post, it's one long series of non sequitors and wishful thinking. ("I don't want to live as if there's no God. Therefore God exists.")

7/22/2008 06:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Ron said...

Thanks for the response, Bob; choosing a therapist is always a dicey thing. My main experience has been with strict cognitive therapists, which have their limitations. Interesting to hear your thoughts on Hillman; some years ago I found his book The Soul's Code helpful, but don't know much else about him.

7/22/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

jewish athiest says:

"Regarding the substance of your post, it's one long series of non sequitors and wishful thinking. ("I don't want to live as if there's no God. Therefore God exists.")"

And while we're not on the subject of free will...

jewish atheist also says:

http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com/2008/06/atheist-13.html

"Q7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

Without God, I can't see how we have free will. It appears that we have free will, therefore God must exist. Curiously, nobody seems to make this argument except me, on Opposite Day.

My refutation is that we actually don't have free will. This has disturbing implications, which I have not yet come to terms with."

7/22/2008 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

In case anyone was curious or still reading yesterday's comments, "jewish athiest" is a "stong athiest", as opposed to Ray who is a "weak atheist".

How often does this blog attract atheist commenters?

7/22/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"How often does this blog attract atheist commenters?"

Frequent but sporadic drizzles, with heavy downpours every 6-8 wks.

Also, something about epistemology seems to lure them out like catnip.

7/22/2008 03:59:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

"jewish athiest" felt like a bungee-commenter.

I think Ray's here for the duration.

"Also, something about epistemology seems to lure them out like catnip."

Maybe he was bothered by the title of the post.

"Proof of Proof is Proof of God"

Perhaps it goes somethign like this...
(What? No. Huh? No. Can't be. Must be something wrong with this blog. My metaphysic does not allow for that sentence! There has to be a logical flaw in here somewhere. [type comment] There. I feel better now.)

7/22/2008 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Had a few things to take care of, so no chance to reply before now. (Yes, really, this place isn't the focus of my life. :-> )

Christopher - the point I was trying to make wasn't that 'scientists aren't stupid'. It was more along the lines of what Alan was getting at - how do you know a teacher has something worth teaching before you become a student? Sagan and Cohen both made the point that science (in general) makes prediction you can check and "shows you its notes".

Were I to meet someone who 'shone from within' as Bob's mentioned, who demonstrated a superior knowledge even in the way they tied their shoes, well, I'd be interested. Hasn't happened yet.

Oh, and Ximeze - Nope, no nuns to resent where I was. Priests of the order of St. Basil, rather. Actually, my second-year religion teacher was really good, he had some really engaging and effective ways of teaching, and he got into the philosophy and foundations. He was not ultimately convincing, but I actually enjoyed his class, and learned some things.

Oh, and Ben - I do occasionally use "y'all" in speech, to my wife's annoyance at times. English doesn't have a "plural you" - or rather, it lost "thou" - so "y'all" will have to do, even though I'm not from the South.

7/23/2008 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - Re: Hume, I don't take things like causality that way. There's talk here about things that "can't not be" - and causality's one of 'em.

7/23/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "Re: Hume, I don't take things like causality that way."

Ray, didn't you (well... might have been 'you' as sorceror), somewhere back in early may, say: "On the other hand, I do believe that things can be what you might call 'practically absolute'. We can't be sure in an 'Absolute' sense that the sun will rise in the East tomorrow, but as a practical matter I'd be willing to bet my and my family's lives on it."

If that was you, then whether you know it or not, you bought Hume's ideas on causality, and the rest, hook, line and stinker....

7/23/2008 01:11:00 PM  
Anonymous erasmus said...

Van, Ray was different back in his sorceror days.

Ray, when I was looking at your FAQ, I noticed that you lost your domain name.

Why didn't you try to get your domain name back using an ICANN arbitration? Whenever I did that, the domain name hijacker/squatter usually folded like a house of cards.

7/23/2008 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ray Ingles said...

Van - Even the sun rising in the East could change, and without violating causality. A rogue planet making a close pass to Earth and mucking up the Earth's axial tilt. Or, by quantum mechanics, enough of the atoms of Earth spontaneously moving in a different direction. The odds are almost incalculably low but not zero. (If you read what I wrote back then, I also said we were unlikely to survive anything that'd make the sun rise somewhere besides the East.)

And that's not counting the possibility that we've been wrong about fundamental properties of physics and learn something new tomorrow.

Erasmus - I don't have a domain in the traditional sense, I'm using dyndns.com's free IP-forwarding service, and their terms of service are different from ICANN's. They just made it so nobody could use the old domain name.

7/24/2008 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ray said "...Even the sun rising in the East could change, and without violating causality. A rogue planet making a close pass to Earth and mucking up the Earth's axial tilt. Or, by quan..."

Leave it to you to avoid the issue (a philosophical issue, btw, not a particular instance of astronomical traffic reporting), the issue isn't that the unexpected can happen, it is that we can know the Truth about the reality we inhabit. YOur nibbling on exceptions is just a low budget way to smuggle skepticism into the argument and a hapless readers mind.

"...If you read what I wrote back then, I also said we were unlikely to su..."

Yeah. Read it. Commented on it too. To which you replied:
"
"van - I've actually been saying that we can study reality and learn things. Kind of my whole point."
"


and to which I replied,
"
Yeah, butt, [ray said:]
"...I'd say logic, too - I accept 'cogito ergo sum' and such, though I think Anselm's argument has )"

... that's why what you say is not, and cannot, mean what you think it means. Follow my previous link for an explanation.

"

Did you bother to read that and/or my link? BTW, did you have a momentary break with reality there?""...though I think Anselm's argument has )"

Was what?

Whether or not you take Descartes 'Cogito ergo sum' at his stated word, or his thoughts at revising it by removing the 'ergo', Descartes takes his existence as an independent primary from the world he is doubting, which sets the stage for Hume and Kant and all the corruption which followed, from a world we can't know (Kant and co.), to a world we don't need to know (pragmatism), to an inability to know anything or even deny that there is an "I" to know any of it ('Brain in a vat' and down to Dennett's idiocies).


"And that's not counting the possibility that we've been wrong about fundamental properties of physics and learn something new tomorrow."

Again, in the context of a philosophical argument, more Humian skeptical nibbling. Fundamental properties of physics are not, and have not been found to be wrong, only incomplete or misapplied, from Aristotle to Ptolemy's epicycles, to Newtonian physics and Flogiston. There is a fundamental difference between the meaning of your usage, and the reality of the development of Philosophy and Science. For all your claims to uphold reality, with the ideas that are fundamental to your positions, you fundamentally undermine and deny it.

7/24/2008 06:45:00 PM  

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