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The philosophical conception of god in the age of reason and science.

 
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 07:56 pm
@prothero,
Jebediah;167865 wrote:
Descriptive laws don't have a lawgiver, and the laws of nature are descriptive laws. They don't have a why.


That's right. They don't have a why. Many people can live without a why. And some cannot.
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 08:01 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;167866 wrote:
That's right. They don't have a why. Many people can live without a why. And some cannot.


But there are many why questions in science. Science is in the business of answering "why" questions (why does the sun shine, why does the earth go around it, etc). It just doesn't go for the ultimate why questions (why does the force of gravity exist, etc).

So, why do people feel like they must have some sort of answer for the ultimate why questions? What's wrong with mystery?
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 08:31 pm
@prothero,
jeeprs wrote:
So, Kennethamy. Why is it that the Universe is lawful? Please try and keep your response to a paragraph.


Suppose kennethamy had evidence there was a God, and that God was the reason why the universe is lawful. Would that even satisfy you?

I don't think so.

See, no matter what rational explanation you give a spiritualist, they will immediately denounce said rational explanation in favor of believing in something which is beyond their intellect. It's the particular personality, or rather, mindset, which makes them reject explanations, even though they are explanations. This is why I often criticize spiritualists on their unbeknownst infinite regressive stance. Rational reasons are always inadequate, because there is a need, a desire, to believe in something supernatural and to keep demanding support for an infinite chain of propositions.

Spirituality is a mood, and more than a mood, it's an irrational mindset. What I'm trying to stress is that this is not an issue about God, or whatever supernatural belief one can conjure, per se. This is a mental disorder which can adversely affect many areas of one's life. Particularly those which require a rational mind.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 08:47 pm
@prothero,
I don't think I'm in the theist camp. And I still question whether science offers expanations or simply integration within a causal system. Of course this integration within a causal system is actually explanation enough, generally. I admit that. But still, isn't there a "why? " that would remain even if we found an equation that unified all the laws of physics? Even if we thought the question was silly, wouldn't there still be some sort of wonder, some "why?" left unanswered for us?

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 09:48 PM ----------

Jebediah;167867 wrote:

So, why do people feel like they must have some sort of answer for the ultimate why questions? What's wrong with mystery?

Personally, I'm OK with the mystery. I even like that Godel and Turing screwed up math.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:00 pm
@prothero,
Reconstructo wrote:
Even if we thought the question was silly, wouldn't there still be some sort of wonder, some "why?" left unanswered for us?


Yes, and that's what spirituality is. An exploit of this. But the reasonable man knows not to approach infinite regress. The reasonable man understands when something is answered, that we should have justification for our beliefs, and that things can only be answered with the evidence at hand. Speculation is not explanation, it is speculation.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:00 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;167867 wrote:
But there are many why questions in science. Science is in the business of answering "why" questions (why does the sun shine, why does the earth go around it, etc). It just doesn't go for the ultimate why questions (why does the force of gravity exist, etc).

So, why do people feel like they must have some sort of answer for the ultimate why questions? What's wrong with mystery?


Yes, there is that funny belief that science answers only "how" questions, but not "why" questions. Taken literally, that is not true, since as you point out, science is in the business of providing explanations not just descriptions. Theoretical science especially. But what turns out the be meant by the slogan that science answers only "how" questions and not "why" questions is that science does not answer a particular type of why question, namely one that inquires into purpose. Science, they are saying, does not inquire into purpose. It can explain the "mechanism" by which X causes Y, but science cannot tell us the purpose for X causing Y. Science can tell us why planets orbit the Sun in ellipses rather than circles. It is because of the gravitation attraction of the Sun on the planets. That is fine. But science cannot tell us what is the purpose of planets orbiting in ellipses rather than circles. And that is what is meant by saying that science answer how but not why questions. What is meant is that science cannot answer question about purpose. And that is true, Save for the science of people (and perhaps animals) science cannot answer what is the purpose of planets moving in elliptical orbits around the Sun. But now the question that must arise is why it is that science does not even address that question, let alone answer it. Is it because the answer to the question will forever be concealed by science? Or is the answer rather that the question itself is inappropriate? There is no answer because there is no question. And why is there no question? Because the question assumes something for which there is no evidence, and thus, there is no reason to believe it is true. And what is that assumption? Obviously, that natural laws have a purpose which we can discover. Which brings us back to the distinction between prescriptive and descriptive laws. Prescriptive laws, man-made laws, have a purpose (or so one hopes!). But what reason is there to think that descriptive laws have a purpose? Only, it would seem that both are called, "laws". But that is a slim reed upon which to base a philosophy. Why are they both called "laws"? There are obviously causes that jeeprs has indicated. The idea that natural laws are like man-made laws is a pre-enlightenment notion, as jeeprs says. Where there is a law, there is a law-giver, is an assumption fueled by a theological perspective on the world. It was Galileo who finally pried the "why" of cause from the "why" of purpose (not that a purpose cannot also be a cause, but that is another story).
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:08 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167898 wrote:
Yes, there is that funny belief that science answers only "how" questions, but not "why" questions. Taken literally, that is not true, since as you point out, science is in the business of providing explanations not just descriptions. Theoretical science especially. But what turns out the be meant by the slogan that science answers only "how" questions and not "why" questions is that science does not answer a particular type of why question, namely one that inquires into purpose. Science, they are saying, does not inquire into purpose. It can explain the "mechanism" by which X causes Y, but science cannot tell us the purpose for X causing Y. Science can tell us why planets orbit the Sun in ellipses rather than circles. It is because of the gravitation attraction of the Sun on the planets. That is fine. But science cannot tell us what is the purpose of planets orbiting in ellipses rather than circles. And that is what is meant by saying that science answer how but not why questions. What is meant is that science cannot answer question about purpose. And that is true, Save for the science of people (and perhaps animals) science cannot answer what is the purpose of planets moving in elliptical orbits around the Sun. But now the question that must arise is why it is that science does not even address that question, let alone answer it. Is it because the answer to the question will forever be concealed by science? Or is the answer rather that the question itself is inappropriate? There is no answer because there is no question. And why is there no question? Because the question assumes something for which there is no evidence, and thus, there is no reason to believe it is true. And what is that assumption? Obviously, that natural laws have a purpose which we can discover. Which brings us back to the distinction between prescriptive and descriptive laws. Prescriptive laws, man-made laws, have a purpose (or so one hopes!). But what reason is there to think that descriptive laws have a purpose? Only, it would seem that both are called, "laws". But that is a slim reed upon which to base a philosophy. Why are they both called "laws"? There are obviously causes that jeeprs has indicated. The idea that natural laws are like man-made laws is a pre-enlightenment notion, as jeeprs says. Where there is a law, there is a law-giver, is an assumption fueled by a theological perspective on the world. It was Galileo who finally pried the "why" of cause from the "why" of purpose (not that a purpose cannot also be a cause, but that is another story).


And he even kept it in one paragraph, as jeeprs requested.

Bravo!
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:11 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167902 wrote:
And he even kept it in one paragraph, as jeeprs requested.

Bravo!


Longish paragraph, though.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:12 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167897 wrote:
Yes, and that's what spirituality is. An exploit of this. But the reasonable man knows not to approach infinite regress. The reasonable man understands when something is answered, that we should have justification for our beliefs, and that things can only be answered with the evidence at hand. Speculation is not explanation, it is speculation.

I'll grant you that. And this is why I have taken a different direction in regards to the spiritual tradition. I don't think we need the abstractions, except as a way to point at the mystery, to point at the beauty of life that escapes our abstractions. For me, a completely secular "religion" is possible in which "emotional hygiene" is combined with a logical presentation of the limits of logic. I still would argue that myth taken as myth is an enrichment of life.
Of course it's part of my personal ethic to not be cruel in the name of abstractions, which would include the position just presented.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:16 PM ----------

kennethamy;167898 wrote:
Yes, there is that funny belief that science answers only "how" questions, but not "why" questions. Taken literally, that is not true, since as you point out, science is in the business of providing explanations not just descriptions. Theoretical science especially. But what turns out the be meant by the slogan that science answers only "how" questions and not "why" questions is that science does not answer a particular type of why question, namely one that inquires into purpose. Science, they are saying, does not inquire into purpose. It can explain the "mechanism" by which X causes Y, but science cannot tell us the purpose for X causing Y. Science can tell us why planets orbit the Sun in ellipses rather than circles. It is because of the gravitation attraction of the Sun on the planets. That is fine. But science cannot tell us what is the purpose of planets orbiting in ellipses rather than circles. And that is what is meant by saying that science answer how but not why questions. What is meant is that science cannot answer question about purpose. And that is true, Save for the science of people (and perhaps animals) science cannot answer what is the purpose of planets moving in elliptical orbits around the Sun. But now the question that must arise is why it is that science does not even address that question, let alone answer it. Is it because the answer to the question will forever be concealed by science? Or is the answer rather that the question itself is inappropriate? There is no answer because there is no question. And why is there no question? Because the question assumes something for which there is no evidence, and thus, there is no reason to believe it is true. And what is that assumption? Obviously, that natural laws have a purpose which we can discover. Which brings us back to the distinction between prescriptive and descriptive laws. Prescriptive laws, man-made laws, have a purpose (or so one hopes!). But what reason is there to think that descriptive laws have a purpose? Only, it would seem that both are called, "laws". But that is a slim reed upon which to base a philosophy. Why are they both called "laws"? There are obviously causes that jeeprs has indicated. The idea that natural laws are like man-made laws is a pre-enlightenment notion, as jeeprs says. Where there is a law, there is a law-giver, is an assumption fueled by a theological perspective on the world. It was Galileo who finally pried the "why" of cause from the "why" of purpose (not that a purpose cannot also be a cause, but that is another story).


This is well said. I still argue that the explanations of science are relative, in that they relate one experience to another mathematically and conceptually. And yet the "why" in regards to the whole is completely natural and human, even if clever remarks can be made against it. It's natural for humans, so rich with purpose, to inquire as to the purpose of the whole. And indeed, humans are part of the universe, and their experience of purpose is therefore an indication of purpose within the universe. We must include ourselves and our own investigation as part of that which is philosophically investigated.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:19 pm
@prothero,
Reconstructo wrote:
I don't think we need the abstractions, except as a way to point at the mystery, to point at the beauty of life that escapes our abstractions


But where's the mystery? That's exactly the problem - believing there is a mystery, when there is no mystery.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:20 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167876 wrote:

Spirituality is a mood, and more than a mood, it's an irrational mindset.

Actually, I agree with you, except from a more positive angle. To what degree are love and pleasure "rational"? To what degree is the enjoyment of the mystery rational? In the thread "ineffable" I have tried to point out all that cannot be put into words, with our language that is composed mostly of universals, which is to say abstractions. There is life "beneath" our abstractions, that resists symbolization. For me, this is a secular source of the beauty and wonder often associated with religion.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:22 PM ----------

Zetherin;167909 wrote:
But where's the mystery? That's exactly the problem - believing there is a mystery, when there is no mystery.


Here's where I have to disagree. Even if science can mathematically relate just about everything, don't we still have the irreducible experience of qualia on our hands? Maybe "mystery" isn't the right word. We are mortal beings who love, fear, die. Our scientific abstractions for all their use still leave us with our all too human existence, including the wonder and terror thereof. Even if we grant that life and consciousness are an accident, a die-throw, does this reduce our experience of music? of the birth of our child? or our wedding day? Do you see where I am going? Life remains strange. No matter how we pile on explanations. Scientific, theological, or of any kind. Life - as we actually experience it-- is bigger than any abstraction. Smile
0 Replies
 
Jebediah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:23 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167906 wrote:
I'll grant you that. And this is why I have taken a different direction in regards to the spiritual tradition. I don't think we need the abstractions, except as a way to point at the mystery, to point at the beauty of life that escapes our abstractions. For me, a completely secular "religion" is possible in which "emotional hygiene" is combined with a logical presentation of the limits of logic. I still would argue that myth taken as myth is an enrichment of life.


I agree. And that is the answer to one of the things that pushes people towards spiritualism, when they think that without taking that sort of thing as true there is less enjoyment of life. You can still enjoy the myth while knowing that it is a myth. A conjuror's tricks are enjoyable even though you know they are tricks. Fiction is enjoyable even though you know that those things didn't really happen. And it can point at the beauty of life. It can also point us in the wrong direction, but that's another story.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:24 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167909 wrote:
But where's the mystery? That's exactly the problem - believing there is a mystery, when there is no mystery.


There used to be a TV series (or was it radio?) called, "I Love a Mystery". Its theme song was St, Saen's, Danse Macabre. Reconstructo would have adored it.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:29 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;167913 wrote:
I agree. And that is the answer to one of the things that pushes people towards spiritualism, when they think that without taking that sort of thing as true there is less enjoyment of life. You can still enjoy the myth while knowing that it is a myth. A conjuror's tricks are enjoyable even though you know they are tricks. Fiction is enjoyable even though you know that those things didn't really happen. And it can point at the beauty of life. It can also point us in the wrong direction, but that's another story.


Thanks! It's good to be understood on this. Myth taken as fact has wrought "lord" knows how much evil on mankind --and also given the dying a certain amount of comfort, that should be granted.

I don't think that all myth was a conjurer's trick. Some of the parables in the New Test might as well be atheistic wisdom writing. I like Jesus as an atheist against the idolating hypocrites. He points to this world, if one ignores all the psychotic otherworldly quotes possibly put there afterword, by a power hungry institution. Of course I don't need "Jesus" and don't know if he, some historical man, even existed. He exists for me as Hamlet does, as a character with some great dialogue. Except Hamlet is clearly the work of one author, whereas Jesus strikes me as a dissonant composite. I take my imaginary scissors to the gospels, and clip out some "emotional hygiene" parables worth saving. The value of love, forgiveness, living in the moment, keeping to the spirit of the "law" rather than using its letter as an excuse for cruelty. That sort of thing. And I also think the Tao is a great book, but it doesn't really strike me as supernatural, but rather as something monist and philosophical.
0 Replies
 
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:30 pm
@prothero,
Reconstructo wrote:
To what degree are love and pleasure "rational"?


No degree. We must distinguish thinking from feeling. Feelings aren't rational or irrational. Thought is what is rational and irrational (And also actions, I suppose. But when one says, "You're acting irrationally", I imagine they mean, "Your thought process during that instance was irrational".)

Quote:
To what degree is the enjoyment of the mystery rational?


I don't know what that means. It's fine to be entertained by an action movie, if that's what you're asking me.

Quote:
Even if we grant that life and consciousness are an accident, a die-throw, does this reduce our experience of music? of the birth of our child? or our wedding day? Do you see where I am going? Life remains strange.


You've given examples of situations in life. So what? Yes, some things in our lives can be beautiful, but what about that is mysterious? I'm not understanding.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:31 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167915 wrote:
There used to be a TV series (or was it radio?) called, "I Love a Mystery". Its theme song was St, Saen's, Danse Macabre. Reconstructo would have adored it.


I might have. But I also love a crisp clean equation. I get off on the notion of Turing machines as well. Give me perfect clarity. And also give me the beauty of a woman, to use an example we can all relate to. Does the beauty of a woman on planet Earth reduce to sentences or equations? I think not.
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:31 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;167915 wrote:
There used to be a TV series (or was it radio?) called, "I Love a Mystery". Its theme song was St, Saen's, Danse Macabre. Reconstructo would have adored it.


Not just Reconstructo. This is an epidemic of massive proportions.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:32 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167919 wrote:
No degree. We must distinguish thinking from feeling. Feelings aren't rational or irrational. Thought is what is rational and irrational (And also actions, I suppose. But when one says, "You're acting irrationally", I imagine they mean, "Your thought process during that instance was irrational".)

I'll grant you that. "Irrational" is usually a critique of thought. Maybe non-rational or in-effable/nonlingual would serve better.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:32 PM ----------

Zetherin;167921 wrote:
Not just Reconstructo. This is an epidemic of massive proportions.

Am I somehow in the enemy camp? How so?

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:33 PM ----------

Zetherin;167919 wrote:

I don't know what that means. It's fine to be entertained by an action movie, if that's what you're asking me.

Are you never the least bit shocked that you are alive? I mean I often don't notice it myself. I get caught up in the little tasks of life. But every once in a while....
Zetherin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:35 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;167922 wrote:
I'll grant you that. "Irrational" is usually a critique of thought. Maybe non-rational or in-effable/nonlingual would serve better.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:32 PM ----------


Am I somehow in the enemy camp? How so?


There is no enemy camp.

Alright, so let us suppose some experiences are ineffable. Now what?

Quote:
Are you never the least bit shocked that you are alive? I mean I often don't notice it myself. I get caught up in the little tasks of life. But every once in a while....


Sure, Recon., I feel some amazing things sometimes. But I don't let those feelings get in the way of my reason. Or, at least, I desperately try not to let them.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Sun 23 May, 2010 09:36 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;167919 wrote:

You've given examples of situations in life. So what? Yes, some things in our lives can be beautiful, but what about that is mysterious? I'm not understanding.

I don't think a completely satisfactory explanation of existence is even possible. Have you considered the qualia issue? It doesn't matter if we link this to certain areas in the brain. The experience itself is irreducible. The abstractions can only be practical, not explanatory in the deeper sense. No explanation, even if a god were to speak from the clouds, can reduce the experience itself. This has nothing to do with the supernatural. This is just everyday life we are talking about.

---------- Post added 05-23-2010 at 10:39 PM ----------

Zetherin;167927 wrote:
There is no enemy camp.

Alright, so let us suppose some experiences are ineffable. Now what?

Now nothing. It proves nothing, suggests nothing. I'm simply saying that for me, life is "mysterious" or "transcendent" enough, without the supernatural.

And I am also saying that references to the supernatural add or subtract nothing to our ineffable experience (of course much of our experience is effable or rational, or irrational). I'm saying that no abstraction can answer what it is we might want an answer for. After all, we think/speak in terms of universals, and how do these universals plug in to the experience of love/music/fatigue/pain/etc.?
0 Replies
 
 

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