• "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
    I'm not sure I'm versed well enough to speak on these conceptual schemes of Davidson. I'm not sure what Banno means here by:

    The alien conceptual scheme can only be recognised as a conceptual scheme if there is an interpretation for in in our conceptual scheme.Banno

    I'm not entirely sure if it is the case that conceptual schemes must be interpretable between them, other than through their construction of reality.
  • Might I be God?
    Whereas if I create the stone myself, then although I will have given up my omnipotence, I will have some so by exercising one of my powers.Bartricks

    So then it seems an omnipotent being can cause themselves to lose their omnipotence, and that doesn't contradict their nature of being omnipotent? In which case, an omnipotent being need not necessarily always be omnipotent? Perhaps you're saying that an omnipotent being has the potential to do anything, but need not actually do it for they would lose their omnipotence? It's all very confusing, so I'd like to go back to basics.

    What is an omnipotent being? I think a useful definition would be a being that can make anything possible, actual. That is to say, an omnipotent being can't make a square circle, but could mold a unicorn into reality, perhaps. Some additional properties I'd think such a being would have—in virtue of it being "a being"—are identity (has a sense of self), persistence (that self doesn't go away or lose its identity), and will (the ability to conceive and make changes to reality).

    Under this conception, I'd probably say an omnipotent being couldn't make a boulder that they couldn't lift, because that would be an impossible state of affairs. However, the being would still be omnipotent, because the thing it couldn't do was impossible, and couldn't become actual. Also, it seems to me under this definition there could be any number of omnipotent beings, simply because any contradictions that would arise don't entail something they couldn't do, but an impossibility that can't be made actual.

    This is all under my definition of course. I don't know how you understand omnipotence. How would you describe it, and however you do, I'd like to refer you back to my initial questions of whether an omnipotent being has to always be omnipotent or if they can be omnipotent without actual doing actions that make them lose their omnipotence.
  • Might I be God?
    I think you missed my point, not that it was entirely clear. I mean to claim that there are paradoxes that arise in a single omnipotent being, so if those can't be resolved, what does it matter that there are paradoxes with two? But also, if those paradoxes can be resolved, what makes them resolvable in a way we might not resolve the paradoxes of two.

    For example, the boulder. If the omnipotent being can make a boulder he couldn't lift, surely that means there's something he can't do, i.e. lift the Boulder. I'm not claiming that it's unresolvable, just that if it is, I'm sure two omnipotent beings can be resolved similarly.
  • Might I be God?
    What paradox arises from two omnipotent beings existing that doesn't with just one? For example, how do you personally justify the "Can God make a boulder that he can't lift?" or whatever?
  • Might I be God?
    Uniqueness follows from omnipotence - you can't have more than one omnipotent person.Bartricks

    It's not clear to me why this is the case. Are you viewing it like there are two omnipotent beings having an arm wrestle and one of them has to win?
  • "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
    Surely there are no falsehoods without a conscious entity to make them. I.e. truth is the default state of the universe, those truths might be unrevealed without a conscious entity to discern them but they are still there, simply as properties of the universe.TheVeryIdea

    I think there's a small but major difference between our claims.

    It's correct to say that there are no falsehoods without conscious entities, but that also holds for truths. "Truth", as I argue, is completely observer-dependent. It's incorrect to say "truth is the default state of the universe" because without observers, there is no truth. Rather, existence is the default state of the universe, and whether or not the models we construct correspond to that reality determines truth value.

    However, there's an elephant in the room with this argument that brought up, which is what exactly does it mean for the model to "correspond" with reality? As Pie says:

    Talk of mental models and representation in general seems to want to put two things together side by side, but it seems that only the thing on our side is intelligible. How does 'the sky is blue' match anything ?Pie

    My solution to this, and also to answer Pie's general concern of how truth claims seem redundant, is to say that truth doesn't describe reality per se, but instead are constructible within reality. Consider the proposition "the sky is blue". I think Pie would say that our idea that the sky is blue would be true if, in reality, the sky is blue. This is a correspondence of some sort between our mental model and reality, but it isn't clear why the model must be treated separately from the reality; it seems to be redundant.

    However, I propose a radical shift in perspective. That is to say, in reality, there is no sky, and there is no blue. The objects we commonly consider like the sky and the color blue are examples of ways we, as observers, carve reality. But these slices we carve aren't necessary, and may not be true in every sense. For example, consider a table viewed from the perspective of an alien species. An alien species isn't necessarily humanoid, nor has the etiquette to dine on such a surface. To most species, a table would prove rather useless. So I ask, would an alien species even consider the concept of a table? Couldn't they go about their lives, their existence even, across generations, and never want or need to build a table? I think so. So, although we may live in the same reality, one where we build and see tables, an alien, even if they saw a person using a table, I argue, wouldn't carve a table into their reality.

    I'd argue we can expand this principle to include almost all human conceptions, and we could also apply it to ourselves to say that there could be ways of viewing reality that we would never even think of. And in this world of arbitrary world-slicing, it seems clear that the objects we hold to be "real" aren't necessarily real to all observers. If something isn't real to all observers, how could it be part of reality?

    So now we have a conundrum, which is to say we want a statement like "the sky is blue" to be true, because it seems evidently so, but there is no real sky or real blue. If our mental model doesn't correspond to reality, how can such a statement be true? It's because while I do claim our slices of reality aren't reality proper, they are still constructible from the reality that is there. In fact, I'll cut this short and just get to the thesis: Truth isn't what is real, but rather, what observers can construct from what is real. "The sky is blue" isn't true because the sky is blue in reality, because there is no real sky to be blue, but because we can construct something called the sky from observation and determine its blueness again through observation and other reasoning faculties.

    Now, there are further ideas to be discussed, such as what reality really is, if our world-slicing mechanism can't determine real things, or how a world without observers is different from just an "ineffable clump", but that's enough words for one post I'd say.

    (In hindsight, I may have been repetitive on a couple points and not explained thoroughly why certain things are true, but I'll let others point out what they are.)
  • Your Absolute Truths
    The philosophy I've learned about which I think deals with these sorts of ideas is structural realism, more specifically ontic structural realism. James Ladyman is the particular figure I know that talks about it (he wrote the SEP entry on structural realism). Can't elaborate too much on it now (at work) but just researching those things should put you down a good rabbit hole.
  • "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
    Skeptics will often say things like they want to believe as many truth things and as few false things as possible.Tom Storm

    Isn't that just a Dillahunty saying? Although I suppose the sentiment is typical of skeptics.
  • "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
    How can I have true beliefs ?Pie

    For some reason this question contextualizes truth better for me. When we say things like "I want to know what's true", I feel like we mistakenly treat truth as if it's something out there that we can attain. When really, all that's out there is reality, what is, and when we seek truth, we're simply looking for patterns existing in reality. What we can say of truth though, is when it applies to our mind. For example, beliefs can be true or false, like the belief that "the sky is blue", and their truth value is dependent upon whether the content of the belief is an actual pattern in reality. If I believe the sky is blue, and the sky really is blue, then my belief is true, but under my understanding, that the sky is blue isn't really a truth in and of itself. It simply is.

    I guess this is just a roundabout way of accepting the correspondence theory of truth, but I think the key idea is that truth isn't a fundamental "thing", like an abstract object that we discover. It simply describes whether our mental models correctly describe reality.
  • Shamanism is the root of all spiritual, religious and philosophical systems
    Am I out of the loop? Because I don't know what shamanism is and nobody seems to have bothered to explain what it is in a discussion about whether or not it's the root of all (or many) things.

    From the very cursory things I looked up, it's described as a religious practice originating in Europe in which there are shamans that can be claimed to have attained transcendent powers. Can't really extrapolate from that how it would be the root of all things. I guess it would be helpful if you could give us your perspective on what Shamanism is and how its practiced.
  • "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
    My first thoughts on the matter of truth is that truth seems to be a human construction. All there really is is reality, things happening and existing. It is when you introduce a human or some sort of human-like observer that we start carving up the world, identifying real things that happen (truth?) and things that don't (falsehoods?). Consider this example: is it true that bachelor's are unmarried? It seems the answer is yes, by definition, but do bachelors even exist in the first place? I might take a radical stance (if it is one) and say bachelors only exist insofar as there are observers of reality that identify a pattern compatible with the bachelor definition. But if the existence of a bachelor is dependent on how the observer carves reality, then it is only true that they are unmarried given that context.

    I'm not sure if this is compatible with correspondence or redundancy theory, but I don't think truth is as absolute as most people think, I guess.
  • Trouble with Impositions
    The gamete has to do what is necessary to resist entropic decay, so does the person. Nothing has changed there.Isaac

    Except a gamete isn't a living, conscious thing with emotions that can feel pain? It's not until we choose to make it a baby that it does so?
  • Your Absolute Truths
    Try harder! Either you're lazy or I'm a fool! :snicker:Agent Smith

    That's not a dichotomy. But I suppose you think I'm saying humans are so exceptional that there can't be a natural explanation for it? Not quite, I'm happy to say that the human mind is a natural, even material thing. However, I do admit the quote-on-quote power of the mind does raise questions about our purpose and why we're here and such. I do consider supernatural explanations to those sorts of questions in a very particular sense.

    So maybe you're right.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    Divine fallacy.Agent Smith

    Don't know how that relates to be honest.
  • Trouble with Impositions
    I think a point that should be discussed more is the quality of life itself, as that is what some of these arguments are hinging on. I believe did concede that if life were perfect and unhappiness and such feelings were non-existent, then there would be no problem with procreating. But there is no such thing, and the introduction of unpleasantries at all makes life undesirable, while argues that the positives can outweigh the goods, and that substantiates life.

    On this front, there are many arguments in favor of life as undesirable. The one I'd put forward is that life seems to be at odds with our desires. At it's simplest, we desire happiness, health, etc., but the nature of life is survival, avoiding harm and death and such things. Even in the things we enjoy, we must endure until we reach the satisfaction. Perhaps this is a little personal, but for me, that would be cooking. I'd love to enjoy a good meal, but I'm a tad lazy and don't really enjoy the process of preparing food. It's not pain or suffering per se, but an undesirable situation I must endure.

    Of course, I would agree that with the good comes the bad, and the bad helps exemplify the good. However, the point is not whether or not the good outweighs the bad, at least not with this particular argument, but rather that the good has to outweigh the bad in the first place. And not only that, but the bad has to constantly be outweighed, that it's a fact of life that we have to fight for life. Should we bring people into being, forcing them to fight that fight?

    Now, this isn't the best argument. I anticipate and could formulate my own argument as to why this fight for life could actually be a good, a valiant thing, but I'll leave it there as a starting point.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    I was skeptical about your statement at first, but I have to agree that there's something exceptional about human consciousness. Although I'm not sure if we can "overcome anything", I do think it's possible that our mind can understand anything. Not necessarily that we can know or experience anything (like what it feels like to use echolocation), but it could be the case that our mind has achieved some form of observational power that allows an almost transcendent knowledge.

    I don't know how to explain it, really. Suffice to say I don't agree with arguments that the human mind is limited, such that it could (even in theory) never answer answerable questions or never solve solvable problems.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    I'm not sure if I'm thinking of "in common" in the same way. Take the True/False relation example again. You could say that they don't have anything "in common", considering they don't have any properties other than one simply not being the other. I think a problem I'm running into thinking about this is trying to use examples of things we know/experience, but they are so ingrained in our reality its hard to isolate them. For example, I'm trying to imagine a variety of things in a void, like a red cube and blue sphere, but such an idea presupposes the ideas of color, shape, and space, which themselves have their own sort of internal relations. In the end, I guess all I can really say is the least common thing all things have is they exist, meaning they take part in some relation.

    Hard to talk about such abstract and foundational things, it's as if we don't have the proper language to describe it
  • Antinatalism Arguments
    Just a random related question: approximately what percent of people in this forum are onboard with antinatalism or related sentiments? It seems like most are against it, although kind of convinced me long ago that it makes perfect sense, even though it's not something I'd actually practice, which must mean I'm a monster. I guess I'm just surprised not as many others were convinced as well.
  • Doing away with absolute indiscerniblity and identity
    Can't say I understand everything being said here. I'm personally a fan of the Identity of Indiscernibles and PSR. I've never really seen how Maxwell's Balls (the sphere problem you mentioned) disproves it. Perhaps or someone could restate or reformulate the argument/problem of this thread in more succinct terms?

    I will say one thing though; when it comes to identity, I strongly feel in many of these scenarios we're talking about an artificial identity that we as humans project onto things. For example, that a statue is the same statue with an arm missing isn't making any real claim about reality, it's just something our minds construct and perceive. Same thing with things existing over time. That's not to say that the problems of identity or solved or anything, there's still plenty of interesting ground to cover, whether or not it's making claims about reality.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    Wow that was mind-fucking my friend I have to admit! Apologies accepted.hahahhdimosthenis9

    I think this is one of those cases where a comma would be handy. Although I think slightly differently about these "things" and "relations", which goes back to me claiming relations to be more fundamental than things.

    I am equating a relation to a transfer of information (an interaction - a change/deviation from the ground state/behaviour/nature/properties/form of an entity/particular/object/thing/individual due to an external effect*)Daniel

    In my reasoning, a relation isn't any sort of change, it's a description of existence. Relations are the rules by which "things" are produced. The simplest relation is a pure binary relation, in which the relation is simply that the relata are different—i.e. relata A is not relata B, and relata B is not relata A. This may seem silly, but I think it's the grounding for some of the most fundamental ideas in philosophy. In propositional logic, we can construe truth and falsity as this binary relation. There's nothing about a false truth value that makes it false, other than that it's not true, and vice versa. More contentiously, I'd argue that this principle could be applied to a metaphysics, that the very idea of being requires that there is not being as well. I could (and would, in a separate thread) argue that this principle explains the reason there can't be nothing, or, more precisely, only nothing. Could "nothing" still exist, despite existence? Maybe. Anyway. . .

    a relation cannot occur between the exact same thing(s), and the possibility for variation must exist before a relation can take place. So, even if things exist, if they do not change in any of their properties relative to each other simply because they cannot vary . . . and hence cannot be affected, there won't be a relation between them.Daniel

    Correct, except we have it at opposites. For me, it's not that a variety of things must exist for there to be a relation between them, it's that the variety in the things is composed by the relation, or that it is the relation that makes them varied in the first place. It seems like you might be imagining a universe in which there are things, varied things, but they don't interact in any way, so there are no relations between them. But I would continue on to say, if there are no relations between them, and they are just these disembodied things, then this is the same as if they exist alone, and as we agreed, there cannot be one thing.

    Lastly, I would ask, how can things be varied if there is no commonality between the things upon which they vary?
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    My primary explanation was sort of that too, that it was when we stopped treating mathematics as uncovering truth about the world or as something real, and more as a formal set of rules that we stopped treating negatives as something spooky. It really did unleash a mathematical beast with that change in perspective that allowed us to do math in ways we never would have thought up before. (At least, that's wht I'm assuming based on what I read about the period)
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    I read the beginning of chapter 13 of the book linked. It does mention the -1 : 1 ratio argument, which was put forward by Antoine Arnauld and discussed among "many men", including Leibniz whom agreed there was an objection but still used them to calculate. Perhaps I didn't read far enough, but the person mentioned that believed negatives were greater than infinity was John Wallis, who actually did accept them, but thought so because dividing by 0 gives infinity, and going smaller would have to mean going past infinity. Strange indeed.

    I don't quite understand the counter to analyzing past mathematicians views on this though. Why else do we study philosophy, especially the ancients? Historical inventory for sure, but we often learn things ourselves by studying their thoughts (of course, sorting the good ideas from the bad). Furthermore, history does repeat itself. It seems we accept negative numbers now on a similar footing as whole numbers, but complex numbers are still pretty hotly debated as to whether we should consider them as real as the real numbers. Whether or not it's an important issue that requires support from the mathematical community, that's why I'm on a random philosophy board and not writing letters to my local university or something.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    The curious thing to me about the cogito, which is somewhat inferred in my answer, is the observation that our senses can be deceived. Firstly, doesn't that presuppose that we know something, that reality can differ from our perception? But more importantly, I question why this deception disproves all but the mind's existence. In the case of a mirage, for instance, even if there is no oasis, there's still something producing the illusion of the oasis. So it seems to me that, while we can't know if what our senses are producing are the reality or an illusion, we can at least be sure that there is something eluding us (I think that's the wrong word but oh well).

    But consider the idea that our experience might be illusory, that is, everything we know about the world we live in isn't reality proper (for example a hologram or mischievous devil or whatnot). Does that mean we don't know anything, what we experience is false or that nothing truly does exist besides our minds? I don't think so. Even if that's all true, I think that the very fact that we experience the illusion makes the illusion as real as any other reality. I'll suffice to say that it's because existence isn't isolated to one notion of ultimate reality, but baked into the relationships between things. So the very fact that there is an illusion I experience makes us "real".

    That's kind of a mouthful, so I'll stop before my reasoning becomes (more?) convoluted.
  • Your Absolute Truths
    I'm a little confused by the question because to me, the only truths we can know most absolutely are those immediate to our human experience. For example, the most fundamental truth I can tell is that "I exist", and not in a cogito way, but because of my sense experience. Whether or not the stimulus I perceive is what it really is, the very fact that I feel something is what brings me into existence. Not only that, but I can know that the stimulus I perceive also exists, again, even if it's not the "true nature" of the stimulus, like a mirage. The last observation I'll add to this line of thought is that there is a relationship between me and the stimulus, and that "things are related" is another fundamental truth that I build my philosophy off of.

    This is different from what you seem to be proposing, that our scientific knowledge of things external to our experience should form our most basic beliefs, but it's strange to me because there's so much to presuppose before admitting scientific facts. However, I do also agree that, if we take for granted our general experience and knowledge and such, we can construct truths that seem fundamental to the universe, beyond ourselves. Here are mine:

    1. There is a reality (as shown by the reasoning above).
    2. Reality is composed of relationships. That is to say, things exist in relation to other things, but the "things" are not fundamental necessarily, only the relations.
    3. As such, there cannot be one thing.
    4. I exist in a reality, hence other things exist too. I know this because the experiences I feel are the relationship that unite me with other things.
    5. And more pragmatically, I feel emotion, most fundamentally the axis of good vs bad, things I desire vs things I avoid.

    I am unsure of anything else I feel I know as absolutely. But there are many things I believe that, in conjunction with these truths, build the basis for a lot of my philosophy.
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    Actually, the Hindus about 628 introduced negative numbers to represent debts. Positive numbers represented assets. Euler, in the latter half of the 18th century still believed negative numbers were greater than infinity.

    (I can't wait to see all the action when you guys move on to FRACTIONS :scream: )

    That Euler and other great mathematicians thought such things was the whole point of this thread in the first place. Is there no insight to be gained by understanding why the idea of a negative eluded such minds for so long? Also, although the rationals contain the integers, fractions are simpler as a concept, just given that they've a far longer history in mathematics. So this fraction meme you guys are doing is backwards.

    Can I ask you where you got this from? I know Euler played fast and loose with infinite series, but I can only find this bit about negative numbers mentioned on an obscure Wikipedia comments page. Since Euler is one of the greatest minds mathematics has ever seen, this seems like an odd mistake.Real Gone Cat

    I forget whether or not it was Euler who made that claim, but mathematicians also argued against them in terms of ratios. It seemed ridiculous to them that the ratio of a greater to a lesser (1 : -1) could be the same as a lesser to a greater (-1 : 1). I can't precisely pinpoint the mistake being made there, though there obviously is one.

    As someone mentioned elsewhere, negative numbers are typically built within set theory as equivalence classes of pairs of natural numbers, so they are very much one level up.

    So -2 := { (2,4), (3,5), (4,6),...}.

    It's also possible to declare that every number in a given system has an additive inverse.

    For me, these kind of constructions raise a lot of questions about the sort of ontology of mathematical objects. That certain entities are "prior" to others in these formalisms, does it have any meaning to how we view physical reality? Like how magnitudes (positive numbers) are natural, but signed values seem synthetic. Also:

    It's not that Euler was stupid, but maybe the reverse.Pie

    :up: Had Euler really never heard of debt before? And would our examples of holes and sea level and temperature convince him otherwise?
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    I want to focus on one particular aspect of this discussion, which is the matter of "context" required when manifesting negatives in nature. At first, I found it odd that positive numbers seem natural and automatic in our thinking, but when we consider negatives we have to construct these contexts (like debt) which allow negatives to exist.

    However, as noted, it could also be the case that positive numbers also do operate within a context, just a more invisible one. What I want to consider is that there are actually two different mathematical concepts that are being conflated when we look at the nature of positive numbers. And it is that of magnitude and signedness.

    My claim is that when we do ordinary math like counting, we aren't actually operating on "positive" numbers per se, but rather unsigned numbers, or magnitudes. And that is the context we operate in normally, that of magnitude. However, when we want to consider negative values, we introduce a new context, that of signedness, and this is the "weird" context that makes negative numbers seem one step removed from unsigned numbers.

    Of course, when we do math, we don't really make such distinctions between unsigned or signed numbers: numbers are always signed, and so, distinct from their oppositely signed counterparts. That is to say -1 isn't 1 with - sign, -1 is a completely distinct entity from +1. What I wonder then, is if there's any merit to make such distinctions, perhaps from a philosophical perspective. Clearly, the math works out and doesn't care about our intuitions. But if we can get a finer grasp on the nature of such entities, it could inform our philosophical considerations.
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    As for multiplying by a negative, it's not hard to find examples.Banno

    My point isn't quite that there aren't applications of multiplying by a negative, physics has it all over the place, and computer programs can also make use of them heavily. My point is more so about how some of the intuitions of the rules don't match the applications. Yes, we can interpret (-5) * (-1) as a "$5 debt" being "lost", hence $5 credit, and that rule gives us the correct value, but it doesn't match the usual "flipping" interpretation of multiplying by a negative. Furthermore, that "flipping" interpretation of a negative doesn't occur in the other usual examples of temperature, sea level, height of dirt as describes.

    The point is that we are using sloppy intuition to justify the rules of negatives, intuition that clearly didn't convince mathematicians of the past, and perhaps there's some value in recognizing that.
  • Negative numbers are more elusive than we think
    Think of 2 representing the height of a mound of dirt and -2 representing the depth of a hole beside it.Pie

    This is an example of introducing context to make sense of negatives, which I described here:
    The main difference I perceive is that negative numbers require a context within which to function, unlike positive amounts which I seem to be able to measure or count in any situation. . .I think that this required context does make negative numbers at least seem one step removed from the naturalness of the positives.Jerry
    Now it could be the case that regular counting has its own context, which I feel is eluded to indirectly by , although I don't yet understand the meaning of the quotes they provided. To quickly reiterate, it's not that I think negative numbers can't refer to things in nature, it just seems like extra steps are needed to make them make sense, which makes them somewhat different from positive numbers.
  • An observation that makes me consider the existence of a creator
    Disappointing we seem to have a stalemate so soon. I feel like I've sufficiently expressed the "exceptionalism" of humanity, not just in relation to other animals, but with regards to our place and size in the universe.

    Notice, I'm not saying we're "cool" or "important" or even that what we do "matters" to anything but ourselves. Rather I'm saying that we're exceptional, meaning we're unusual, bizarre, and so far removed from all else around us. The former assign value to our actions, while the latter is an observation (removing the connotations that come from a word like "bizarre").

    Let me try to clarify the discussion thus far in an argumentative form:
    1. I claim there is a "strange discrepancy", an exceptionalism to humans, and this (may) imply some creator (I didn't really explain why that's the case though)
    2. You say the discrepancy isn't that great (we've barely left solar system and such), and that it only seems significant because we're impressed with ourselves. So my claim is not true, and therefore the argument doesn't hold.
    3. I counter that our "significance" (but more accurately, our exceptionalism) is justified by describing how our influence is greater than you think. Namely:
    We may not have literally left the galaxy, say, but we've spanned the entire breadth of the universe of what we can observe; once again, we have pictured the universe and can film atoms. We're able to model the very fabric of reality itself, large and small.Jerry
    4. You respond with a few more thoughts, saying that what we do "isn't that big a deal", of all the organisms in the world, "humanity is just one more", and that "we're important because we think we're important". However, I don't think you've really addressed the claims I had made in the previous point, which are precisely the reasons I do think these last claims aren't entirely accurate.
  • An observation that makes me consider the existence of a creator
    To offer a different perspective, that there's only one intelligent species (humans) suggests an antonymous, dark(er), reality - is intelligence becoming extinct? Are brains,, ergo, intelligence/sentience/consciousness going out of fashion?TheMadFool

    Tossing aside the creator talk for a second, I would offer that one reason there may only be one overtly intelligent species is because once there is one, it becomes so intelligent so quick that there's almost no room/time for another. Rather than intelligence becoming extinct, it's in its infancy, where no other intelligence has had the time to reach an equivalent. But similarly to your concern, it may also be the case that once intelligence reaches a certain level, it becomes destructive, similar to how we're destroying our own environment and putting ourselves at constant danger of nuclear weaponry and such things. That would mean intelligence does become extinct rather quickly, and is never able to flourish. Pessimism wins again.
  • An observation that makes me consider the existence of a creator
    Thanks for the compliment.

    The things humanity has done may have had more of an impact on the planet than most other organisms, but what we have accomplished only seems significant to our own self-fascinated eyes.T Clark

    You know, I think I have to disagree here. I think that there is, in some either cosmic or objective sense, something significant about what we're able to do. We may not have literally left the galaxy, say, but we've spanned the entire breadth of the universe of what we can observe; once again, we have pictured the universe and can film atoms. We're able to model the very fabric of reality itself, large and small. And these are the results of a random ape-ish species of life on a medium-to-small-sized planet designed for semi-intelligent organisms to eat, sleep, and die.

    Ultimately, we have no reference other than ourselves to claim what's significant and what isn't, but I think we can at least say that humans are beyond exceptional, specifically given how our prowess extends to the very edges of all there is. Hm, seems like I'm just reiterating at this point, but what I would like to hear is a little more on how either we aren't exceptional (some more argumentation against the claims I've made or support for your own) or, even if we are exceptional, some argumentation against why that would entail a creator.
  • Why is atheism merely "lack of belief"?
    Interesting that you would say a burden of proof falls on an agnostic. I don't think by the standard understanding of the burden of proof you would have to account for a position of agnosticism, as you would not be making any claim either way about a proposition. However, I do sympathize and agree with you that you should be able to explain your position regardless.
  • Why is atheism merely "lack of belief"?
    @Bitter Crank
    I don't find a difference in these two formulations....

    Well, to make the difference a little more clear, I'll point out that "I lack belief that some god exists" is the same as saying "I do not believe that some god exists". Oh, also "some god exists" is the same as "god(s) exist". So the two statements become:

    "I do not believe that some god exists"
    "I believe that no god exists"
    Notice that "no god exists" is the negation of "some god exists".

    These are actually not the same. I'm gonna use "the gumball example". Excuse me if you know of this example and reject it, or that you think it doesn't apply. Anyway, it goes:

    You have a jar of gumballs. You know the number of gumballs is either even or odd. The question is, "do you believe there are an even number of gumballs"? You would say:

    "I do not believe that there are an even number of gumballs" (because there is an equally likely chance that there are an odd number)

    Is this the same as saying "I believe that there are an odd number of gumballs"? No, because you also wouldn't believe that there are an odd number of gumballs, for the same reason you didn't believe the number was even.

    What you are saying then is "I do not believe that there are an even number of gumballs" and "I do not believe that there are an odd number of gumballs". You don't believe either because, in this case, the possibility is equal, and you can't have a good degree of certainty either way.

    That's also my position on the existence of gods, which I use agnosticism to mean, which is also a common use case of agnosticism.

    Oh, and you are right, I don't know whether a god exists or not, although most atheists don't claim to know either.
  • Why is atheism merely "lack of belief"?
    Oh, I just realized I didn't describe what I mean when I say I'm agnostic.

    Simply, I do not believe that no gods exist and I do not believe that some god exists.
  • Do numbers exist?

    Numbers can carry information that is both passive (like a newsreport) and active (like a software program).TheMadFool

    I would really like to hear more on what you mean by numbers being passive and active. I'm currently struggling to get my thoughts together on this, but I think we might have very similar views.