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View Diary: Why can't I dismiss belief in god? (203 comments)

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  •  When you can explain dreams... (5+ / 0-)

    when you can explain love, when you can explain intuition, when you can explain hope...then you can dimiss belief in God.  

    Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

    by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:09:02 PM PST

    •  Ah yes... (16+ / 0-)

      The old 'you can't explain this and this and this and this, so you can't say nuthin' about my superstitious beliefs!' comeback.

      Which can also be effortlessly dismissed. Especially since dreams, love, intuition and hope can be explained quite well anyway.

      •  asdf (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        exlrrp, PatriciaVa, librarisingnsf, Dumbo
        Especially since dreams, love, intuition and hope can be explained quite well anyway
        Well, go ahead then!

        Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

        by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:20:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well.... (10+ / 0-)

          There are these fields called' psychology' and 'neuroscience'. Innumerable books have been written on the subjects.

          As I tell climate deniers, if you really want to know, you do some research yourself instead of demanding random people on the Internet spoonfeed you.

          •  asdfg (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            librarisingnsf
            demanding random people on the Internet spoonfeed you
            i meant my comment in jest but i see you continue to look at it in the worst possible light.  Rollin' my eyes here.

            Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

            by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:45:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  We have a domain/scope problem here. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            offgrid, lotlizard

            It's like if somebody asked you to explain why Tippi Hedrin opens that door at the top of the hall in The Birds, and you answer that it can all be explained through cellulose film, three color ink dyes, projectors and lens focal lengths.

            That doesn't adequately answer the question because the answer lies outside the domain of things that can be explained that way.  Simply describing the mechanics of some physical process that expresses a more complicated non-physical concept doesn't work.

            •  There are no non-physical processes (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              BPARTR, Roadbed Guy, sagesource, caul

              Everything that happens, even human behavior, is just because some molecules are arranged one way and not another.

              Since molecular arrangements are very complex, we can't easily analyze people's behavior from first physical principles (though progress is being made in that area).

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:59:55 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  There are many processes in (0+ / 0-)

                mathematical modelling that have no direct relationship with molecules at all, other than the fact that some guy with a math degree brainstormed them.

                For instance, in computer science, there's a fun little thing called genetic algorithms.  Genetic algorithms try to find solutions to problems through a process akin to natural selection, with different possible solutions mutating and competing and dying.

                Now, I would call that a process that is non molecular.

                Next, you could say, "Yes, but it has to run on a computer that is made out of molecules, or be worked out by hand by a human with a pencil and paper..."

                I would say, no, it doesn't have to be calculated at all.  The process of a genetic algorithm exists whether or not you think of it, and all the solutions that it would produce exist whether or not you or a computer actually calculate it out.

                •  Those aren't "processes" (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sagesource, caul

                  They are simply ideas or concepts, which is different. A "process" is something that "happens", i.e. some physical object changes form.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:17:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well, that's a very convenient definition, (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lotlizard, JamieG from Md

                    which makes the whole discussion moot.  In Computer Sci, we had different uses for the word than you probably had in biology or chemistry.  But let's use your definition.

                    I still say this: "Simply describing the mechanics of some physical process that expresses a more complicated non-physical concept doesn't work."

                    That is, describing the process by which Tippi Hedrin's image appears on the screen to open that door doesn't give me any useful insight into why her character opened that door.  In fact, Tippi Hedrin's character IS a character.  She's acting out a script.  The script may or may not make sense.  And yet, when we watch the film, we try to think of why she's doing things the way she does them.  Even though there is no real person on the screen, and Tippi Hedrin was just an actress and the writer and director might have been on drugs and the scene we're talking about might have been edited badly into the film from some chronologically different sequence.

                    We try to MAKE sense of it in our minds.  Making sense of things is what we do as humans.  We create narratives for everything.  Even for the names of the processes in physical sciences.

        •  Dreams: (12+ / 0-)

          random firing of synapses in response to input and memory.

          Love: dopamine and serotonin receptors responding to pleasure stimulus... at its best in a reinforcing feedback loop.

          Intuition: pattern recognition.

          Hope: fear

          The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

          by RedDan on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:43:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's really good, I wouldn't have thought of (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            caul

            all that.  But wouldn't you say that hope is a psychological defense response to fear?

            I hate it when I hope.  Because there's just too much wiggle room for dire outcomes.

            Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

            by ZedMont on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:11:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes that fully explains love all right (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RedDan, quiet in NC
            Love: dopamine and serotonin receptors responding to pleasure stimulus... at its best in a reinforcing feedback loop.
            We'll just put you down as a real romantic

            Happy just to be alive

            by exlrrp on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:58:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  What combination of neurotransmitters (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sally Foster

            makes somebody a hero?

            If you feel like that question isn't clear enough and requires further definition of terms, let's try this: What makes a hero a hero and how do you quantify it?  If you can't quantify it, does that mean heroes aren't really heroes?  

            I'm deliberately choosing a word here that describes something most of us have some understanding of but which can't be easily reduced to a discussion of neurotransmitters without making itself totally absurd.

            •  What's a "hero" (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy, sagesource, caul

              You asked the question, it's up to you to come up with a definition. In fact, re-ask the question without using the word since no one knows what it means.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:01:53 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Okay. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kkkkate

                Somebody who is brave enough to do something difficult that may require sacrificing something of value.

                Actually, we can go on quite a while, defining value and self and brave, etc.  You might believe that when we are done, we will describe something that can be explained through neurotransmitters, chemical bonds, etc., but I think this is ultimately something more abstract than the natural world, more like literature analysis and philosophy than anything in the natural sciences.  

                •  So (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  sagesource

                  You don't think it is possible to explain why someone would sacrifice something for someone else using sociology or molecular biology?

                  And you think that these other non-scientific methods you are describing are better than scientific methods?

                  Somebody who is brave enough to do something difficult that may require sacrificing something of value.

                  Actually, we can go on quite a while, defining value and self and brave, etc.  You might believe that when we are done, we will describe something that can be explained through neurotransmitters, chemical bonds, etc., but I think this is ultimately something more abstract than the natural world, more like literature analysis and philosophy than anything in the natural sciences.  

                  Well, that's just an assertion on your part. Large swaths of human and animal behavior are already understood in terms of evolution, neuroscience, and other sciences that attempt to understand how large collections of neuron molecules behave as a group. There is no reason not to believe that all behavior can in theory be explained this way, no mysticism needed.

                  (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                  Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                  by Sparhawk on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:24:54 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I grant you this: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kkkkate

                    all OBSERVABLE phenomena can be described in some way through physical processes.  Including my typing this.

                    However, I take a very different attitude from you, I suspect, on how we relate to this physical world and these physical processes.  Yes, they are observable.  Yes, they can describe all observable phenomena in a rational way, the way that describing film cellulose and lenses describes The Birds.  I don't think you and I RELATE to that physical world.  You and I exist in a world of concepts and narratives.  We impose meaning on the things we observe in order to help us understand them and try to grapple with them.  It's the ONLY way we can grapple with anything.  The meanings that we impose are always arbitrary, although some are much more useful than others and easier to communicate.  The meanings that we ascribe to things are as outside the scope of the physical processes of the natural world as numbers are.  

                    Now, exercising a little jiu-jitsu, I can point out that the converse situation might be applicable.  Can a theoretical model of a physical world and all physical processes in it (this world or some other imaginary one) be described through a set of formulas and principles?  This is one of the basic assumptions in physics, so I'm not taking you into uncomfortable religious territory by suggesting this, that there is some unified theory of everything that is capable of explaining and describing everything in our observable world.

                    Theoretically, if we had a formula like that, and a big and powerful enough computer, we could recreate everything in the universe through a modeled simulation based on that theory, in the same way that everything that happens in the game The Sims is modeled on the algorithm in the app program that comes on the CD, TheSims.exe.  We could exist in such a theoretical simulation program, right now, all our molecules could be expressions of a conceptual model, and we could have a hearty debate over whether any physical process we observe is "real" or not.

                    According to Brian Greene in his book, The Elegant Universe, the race for such a theory is probably going to provide multiple solutions that are mutually inconsistent with each other.  I.e., there may be more than one way of modeling our universe, and they can't all be right at the same time, and yet each one of them will be, by itself, demonstrably true based on all predictions and observable phenomena.  

                    I take the position that if/when that happens, they will all be true.

                •  Which is why... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Dumbo

                  ... many nontheists engage in literary analysis and philosophy, because.

                  •  cut off (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dumbo

                    because there is no one-size-fits-all wonder tool.

                    •  That's true. (0+ / 0-)

                      I suppose I'm a pan-theist, which is a non-theist by many people's crude definition, but I agree with what you just said.

                      What I'm arguing against is the naturalist materialist position, a position that is often equated with atheism.  I don't see why it needs to be, but, oh well, I don't see either why religion has to be equated with fundamentalism.  They're both unwieldy.

                      This is closer to what I believe, Subjective Idealism at wiki, although I go off on a different tangent involving narratives.

                      Subjective idealism is a fusion of phenomenalism or empiricism, which confers special status upon the immediately perceived, with idealism, which confers special status upon the mental. Idealism denies the knowability or existence of the non-mental, while phenomenalism serves to restrict the mental to the empirical. Subjective idealism thus identifies its mental reality with the world of ordinary experience, rather than appealing to the unitary world-spirit of pantheism or absolute idealism. This form of idealism is "subjective" not because it denies that there is an objective reality, but because it asserts that this reality is completely dependent upon the minds of the subjects that perceive it.
              •  these days it's another word for victim (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                caul

                so essentially just being in the wrong place at the wrong time could make a person into a hero . . .

      •  there's no need to be insulting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quiet in NC, librarisingnsf

        Der Weg ist das Ziel

        by duhban on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:20:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And why are people recc'ing such a... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AntonBursch

          twisted around and mean spirited comment? Seem like non-believers can be just as adament in their beliefs as believers!  Fuck all of humanity is what I say :)

          Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

          by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:47:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  some of them lack precision reading skills too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Marko the Werelynx, kkkkate

            there went any delusions i had about fellow atheists being more diligent about making sure they understand what someone is saying before arguing about it

            it was knee jerk reaction time in here tonight

            •  Few things bring out the knee jerking (4+ / 0-)

              like a discussion of atheism.

              I thought you made a reasonable attempt.

              One thing atheists, and I include myself in that vague category, prefer to forget is that they may have rejected some bits of nonsense but like all of their fellow humans they cling desperately to other bits of nonsense.

              We all have our dark corners where the blithering nonsense festers.

              I think a total rejection of "god" is perhaps not all that healthy considering we're kind of built to believe in nonsense.

              I've recently been watching Derren Brown videos. This one about religious belief I quite enjoyed. "Fear and Faith (Part 2)" in case the YouTube folks take down that particular video. I also recommend Part 1.

              I think Derren Brown shows a great deal of insight and approaches the concepts of belief and faith with respect and compassion-- qualities I've found to be lacking in most other prominent atheists. It's all a bit over-the-top dramatic with the quick-cuts and horror movie music-- but that's what passes for good television these days.

              Humans are not naturally creatures of pure logic and Brown at one point offers a possible evolutionary reason for religious belief. Good thoughtful stuff.

    •  not being able to explain some things (13+ / 0-)

      does not necessitate the existence of god, particularly a theistic god.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:31:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As Far as I've Seen There are Decent Explanations (8+ / 0-)

      for all those things in terms of biology and evolution of social, problem-solving animals, ourselves and other species. To pick one, love, a drive to be altruistic in several kinds of relationship such as long-term mates, family or pack mates. Social animals need a drive to keep them cooperating.

      As to an emotional need to belong to a larger "family" or intelligence, well, part of our drive to be social is a need to recognize faces that's so strong it gives us a high error rate on the false positive side. We see faces where they are preposterous, in clouds, bunches of leaves, on toast (sometimes we even see particular historic faces).

      We grow out of infancy through a long childhood; a need for some kind of god or world of supernatural intelligence --assuming it exists-- could be leftover bonding drives from that process, and some spillover of our other social drives. It could be quite natural for a social animal at our level of evolution to have a false positive rate of perceiving personalities where there are in fact none.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:31:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  See my comment above... (4+ / 0-)

        but thanks for your respectful reply and thoughts.  

        Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

        by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 06:41:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks. I'm Always Willing to Stub My Toe Missing (0+ / 0-)

          a subtlety of a person I'm replying to, in favor of a larger readership.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:54:07 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  That's a better attempt at explaining it (0+ / 0-)

        than the neurotransmitter explanation that somebody attempted above.  You begin by defining it as a relationship between objects of specific characteristics.  

        Now, I would say that as soon as you do this, even though you appear to be explaining it in a real physical natural world way, you are really creating (or borrowing) concepts created out of thin air.  They may explain much of (but not all) "love" phenomena in a rational way.  I would argue that you pass out of the domain of natural world things and into the more arbitrary world of human narrative as soon as you DEFINE objects.  Nature itself has no definitions.  Only human minds do.

        Let me try explaining that another way.  You look through a telescope at the nighttime sky and you see this:

        You try to characterize it as a big white spot on a black field, and wonder what it is.  I would say you've left the natural world as soon as you categorize it as any opposition of two different things.  Yes, part is white, part is black, and you separated it that way, very logically, but that separation is part of a human modeling process that is distinct from other natural world processes that don't involve humans.  

        Without human beings to look at the nighttime sky, there would be no moon.  Without humans to feel love and to wonder what that feeling is, there would be no love.

        •  Um, I'm pretty sure (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          atana, sagesource, caul

          That the moon was there for a few billion years before ther were men to look at it.

          As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

          by BPARTR on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 09:37:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, you and I agree, something was there, yup. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            denig

            But was it "the moon?"  

            This is like that old argument, a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is there, does it make a sound.  I think you've got the YES side of the argument down.  The NO side has a pretty good argument, too, and it doesn't completely contradict the YES argument; it's just different.

            Heh.  Wikipedia has its own entry for "If a tree falls in the forest."  Interesting.  That saves me time.

            Here's one version from 1730 that's close to what I've been saying:

            Berkeley's example is referred to by William Fossett twenty years later in a consideration of the emergence of meaning: "[T]ease apart the threads [of the natural world] and the pattern vanishes. The design is in how the cloth-maker arranges the threads: this way and that, as fashion dictates. [...] To say something is meaningful is to say that that is how we arrange it so; how we comprehend it to be, and what is comprehended by you or I may not be by a cat, for example. If a tree falls in a park and there is no-one to hand, it is silent and invisible and nameless. And if we were to vanish, there would be no tree at all; any meaning would vanish along with us. Other than what the cats make of it all, of course."[2]
            •  that it was written in 1730 (0+ / 0-)

              doesn't make it any more sensible thatn if it was written today.

              regarding trees falling- noise is a physical condition- rerefaction and compression of atmospheic air.  Whether or not it is perceived by you is irrelevant, unless you define noise as only what you personally hear.  By that definition, if a tree falls in the forest, and I hear it but you don't - it didn't make a sound.  ( Otherwise, if a squirrel hears it is sound, or if the sound waves diusturb the trees nearby it is sound.) The moon was there, regardless of whether or not man called it a moon.  ( By your definition, it really wasn't a moon until you personally named it a moon.  

              As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

              by BPARTR on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 10:24:03 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  a thought experiment for you (0+ / 0-)

                suppose that you were wearing noise cancelling headphones and watched a tree fall in the forest.  did it make a sound? presumably not. Now suppose you were standing next to some one else, but still wearing the noise cancelling headphones- now did it make a sound? presumably so.  Now suppose you were standing with your dog, watching the tree fall- and you were still wearing te noise cancelling headphones, but your dog was fightened and howled in terror at the sound of the crashing tree. Did it make a sound????

                Sound is a physical attribute, like physical existence of a moon.  It doesn't require your perception or experience to exist.

                Similarly, I exist, even though you have never met me.  And you may exist, even though I have never met you. ( In the absence of evidence, I do not know if you exist, but whether or not I know that you exist has no bearing upon whether or not you exist.)

                As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                by BPARTR on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 01:01:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I understand and agree with (0+ / 0-)

                  your argument.  But you don't yet understand the original argument, I don't think.  I don't think your answer is the correct one.  It's just logically consistent, and it depends on an objective non-human based understanding of what sound is.  I could just as well define the color red, for instance, as electromagnetic radiation at 700nm wavelength.  That's nice and objective and makes it easy for scientific experiments because it avoids disagreement.

                  But if nobody sees it, is it red?  I don't mean, could it be changing colors to something else, or no color at all.  What does it mean when we say red?

                  We don't experience 700 nm electromagnetic radiation.  We experience the color red, and your experience of it may be vastly different from mine.  

                  Once you get a grasp on that, then we can go a step further, and say that EVERYTHING you experience is something your mind has experienced and your mind doesn't directly access the physical world of light wavelengths and sound wavelengths.  I suspect the first time somebody in a physics class told you that light WAS a wave of anything, you didn't understand what they were talking about, because that's not how you ever personally experienced it.  Your mind is forever trapped in a world of personally experienced colors, not electromagnetic radiation.  That objective single universe that's out there which you would like to appeal to as the final arbiter may exist, but everything you know about it is either a personal sensory experience or a mental CONSTRUCT, some kind of model that you have created to better understand the things that are happening.

                  There was an interesting episode of Stephen Hawking's Universe, where he said, there really are no such things as quarks, as we know them.  They're just a model we made up to make up to better describe the phenomena in a way that we feel comfortable with, as if they were legos that assemble together to make neutrons and protons.

                  Our differences in experience over the color red may be difficult to bridge, because we have no way of knowing what the other sees, except that I point at something red, call it red, and you do too, and we agree what is red.  But whatever you're experiencing when you see the color red is forever outside the domain of what I can see.  

                  Now, let's take something more complicated.  F=MA.  I had a long, heated argument at a libertarian meeting way back in my youth.  Somebody said that was Newton's great discovery, and, being a troll, I said it wasn't a discovery -- it was a formula, like net=gross-expenses.  

                  I've had years to think about that and change my mind.  I think now that F=MA is a useful INVENTION of Newton's.  The concepts of force, mass, and acceleration as separate things is a very useful one.  You might say that they are objectively real, and I would say, sure, once you define them that way, but what if nobody ever defined them that way?  Are you sure we couldn't have some valid alien theories of physics that didn't depend on these concepts?

                  I know that the first time mass was explained to me, it confused me, because it didn't seem a very natural idea.  I understood weight very well.  Heavy things are harder to lift!  I knew that from when I was a baby.  But mass separates gravity from weight (weight = mass * gravity) and turns it into something more abstract, a useful concept because it makes discussions of weight or mass useful outside the context of a constant gravity field.  

                  Going back to that 1730 quote: "[T]ease apart the threads [of the natural world] and the pattern vanishes. The design is in how the cloth-maker arranges the threads: this way and that, as fashion dictates. [...] To say something is meaningful is to say that that is how we arrange it so;"

                  So Newton did a great job of arranging the threads in his own design.  It's not that F=MA is false or unreliably true, but that it just depends on concepts that don't really arise from the natural world itself but rise from the inventiveness of the human mind.

                  The formula F=MA is all in your head.  That's the only place it can ever be.  Just like when you look at the sky and see a big round white circle and separate it from the surrounding black field and call it the moon, you're seeing something that your mind has arbitrarily constructed and separated out from the big amorphous glob of stuff that is the universe.  

                  Does the moon exist when you don't look?  That's like asking if F=MA exists without Newton.

                  •  I just wrote a long response (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dumbo

                    And it disappeared. Oh we'll.  if  a post disappears in the ether, did it exist?

                    I understand your view, but do not agree.  I do not believe that our experience of the world has any bearing on the existence of the world.  Ultimately all our experience maps on the brain, and the brain is hard wired to use useful shortcuts to produce a useful model of the world.  Optical illusions are an example of this.  That I see the lines as converging, or the circles as different sizes does not make them so.  The wiring of my retinas and brain work in most situations to produce a useful model of the world around me, but in no way make the world exist in the way I perceive it.  My experience of talking to a ghost does not make a ghost exist, similarly with hearing gods speak to me.  Experience does not make gods exist if they do not.  The moon does not change size when it is near the horizon, even though it looks bigger to me.   Similarly, it did not take an English speaker looking at the moon to make it exist.  Dinosaurs undoubtably waited for the moon to rise to hunt at night.

                    The underlying assumption of the notion that ther is only sound if "someone" experiences it is that nothing exists if i do not personally experience it, since "someone" is not defined.  all of us operate on this level to a certain extent. this leads, of course to indifference to major events on thenothe side of the world, compared to minor event at home.The logical extension of the tree falling concept is that there is no universe or physical world except what I personally experience.  That view is, of course, unfalsifiable.  I may not exist either, except in my experience.  

                    As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                    by BPARTR on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:03:28 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  By the way (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Dumbo

                      Thank you for an interesting conversation.

                      As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

                      by BPARTR on Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 07:05:30 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not saying that there is no sound (0+ / 0-)

                        as you define it, as displacement waves of molecules in the air at certain frequencies, etc.  I'm redefining sound in a more useful way.  If I took a scalpel and cut the connection between your auditory nerves and your brain, then rang a bell, you wouldn't hear anything, but you would say there is still a sound there, just that you couldn't hear it.  That's by one definition of sound premised on the existence of a single objective universe, a good assumption that I share with you.

                        But when we HEAR a sound, we EXPERIENCE it.  It has a certain resonance with us.  It might be pleasant or unpleasant.  It might remind us of other sounds we've heard.  We can categorize it in various ways.  We say, "I know what that is: It's the sound of a bell.  It's a sound, not a smell, not a hot stove.  All of your sensory experiences are sensed by a person, you.  Simply obvious, so it might seem tedious to point this out.  Yes, there are two different ways of looking at sound, and we can only argue about what's more useful here, and from a scientific point of view, the displaced waves is more useful.  From a musician's point of view, that's less important.  

                        Now we get to the question then of which meaning of the word has primacy and engulfs the other in importance?  Without those displaced waves, we wouldn't hear anything, so that makes the scientific definition seem overriding in importance.  From the musician's point of view, that's irrelevant if people don't have ears to listen to it with.

                        There is an operation that they can perform on deaf people to install what's called a cochlear implant, a device that bypasses dead auditory nerves to pass sounds through to the brain.  If you give this operation to people who lost their hearing in childhood, they can generally understand what they hear.  If you give it to people who were born deaf or lost their hearing very early, they can't.  They can recognize a clap, but that's about it.  The ability to distinguish sounds and make sense of them is an acquired thing, based on some model of understanding sensory input that we create when young.  Wait too long, and the window of opportunity for a person to create that model so they can distinguish sounds is lost forever.  For them, hearing becomes a binary experience of sound or no-sound, clap or no clap.  In a world in which humans never grew up with ears, the whole idea of SOUNDS as anything other than a theoretical wave displacement would not exist.  We might not even have a word for it.  

                        A parallel question I could ask, similar to the tree in the forest one, might be this: If we have no word for something, does it exist?  If we have no way of organizing it into some THING that we can think about or talk about or reason about, does it exist for us or anybody else, or is it just another fuzzy part of all the other weird shit in the universe we'll never know or think about?

                        There has to be a lot of stuff like that.  

                        The Golden Record that Carl Sagan helped compile to put on the Voyager probe spacecraft has the sounds of earth and music by a number of musicians like Beethoven.  The pointless hope is that if some alien race finds it billions of years from now, they'll listen to it and go, "Beethoven's Fifth!  Way cool!"  Think of all the obstacles that make that unlikely, though, even beyond the improbability of an alien finding it in the vastness of interstellar space.  They might not have ears.  They might not have a word for sound.  If they do, if they could figure out how to play the record, could they make any sense of it?  All those overlapping instruments forming different musical voices in polyphony?  The ability of the human brain to separate them is rather fantastic, if you think about it.  A Fourier Transform Analysis to do that would be horrendously difficult, and even if they could separate the musical voices, the formation of the sounds into musical phrases and resonant chords and repeated motifs seems rather daunting.  Most humans never exposed to classical music form can't make sense of Beethoven.

                        I've posted several times in diaries I've written the question, Does Beethoven's Ninth Symphony exist?  I think its' a fascinating question, and it has parallels to the tree in the forest question.  If you have no conception of music, you can't experience Beethoven.  Any objective definition of Beethoven's Ninth, like, it's the written score, or it's whatever Beethoven intended, etc., any definition like that that would be useful for an objective scientific discussion, is pointless and out of the scope of any real discussion about Beethoven's Ninth.  Beethoven's Ninth is not just sound.  It's music.  The question itself seems half-formed, and that's part of what makes it fascinating, because it forces us to define our terms before we can even think about grappling with it.  What IS Beethoven's Ninth?  And what does it mean for something like that to exist?  Do human impressions of sound exist?  If the answer is yes, then does anything that is NOT a human impression exist?

                        If this feels like a dangerous question, I think maybe it is, because it parallels the question of whether humans have souls, and what the hell the word even means.

    •  It's all been explained. (0+ / 0-)

      You haven't looked. I recommend Sam Harris to start. If he can't convince you, you don't want to be convinced.

      What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

      by Cpqemp on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:20:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like you think Sam Harris is God... (0+ / 0-)

        Ha!  What a conundrum!

        Einstein’s Theory of Relative Stupidity: Anyone who attempts to make George Bush look like a frigging genius, will end up looking like George Bush.

        by quiet in NC on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:39:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  God, no. (0+ / 0-)

          National treasure, yes.

          What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

          by Cpqemp on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 08:00:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  An honest person... (0+ / 0-)

      ...can't dismiss anything that they've experienced as just some fantasy.

      That said, there are just a fuckton of people out there who believe in God without ever experiencing God.

      ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
      My Blog
      My wife's woodblock prints

      by maxomai on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 07:30:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Incorrect (0+ / 0-)

        I can mess with your experiences in some interesting ways by applying electricity at the right spots in your brain, or using drugs. What you've experienced always has a reason, but it's not always the reason you'd like it to have. What you might misinterpret as a vision of holiness, an autopsy might reveal to have been a tiny stroke in the right area of the brain.

        "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

        by sagesource on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:32:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm pretty sure I can do it anyway. (0+ / 0-)

      With all those things your god gave you a butterfly is still unimpressed that you cannot see its splendor in the ultraviolet spectrum.

    •  what does it mean to "explain" (0+ / 0-)

      those things?

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 02:46:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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