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Stephanos
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50 posted 12-17-2008 11:32 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Vestibular,

I understand that telling someone they are committing a logical fallacy is not the same as calling them "ignorant".  I guess when it is placed side by side with statements about not tolerating fools, it takes on a different meaning altogether.  

And for that, I do accept your apology.  In all of this, there is something about you I can't resist liking, not least the satiric element in your writing.  So as far as that goes things are cool.


I will just briefly say that I don't consider my argument to be "from ignorance", though there is much unknown on all sides of this question.  Since inference is always made against a backdrop of ignorance, much of the natural theology I have mentioned can be called an inference to the best explanation ... or evidence as opposed to strict "proof" if you prefer.  But I understand that such natural revelation can only take a person so far.  While you would inevitably call any additional revelation an argument from ignorance, I would say that it raises, rather, an argument about epistemology.  But then again, the naturalist (atheist, et al) has what I consider to be a more profound epistemological problem in a universe where throughts are wholly chemical effects of preceding causes.


quote:
So in effect Stephan, it was you who called me, and every other person outside your religious beliefs, and especially all those people working and researching human behavioral science from a purely naturalist perspective, as “ignorant”, “blind” and in effect “wasting their time”. Because without your religiously inspired moral insights and triune godhead, well then, we simply don’t have any good reason not to rape our neighbor’s children…do we?


Sorry, I had to breifly respond to this, since it was so far from what I am really saying that I want to clarify.  

As a man who has a career based well in science, and who is subtle enough in thinking enough to recognize that secondary causes do not rule out primary significance, I do not at all think that behavioral scientists are "wasting their time".  What I did say was that believing that morality is more than a chemical ruse for genetic surivival (which we all act as such when it comes to moral approval or disapprobation) is more compatible with the Judeo-Christian framework.  And I certainly don't imply that atheists cannot be "moral".  I do emphatically say that their morality is held quite at odds with their atheism.    


We could go on.  I am sorry that you are choosing to not respond to my responses.  But maybe we could talk further via email or in some other fashion.  But now that we've attained a better tone overall, I see no reason why we can't continue.  It is an excercise for our maturity, to not let the "scorpion sting the frog" or whatever you said.         

And thanks for the compliment on the poem,


Stephen    
rwood
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51 posted 12-17-2008 01:08 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Welcome to PiP’s Philos forum, VB.

Hey again Steph,

Lots of energy going on in this thread and I’m late to respond. Been busy trying to find the impossible: A gift for a man that has everything…so I searched within. Voila! Not so impossible at all. He’s wild about lasagna! I used my noodle and my heart will go into a hopefully magnifico dish of Italian pastaaah. Sorry, I’m off topic, but not too far.

I appreciate Stephanos’ principle consistence, since inconsistency can be indicative of a fickle heart and mind. He’s held mostly true, thus far, to his inner medium, i.e. Thought to pen to paper and the application of his expression. My opinion of his poem is that its elements upon “morality” are distinctive to Steph.  Again, I can appreciate that as much as I appreciate Poe’s pen upon the pulse of the dark side of humanity and Coleridge’s laudanum induced Xanadu.

*I don’t agree with all you present, Steph, but you still represent a great mind at work.*

*Equally so, VB. You’ve expressed yourself in a manner that compels one to read.*

Congratulations to both of you for pumping up the volume here in Philos. It’s been a bit too quiet in here.

With that said:  Part of what may have gotten a few of “yous” up in arms is the 1st person usage of “you” throughout the debate/discussion, which is hopefully only a positional faux pas. “You” automatically weakens an argument, and it tends to dampen the art of communication as such is naturally perceived as a personal attack. We can all get too passionate with our words sometimes, and I’m not innocent of that in any way, but in reading some of what’s been posted here, I’m a bit confused as to where we’re going?

I’m sure Steph knows he isn’t an authority on morality no more than I am on love, but I still love to write about love or what I love: My beautiful pain. He seems subjectively and objectively inspired by his beliefs and I can admire that, even if his focus or edge is religious. I know he knows how charlatans have planted some ill seeds in the field of theology and there’s some real daisies out there that don’t smell like the rose they rep.

I’m sure VB knows he’s not an authority on science no more than I am, though I nailed science to the wall in college as an English Major. Sighs… “The Poet Scores!” My sonnets might well be described as literal mitochondrial mutations, but I think it depends on how much heart I put into it. Maybe not. I might just suck and I’m too stubborn to give up. Never the less, I admire all sciences and persons of science though the brain fields are full of poppycock, too.

Matters of the heart continue to baffle us, equally, as humans.

And matters of the brain are no where near as explainable as you paint, dear VB. I wish science could completely figure out the brain. Epilepsy is a nightmare many live with due to the “We don’t knows” of the scientific community. I don’t find anything wrong with praying that such will change. They’ve made some “headway,” but everyone is still…so different, and no two brains are guaranteed to experience the same results.

quote:
No need to act like you understand particle physics…you don’t…do you? You don’t have a clue about quantum entanglement…and nor do the vast majority of people who are working physicists.
None of them claim it has anything to do with Ra, YHWH, Zeus, Shiva, Allah or Jesus. Sorry.


This argument is always interesting and it comes up often, even here at PiP. Quantum discoveries strengthened my belief in God; because if the smallest particles known to man have no set pattern of existence, then there’s hope for me. I never know what I might do from one day to the next. I’m not near as consistent as Steph, and yes, I’m fickle about some things and totally stubborn to a criminally stupid degree on others. I'm just glad that's subject to change each moment I use my head or such weighs heavy on my heart.

So, my brothers of the written word, Peace! A word that’s not morally or scientifically bankrupt, yet, is it?
Vestibular Bard
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52 posted 12-17-2008 01:13 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

quote:

Vestibular,

I understand that telling someone they are committing a logical fallacy is not the same as calling them "ignorant".


Kewl...

quote:
I guess when it is placed side by side with statements about not tolerating fools, it takes on a different meaning altogether.  


Yep...that was wrong of me to do...

quote:

And for that, I do accept your apology.


Kewl...

quote:

In all of this, there is something about you I can't resist liking...


I mean really...what's not to like? (flex)

quote:

I will just briefly say that I don't consider my argument to be "from ignorance",


I'm sure you don't, and that's the problem. I wonder what it will take to convince you that you are not qualified to speak authoritatively on this broad and complex, scientific subject? A revelation from some god perhaps?

quote:

though there is much unknown on all sides of this question.  


Not sure what 'question' you are talking about, or what 'sides' you are referring to. Again, there are countless questions that scientists are working on in these fields.
If you are referring to a human's ability to judge their own, and others behaviors, and anticipate perhaps some of the consequences of those behaviors, and compare them against some social standards of behavior, while at the same time calculating the risks and benefits on those behaviors on them personally…
…well then I assure you, that topic is quite large, multidimensional, and being approached scientifically in a variety of cross disciplines that I have already mentioned. Perhaps now I will mention one more...'game theory'….start reading.

quote:

Since inference is always made against a backdrop of ignorance,


Inference made by whom? Again your writing lacks detail and specifics.

Why don’t you compare and contrast the 'ignorance' levels of inferences made by men trying to determine their universe's cosmology, their planet's origins and history, their planet's geography in say 3000BC,...to the level of ignorance we have as we make those same inferences today for those subjects?

I hope you will agree the difference is vast, and that knowledge is cumulative and not doled out equally to all men who fancy themselves amateur theologians and philosophers.

Again, take just a moment, and humble yourself,  and then admit you are not in any position to 'guess', or speculate about how your brain works, or how your personal god’s magical spirits make, some of it work.

quote:
much of the natural theology I have mentioned can be called an inference to the best explanation


I have no idea what you mean by 'natural theology' it sounds like a ridiculous oxymoron, like natural supernaturalism. Theology deals with the unseen realm of 'supernaturalism'...things that theologians create in their fervent imaginations, after reading the ancient sacred writings of other men's fervent musings about such things.

Science, especially cognitive nueroscience, deals in things that can be seen, measured, and tested repeatedly to form theory, inference and fact.

As I have already alluded to, much of our early knowledge of brain function with regards to behavior stemmed from the clinical study of people with diseased and injured brains. Where people go from being loving, pleasant individuals to anti-social, angry and violent due to an injury to a social processing center in the brain.

Tell me Stephanos, do you ever see children with autism, or old people with dementia or Alzheimer’s or a schizophrenic in your work? I wonder what is wrong with their ‘moral behavior’?…did your god screw up some how? Did their magical moral spirit take a vacation? Or is there something wrong with their brains that researchers are trying to figure out so doctors can treat them? Why not ask a neurologist next time you see one…get his opinion.


quote:

... or evidence as opposed to strict "proof" if you prefer.  But I understand that such natural revelation can only take a person so far.  While you would inevitably call any additional revelation an argument from ignorance, I would say that it raises, rather, an argument about epistemology.



Again, I have no idea what you are talking about.
Has a god revealed himself to you in some way? Has this god either specifically educated you, or somehow supernaturally injected you, with intimate knowledge of how your brain works to form judgments? If so, you should be a neurologist and start treating all the people who suffer mental illness that impacts their ‘moral’ behaviors.

quote:

But then again, the naturalist (atheist, et al) has what I consider to be a more profound epistemological problem in a universe where throughts are wholly chemical effects of preceding causes.


Again, you're being incredibly fallacious here with this question begging. Are you familiar with that fallacy as well? Or should I explain?

Again, this is not a problem for philosophers like Descartes anymore…sorry, you were born 3 centuries too late for that.

Scientists who study the myriad processes that lead to a specific behavior pattern in a human or dog or rat, in situations where they make a fight or flight decision, have absolutely NO problem assigning these behaviors to purely natural causes that arise from senses, that connect to the CNS, and are processed by various centers in the brain and result in behaviors.

Behaviors that theologians, who are completely clueless of this process, can then label morally 'good', or 'bad', depending on what church they go to, in what part of the world, in what age. A nice pithy Sunday sermon on being kind to strangers comes to mind…unless of course they are Muslim terrorists…then we must kill them.

See how easy that second part is? Is that the 'natural theology' part?

Now then, let me correct you once again, and I know this may be difficult to believe…but….

I have absolutely NO problem being anything more than human, Stephanos.

I have no problem being mortal, knowing I'm going to die someday and that my life will be over, just like the life of the turkey I ate for dinner last night is over.

I have no problem not being 'special' not being created in the image of the 'one true god'...I’m no  more special or important in the grand scheme of the ‘universe’ as the turkey I ate for dinner last night.

And I have  absolutely no problem with my brain being an incredibly complex product of eons of evolution, that has lots of specialized systems, cells, synapses and chemicals, that regulate my balance, my body temperature, my perspiration, my sexual arousal, and also makes decisions about when I should either fight someone, or be nice to them. It all happens in the same place…my brain.

And I have no problem admitting that I don't understand exactly how my brain works and never will. I am satisfied with simply reading the latest books and literature being produced by the experts in these fields. Men like Christof Koch, Daniel Dennett, Joseph Ledoux, Antonio Damasio and others. I could recommend specific reading here if you are truly interested…though it will be far more challenging reading than any C.S. Lewis fantasy.

I also have no problem being a mammal, or sharing a common ancient ancestor with other primates and mammals, like so many Christians do, despite I'm told by Ron and moonbeam, that the battle between science and religion is now long over, or never was…I forget...

So it seems you are projecting... I don't have any problem with being a cause and effect based biological organism not largely different than a chimp or my dog or a turkey I ate for dinner last night...you do…it frightens you. I understand.

quote:

We could go on.


We could?

quote:

  I am sorry that you are choosing to not respond to my responses.


Well now I have responded, hopefully respectfully enough, to not get Ron in my grill, and to give you pause, and perhaps a chance to reflect, before you answer. Again, as I said, our relationship is permanently damaged, by my actions,  because one thing the human brain does, is forms very powerful, and amazingly quick, first impressions that are very hard to overcome…read the book Blink.

There is no shame in answering “I don’t know” when it comes to understanding how really complex phenomena arise and work.
That is the humility of science and the bane of theologians.

quote:

And thanks for the compliment on the poem...


well, again, your poetry is top notch in form, especially compared to some other stuff I've read, in the 'Spiritual Journeys in Fox News' forum...

If you want to understand my reference to the 'scorpion' it is from an old fable, I have turned into verse here:
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum106/HTML/002943.html
Mysteria
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53 posted 12-17-2008 02:03 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Hey Reggie - looking within to find presents for men is in my opinion, the only gifts to give, and sometimes withhold too!

Welcome back lady.  You are going to enjoy our latest member's input to this forum.  I know I sure am.  Thank goodness you showed up to represent the so-called, "weaker sex."
moonbeam
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54 posted 12-17-2008 02:18 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam



quote:
Again, as I said, our relationship is permanently damaged, by my actions,  because one thing the human brain does, is forms very powerful, and amazingly quick, first impressions that are very hard to overcome…

Very interesting.  

So what you meant to say VB is that your relationship MIGHT be permanently damaged?

Or should "very hard" have been "impossible"?
Vestibular Bard
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55 posted 12-17-2008 03:05 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

quote:
Very interesting.

Yeah...especially that part about rwood's wild night with the quantum particle...
Yo! rwoood...dude...I want to party with you sometime!

quote:

So what you meant to say VB is that your relationship MIGHT be permanently damaged?


No...it is...and if you read carefully, you could detect the damage for yourself.

Now then, might my many sardonic charms help repair some portion of that damage with Stephan, who disguised as a mild mannered philsophy of mind professor, for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for Truth, Justice and The American Way?
Perhaps...especially if Stephan puts a good word in for me with God/Ron (notice you also never see the two of them together at parties?)

quote:

Or should "very hard" have been "impossible"?


...or better yet... should "moonbeam" be "random ray of reflected light from a cold, barren satellite"?

How ya like me so far?

moonbeam
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56 posted 12-17-2008 03:24 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

quote:
How ya like me so far?

So far so good.  But not quite there - it's either me or the merlot or a mixture of both.

If I could trouble you for further elucidation?
quote:
No...it is...and if you read carefully, you could detect the damage for yourself.

Yes "is", present tense, as in "now" (or near to now) - I can obviously see that clearly there is damage in the now.  But you didn't say "is damaged."  You said "is damaged permanently" (or if you want to be pedantic "is permanently damaged".  Thus indicating your absolute (can I use that word with reference to you?   ) certainty that the damage was not just for now, but for all time (or, just to please you, for as long as you both have not shuffled off the mortal whatsit) i.e. irreparable, unmendable, for ever.  You then referenced this immediately to "things the human brain does" with these very powerful first impressions.

All I was interested to know, is whether in fact we, you, Stephen, whoever, can overcome this, presumably, chemical?  biological?  stimulus, in some way (any way), and mend matters.

In other words is the reaction in the brain impossible to reverse, or just hard?

If the latter, then clearly your damaged relationship is not necessarily permanent.

If the former, then I have some more thinking to do, and I'd better lay off the booze  
Essorant
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57 posted 12-17-2008 03:43 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I fail to understand the fondness for bodily and "scientific" descriptions (i.e now a days, Latinish and Greekish terminology, for example "psychological" instead of "soulish" even though psyche is the Greek word for "soul" ).  No one is saying our bodies don't behave according to our bodies, but most will agree they behave according to more than just our bodies, for there are more than just our bodies acting on our bodies.  There are other bodies and things acting on our bodies and influencing with which they act in conjunction to which they respond as well.  Yea, the whole universe, some things more than others, some more directly, some more indirectly.  So emphasizing the body behaving according to its own parts, doesn't even describe anything about another body influencing, let alone determine anything about it.  If fear is the brain behaving, so be it.  That doesn't determine that it can't just as equally be a god that incites that fear in the body as much as a dog.   Describing one's behavior only according to one's own body is a faulty approach, for it treats the body as if it is in a void, when in truth it  is actually "cornered" into being what it is, not just by itself, but in conjunction with the whole universe around it.  Our actions must not be described only according to our body parts, for we are not just dealing or describing body parts, we are describing actions in relation to people in relation to how they treat people in relation to relationships, etc, and how they help or hinder life.  It is far more than just bodily science and that is why far more than just bodily science is used to describe behaviours and actions.  

Stephanos
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58 posted 12-17-2008 04:34 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

VB
quote:
I wonder what it will take to convince you that you are not qualified to speak authoritatively on this broad and complex, scientific subject?


And I wonder what it will take to convince you that I'm not trying to speak authoritatively on the biological science of the human brain regarding ethics.  Having done a smattering of lay reading (as I have), are you qualified?  

I also wonder what it will take to convince you that your insistence that the metaphysical philsophical and spiritual implications of human ethics must be explained by biological description, is reductionistic and too narrow.  

You've dodged some very good questions, with serious implications for your ideas about God and your philosophy of ethics.  You can do better than point out that I (like you) have only a lay-understanding of biological systems.

quote:
Inference made by whom? Again your writing lacks detail and specifics.


What I meant was that, yes, even scientific theories of cosmology and origins of species are made against a backdrop of ignorance, that admittedly is a modicum better than the ancients.  

Actually I respect most of the descriptive biological and geologic science that is out there.  (though do think the theory of common descent is a stretch).  What I reject is the amateur philosophy and theology piggybacked onto science in the works of certain writers and frequenters to infidels.org

quote:
Again, take just a moment, and humble yourself


I guess humility must have good genetic survival value in your opinion (though the philosopher Nietzsche would disagree) and you're trying to help me out.  But wait a minute ... I thought it was this kind of thing you were going to refrain from from now on.    


quote:
much of the natural theology I have mentioned can be called an inference to the best explanation


I have no idea what you mean by 'natural theology' it sounds like a ridiculous oxymoron, like natural supernaturalism. Theology deals with the unseen realm of 'supernaturalism'...things that theologians create in their fervent imaginations, after reading the ancient sacred writings of other men's fervent musings about such things.


If I'm forced to concede I'm a tyro in the realm of science, you should do the same with theology.  

Not believing in God, it would be hard for you to even grasp what "natural theology" is even referring to, I'm sure.  But try to think of it this way: Christian Theology has always understood God to be both "unseen" in his full disclosure to humanity, and yet "seen" in the natural realm.  Divine revelation about his righteousness, goodness, his promises, salvation, etc ... are accepted on authority (though there are historical and 'natural' examples in the real world which demonstrate them, albeit there must be some degree of 'faith' to not try and explain them away).  Differently, natural theology involves those things about God which are more 'clearly seen', such as the design inference in creation, the universal belief that there is moral good and evil that is more than just subjective preference (like coffee over tea), the universal and historical tendency to believe in a 'higher power'.  These all constitute "natural theology".

Alister McGrath has written a book you might consider called "The Open Secret", along these lines.  I would recommend it, just in case you think natural theology is an easily dismissible or simple idea.


http://www.amazon.com/Open-Secret-Vision-Natural-            Theology/dp/1405126914/ref=pd_bbs_sr_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1229543214&sr=8-4

quote:
Tell me Stephanos, do you ever see children with autism, or old people with dementia or Alzheimer’s or a schizophrenic in your work? I wonder what is wrong with their ‘moral behavior’?…did your god screw up some how? Did their magical moral spirit take a vacation? Or is there something wrong with their brains that researchers are trying to figure out so doctors can treat them? Why not ask a neurologist next time you see one…get his opinion.


Did I ever say a violation of the integrity of the brain would not affect cognition (including the cognition of morality)?  

Your argument only makes any sense if this is the only thing that affects morality.  People with medically normal brains can be nasty or virtuous.  And the ways in which YOU respond to them, belies that you don't think it to be deterministic or merely physiologic.  I've seen enough moral persuasion (both disapproval and praise) from you, even in these few pages of text you've supplied me with, to know that you are not advocating a purely "scientific" approach in dealing with morality.  If it's so darn deterministic in the biological realm and social realm, then quit preaching at the preachers.    

Neurology and Theology are not antithetical as you suggest.


quote:
Me:But then again, the naturalist (atheist, et al) has what I consider to be a more profound epistemological problem in a universe where throughts are wholly chemical effects of preceding causes.


VB: Again, you're being incredibly fallacious here with this question begging. Are you familiar with that fallacy as well? Or should I explain?

Again, this is not a problem for philosophers like Descartes anymore…sorry, you were born 3 centuries too late for that.


Of course I am familiar with begging the question.  But I also realize that presuppositions and first principles (held by faith) are unavoidable.  You use them yourself.  A circle is unavoidable.  Which is the right circle?  Which circle makes the most sense of the data we have?

As to your anachronistic statement about philosophy ...  You do realize that it was after Descarte that existentialism and nihilism in philosophy became prominent?  Try David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus, Jean Paul Sartre, Soren Kirkegaard just to name a few post-Cartesian thinkers who show that the problem I mentioned is anything but settled.  The fact that there's a large tradition of philosophy since Decarte which refutes your point, which you are not even acknowledging, makes me think you may be the one born too late.

quote:
Scientists who study the myriad processes that lead to a specific behavior pattern in a human or dog or rat, in situations where they make a fight or flight decision, have absolutely NO problem assigning these behaviors to purely natural causes that arise from senses, that connect to the CNS, and are processed by various centers in the brain and result in behaviors.


Do you deny that humans possess a moral/ psychic dimension that does not apply to either dogs or rats?

But I digress ... I'm still not denying secondary causes, or intermediary processes.  I'm just denying the determinism your philosophy necessitates.  To keep bringing up physiologic process is a red herring, since no one is denying it.  And the conclusion that it proves naturalism is a non-sequitur.  


quote:
A nice pithy Sunday sermon on being kind to strangers comes to mind…unless of course they are Muslim terrorists…then we must kill them.


At least, from a Judeo-Christian perspective, it can be asked whether religious-belief can become too mixed up with nationalism (at best) and vengeance (at worst), and whether such is true to the standard taught by Christ.

From a purely naturalistic perspective, no such moral disapproval against warmongering (for example) makes much sense.  The survival value could be an argument.  But then again, there is still a moral principle involved in helping others survive which must be accepted prima-facie by the atheist, quite apart from their atheistic philosophy or amoral biological theories about genetic transmission through time.  

quote:
I have no problem being mortal, knowing I'm going to die someday and that my life will be over, just like the life of the turkey I ate for dinner last night is over.

The dehumanizing element in your philosophy is evident in your reply.  

Only you haven't been as bold as some philosophers (and monomaniacs who embraced those philosophies) who have taken your road to the logical conclusion:  Human life, on the level of a fowl, is not sacred, therefore Might makes Right.  


quote:
And I have  absolutely no problem with my brain being an incredibly complex product of eons of evolution, that has lots of specialized systems, cells, synapses and chemicals, that regulate my balance, my body temperature, my perspiration, my sexual arousal, and also makes decisions about when I should either fight someone, or be nice to them. It all happens in the same place…my brain.


Secondary causes, or intermediary process, I don't deny ... so I don't either.  

What you can't explain by mere biological description of the brain, is why it is wrong to break covenant with your wife and right to suppress sexual desire for another woman.  The fact that it happens "IN" your brain does not rule out other non-spacial dimensions to the moral question.  


quote:
I am satisfied with simply reading the latest books and literature being produced by the experts in these fields. Men like Christof Koch, Daniel Dennett, Joseph Ledoux, Antonio Damasio and others. I could recommend specific reading here if you are truly interested…though it will be far more challenging reading than any C.S. Lewis fantasy.


Not all who are scientifically saavy are atheists.  I could give you my own reading list too.  Maybe we could exchange a book or two along the way, and comment.  

Have you ever read Lewis (not read about Lewis)?  It is not all child's fantasy, like Narnia.  I suppose you are not making a real statement about genre here, but rather expressing your own view that Theology is illegitimate ... fantasy in disguise.  That much is expected by me.  

I think, however, if you really read a work like "Til We Have Faces", "Miracles", "The Problem of Pain", or "The Great Divorce", you would see that they are challenging ... and great reading, whether you agree or not.

quote:
I also have no problem being a mammal, or sharing a common ancient ancestor with other primates and mammals, like so many Christians do, despite I'm told by Ron and moonbeam, that the battle between science and religion is now long over, or never was…I forget...


Of course I have no problem being a mammal either (I reject common ancestry on lack of evidence).  But you act as if you're more than an animal, by telling us about "truth", and having insight about the whole show.  

No one ever said that religion and science were tension-free.  But it is not evident or reasonable to think them antithetical, just as different scientific theories are not tension-free.  I think you are bifurcating again (either faith and science are totally antithetical or bosom buddies), by denying the subtlety of Ron's argument here.  (Drat, that's twice now I've used your sardonic little imp).    

quote:
Again, as I said, our relationship is permanently damaged, by my actions,  because one thing the human brain does, is forms very powerful, and amazingly quick, first impressions that are very hard to overcome


Quit being melodramatic.  I already said I liked you.    

quote:
There is no shame in answering “I don’t know” when it comes to understanding how really complex phenomena arise and work.
That is the humility of science and the bane of theologians.


The first part is true.  Your second clause is mistaken.  It's funny how the Judeo-Christian concept of God is maligned as a 'God of the Gaps' fallacy on one hand, and then theologians as modernistic priests of certitude on the other.  You're just upset they won't capitulate to your view that God doesn't exist.  It really has little to do with whether theologians admit ambiguity or agnosticism in areas.  Has there been conceitedness?  I guess it's just a sad part of human nature.  But in your paradigm (and judging by your usual approach) I don't see how you can decry it anyway.  


enjoying the debate, Ventricular Fibrillation.

  

Stephen
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quote:
As I have already alluded to, much of our early knowledge of brain function with regards to behavior stemmed from the clinical study of people with diseased and injured brains. Where people go from being loving, pleasant individuals to anti-social, angry and violent due to an injury to a social processing center in the brain.

Tell me Stephanos, do you ever see children with autism, or old people with dementia or Alzheimer’s or a schizophrenic in your work? I wonder what is wrong with their ‘moral behavior’?…did your god screw up some how? Did their magical moral spirit take a vacation? Or is there something wrong with their brains that researchers are trying to figure out so doctors can treat them?

I think, VB (and please note I typed more carefully this time), your questions and observations about moral behavior here tie in very nicely to your poetic retelling of an ancient Chinese tale over in Open. Correct me as necessary, please, but in both instances you seem to be describing a very deterministic Universe where neither people nor scorpions are held responsible for the decisions they make, and indeed, appear to have no decisions that can be made because they've already been made for them? Is this the context within which you see moral behavior? Are we all just billiard balls careening in a Newtonian universe?

quote:
There is no shame in answering “I don’t know” when it comes to understanding how really complex phenomena arise and work. That is the humility of science and the bane of theologians.

No, that is the conceit of science. The theologian is much closer to true humility, I suspect, when he admits, "I can't know."
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60 posted 12-17-2008 05:11 PM       View Profile for moonbeam   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for moonbeam

Ron!

You did it again. I was just working up a nice structured line of reasoning.  Now you rush in with the salient questions, and put them directly. Where's the fun in that?   

To save you time VB, if you answer Ron's questions you'll also have answered mine regarding our ability to "override" the chemistry or whatever going on in our craniums.

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61 posted 12-17-2008 05:21 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It is not determinism itself that is the problem, but something I call selective determinism.  That is where someone says only some things get to determine some of the universe, but other things don't get to determine at all.  It is no flaw to say the whole universe is deterministic, but it is a flaw to say we don't also get to determine things, a sole contradiction to what the rest of the universe does. But complete determinism from everything would not have that flaw, for it would say that not only does the rest of the universe determine things, but we as well determine things.  


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62 posted 12-17-2008 05:26 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Essorant,

You're misrepresenting determinism a bit.  Determinism says that things are fixed, bound, and that each effect follows from the preceding cause, like a chain.  Biological determinism undermines important realities such as self and will.  So complete determinism is not mitigated by insisting that one's will may also be a cause.  Anything like a true will is what the over-arching determinism calls into doubt.


Stephen
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63 posted 12-17-2008 06:31 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Your comment is a bit confusing Stephanos. I don't think something such as the "will" is in doubt if the whole universe were deterministic, as I believe it is, for the willpower has its own power to determine things to some extent, but the only "condition" is that will is also determined to some extent by the rest of the universe.  But, that does not mean it is determined more by the rest of the universe, but it does mean it can't determine itself more without the rest of the universe determing it too.  For example, if you take away the sun, you may no longer have your "will", therefore will is determined and dependant on the sun to some extent.  But when that condition is met, being to some extent "solarpowered" as we are, then we are able to determine ourselves to a further extent than just being solarpowered.   We depend on the sun to have the solarpower that allows us to have our will, but we don't depend on it to determine how we use our will.  And that is because we determine our will too.  

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64 posted 12-17-2008 06:32 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

Ron,

"I can't know." Isn’t the clarion call of Theologians, at least as far as I hear it - To me it sounds too often like “I don’t want to know.” I think that’s the Bards point, and one I’ve raised before, “god did it” is seen by some as an anathema to intellect, learning and free thought.

Determinism?

It’s a necessary evil if you wish to believe in the existance of an all powerful and all knowing god. Unfortunately if such a god exists free will doesn’t, but it isn’t the process of determinism that disallows free will, it is the act of successfully determining a future effect that holds that particular honour. Without god free will and determinism are quite compatible all the non-believers have to do is learn that they can’t know.

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65 posted 12-17-2008 06:54 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

There is one thing everyone knows about everything: something.

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66 posted 12-17-2008 07:09 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


What do you know about corteroid dilactis Ess?

Everything? Anything? Something? Nothing?

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67 posted 12-17-2008 07:51 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

quote:

VB (and please note I typed more carefully this time), your questions and observations about moral behavior here tie in very nicely to your poetic retelling of an ancient Chinese tale over in Open.


VB...VD..it's all good..

I certainly wouldn’t confuse my simplistic poetic musings, on an ancient fable, filled with talking animals...

...for scientific research into complex human behaviors and their myriad causes.

Nor would I mistake it for philosophical argumentation about determinism, causation, possibility, necessity, agentry and the indeterminism of quantum physics….Would you, Ron?

If you want to read fables filled with magical talking animals, take your pick of Aesop or the OT canon.

If you want to understand the current scientific understanding of the role the brain and specific emotions play in triggering specific behavioral responses, read LeDoux or Damasio. If you want to read the latest research into the various aspects of human consciousness read Koch.

If you want to read the latest, and most lucid philosophical argumentation, on the topics I noted above, I would suggest Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves”

I’m trying my best here Ron, but I’m mostly playing this thread for laughs, as you can see. I’m responding to you, out of respect for your site ownership, and what I perceive and hope is your more serious educational background in these subjects, compared to what I would call the average amateur poet posting in this thread. That may sound condescending, but I’m just being honest.

I'm just seriously not interested in giving people here an intro to Philosophy class,  or intro to cognitive neuroscience class....3 paragraphs of typing at a time.

I've cited several authors and books now, and I haven't detected the least interest in any one really wanting to educate themselves, or admitting they are unquaified to discuss these topics. Yet everyone wants to 'chat' and give their 'opinion' on why they do 'stuff'.

You all want to knock big, bad VB, with his fancy sounding words, and smug scientific knowlege, off his high horse...yeah...I get it...well, you're gonna have to do better than what I've seen here.

I would MUCH rather pick a new fable and whip up a new poem in 15 minutes then debate what 'is' means, with moonbeams....or explain to rwood he's not like a big quantum particle...sigh...

How did you like The Scorpion and the Frog?
Be honest...I can take it...
quote:

Correct me as necessary, please, but in both instances you seem to be describing a very deterministic Universe where neither people nor scorpions are held responsible for the decisions they make, and indeed, appear to have no decisions that can be made because they've already been made for them?


Sorry Ron, I live in a very deterministic universe,  where people and scorpions are both held responsible for their actions  every single day. I wonder how we would hold intelligent, autonomous agents responsible for things in ‘indeterministic’ “bizarro theist universe”? …A mythical place where magical, invisible spirits and demons, on a moment notice,  invade bodies, and control minds, and make people fall down writhe around on the floor and speak in tongues?

I wonder who we hold responsible in ‘bizzaro universe’,  where certain of god’s ‘special’ prophets, have ‘magical super powers’ and  can stop the ‘sun’ from ‘moving’ in the sky, so god’s ‘chosen’ tribe will have more time to slaughter their enemies in battle?  (I’m sure that’s perfectly moral by the way…slaughtering your enemy…every last women and infant…as long as god told you to…right Stephan?)

Yikes…Ron…I kinda  like my dependable universe, where boring gravity doesn’t change from one day to the next…and no Muslim fanatics have any ‘superpowers’ to part seas or change water into plutonium.

You see the problem is Ron, I’m well educated on Christianity, Philosophy and Science…I’m guessing most of the faithful Christians on this site haven’t even read the whole bible. You think they might read LeDoux’s Synaptic Self, or Dennett’s Freedom Evolves? I wouldn’t put them on the Christmas list.

Now, perhaps you’re conflating the much broader topic of philosophical  ‘determinism’, with ‘whom’ or what is held responsible for ‘actions’ in a deterministic universe? If a brain does something Ron, and you can figure out a way for me to lock it up without your body, or zap it clean and turn it into a landscaper…that would be great…in the meantime, ‘you’ are held responsible for what your ‘brain’ does.
As opposed to the morally bankrupt salvation theology of Christianity where you aren’t held responsible for ANYTHING you’ve done or do, if you click your heals together 3 times and say ‘forgive me Jesus’....can I have my pleasant eternal life now?

Your brain makes your decisions Ron, your brain is you…nothing to be ashamed of Ron…it’s a pinnacle of evolution…just like a giraffe’s neck or a Cheetah’s speed. Took you a long time growing up to program it all as well, I have no delusions that I’m gonna deprogram it in the least in these exchanges, nor do I care to…just chatting.

Now you have a lot more cortex than a scorpion Ron, you have a far greater ability to model your environment, plan action, judge action against standards,  and anticipate results  of actions. Congrats on that…the scorpion has a deadly stinger that you don’t. Evolution is funny that way.

You do accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the history and diversity of life on this planet…don’t you Ron? Guess I forgot to check with Stephan as well…
  
quote:

Is this the context within which you see moral behavior? Are we all just billiard balls careening in a Newtonian universe?


No Ron, we’re not ‘billiard balls’, we are highly evolved biological organisms with the largest most sophisticated cortex on the planet. Was that a trick question?
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68 posted 12-17-2008 08:21 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

quote:

You've dodged some very good questions, with serious implications for your ideas about God and your philosophy of ethics.


I've dodge no questions, nor have I expressed any ideas about any 'philosophy of ethics', nor do I believe, or have any new ideas, about any of your gods, demi-gods, angels, fallen angels, demons, spirits, saints, magic wielding prohets, talking snakes or donkeys...and what any of that has to do with an intelligent discussion on human behavior.

quote:
You can do better than point out that I (like you) have only a lay-understanding of biological systems.


You can do better than saying I can do better...I'm waiting.
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69 posted 12-17-2008 08:29 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
What do you know about corteroid dilactis Ess?

Everything? Anything? Something? Nothing?



I know it is something, Grinch, whether just the words (corteroid dilactis), or the words referring to something else, something you know directly, or indirectly with the artistic imagination.  I know about it, just not perfectly.

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70 posted 12-17-2008 08:49 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

quote:

quote:
What do you know about corteroid dilactis Ess?

Everything? Anything? Something? Nothing?



I know it is something,


Sure about that?

What about The Sneferitzle Flaghintude?

Hey....Isn't that the tiny gland in the brain where the 'will' and the  'spirit' interface with the neurons and chemicals and the rest of the boring and mundane brain stuff?
Vestibular Bard
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71 posted 12-17-2008 08:58 PM       View Profile for Vestibular Bard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Vestibular Bard

Hey...this is a poetry site...right?

If you can't baffle with your bullfeathers, dazzle them with your rhymes I say...

The New Age Sonnet
- by VB...VD...whatever...

Philosophy is new age religion,
Plied by self appointed internet priests,
Who will claim what’s real, with no precision;
Over confidence is their mind’s caprice.
They will conjure immaterial realms,
Where a mind can frolic without body,
Ego’s timeless desire overwhelms,
The quest for a new age theology.
The new age god is the ‘quantum’ mind;
The lost sheep are the ‘physicalists’;
They’re here to enlighten all of mankind,
Spewing some tripe, 'bout what really exists.
Religion evolves, its methods maintained;
Ignorant myths, filling gaps unexplained.
Ron
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72 posted 12-17-2008 10:37 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
"I can't know." Isn’t the clarion call of Theologians, at least as far as I hear it ...

I'll consider myself chastised, Grinch, for excessive use of poetic license?

I should not, of course, have tried to speak for some abstract theologian, but rather should have narrowed by observation to a more personal pronoun (shared by at least some others, but I won't again presume to speak for them either).

To clarify, if it's not too late? The only thing we (I really mean me, but I honestly think it applies to everyone) can ever know about an infinite god is the small sliver that is specifically revealed to us. And I doubt we can even understand that most of the time.

More colloquially, you just can't get there from here.

quote:
I think that’s the Bards point, and one I’ve raised before, “god did it” is seen by some as an anathema to intellect, learning and free thought.

Why? If you skin your knee in a bad fall and someone tells you, "Gravity did it," is that automatically anathema to intellect, learning and free thought? Or is that somehow different because you think you know more about gravity than you do about God? You don't, you know. Gravity is probably the greatest mystery of the Universe, an enigma that hasn't had the good grace to send anyone a revelation about itself. And yet, all declarations of "Gravity did it" hasn't prevented us from asking questions.

Anyone remember the names B. Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann? Back in 1989, Dr. Pons, from the University of Utah, and Dr. Fleischmann, from University of Southampton, set the science world on fire by announcing they had achieved nuclear fusion at room temperature in a jar of water. Cold fusion, of course, would have been the single greatest world paradigm shift since the discovery of fire. It would have changed everything!

Turns out, however, it was just bad science. Didn't work. Some people screwed up. That regrettable incident didn't destroy the integrity of science, though.

There are people in every endeavor, from science to politics to religion, who do and say some really stupid things. Condemn the people, if you must, not the endeavor.

quote:
Determinism? It’s a necessary evil if you wish to believe in the existance of an all powerful and all knowing god.

If you can believe in the existance of an all-powerful and all-knowing God, Grinch, there can't be any necessary evils tacked on as a trailer. Not determinism or anything else. Omnipotence and omniscience, whether together or separate, create self-referencing paradoxes that automatically allow any and all possibilities. Put another way, when you acknowledge the existance of the impossible you don't get to quibble about what else is possible.

Again, you can't get there from here.

We've had this discussion before, of course, but for the benefit of others joining us let me summarize what I've posted previously. Division by zero and the Uncertainty Principle (two names for the same thing) are reflections of God and free will.

quote:
There is one thing everyone knows about everything: something.

Sorry, Essorant, but that's more semantic nonsense. You're just playing with words as symbols, apart and distinct from the meaning we attach to them. Can you express that without using words, perhaps?

quote:
I certainly wouldn’t confuse my simplistic poetic musings, on an ancient fable, filled with talking animals...

...for scientific research into complex human behaviors and their myriad causes.

I think you underestimate what a writer's words can reveal, both about their theme and about themselves. Poetry is, at its worst, a Rorschach test on steroids. And hey, you shouldn't knock talking animals as a legitimate literary device. Worked great for Orwell, as I recall.

quote:
If you want to understand the current scientific understanding of the role the brain and specific emotions play in triggering specific behavioral responses, read LeDoux or Damasio. If you want to read the latest research into the various aspects of human consciousness read Koch.

To be honest, I have very little interest in the soft sciences (and I'm being tactful in calling most of them science). Biology is cool, I suppose, but frankly there's no such thing as "specific emotions ... triggering specific behavioral responses." To me, science is defined by repeatability and predictability, or at the very least, can be expressed statistically. And the bottom line is that while science (the real kind) helps us to manipulate our environment, it will never be able to help us to truly understand it.

I would, of course, still like to learn about emotions, behavioral responses, and human consciousness. If you know of an E=MC^2 formula that applies to human beings, by all means, point me in the right direction. Failing that, however, I think I'll skip over the astrology stuff, if you don't mind? My advice would be to forget LeDoux and Damasio; if you want to understand emotions, responses, and consciousness you'd be much better off reading Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Dickinson, and Hemingway (to name just a few). It's not science, but then it doesn't pretend to be, either.

quote:
I’m trying my best here Ron, but I’m mostly playing this thread for laughs, as you can see.

My mistake, then. I participate in these discussions, when I have the time, for the same reasons I read Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Dickinson, and Hemingway (to name just a few). I like to learn what other people think, what they believe, what they feel, what makes them tick. Mostly, I just like to learn. I presumed you did, too. I presumed you felt you had something useful to say and I was ready to listen.

My mistake.


Vestibular Bard
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quote:

Why? If you skin your knee in a bad fall and someone tells you, "Gravity did it," is that automatically anathema to intellect, learning and free thought? Or is that somehow different because you think you know more about gravity than you do about God? You don't, you know. Gravity is probably the greatest mystery of the Universe, an enigma that hasn't had the good grace to send anyone a revelation about itself. And yet, all declarations of "Gravity did it" hasn't prevented us from asking questions.


Oh my...that is some serious post modern mumbo jumbo you got going there Ron...sure you want to stick to that statement?

Hey...what kind of gravity are we talkin' about here anyway? Hindu gravity? Ancient Egyptian sun god gravity? Ba'al gravity? Odin gravity? I myself prefer Aphrodite gravity, that way when I fall..I got a good lookin' god busom to break my fall. Oops...almost forgot...there's really only one gravity and countless man made gods...

The greatest enigma of the universe is why really, smart educated people cling to 3000 year old myths and ignorant superstitions in the year 2008...and would dare to compare the ever constant and consistent physical force of gravity, with an invisible, unnamed, monothestic 'god' that is an amalgamation of countless Sumerian, Canaanite and Semite tribal deities, a first century apocalyptic messianic deity, and countless unique personal gods, spirits, saints and angels...all roled into one alleged 'monotheistic god", and franchised by the Roman Empire 1500 years ago.

I mean I get the eternal life prize...is there something else keeping you in the pew?
Really good sermons? Wife makes you go?

Education is the death knell of ridiculous 'my god dun it' arguments from ignorance.

Generic new age god is retreating to the big bang, the deepest recess of the human mind, and quantum particles...how sad...I hear he used to control fertility, the weather and smite people who blasphemed him.
Ron
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74 posted 12-17-2008 11:40 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I'm guessing that was more senseless humor, Bard? Or do you really think you understand gravity? Perhaps you can explain to rest of the world why it is at once so weak and so strong? I can practically guarantee you a Nobel if you just show us a graviton or two? I'm sort of guessing you're confusing gravity with its observable effects -- which, uh, you don't really understand either.

Don't feel bad, though. No one else does, either. The difference is most of them, at least the brightest ones, really do understand there's no shame in saying, "I don't know."

quote:
Education is the death knell of ridiculous 'my god dun it' arguments from ignorance.

How much education? No, I mean, really? Does it take a B.A. or a B.S. to make the grade? A Masters, maybe? At what point does every educated person in the world graduate to atheism? It's puzzling to me, because I've taught at a fairly large handful of colleges in Michigan and met a lot of faculty who apparently weren't as well educated as you are. Maybe my circle of acquaintances just wasn't wide enough? No, that wouldn't explain the others, the ones I've met through their writing, the thousands of brilliant people like Newton and Einstein, who apparently never became educated enough to graduate into atheism. Clearly I'm missing something here about the link between education and a refusal to see anything outside one's personal tunnel. Please, explain it to me again?

There's nothing wrong with ignorance, of course. It's the ones who don't realize they're ignorant that too often become dangerous. Not to mention irritating as hell.


 
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