Theistic discussion of "The God Delusion"

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by lightgigantic, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    alternatively one could disregard dawkins standard for defining delusion, since it holds grave consequences when it is applied to the world at large
     
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  3. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    So what? Observing a measurement is not controversial.
     
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  5. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    Surely no observation is ultimately digital. The act of measurement in quantum mechanics, for example, occurs not at the apparatus but at the subjective observer, because the former is part of the same physical system and expressed by the same wave equation as that which it measures. Only because Schrodinger's wave function makes no reference to the observer, making it in a sense "observer-independent," is the observer qua the act of observing exempt from quantum uncertainty. The omission of the pure empirical observation from the laws of physics is what makes it so crucial to the very same.
     
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  7. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    only when you forget it is also relative (as indicated by baum's post below)
     
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    Putting words together doesn't make it so.

    Please explain to me how it is NOT merely the interpretation of an event that is subjective?
    :shrug:

    Care to detail to me an example where the actual event is subjective?
    :shrug:

    And before you start spouting elements of Quantum Mechanics... the act of observation causing the event does NOT make the event subjective - merely "observer-dependent".

    There is, I'm sure even you would appreciate, a difference between "dependence" and "subjectivity"?
     
  9. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    That goes without saying.

    What would you say the difference between "subjective" and "observer-dependent" is? Subjectivity suggests to me that the subject, or the observer, or the first person, whatever you want to call it, is inseparable from the situation; a subjective thing or occasion is one whose consideration cannot really ignore the considerer. Heidegger's point, which I think has some validity, is that there is no actual event which is at all significant beyond the significance that we as beings-in-the-world give it. Without you or me to ponder the essence of a thing, there is no distinguishing it from the rest of being. In that sense, the totality of the identifiable world is necessarily subjective. This is not to say that objects disappear when we are not looking, because we do not experience immediate sensory perceptions as having any sort of ultimate meaning. However, it does seem fairly obvious that an identified thing, that is, anything we could speak of, must necessarily be an experienced thing. This goes for any sort of phenomenon, physical objects, feelings, and concepts alike. So insofar as "actual events" have meaning, they are subject to subjectivity.

    Here is one example of the subjectivity of an actual event: a man disembowels himself surrounded by witnesses. One is appalled at an agonizing and gruesome suicide, but another, who is a samurai, believes the man to be honorable for what he has just done.

    Another example: on the way out of the local Wal-Mart, we pass an ugly car in the parking lot. You say it's more yellow than green, I believe it to be more green than yellow. We may happen to have a spectrometer handy, one that gives a digital readout of the wavelength of any light that it absorbs. The spectrometer, when focused on the car, reads n Hz. This has done nothing to settle our argument, because the same quantity is slightly different in its meanings between us. For you, n Hz still translates into "greenish yellow," and for me, it means "yellowish green," regardless of the numerical value of n. There is even the slim possibility that we will disagree on exactly what number the instrument displayed when we used it. We cannot repeat the experiment with complete certainty, either, as the instrument may have been since decalibrated, the paint's chemical composition may have slightly changed, or the laws of physics may have changed (as cosmologists say they have in the past), rendering the theoretical basis of our experiment invalid. In this case the "actual" color or wavelength of the car becomes moot, beyond our epistemic capacity to solve completely, and thus insignificant. Simultaneously we can see that our own impressions of the car, and our impressions of the impressions of others, will be all we ever have to go by in the end, and that each of us is thus his own final judge of the universe and its "objective" value. Our consideration or understanding of anything is inexorably dependent upon our own person, therefore constantly subject to the possibility that this understanding will change (or we will turn out to be "wrong"), and finally the ultimate, and therefore most concrete, sense of reality we will ever have.

    In light of this, to posit any objective thing that is always thus or thence completely regardless of who understands it as such is to say that there is something beyond the human understanding which contributes to the way the world works, an absolutely mysterious entity -- what Richard Dawkins would say humans call God. Yet we are all so wont to posit such a thing. Science may not depend on on the patriarchal figure depicted in the Bible any longer, but an element of the supernatural has nonetheless survived in the hearts of most, for better or worse. Rather than interpret this as the survival of the God delusion within the austere psyche of Professor Dawkins, however, I see this simply as a manifestation of the universally obvious but by no means certain notion that even though I have never heard of the vast majority of the universe, there must still be something there; and I am an agent within it, destined to discover some part of it as it waits for my discovery, already as it is.
     
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    "Subjective" is, in my view, when a fact is interpreted - as in your examples.
    I think we agree on that.

    Observer-dependent is when the fact / event relies on being observed to occur - but interpretation of that event is still subjective.

    Of course.
    Facts have no meaning whatsoever. Why should they?
    "Meaning" is purely subjective.

    No.
    Not "absolutely mysterious" in any way akin to God.

    The "absolutely mysterious" of the objective reality is merely that which we can not reach with evidence to 100% certainty. But we can get damn close - through all the plethora of evidence we have built up.

    "God" is "absolutely mysterious" with zero evidence that can rationally be attributed to it.

    There is thus a gaping chasm that you have conveniently bridged through the claim of both things being "absolutely mysterious" - purely by dint of neither being able to be known 100%.

    If I am 1cm away from a destination - I am not there yet.
    If I am an infinite distance away from a destination - I am also not there yet.

    At least when only 1 cm away I can make out the name of the hotel!

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  11. baumgarten fuck the man Registered Senior Member

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    So, "subjective" to you pertains to the significance I give an event, and "observer-dependent" pertains to the event itself. This is different from what I have put forth. Here you have described an event, or what "really happened," which (being a quantum event) only happens if it is observed but nonetheless has a meaning separate from that taken by the observation. So the observation itself is subjective, the "fact" or that which is observed is not.

    What I have described is a situation in which the observer is literally inseparable from the actual event. This doesn't depend on quantum physics at all, I only cited the problem of measurement in quantum physics as an example of what I think passes as subjectivity. It is not a scientific notion, though, it's an ontological one. It pertains to what it means to be. The questions that Heidegger was interested in were, "What exists?" and more fundamentally, "What is existence?" What he concluded was that even though there was a being with or without human existence, nothing could yet be ultimately separated from that existence. "What it is," in other words, is always an answer to the question, "What is it?" and the peculiarity of the question is that it always has a questioner. Thus the actual state of affairs as distinguished from its interpretation is still the answer to a question, "What is actually the case?" And without the human to ask this question, the answer also disappears. There remains a being, but without a person to experience it, it is meaningless. It doesn't have leptons or galaxies or trees or intenet forums. These things are all undefined, they are identical to one another. There is still something there, but there is no telling what. There is no way to find out. No one exists to observe this huge being and carve distinctions into it, saying, "This is a tree, and the stuff around it is not a tree," or, "I am here, in the world!"

    Thus, from Heidegger's perspective, two things possibly follow from your model of reality. The first is that in our understanding, the set of all real facts is an empty set -- we know nothing because we interpret everything. You think you know that you are a centimeter from the hotel; actually there is no hotel. You are dreaming. You are hallucinating. Someone put datura in your morning coffee, and you don't even realize that you're now slumped over your upturned mug with a hot puddle in your lap. You may exist for what seems like years in a dream world. Your whole understanding of the universe, including the fact that it has facts, is in your head. Nothing that you can know is a true fact by virtue of the notion that you are the one who knows it, and you could be wrong about absolutely anything. This is a position of skepticism, which can be arrived at without any ontological consideration. All it really means is that since nothing you observe or interact with is strictly identical to you, you have no first-person experience of being that thing, and therefore what it actually is and how close your estimation is to this remain uncertain. You can say that you've gotten "damn close," but there is no way of knowing with certainty that you are right about this. In fact, you may be exactly right, perfectly correct, and you would still be unable to escape doubt. Ultimately this is due to that the perceived actuality of one state of affairs implies the possibility of a contradictory state of affairs. Any state of affairs that could not be contradicted, i.e. a factual state of affairs, is thus outside the bounds of logic and apprehension. We can never access it. It in itself is completely mysterious; our experience of it is what is not.

    The other response to your model of things is simply to point out that it doesn't contradict Heidegger's model at all. You have demonstrated nothing more than what anyone can demonstrate -- that you see things a certain way. You have shown me something subjective because you have shown it to me. As you said at the outset, "putting words together doesn't make it so." From your perspective, you must realize that this remains true no matter how correct the words incidentally are. The most frustrating repartee by far is, "That's what you think." It is obviously true. It lends nothing to the conversation, however, because it is always true, no matter what is in question, even if the question is whether facts exist. And the irrelevance of pointing this out is what makes it so hard to see sometimes that "interpretation," in its loosest sense, is the only way for a human to know the universe. All facts are facts as experienced by us. That is, the fact of the celestial teapot is no fact at all. We simply have no evidence. No one has experienced a celestial teapot. Therefore it remains a hypothesis. It doesn't matter how long a celestial teapot has "in fact" been there until it is empirically verified that it has. If this empirical measurement is never made, then the actual celestial teapot remains forever irrelevant, for all intents and purposes not real, imaginary, hypothetical. Therefore, while the actual state of affairs clearly "does not care" about our estimation of it, it is always the latter that we deal with, never the former. And so facts as we encounter them are inescapably subjective to some degree.
     
  12. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    The speaker, quite rightly, treats the questions raised about the the book, in a deserving manner, that is, this guy (Dawkins) is not serious in his understanding of the subject he wishes to anihilate. Indeed, I would be honestly surprised if Dawkins acutally, wholeheartedly believes his conclusions, as I would be if Tony Blair honestly believed the rhetoric of Bush, plus his own (tv) reasons for going into the Iraq war.
    My question is;

    Do you think that the speaker believes this is just another (psuedo) intellectual stab aimed at religion, and will go away in the due course of time, or is this the begining of a revolution, which by scriptoral injuctions must come about?

    Jan.
     
  13. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry, I don't do bullshit well. However, you are free to continue with yours.

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  14. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

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    Can you point out where in the talk such descriptions are justified?
    Thanks in advance.

    Jan.
     
  15. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    That is ridiculous. Of course Dawkins is sincere about his arguments. The best Lightgigantic can come up with is that standardized symbols, such as those used in scientific measurements, are subjective. By that notion, why can he understand the words I print on the screen?
     
  16. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    I don't think you have understood the argument

    If you apply the general principles dawkins applies to define delusion, you end up with an absurd world view by which you take practically any claim and say it is delusional.

    As for understanding relative things (like say text on a computer screen), I don't have a problem with that - except when the text approaches topics for which there is no sound empirical basis (eg origins of the universe, (contemporary academic version) history of religion, etc etc)
     
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    I think the speaker understands this to be the latest in a long line of intellectual animosity directed towards religion.

    I don't know if he is leading the way in intellectual atheism (since dawkins is dealing with an aspect that he is not properly trained in - namely philosophy and religious history as opposed to biology), but he is certainly typical of it.

    Professor John Cottingham M.A. D. Phil is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading

    Unfortunately, however, Dawkins seems more interested in polemics than in careful scrutiny of arguments. His discussions of the traditional proofs for God's existence are lamentably scrappy: the first three of Aquinas' Five Ways, for example, are dismissed en bloc in two pages whose cavalier abruptness will be embarrassing even to Dawkins' most ardent fans; and the ontological argument, whose logic has fascinated atheist philosophers as eminent as Bertrand Russell, is shrugged off as "infantile ... logomachist trickery". Whether these various traditional arguments are valid or not is beside the point. The point is that Dawkins' blatant failure to give them a decent hearing hardly serves the cause of the impartial scientific fairness that he professes to uphold.
    http://www.rationalvedanta.net/node/100
     
  18. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    He gives them all the hearing they deserve.

    The first three:
    All three of these arguments rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to regress.

    4. The argument from Degree. God exists because we need something that is the maximum (of perfection, goodness) by which to compare human goodness.

    5. Argument from Design. Things look designed. Nothing that we know looks designed unless it is designed, therefore there must have been a designer and we call him God.
     
  19. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    if you want to follow this up, I suggest you tune into the audio provided in the OP

    In short, there is a big difference between defeating the weakest form of an argument and the strongest form - at least according to people properly trained in philosophy (as opposed to say, biology)

    :shrug:
     
  20. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    They all seem pretty weak. Evolution took care of #5. #4 just seems silly.
     
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

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    since you are continuing on the weakest form of the argument, it seems like you didn't listen to the audio presentation
    :shrug:
     
  22. Gustav Banned Banned

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    post the goddamn transcript fool
     
  23. Gustav Banned Banned

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    audio fucking presentation my ass!
     

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