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Thread: My problems with religion

  1. #76
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    Science models and then confuses the models with reality because in a limited context those models work. Religion does the same thing. Which is more accurate? If you are looking for a prediction of what the next piece of objective data will be, then go with science. If you are looking for an understanding of your subjective experience, then go with religion. In both you may have to dig around to get to something of value to your particular problem or experience.

    Experiencing anything is subjective. Science doesn't deal with the subjective because it tries to find truth by abstracting the subjective away and looking for what remains. That would be a measurement of some sort, something one can record. However, if one abstracts away the subjective one is no longer talking about the subjective. The inaccuracy of science comes with claiming it can account for the subjective by abstracting away the subjective in its models.

    Here is an example of the inaccuracy of science. The models science uses are mathematical. That means they are models of individual points moving deterministically. That is fine for the models as long as the models lead to accurate enough predictions, but if one assumes that the model is reality, then one claims that even we, subjective human beings, are "individuals" operating "deterministically". That is, we have no ability to make choices. That's inaccurate.
    Last edited by YesNo; 11-11-2017 at 12:31 PM.

  2. #77
    Registered User fudgetusk's Avatar
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    I personally don't believe in free will. I believe we think logically. Offer a man a five pound note or a ten pound note and he will pick the tenner. No free will involved. Science has proven that to a point the brain has made a decision before the conscious mind has come to a decision. Of course we don't always agree with the decision of the brain. Is this free will or error? I believe the latter. If we are faced with two choices that are equal...we go by a feeling. I believe this feeling is generated by the brain which is much better at calculating our best options. If we are faced with two equal options and we cannot decide and yet we do decide without a feeling, then we are simply being random. Which isn't free will. Free will is therefore a magical notion, as we would expect, from a construct(the brain)that is a computer. It appears as though we are experiencing the process of free will taking place. But in reality the conscious mind is simply a cog in the machine of calculating the best option.

    Even the soul is just a machine that responds and administers logic. To say otherwise is to suggest that we are mad. For surely madness is the opposite of logic.

    Unromantic? No free will and love is a drug? don't get me started on the notion of infinity.

  3. #78
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    He has to decide to take the tenner at all. That involves choice even if it is an easy one.

    I don’t think science has proven anything about when the brain has made a decision relative to our awareness of the decision although I expect the awareness to come after the decision. I would be willing to look at links to such evidence. Perhaps you are referring to Benjamin Libet’s experiments? Regardless, one can interpret what happens in the brain as the mind making the decision and the brain tracing through that process so we can be conscious of the decision we, not I, have already made. Our individual awareness comes secondary and maybe allows us, individually, to question our decisions.

    Why would I want to interpret free will in that way?

    I want to see free choices almost everywhere, even in plants which don’t have a brain, even in quantum particles which don’t have a brain, even in the sun and stars which don’t have a brain. I want to find a way to defend panpsychism.

    In other words, the logical part of the brain comes after our free choices and our reasoning abilities are used to rationalize our prior choices. See Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” (or YouTube videos of him explaining this) for the idea that we do not think logically. If we did we would be pathological without empathy and without motivation to come to a conclusion.

    To look at it in still another way, what really constrains us is not our individual brains, but something larger than our individual selves. Our individual brains do offer carrot-stick chemical constraints (which only suggests we are in fact making choices). Socionomists call this larger-than-our-individual-selves constraint “social mood”. Even the belief that we think logically is constrained by this holistic social mood, not the reductionist brain. Haidt traces this to the success of the belief in rationality which occurred after Hume’s failure to convince philosophers that we are not as rational they they wanted to believe. It is further confirmed in a third wave bull market from 1780s until today which socionomists use as a metric to trace social mood changes.
    Last edited by YesNo; 11-13-2017 at 01:42 PM.

  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgetusk View Post
    don't get me started on the notion of infinity.
    How do I get you started on the notion of infinity?

  5. #80
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    The guy deciding to take the money is still doing so out of his own logic. he may end up being wrong about taking it. Doesn't matter. He took it because it was right at the time. Logic does not always mean we are right. If we have logic there is no need for free will.

    Libet? No, this research was from about ten years ago. They scanned the brains of people making choices and found their deep brains lighting up before they made a conscious choice. Cannot find the research on the web.

    Infinity? My main issue with infinity is the notion that the universe has always existed. Which to me is ridiculous. How can you not have a beginning? Yet some scientists believe it. If an infinite period of time never ends then you can never come to an end of it. It cannot be crossed just as an infinite gap of space cannot be traversed. So how did we manage to come to NOW if there is an infinite amount of time before we existed? In a sense with an infinite past an event can never happen because its happening can always be set backwards through time.

  6. #81
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    I would say his choice is not based on logic and reference Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” as justification (see YouTube if you want more). Claiming that it is is a “rational” perspective of who we are. This is something Haidt views as a “delusion”, but he is using Dawkin’s definition of delusion which views us as rational. So I don’t think “delusion” is the best word. I think it is better described as something people would tend to believe during a period of bullish optimism as would appear in an Elliott 3rd wave. The position I'm taking is something people might find acceptable during a 4th wave correction.

    From my perspective, it doesn’t matter when awareness occurs, the choice is made prior to awareness, however, that implies a different definition of “free choice” than the one you are using. We differ more on how we define free choice.

    I agree with you about infinity. The cosmic microwave background suggests that the universe is under 14 billion years old. However, that does assume that the speed of light has been constant all that time which might not be the case. In any case, there appears to have been a beginning to our universe because of that cosmic microwave background. If our universe had a beginning I assume infinitely many other universes have also had beginnings as well. I also assume they are all pretty much like ours (which is not what most people assume who believe in a multiverse).

    There is another problem with an infinitely large universe called Olbers paradox: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olbers%27_paradox Too much infinity and we could not be here.

    So I assume the universe in not infinite.

  7. #82
    Registered User fudgetusk's Avatar
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    I cannot access youtube at the moment so maybe you could tell me what he says in a nutshell. If you are saying a guy taking a ten pound note off someone is not rational then nothing is. and if it is not rational then it cannot be free will. Unless we are all mad all the time. I would argue that rationality is dependant on logic. It is logical to take money. I cannot see a way around it.

    The argument about the universe is that it oscillates. It blows up and then shrinks back into a singularity and repeats. Hawkings says this goes against the second law of thermodynamics. entropy increases and does not decrease. The theory of the big crunch goes against this. and the universe is showing no sign of contracting. There only seems to be two ways the universe can come about. Either it was always there(which we both disagree on) or it came from absolute nothing...which science says is impossible. Yet the universe exists. So something impossible has to have happened.

    This applies to God also. has he always existed? if so then let's freeze his mind by asking him his earliest memory.

    We are finite in one direction(the past) maybe in both. We will never know.

  8. #83
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    I think this would be what Haidt is saying about rationality: we rationalize what we have already chosen to believe or do. That’s how I understand it in a nutshell. The choice comes before the brain kicks in to reason. Reason is motivated and that is why we get things done.

    Haidt references Antonio Damasio’s “Descartes Error”. It is a technical study of what happens to certain brain damage in the prefrontal cortex, that is when we can still be rational, but have lost the motivation to come to a conclusion. Again, that’s my nutshell summary.

    I am reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”. He references Damasio also. His emphasis is on what he calls the “adaptive unconscious”. We make up our minds in seconds (blink) and rationalize after that. We aren’t aware that we’ve made up our minds and the reasons we give don’t always match what we actually choose.

    These three seem to be saying the same thing. One can say, as you do, that we are mad and have no free will as a result of that, but I think that is where our free will lies. It is not completely individuated by the brain (although the brain may add some feedback value to the mind). I admit it is different from the idea of free will that a rationalist would accept. I also disagree with Haidt, Damasio and Gladwell in certain philosophic perspectives, but we can discuss that later if you want.

    Regarding the universe, it could come from absolutely nothing if there still is absolutely nothing. I think that is possible. That position would be represented by philosophical idealism. That may sound cryptic, but by “absolutely nothing” I mean nothing that is fundamentally “unconscious” or not mind or not mentality. There could be some cultural stuff or some aggregations of consciousness that is unconscious as that stuff, but that stuff is not fundamentally there. A chair or a computer or the wind would be in that category as I see it. They are made up of conscious reality, but as a chair or a computer they have no consciousness. This does imply that mind is fundamentally real, but it is not a “thing”--no thing. Call that eternal no thing God, if you want.

  9. #84
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    Haidt seems to be saying that the brain reacts so quickly that it is not rationalising. I would argue that in most cases it must be rational because people generally act rationally. Painfully rationally. To the point where we invented Dada to get away from rationality. In some cases the brain reacts instantly in cases of sudden danger. Throwing our heads back if someone throws a punch. Even if we know the person is feigning punches it is almost impossible to not react. This is an electrical switch going off rather than a reason based internal debate. But aren't all thoughts reactions? Thinking is being introduced to an idea and the brain reacting by throwing out relevant info. The pros and cons. The brain them reacts again and again to that info until we come to a conclusion. We are trapped by cause and effect. As in all of reality. This is only altered in the brain when it is malfunctioning.

    >>we rationalize what we have already chosen to believe or do.

    I think in most cases we are right to do so. The brain is a logical computer and acting logically is the right thing to do. It makes many calculations in an instance.

    You mention Descartes Error. Wiki says on that topic that emotions influence our actions and thoughts. I would agree and this connects to the idea that love is a drug that sways our choices in favour of what we deem to be good. You say people had brain damage and this made them lose motivation. Was this damage to the brain dealing with emotions?

    >>One can say, as you do, that we are mad and have no free will as a result of that, but I think that is where our free will lies. It is not completely individuated by the brain

    You think free will is connected to madness? I would say in the area of creativity that is true. I read recently that scientists have created AI that is programmed with mental illness in an attempt to make them create more humanlike works of art. But as for other areas I would say madness is not free will. Unless you are getting spiritual and saying consciousness is beyond being a machine and is therefore unknowable.

    >>Regarding the universe, it could come from absolutely nothing if there still is absolutely nothing. I think that is possible.

    Then the universe is an illusion made from nothing? I would say an illusion is still something and needs to be explained or held up as an example of the impossible happening. The same can be said for consciousness or the unconscious. It is still something and needs to be explained or so on.

  10. #85
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    The brain damage was in the prefrontal cortex. Those with the injury basically acted like Spock, but could not come to conclusions and their social ability to get along with people decreased. They lacked empathy.

    I agree that rationalizing is a good thing to do, however, it need not be rational. Think Spock on Star Trek for the ideal of being rational. Rationalizing is different. It is more like Kirk. It is motivated reasoning. The motivation is more important than the reasoning which serves the belief.

    I wouldn’t call it “madness”, but I am using your metaphor for where I would look for a general source of free will. Nor do I see the brain as a “logical computer”. I do agree that “consciousness is beyond being a machine” would represent my view of consciousness at the moment. A machine is unconscious because it is deterministic.

    The universe is really there, but it is conscious. What we measure is a surface of it. That measurement data is an unconscious side-effect or epiphenomenon. The illusion is that we confuse the measurement with reality. All science can do is describe (measure) and attempt to make predictions based on models (theories) of how change occurs. That doesn’t explain reality, but it helps us build better technology. Philosophy would try to take science, religion and other sources and describe what reality actually is and perhaps explain it. One comes up with different descriptions and explanations. These are all rationalizations of what the philosophers, motivated by their different beliefs, try to prove.

  11. #86
    Registered User fudgetusk's Avatar
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    I always thought the limbic system dealt with emotions. But the web seems to say they are connected. yeah damage to the prefrontal cortex creates psychopaths. I recently saw a documentary about scientists scanning the brains of people playing musical instruments. What they discovered is that when they improvised the prefrontal cortex shut down while doing so.

    https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/news/2008/...reativity-flow

    Which means they became temporarily psychopathic. Which seems to suggest that the prefrontal cortex inhibits us from being random. Psychopaths are generally impetuous. They do not think things through before doing them. Being random requires the same. But I would suggest that we are not truly random. That would defy logic as we are a logical machine. If the soul is magical and it does have free will then I would have to wonder how it does this. In the end being a logical machine and thinking and reacting logically are the same thing. The result is the same. Logic decides what we do. Free will seems to have no use.

    Spock would have less info to use to make a decision, I think. Without emotion. I would say all functions of the brain are logical whether it is a simple switch being activated or a prolonged internal discussion involving emotion. It is the same process except it appears to us that we are the one doing the prolonged processing. In fact we are just the medium through which the process is being done. We monitor the decision process. Logic decides in the end.

    all this talk about brain damage makes me wonder about the relationship between soul and brain. Making decisions would be part of the soul's functions. So how can damaging the brain effect us? surely our mind is our soul and cannot be altered. Either we are not a soul or what we experience of our own minds is not our soul.

    The universe conscious? People like David Icke believe that. I have read his books. I haven't seen any evidence for the idea. I would wonder why it would be conscious if it had no senses to know what it was. What would be the point? Unless God had to make the universe out of something and all he had was himself.

  12. #87
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    That was a good link. I like how they found a way to measure the brain during creative activity and used improvisation as the creative activity. It would be nice if those fMRI machines were smaller so different types of creative activity could be measured such as snap decisions that Gladwell mentioned in “Blink”.

    I don’t know how this relates to Damasio’s “Descartes’ Error”, but I think it does. I would have to read that book again with this other research in mind. Ultimately, the medical goal is to do what we can with the brain so we can function optimally.

    Research also needs to include the heart. Based on what I’ve read from HeartMath articles (https://www.heartmath.com/science/), the heart may be more involved with our decisions than the brain. I see HeartMath as a kind of heart-brain training organization, however, I do not use their products.

    According to Haidt, the decision is made before the brain starts any logical process. The logical process is motivated to support whatever decision we came to in that “blink” moment of decision. Also I don’t think our brain is a logical machine. I see it more as a form of mind that supports our minds. At some level it is making choices (and so it is not a machine).

    As far as how a damaged brain affects us, I don’t think it affects our minds as such, but it does affect our individual perspectives of our minds. This is almost like saying that our brains are like radios picking up a song that is broadcast. When the radio is broken, the song cannot be picked up, but the song itself is not damaged. What I don’t like about this radio metaphor is that a radio is a machine--our brains are not. They are mind at a different level.

    Good point: “Unless God had to make the universe out of something and all he had was himself.” That’s how I see it. God made the universe out of himself.

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