Thursday, October 19, 2006

And the slime aspired to light

Here's a blogger whose prose smokes. Serious yet funny too. Some excepts:


The cosmos is at least 13.7 billion years old, meaning that it did just fine, thank you, for about 10 billion years without any creepy living things slithering about and mucking things up. ...

In other words, prior to the emergence of life 3.85 billion years ago, there were literally no problems in the universe. Nothing could go wrong because nothing had to go right. ...

But this leads to an interesting question, for what is the proper end of human consciousness? Because of we don’t know what consciousness is for, we can’t very well say that this or that individual is pathological, can we? ...

Now, if you adopt a strictly Darwinian, materialistic view, then the answer to this question is obvious: a healthy person is simply one who survives, because that is the whole point of natural selection. Thus, Stalin was more healthy than the 20 to 40 million people he murdered, just as Hitler was clearly more healthy than the 6 million Jews he slaughtered. ...

But back to our original question: what is a human being actually for? ... The doctrines of “diversity,” multiculturalism and moral relativism all insist that there is no proper way for a human being to “be,” ... It makes no sense at all--certainly less sense than the religious traditions they deride and dismiss--but that’s an intellectual for you. ...

In short, man is man because he may know the True, the Good and the Beautiful, and act upon that knowledge with a will that is free. ... Judged by these criteria, academia is by and large a very sick place ... But in our own world, approximately half of the population suffers from a soul pathology that prevents them from making judgments on, or even perceiving, the soul pathology of our external enemies. ... For if leftists were to acknowledge these ... they would no longer be leftists. They would be cured.

Hey, and he's a clinical psychologist.

54 Comments:

Blogger Sparks fly said...

Currently you can only "prove" that the earth is about six thousand years old and anything more than that is pure speculation and a lot of circular reasoning.

Somebody give this guy a Bible and point out that it scientifically fits the measurable facts better than any alternate offering to date.

Check out www.AnswersinGenesis.org.

10/20/2006 12:38:00 AM  
Blogger metaphysician said...

Woah, boy, Wretchard usually only gets leftist trolls. . .

10/20/2006 04:08:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

Dendrochronology provides direct evidence the Earth is at least 9,900 years old. Cross-dated tree rings beat texts written by goat-herders every time.

10/20/2006 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger tckurd said...

Finally an easy question from the Belmont Club!

Man's (the species' purpose, so as to not be un PC), is to survive. Everything else is nonsense.

Art, beauty, love, etc etc etc? Rubbish - pure and simple. It contributes nothing to the survival of the species - as a matter of fact it takes one away from the matter at hand...

And let's talk about that long term survival, because right now this species, that think's it's so cool and all (just read the NYT and you'll know how cool those people think they are) - is doomed.

All our eggs are in one basket - basket Earth.

We know that Earth is more like a Pinata than a basket, as things seem to whack the pinata every several million years, and pretty much kill everything off except bugs and small furry burrowing critters.

So, if you're not in an industry that is supporting the space program which is supporting the "get the hell off this rock" scenario, then you too fall into the category of art, love, beauty - you are useless to me and to this species as a whole. Your best option is to go breed and hopefully berth a space scientist of a planetary astronomer or something.

And except for the US pushing space flight and going to other planets in human form - which other of the subspecies is working to actively save the entire species? Wherever they may be, they too are our friends. They see the long pic.

Let me give you the proper perspective: Why work your entire lives in a singular existence if there is no plan ever to leave Earth for the cosmos? Possibly sooner than later, all that everyone has done so far to advance the species is useless, gone in a single impact.

It will take thousands of years to develop the travel capability to get out of this solar system and onto the larger business of colonizing this corner of space.

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who stands in the way of this species achieving that purpose - survival - is already dead.

10/20/2006 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Why are we here? What is our purpose?

Good question. Next question.

Maybe it's to find the answer why we're here. Maybe it's 42. I don't know, but despite my agnosticism-cum-atheism, I have Faith that there is a purpose other than mere existence.

Probably to hang around and learn as a species long enough so we can answer the question. I also have faith that such things as Love (yes, sorry about the cliche), Honour, Duty, Idealism, Altruism as well as Logic and Rationality have something to do with it.

That means getting off this rock, as it's only a matter of time before some dirty snowball or cosmic dust speck presses the biospheric RESET button and CTRL-ALT-DEL's us off the cosmic scene.

As for the age of the Universe - I can't prove it wasn't created yesterday, or even 1 second ago, with all sorts of false clues indicating it came into existence a few billion years ago. But I'm betting on the evidence, and the probabilities. On pragmatic grounds, it works better than saying that everything, gravity, weak nuclear forces etc etc happens because some Almighty Power wills it so.

I use the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a test. If something can be explained equally well by some metaphysical hypothesis or the FSB's noodly appendages, then I treat the hypothesis as not worth spending time on. I might be wrong, I might be condemned to an eternity of hellfire and Damnation, but if so, that's wrong, and I have no respect for a Deity who says "Believe in me or I bust your chops". Might does not make Right.

But I can't prove that, it's a matter of Faith. I can show by games theory that a degree of altruism aids chances of survival, that "initially trust, ferociously retaliate against attack, then forgive repentance" is an optimal strategy in negotiation, but that's it.

As for my politics - call me a Right Wing Death B*tch who signed the Euston manifesto (an avowedly Leftist document). Because despite the Anti-Semitic Loonies having taken over the Leftist Asylum, there's some things the Sane (minority) Left and the Mainstream Right can agree on.

But I'm also a medical freak, someone who by some biological tests isn't quite human. Someone whose existence many Fundamentalist religions would deny could exist, and many of those that don't consider me an impossibility consider me to be a spawn of Satan. That may tend to colour my jaundiced view of certain religious groups.

All the best, Zoe Ellen Brain. Formerly Alan Edwin Brain of The Command Post, till my natural sex change. Well, I always knew I was 1 in a million, looks like it's 1 in 5 million. Just as with the far more common (1 in 100,000?) 5-alpha-reductase-deficiency, natural sex changes happen in humans and other mammals, rarely. It's more common in Fish, Amphibia and Birds though.

Some people would call it a miracle.

10/20/2006 06:47:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Hillsdale College has some bright lights and this man is a calvinist after the way of americans at the time of the revolution.

A good read along the same lines is a recent book by John Piper called Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die

Its a slim volume and makes for a good devotional to read before bed. Each chapter is two pages.

10/20/2006 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

See if this link to the Piper book works.

10/20/2006 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/20/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

"Art, beauty, love, etc etc etc? Rubbish - pure and simple." Wow, tckurd, nice to know that the very things that distinguish us from other living creatures, not to mention rocks, are completely meaningless. Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this lifetime, or something?

10/20/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Reason 18 in Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die is entitled
"To Heal Us from Moral and Physical Sickness."

The chapter includes these lines

Chirst suffered and died so that disease would one day be utterly destroyed. Disease and death were not part of God's original way with the world. They came in with sin as part of God's judgement on creation. The bible says "The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope" (Romans 8:20). God subjected the world to the futility of physical pain to show the horror of moral evil.

This futility included death. "Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin" (Romans 5:12). It included all the groaning of disease. And Christians are not excluded: "Not only the creation, but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit [that is, those who trust Christ], groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies"(Romans 8:23)

But this misery of disease is temporary. We look forward to a time when bodily pain will be no more. The subjection of creation to futility was not permanent. From the very beginning of his judgement, the Bible says God aimed at hope. His final purpose was this: "that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God"(Romans 8:21).

////////////////////////
A secular way of restating the last line above is that what both man and the universe have in common is that both are finite and subject to decay. Therefor the ultimate purpose of man is to restore both man and the unverse to eternal life.

10/20/2006 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/20/2006 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/20/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Seahorse Valley said...

Entropy = tendency towards disorder

Life = tendency towards order
(negentropy)

Left to it's own design, matter disaggregates (entropic decay); life (of which homo sapiens is the best example, I say with zero anthropic bias ;=) orders matter.

The perception of the tension between entropy and negentropy is what makes conciousness interesting!

10/20/2006 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger PossumTater said...

i tries but mostly cries wen i be read'n thangs like dat zoe thang done writ.
i can't figger out iff'n he/she/it eats food or tests it. it's a hed buster.
i juz wush dim long wind'n ones had sump'n ta say..seems like da just like print'n

10/20/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Db2m said...

"Dendrochronology provides direct evidence the Earth is at least 9,900 years old. Cross-dated tree rings beat texts written by goat-herders every time."

And blood tissue found in dinosaur bones proves they ain't no 300 million years old, so what's your point?

Anyone who can look at a fossil and believe it has survived for 100's of millions of years is a gullible dupe, indeed.

10/20/2006 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Alf said...

Zoe: "...But I'm betting on the evidence, and the probabilities."

Poor bet.
If one supposes that in some primordial soup, the DNA required to encode life spontaneously formed, started to function as life (i.e. can feed itself) and then replicate, then an upper bound on the probability that life spontaneously formed can be estimated with a few observations and some conservative simplifying assumptions.
The DNA for the simplest bacteria require approximately 1,000,000 nucleotide pairs of four different types (1) and the cell cycle takes at least 2 to 3 hours (2,000 x per year)(2). Assume that the thermodynamic property of entropy is neutral instead of being a strong counter force, that there are 1000 trillion (10^15) bacterial forms of life that would be viable and that the entire known mass of the universe (10^72) were amino acids capable of reacting with each other. The upper bound of the probability of life spontaneously forming can be calculated as follows: for a 50% chance that a bacterial DNA could spontaneously form would take [~10^600,000 ÷ 10^15 ÷ 10^75 ÷ 10^4] years or ~ 10^599,006 years. The estimated age of the universe is ~10^13 years.

Seems to me that it takes a lot of faith in nothingness to believe that happened!

1 http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/mole00/mole00415.htm

2 http://www.sparknotes.com/biology/cellreproduction/cellcycle/section2.rhtml

10/20/2006 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger SnakeInTheWoodpile said...

I have no respect for a Deity who says "Believe in me or I bust your chops". Might does not make Right.

Repeat that over and over again as you rock rhythmically in your 25' O'Day sailboat, only to look up through the fog to see the first 100 feet of the bow of a double-hulled oil tanker bearing down on you at 30 knots.

10/20/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Art, beauty, love, etc etc etc? Rubbish - pure and simple. It contributes nothing to the survival of the species

-sorry but it's been a time since I heard anything so silly. If art and love weren't necessary to human survival why do they exist? I think they came into being precisely because animal systems of order broke down for our proto-human forebears. While animals can make do with a pecking-order hierarchy, of one-on-one relations (the alpha animal need only address his immediate rival, not the pack as a whole) human order takes the form of center-periphery relationships in which the center speaks to all in the group. In other words, humans depend on a relationship to the sacred for their survival and it is this relationship that can be characterized by love and resentment, as represented by language, religion, art.

In other words, while we still remain animal in good part, and so we may indeed have a biological "purpose" to reproduce our individual selves, as humans our greater purpose is communal - to insure the survival of the species, for we are human only as members of a communal scene which depends on love, beauty, art, to reproduce itself.

10/20/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger El_Heffe said...

tckurd said...

"Man's ... purpose... is to survive. Everything else is nonsense.

and

"Let me give you the proper perspective: Why work your entire lives in a singular existence if there is no plan ever to leave Earth for the cosmos? Possibly sooner than later, all that everyone has done so far to advance the species is useless, gone in a single [asteroid] impact."

Disagree.

Survival is not fundamentaly the purpose of Man. This idea is sterile.

Certainly survival does serve Man's purpose, and I'm not against striving to expand the habitat of the human race to other worlds, but setting up mere survival as the entire purpose of Mankind rings hollow.

I already know that I am going to survive to the end of my life, asteroid or no asteroid (in otherwards I know that I am alive now and I know that I will die eventually). So why should I care now about a distant future of mankind in which I will not participate.

People need more. They need something "present" of value if they are to create value for the future.

Even meglomaniacal tyrants that justify the cruel and violent deaths of millions as all for the benefit of the collective still have something greater as their individual, and present, purpose. They just use "The Cause" for PR cover.

***

Here is the problem -- at the individual level, no one survives - ever. So the question becomes - of what benefit to the individual is collective survival?

In Starship Troopers Heinlein uses Lt. Col. Dubois to put forth this gem: "Morals— all correct moral laws— derive from the instinct to survive. Moral behavior is survival behavior above the individual level."

And I would not disagree, but there has to be more in order to satisfy the individual's need for meaning. If an individual can't find a meaning for their life beyond collective survival... then there is little to motivate that individual to take the actions which lead to collective survival (or individual survival for that matter).

You ask "Why work your entire lives in a singular existence if there is no [collective] plan ever to leave Earth for the cosmos?"

But one can just as easily turn that right around and ask "Why work your entire life in a singular existence just because there is a collective plan to leave Earth for the cosmos?"

So what!

How is the "plan to leave Earth for the cosmos" an individual motivator if it wont happen durring the individuals lifetime. Why should you or I individually care whether Man successfully reaches the stars or not? We can't live to see it... we wont derive any benefit from it... so why work our whole lives for it?

This is dogma of the secular sort... it requires the secular equivalent of faith.

And there is the rub ... either there is no purpose (nihilism) ... or there is a purpose and the need for faith comes on to the scene. Once you have alowed that faith has value (is required actually) then secularism's ivory towers all come crashing down, and man has to struggle again to find his relationship to the divine. And art, beauty, love, etc etc etc. all that "rubbish" that you so are so cavalier in discarding, moves back to their places as keys with which Mankind unlocks its purpose.

***

Taking a purely practical view, art, love, beauty and all the rest of it, serves the greater good of mankind by keeping the current generation sane and motivated, if nothing else.

Love in particular motvates parents to sacrifice for their children... and as generation after generation passes it can be seen that love has the power to lift Man ... to the heavens.

10/20/2006 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Alf, a most interesting post, but I think you need to do a little more homework to support your calculations.

What is the number (about) 10^600,000? That is a pretty large number as you are well aware, I did not see in your post how it was derived. You seem to know what you are doing with your mathematics and I am many years and a lot of missing education from being able to follow your reasoning mathematically, but if we accept your methodology I think we are entitled to know whence this large number was derived.

If you can clarify this, and support your methodology with scientific reasoning, you may indeed have a solid basis for a directed evolutionary philosophy.

10/20/2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Ah, get a grip, drill an ice core for starters, that will take you back a ways, least past this argument.

10/20/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Alf said...

Dave h,

4^1,000,000 = ~ 10^600,000

That is the number of possible combinations of 1MM sets of 4 different amino acids(there are actually about 20 amino acids, but only about 4 of them make up most DNA). BTW, one is also assuming that the first DNA strand can be "read" by something.

Alf

10/20/2006 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

No one ever said that the current form of the species is guaranteed to survive.

It will change again and again, or disappear. The current mutation that causes art, love, etc. may not prove out.

It may also disappear because of external causes (impacts, hypernovae, etc.), or due to interal causes, two branches there one being natural, say earth plague, or species created disaster (nuclear, bioengineering, AI run amuck, etc.)

I find purpose in the long term, which is not nihilism. I do not deny myself the enjoyment of life, I do however constantly think of the long term future.

Sterile as it may be, this idea may be bankrupt: "Survival is not fundamentaly the purpose of Man."


And this is exactly the thinking that loses a war, and a National Identity, and discraces all those who fought before us for freedom:

"How is the "plan to leave Earth for the cosmos" an individual motivator if it wont happen durring the individuals lifetime. Why should you or I individually care whether Man successfully reaches the stars or not? We can't live to see it... we wont derive any benefit from it... so why work our whole lives for it?

This is dogma of the secular sort... it requires the secular equivalent of faith."


If our grandparents thought that way, Heil Freakin' Hitler.

10/20/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger tckurd said...

How is the "plan to Democratize Iraq and make it free" an individual motivator if it wont happen durring the individuals lifetime. Why should you or I individually care whether Iraq successfully reaches democracy and freedom? We can't live to see it... we wont derive any benefit from it... so why work our whole lives for it?

This is dogma of the defeatist sort... it requires the defeatist equivalent of betrayal.

10/20/2006 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

The galaxy cluster Abell 370, is six billion light-years away. We are seeing it's light today, light which has been traveling 6 BILLION YEARS to get here. It seems to me there are things in this universe somehat older than any of our human scriptures, myths, or fables can account for. Creation myths? There are hundreds. It's safe to say that man was here quite a while before the first genisis tale was ever written down. People can't pass a story verbally around the room without it changing. Color me skeptical, but I'm not holding my breath waiting for any 'Rapture'(however if my good Christian neighbor's Lexus becomes driverless this afternoon, I'll be behind it's wheel this evening). I'll take my 4 score+ and exit like men have been doing since we began, whenever that was.

10/20/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger michael hammer said...

"what is the proper end of human consciousness?"

Is it cigarettes and whiskey and wild, wild women?

Or is it fast cars and even faster women?

Or is it younger women, faster airplanes, and bigger crocodiles?

Those who see a theme developing here are the winners. I know that the rest of you are trying hard to puzzle it out.

The eminent philosopher, Sean Connery, said, "Winners get to f*** the prom queen. Losers try their best."

10/20/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Now, if you adopt a strictly Darwinian, materialistic view, then the answer to this question is obvious: a healthy person is simply one who survives, because that is the whole point of natural selection. Thus, Stalin was more healthy than the 20 to 40 million people he murdered, just as Hitler was clearly more healthy than the 6 million Jews he slaughtered.

But back to our original question: what is a human being actually for? ... The doctrines of “diversity,” multiculturalism and moral relativism all insist that there is no proper way for a human being to “be,” ... It makes no sense at all--certainly less sense than the religious traditions they deride and dismiss--but that’s an intellectual for you.


Sophomoric. Sorry, but it really is.

Humans socialize. They are constituent elements in a non-linear dynamic system.

From the concept "social interaction" one finds it quite easy to derive a definition of "health" and, therefore, a proper way for a human "to be" (hint: it's not a fixed value; it depends on environmental and historical context).

Think about a cell. A cell is also a constituent element in a larger system. Defining the term "healthy cell" is pretty simple, no? It's a cell that, through its functionality, enables a higher level of organization.

So it's quite easy to see how Hitler and Stalin were not, in fact, Darwinian winners.

They were cancers; and cancers are evolutionary losers.

10/20/2006 04:09:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Mr. Hammer, you don't need to invoke consciousness to explain why men are attracted to women, or males to females. You do need to, however, if you are going to get very far in distinguishing, say, pornography from art representing the erotic. Or do you really think there are no such differences, and nothing more to say? Finally, what stops the losers from ganging up on the winner and gang raping the prom Queen? Consciousness has a lot more to do with this question than with being a dick.

10/20/2006 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Sure Aristedes, but what is a "religion" other than the means by which we understand our spiritual health and a higher level of organization? Where are you disagreeing with the sophomore?

10/20/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

As for art, its benefit is psychological.

Behavior, a human's informational input on his environment, depends to a great extent on one's psychology, and one's psychology depends to a great extent on one's environment (see Guliani's Broken Windows Strategy). Art, like a broken window, is an environmental element that can affect one's psychology.

So think about it like this. The aggregate of all behaviors is a major factor in the internal health of a society (the system's environment and the system's environmental strategy are the others). We know this. Now, because behavior is so important to the health of a society, and because behavior can be determined by psychology, it follows that a person's--and a people's--psychology can have quite an impact on the overall health of society.

TP,
Nice to see you around. The point of my post was to dispute Mr. Sophomore's contention that a Darwinian analysis would define Hitler and Stalin as evolutionary successes merely because they outlasted their victims. A cancer outlasts its victims, too.

And you're right, religion can be useful in the same way art is. But it can also be detrimental (as a catalyst for certain individual and group behaviors, e.g.).

10/20/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Mr. Sophomore's fundamental assertion is incorrect.

Morality derived from human existence. It did not precede it.

10/20/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Seahorse Valley,

re: entropy and negentropy. You are close.

Order is the opposite of entropy, sure. But life is not just about order. It is about complexity.

High entropy means high probabilistic uncertainty. High order means low probabilistic uncertainty. Life is about optimizing both the former and the latter.

See here:
Complex systems constructed so that they're on the boundary between order and chaos are those best able to adapt by mutation and selection.

10/20/2006 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Hebrews 10:7

Jesus said,"Behold I have come. In the scroll of the book it is written of Me To do thy will O God."

God has set eternity in our hearts and that's one reason for hell. What should God do with eternal creatures HE has made when they hate HIM? He can't cause them to not exist anymore because they have been made in HIS image and likeness forever. HE knew we would screw up and They,Father Son and Holy Spirit decided together to pay the price for the sins of anyone and everyone who repents and forgive them.

You must be born again.

Intellectual activity without faith is dead dry dust.

The speed of light has been decreasing since it was first measured. I don't worship light I worship the God who created the light and me.

Zoe Brain
Hang in there. Life is more that sexual identity. Jesus loves you.

10/20/2006 05:04:00 PM  
Blogger michael hammer said...

truepeers:

"what stops the losers from ganging up on the winner and gang raping the prom queen?"

Ha, ha, ha. Stop it, truepeers, you're killing me!"

10/20/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

michael, every king needs a jester, he really does, if he doesn't want to self-destruct. But an alpha dog wouldn't see or care much about any "difference" between one bitch and another. So, when we humans, not dogs, become conscious of a prom queen as something different, not just another attractive body, what really are we becoming conscious of?

10/20/2006 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger El_Heffe said...

Aristides said...

"Mr. Sophomore's fundamental assertion is incorrect.

Morality derived from human existence. It did not precede it."


But Aristides, "the sophmore" asserts that parts of human existance (intellect and conscience specifically) are "uncreated" ... I'm not sure what he means by that except that it would seem to take these elements of humanity outside of time as we typically think of it (uncreated=no beginning ?).

This being the assertion, your statement could be refuted by claiming that morality would exist outside of time also and is therfore coexistant with humanity neither preceding nor following.

Any comment on this line of thinking?



tckurd said...
"I find purpose in the long term, which is not nihilism."

I'm not a nihilist either ... I was playing devil's advocate.

"I do not deny myself the enjoyment of life, I do however constantly think of the long term future."

Why? (Note: I'm only partly playing devil's advocate here ... I am also honestly curious ... I suspect that you have some sort of "faith" at back of this).

"Sterile as it may be, this idea may be bankrupt: 'Survival is not fundamentaly the purpose of Man.' "

Pardon the lack of clarity in my original comment, I was aserting that your idea of survival being the fundamental purpose of man is sterile. I should have said:

"Survival is not fundamentaly the purpose of Man. I find the idea that Man's purpose is merely to survive a sterile one."

The statement "Survival is not fundamentaly the purpose of Man." is of course bankrupt... it is a negative statement, not an idea in its own right. Rather the opposite of an idea. A projectile for smashing a vessel, not a vessel itself.

"And this is exactly the thinking that loses a war, and a National Identity, and discraces all those who fought before us for freedom."

Regarding nihilism... I agree.

"If our grandparents thought that way, Heil Freakin' Hitler."

Disagree. There was enough "present" evil in Nazism to justify one's reisting it based on the effect it would have on one's own life, even without considering the long term future of mankind. (this is assuming that one is not a nihilist and therefore cares.)

"How is the "plan to Democratize Iraq and make it free" an individual motivator if it wont happen durring the individuals lifetime. Why should you or I individually care whether Iraq successfully reaches democracy and freedom? We can't live to see it... we wont derive any benefit from it... so why work our whole lives for it?

This is dogma of the defeatist sort... it requires the defeatist equivalent of betrayal."


I can't escape the feeling that you meant to bait me with this bit, but since you are making a parody my devil's advocate, I take no offence.

However, in the interst of continuing this dialog, please don't change the subject, and please don't introduce unrelated issues.

I'm not a nihilist. I am a person of faith. And if you are not a nihilist either (and I believe you when you say that you aren't) then I think you are person of faith too (note: the sort of faith I am talking about doesnt require religion or God)... how else would you "find purpose in the long term"?

;)

10/20/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Morality derived from human existence. It did not precede it.

-well, i don't think either is quite right. I'd say morality and human existence are coeval; in other words, what defines our species, as different from the apes, is the emergence of a qualitatively different kind of social order dependent on the simultaneous emergence of language and religion (or ethics - the distinction between morality and ethics only really becomes possible with monotheism).

One thing I like about this psychologist, GB, is that he is smart not to try to reduce fundamental questions to matters of individual psychology. The fundamentals of our specifically human nature must be first located on a shared human scene, not in the individual brain (this is what religion knows and remembers); iow our fundamental moral and ethical questions are anthropological because we share in a common scene before we internalize these scene(s) as our own private scene or psychology.

10/20/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Stephen Crane - 1899

10/20/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Crane lived and still bleeds.

10/20/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

I meant to say, thanks for invoking SC, 3case, and also nice to hear from you, Zoe Brain. All the best!

10/20/2006 07:56:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

What a wild thread!Not sure I understood the original post,but the comments are worth a response.Leaving aside Tckurd other than wondering whether he has a life sized cutout of Han Solo or Spock on his wall and feeling utterly unable to get a read on Zoe the intergalactic cross dresser,let me address a couple others.Jim said its safe to assume there were humans here before the Genesis account,I'm reminded of the man who insisted "There are no absolutes in the universe"Someone replied"Are you absolutely sure about that?"
Terry's disdain of goat herders'writings struck me as very distasteful.Jesus said the truth is hidden from the worldly wise and revealed unto s.All I know is there wasn't a goat or a herder in sight in a little adobe building in Tucson one night I prayed a simple prayer and got delivered from 15 years of substance abuse in a moment's time.

10/20/2006 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

the truth is revealed unto children,or those who aren't wise in their own conceits

10/20/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Faith without God is an oxymoron like gay pride.

Faith without God is the worship of self in all its broken, diseased,suicidal er,.. glory.

10/21/2006 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/21/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

Why have Faith at all? Faith can be misplaced, it can be rendered false, it can drive you to deeds that normally you won't contemplate, for both good and evil.

The guys who caused 9/11 had Faith. They had too much of it. Rather we kill their Faith. But before we do so, we had better get rid of it in ourselves.

Faith in a higher power and an afterlife can make us less careful, less protective of our current existence on this dirt rock. After all, hey, die and go to heaven and get to f*ck 72 virgins.

No. Go back to the many religious wars throughout history, and you'll find faith to be at the heart of it. We can do without faith. All in all, I think, but cannot confirm, that it had on balance been more detrimental than helpful to humanity.

Better, I think, to hold onto the one thing remaining in Pandora's Box: hope. Small but crucial difference. Hope can be misplaced too, but at least the hopeful know that their hopes may not come true. Unlike faith, which offers no such option, but a dead-sure certainty.

Sparks fly: If an omnipotent god really thinks that way, then something is really not right for him not waving his hand and making us 'right' again. Or making sure that we turn out right in the very first place. And if all these mistakes mean that he is not omnipotent, what use do we have for non-omnipotent deities?

10/21/2006 01:20:00 AM  
Blogger truepeers said...

Aristedes,

I forgot to say it earlier, in a little bit of a rush; but thanks, it's good to be back in contact with you too.

10/21/2006 01:53:00 AM  
Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Alf Re your post.

I work with self-organising systems all the time. Yes, the odds of a zillion molecules all randomly coming together to form DNA are stupendous, ridiculously so. But that's not the way it works.

Just look at how a crystal of salt grows in solution to see a simple self-organising system at work. The odds of all those molecules randomly coming together to form such a perfect octahedron are immense. But although the molecules in the solution move about randomly, the process is neither designed nor random in the sense you mean.

It's a bit difficult denying evolution when I use genetic algorithms to create Artificial Intelligence systems. I don't design them as such, they just grow.

Now whether a Creator defined cosmological constants billions of years ago so that this stuff would have to happen, or whether this is just the part of the multiverse that happens to be conducive to intelligent life forming, that I can't say.

SnakeInAWoddpile : You show me a supertanker capable of 30 knots, and I might believe you. Sorry, I make Naval Combat Systems for a living sometimes, I know their capabilities, and am just being pedantic.
Any supertanker skipper that goes around ramming sailboats deliberately I consider to be Evil, and not Good. I do not deny him the power, just the moral righteousness.

Sparks Fly : Thanks - though it's not about sex, it's about gender. Usually the two are aligned. I'm not sure I have a sexual identity as such, I mean, having a metamorphosing body with goodness knows what fluctuating hormone levels and brain miswiring will do that to anyone. If so, I don't miss it, though experts have told me that will probably change. I find the whole consept disturbing, frankly, and want nothing whatsoever to do with it! Now.

What's important though is the Christian Love you've shown for a fellow human being. As in "love thy neighbour". That's one of the parts of Christianity that I can appreciate and value, while not being a Christian. You're right, I lack Faith.

Possum Taster : Yes, my medical team says much the same. They just use longer words.

10/21/2006 03:09:00 AM  
Blogger Iggy Bliss said...

What a wonderful thread!

Thanks Wretchard - thanks to all!

Food for the mind as I sit eating an omelet and drinking my cup of joe.

Sparks Fly: "You're right, I lack Faith."

Ask and you will receive (mind WHO you ask, though).

Zoe Brain: "Now whether a Creator defined cosmological constants billions of years ago so that this stuff would have to happen, or whether this is just the part of the multiverse that happens to be conducive to intelligent life forming, that I can't say."

And therein is the rub.

10/21/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

To Zoe Brain:

Where did you get the algorithym from to design those AI systems?

10/21/2006 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger wrecktafire said...

And I thought only fafblog was about God, the Universe, and Everything!

LOL.

10/23/2006 01:01:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

The laughter (LOL) of fools is like the crackling of thorn bushes in a fire.

10/23/2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Alf, I am still not clear where you get the number 1,000,000 as the number of sets to be chosen. It is very difficult to understand abstracts describing mitochondrial DNA. I suspect that a lot of microbiologists don't altogether understand it they just take the numbers generated by people who either do understand or have sufficient academic clout to make their opinions convincing. Obviously this is not the place to wrangle about it, my mathematics is barely adequate for engineering and it is too easy for me to get lost in terminology anyway.

I thought there might be a simple explanation for where the exponent came from in either 4^1,000,000 or 10^600,000 which I will concede to be approximately the same. You say it represents the number of set to be chosen, I suppose that is possible, although the complete mammalian sequence contains a considerably larger number, I think that is largely what they tend to call "junk" DNA.

Anyway if you can give a simple answer or a link please do so, you have aroused my curiosity.

10/24/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Frank P said...

While musing twenty-five years or so ago the following words coursed through my head and found their way through my fingertips on to a sheet of paper that I recently found in my loft:

>>

Eternity

Evolution is a constant process at a constant speed. Though the human perception of it is apocalyptic – as eruptions hither and thither within the continuum resulting from human culpability, mistaking syncopation for inconstancy. Whatever universe controls the Great Scheme of Things attributes no blame. For it the outcome of the harvest is known long before the seeds are sown.. The cosmic chessboard is spherical, of infinite diameter and therefore of infinite circumference and capacity. All moves must have been predetermined in that split microsecond of the First Cause – if there was a First Cause. The most important sound in communication – if! Perhaps it is a faint echo of The Big Bang. But no end game is in sight. In this process our miniscule segment of time can only be retrospective; the future must therefore be at best illusion, inevitably delusion: merely a dream.

We are cursed with the gift of a sentient brain; an inner eye to observe our own piddling progress. But through innate myopia our hindsight and foresight fall short of either the beginning or end of the journey. We join it both ignorant of where we started or where it will end. So we guess, speculate and pretend. Long before each and any of us can begin to understand the entire, what part this footling component called life plays, it is over; our issue but an echo; a distorted reverberation; a dream of a dream of a dream …

Yet, we spend our brief appearance contemplating the geometry and arithmetic of the prison bars that contain us. Even poets, painters, sculptors and musicians must obey the rules of the meter, the measure, the metronome, the meld and the mixture. The sixth-senseless hear only the ticking clock, fail to recognise it as the beat and the rhythm of the Universal Music. They invent phenomena to fend off mortality when mortality itself is yet another invention – an explicit misconception – yet another bogeyman in the dark, along with gods, ghosties, ghouls and ‘things that go bump in the night. <<

I know not why I wrote it then, or why I kept it and a quarter of a century later I think I understand it no better - even after perusing this excellent thread.

10/25/2006 04:27:00 AM  
Blogger John C. Wright said...

"If art and love weren't necessary to human survival why do they exist?"

The argument is a circular one. It assumes, as an axiom, that nothing exists except what serves survival. The question then arises concerning things that do not obviously have any survival value (art and agape). The conclusion is that these things must have survival value because nothing exists except what serves survival.

It is just as logical to conclude that there must be a purpose to life beyond mere survival because so much of our psychology and biology is bent to ends having little or nothing to do with procreating and defending offspring.

Why do the stars seem beautiful and clean to us? What possible adaptive value could such an aesthetic judgment--universal to all cultures--possibly have? Why aren't they regarded as harbingers of night, wherein predators and foes might lurk, as frightening as a skeleton?

A supernatural explanation is more elegant in such cases, and "adds fewer ad hoc epicycles" to save the appearances.

10/25/2006 12:52:00 PM  

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