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View Diary: MORE prominent Christians COOL with Evolution (and a little on why we don't hear about them) (143 comments)

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  •  It's like there is a stupid argument going on (8+ / 0-)

    between the atheists and the fundamentalists and no intelligent conversation can ever be squeezed in between the two.

    I reject miracles and the supernatural and demonstrably incorrect denials of observable fact.  Having granted that, there is still enormous remaining room there for useful discussion of man's relationship to the great overall cosmic woowoo.  

    •  lettuce prey. (3+ / 0-)
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      linkage, CanyonWren, Dumbo

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 06:56:54 AM PDT

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    •  Interesting. It's because of miracles in my life (2+ / 0-)
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      dirkster42, Dumbo

      that I still believe, however alternatively from conservative dogma and mythological stories in the Old Testament, despite my God-awful Baptist upbringing. (pun intended).

      Republicans...What a nice club...of liars, cheaters, adulterers, exaggerators, hypocrites and ignoramuses. Der Spiegel -6.62, -6.92

      by CanyonWren on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 09:43:56 AM PDT

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      •  What and why I believe... (1+ / 0-)
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        And my ideas are far from thought out.  What do you see when you look at this?

        I see dancing bears.  According to Wiki, most people see some type of bug.  

        Now, the simple natural world argument is that this is a picture of nothing: it's an ink blot on a piece of paper that was folded over once.  Well, it is that.  It's one of the original Rorschack test images.  There have been books written about this particular image.

        Now the naturalist view is a valid one, but it's not the only one, and that lack of unity in views is in a way like the inkblot itself, one of multiple ways of looking at it that are consistent but valid and really out of the context of what is provable or meaningful.

        My view is that this image is dancing bears.  It might not be dancing bears if I hadn't seen it.  If you see a butterfly or a bat -- or maybe you see dancing bears now, too, because I contaminated your mind on that -- that all those things are there too.  They might not have been the intent of the test maker, but they exist conceptually.

        I think, as humans, as living intelligence, we CREATE meaning.  And at the same time, that meaning has its own independent existence, the same way that numbers exist.  

        My argument for God, or whatever, and it might not be accurately be called God, is sometimes called The Argument from Beauty.  Does beauty exist, and what is it?  

        According to the simplistic (to me) view of people like Dawkins that are too rooted in the scientific view of the objective world to switch gears and process that, beauty is a neurological response involving brain chemicals interacting in response to stimuli.

        I say, fine, okay, it is.  But it still has an independent existence in the same sense that the number pi exists.  That might seem silly and irrelevant, but ah, what is silly and irrelevant is another and TOTALLY different discussion that it's difficult to get to.  I would argue that we, as humans, exist the same way that inkblots exist.  A viewpoint that reduces our existence to a discussion of chemical reactions is not a very useful one, and it's not the only possible one.

        •  Um what? (1+ / 0-)
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          All of the atheists I know are agog in love with the beauty of the universe. Perhaps you should share that with us before posting screeds like this?

          •  Oh, I know they are in love with (1+ / 0-)
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            the beauty of the universe.  You can be in love with it, and yet not believe that there is anything of universal import in your personal reaction to this big thing out there called the universe.

            That's where I differ.  I can differ with that and think my opinion on this is more USEFUL without negating the viability of their opinion on this at all.

            You have to start by asking what is beauty.  It's a very deep and profound question that can be answered many ways.  I totally understand the reductionist, naturalist explanation, which science, by its nature, has to embrace, because the physical sciences are the analysis of the objective physical universe.

            However, even though the inkblot is an inkblot, I still see dancing bears, and I think that's more important than the chemical reactions that led me to that.

            •  No, you don't understand. (1+ / 0-)
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              I totally understand the reductionist, naturalist explanation, which science, by its nature, has to embrace, because the physical sciences are the analysis of the objective physical universe.
              Um, what? Just because we use science in one domain doesn't mean we apply it naively to all domains.

              You've not written a single thing that even touches on the truth of my life and my experiences. And since you're so certain of your prejudices, there's no hope of sharing beauty with you. Since your words have no meaning to describe my world, and you're deaf to any beauty I can clumsily express through text, it's best that we unspeak each other.

              •  Well, I don't mean to offend you. (1+ / 0-)
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                And I don't think we understand each other, if that's the case.

                There is no branch of science that objectively studies beauty, because beauty is not objective, and that which is not objective is not within the realm of objectively analyzable thing.  The CLOSEST that can come to that in the physical sciences is the realm of psychology that analyzes human reactions to beauty, categorizes those reactions, and finds cause for those reactions in human biology.  Anything else that analyzes beauty is outside the DOMAIN of what natural sciences studies and is, instead, in the domain of philosophy.  

                •  Modern athiesm... (1+ / 0-)
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                  Modern atheism including Dawkins (although I find him quite limited) covers almost the entire spectrum of philosophical thought, including aesthetics. Now personally, I don't need to abandon monism to see the beautiful spider in the ink-blot, nor would my exploration of that symbol be strictly limited to neurons and hormones. Just for one layer, the signifier, referent, the cultural connotations, ecological roles, and vast evolutionary history going back to deep time inter-are. The beauty on this layer comes from the view of the spider as a singular (therefore precious) instance in an uncountably vast universe.

                  It's a common mistake to say that because atheists consider science to be an epistemology useful for addressing some claims about god, that we use science everywhere including places where it's invalid.

                  •  I'm familiar with Dawkin's position on this. (1+ / 0-)
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                    And I've talked about it before, and picked nits with him about his assertion that Beethoven was an atheist, which he wasn't, but he provides enough gray area that it's not really a historical argument.  I've written diaries about Beethoven's religious beliefs, (which I disagree with but which can be described as pantheist), and I've written diaries that ask the question that seems silly probably, but is important to me, does Beethoven's Ninth even really exist and what the hell does that kind of question even mean?

                    Dawkins' takes the reductionist point of view I described above.  I can't find a quote for him on it right now, so I'll quote rationalist wiki instead:

                    The biggest problem with the argument from beauty is that it ignores the fact that the perception of beauty is a psychological phenomenon that is easily described in terms of evolutionary principles and neurological models of sensory processing. Also it ignores all the non-beautiful and even down right disgusting things in the universe. Furthermore, there is no absolute standard of beauty and the idea of beauty is entirely subjective, although we may have evolved to share many of our ideas of beauty in common. In this argument a connection between divine providence and that which is perceived as beautiful, whether it be natural beauty or a work of art, is simply assumed to be self evident. No one ever attempts to present the logic behind this argument, and if they did, they would more than likely be laughed out of the room.
                    And there we go.  The rest of the discussion is interesting but it attacks a primitive version of this idea.  I completely and fully accept that our perception of beauty is based on chemical reactions and subjective interpretations based on past experiences, things they remind us of, etc., etc., etc.  However, that's not the point.  I tried to make that point clearer with my Rorschach analogy.

                    The physical sciences (which I love) are based on a certain epistemological and metaphysical model of the universe.  It has to be.  That model says that there is one objective universe and that experiences that are not objective are outside the domain of its study unless they are studied for their objective common features.  That's not wrong!  That's just the basic starting rule set of that game.

                    I say that it's possible to take the rule set of that game too seriously and thus ignore the possibility that a different rule set for determining what is real and important is possible.  I don't want that to sound too cosmic, although I guess any extended discussion of it risks going there.

                    My question about whether Beethoven's Ninth exists seems analogous to my asking whether you or I exist.  A primitive consideration of what you are and how you exist becomes difficult and unwieldy when objective scientific principles are applied to it.

                    I'm not terribly sure what the hell we are, but whatever I am, it's a lot closer to those dancing bears in that Rorschach test than to the chemical processes that keep my brain in motion.

                    One possible definition of what I am that I've toyed with is this:  We are made of narrative.  I'm not going to commit to that 100%, but that goes in the direction that I find interesting.

                    What do I mean by that, we are made of narrative?  We have a whole set of memories (all stored, very objectively and physically in our brain neurons, of course), and we have our idiosyncratic way of doing things, etc.  But they are KNIT TOGETHER SUBJECTIVELY just as the dancing bears is knit together out of the Rorschach image when I look at it.  The narrative that I create out of the experiences of my life is my life.  It's who I am.  There's a non-objective creative process involved here.  And this reality of who I am and what my life has meant, how it all fits together, is a creation.  

                    I go a little further than that.  I think without that self-narrative, we don't exist.  Oh, our objective visible meat machine exists, but without some personal knitting together of the rorschach test, there's nothing there.  

                    I studied AI in college and was paid to research certain aspects of it (modal logic).  Artificial consciousness is kind of a white whale of AI that's out of the scope of what I was involved with, but it has always interested me.  I think that an artificial consciousness that models human consciousness will have to have this feature of self-narrative creation as an essential feature.  It's a necessary part of being conscious, being more than just a calculator.  

                    So, if you follow where I'm going, I think that what you and I are is and has to be not objective but subjective, like our experience of beauty.  

                    •  Seriously - (1+ / 0-)
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                      check out Niebuhr's Meaning of Revelation - he's very, very, very close to what you're getting at here.

                      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

                      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 07:55:01 PM PDT

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                      •  I'll have to someday. (1+ / 0-)
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                        I plow through only one hard book at a time.  Working my way through Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony right now.

                        I have David Kellog Lewis's books on modal realism on my radar for future tough reading right now.  Probably On the Plurality of Worlds.  

                        I wrote a diary a few weeks ago for Books That Changed My Life about Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears.  It's the usual book report, but about half the diary veers off into my own spacy take on modal logic, modal realism, multiple-world interpretation of quantum theory, and Tegmark's "Ensemble of Universes" theory of everything.  Here.

                    •  *sigh* (2+ / 0-)
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                      dirkster42, Dumbo
                      I say that it's possible to take the rule set of that game too seriously and thus ignore the possibility that a different rule set for determining what is real and important is possible.
                      It's my experience that most thoughtful atheists recognize this. Science as an epistemology cannot validate itself after all.

                      It's extremely frustrating to me as an atheist to come into the room with a bag full of rule sets for epistemology, ethics, metaethics, metaphysics, semiotics, and (most importantly to this discussion) aesthetics only to have them ignored in favor of ridiculous axe-grinding about the limits of science which we already know and acknowledge.

                      Science does one thing, and it does it very well. It constructs predictive inferences across multiple cases from multiple types of observations.

                      But if you want to talk about beauty and narrative, I'm going to want to talk about theme and variations, deconstruction, improvisation, fractal structures, sense-making, and symbols and their relations.  None of these can be addressed by science wrt Beethoven's 9th, because Beethoven's 9th is a singularity and science doesn't deal in singularities.

                      Opinions about atheists bother me much more than opinions about god. I can respectfully disagree with your argument from beauty. I can't respect that you've framed your argument against a reductionist and stereotypical view of atheism.  

    •  Oh, there's plenty of intelligent discussion. (2+ / 0-)
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      Dumbo, Kevskos

      You just have to know where to look!

      -9.38/-7.69 If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Thu Nov 01, 2012 at 11:05:47 AM PDT

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