Can materialistic science answer life’s big questions? |317|

#81
Only if you think there's someone who's both designed reality and continues to monitor it with total control.

Attanasio, in his fiction, suggested a God who is pushing for the Good but is not omnipotent nor omniscient just benevolent.

Franco Ferrucci, in Life of God, suggests God is bound up with creation - specifically Earthly creation.
Nice but then the word God is a misnomer because the God I was referring to (and that people usually refer to when they say "God") implies those characteristics by definition

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
  • God : the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
Very tempting to take one's desires for reality anyway - will have to check out those names you mention :)
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#82
Nice but then the word God is a misnomer because the God I was referring to (and that people usually refer to when they say "God") implies those characteristics by definition

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
  • God : the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
Very tempting to take one's desires for reality anyway - will have to check out those names you mention :)
Excerpts from Ferrucci's Life of God:

I cannot say how long I wandered aimlessly through the dark night of time. I was haunted by incandescent emotions that little by little cooled and became cold rocks in space. I walked for miles and miles, stumbling in the dark, trembling with loneliness; then I finally stood still in the vast blackness and let out a cry. I saw that cry rise like an arrow, reaching the center of the heavens and exploding into fragments that became stars. Where my cry had fallen stood a solitary, burning ball. I looked around, but there wasn't much to see. What the light revealed was, in fact, the vast monotony of my universe. I was so disappointed that I wanted to put out the light and go back to the dark.

It was then that I realized, for the first time, that I could not undo what I had done. Once I created something, I could not destroy it. The sun was up there forever, or until its own natural death. I could not play around with the created world, and make and unmake as I pleased. "I am not a candle or a castle of sand," the sun might have said; "next time think twice before you create something." I am only glad, however, that I could not unmake the sun, since it was to become my great friend. Even now, when it enters my room through the windows, I feel that I never made anything grander or nobler.
I cursed my snake companions silently, withdrawing into my own shell. I turned mean, I became stingy. I fenced myself off, accumulated blades of grass in my cave, shut myself in for long naps. My mind became obfuscated.

One day I raised my eyes and saw the birds. I will never forget that moment, and I've kept it alive throughout the ages, in scattered paintings and writings, down to recent times. With the gaze of the reptiles, I stared at the birds as if they were lost poems. I could not believe that it was I who had made them, and I didn't understand why I had not noticed them until that moment. If the birds had looked down and seen those huge animals slithering and lumbering over the earth, they would have had the same thought I had: Who are they, and who created them?
Revelation of Dante:

Father and son of my very own self, the fire of intelligence that circulates through the cosmos and pours into humankind in order to attain the form of thought and words. Through his mind flashed the image of divine incarnation, the God who becomes man in order to be helped rather than to help.
Death of St. Francis:

When I heard that he was dying, I went to visit him on a mountain in Tuscany to which he had retired. Before he expired he thanked me for everything - for the sun, the strong and beautiful fire, the plants, the animals, the clear and chaste water. He even thanked me for his death; and before he subsided into it, we embraced, and I kissed the palms of his hands, whose skin had become so fragile that it cracked beneath the pressure of my lips, and a bit of blood mingled with my tears...Francesco helped me to cast off the dream in which I was immersed. From the moment I met him I stopped being mad, as though my jester had set me free, taking the madness unto himself as a joyful penance.
 
#83
'Fraid you lost me there...bit too abstract for me - could you make an example? Also, what do you mean by "we"? I hope you're not including me hehe!
Well we tend to conceive of waking up after death, looking back at our life and planning the next one - at least that is a common conception.

You worry about why we undergo another life - or are we forced into it - but people deliberately go into all sorts of situations that are uncomfortable and/or demanding to various degrees - for example running a marathon, climbing a really high mountain, etc - so can't that perhaps explain what earthly suffering looks like when we look back on it?

That may sound flippant, but my point is that we do that sort of thing a lot while on earth! Maybe we sit back with a few friends drinking a heavenly beer (can't think of a more reasonable equivalent) and say, "Gosh that was a really challenging life - mother beat me, and I fell ill, and, and and .....! Still after a really difficult life, I get back here and feel great!

David
 
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#84
Well we tend to conceive of waking up after death, looking back at our life and planning the next one - at least that is a common approach.

You worry about why we undergo another life - or are we forced into it - but people go into all sorts of situations that are uncomfortable and/or demanding to various degrees - for example running a marathon - so can't that perhaps explain what earthly suffering looks like when we look back on it?

That may sound flippant, but my point is that we do that sort of thing a lot while on earth!

David
Thank your for clarifying David. I'm glad to hear that your "we" did not include me :). That's because I do not believe in the "life planning" approach. I know it's very popular these days but it seems very unlikely that I would be doing something that I find so pointless (agreeing to incarnate in this material dimension without knowing why I'm here or what the point of incarnation is in general) - but I'm kind of getting used to being told the (unfalsifiable) : "you don't remember this but obviously you chose yourself to be here, and if you knew why you're here you would not take this seriously". I guess believing that we chose this ourselves is comforting because it makes us feel 'empowered' rather than victimised. That's the consolatory value I see in it, but I still find it impossible to believe that I would choose willingly to be back in this reality which I dislike so much (including the mystery of it all), and to participate in this collective deception.
Maybe as Sci once said we do not all share the same destiny/path, and we're here for different reasons, who knows! Maybe some of us come here under duress, after our memories are forcibly erased, while some come back willingly, again who knows. But I know for sure that I would not undergo another life willingly so it's highly unlikely that I chose myself to be here "before I was born".
 
#86
Thank your for clarifying David. I'm glad to hear that your "we" did not include me :). That's because I do not believe in the "life planning" approach. I know it's very popular these days but it seems very unlikely that I would be doing something that I find so pointless (agreeing to incarnate in this material dimension without knowing why I'm here or what the point of incarnation is in general) - but I'm kind of getting used to being told the (unfalsifiable) : "you don't remember this but obviously you chose yourself to be here, and if you knew why you're here you would not take this seriously".
I know, but I suspect we aren't understanding more than a fraction of the full picture. It is probably a bit like someone trying to understand calculus when they don't really understand algebra!
I guess believing that we chose this ourselves is comforting because it makes us feel 'empowered' rather than victimised.
Maybe, but people really do go up mountains and risk frostbite, or hang-glide, or drive a motorcycle at 100 mph - the contrarian streak is in us all!
That's the consolatory value I see in it, but I still find it impossible to believe that I would choose willingly to be back in this reality which I dislike so much (including the mystery of it all), and to participate in this collective deception.
Apart from the mystery, what upsets you so much?

David
 
#87
You won’t understand life and death until you’re ready to set aside any hope of understanding life and death and just live your life until you die. -Brad Warner
 
#88
Apart from the mystery, what upsets you so much?
Apologies for responding so late - not just in this but in several other threads in the past (in many cases I have not responded at all due to lack of time....and due the fact that if I do not respond straightaway I then forget about it, or responding doesn't seem so important anymore).

Anyway with reference to your question above - see Laird's brilliant post at the beginning of this thread (about the inexplicable presence of evil and basic "design defects" in this material world etc etc), I don't need to add much to what he wrote.

Moreover in my opinion there's no point trying to convince others that there's something profoundly wrong with this reality - why should I? If you are happy with what you see and experience, so be it. I certainly find it fascinating how lots of people see this reality with rose-tinted spectacles. As far as I'm concerned I see things exactly like Stephen Fry in this video, although I do not share his certainty that the lunatic he speaks about does not exist, but in any case his existence (as the only god) does not seem to me to be the most likely hypothesis.

 
#89
Apologies for responding so late - not just in this but in several other threads in the past (in many cases I have not responded at all due to lack of time....and due the fact that if I do not respond straightaway I then forget about it, or responding doesn't seem so important anymore).

Anyway with reference to your question above - see Laird's brilliant post at the beginning of this thread (about the inexplicable presence of evil and basic "design defects" in this material world etc etc), I don't need to add much to what he wrote.

Moreover in my opinion there's no point trying to convince others that there's something profoundly wrong with this reality - why should I? If you are happy with what you see and experience, so be it. I certainly find it fascinating how lots of people see this reality with rose-tinted spectacles. As far as I'm concerned I see things exactly like Stephen Fry in this video, although I do not share his certainty that the lunatic he speaks about does not exist, but in any case his existence (as the only god) does not seem to me to be the most likely hypothesis.

Stephen Fry's position, like his New Atheist chums, is that God should have been made in their image. A witty, erudite, bi-polar, homosexual thespian in Fry's case. Anger at a God one doesn't believe exists must be the very definition of futility. Does it help knowing children die of bone cancer because they live in an accidental and uncaring universe?

The irony for committed atheists must be that human nature is so excessively provided for over the essentials for survival as to be a kind of torture. It can write love sonnets, create comedy shows, provide pharmaceuticals and look into deep space, but hasn't got the vaguest clue about the workings of perception through which to view them. The anger at this irreconcilable surfeit of accidental emotion is aimed at believers who perceive form and intention where they see only an echoing void.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#90
Stephen Fry's position, like his New Atheist chums, is that God should have been made in their image. A witty, erudite, bi-polar, homosexual thespian in Fry's case. Anger at a God one doesn't believe exists must be the very definition of futility. Does it help knowing children die of bone cancer because they live in an accidental and uncaring universe?

The irony for committed atheists must be that human nature is so excessively provided for over the essentials for survival as to be a kind of torture. It can write love sonnets, create comedy shows, provide pharmaceuticals and look into deep space, but hasn't got the vaguest clue about the workings of perception through which to view them. The anger at this irreconcilable surfeit of accidental emotion is aimed at believers who perceive form and intention where they see only an echoing void.
Admittedly it is hard for us non-believers to imagine a being that can intervene in this world whenever it wishes, with the power to alter reality itself....and It just watches.

For me, and I think for Hypermagda, there is no anger at believers? Just the age old question of God not intervening in the world's suffering?
 
#91
Admittedly it is hard for us non-believers to imagine a being that can intervene in this world whenever it wishes, with the power to alter reality itself....and It just watches.

For me, and I think for Hypermagda, there is no anger at believers? Just the age old question of God not intervening in the world's suffering?
There's nothing wrong with what you've said, it's a fair comment.

And yet it raises ideas, mostly about misunderstandings. There used to be a song, "Don't let me be Misunderstood" and that phrase perhaps encapsulates one of the most painful experiences in life, when for one reason or another, we may be misunderstood by others,

The ideas of "and It just watches" and "God not intervening" are increasingly seeming to me like some of the most distressingly, achingly disappointing misunderstandings there could be. What if both of these ideas are completely wrong, not in the sense of setting up a contradiction or opposing force pushing against these ideas. Rather I mean that these ideas could be simply inappropriate.

To give an illustration, one might think of the way that history is recorded, perhaps some famous battle in one of our never-ending wars. The books might record it as a great and glorious victory, or as a terrible and devastating defeat. Both of those views are but two of the many ways to represent what actually happened. Other angles might include ordinary people, struggling to feed their children, simply trying to do their best for their families, but getting swept up in the tide of something bigger than they can handle. Perhaps there are gentle acts of kindness, thoughts of compassion, acts of decency and caring, many many individual stories, as many stories are there are people ... but none of these stories are written in our histories, or if they are they are some forgotten footnote.

I guess what I'm trying to lead towards is that we can choose to buy into the narratives which are thrust upon us, the interpretations and views which others want us to have. Or we can choose to look again, and see that perhaps there are, like the beads of morning dew on a rose as it begins to glisten in the first weak rays of morning sunshine, perhaps we can see things afresh and discard old ideas which do not serve our best interests.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#92
I guess what I'm trying to lead towards is that we can choose to buy into the narratives which are thrust upon us, the interpretations and views which others want us to have. Or we can choose to look again, and see that perhaps there are, like the beads of morning dew on a rose as it begins to glisten in the first weak rays of morning sunshine, perhaps we can see things afresh and discard old ideas which do not serve our best interests.
Well I do think there are a range of options - Atheism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Deism, Rejection of the Omnipotence of God, etc - that I'd be happy to accept as more suitable possibilities in place of God being All Good & All Powerful.

Perhaps it really comes down to a matter of aesthetics and intuitions.
 
#93
Well I do think there are a range of options - Atheism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, Deism, Rejection of the Omnipotence of God, etc - that I'd be happy to accept as more suitable possibilities in place of God being All Good & All Powerful.
I would be wary of buying in to any off-the-shelf ready-made solution with a neat label to match the packaging.
Perhaps it really comes down to a matter of aesthetics and intuitions.
I think such matters are hardly aesthetics. Intuitions perhaps. What I was really hinting at is that any explanation I give will be neatly opposed, for every argument there is a counter-argument. It is this type of thinking which leads to being stuck in the same place, forever replaying the same moves in a never-ending game of chess. Other people are cut out to be teachers and orators. I am not. Thus all I can offer is the suggestion that things are not as they seem.
 
#94
Admittedly it is hard for us non-believers to imagine a being that can intervene in this world whenever it wishes, with the power to alter reality itself....and It just watches.

For me, and I think for Hypermagda, there is no anger at believers? Just the age old question of God not intervening in the world's suffering?
The mistake in my opinion, is to desire God on a human scale, a comfort zone deity who restricts himself to events well within our limits and leaves us only with a smile on our faces. Human nature does not restrict itself to niceness, nor does the natural world of predatory animals and stormy seas. Neither is human life relentlessly unbearable, though it can come close to it at times, but tends to a full range of emotional responses and beyond.

There are also tantalising glimpses of other realities, precognition, coincidence, the stories of those who have been to the edge, visions of the dead. To me it seems inconceivable - and the alternative more sustainable to sound mental health - that the breadth of the human experience is accidental and futile. Even if one's convictions insisted themselves to that conclusion, believers would be people to be pitied, not hated, with deism a desperate attempt to find meaning in an insane existence. I don't think atheists do operate under a code of futility, but function as though meaning were embedded at every level of their lives. They certainly pay lip service to the bad, non-existent God, but in every other way they behave as though life was in fact eternal and their ideas live on intact.

I think atheists are stuck on a God rather like themselves, but without the good manners. I find that God completely unbelievable.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#95
The mistake in my opinion, is to desire God on a human scale, a comfort zone deity who restricts himself to events well within our limits and leaves us only with a smile on our faces. Human nature does not restrict itself to niceness, nor does the natural world of predatory animals and stormy seas. Neither is human life relentlessly unbearable, though it can come close to it at times, but tends to a full range of emotional responses and beyond.

There are also tantalising glimpses of other realities, precognition, coincidence, the stories of those who have been to the edge, visions of the dead. To me it seems inconceivable - and the alternative more sustainable to sound mental health - that the breadth of the human experience is accidental and futile. Even if one's convictions insisted themselves to that conclusion, believers would be people to be pitied, not hated, with deism a desperate attempt to find meaning in an insane existence. I don't think atheists do operate under a code of futility, but function as though meaning were embedded at every level of their lives. They certainly pay lip service to the bad, non-existent God, but in every other way they behave as though life was in fact eternal and their ideas live on intact.

I think atheists are stuck on a God rather like themselves, but without the good manners. I find that God completely unbelievable.
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you here - I don't think we're limited to the nihilism mechanistic physicalism entails or the acceptance that everything is happening according to a Plan? There's also the division between the lack of Purpose at a macro-level and the ability to find purpose/meaning in one's own life?

I also think we need to separate the run-of-the-mill atheist who simply doesn't believe in a higher power from the naturalist cult types - the latter who actually do have an odd sort of faith that lack of religion would be a boon for social/moral progress...ignoring the two major non-violence movements were religious at their core, that humanism - in the sense of rights extended to all persons - is also intertwined with religion.

But leaving those naturalist, Science-brings-Utopia delusions aside I'm not sure that most atheists want a God like themselves so much as a God who shows up as She/It/They have seemingly showed up in the past.

Personally I'm agnostic almost to the bone but it seems to me that if there is a spirit world it would be rather easy for different spirits to come along and act like they are speaking in the name of local historical deities? That, plus the vagaries of human culture through millennia, could explain a lot. OTOH, mysticism + NDEs do seem to converge[.]
 
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#96
I have been thinking lately about a possibility implied by the beliefs of some "tribal"( "Indigenous"? "Native"? None of these are good descriptions of these cultures, but they are the words used, so I use them as well) cultures. In this veiw, there are two realms of existence, the "spirit" world and the "material" world. These two realms are tightly intertwined, yet fundamentally immiscible, like the warp and woof in woven cloth.
When describing the differences between these two realms, it is said that in the world of Spirit there is "perfect knowing", while in this world there is a "perfect ability to act". The interactions between the two realms are all said to be a result of attempts by conscious beings to gain access to one of those two traits...whichever one their respective realm does not have.

This makes some sense from my perspective, as I can certainly see all attempts to contact the realm of Spirit throughout history as essentially being attempts to gain knowledge of some kind.
However, I have no way of knowing anything about apparent contacts from the other direction or what the motives for such might be....

But lets try to unpack the description of the differences a bit. "Perfect Knowing" and "Perfect Ability to Act"--to my way of thinking, saying one realm has Perfect Knowing is also implying the other realm doesn't. Again, this is consistent with observed data(I definitely don't know everything, and neither does anyone else AFAICT). As for "Perfect Ability to Act", what that means is somewhat more ambiguous than "perfect knowing", but I believe it simply means the ability to make choices and act on them. It is in considering the implications of the Spirit realm's lack of this ability that things become interesting IMO.

How can there be a lack of ability to make choices and act on them? First I would say that Timelessness would have this effect; if there is no Before and After, but only an eternal unchanging Now, there is no possibility of Choice, or Action. Second, I postulate that Perfect Knowing makes Choice an impossibility; if you know everything, you never get to make a choice because there is only one choice--the correct one. And you always know what it is. Third, it seems to me that Perfect Knowing requires an unchanging Eternal Now.

Here in the manifest or material realm, the quest for knowledge, for understanding, has been and still is the ultimate goal, both individually and collectively, for the human race. This quest for knowledge is what informs our cultures, defines our lives, and challenges our best and brightest. It lies at the heart of every new insight, provided the drive to write trillions and trillions of words, it built the Hubble telescope, landed rovers on Mars, constructed a 27 kilometer circular tunnel and filled it with supercooled electromagnets so we could hurl protons at each other at 99.97% of the speed of light. It built Stonehenge and Gobekli Tepe. It carved the Sphinx, built the pyramids, the innumerable temples of India, the cathedrals of Europe.

Can we assume a comparable drive and desire in the Spirit realm for the ability to Act? For the ability to effect change(an act, fundamentally, is to go from one state to another, different state...i.e., to enact change)?

Suppose some of the spirits of the spirit realm devised a way to embed themselves or a portion of themselves in the material realm. While here, they would necessarily be greatly diminished, handicapped, truncated. The laws of this realm do not allow for Perfect Knowing, so in order to get here, they must leave that behind, even to the point of leaving behind any memory such a thing was even possible, or that they once possessed it. This in effect means leaving behind almost all memories.
While here, they indeed have gained a perfect ability to act, but having no memory of who or what they really are, they fail to utilize it to its potential. Eventually their material vessel expires and they are thrust back into the Spirit realm, where they regain all the memories and knowledge they had left behind...but they also now have an entirely new and different set of memories, from their sojourn in the manifest realm. These new memories are entirely unprecedented. They are NEW.

The spirit is different than before. Changed. In this way, change is brought to the unchanging NOW of eternity.


Of course, none of that explains how such a system came to be, why the Universe IS, etc...but it does seem to answer some of the questions posed in the article...?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#97
I think the simple answer is there is no Eternal Now. I don't know why the idea is even popular within the "Consciousness Community".

That said I do think that just because there might not be an all-powerful God it does not therefore mean that there is no Benevolence out there. I wouldn't mock someone just for making an effort to contact anything that might bring some Good to this world.

"It wouldn't hurt to light a candle for Jona - We are, all of us, feeling for the worlds that move between the cracks in our senses.

Light a candle for your friend. Good hearts push through many boundaries.

Have faith, Christoff.

Have faith in something."
-JM McDermott, Never Knew Another
 
#98
I'm not sure that most atheists want a God like themselves so much as a God who shows up as She/It/They have seemingly showed up in the past.
I'm not sure people recognise Gods even when they do show up. Jesus's disciples were convinced until his resurrection that he was a warrior-mystic sent to free the Jews from Roman oppression. My suspicion is the supernatural intervenes continually even when we perceive it as natural.
 
I think the simple answer is there is no Eternal Now. I don't know why the idea is even popular within the "Consciousness Community".
Why do you think that? Also, what makes that a "simple" answer, in your opinion? (Seems to me there is nothing more simple and straightforward as an eternal, unchanging "now"....?)

In any case, this is not what I believe, because I don't believe anything, because not enough data. But poking around the concepts others have come up with is fun, especially in this sort of open roundtable type discussions. I outlined the idea and threw it on the table to see what would happen. (You squished it. lol)

I didn't realize that Eternity as an unending Now was a popular idea, except perhaps among the native cultures I nicked this concept from.
IMO, it sounds horrible. Sitting around, knowing everything, unable to do anything with that knowledge. No mysteries to ponder, no books to read, nothing to learn, nowhere to go, nothing new, just that agonizing, unending, boring, static present.

I'd take the imperfect, massy, clunky physical universe with its pain and suffering and death over that any time.
 
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