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Thread: My problems with religion

  1. #46
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Ecurb, I don't think it makes us sub-human to to be tempted to murder. I think it makes us human. I get temped to murder somebody every time I drive I-5 during rush hour. Not seriously temped, but temped nonetheless, I'm usually happy just muttering "putz" under my breath when somebody cuts me off. Also I like to fantasize about me and some of my army buddies traveling back in time to 9/11 and boarding those planes with some box cutters of our own and carving up some terrorist hijackers. I also wouldn't mind choking baby Hitler in his crib.
    Some people call me Maurice
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  2. #47
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    Well that's a relief. But does a certain randomness at the quantum level actually provide for free will at our level, or does it just provide for an infinite number of situational possibilities given which we'd react to exactly the same every time.
    I don't think what is happening at the quantum level is "random" in the way we normally use that word, that is, it is not like flipping a coin. Quantum indeterminism doesn't provide for free will at our level, but it does mean that any attempt to find a deterministic explanation for everything (including us) based on quantum particles will fail. I think what provides for free will at our level is the kind of pleasure/pain, carrots/sticks, that one finds in our brains underlying sexual activity and these moral foundations. One doesn't give a deterministic machine a carrot or stick to make it do something. The very existence of this pleasure and pain implies we have the ability to choose.

    As far as murder goes, here is a YouTube video of crows killing another crow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7liZdySa-IU&t=14s One of the reasons I hope Haidt nails down better what innateness means for these moral foundations is that we could use that to search for similar innate structures in other species and then make the conclusion that those species are moral as well.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

  3. #48
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    In any given situation where everything is the same - everything - aren't we going to act the same every time? But change the slightest detail and the gig's up. So then naturally we can't have the same situation twice, eh? Therefore the only way to consider any single situation is to look at history. And when I look at any situation I've ever been faced with, I acted the same whether I look at it today or whether I consider it tomorrow. You can't change history. Would it follow then that how I'm going to deal with a situation tomorrow, has already been determined? Is this a fallacy? I'm fully prepared to admit that it is. In fact I hope that it's false. But by the same token if there is any randomness whatsoever in the universe, the future most definitely has not been determined.

    At any rate, the universe is a pretty big place, with a practically infinite number of possibilities, even without randomness, so it probably doesn't matter, to me anyway. The fact that I think I'm acting of my own free will is good enough for me.
    Some people call me Maurice
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  4. #49
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    In any given situation where everything is the same - everything - aren't we going to act the same every time? But change the slightest detail and the gig's up. So then naturally we can't have the same situation twice, eh? Therefore the only way to consider any single situation is to look at history. And when I look at any situation I've ever been faced with, I acted the same whether I look at it today or whether I consider it tomorrow. You can't change history. Would it follow then that how I'm going to deal with a situation tomorrow, has already been determined? Is this a fallacy? I'm fully prepared to admit that it is. In fact I hope that it's false. But by the same token if there is any randomness whatsoever in the universe, the future most definitely has not been determined.
    Richard Feynman wrote in "QED" on page 19 the following which is similar to what you are describing but about photons reflecting or not off of a pane of glass:

    Philosophers have said that if the same circumstances don't always produce the same results, predictions are impossible and science will collapse. Here is a circumstance--identical photons are always coming down in the same direction to the same piece of glass--that produces different results. We cannot predict whether a given photon will arrive at A or B. All we can predict is that out of 100 photons that come down, an average of 4 will be reflected by the front surface. Does that mean that physics, a science of great exactitude, has been reduced to calculating only the probability of an event, and not predicting exactly what will happen? Yes. That's a retreat, but that's the way it is: Nature permits us to calculate only probabilities. Yet science has not collapsed.


    Note that this behavior is not deterministic for a single photon. Nor is the probability of reflecting off a pane of glass like a random toss of a coin (which would mean 50 out of 100 photons should reflect, not 4). If one defined the ability to make a choice as behavior that cannot be determined nor is uniformly random, then each photon could be described as making a choice. Whether the photon actually makes a choice or not is left to philosophers to argue.

    If a photon could be interpreted as making a choice, we should be careful before assuming that we cannot make a choice.

    We fool ourselves because our models are simplifications of reality and they use mathematics which is deterministic. Those mathematical models we know must be incorrect because in those models we could go backward in time, but reality generally speaking does not go backward. The models give accurate predictions, but that does not mean that reality is the same as those models.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    At any rate, the universe is a pretty big place, with a practically infinite number of possibilities, even without randomness, so it probably doesn't matter, to me anyway. The fact that I think I'm acting of my own free will is good enough for me.
    Here you are viewing yourself as an individual. It does matter what you think about reality because you influence the people around you. We are all members of various groups. We cannot isolate ourselves from all of these groups.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

  5. #50
    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Thanks for the concise, well thought out reply, Y/N. I believe you. I would like to read more about it, though, and I'm certain there is much written on the subject, but I sense it may be tedious. Any suggestions?
    Some people call me Maurice
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  6. #51
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I think philosophical idealism and panentheism are true and so I will try to rationalize those ideas. They would be my not-so-hidden agenda. Here are some books that I think further that agenda:

    (1) If I am interested in a better understanding of quantum physics, I would read Richard Feynman's "QED". He is clear although he probably doesn't agree with my agenda.
    (2) If I wanted to know more about the pleasure/pain chemistry in the brain that I think justifies saying we have free will, I would read Alexander and Young, "The Chemistry Between Us".
    (3) If I was interested in questioning scientific models of gravity, I would read John W. Moffat's "Reinventing Gravity" who has a modified theory of gravity.
    (4) If I were interested in seeing how mathematics dealt with formal logic, I would read Ernest Nagel and James R. Newman's "Godel's Proof". This helps to clarify mathematics role as a model.
    (5) The book I have read most recently is Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind". Although I disagree with his evolutionary theory I think his data does provide a foundation for altruistic individuals and their groups.
    (6) If I were interested in Darwinian evolution, I would read Niles Eldredge's "Eternal Ephemera".

    There are other sources, but these come to mind and interest me the most at the moment.
    Le cœur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point. --Pascal

  7. #52
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    Ecurb, I don't think it makes us sub-human to to be tempted to murder. I think it makes us human. I get temped to murder somebody every time I drive I-5 during rush hour. Not seriously temped, but temped nonetheless, I'm usually happy just muttering "putz" under my breath when somebody cuts me off. Also I like to fantasize about me and some of my army buddies traveling back in time to 9/11 and boarding those planes with some box cutters of our own and carving up some terrorist hijackers. I also wouldn't mind choking baby Hitler in his crib.
    Interesting thoughts there, Sancho (not that we expect anything less from you!). Do you also wonder had those wishes were granted, how the world history would have evolved?

    I am not objecting your notion (might be willing to pay for the cutters myself, for example) but also cannot help wondering how the dominoes would have fallen.
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


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