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March 13, 2006

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Well I thought I would answer these

(1) Do you believe in a Supreme Being or higher power?

A Supreme Consciousness (sentient creator of the cosmos) might exist but I’m not sure. Some aspects of the laws of physics and mathematics do seem quite beautiful and seem to have a sublime air about them. The bible, however, just seems like a messy book of poorly organized fairy tales to me.

What do you think he, she, or it is like and why?

I don’t know.

(2) Do you believe truth exists? If so, do you think we can know truth?

Epistemology is a dynamic field of study the presents some deep rooted challenges to emerging materialists theories of mind.

I have been encouraged lately that some interesting answers may soon emerge after reading "The Fragmentation of Reason: Preface to a Pragmatic Theory of Cognitive Evaluation" by Stephen Stich.

But to me, it’s an engineering question. The answers may likely come after the creation of generations of neuron models in a similar vain to the IBM Blue Brain project. I have reason to believe that a satisfying answer will emerge from a materialist paradigm because we all admit that the brain is made of material – that being primarily carbon nitrogen oxygen and hydrogen. Christians want to argue that a ghost is glued to the neuron construct, and indeed one may be. But I’m willing to poke around a little in the mysteries of neuroscience for a few decades first and see what we discover.

(3) Do you believe there are moral facts (right and wrong) that everyone should follow?

No.

Or do you believe that morality is relative to individuals or cultures?

And biology.

Why or why not?

Reciprocity benefits the herd.

(4) Do you think abortion should be legal or illegal?

This question is better rephrased in a secular nation in the form of: Do you think that there are some constructs of carbon nitrogen oxygen and hydrogen about which laws should be passed that would limit the amount of damage that may be done to them.

Sure I do. I think we should write down a definition of when an “American” starts and then vote on it. If the people vote on totipotnet_1 as the first American construct, then ok by me.

(5) Do you believe in an afterlife?

Nah.

Why or why not?

I don’t think there is a ghost glued to my neurons. But I might be wrong.

I thought jp Moreland and Habermas's book Immortality had some interesting anecdotes about NDE survivors. I found it suspicious that not all “dead” people encountered a “Christian” experience as I have understood it.

(6) Who do you believe Jesus was?

A charismatic leader who tried to change society.

Where do you get most of your information about Jesus from?

The bible.

(7) What do you think about Christianity?

It’s ok. If I had a life threatening disease I would convert to Christianity. I don’t think its true but in a successful game of Pascal’s Wager it makes sense to put your chips on one of the exclusive religions - and Muslims scare me so…

"(3) Do you believe there are moral facts (right and wrong) that everyone should follow?

No."

I'll be by your house later to rob you of everything you have. It wouldn't be wrong, after all.

Tony :"I have reason to believe that a satisfying answer will emerge from a materialist paradigm because we all admit that the brain is made of material – that being primarily carbon nitrogen oxygen and hydrogen. Christians want to argue that a ghost is glued to the neuron construct, and indeed one may be. But I’m willing to poke around a little in the mysteries of neuroscience for a few decades first and see what we discover.

Hi Tony - love your comsistency!
2 Questions.

1. Do you think that the discovery of said emergent mental properties preceeding only from the material will contribute in any way as to why it even matters if materialism is actually true?

2. Do you think that such a process is inherently directed to end that true knowledge is justified? In other words, what about "Darwin's Doubt"?

Thanks, thou nebulous zone interesting inquiry! (Little Star Trek action there!)

1 - does it "matter" if it's true? Nah - it's just like asking if a soccer game outcome matters to a baseball fan.

2 - no i dont know how the process is directed. like i said, Epistemology is a tricky field. Your answer to such questions is that a ghost is glued to your neurons and hence you are able to know truth. Could be true. We'll see...

3 - star trek?

Tony: "2 - no i dont know how the process is directed. like i said, Epistemology is a tricky field. Your answer to such questions is that a ghost is glued to your neurons and hence you are able to know truth. Could be true. We'll see..."

Your'e like a person constantly tipping back in a chair, waiting for the odd rush that occurs at the moment the chair could go either way!!!

3 - star trek?

Yes - the original Star Trek - the Nebulous Zone was this cloud like field in which all electricity failed and one sort of guessed his way out - hoping not to bump into anything to objective like a planet or asteroid or some such.

I am confused by someone who claims to have gotten their ideas about Jesus from the Bible could consider him merely to be a charismatic leader who tried to change his society. Have you actually READ the gospels?

pat,

interesting star trek episode. Like i said above, this is a major challenge to materialism. I do think that it will turn out that material does spawn the feeling of knowing and these issues will eventually be addressed with, like i said, more engineering models.

Christians admit that some animals can reason and have souls, so creating successive generations of modified creatures (and tweaking their brains) may also yield some fruit – that being we would know how many neurons it takes to manifest soulish behavior (consciousness), model the construct, and see what we can see. In a matter similar to the humouse at Stanford.

It does bother me that, yes, I may die before this work is completed. So as a matter of utility (pascals wager) you may do well to conclude that ghosts attach to your neurons and do the reasoning work for you.

But you can nicely use the ‘ghost’ or ‘god’ answer to any question at all.

Given that I’m currently not ill, and that there are more people working on this problem now then there ever has been, I’m gonna keep my options open a bit longer.

Chris

Ya I was a die hard Christian till I was 19 or so. Then I turned to the dark side of the force.

Ya I’ve read the gospels.

And you figure Jesus was just a charismatic leader out to change his society? And you base that on what part of the Bible, exactly? The parts where He claims to be God and that He came to redeem mankind from their sin, perhaps?

My point isn't that you have this position based on something, but rather that it's not based on the Bible as you claim.

Further, the fact that you claim there is no right or wrong I strongly suspect (unless you're psychopathic) you don't actually hold to.

I think the bible was a book that got some things right and some things wrong.

I'm not currently a psychopath i think. No, i dont believe in objective (platonic) morality. To believe this would imply that written in the fabric of the cosmos (next to pi and F=ma) exists the string (for example) "A Christian man ought not have 2 wives."

Nah, i dont think that string is up there.

"I think the bible was a book that got some things right and some things wrong."

And Tony, what do you base this on? What I mean is, why are you willing to choose some things in the Bible and not others, what standard are you using?

I know you aren't a psychopath, that's why I know you don't really deep down believe that there is not any objective right and wrong. If I stabbed your mother seventeen times in the face with an ice pick, you'd declare that wrong without pondering it's cosmic significance or whether there's any law written into reality.

Because despite your stated philosophy, you KNOW better.

Well when the bible makes some historical claims, some are probably right and some are probably wrong. That’s what we would expect from any historical document. As far as “proof” of the Hollywood style miracles in the bible, I would need more than paper to believe they happened. In fact even if you had a complete dvd of the resurrection, I probably still wouldn’t believe it. And you’re proof isn’t near that good.

As far as how a human would react to the event of murder, yes I would experience the anger response and attempt to defend her and kill you.

But does that mean that written in the fabric of the cosmos exists the string: “IT IS WRONG TO STAB MOTHERS WITH ICE PICKS”

Nah I don’t think so.

If you killed a gorillas kitten, gorillas seem to have a similar reaction. Does this mean that the gorilla is accessing God’s laws too?

Watch the gorilla and the elephant video on my website www.gregiswrong.com

Also try these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_in_animals

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/altruism-biological/

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801863368/002-3663388-4434429?v=glance&n=283155

Tony, my point is simply that you react in a manner that indicates you believe that some actions are objectively, absolutely wrong while arguing that they are not. In other words, you live a way that is in opposition to your philosophy and stated position. And I'd argue that you do so because you know better at some level. If you thought about it, you'd realize that if there is a cosmic all-powerful law of morality, animals would heed and reconize it as well as humans, wouldn't they?

Now, in regards to your rejection of the Bible, your basis appears to be that you reject the possibility of miracles, that you consider them fanciful and impossible. Why? Because you've not personally seen one happen? Because it's not possible to violate natural "laws?" What's the basis for this?


nah, i behave exactly as the theory predicts i would behave.

Someone tries to kill mom, so i get mad and invoke defensive measures. Many mammals do.

as for miracles, It is hard for me to believe that natural law would be violated in the described fashion. I could be convinced, but the proof would have to be more than old paper and dead witnesses.

So your problem is that the events happened a long time ago then? Is that the key? Or do you reject the possibility of miracles because they aren't provable by science and observation?

Tony, whether or not a theory predicts you'll behave a certain way does not negate the possibility that this reaction is based on a certain knowledge and understanding of basic moral law.

In any case, the presumption that there is no absolute right or wrong means that nothing is wrong, ever. That means anything anyone does no matter how atrocious or horrid you think it may be is perfectly moral and fine. That there's no basis for anyone to react poorly or positively toward anything. Even if you argue, as you are attempting to, that it is programmed into us by some forces beyond our control, you still can't call things "wrong" or "right."

You lose the ability to have any force behind law except what you have the power to demand. Nazi Germany and Habitat for Humanity stand on the same moral ground, neither right nor wrong. Mother Theresa and Gandhi are the same as Hitler and Idi Amin.

You know that isn't true, no matter what philosophical positions you try to put forward here, Tony.

no, i dont believe in them because your claim is grand and your evidence is poor - old paper and dead witnesses.

yes mother theresa and hitler are morally undefined since there is no objective moral law.

for this to be untrue, you must illustrate that the sensation of moral oughts are products of god's mind, and not simply products of biology.

p.s. - moral intuition does not always jive with contemporary christian moral law. i.e. the Burning IVF lab scenario.

So you believe that miracles require extraordinary proof. Why? What about them requires this? Because they are rare? Or because they violate what you consider natural law?

OK well about the morality part I'll leave you to ponder some day in an honest moment until you realize you don't live your life according to your philosophy, nor do you want others to - and that's a good thing.


because they are rare and violate natural law, for starters. I put the same burden on those who believe in santa clause, tooth fairys, and UFO's.

p.s. - i think the UFO evidence is much better than the jesus evidence - yet i dont believe in UFO's either.

Assume that I say x but do y. It does not follow that x is false.

"Assume that I say x but do y. It does not follow that x is false."

...

"p.s. - moral intuition does not always jive with contemporary christian moral law. i.e. the Burning IVF lab scenario."

Pot, meet kettle.

in this case however, the 10 frozen zygotes OUGHT to be saved according to christianity, yet not only do christians choose the toddler if they put themselves in the scenario, they also say the toddler OUGHT to be saved objectively speaking - with themselves removed.

OK so you believe that miracles require superior proof because they aren't naturalistic, because they by definition are something that cannot be measured scientifically and are outside the ordinary behavior of nature.

What would be sufficient proof for you of a miracle happening 2000 years ago? Is there anything possible that would be sufficient proof to you?

Tony, inconsistency in following a law does not negate the existence of a law.

And you don't sometimes disagree with your stated position, you live your life in direct opposition to it, and would be not only outraged but fight against a society that followed it. You know the truth, even if you argue otherwise.

to believe the claims of jesus - i'd have to spend a couple years with him.

just because i can understand the causes of psychological reactions, doesnt mean i can change my neural net.

So there's no possible way anything that happened in the past can be proven if it's rare and unusual for you? That's your standard of proof, personal experience?

Why do you believe miracles require such an extraordinary level of proof?

And Tony... be serious. People can change their minds. You're just arguing for the sake of it now.

ya i gave you a possible way. I would have to spend a few years with Jesus.

his claims require an extraordinary amount of proof because they are not only magnificent in themselves, but also the answer to man's deepest questions. (unlike the old saw - "ya but you believed lincoln existed right?")

i.e. jesus claimed he knew who made the universe, he knows what happens when humans die, and he knows how to achieve eternal happiness.

better be damn sure about those ones.

No, that's not possible in the situation I described. Because the events happened over a thousand years ago, your standard of proof is not extraordinary, it's impossible and absurd.

Whether or not the events are of mass importance or not does not actually matter. I'm asking you about miracles in general, not specific ones pointing to Christ as God. Why do you require impossible, absurd levels of proof for them?

Further, why does the fact that these lead to the answer to man's deepest questions require superior proof to an event? If something is factually true or not, why would it require a raised level of proof because it has greater implications? Your belief in the implications might require superior proof, but the event its self does not.

So please, why do you reject miracles, seriously, or have you even considered the question?

No it's not impossible at all. Because if God exists then he has the ability to take me back to witness those events and walk with him.

Or if you don't like a god who can time travel, just comming to my house in the OC for a couple years is good too.

Yes the weight of a claim does require increased evidence.

Ask yourself this. If your friend called you today and said Hey Chris, today I discovered a faster way to get to my girlfriends house.

Would this claim prompt an inquisition of evidence seeking?

Compare that to a scenario if he were to call and say:

"Hey Chris, today i walked on the moon."

Tony Montano said
(7) What do you think about Christianity?

It’s ok. If I had a life threatening disease I would convert to Christianity.

Tony you have a life threatening disease......
It's called "sin" and God will have you give account for it if you reject Jesus as the Saviour.

To answer your own question then is to convert to Christianity !

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