• TogetherTurtle
    217
    That's because we have only had two or three hundred years to accomplish the task of our self-destruction (compliments of the massive cheap energy of fossil fuels which are now becoming less and less cheap to access). Hopefully we can pull back before it is too late; but I don't think it's looking too promising.Janus

    But what of the nukes? What of the many other things that we thought would be our downfall even before 300 years ago?
  • Janus
    7.3k


    I don't believe the answer is more technology, but rather a change of mindset away from advocating and relying upon the kinds of technologies which require vast amounts of cheap energy for their use and development. If we don't stop, then nature will demonstrate its mastery over us by stopping us. I think the very idea of us going to other planets, mining asteroids and so on, is a laughable scientistic masturbatory fantasy.

    But what of the nukes? What of the many other things that we thought would be our downfall even before 300 years ago?TogetherTurtle

    I am not sure about what things piror to 300 years ago you are referring to? God's Judgement perhaps? As for nukes they will not harm us unless we use them, so that much is up to us, it seems. Although it might just be the deviant nature of some fear-crazed individual that precipitates a cascading series of nuclear strikes; we can only hope it doesn't come to this!
  • Judaka
    319

    What constitutes "proof of an empirical claim" is an epistemological position based on interpretation. It's not nonsense, it's just subjective.


    It is relevant because it shows that many atheists are not basing their views on empirical claims but rather cultural influences.

    does the belief that others should all ascribe to atheism itself necessitate a nonbelief in all things of this nature?kudos

    The answer is no. Atheism does not necessitate a nonbelief in similar things.

    I think there are five main reasons to be an atheist. Arguments using history, science, epistemology, culture and intuition. Similarly Christians aren't just Christian because they've determined God is a reasonable epistemological or scientific claim. So to say that atheists are always predisposed towards the epistemological stance of nonbelief in things that lack proof or to say Christians are necessarily against the epistemological stance of nonbelief in things which lack proof are both wrong.

    More likely, the Christian takes exception about Christianity because of other factors and the atheist is not just lacking belief purely because of his epistemological stance, he probably has other reasons too. Sometimes it really is that simple but generally, I think it's not.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    From my perspective, your argument is this: You can't prove that there is no god and humans can't understand the overarching themes that define the universe.

    My argument was that you don't have proof for that either, and on the contrary, we manipulate the laws of nature to our own ends all the time.
    TogetherTurtle

    As I suspected, you have no idea at all what my thesis is, and are objecting just to object. Very normal, not very interesting.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    I don't believe the answer is more technology, but rather a change of mindset away from advocating and relying upon the kinds of technologies which require vast amounts of cheap energy for their use and development. If we don't stop, then nature will demonstrate its mastery over us by stopping us. I think the very idea of us going to other planets, mining asteroids and so on, is a laughable scientistic masturbatory fantasy.Janus

    I agree that there is no technofix beyond clean, renewable energy. Consumerism probably has to go as well. Anyone ready for that? We don’t build consumer products to last. We replace them far too often. Population control is of paramount importance, too. Family planning is essential in the countries with a low median age. Immigration is necessary for the aging countries, which tend to have more wealth so family planning usually already exists there, and the newcomers will settle into the family planning methods of their host country, eventually producing fewer offspring over a couple of generations. Fixing old shit instead of building new is important, too.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    I agree that there is no technofix beyond clean, renewable energy.Noah Te Stroete

    I think this thread has now gone way off-topic, so I''ll just say that I am not confident that renewable technologies can be developed without mining and production that will need to use vast amounts of fossil fuels.

    We don’t build consumer products to last.Noah Te Stroete

    I'll also respond to this because I think it is an important issue. What you say is of course true, but the problem is that if we suddenly started building things to last the companies that sold those things would fairly quickly go bankrupt; probably unless the prices for those things were unaffordably high. The only way to ensure continual economic growth is built-in product-fail, redundancy or obsolescence.

    Also, we might lament the loss of the benefits of modern medicine, but it is easy to forget that its development was made possible by the fiscal excess that comes with rampant consumerism; which in turn has been made possible by cheap energy. Everything is interconnected; and you can't have the benefits without the downsides.

    I think a thread about the plausibility of transitioning to renewable energy sources would be a great idea; I may start one myself sooner or later if I feel I have sufficient time to devote to it.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1.2k
    I understand the economic implications of ending consumerism, but if we don’t I’m afraid there won’t be a livable planet to host an economy. Furthermore, I sort of have a fetish for new technologies. I’ll admit I’m a hypocrite.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    I can understand that: I like new technologies myself. Unfortunately it seems that consumerism won't be voluntarily ended, so perhaps there won't be a liveable planet. :fear: :cry:
  • Jake
    1.4k
    I think the very idea of us going to other planets, mining asteroids and so on, is a laughable scientistic masturbatory fantasy.Janus

    Dang! I wish I'd said that first. :smile: Made me smile, thanks.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    The argument that 'believing in God is absurd because there's no empirical evidence' betrays a total misunderstanding of the nature of religious faith and experience. Perhaps it is only to be expected in the context of a scientific-secular culture which has little grounding in the religious or spiritual.Wayfarer

    Yes, philosophy forums provide a great example of this. Almost all religion threads seem to focus on ideological beliefs, as if that was all there is to religion. The constant comparisons between science and religion reveal a profound lack of understanding of the nature of religion. I would summarize the situation this way.

    SCIENCE: facts about reality
    RELIGION: our relationship with reality

    Religion proposes facts about reality not to compete with science, but to assist in managing our emotional relationship with reality.

    Religions seem to get what philosophers are rarely able to grasp. The reality of human beings is that we are like an M&M candy, with a thin hard shell of reason on the outside obscuring a much larger soft and squishy center of emotion. Philosophers typically don't get this because while being superficially clever, we are typically emotionally inept. Clever, but shallow. Yea, me included, as I bow to no one in nerdly nerdmanism. :smile:

    Just ask almost any woman. They will read this forum and see immediately that it's primarily about male ego emotions, whereas we routinely delude ourselves in to thinking it's about razor sharp logic, blah, blah, blah...

    The great irony is that, generally speaking, religions have a more realistic understanding of the human condition than do the "no-nonsense realists". That's why religions go on and on and on for thousands of years, they are aligned with the real world of human beings.
  • Wayfarer
    7.4k
    The fundamental difference between science and religion is that while religion attempts to explain phenomenon, science seeks to understand and control them. This leads to a mastery of nature and benefit to the general populace. You can genuinely understand why something happens through science, and that’s why it’s our best bet. Sure, it could all be coincidence and we could really understand nothing, but that’s quite a few coincidences.TogetherTurtle

    An interesting, and pregnant, statement.

    If you look at it through an historical lense, what you find is something like this. 'Phenomena' means, basically, 'what appears'. In early philosophy, a distinction was nearly always made between 'what appears' and 'what is truly so'. The distinction was later said to be between noumenon (what is ideally so) and phenomena (what appears).

    Such a distinction actually lay at the source of modern science itself, where I would argue that it appears as the distinction between natural or scientific law (which are principles), and observable phenomena (in which the effects or manifestations of principles can be observed), as per this statement:

    Typically first comes an observation, then the process of human imagination thinking up an explanation, and then using sensory data to prove your explanation.TogetherTurtle

    But at the same time, due to the overwhelming influence of empiricism, the distinction between 'noumenal' and 'phenomenal' is now no longer intelligible; discussions of this distinction are generally very confused on this forum. And furthermore, the kinds of things that amount to 'an explanation' are now radically different. And that's because empiricism basically wishes to restrain all explanation to the domain of the phenomenal, of 'what appears', because that is what is measurable and predictable by the senses (including scientific instruments). The whole idea behind a 'first cause' in the sense understood by classical philosophy, has actually been entirely forgotten - hence:

    Who started the universe? I think the better question is what. Why does it have to be a sentient being that created the universe? I think it more likely to be a force or natural mechanism of the universe that created existence.TogetherTurtle

    Which is natural, given empiricism as a guiding philosophy. But the point is that the philosophy which gave rise to empiricism didn't start out deliberately looking for an anthropomorphic explanation. Plato and Aristotle didn't really subscribe to a 'creator God' in the Christian sense (although their ideas were later co-opted by Christian theology).

    But the point about the classical understanding of causation, was that first causes or the origin of phenomena, were in some radical sense prior to phenomena themselves. So the idea of looking for the evidence of the ground or origin of being by observing phenomena would have seemed a backwards way of going about it. Phenomena themselves were illusory and ever-changing, what was real was the laws (logos) which caused phenomena to exist and gave them an identity. And you can still see that in science today, with the caveat that most people don't seem to recognize that the ontological status of natural laws and the nature of number, are not themselves questions amenable to scientific explanation, but without which science could not exist.

    Now that way of thinking in terms of an hierarchy of causation is still preserved in some forms of modern philosophy - typically derived from the tradition of Aquinas, but that is because Aquinas himself received and transmitted many elements of pre-existing Greek philosophy. In practical terms, it turns out to be best preserved in the philosophical aspects of Catholicism (in my view.)

    In any case, notice the entire emphasis on 'mastery' and 'control' of nature - as befits a technological culture. But what is lost in all of this are the original questions of philosophy, which are not instrumental or technological in nature, but are concerned with the question of meaning, in the largest sense. But that kind of questioning is almost unknown in our technological culture, so much so that the question itself is no longer even understood.

    The great irony is that, generally speaking, religions have a more realistic understanding of the human condition than do the "no-nonsense realists". That's why religions go on and on and on for thousands of years, they are aligned with the real world of human beings.Jake

    But more to the point, philosophy is neither science, nor religion. It has its religious aspects - or I think it does, although that doesn't sit well with secular culture - but it also takes pains to understand in a way that religious believers don't want to bother with. 'Why should I believe or accept that' is something a philosopher might ask, but will accept an answer that might not be acceptable to empiricism pure and simple.
  • TogetherTurtle
    217
    In any case, notice the entire emphasis on 'mastery' and 'control' of nature - as befits a technological culture. But what is lost in all of this are the original questions of philosophy, which are not instrumental or technological in nature, but are concerned with the question of meaning, in the largest sense. But that kind of questioning is almost unknown in our technological culture, so much so that the question itself is no longer even understood.Wayfarer

    I’ll need to think on this one for a while. Earlier in this you say that finding out how nature works by observing its functions is “backwards” and I would agree. However, I don’t think that makes it less effective. Science now seems to be “reverse engineering” nature, and then using the knowledge we gain to help ourselves is technology. Sometimes we don’t fully understand the underlying (noumenon?) but we are always getting closer by trying.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    But more to the point, philosophy is neither science, nor religion. It has its religious aspects - or I think it does, although that doesn't sit well with secular culture - but it also takes pains to understand in a way that religious believers don't want to bother with.Wayfarer

    To add another layer to your idea, what is the relationship between philosophy and reason?

    Do the human problems which religions have long attempted to address and which make the power of science dangerous in the modern world arise from bad ideas? Or from the nature of thought itself?

    If one answers bad ideas, then philosophy seems a solution grounded in reason, because philosophy is a systematic discipline dedicated to removing bad ideas.

    If one answers thought itself, then it seems questionable whether philosophy is a reason based response, given that philosophy is made entirely of that which, in this view, is said to be the source of the problems.

    It seems to me that philosophy can be used to uncover that fundamental human problems arise from the nature of what we're made of psychologically, thought. Philosophy can be used to show that the notion that the source of our problems is bad ideas is itself a bad idea.

    And then, if one wishes to move beyond understanding the situation to doing something about it, one has to move beyond philosophy.

    Consider the cave man philosopher who has diligently explored the landscape he inhabits on foot. And then his explorations bring him to something new, the ocean. If the cave man wishes to explore this different environment, he has to surrender his passion for walking.

    If the cave man is a person of reason who wishes to explore the ocean he will willingly give up the act of walking to learn how to navigate the new environment of the ocean by learning how to swim. Exploration is the priority for this cave man, not walking, which he sees as being merely a means to an end.

    If the cave man is not a person of reason, but merely a philosopher, then he will turn his back on the ocean and go looking for new landscapes that can be explored by walking. For this cave man, walking is the priority.
  • kudos
    27
    It seems pertinent to reiterate the distinction here between ‘non belief’ in G-d and the claim that ‘G-d does not exist.’ The second being an type of social contract to marry belief with existence. That is a man-made concept whereas the first of the two could be deemed a personal choice of no philosophical interest for the present discussion.

    As per Jakes arguement, for most of us this is preaching to the converted. But the question is ‘why it is the case that collective societies repeat generally destructive behaviours collectively in order to reach greater profit individually?’ It is a philosophical problem. But bringing it back to the general topic at hand, Are the materialistic motives you point to in some way connected to our complacence in accepting the two distinct ideas as one?
  • Rank Amateur
    1.6k
    Thanks enjoyed the review, and will look into the book. Agree of course.

    I think the popular atheism in the article is a somewhat real product of a more thoughtful atheism of the 1930 - 1950's. Which I think has its roots in the horrors of mechanized, chemical, and nuclear war of the same period - not to mention an attempted elimination of an entire race. In the face of such horror - a questioning of God seems quite appropriate. What I find interesting though, was this horror was the application of science by man - technology. Yet there seemed little discussion in this time frame for a more responsible use of science. But what these thinkers did try to address is, if not God, than why do we exist, what is our purpose.

    The more "commercial atheists" Dawkins et al - who to me seemed more intent on selling atheism in their books and commercial appearances than any significant in depth philosophy of the subject. And it need to be said there sale was much easier with the rise of an equally un-thoughtful evangelical fundamental Christianity, used by some for their own power and money. These atheists has an easy fight - and a winning strategy - you use a poor definition of God ( IMO they all are by the way), that is completely based on faith - and show it does not pass a test of reason. Basically showing that faith and reason are different. duh. They all but ignore the question of if not God - what, generally falling into some form of hedonism - also great timing in the mid 60's for that.

    Now what they did do well was establish a narrative, by comparing their erudite sophisticated selves to the crude fundamental Christians that smart people were atheists and dumb people were not. I think this narrative has had more to do with a rise in popular atheism than anything else.

    IMO there is a large gap between popular atheism and popular theism, the gap is much smaller between thoughtful atheism and theism.
  • kudos
    27
    Dawkins sounds like a smart scientist, but the question of how to frame interpersonal religion and justify it is best left to the philosophers and theologians rather than scientists. They are really reinventing the wheel in their work, and it’s painfully mundane. Never picked up his book though, maybe I’m off the mark.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    IMO there is a large gap between popular atheism and popular theism, the gap is much smaller between thoughtful atheism and theism.Rank Amateur

    It seems to me that a truly thoughtful investigation would largely discard the simplistic, tired and outdated either/or atheist vs. theist paradigm in favor of a more serious and practical approach. We philosopher types at least invest far too much time in debating atheist vs. theist when we could instead be focusing on developing our relationship with reality.

    Every human being is born in to a marriage with nature, with reality, with this place where we find ourselves. Reason should be leading us to the question, how do we fall more deeply in love with our marriage partner? How does a person find their way to a place where, for example, they experience tears of joy at the beauty of a sunrise? It seems less important what approach one takes than whether one actually gets where one is trying to go by whatever approach one chooses.

    True reason would take us beyond philosophy in to the emotional realm, because that's where we really live.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Yes, if we destroy ourselves it will be because we weren't smart enough...Janus

    To expand on this a bit...

    If we destroy ourselves (or more likely modern civilization) it will be because we experience reality as being divided between "me" (very very small) and "everything else" (very very big). This perspective gives rise to fear, which in turn gives rise to most human problems.

    If we perceive our situation as that of being very small and alone in a vast merciless mechanical universe, then it follows that we would focus on trying to become bigger, perhaps by grabbing all the resources we can, or maybe by attaching our identity to something larger than ourselves such as a tribe, nation or ideology etc.

    It's important for philosophers to realize that the illusion of division which is driving all this dangerous activity arises directly out of the nature of thought, that which all philosophies are made of. Thus, the profound conundrum for the philosopher is that by analyzing the situation with thought, by doing philosophy, any philosophy, we are feeding the mechanism which is generating the illusion of division (which in turn generates fear, which in turn leads to all kinds of trouble).

    As philosophers, we might be compared to the alcoholic who is trying to cure his disease with a case of scotch. The harder he tries to apply the cure the deeper in to his disease he falls. Seeing he's getting worse, he tries even harder, and thus falls even faster.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    Sorry about the delayed response, Jake. I do generally agree with what you say, but I think the kind of atomistic thinking which underlies the idea that we are separate form the world is an artifact of the Enlightenment mechanistic paradigm and ultimately finds its roots in Christianity with the idea of the individual soul, its salvation and eternal life, and the idea of God as the Great Clockmaker.

    So, I don't think think this mode of thought is natural or necessary to human discursive thought or analysis. For example I don't believe that it is predominant in Eastern philosophy, and particularly not in Chinese thought. Moderns systems, information and complexity thinking also eschews atomism. Indeed, modern science in general seems to lead away from the idea that we are separate from nature, but it takes a long time to change old habits of thought! Hopefully we have enough time to accomplish the task!
  • Jake
    1.4k
    Sorry about the delayed response,Janus

    Never a problem.

    I do generally agree with what you sayJanus

    If it should interest you, I'd be interested in reading how you might summarize what you hear me saying, in your own words. What is it that you are agreeing with?

    but I think the kind of atomistic thinking which underlies the idea that we are separate form the world is an artifact of the Enlightenment mechanistic paradigm and ultimately finds its roots in Christianity with the idea of the individual soul, its salvation and eternal life.Janus

    That seems reasonable enough (not that I'm expert on such subjects).

    I'm attempting to suggest that the content of thought (various philosophies such as you referenced) is a symptom of the nature of thought, you know, the way thought works.

    In my view, the real source of "atomistic thinking" is not this or that philosophy, but rather thought itself.

    Here's an example to illustrate. As far as I know, every ideology ever invented inevitably subdivides in to competing internal factions. The universality of this experience should tell us that it's not the properties of this or that ideology which is generating the division, but instead something that all ideologies have in common. Which can only be that which all ideologies are made of, thought.

    If it is true that the perception of division (ie. "atomistic thinking") is generated not by the content of thought but by the medium of thought itself, that would seem to put philosophy in a very different context. Why argue over competing philosophies if ANY philosophy is inevitably going to generate more division, and thus more conflict?

    If it is true that the perception of division is generated not by the content of thought but by the medium of thought itself, then fundamental human problems are not a philosophical issue, but a mechanical one. Such an insight is not likely to be popular with philosophers, but that is where reason takes us, like it or not, imho.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    What is it that you are agreeing with?Jake

    I was agreeing that atomistic thinking can be a problem. I also think holistic thinking is possible, so I don't agree that atomistic thinking is inherent or necessary to thought; although it may be essential to some disciplines, but it is then a sort of shorthand like infinitesimal calculus.

    So, I don't agree that it is the process of thinking that inevitably leads to atomism, but rather the problem consists in a specific way of conceiving of things. Atomistic or mechanistic thinking also has its place and uses, but it is merely a methodology, and if it is reified, if the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness" (Whitehead) is indulged in, then that may become a major problem.
  • Jake
    1.4k
    so I don't agree that atomistic thinking is inherent or necessary to thoughtJanus

    I would respectfully counter that division is how thought works. Thought breaks a single unified reality in to conceptual parts.

    We are then able to rearrange the conceptual parts in our mind, which gives us the power to imagine reality the way it might be. That is, this division process is the source of human creative genius.

    The conceptual division process is also the source of our insanity, because it causes us to see ourselves as a perishable "thing" separate from all else, which gives rise to fear, and most other other human problems.

    As example, language is a key expression of thought. The noun is the building block of language. And the purpose of a noun is to divide. And so from the first word spoken in human history, long before any philosophy, we were already conceptually dividing.

    If human divisions could be solved by philosophy, any philosophy, wouldn't they have long ago been solved? You know, billions of thinkers over tens of thousands of years, surely someone would have come upon "the answer" by now, right?

    Instead, we see the same human problems endlessly repeat themselves in every time and place, whatever the cultural circumstance. The universality of these phenomena seem a huge clue which we are largely ignoring, imho.
  • TheMadFool
    3.2k
    The problem with Theism is it's not demonstrable. People are convinced only by tangible proof by which I mean our senses must register that which is being claimed.

    While I'm not a hardcore materialist I think claims concerning the immaterial are just too speculative - the flying sphagetti monster. Why open a door that lets in anything? It would be a messy affair.

    That said I'd like to mention radiowaves - they're well ''immaterial'' and yet they exist. Of course we detect them with instruments but they can't be sensed with any of our organs.
  • kudos
    27
    Thanks, I found myself wrestling this problem in part to escape the recent notion of the pure biology of existence. This model seems greatly flawed from a practical standpoint because it appears to deem the idea of unquestioned collective and moral willpower as invalid. That is, the willful contradiction of biological necessities not from the unconscious but conscious as definitively against short and long term welfare.

    If we’re to accept this model into common understanding, then it will stand in the way of problems where the collective must act with ‘organized unreason.’ Take climate change for example, what reason would such a race have to place greater interest in the next generation of humankind than the satisfaction of their own biological survival instincts?

    From this kind of materialism it seems wise to maintain the G-d possibility or G-d doubt concerning the discourse on the subject. We can make an analogy of the informant. Say there was a claim of a murderer on his way to you. You could veritiably claim that you don’t believe it, but can you systematically respond that it’s untruth without somehow degrading truth’s stature? When it’s suggested ‘G-d is a myth,’ ‘G-d is a delusion,’ etc that to me is like the person from the analogy saying ‘I can say I know absolutely there is no murderer because it is sufficiently unlikely.’ What does one consider unlikely, but all the things that contradict their frame of reality.

    Keep in mind this doesnt concern physical verification of a deity but of an infinite being beyond comprehension.
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