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Free Will and Omniscience

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Stephanos
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75 posted 04-15-2003 09:55 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I stated earlier:

"You might argue that God's freedom would be compromised by the fact that he becomes dependent upon and limited by our choices.††But this is precisely where the glory lies in the claims of Christianity.††God's most alluring description is as the condescending one, the sacrificing one, the incarnate God who became flesh.††So God gives up his freedom, in a sense, to give us ours"


Ron's last post brought Out something important, that I wasn't seeing clearly enough until I read it in his last reply.  If one can argue that God's freedom is compromised by allowing ours, one can also argue that our freedom is compromised by his ... that either way, or for either party, freedom is not true freedom ... but only free in appearance.  But the answer to that is the same from either vantage.  What if freedom in the truest sense is one which freely gives itself up as a voluntary offering, and suspends it's rights for a greater right?  If this isn't so, then obedience to the divine will (or any will for that matter) must be looked at as servile and slavish... and free will is in jeopardy.  


Since it might be considered a high attribute for God to surrender some of his own freedom (a timeless result of the incarnation) to give us ours, it could in the same way apply to us.  Should we grudge not having absolute freedom ... what we would call complete autonomy?  Maybe the degree to which we cannot have freedom, being creatures and not the Creator, is that part which should fittingly be offered back to him.  To use an idea of C.S. Lewis, it is the eternal dance between the creature and the Creator.  He has bowed to us and we learn to bow to him in return.  


Instead of this contingent freedom being called some mockery of freedom, perhaps total autonomy should be called the mockery ... the counterfeit.  It just seems that since the beginning we have desired for autonomy amounting to Godhood, with devastating results ... There's another story somewhere about apples which illustrated this point.  


I know I've moved quite away from metaphysics and epistemology, and into ethics.  But I think it all connects somehow.


Anyway I thought Ron's analogy of offering apples to be a good one.


Stephen.          

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-15-2003 10:01 PM).]

Local Rebel
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76 posted 04-16-2003 12:24 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Does infinity imply multiple gods?

Maybe.

I've often said that if man is made in the image of god and he made the universe the only possible explanation for his doing so would be that he was trying to impress a girl.     Which would imply at least two gods -- in which case I would have to be diagnostic  -- ow...

been busy with that which makes us more equal than any other -- TAXES!  so... now I must rest -- I'll get back into the cosmology issues soon though.

(believe it or not -- Ron, Stephanos, and I are not that far apart on this -- really)

ok ok... here's something to chew on anyway...

logic, decisions, free will -- all necessary to us and our universe -- but -- not necessarily to god -- the topic question bogs down in it's anthropomorphing of god.

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-16-2003 12:33 AM).]

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77 posted 04-16-2003 02:01 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie



Ron,

Apples are nice but Iíd prefer an orange and thatís my point, if a third party has the ability to change my choice to an apple however nice that apple seems Iíve lost whatever free will I thought I had.

Fractal,

quote:
Isn't that a bit like saying that we're all walking deadmen because there exist murderers in our society who have the ability to kill us?


No, because murderers donít have the absolute ability to kill us they only have the ability to try, if God can intercede to override our free will I presume being omnipotent he will have that ability absolutely.

quote:
What does that have to do with the question of whether or not we have free will? Besides, I don't think anyone here would think anything to the contrary of your statement. Why? Because we live in a universe in which just about everything takes place at specific points in time. That includes your knee and any amount of staring at it you might engage in, whether divinely inspired or not.


I was responding to the introduction of the premise that God existed outside of time in an earlier reply, Iím glad, but rather surprised, to hear that everyone agrees with my statement.

Stephanas,

Are you saying that God has the free will to choose whether to allow us to have a free will? If so how exactly is his free will diminished, that would be his freely arrived at choice after all wouldnít it?
Stephanos
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78 posted 04-16-2003 04:11 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

CE:

"Are you saying that God has the free will to choose whether to allow us to have a free will? If so how exactly is his free will diminished, that would be his freely arrived at choice after all wouldnít it?"


First question... Yes, I am saying that God has the free will to choose to allow us to have free will.  His free will is diminished in the sense that he has relinquished absolute autocracy over every element of his creation.  Having absolute control and unmitigated free will would mean dictating every grain of sand, every molecule, every atom, every mind.  But not desiring automata, God chose to allow us to choose some things.  That is how it was diminished ... He mitigated his glory enough to allow us to share some of it.  


But you are right in suggesting that he didn't really lose his free will.  It is retained, in that he chose to allow us to have wills.  There was a humility, but it was a willful humility.  His free will is also retained, in the sense that he has reserved the ability to use our choices as raw material for his own ends.  Just like I can connect my 4 year old's dots on the paper, and make a picture he never imagined, without interfering with where he put the dots.  I would daresay that he might even like it better when I'm through.  I am after all, a better artist than he is.  


So I guess I'm trying to say that God's free will was self-limited, but not diminished in value or Glory.  (once again, the incarnation is the greatest example of this)  This was the only way that we could have wills or any freedom at all.  C.S. Lewis  once said that one of the greatest miracles of deity has to be the ability to create beings who are able of their own accord, if they choose, to deny their Creator.  Upon reflection, I have to agree with him.


Stephen.          
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79 posted 04-16-2003 11:53 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Selected from Stephanos:

quote:

When there is no mind or "will" involved in the overall scheme of the the universe, how can there be a mind or will within the universe that is not illusory?  Every particular in the universe is forced to exhibit the character of the whole, which in a naturalistic universe is ultimately chemical.  


But how can chemical processes make choices?  

Someone please explain will arising from nonwillful chemistry, in such a way that does not undermine every rational thought and action that we may choose.




You could start with Stephen Wolfram -- the inventor/author of Mathmatica.  His latest work http://www.wolframscience.com/  is 'A New Kind of Science'

In the Q/A he describes the premise:

quote:

Almost all the science that's been done for the past three hundred or so years has been based in the end on the idea that things in our universe somehow follow rules that can be represented by traditional mathematical equations. The basic idea that underlies A New Kind of Science is that that's much too restrictive, and that in fact one should consider the vastly more general kinds of rules that can be embodied, for example, in computer programs.

What started my work on A New Kind of Science are the discoveries I made about what simple computer programs can do. One might have thought that if a program was simple it should only do simple things. But amazingly enough, that isn't even close to correct. And in fact what I've discovered is that some of the very simplest imaginable computer programs can do things as complex as anything in our whole universe. It's this point that seems to be the secret that's used all over nature to produce the complex and intricate things we see. And understanding this point seems to be the key to a whole new way of thinking about a lot of very fundamental questions in science and elsewhere. And that's what I develop in A New Kind of Science.


[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-16-2003 11:54 PM).]

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80 posted 04-17-2003 03:50 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Eddie:

Even assuming my counter is invalid, I still do not see that God's ability to counter our free will results in our not having it in the first place.

This sounds a bit like boolean logic.  The not operator is capable of inverting 1 to result in 0.  But just because that operator exists and is capable of operating on some 1 does not mean that that 1 is already 0.

2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2
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Stephanos
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81 posted 04-19-2003 10:28 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR:

"You could start with Stephen Wolfram -- the inventor/author of Mathmatica"


Looks like some very innovative and interesting areas of research in the areas of complexity.  I visited his own website, read alot of what he has to say about "A new kind of science".  And I also read some reviews of the book.  I perceived a certain pitch of egoism from his own descriptions of his research and findings.  Of course this isn't always a bad thing, except to a point.  Claiming that one's own findings will turn every human discipline upon it's head, from mathematics, to philosophy, to religion, seems presumptuous ... to say the least.  

Now I haven't read the book, so my replies are limited to first impressions ... from Wolfram, and from others.  His critics describe his work as innovative, but not as Avante Gard or exclusively his own discovery, as he claims.  This doesn't seem like an attack to me, but a reasonable assessment.  Many of his critics seemed willing to give praise and credit to him when it was due.  There are many other criticisms to be considered.  You can check some out at the following:

http://www.math.usf.edu/~eclark/ANKOS_reviews.html  


But granting that CA has merit, I still don't see how it can even approach the question of consciousness and will within a naturalistic universe.  You can say that Wolfram's universe is more information based, and that substance is an illusion ... (consciousness and individuality, it seems, must follow), but the program being run without a willful designer, still imposes the naturalistic problem.


Steven Weinberg in a review writes:

"Wolfram even tackles the old conflict between belief in a deterministic view of nature and in the existence of free will. He suggests that free will is an illusion that arises from the apparent unpredictability of the complex behavior produced by those simple rules of biology that he imagines to govern the human organism."


This illustrates exactly what I meant.  I didn't deny that there is a plethora of explanations for consciousness in a naturalistic universe.  But I also added a conditon in my request ... that "it would not undermine every rational thought and action we may choose".  Consciousness and will and individuality turning out to be an illusion is pretty devastating.  It's so devastating, that I'm compelled to ask, Why should I consider any of this illusion's propositions for a universal scheme to be worthy of consideration?


You've also got to ask when it comes to such algorithms ... Since they were found and organized and executed by an intelligent willful mind (ie Stephen Wolfram), it is hard to conceive such as proof against an intelligent and willful universal mind.  Who was the organizer of these universal algorithms to start with?  Who designed this "universal computer" that he describes as a model for the cosmos?  It lands us back to square one after all.


Stephen  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-19-2003 11:02 PM).]

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82 posted 04-20-2003 05:30 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I'd say that you're too kind Stephen when you say 'certain pitch of egoism' in regards to Wolfram.  In fact -- 'presented with the Hubris of a megalomaniac' might be a more apt description of his demeanor.  But, in reality what he has is just arrogance.  It's the kind of arrogance that all of us have when we KNOW for a fact that we're right, and we all take on that demeanor when it happens. (It's the same kind of arrogance that religionists present their case with) Otherwise -- I suspect not much would ever get done.  Of course that doesn't mean that Wolfram is right.  Frankly -- it's not possible really to know at this point.  We don't even know if Einstein was right, after all.  But that's really the point.

I'm not a detractor or follower of Wolfram personally.  As I mentioned previously -- I'm still stuck in the 'old' science of string theory -- and not even good at it.  I brought NKS into the discussion strictly as a counterpoint to your comments -- and I do think that he has, as you said, some interesting work.  The notion that complexity evolves from a simple set of rules does have some merit that we can see repeating through nature -- not the least of which is our own DNA.

It's not surprising to me that the scientific community, particularly mathematicians, are meeting Wolfram head on.  He is a threat to the 'industry' of math.  It's not uncommon for this kind of peer resistance to rear it's ugly head at new ideas -- particularly when presented with the haughtiness of Wolfram.

It seems to follow though that Wolfram is able to describe the universe in the language of cellular automaton and computer code.  That is his language -- just as math was Newton's.  Just as Christianity is yours.  Just as music was Russell's.  I suspect that looking at the universe from the NKS perspective will yield some interesting finds -- but part of the problem of the 'science' is that the results of the simple rules aren't predictable -- I haven't read the book either -- but I would think this presents some challenges to Wolfram's would-be disciples.  That still doesn't mean that he's wrong.

Of course, the existence of NKS thought and complexity science also doesn't mean that you're wrong.

Personally, I've always been offended to think that who I am can be so easily altered by a regimen of Zoloft or Prosac.  In fact, when it was suggested by a therapist a few years back I was completely taken aback.  After all -- I had perfectly good reasons to be depressed.  I was supposed to be.  I didn't want a magic pill to take away my pain because that was all I had left.

On the other hand, when you watch someone die slowly, as their brain gets eaten up with cancer and the morphine begins to take them over and they become progressively someone else (which would be the case of just someone with alcoholism for instance)-- you begin to realize that brain chemistry is really all that we do have up there -- which presents us again with the problem of theology.

That you find the problem of naturalism as the conclusion to every question is not surprising Stephen -- because you're looking for it.  Just as the atheist is looking for a way to discredit the existence of a god.  In reality though -- we're all agnostics -- the difference being the Christian (or other theists et al) is the agnostic that wants there to be a God and want him to be the right one.  The atheist is either a theist who is mad at god (thereby no atheist at all) or the agnostic that hopes there isn't one.  Somewhere on the continuum is me -- just the plain agnostic that's willing to listen to ideas.

Wolfram would present the universe as an illusion (but I notice he's charging money for his book).  Kapra points out that quantum physics approaches the point where the universe looks like a great thought.  The Maharamayna says 'The supreme truth is established by total silence, not logical discussion and argument. He alone sees the truth who sees the universe without the intervention of the mind, and therefore without the notion of a universe.' And of course the Hebrew scriptures simply say 'Be still and know that I am'.

Who knows?
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83 posted 04-21-2003 12:15 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

Aaron- I must admit that this is indeed an interesting topic to ponder. Since I am of no mind to completely read all of the posts that are here before, I shall post mine as I see the facts for myself...

G-d's Omniscience and free will are nowhere near exclusive terms, and work together quite handily, thank you.
Figure it this way... I have two children. I am spending my time and energy teaching them to make good and wise decisions for themselves, because I know what will happen if they don't. The decisions, however, are ultimately theirs to make, and theirs to abide by.
Another way to see it is by watching (and quoting) from the movie "Oh G-d" (My apologies to all of us not young enough to have missed the commercials for it on TV). George Burns said, in the lead role,  that He gave us all the tools to make the decisions, yet what we do with those tools is up to us.

When the morning cries and you don't know why...

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84 posted 04-21-2003 06:14 AM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


Fractal,

quote:
Even assuming my counter is invalid, I still do not see that God's ability to counter our free will results in our not having it in the first place.

This sounds a bit like boolean logic. The not operator is capable of inverting 1 to result in 0. But just because that operator exists and is capable of operating on some 1 does not mean that that 1 is already 0.


My presumption was that God at some point would act to intervene, your assertion is that only at that point will mankind lose his free will and that at every point before that time mankind did in fact possess a free will. I maintain that the point at which God decides to intervene isnít important itís the fact that he/she can and would intercede if it looks like mankind is making a wrong decision that matters. The very fact that he/she chooses not to interfere acts to diminish mankindís free will in the same way that a childís free will is diminished by the interceding acts of a parent (see below).

Ringo,

Would you allow your children the free will to do anything they chose to?

If your children decided to run away from home, stay up all night or eat chocolate for every meal Iím fairly certain that you, as a responsible parent, would intervene. Thatís what parents do, they filter the decisions of their offspring allowing them only enough free will to make choices that the parent agrees with, children only have the free will to make choices that are sanctioned by the parent which is in essence no free will at all.
Ron
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85 posted 04-21-2003 07:49 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Thatís what parents do, they filter the decisions of their offspring allowing them only enough free will to make choices that the parent agrees with, children only have the free will to make choices that are sanctioned by the parent which is in essence no free will at all.


Now you're confusing free will with permission to do something, two very different things, and I suspect you're mixing in a pinch of "ability to do something," which, again, is a very different thing. The parent decides what a child will do, but does not, in the short term, determine what a child will think. And as we all know, in the long term, the parent has almost no control at all.

Short of extreme circumstances, you have the free will to steal something if you wish. That's entirely your decision. You do not have permission to steal something, of course, but that lack does not rob you of the underlying decision. It just sets a price, one you may be unwilling to pay. And while you may have the free will to decide to steal everything, it's doubtful you have the ability to do so.

Free will isn't about actions, but about choices. Your presumption that God would intervene remains just a presumption, one that makes little sense even on the surface. What would be the point of creation? To use your own analogy, you're not talking about training a child, or disciplining a child, or even restraining a child for their own safety. What you're talking about is a full frontal-lobotomy of the kid, turning it into an mindless robot completely under your control. That might make a parent's life easier, but it wouldn't be very satisfying.
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86 posted 04-21-2003 09:35 AM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie

Ron,

I admit mixing choices with permissions Ron and definitely agree that they are different animals entirely but they are inextricably linked and easily confused, I was hoping to use the impact of one to highlight the implications of the other without clearly defining either. I should have known better than to try to gloss over such important distinctions with so many qualified decorators in the house.  

[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (04-21-2003 02:28 PM).]

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87 posted 04-21-2003 05:05 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

Eddie- I didn't make myself clear on my post. As of right now, my job is to teach my children how to make intelligent decisions for their own life, so that when they are adults, and no longer answer to me and their mother, they are able to make the proper decisions more easily. Right now, they DO NOT have free reign... that does not mean that I rule with the ever-popular iron fist. Do I allow the kids to make decisions that I know are complete and total mistakes?? Sometimes. A good example would be the chocolate cake you mentioned. My son got a double chocolate fudge cake with chocolate fudge icing for his birthday the year he was 12. (he's 14 now) We had a small family only party after dinner, and he insisted that he was old enough to make his own decisions, and that he felt it was perfectly OK to eat the entire thing. My wife and I decided that, if he was old enough to do it, he was old enough to take the consequences. So we told him to have fun, and eat as much as he wanted to. 1/2 an hour later, I wandered into the dining room to find an emptry cake tray, and a VERY unhappy child. His stomach hurt, and he was sick because of all the junk. result of us allowing him to make that mistake... He now limits HIMSELF with the amount of garbage that he eats.
Another such example happened just a couple of months ago. He wanted to see a movie that we had rented, however, it was almost his bedtime. He argued that since he was all of 14 and a half, he should be allowed to stay up all night on the weekend if he chose to. We absolutely agreed, and he stayed up until about 4:30 in the morning watching videos. Well, just because he went to bed extremely late (early??) didn't give him any reason at all to skip Mass the next morning... and his mother and I chose that particular morning to attend the 7:30 service instead of the 12:00 service because we had a family outing planned. He was not ahppy when I turned on his light and yelled for him to get out of bed. He was even more unhappy when I stole his blanket (it was still winter,and I only keep the house at 60 degrees at night... that's why the Lord invented blankets.. and 65 during the day. He was tired, and he was cold, and he was miserable. He was also very unhappy when I kept jabbing him in the ribs as he tried to fall asleep during the service, and he was severely unhappy when I didn't allow him to sleep at all until his normal bedtime that night... ok, I cheated and gave him that extra half hour... End result?? My son now understands that his life (be it church, or work, or whatever) and responsibilities do not stop in the morning if he decides to stay up all night.
There have been other small instances where we have allowed him to reap the "benefits" of his actions. Are they dangerous? No. Are they going to cause him harm? No. I am not perfect, however, I am a better father than that. I can sit here and lecture him and tell him what, when, and how to do everything, and all that's going to do is give me a sore throat and him tired ears. Occasionally experience is the best teacher.
Now, once he becomes an adult, He will have a set of rules to live by (as do we all), and he is expected to follow them. Unfortunately, the only one that can decide if he will is him. I, as his father, can no longer do it for him.
The same thing applies, I feel, to THE Father. He gave us a set of rules to live by, and sent us people to assist him in teaching those rules to us (parents, clergy, Gospels, profits, etc), but at the end of the day... it is OUR decision on how well we follow them, and we are forced to accept the responsibility of not doing what is expected.
I hope that better explains my thoughts on Free Will vs. Omniscience.

When the morning cries and you don't know why...

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88 posted 04-24-2003 11:48 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR wrote:

". . . when you watch someone die slowly, as their brain gets eaten up with cancer and the morphine begins to take them over and they become progressively someone else (which would be the case of just someone with alcoholism for instance)-- you begin to realize that brain chemistry is really all that we do have up there -- which presents us again with the problem of theology."


Being a Registered Nurse, I do see this kind of thing on a regular basis ... Alchoholism and Cancer being only two examples.  And I would be foolish to present Christianity as a pat answer to pain, decay, and death in the human experience.  In it's best expression, it is an answer from one who has gone into the very depths of these experiences ... God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ.  And even those who are believers, if they are honest, will not glibly claim that death is a petty obstacle.  Something which caused Jesus himself to weep is no light matter.  It causes me to weep often enough.


But to say that such things show that "brain chemistry is really all that we do have up there" is a slipping toward despair.  Not only would that make death in the final analysis meaningless, but also life.  It makes the incoherency of someone with end-stage disease, equal with what we would consider the sanest and clearest of minds in day to day life.  Chemistry is chemistry.  And if all there is is that, then we've lost our basis of value ... even to value life over death.  

But we don't live like that.  I suspect that one of the reasons people decide that reality is no more than a mirage of molecules, is the general ugliness and impropriety of death itself.  I know, I've been there too.  We get offended at death.  Why else would you have such a hard time accepting a conclusion that you obviously feel you have been forced to, by the macabre nature of dying?  But the very fact that you find it difficult is maybe a clue to something within, that seems to think otherwise.  You have made value judgements that death is an absurdity.  And the very fact that you have, tells me that there is something in you more than chemistry.  Is your preference of life over death arbitrary?  I ask, because not only do you prefer it, you do so along with the vast majority of humanity.  It could be said that since some afflicted people prefer death, there is evidently nothing universal about the preference for life.  But isn't welcoming death the exception to the rule?  And most people prefer death only when life has become "death-like" in regard to decay and pain.  So even death is desirable only because we project onto it experiences of life, such as peace, cesation of pain, quietness, etc...  We really seem to want life after all ... across the board.  Why would this tendency be present in a race that is merely chemistry?  


Naturalism only reiterates the problem.  Christianity does give an answer.  There is the assertion of a God who created life and prefers it.  There is an explanation as to why we are dying and subject to futility, pain, and death... All of which concords with our inner struggles with moral questions, guilt, and death.  There is also the assurance that for believers death is not the end of the story.  We have a promise of resurrection for the body.  I find it interesting that you wrote your reply on 4/20, when all over the world people celebrate what is in the deepest sense, the very answer to your post.


LR: "In reality though -- we're all agnostics"

In a world view that allows knowledge to exist and have meaning, this is not necessarily true.  Some may really know after all.  Just food for thought.


Stephen.      

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-24-2003 11:52 PM).]

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quote:
Why would this tendency be present in a race that is merely chemistry?

Your conclusions carry more weight, Stephen, than your arguments. Let's rephrase your question slightly. Why would the will to survive be a survival trait?

If we, as a race, didn't prefer life over death, we wouldn't be here to listen to your questions today. Chemistry, random events, and sufficient time will answer your question every bit as well as does the Bible. That you and many others find the answer unsatisfying, by itself, doesn't make the answer wrong.
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90 posted 04-26-2003 11:07 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

But to say that such things show that "brain chemistry is really all that we do have up there" is a slipping toward despair. Not only would that make death in the final analysis meaningless, but also life.



Only to you, or someone who shares your paradigm and particular value system.  John Lennon posed the really interesting question:  What IF there's no heaven?  How then do you live?  Where do you find meaning?  What is the best way?  Would it change what you would do tomorrow morning when you get out of bed?

quote:

It makes the incoherency of someone with end-stage disease, equal with what we would consider the sanest and clearest of minds in day to day life. Chemistry is chemistry. And if all there is is that, then we've lost our basis of value ... even to value life over death.



No it doesn't.  A person with schizophrenia has an actual physical illness in their brain the same as a person in end-stage does.  Which is what took me aback about my therapist's suggestion.  Psycotropic medications can take the schizophrenic's abnormal brain function and return it to a normal state.  But, why on earth would a mental health professional want to treat someone with a 'normal' brain, experiencing a normal response to a dreadful situation, with a mind-altering drug?

quote:

Naturalism only reiterates the problem. Christianity does give an answer.



And the answer from Christianity is?  Because a woman ate a piece of fruit?  I don't want to go down that path really because I don't want this to turn into invective as we've done before.  

On the other hand -- if you want to call it naturalism -- ok.. but .. there is a perfectly good survival reason for death.  The human genome is designed to seek to propagate as broadly as possible(or in the case of some with as many broads as possible).  It is apparently designed to live just long enough to reproduce and raise offspring -- and then get out of the way.  This ensures the continuation of the genome and a rapid succession of opportunities for adaptation and improvement.  

That may not be an answer you prefer but it does not reiterate the problem.

quote:

In a world view that allows knowledge to exist and have meaning, this is not necessarily true. Some may really know after all. Just food for thought.



If you encounter those 'some' out there walking on water or moving mountains please be sure to e-mail me.  

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-27-2003 05:30 PM).]

Stephanos
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91 posted 05-01-2003 05:14 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Stephanos : "But to say that such things show that "brain chemistry is really all that we do have up there" is a slipping toward despair. Not only would that make death in the final analysis meaningless, but also life."


LR's reply: "Only to you, or someone who shares your paradigm and particular value system.††John Lennon posed the really interesting question:††What IF there's no heaven?††How then do you live?††Where do you find meaning?††What is the best way?††Would it change what you would do tomorrow morning when you get out of bed?"


Take a look at your first statement, in the light of the history of philosophy ... and in the light of history itself.  Nihilism and existential despair arose out of the ashes of the Enlightenment ... precisely the part of history where we asserted our own autonomy and prowess of reason apart from our Creator.  When this intoxicating illusion died, and we realized that we weren't all that we thought we were, so did the grand feelings of the Renaissance.  This is the path of naturalism.  A boastful assertion that there is no God, but that we are great anyway, followed by a painful realization that we aren't.  Then comes all the alienation from nature and from each other, that results from such a premise.  The only rebound that has been offered seems to be an antifoundationism that has learned to live with despair.  When we think that bad news is the only news, the horror is not altered, but we become altered to it ... comfortably numb.


I say all of this to say that despair is not limited to a theistic worldview.  I'm not denying that it is a part (Just read the Psalms)... But only in a theistic worldview are we even offered an antidote.  

"Relax.  Sure, there's no such abstract thing as 'hope', because we only superimpose our wishes onto the faceless vortex of nothingness.  But hey, It isn't so bad." ... isn't really an answer.


John Lennon did pose the question above, but he didn't answer it.  Naturalistic philosphers have been trying to answer it ever since the Enlightenment.  The answer, without the Lord, has led to a non-answer . . . denial of knowledge, truth, and any meaning that we do not create ourselves.

Now does that mean that naturalists do not have any real purpose or meaning in life?  No.  They do, despite their own paradigm.  God is good to all.  When you say that day to day, you have purpose and integrity, I don't deny it.




Stephanos : "...It makes the incoherency of someone with end-stage disease, equal with what we would consider the sanest and clearest of minds in day to day life.††Chemistry is chemistry."


LR's reply: "No it doesn't. . ."


I think you are misunderstanding my point.  I am not denying that there is a difference between those who are sane, and those who aren't, or even those who are moribund.  But when someone asserts that humans are chemistry and nothing more, the differences are of no consequence.  Sanity, insanity, happiness, sadness, despair, health, illness, are said to be just different configurations of atoms and molecules.  You say that they matter because we connect values to them.  Yeah, but in that worldview, even values are chemistry ... the same essential phenomenon.  With naturalism, there is no value system that is not completely arbitrary, and so without meaning.  But as I said before, I know that naturalists, agnostics, and atheists do not operate according to the full implications of their worldview.  So I agree with you.  I know that there is in reality a significant difference between such things.


LR: "†The human genome is designed to seek to propagate as broadly as possible(or in the case of some with as many broads as possible).††It is apparently designed to live just long enough to reproduce and raise offspring -- and then get out of the way.††This ensures the continuation of the genome and a rapid succession of opportunities for adaptation and improvement."


It's interesting that you use the word "designed" here.  

Also the words "opportunities" and "improvement" suggest a standard.  What standard was there to measure any improvement, in a wholly chemical world before life arose?  


Stephen

  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-01-2003 05:16 PM).]

Ron
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92 posted 05-01-2003 06:20 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
A boastful assertion that there is no God, but that we are great anyway, followed by a painful realization that we aren't. Then comes all the alienation from nature and from each other, that results from such a premise.

But Christianity rests on the same premise, Stephen. Does it really matter if it's science or the Bible that tells us we aren't all that hot? According to your logic, that realization dissolves into despair regardless of how we reach it.

Of course, in reality, learning that the Universe doesn't revolve around us isn't debilitating regardless of the source. What you would consider a false Purpose is still a Purpose, and every healthy adult (with an emphasis on healthy) will find it where they can. Personally, I don't think that's an accident. God's plan would apparently be ill-served if two thirds of all humanity killed themselves.
Stephanos
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93 posted 05-02-2003 11:48 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"But Christianity rests on the same premise, Stephen. Does it really matter if it's science or the Bible that tells us we aren't all that hot? According to your logic, that realization dissolves into despair regardless of how we reach it."


Yes, and to come up we had to go down.  But when down is the result of a fall, there is the possibility of standing upright again.   When down is the result of sheer nature, and up doesn't even exist, it's a different thing altogether.  One scenario has redemption on which to base hope, the other only arbitrary attempts.  I was referring mainly to the prerequisite of faith in God, to have any pathway out of the nihilistic night.  One position at least holds the possiblity of exodus.  And anyway I really was referring more to philosophical naturalism ... not science.  Science does not say there is no God.  Some believe, as I think you do, that it very much indicates there is.




"Of course, in reality, learning that the Universe doesn't revolve around us isn't debilitating regardless of the source. What you would consider a false Purpose is still a Purpose, and every healthy adult (with an emphasis on healthy) will find it where they can. Personally, I don't think that's an accident. God's plan would apparently be ill-served if two thirds of all humanity killed themselves. "


I agree with you.  The fall from pride can be a good thing, as long as it doesn't prove fatal.  You say that you personally don't think it's an accident.  Well, neither do I.  Actually that's my whole point.  The most thoroughgoing naturalists, atheists, and agnostics are made in his image too.  His gifts are given liberally to all.  But wasn't his plan that natural grace would draw them and lead them to a fuller knowledge of himself, and not that the truth would remain "supressed", as mentioned in Romans chapter one?  I know I'm talking in biblical language here, but what I mean is this...  The purpose, general industry, and satisfaction that is given more or less to all of humanity, if not meant to lead us to God, may have lost it's true purpose too.  I'm not denying that it is generally present, regardless of someone's held beliefs.  I'm just saying that it's a signpost, not the destination.


Stephen.        

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-02-2003 11:55 PM).]

Stephanos
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94 posted 05-03-2003 12:22 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I was reading an interesting book called "An Overture Of Light" by Calvin Miller the other night and came upon the following lines of poetry, which touch on our topic.


They spoke of all they'd be
Once the nothingness had yielded:
"I shall give up sole volition-
Sovereign and undistputed
To Create the precious
Gift of human will," the Father said,
"That all who live may know
How glorious it is to be like God
And deep within the self to choose."

"I shall give up my own right
Of self-protection and wear
Such wounds as flesh may know,"
The Son replied.

"I shall lead all who will
To turn from mere mortality
To become a part of everything enduring,"
The Spirit called.


Stephen
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95 posted 05-03-2003 12:55 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Too tired to approach this one at the moment Stephen, your work is well done as always -- just one quick note:

Learn the difference between a real atheist and a fake atheist (that is to say a theist who is mad at god)...!

(here's a clue -- a real one doesn't have an agenda)

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (05-03-2003 12:57 AM).]

Stephanos
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96 posted 05-06-2003 01:09 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR,

But haven't you noticed this about agendas ... that they can be as unassuming as just wanting to do your own thing?  Atheism that springs from purely metaphysical considerations was something that even Aldous Huxley was skeptical of.  


Stephen.      

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (05-06-2003 01:12 AM).]

Local Rebel
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97 posted 05-24-2003 09:31 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Actually no, I'd call that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Speaking of which -- Jefferson is as good a segue as any --

quote:

in the light of the history of philosophy ... and in the light of history itself.  Nihilism and existential despair arose out of the ashes of the Enlightenment ... precisely the part of history where we asserted our own autonomy and prowess of reason apart from our Creator.  When this intoxicating illusion died, and we realized that we weren't all that we thought we were, so did the grand feelings of the Renaissance.  This is the path of naturalism.  A boastful assertion that there is no God, but that we are great anyway, followed by a painful realization that we aren't.  Then comes all the alienation from nature and from each other, that results from such a premise.  The only rebound that has been offered seems to be an antifoundationism that has learned to live with despair.  When we think that bad news is the only news, the horror is not altered, but we become altered to it ... comfortably numb.


I say all of this to say that despair is not limited to a theistic worldview.  I'm not denying that it is a part (Just read the Psalms)... But only in a theistic worldview are we even offered an antidote.  

"Relax.  Sure, there's no such abstract thing as 'hope', because we only superimpose our wishes onto the faceless vortex of nothingness.  But hey, It isn't so bad." ... isn't really an answer.



If I'm to assume that despair is the end of 'naturalism' (which I think you're using as a cache to hold atheism, agnosticism, deism, et al) because of the Nihilsts then I could equally conclude that the 'end' of white male christianity is violence, terror, and racism due to the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Jones,  but that wouldn't be true either.

White Male Christianity has given us Jerry Falwell and John Shelby Spong, Tony Campolo and Pat Robertson, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, there is no definitive any more than there is a definitive among 'naturalists'  -- Einstien, Jefferson, Darrow, Darwin, Nietzsche -- all very different.

And the Deist, Jefferson, gave us one of the most clear visions of hope ever in the Declaration of Independence.

(that should give you PLENTY to dispute     but why stop there?)

quote:

John Lennon did pose the question above, but he didn't answer it.  Naturalistic philosphers have been trying to answer it ever since the Enlightenment.  The answer, without the Lord, has led to a non-answer . . . denial of knowledge, truth, and any meaning that we do not create ourselves.

Now does that mean that naturalists do not have any real purpose or meaning in life?  No.  They do, despite their own paradigm.  God is good to all.  When you say that day to day, you have purpose and integrity, I don't deny it.



But Lennon did answer it -- it wasn't a great answer -- but an answer -- all the people living for today, in peace -- not exactly a roadmap.  His point is though quite valid -- would the map of the world be different?  Would we see the wars we're seeing now?  His thoughts were penned in the midst of the Cold War -- which was very much a religious war -- the good Christian America vs. the evil Godless Soviet Union -- to the extent that Eisenhower had 'under God' put in the Pledge of Alegience.

BTW That's what I mean when I say an 'agenda' --crusading against things like the pledge or a plaque of the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn -- a real Atheist or Agnostic doesn't give a rat's patootie if people beleive in one god or a thousand -- it isn't that big of a deal -- and even Jefferson recognized that if he didn't attribute the 'rights' he bragged about in the Declaration to a higher power then there is NO stopping the state from trampling all over us constantly.

So as an agnostic --I'm quite happy to have the prospect of a god reigning in the likes of Falwell.

quote:

It's interesting that you use the word "designed" here.  

Also the words "opportunities" and "improvement" suggest a standard.  What standard was there to measure any improvement, in a wholly chemical world before life arose?  



Yes -- I use the word designed because it is appropriate -- the adaptive nature of life demands constant design changes -- just as the common cold has mutated into the SARS virus.  It redesigned itself.

Thats one of the really intersting things about humans -- that we can recognize the difference between a percieved optimum and reality -- that standard is not fixed either -- it is based on adaptive characteristics as well and objectives that are subjective.

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (05-24-2003 09:39 PM).]

Stephanos
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98 posted 05-24-2003 11:21 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Gee LR,

why such a short reply?  
I guess my replies are none the shorter.


Give me a few days and I'll get back to you on this.


I must recover from a work week(end) that will end after Monday


Thanks,

Stephen.
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