Alex Tsakiris, Four Questions About the Future of Skeptiko |414|

Well why would a god randomly assign suffering to people (because it obviously isn't based on any other criterion)? Yes, you can postulate that the suffering is for crimes in a previous life, but I feel we have become used to engaging in tortuous explanations for this puzzle, assuming the God can do what he likes, but maybe the truth is that he only has finite power - it makes a lot of sense.

David
It really irritates me when people blame other people’s suffering on their past deeds. The last thing people who are suffering need is somebody telling them that they are suffering because they are a rotten person.

Anymore, I tend to think of “God” as the collective consciousness which we are all part of. How accurate is that? Who knows, but it currently feels right to me. I also think that this lines up with your idea of a “finitely” powerful “God.”

It would be interesting to see a compilation of the different views of various philosophies and religions concerning the topic and meaning of sufffering. Sounds like a job for Jim Smith lol.
 
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I agree (and I wrote) I don't recommend taking on a lot of debt and it's not for everyone. One difference today is how high tuition is for undergraduates so you have a good point based on that alone. I realize there are a lot of other problems too ... see quoted excerpts below ...

When I went to college I had partial scholarships and tuition was a lot lower than today. Even then the college president said unashamedly he had to raise tuition so the reputation of the school would remain among the best.

But in some fields, particularly sciences, there are fellowships in PhD programs so you don't necessarily need to go into debt. I remember when I first learned this when I was taking college courses during summer vacation after my junior year in high school, it changed my plans for the future, it was like discovering a new continent, it opened up such vast possibilities for me. Years later on my grad school applications I said straight out I would not go if I had to pay. Where I went, students had to be Teaching Assistants for one course for one semester, and work in labs until we decided where we wanted to do our thesis research. The thesis research is under the direction of a research professor so it's like working as a paid research associate but they eventually give you a degree. (Some corporations have similar associations with universities, you work for a company doing research but you get a degree from a university - (I think the company pays tuition to the university.).

I don't know where being self directed and critical thinking skills come from. I suppose they could be learned but in me they were innate. I was always fascinated by science and computers - they were my play and subject matter for reading. I would borrow books of science experiments from school and I remember mooning over an ad for a programmable calculator in Scientific American for months before I was able to buy one. The personal computer had not been invented then. Before that I had toy "computers" some you had to wire logic circuits yourself some were mechanical you "programmed" with pegs to add in binary.

If my parents did anything to encourage my intellectual curiosity it was to teach me to read at a younger age than most children and encourage me to read and share their values that learning was "good", and provide a safe quiet home where I could learn.

As a kid trying to earn money, my sales skills were not very good. I didn't like to ask for a lot of money for my labor so I was always underpaid for cutting grass and shoveling snow. Same thing years later when I worked for myself as an engineering consultant. I enjoy helping people too much. As an adult I think most things are over priced (except equity shares and real estate during a recession!) I don't know what to spend my money on because I don't like to get ripped off and I think most things are a rip off. My talents in "business" lay more in cutting costs, improving efficiency, managing money, and investing - which I make use of managing my personal finances and investments.

I don't have kids but I have heard that school theses days in some ways does more harm than good. If I had children, I would be careful about how they were educated (as my parents were with me - my family moved to a suburb with good public schools when private school in the city became too expensive).

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In his book The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics, Mark Lilla, professor of humanities at Columbia University, a liberal, explains how progressive students have been intellectually damaged by identity politics:​
(Excerpt by Ed Driscoll)​
As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.​
Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X…This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions.

...​
Adam MacLeod wrote in Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials
I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.​

...​
According to Camilla Turner writing in telegraph.co.uk:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/201...ive-taught-schools-fuels-anxiety-young-women/
"Dr Joanna Williams, a lecturer in higher education at Kent University ...​
... said that if girls are instilled with a mindset of victimhood at a young age, it can set them back later in life. “When women go out into the world of work and experience obstacles, rather than persevering they think ‘oh these are the insurmountable barriers I was told about'."​
...​
Dr Williams said that the narrative continues at university where students are told that there is a "rape culture" or some kind of "epidemic" of sexual assault on campus.​
...​
“It is very difficult for women to present themselves as powerful, strong and capable if they think they need to be wary and anxious," she said.​

...​
4:25​
Camille Paglia: “It’s really started at the level of public school education. I’ve been teaching now for 46 years as a classroom teacher, and I have felt the slow devolution of the quality of public school education in the classroom.”​
...​
“What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization. They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity. They know nothing!”​
~2:04​
Camille Paglia: My generation of the 1960's, when I arrived in college in 1964 there were parietal rules in place so that the women in my dorm had to sign in at 11:00 at night. The men could run free. It was my generation that rose up and said that we wanted to be treated equally and we want freedom. And the colleges said the world is a dangerous place. You could be attacked you could be raped. We said, "Give us the freedom to risk rape. Freedom is much more important than protection and safety. And that's what young people have given up today.​
~5:59​
Christina Hoff Sommers: And right now the fashion is the identity politics, intersectionality, this is all the rage, and its the premise of this theory it's the idea that all the oppressions intersect with one another and form this matrix of oppression. And so young people in a typical gender studies class now learn that they inhabit a society that is this matrix of oppression and depending on your identity you might be advantaged so you have unearned privilege or you might be burdened because of your race or maybe your disability or your gender or preference and on and on. But underneath it all is this assumption that the United States is a white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchal oppressive society. And in order to liberate ourselves we have to, I don't even know what they want to do - because it's all - maybe blame one another and form - have little feuds, on social media and on campus.​
Excellent post Jim! Your post lead to a lively discussion yesterday in a confined car filled w/happy people~ I wanted everyone's opinion on especially your point "is critical thinking learned or something we are born with:? I felt I was just born with it (the annoying inquirer). I'll bet a bunch of us are known to be "annoying" because we ask a LOT of questions!

My son said he felt it was learned. His work ethic, being able to think 3 steps ahead (learned). Then the conversation turned to why some races don't have that skill which leads to an entire lifetime of bad choices. Of course it was father's day, so maybe the importance of a male figure in a home for children seemed to be important to us all.

I agreed totally with your quotes from Camille Paglia. From what woman face (esp. if you are pretty) ugh, it's a blessing & a curse. Reminds me of one interview where the guy just kept looking at me & not so much my resume, then summed up, "WELL! You LOOK like you can do the job!" I just smirked (and no I didn't take the stupid job). So annoying.

BUT, what Camille said about "these kids" not knowing history. OH SO TRUE! What has happened to civics classes? I'm watching a series on Rome & it makes me think how much we are like Rome in many ways. We think it will always be here, but I have to recall history from WW2. It could all change in an instant.

So we have 2 things that are important 1) Critical thinking & 2) History lessons.

I think we're off topic, typical rebels that we all are!
 
I don't know about "innate", so let's use the term "normal"
three points about this are important to me
1. this is the claim of science as we know it... this is the claim of psychology as we know it.
2. many spiritual traditions claim that we can change.
3. dr. Jeffrey martin's research supports point number two.
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Being "disgruntled" what was the word you used? "discontent". pshhh, who's discontent? I mean of course we all are at times. I got this, and I'm going to quote here:

"It's a survival mechanism: in the presence of something good, the brain releases four main 'feelgood' chemicals – endorphin, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine – and in the presence of danger, the 'bad feeling' chemical – cortisol – comes in."

CHEMICALS in the brain! That's why they will give you an Rx for some serotonin because you are short of it in the brain.

Alex, if someone is "discontent" they are looking at things wrong. Well, I mean of course I'm going to be "discontent" if some idiot wants to tussle for my purse. My cortisol will kick in, because he interrupted my endorphins that I had going on because I was thinking about that cool thing I was going to buy.

My serotonin will tell me to take it easy on him, but my endorphins will be really miffed he messed with me. Finally, (once I beat him w/my purse) my dopamine will kick in when I find I've beat him down & my brain is thinking "job well done"!

On your point: "many spiritual traditions claim that we can change". Sure, drink the purple coolaide, join that crazy Scientology.. hey, if you think something hard enough it makes it true for you.

Okay this might sound weird, BUT, if I have a Q I can't figure out. I don't just pray to a bunch of random dead people or God... I mean God can listen in, but if it's something financial I will pray to the accountants in heaven (which I do often). By the next day I have answers.

When I go for my high blood pressure Rx my doctor (who is from India) keeps telling me about peoples "Karmic path". I'm complaining about some fool & she is reminding me about their "karmic path" & how I have to pray to their old soul & ask forgiveness. WTH!? Because some nonsense went on in a "past life" we don't even know?

I told her I'm in no mood to apologize in prayer to their old spirit for some past wrong I did ,that I don't even know about~ But hey, it seems to work for her & she is convinced. I'll let you know if I ever do that & if it worked. For now I'll just stay "discontent"~
 
Its going to sound glib, but - be the change you want to see. Apart from that we have to endure the generational tides in all their manifestations.

My grandson is being weaned off his iPad, to which he seemed all but surgically attached. I bought it for him in the deluded expectation his parents would use it as medium, and not a message. But they discovered it shut him up and all my noble intent was crapped on. Now he's not so dependent on it. He has an iPhone, and iMac, a notebook, a Play Station, and he's saving up for an Apple watch. Thank God he's no longer addicted to his iPad, though.

But its not the tech that's the issue. I have an iPad on which I mostly read kindle books. I have an iPhone and an iPod on which Ilisten to very little music and mostly play audio books and podcasts.

This might get a bit like the gun debate in that the tech is not the issue, its the user, and the predatory culture that exploits the user. Shallow minded folk are going to be shallow minded whether they have an iPhone or not. Are they better off staring out a train window thinking shallow thoughts or playing candy crush or listening to brain rotting 'music'? But we might fairly also wonder if they are better off being exposed to idiotic conspiracy theories and the manipulative mind numbing tripe of the MAGA variety? If tech allows zombies to organise easier maybe we should pray for a Carrington Event?
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Oh boy, yep I've seen those kids & their computer games. I wondered it there wasn't something else behind this... dumbing down the kids... slowly turning them into cogs. Since we would need "eye/hand" coordination for our war machines...

I'd like a "Carrington Event"! But only if it can target the nitwits that bug us. LOL
 
There are reasonable people on all sides of the issues. The problem I think is that politicians and journalists spread fear and anger for their own personal gain by representing the extremists on the other side as if they were the mainstream. People get this wrong impression and it affects their view of the opposition and it becomes self fulfilling with both sides at each others throats. Like a third person going between two friends lying about what they said about each other, creating discord, intentionally ruining a friendship.

If the sensible people were left in charge things would be a whole lot better. The link in your other post referred to Jonathan Haidt. His research has shown that conservatives and progressives share the same values common to people of all cultures. What differs is only how they prioritize those values, which values they think are most important. So the differences are minor but because of hate and fear mongering by politicians and journalists we have degenerated to a very sorry state at the present time.

The educational system should be a moderating force, part of the solution, teaching our children to think and listen and see through demagoguery and demonization. Unfortunately it has become part of the problem doing the exact opposite of what it should.

Another big part of the problem in the US is our primary system where political parties choose candidate to run for office. Most people don't vote in the primaries only in the general election to choose between parties. What happens is that the primary voters are mostly extremists and they are the people who decide which candidate from the political party will run in the general election.

So what a person can do, at least in the US, is vote in the primaries and encourage other sensible people to vote in the primaries, and do what you have to give your children a good education even if it means home schooling them. If someone really wants to do more I think they have to get involved in politics.
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I was with you until the "involved in politics". ugh, that sounds like a horrible idea~ Hobnobbing with the likes of the Podesta's or Clinton's.. ugh, I'd be up on murder charges for sure or in a padded cell.

On a side note, several years back my son was asked to look at our counties voting machines. He came home kind of alarmed. He said, mom, I was alone with 100's of those machines. I said, yes dear? He said you don't understand I could figure out how to manipulate those machines.

I asked him how, he said with maybe $75. worth of stuff he could get off ebay. I asked him again (because the bulb came on) and you were alone w/these voting machines? He said yes. I said how long? He said he could have been there hours if he wanted. He could go back anytime.

So, you know I was thinking back, I asked him the name of the manufacture. "Diebold". Now, where had I heard that name before? Something Clinton. That's when I took an slight interest in Mr. Comey & where he came from. HSBC bank.. now, what were they known for. Oh that's right... money laundering. hu, Comey... Clinton Foundation, HSBC bank....Diebold.

Kind of makes you ill. Well ill and angry I guess. Bunch of idiots. ** sorry for getting off topic.
 
It really irritates me when people blame other people’s suffering on their past deeds. The last thing people who are suffering need is somebody telling them that they are suffering because they are a rotten person.
Yes, I think we should learn from the mistakes of materialist scientists who try to distort the experimental evidence to fit a preconceived position. It is too easy to fall into the same trap.

The more I think about infinite intelligence (for example), the more I conclude that the concept is stuffed with contradictions.

David
 
***
I was with you until the "involved in politics". ugh, that sounds like a horrible idea~ Hobnobbing with the likes of the Podesta's or Clinton's.. ugh, I'd be up on murder charges for sure or in a padded cell.

On a side note, several years back my son was asked to look at our counties voting machines. He came home kind of alarmed. He said, mom, I was alone with 100's of those machines. I said, yes dear? He said you don't understand I could figure out how to manipulate those machines.

I asked him how, he said with maybe $75. worth of stuff he could get off ebay. I asked him again (because the bulb came on) and you were alone w/these voting machines? He said yes. I said how long? He said he could have been there hours if he wanted. He could go back anytime.

So, you know I was thinking back, I asked him the name of the manufacture. "Diebold". Now, where had I heard that name before? Something Clinton. That's when I took an slight interest in Mr. Comey & where he came from. HSBC bank.. now, what were they known for. Oh that's right... money laundering. hu, Comey... Clinton Foundation, HSBC bank....Diebold.

Kind of makes you ill. Well ill and angry I guess. Bunch of idiots. ** sorry for getting off topic.
At least in the UK voting is done on pieces of paper. It almost certainly makes it harder to fiddle the results.

David
 
I don't know about "innate", so let's use the term "normal"
three points about this are important to me
1. this is the claim of science as we know it... this is the claim of psychology as we know it.
2. many spiritual traditions claim that we can change.
3. dr. Jeffrey martin's research supports point number two.
We can and must change. But do we do so because we are discontent? Does a caterpillar become a butterfly because its had a gutful of caterpilliarness?

We are comfortable with the idea of 'growth' in all manner of ways - physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Perhaps we have an impulse to grow or evolve? Perhaps discontent is a natural or normal trigger - like when you put on weight and jeans don't fit - so you buy another pair. Because you are discontent with the old pair? Or content with your new size? I don't know.
 
At least in the UK voting is done on pieces of paper. It almost certainly makes it harder to fiddle the results.
Here in Australia we vote on tablecloths (paper ones like restaurants have) for the Senate. We have scrutineers as well as an independent Electoral Commission (who also do electoral boundaries). All very proper and retro. Nice.
 
How do we know its random?
Well there doesn't seem to be any evidence the other way. For example, there was a study of hellish NDE's and these didn't seem correlated with the kind of person who encountered them. Now, of course, you can go on to say that maybe they were bad people in some concealed way, but I really do believe in following the data. If there isn't good evidence for X, don't try to twist the evidence to say otherwise (or indeed ignore the evidence). It is difficult, and one may have to make exceptions, but way too much of that sort of nonsense goes on in science.

David
 
Now, of course, you can go on to say that maybe they were bad people in some concealed way, but I really do believe in following the data
Perhaps this is the wrong way to look at it. Perhaps the purpose of the experience is not predicated on past deeds, or a person's character, but rather the experience they need to grow/evolve/move out of a rut. To what end this experience is needed or why is a bigger question. Is it a self constructed? Is it external forces? Maybe a massive, visceral shock is the only thing that helps people to jump tracks, as it were.
 
Perhaps this is the wrong way to look at it. Perhaps the purpose of the experience is not predicated on past deeds, or a person's character, but rather the experience they need to grow/evolve/move out of a rut. To what end this experience is needed or why is a bigger question. Is it a self constructed? Is it external forces? Maybe a massive, visceral shock is the only thing that helps people to jump tracks, as it were.
Well perhaps, but the trouble is, it is like conventional religion - if you believe that you are cutting yourself off from any sense that we should actually test these ideas.

David
 
Well there doesn't seem to be any evidence the other way. For example, there was a study of hellish NDE's and these didn't seem correlated with the kind of person who encountered them. If there isn't good evidence for X, don't try to twist the evidence to say otherwise (or indeed ignore the evidence). It is difficult, and one may have to make exceptions, but way too much of that sort of nonsense goes on in science.
Key point David. Inductive inference becomes dangerous when one seeks only confirmatory anecdote, rather than probative, falsifying or predictive inference tests. If every observation is merely ad hoc (i.e. what we encouter as we stumble along) and can be re-interpreted in the light of the a priori prevailing understanding, then one is dealing with linear inductive inference, which is very weak in its scientific value.

Our outside critical-thinker critics do not put it in this manner, but this is what they are trying to say. "Do not create another religion folks... We have enough religion."

In linear induction, the explanatory model just keeps growing and growing in its explanatory features and long history of academic theoricians, until we are left with this incredible all powerful, all accommodating theory which has explained literally everything - but in reality explains nothing.

I am trying to think of an example of this... hmmmmm... cogitating....
 
Well perhaps, but the trouble is, it is like conventional religion - if you believe that you are cutting yourself off from any sense that we should actually test these ideas.
I don't think the two need be mutually exclusive. You can entertain a position without the need to scrutinize it through scientific analysis. This is, after all, a forum for the interplay of ideas and not the Lancet. This is not to say ideas shouldn't be held accountable for their intrinsic value, or otherwise, but if I'm understanding your sentiment it seems a tad binary to me that if it can't be measured or lead to more data points, then the idea expressed has less merit.

The point of dancing is to dance, not arrive at a particular destination. So too with ideas. Unbounded ideation has its place, and at its best it can have a spontaneous, zen-like quality or insight.
 
Well there doesn't seem to be any evidence the other way. For example, there was a study of hellish NDE's and these didn't seem correlated with the kind of person who encountered them. Now, of course, you can go on to say that maybe they were bad people in some concealed way, but I really do believe in following the data. If there isn't good evidence for X, don't try to twist the evidence to say otherwise (or indeed ignore the evidence). It is difficult, and one may have to make exceptions, but way too much of that sort of nonsense goes on in science.

David
There might be some evidence that pain might be at least partially planned/chosen, but not necessarily by God or a higher being. This is talked about in NDE circles and comes up during some “pre-birth memory” narratives, which often involves people claiming that they remember choosing certain parameters of this life based upon certain challenges and the opportunities for learning contained therein. This PBM phenomenon is not well documented but it is a growing area and based upon my interaction with people who seem credible I think there’s probably something to it. It’s also (similarly) reported during supposed life between life memories, probably most notably through Michael Newton’s work.

Interestingly, Tom Campbell has stated that he believes that spiritual plans or predictions are based upon flow charts and probabilities and that spiritual plans or predictions may therefore happen or not happen depending upon static or dynamic circumstances. He believes that this is due to variances in free will mostly along other variables. Though he wasn’t speaking about anything regarding pain or suffering when he said this.

Now this (even if true) doesn’t necessarily mean that pain is good and or EVEN chosen purposely (either by another higher up being or the individual themself). It may be that everything and/or anything BUT pain is chosen but that pain happens as an unfortunate side effect to our existence. I do remember some stories where people report that they accepted certain challenges, even if they now don’t know why.

Irregardless, this idea of life planning does pop up a ton amongst all these different circles.

Here’s a link to 60 some PBM’s recorded on oberf.org. I think I’ll read through some of them later.

https://www.oberf.org/prebirth.htm
 
Well why would a god randomly assign suffering to people (because it obviously isn't based on any other criterion)? Yes, you can postulate that the suffering is for crimes in a previous life, but I feel we have become used to engaging in tortuous explanations for this puzzle, assuming the God can do what he likes, but maybe the truth is that he only has finite power - it makes a lot of sense.

David
God having finite power fits in to the luciferian gnostic philosophy, in that the God in this reality is actually a demiurge that is pretending to be God and lucifer was sent (Michael beihn) terminator to help humanity. According to luciferian gnostic there is the great unknowable God, the fake God of the Bible and lucifer the agent of the great unknowable God to wake up us (neo, matrix)
 
3. What is the relationship between "this reality that is bound in space/time" and "that reality that transcends space/time"? And if this other reality transcends space/time, what does it tell us about our reality that is confined by space/time? Does it suggest that his reality is a lesser reality?

I keep coming back to question #3.

For me, it is useful to think of being bound in mystery instead of being bound in space/time.

For me, any speculation about the nature of the mystery is an attempt to "tame" that which is "wild". It's like taking water out of a river in the wilderness and running it through filters, boiling it, treating it with chemicals to the point where it is now safe to drink.

Folks talk about evidence and science. I tend to believe that human judgment is an important part of scientific inquiry, especially as it relates to metaphysical questions. In a similar way, judgment is at play in moral/ethical questions and in aesthetic questions. What is right and wrong? What is beautiful? One can and should use reason to come up with answers that work for them, individually and as a society, but the answers are never truly universal. The answers rely on human judgement, and they will always be partial and provisional and vulnerable to other judgements.

Looking at the testimonials of the Finders Course students, it's clear that they come back to their baseline sometime after their experiences. It's clear that they have difficulty integrating their experiences. And the ultimate mystical experience, Location 4, is about not having any emotions at all, which seems to be in "bioligical robot" territory, just a different path to get there. Surely, that's not the ultimate goal of all the time, money, and effort.

I am not espousing a materialist position here. There is the possibility of strong agnosticism. I wonder how folks feel about not knowing?
 
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