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Author Topic: The Mystery of Evangelical Atheists  (Read 11935 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #135 on: May 25, 2010, 09:34:04 PM »

More or less.  He said that anyone who was a 100% Atheist was much smarter than he, and violating basic scientific thinking.
Just for the record, Dawkins also states, in The God Delusion, that he is not a 100% atheist, either -- more like a 90% atheist. angel

Very true. He also says the same in this interview...

Interviewer: I was struck by one sentence in your book, in the middle of it: "God almost certainly does not exist."

Dawkins: Yes...

Interviewer: You're leaving open the possibility that He does...

Dawkins: Of course. Any scientist would leave open that possibility. You can't absolutely disprove the existence of anything. So, just as we can't disprove the existence of Thor and Zeus and the flying spaghetti monster, we can't be dogmatic and say "it is certain that God doesn't exist." We can say it is as unlikely as Thor with his hammer. I could call myself an aThorist to give the idea of that.
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« Reply #136 on: May 25, 2010, 11:13:49 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"
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« Reply #137 on: May 25, 2010, 11:15:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue
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« Reply #138 on: May 25, 2010, 11:29:11 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.
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« Reply #139 on: May 25, 2010, 11:57:42 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

Fair enough. Also, I must admit that I didn't find much that was especially thought provoking or original in The God Delusion, God is Not Great, etc., though perhaps that was not their aim.
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« Reply #140 on: May 26, 2010, 12:00:47 AM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
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« Reply #141 on: May 26, 2010, 08:28:31 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?
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« Reply #142 on: May 26, 2010, 10:33:24 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Actually they do. By putting faith in the sciences of the study of origins they themselves have put faith into a logical system. Since that system hasn't proven the end of it's goal. It simply becomes a faith based system itself. It's ability to display fact based truths is greatly diminished at the moment that choosing is incorporated. When logic's require no faith but is fact orientated on proven constants. Then there is no longer a choice. Just the mere fact remains. Until that point that it may or may not happen. You are left with two choices. Both as equally faith based.
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« Reply #143 on: May 26, 2010, 10:35:03 AM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
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« Reply #144 on: May 26, 2010, 12:27:53 PM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Actually they do. By putting faith in the sciences of the study of origins they themselves have put faith into a logical system. Since that system hasn't proven the end of it's goal. It simply becomes a faith based system itself. It's ability to display fact based truths is greatly diminished at the moment that choosing is incorporated. When logic's require no faith but is fact orientated on proven constants. Then there is no longer a choice. Just the mere fact remains. Until that point that it may or may not happen. You are left with two choices. Both as equally faith based.

Probability is not faith. I can assert with full logical confidence that if you role a fair die a thousand times, you will not role all sixes. Yes, from a purely theoretical perspective it's possible, but the odds of it happening are so low that it would be irrational to give it consideration.

Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.

The way you put it, you'd think the odds were 50/50...I don't really want to go through the process of giving my handicap to the question right now, but I will say that a 1/1000 chance of there being a god would probably still be too generous.
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« Reply #145 on: May 26, 2010, 12:30:29 PM »

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Atheists can't have both?

Within their proper domains, but with all due respect to Keats, beauty is not truth. But also in fairness to him, he'd probably agree within the context of this particular discussion.
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« Reply #146 on: May 26, 2010, 12:31:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.

Poetry and other forms of literature often are well-suited as mediums for the conveyance of the "dictates of logic" as understood by the writer.   

Famous atheists, from Lucretius to Jean-Paul Sartre, have utilized poetry with the "dictates of logic" in mind. 
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« Reply #147 on: May 26, 2010, 01:44:15 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.
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« Reply #148 on: May 26, 2010, 02:45:12 PM »

Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago.

Well, first of all I don't see any reason for "likewise" here, as this passage does not follow from the other, the word "probability" notwithstanding.

Second, the issue as to whether there is no sign of God in the universe is badly phrased. What one must really mean is that one does not accept what evidence or arguments are presented, because without such rejection one must accept that there is some divine.

This is the point at which we abandon science, in two senses. First, unless one counts history as science, or for that matter perhaps counts all of the liberal arts as science, there is no science which is adequate to speak to the matter. Physics most certainly is not: physics cannot tell us whether or not Jesus rose from the dead, nor can chemistry, biology, mathematics, or any other such theoretical analysis.

Second, in practice the "science" we get about religion is nothing better than a series of just-so stories. Religion is a real phenomenon, and thus demands an explanation; the rationalist explanations, however, are in my experience lacking in proof, even in proof which could be provided on rationalist terms. There's no reason to believe that "evolutionary psychological programming" has anything to do with religion, other than a faith in evolution which might as well be called religion itself. When someone can show a etiology that doesn't involve any supposition, then I'll give it a consideration; at this point we don't really know much at all about the connection between genetics and ideation.

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.
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« Reply #149 on: May 26, 2010, 02:51:47 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.
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« Reply #150 on: May 26, 2010, 03:07:44 PM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability. That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works. Neurons fire electrical impulses through our synapses that, in accordance with their strength and weight, with either trigger or not trigger the next neuron to fire based on a probabilistic chemical threshold. Millions or billions of neurons are firing in parallel, each with a probability attached to them. Probabilistic analysis is the very basis of human thought and intelligence. If there's no basis for assigning a probability to something, there's no basis for thinking about it (in fact, it would be theoretically impossible to 'think' about something without assigning a probability). We assign weights to our confidence in historical analysis, we assign weights to what we can extrapolate based on current scientific observations, etc.

Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.
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« Reply #151 on: May 26, 2010, 03:49:16 PM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.
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« Reply #152 on: May 26, 2010, 04:06:01 PM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.

You're joking, right? There's nothing in our genome compared to those of the other apes that shows any great change, simply a series of genetic mutations. Religion (or at least spiritualism) does not coincide with human intelligence because god created man, but because men created gods in rather poor attempts to explain the world around them.

Why is it that people tend to dismiss obvious scientific explanations in an attempt to cast themselves in a better light? Do you want to feel special? Well, let me be the one to break the cruel reality of the world to you. You're not special, you're not special as a species, you're not special as an individual, and in the grand scheme of things, you don't matter...and neither do I. Your parents love you because they're predisposed to want to see the advancement of their genes, as is the case with all your family, your spouse, if you have one, loves you because they see your well being in the interest of advancing their genes. So just accept reality and stop trying to make up stories to convince yourself that you're special and loved...because you're not special, and when you get down to it, being 'loved' really doesn't mean all that much and it would mean nothing if not for the reactions of your own neurology and endocrine system that are only there to cause you to advance your genome.
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« Reply #153 on: May 26, 2010, 04:44:41 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.


I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

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« Reply #154 on: May 26, 2010, 05:56:55 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.

I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.
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« Reply #155 on: May 26, 2010, 06:48:47 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.

The human race does not have a single herd morality.  Humans not only have the option to adopt and promote the status quo morality, but to promote a morality different from the prevailing one in society.  It often is the case that this once minority morality trumps the majority morality.  And frequently it is an individual who accomplishes it.  Approached from the naturalist perspective, I do not see how this could be anything other than genetic determinism. 

Animals cooperate in smaller groups, yes, but they have no concept of themselves as species.  Groups of the same species fight amongst one another over land and food, and males fight other males for domination over females.

One may say that humans evolved and realized that by killing their competitors, even whole groups, they could better secure their dominance.  They also, granted, learned that by banding together into larger and larger groups, they could accomplish more than as smaller units alone.   
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« Reply #156 on: May 26, 2010, 07:31:06 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.



I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

Though not twins, it is interesting how brothers Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens have found themselves at opposite ends on numerous fundamentals. 
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« Reply #157 on: May 26, 2010, 07:44:25 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.

The human race does not have a single herd morality.  Humans not only have the option to adopt and promote the status quo morality, but to promote a morality different from the prevailing one in society.  It often is the case that this once minority morality trumps the majority morality.  And frequently it is an individual who accomplishes it.  Approached from the naturalist perspective, I do not see how this could be anything other than genetic determinism. 

The examples where we're governed by our herd mentality far outweigh the examples of an individual changing the world. Plus, even when an individual changes the world, he usually heavily relies on the herd mentality to accomplish it. Everything from what we wear to what we eat to how we talk to where we live to how we vote for government is motivated by a herd mentality. A mentality that is being exploited every time you see an advertisement, hear a politician, attend a sporting event, etc. Even in non-conformist groups there tends to be conformity within the community. Sure, people someone challenges for dominance of the herd,  but where in nature is this not the case? From ancient Greece to the plebes of Rome to the serfs of the Feudal age to Marx to the latest Commercial telling me how cool the newest cellphone model with a facebook app is, the people are always a mob, a mindless mass, something to be controlled by those most skilled, those most worthy of dominance over the herd.

In general, people want to be safe, have resources, and have sex and as a secondary concern, social status, because it give us these other things...basically, on the most fundamental level, people want to pass on their genes. Formal rules of morality have been implemented to secure these things for the most powerful individual or group. Enlightenment is nothing more than expanding the scope of this 'most powerful group', ideally to encompass all of society.

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Animals cooperate in smaller groups, yes, but they have no concept of themselves as species.  Groups of the same species fight amongst one another over land and food,

And humans have never done that? Do we spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on military expenditures because we have no intention of having to fight over land or resources?

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and males fight other males for domination over females.

We have pretty close parallels, a jealous boyfriend getting in a fight because he things someone else is hitting on his girlfriend is far from uncommon. But we've escalated these hormonal struggles to a whole level, lest we forget Helen of Troy, 'the face that launched a thousand ships.' Then in much of the world we have honour killings and a death penalty for adultery: 'if she won't pass on my genes, she won't pass on any genes.'  Oh, how we have evolved. As Christopher Hitchens likes to put it: 'Our prefrontal lobes are too small while our adrenal glands are too big.' We are not some advanced and noble species, we are only half a step away from being chimpanzees, we're a species that has developed the means of sophisticated communication, which has allowed abstract thought and planning, with this we've changed the world around us. But as for who WE are, we're animals, no more noble in our pursuits and desires than any other ape, we simply use our advanced knowledge to achieve the same thing any animal wants security, food, and sex, not necessarily in that order.

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One may say that humans evolved and realized that by killing their competitors, even whole groups, they could better secure their dominance.  They also, granted, learned that by banding together into larger and larger groups, they could accomplish more than as smaller units alone.   

Yes, ability to communicate has allowed an infinitely more sophisticated social structure, but that doesn't change who we are...what we are.
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« Reply #158 on: May 26, 2010, 07:46:44 PM »



Likewise with religion, there is no sign of a god in the universe, there's no need for a god as science alone is adequate to describe our world, we understand the cultural development of humanity and how evolutionary tendencies prefer a bad explanation to none, making it obvious how early humans invented religion, it was merely a byproduct of evolutionary psychological programming that helped us survive on the African continent a million years ago. The probability of there being an actual god in all of this, to say nothing of all the even less justifiable aspects of religion (book of genesis, the exodus, riding chariots of fire, virgin births, god-men, etc.), are simply improbable enough that it would be irrational to give them the undue consideration your suggesting.



I would say you are correct from the aspect of looking at it as though we are complete within our physical existence. The paradox is when we look at ourselves in our personal existence that we find the two don't cooperate. I have mentioned this before to you but it seems to not equate. If the DNA is completely the same in two individuals. Like in the case of twins. Why don't they think alike? Act alike? ex.? It's because there differences are in there personality. Can science explain this away with cultural development science. Especially when they live in the same environment. I doubt it. They just aren't the same people even though there DNA is identical.

There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

Though not twins, it is interesting how brothers Christopher Hitchens and Peter Hitchens have found themselves at opposite ends on numerous fundamentals. 

They're a lot more alike than they are different, sure they have different ideologies, but they both also have different ideologies today than they held in their youth. And it's the fact that they both have that arrogant and abrasive personality that they rarely talk to each other today. Their problem is not that they're too different, but that they're too similar.
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« Reply #159 on: May 26, 2010, 10:10:49 PM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?
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« Reply #160 on: May 26, 2010, 11:51:04 PM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

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That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works.

The truth is that we don't know whether the brain is a neural network, if we take the latter in the strict sense of being the mathematical model to which we have given the name. And never mind the much more troublesome problem that we don't know how the brain represents a thought. This is exactly the kind of just-so thinking to which I'm objecting. When we get to the point that we can look into a brain having religious experience and see a detailed etiology of the phenomenon, then there will a basis for making claims. Right now, it's just speculation and assumption that we will be able to get to that stage.

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Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.

I don't have to admit any such thing. It's up to neuroscience to demonstrate it.
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« Reply #161 on: May 27, 2010, 12:29:50 AM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?

Twins will have very, very different experiences during gestation. But considering a percent more or less of a given hormone during gestation and you'd probably be a completely different person today, that's far from surprising. And since when is environmental impact minimal for those living in the same household? On their first day of life, one might have had to wait slightly longer to eat, thus changing his mood, changing his perception. Perhaps only slightly altered, but one perception affects another and one that early, no matter how mundane, serves as the very basis of our experience in the world. It's chaos theory, a few, basic, simple inputs differing by a mere fraction of a percent have the potential to create two entirely distinct systems.
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« Reply #162 on: May 27, 2010, 01:10:18 AM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

The fact that you have an opinion implies you have a number, though you may not know if off hand. But your neurons only fire when the electrical charge on them reaches a chemically determined threshold, that very fact tells us that it's subject to a mathematical model and, therefore, quantifiable.

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That's how neural networks and, by extension, how our brain (being a neural network) works.

The truth is that we don't know whether the brain is a neural network, if we take the latter in the strict sense of being the mathematical model to which we have given the name. And never mind the much more troublesome problem that we don't know how the brain represents a thought. This is exactly the kind of just-so thinking to which I'm objecting. When we get to the point that we can look into a brain having religious experience and see a detailed etiology of the phenomenon, then there will a basis for making claims. Right now, it's just speculation and assumption that we will be able to get to that stage.

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.

Therefore, it is obvious that the brain is a Turing Machine and all Turing Machines are computationally equivalent to a neural network. Therefore we can discuss all Turing Machines, and thus the human brain, in terms of neural networks.

So back to the discussion at hand, if it makes you feel better you can substitute references to the 'neural network that is the brain' with 'the neural network that models and emulates the brain'. Now, can I stop explaining the obvious?

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Now we might not always agree with the weight each piece of information should have, with the calculations of probabilities, and so forth. But we can at least be honest and admit that a probabilistic analysis is the basis for our thoughts and beliefs as it gives us an honest and objective starting point.

I don't have to admit any such thing. It's up to neuroscience to demonstrate it.


Ok, now answer the question in reference to the computationally-equivalent neural network that models the brain.
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« Reply #163 on: May 27, 2010, 01:55:21 AM »

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.
You certainly go all out don't you? Tongue  We haven't even come to a consensus over the popular solutions for the 5-state and 6-state busy beavers, and you are already shooting at 10.  laugh
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« Reply #164 on: May 27, 2010, 04:12:00 AM »

Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network. We do know that the brain is a Turing machine. If you disagree, prove it by telling me the 10-state 2-symbol busy beaver? At least tell me someone who can?  Should be a very simple task for someone capable of solving non-computable functions, that is to say, someone who's brain is more advanced than a Turing Machine. The fact is that no one can solve non-computable functions, because our minds are Turing Machines.
You certainly go all out don't you? Tongue  We haven't even come to a consensus over the popular solutions for the 5-state and 6-state busy beavers, and you are already shooting at 10.  laugh

Well, heck, if I've finally found someone who can compute non-computable functions, I want to jump in and take advantage. Wink

Plus, I didn't want to bring up a state that had established champion machines and have to go through another debate about whether or not current champion 5-state machine is a busy beaver or not. Tongue
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« Reply #165 on: May 27, 2010, 06:42:45 AM »

It's not that the odds are 50/50 or 1/1000. There's no basis for assigning a probability at all, other than the manifest reality that natural theology doesn't work except perhaps in the odd and metaphysical way that Buddhism promises.

Everything we think, everything we believe has a probability.

It doesn't have a probability unless it has a number (not to mention, if one wants to be picky, a random process), and we don't have a number; you're just making up a number.

The fact that you have an opinion implies you have a number, though you may not know if off hand. But your neurons only fire when the electrical charge on them reaches a chemically determined threshold, that very fact tells us that it's subject to a mathematical model and, therefore, quantifiable.

I am pretty sure that we cannot with assurance demonstrate that this is exactly how neurons work, much less that the composition of all neural activity can be represented by a number in this manner. We continue to find lots of interesting things about the way neurons interact, such as the fact that in some neurons at least the dendrites form their own little circuit as well as accepting inputs for the main output.

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Let's assume, merely for the sake of argument, that the brain is not a neural network.

I'm willing to further than that. I'll assume it, not for sake of argument, but for the sake of science. Given the consistent failure of models of mental activity, I don't think that there is any reason to accept any such model until demonstration is forthcoming.

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We do know that the brain is a Turing machine.

Wait a minute: we know perfectly well that the brain is NOT a Turing machine! Even the very computer I'm using now is not a Turing machine; some fundamental aspects of its behavior can be modelled by a Turing machine, but not its overall behavior. The whole analogy of the brain to computing is one of the most pervasive just-so stories out there, but until someone produces the details of how the brain "computes", and especially how its low level "computation" translates into the higher level "computations" performed in thinking, it's really nothing more than bad poetry.  I don't have to accept that the brain can be modelled by a computer program until someone actually does it, and as Joseph Weizenbaum wrote back in the mid-1980s, people are in general so forgiving of the Turing test that it's essentially worthless.
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« Reply #166 on: May 27, 2010, 06:48:06 AM »

Millions of years of evolution shaped the mind as is claimed and yet hardly anything happened until the modern man conceived of divinity and then the intellect exploded. Somehow there is no divine spark involved in this just a biochemical process. Bare natural evolution seems a case of arrested development; something greater was infused into the human mind.

You're joking, right? There's nothing in our genome compared to those of the other apes that shows any great change, simply a series of genetic mutations. Religion (or at least spiritualism) does not coincide with human intelligence because god created man, but because men created gods in rather poor attempts to explain the world around them.

Why is it that people tend to dismiss obvious scientific explanations in an attempt to cast themselves in a better light? Do you want to feel special? Well, let me be the one to break the cruel reality of the world to you. You're not special, you're not special as a species, you're not special as an individual, and in the grand scheme of things, you don't matter...and neither do I. Your parents love you because they're predisposed to want to see the advancement of their genes, as is the case with all your family, your spouse, if you have one, loves you because they see your well being in the interest of advancing their genes. So just accept reality and stop trying to make up stories to convince yourself that you're special and loved...because you're not special, and when you get down to it, being 'loved' really doesn't mean all that much and it would mean nothing if not for the reactions of your own neurology and endocrine system that are only there to cause you to advance your genome.
Its kind of interesting when seeing a past post of yours from 2005 that you had  once described yourself as a theocratic monarchist. It seems logical that one should be wary of succumbing to tyrannical tendencies whether one be a theologian or a scientist.
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« Reply #167 on: May 27, 2010, 07:06:23 AM »

Let me put my objection more baldly: one can postulate that one could model the behavior of the brain through a sort of reductionism, by creating elements that mimic constituent parts and elements that combine those interactions. But somewhere along the line one has to have a reasonable expectation of being able to construct the model, and I don't think it's unreasonable to insist that this expectation needs to be grounded in some successes in modelling! As it stands there's nothing standing in the way of that model having to reproduce the quantum behavior of individual molecules. And when the actual reproduction of that model could require a machine the size of the galaxy, it becomes increasingly implausible that a real model could actually be presented.

It does not follow, by the way, that non-Turing behavior implies the ability to solve non-computable problems. The real problem is that it's impossible to identify whether human behavior is or is not computable without actually computing it.
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« Reply #168 on: May 27, 2010, 09:35:03 AM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?

Twins will have very, very different experiences during gestation. But considering a percent more or less of a given hormone during gestation and you'd probably be a completely different person today, that's far from surprising. And since when is environmental impact minimal for those living in the same household? On their first day of life, one might have had to wait slightly longer to eat, thus changing his mood, changing his perception. Perhaps only slightly altered, but one perception affects another and one that early, no matter how mundane, serves as the very basis of our experience in the world. It's chaos theory, a few, basic, simple inputs differing by a mere fraction of a percent have the potential to create two entirely distinct systems.

Is it safe to brand you as a scientific fundamentalist.  laugh In that everything must be in alignment through the lens of science even if it's unprovable using that method. While I must agree the potential could be there, the advancements just aren't in place and while I would never phantom abandoning them in favor of strict adherence to religion. I certainly don't make it into a fundamentalist belief system without the possibility of being proven wrong like you do. Wink
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« Reply #169 on: May 27, 2010, 11:29:17 AM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

Could you expand on this?

The militant atheists we hear from of late still participate in the deism-without-God descended from Paine's The Age of Reason. They still believe in virtue, and they believe that the world could be fixed by men becoming truly virtuous. The big problem that this thesis always had, and which Christianity always taught, is that men cannot become so virtuous. Sinning is basic to human nature and cannot be repressed. In America and Britain, the religious reawakenings of the Victorian era drowned this out; on the continent philosophies developed which didn't take Graeco-Romano-Christian ideas of virtue as a starting point; and having set it aside as a premise, they found that they could not produce virtue as a conclusion. Nietzsche is the plainest Wink exposition of this (the wink is because anyone who has ever read him knows that he is anything but plain), if not the only one. The resulting world is not guided by enlightened wise people in the chattering class; it's the world where people eat and copulate  and injure each other according to any plan or no plan, because the true result of getting rid of the metaphysical is not being able to sustain a coherent thought about what one should or should not do.

That's simply absurd, several animals live within the constructs of social structures without either having religion or chaos. As social animals, are genetically programmed by millions of years of evolution to live and cooperate with other members of our species. Even Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, recognized that an understanding of right and wrong is inherent in every human, regardless of their metaphysics (or lack thereof): 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.'

He might not have understood the evolution of our brain and 21st century genetics that would have allowed him to understand why 'the law [is] written in their hearts', but even he could observe that a system of 'morality' is intrinsic to the human animal (and nearly all social animals, for that matter). But it's basic biology, no metaphysical mumbo-jumbo required. We tend to behave (and expect behaviour) consonant with the well-being of society because we're programmed to be that way, genetic determinism, if you will, it's nothing more glamorous than that.

The human race does not have a single herd morality.  Humans not only have the option to adopt and promote the status quo morality, but to promote a morality different from the prevailing one in society.  It often is the case that this once minority morality trumps the majority morality.  And frequently it is an individual who accomplishes it.  Approached from the naturalist perspective, I do not see how this could be anything other than genetic determinism. 

The examples where we're governed by our herd mentality far outweigh the examples of an individual changing the world. Plus, even when an individual changes the world, he usually heavily relies on the herd mentality to accomplish it. Everything from what we wear to what we eat to how we talk to where we live to how we vote for government is motivated by a herd mentality. A mentality that is being exploited every time you see an advertisement, hear a politician, attend a sporting event, etc. Even in non-conformist groups there tends to be conformity within the community. Sure, people someone challenges for dominance of the herd,  but where in nature is this not the case? From ancient Greece to the plebes of Rome to the serfs of the Feudal age to Marx to the latest Commercial telling me how cool the newest cellphone model with a facebook app is, the people are always a mob, a mindless mass, something to be controlled by those most skilled, those most worthy of dominance over the herd.

In general, people want to be safe, have resources, and have sex and as a secondary concern, social status, because it give us these other things...basically, on the most fundamental level, people want to pass on their genes. Formal rules of morality have been implemented to secure these things for the most powerful individual or group. Enlightenment is nothing more than expanding the scope of this 'most powerful group', ideally to encompass all of society.

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Animals cooperate in smaller groups, yes, but they have no concept of themselves as species.  Groups of the same species fight amongst one another over land and food,

And humans have never done that? Do we spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on military expenditures because we have no intention of having to fight over land or resources?

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and males fight other males for domination over females.

We have pretty close parallels, a jealous boyfriend getting in a fight because he things someone else is hitting on his girlfriend is far from uncommon. But we've escalated these hormonal struggles to a whole level, lest we forget Helen of Troy, 'the face that launched a thousand ships.' Then in much of the world we have honour killings and a death penalty for adultery: 'if she won't pass on my genes, she won't pass on any genes.'  Oh, how we have evolved. As Christopher Hitchens likes to put it: 'Our prefrontal lobes are too small while our adrenal glands are too big.' We are not some advanced and noble species, we are only half a step away from being chimpanzees, we're a species that has developed the means of sophisticated communication, which has allowed abstract thought and planning, with this we've changed the world around us. But as for who WE are, we're animals, no more noble in our pursuits and desires than any other ape, we simply use our advanced knowledge to achieve the same thing any animal wants security, food, and sex, not necessarily in that order.

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One may say that humans evolved and realized that by killing their competitors, even whole groups, they could better secure their dominance.  They also, granted, learned that by banding together into larger and larger groups, they could accomplish more than as smaller units alone.   

Yes, ability to communicate has allowed an infinitely more sophisticated social structure, but that doesn't change who we are...what we are.

GiC, the driving point to my post on herd morality was that there is not a single, intrinsic herd morality universal to all members of the human species.  I was not challenging the existence of a herd mentality as you described it. 

My point about animals fighting over land and territory was directed against what I saw as a single-sided emphasis on how animals have a herd instinct to cooperate with one another for the benefit of their group.  Yes, animals do cooperate with other members of their species, but they also have power struggles within and between groups.  The idea that, before private property, society (&religion) etc., there was a Noble Savage, is not really reflected by evolutionary theory.  If man is quite like all the other animals known to this planet, he must be admitted to be both sympathetic and violent towards other members of his species. 

The quote you present from Christopher Hitchens demonstrates a problem I see with "Evangelical" atheism.  On the one hand, we're no more noble than brutish animals.  On the other hand, as I've heard Richard Dawkins say, we've learned to be gentler, more peaceful people.   

Animals want security, food and sex.  They also seek power and dominance in the herd (how better to get the best security, food and sex?)  Not much different from humans. 

From the naturalist perspective, I would have to see evangelical atheism itself as a product of the herd (not above the scope of herd mentality).   
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« Reply #170 on: May 27, 2010, 02:41:21 PM »

Let me put my objection more baldly: one can postulate that one could model the behavior of the brain through a sort of reductionism, by creating elements that mimic constituent parts and elements that combine those interactions. But somewhere along the line one has to have a reasonable expectation of being able to construct the model, and I don't think it's unreasonable to insist that this expectation needs to be grounded in some successes in modelling! As it stands there's nothing standing in the way of that model having to reproduce the quantum behavior of individual molecules. And when the actual reproduction of that model could require a machine the size of the galaxy, it becomes increasingly implausible that a real model could actually be presented.

It does not follow, by the way, that non-Turing behavior implies the ability to solve non-computable problems. The real problem is that it's impossible to identify whether human behavior is or is not computable without actually computing it.

Ok...let's go back to Computation Theory 101. The definition of a computable function is a function that is Turing-Computable, that is to say a function that can be computed (or, equivalently, decided...choose your favourite term) by a Turing Machine. Therefore, by definition, any function that can not be decided by a Turing Machine is non computable.

(Oh, and if you going to insist on arguing semantics instead of focusing on the actual issues at hand, by Turing Machine I'm also referring to all Machines that are computationally equivalent to a Turing Machine, by tautology. Roll Eyes)

Now, to formalize this so our conversation can actually progress, Turing computable sets are, of course, exactly the sets at DELTA(0,1) in the arithmetical hierarchy. You claimed you could solve non-computable functions, that is those functions defined by sets that are not contained in DELTA(0,1). So I presented a problem that sits in the class of the Turing Machine's Halting problem, the Busy Beaver problem is of complexity SIGMA(0,2) in the arithmetical hierarchy, this class was a logical choice since the simple solution of it would demonstrate hypercomputational abilities on your part. Now, if you can demonstrate that you can decide all recursively enumerable sets, that would also be a valid demonstration of hypercomputational abilities as well. However, a Turing Machine is an example of a recursively enumerable set, DELTA(0,1) is contained in SIGMA(0,1). In fact, it's defined as the union of SIGMA(0,1) and PI(0,1); this union represents recursively enumerable languages in which the input is a string in the language, and a Turing Machine is capable of halting and accepting in event of such an input. However, to demonstrate hypercomputational abilities you need to demonstrate that you can halt and reject on the input of a string not contained in the language. Generally speaking, a Turing Machine will sometimes halt and reject these inputs, but other times will enter into an infinite loop. You would have to demonstrate that you can halt on (that is to say decide) ANY such input. And, to be honest, I can't even recall the class of problems in PI(0,1). But being able to show decidability in this set and obviously not just of those also contained in DELTA(0,1) would demonstrate hypercomputational abilities. If Nebel's around, he's still in school, so perhaps he can flesh out this class of computational sets for us.

There are theoretical models for hypercomputation, but they all require either infinite space or infinite time. There have been proposals for building hypercomputational computers such as computer operating in a Malament-Hogarth spacetime in the event horizon of a black hole, but this may run into theoretical problems because of our lack of our still very elementary understanding of black hole evaporation. The best bet would probably be a Superluminal Computer working on the principle of quantum entanglement, of course, for this to work you need a metamaterial with refractive index less than one, some have theorized that positrons in vacuum could accomplish this, but it hasn't been demonstrated...and, in any case, these metamaterials certainly haven't been found in the organic organ that is the human brain. Both these ideas for a hypercomputer rely on the theory of relativity to allow infinite time to pass for the computer with only finite (or no) time passing for the observer...something else that probably can't be said for you relative to everyone around you.

Computational classes are intrinsically linked to the problems that can be solved (that is to say, decided or computed) within them. You have yet to demonstrate the ability to solve any non-computable problem...no human ever has. Heck, even though there are more problems that are non-computable than computable (uncountably infinite as opposed to countably infinite), only the greatest mathematical minds in the world have managed to pose problems that can only be decided by hypercomputation, and most of these are simply problems about the behaviour of Turing Machines, though as Turing Machines we all should at least be able to do that...not only are we're Turing Machines, we seem to be rather inefficient Turing Machines.

Well, I'm going to stop there, the more I go into the formal logic behind computation theory the less sense your arguments are making. So please, enough with the rhetorical BS, focus on the mathematical logic at hand. People wonder why atheists are hostile towards theists, we're probably just tired of things like people who can't even pose a question for a hypercomputer claiming to have hypercomputational abilities and ignoring 80 years of theoretical mathematics in the process...it's frustration more than anything else.
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« Reply #171 on: May 27, 2010, 02:49:19 PM »



There is a very high correlation between twins of even personality traits, and especially with homozygous twins. But while the genomes are the same, there are other important elements of development, specifically the two twins will receive different levels of nutrition and hormones during gestation, which we know can have a profound impact on development, especially neural development. So even before being subject to any social influence, they start out a bit different, they will obviously grow more different as they experience the NP-complex process of growing up in society. But even after many years of social programming, they tend to be far more similar than two randomly selected members of society, just as two randomly selected members of society are going to be more alike than a member of our species and a closely related species. Genome may not account for every single act, there are other factors for sure, but it does explain much of who we are.

If they have the same mother and father there environmental impact is very minimal. Since both twins usually develop in the same environment before the age of 5. When other influences start to take hold. There is still a very high level of difference in there personality traits. This can be seen from day one. As far as nutrition is concerned. I would venture to guess that during gestation the mothers genes would give an equal chance at survival without favoring one over the other. I'm still waiting for a more plausible view from you as to how same DNA can produce different people? Or is this where science does not venture?

Twins will have very, very different experiences during gestation. But considering a percent more or less of a given hormone during gestation and you'd probably be a completely different person today, that's far from surprising. And since when is environmental impact minimal for those living in the same household? On their first day of life, one might have had to wait slightly longer to eat, thus changing his mood, changing his perception. Perhaps only slightly altered, but one perception affects another and one that early, no matter how mundane, serves as the very basis of our experience in the world. It's chaos theory, a few, basic, simple inputs differing by a mere fraction of a percent have the potential to create two entirely distinct systems.

Is it safe to brand you as a scientific fundamentalist.  laugh In that everything must be in alignment through the lens of science even if it's unprovable using that method. While I must agree the potential could be there, the advancements just aren't in place and while I would never phantom abandoning them in favor of strict adherence to religion. I certainly don't make it into a fundamentalist belief system without the possibility of being proven wrong like you do. Wink

More like a fundamentalist mathematician Grin Nothing is more evil, abhorrent, or intolerable than a redundant axiom and it is the duty of all mankind to purge every such abomination from existence. Wink

Seriously, I obviously can't model the entire gestation process, accounting for every minor cell mutation, much less the entire process of social development, but there is strong evidence to suggest that the things I mention play a huge role. They're the reason that identical twins may have the same DNA, but don't have the same fingerprints, if such physical characteristics are altered by differing hormone levels, is it really a stretch to attribute something as subtle as neurological differences to them?

What I do object, quite strongly, to is when people take a scientific process that currently isn't 100% understood, even if we at least have a general idea about how it works, and assume some metaphysical influence. The fact that I can't give you a comprehensive model of the human brain or human gestation simply speaks to our lack of computational abilities, it's silly to start throwing around the 'god of the gaps' arguments, especially since it seems that those gaps are getting smaller at an exponential rate (corresponding to increases in computational ability, go figure).
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« Reply #172 on: May 27, 2010, 05:04:13 PM »

GiC, this stream of mathematical chatter is so divorced from my objection as to tempt me to believe it is not meant to be a serious response. You have not advanced the discussion at all, because you are assuming what needs to be proven: that what the brain does is a calculation. All of the discussion of "solving" and "functions" begs the question: you cannot define what the brain is doing as a mathematical function, so all talk of solving that function is irrelevant.

This talk is cheap. You are demonstrating faith in our ability to model the brain computationally, but until the model is produced, it is just that: ungrounded faith. At the moment what we have is abject failure, so I don't see a lot of justification for that faith.
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« Reply #173 on: May 27, 2010, 05:24:57 PM »



What I do object, quite strongly, to is when people take a scientific process that currently isn't 100% understood, even if we at least have a general idea about how it works, and assume some metaphysical influence. The fact that I can't give you a comprehensive model of the human brain or human gestation simply speaks to our lack of computational abilities, it's silly to start throwing around the 'god of the gaps' arguments, especially since it seems that those gaps are getting smaller at an exponential rate (corresponding to increases in computational ability, go figure).

Small as those gaps may be they still exist and sometimes the deeper we dig the more earth we uncover. Until we realize that there are cognitive, multidimensional phenomenon and affective elements of the person and that psychological cognitivism alone can't answer everything concerning the Psyche. Your pursuit of happiness will not end. laugh
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« Reply #174 on: May 27, 2010, 05:44:21 PM »

What I do object, quite strongly, to is when people take a scientific process that currently isn't 100% understood, even if we at least have a general idea about how it works, and assume some metaphysical influence. The fact that I can't give you a comprehensive model of the human brain or human gestation simply speaks to our lack of computational abilities, it's silly to start throwing around the 'god of the gaps' arguments, especially since it seems that those gaps are getting smaller at an exponential rate (corresponding to increases in computational ability, go figure).

And what I object to is the assertion that it is even so much as .1% understood. We not only don't have 100% understanding of how the brain works, we have more or less no understanding. It's not a "God of the gaps", from that perspective; it's the "God of the great gaping void into which a whole pantheon could fit without trouble, not to mention a host of angels, demons, and other spiritual powers."
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« Reply #175 on: May 27, 2010, 06:13:44 PM »

GiC, this stream of mathematical chatter is so divorced from my objection as to tempt me to believe it is not meant to be a serious response. You have not advanced the discussion at all, because you are assuming what needs to be proven: that what the brain does is a calculation. All of the discussion of "solving" and "functions" begs the question: you cannot define what the brain is doing as a mathematical function, so all talk of solving that function is irrelevant.

This talk is cheap. You are demonstrating faith in our ability to model the brain computationally, but until the model is produced, it is just that: ungrounded faith. At the moment what we have is abject failure, so I don't see a lot of justification for that faith.

You obviously didn't even bother to read what I wrote. You just repeated the same baseless non-sequiturs you presented in your previous post, though I offered you a detailed explanation as to the fundamental flaws in your reasoning. Did you bother to address the points and concerns I brought up? No. Did you define a class of problems that are decidable to the human brain but not to a Turing Machine? No. If plugging your ears and shouting 'I can't hear you, I can't hear you, I can't hear you' is the deepest level at which you're willing to have a discussion I doubt this will get too far.

I did not talk about what the brain 'is', I merely talked about the questions it's capable of deciding; all of which are at level DELTA(0,1) in the arithmetical hierarchy. Then I provided you with a plethora of possible questions outside of the DELTA(0,1) level in the arithmetical hierarchy, of which the ability to deiced would demonstrate sophistication beyond that of a Turing Machine. I'm not talking about models or structures, I'm talking about the set of questions of which humans are capable of making a decision on, of answering, and I'm demonstrating that they're in the same computability class as a Turing Machine (DELTA(0,1)).

All I'm asking for is a formal language that is decidable by humans but not by a Turing Machine. Is that really asking so much?

If it is, perhaps you need to reconsider your arguments.
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« Reply #176 on: May 27, 2010, 06:26:16 PM »

What I do object, quite strongly, to is when people take a scientific process that currently isn't 100% understood, even if we at least have a general idea about how it works, and assume some metaphysical influence. The fact that I can't give you a comprehensive model of the human brain or human gestation simply speaks to our lack of computational abilities, it's silly to start throwing around the 'god of the gaps' arguments, especially since it seems that those gaps are getting smaller at an exponential rate (corresponding to increases in computational ability, go figure).

And what I object to is the assertion that it is even so much as .1% understood. We not only don't have 100% understanding of how the brain works, we have more or less no understanding. It's not a "God of the gaps", from that perspective; it's the "God of the great gaping void into which a whole pantheon could fit without trouble, not to mention a host of angels, demons, and other spiritual powers."

Yes, yes, and invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, and teapots orbiting the sun, no doubt. But isn't it interesting that throughout history, whenever science has explored these gaps and shined light on them, they always end up being natural and scientific processes. Never once has any god come out on top. And yet, when there is the slightest lack of certainty about a natural process, here comes everyone with the 'god does that' argument.

'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.'
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« Reply #177 on: May 27, 2010, 08:49:11 PM »



'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.'

Maybe if you live on the west coast. Cool On the east coast we don't take Reductionism lightly. Simplicity has it's shortfalls as well. Grin
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« Reply #178 on: May 27, 2010, 08:49:35 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
Its interesting that you say that because the reason that I am a theist is that I prefer the dictates of logic over materialist dogmatism.
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« Reply #179 on: May 27, 2010, 09:09:38 PM »

StGeorge, I have to agree. The militants represent a dated, enlightenment-era humanism which it seems to me Nietzsche for one ran over with a truck.

I agree. What depresses me about the current crop of atheists isn't just that they're atheists, but that they're the most boring, glib, 2-dimensional, positivist variety. So Richard Dawkins pushes up his glasses and says, "Well, we can't say for sure that God doesn't exist, as that would be unscientific..." Compare that to the raving Bakunin and his statement, "if God really did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him!"

So you prefer ravings to sobriety in your philosophy, is what you're saying?  Tongue

It's not a question of raving versus sobriety... neither Dawkins nor Bakunin could be called sober. It's more a question of poetry or the lack thereof.

The reason we're atheists in the first place is because we prefer the dictates of logic to the constructs of poetry.
Its interesting that you say that because the reason that I am a theist is that I prefer the dictates of logic over materialist dogmatism.

How are redundant axioms logical? How is it logical to increase complexity and gain nothing in return?
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