Author Topic: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination  (Read 8875 times)

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Offline Immediacracy

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God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« on: April 24, 2010, 10:10:20 AM »
WWGHA? Is excellent material and unquestionably useful for those who are capable of examining their own conditioned beliefs. Unfortunately, delusions cannot generally be dispelled through logical argument. I feel that to really move beyond our inheritance of religious superstition we must address the realities which have made religion so persistent in the first place. It's not enough to say that it's crazy to believe in God, because whether people understand it or not, it's the crazy that they are looking for in that belief.

Just as the realization that God is imaginary can be a key to revealing the fallacy of religion, theistic belief systems can harness diverse aspects of the human psyche which aren't accessible through pure scientific empiricism. Understanding this can enlighten us to the original purpose of religion and the inadequacy of pure scientific empiricism in providing useful answers to our existential questions. Like psychedelic shamanism, religion is a universal palette of consciousness-altering Bronze Age technologies which remain as dominant a force in the construction of our reality as language itself. Whether we think of ourselves as religious, anti-religious, or non-religious, our world is shaped by these interpretations of visceral instincts of good and evil, right and wrong, fear and comfort.

Religion enables societies to cultivate a population which can be mobilized for remorseless violence but remain pliable and reverent toward authorities. It opens the door to irrationality so that mob socialization can be directed towards projects that benefit certain elites or leaders while demanding personal sacrifice. Religion works on the personal level beneath the level of reason, which explains why most religions seek to indoctrinate at a young age, when the brain is still forming and the limbic processes are raw and vulnerable. Once religious conditioning takes root, the other functions of the personality enjoy beneficial effects - ego bolstering certainty, peer group orientation, connection with tradition and purpose, plus the quieting of distracting fears and confusion.

If you are going to seek to uproot this touchstone of identity formation, you're going to need a lot more than common sense and reasoned argumentation. This is cult deprogramming. In most cases you're going to need unpleasant, involuntary therapies to access the primal areas of the psyche which keep a lid on the powder keg of murderous rage, ecstatic joy, transcendent compassion, jealous and ruthlessly paranoid defense mechanisms disguised as impartial innocence...all that infantile terror and wonder tied up in fairy tale ribbons, and woe to those who try to tug on the bows.

Instead, I wonder if the better way to go would be to address what religion addresses but with science as a partner. A science which embraces subjectivity and mystery as well as material and objectivity. 'That isn't science' you say. Well, science is just a word and when that word becomes something that limits the evolution of our lives personally and collectively, then it really is more of a religion. Just because intuitive principles can be pseudoscientific doesn't mean that scientific principles can't be pseudointuitive and I believe that some of them are in fact false intuitions reverse engineered from conventional wisdom and given manufactured authority by the same hyper-parochial impulses that drive religious Inquisitions, Witch Hunts, Crusades, etc throughout history.

Mysticism is not your enemy. The human psyche is a incomprehensibly complex and overflowing with unknowns and unknowables. Our contemporary astrophysics and evolutionary biology are at as much of a loss to elucidate the origin of the laws of physics or the evolution of evolution itself as the Godly are at explaining the power of the material world over faith. Seemingly preposterous indulgences such as Astrology and divination (both culturally universal and directly responsible for the development of science and medicine) are valuable and interesting places to access the deep structures of our human cosmos - time, order, the connection between the self and the universe, causality and synchronicity...etc.

Monotheism is merely an amplifier and tuner of these ontological signals which has carried humanity from the ancient world through to the modern. To supersede and replace them, science is going to have to do a lot better than simply un-asking fundamental questions of our human existence by pushing consciousness and personality off into the margins of 'imaginary' or 'delusional'.

You know what else is imaginary and delusional? Money. Politics. Love. Families. Friends. Pets. Heroes. Just blind biochemical affinities correlated to imaginary symbolic constructs which for some reason, require no explanation beyond their accidental/inevitable evolutionary function. This kind of instrumental reasoning collapses all that human beings truly care about, and indeed human individuality itself into an irrelevant froth on the surface of meaningless cortical spasms.

What is needed now, I think, is a cultivation for true science, which doesn't shy away from examining the deep nature of identity and imagination, personally, collectively, and cosmically.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 04:26:40 PM by Immediacracy »
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline none

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic fails to address Imagination
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2010, 10:24:37 AM »
yeah, what he said.
to a 3 year old.

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic fails to address Imagination
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2010, 12:19:12 PM »
What..me pretentious?
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline wright

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic fails to address Imagination
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 05:01:38 PM »
Immediacracy:
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A science which embraces subjectivity and mystery as well as material and objectivity. 'That isn't science' you say. Well, science is just a word and when that word becomes something that limits the evolution of our lives personally and collectively, then it really is more of a religion.

Ah, the claim that empirical and objective science is like religion. Please give an example of how science has limited the "evolution" of the collective lives of any particular group of people.

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Our contemporary astrophysics and evolutionary biology are at as much of a loss to elucidate the origin of the laws of physics or the evolution of evolution itself as the Godly are at explaining the power of the material world over faith.

Please define the "evolution of evolution". Mutation, natural selection and so forth are quite well understood at this point. If by the "origin of the laws of physics" you mean why the physical constants are set at particular values and relationships, then I don't know; I'm not up on the latest theories in that regard. But "I don't know right now" is a perfectly legitimate answer in science.

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Seemingly preposterous indulgences such as Astrology and divination (both culturally universal and directly responsible for the development of science and medicine) are valuable and interesting places to access the deep structures of our human cosmos - time, order, the connection between the self and the universe, causality and synchronicity...etc.

It can indeed be argued that human inquiry first tried things like astrology and other forms of divination, that those were stepping stones to the scientific method we use today. But now they have been superceded. Modern science is better at explaining the universe, making predictions and improving the human condition than any of its precursors. If that were not true, then we would still use them, or something else.

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Monotheism is merely an amplifier and tuner of these ontological signals which has carried humanity from the ancient world through to the modern. To supersede and replace them, science is going to have to do a lot better than simply un-asking fundamental questions of our human existence by pushing consciousness and personality off into the margins of 'imaginary' or 'delusional'.

Show me an example of science "un-asking fundamental questions of our human existence" or dismissing consciousness / personality as 'imaginary'. Science is keenly interested in such things. Specialists go to school for decades and devote their adult lives to asking fundamental questions in those areas.

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You know what else is imaginary and delusional? Money. Politics. Love. Families. Friends. Pets. Heroes. Just blind biochemical affinities correlated to imaginary symbolic constructs which for some reason, require no explanation beyond their accidental/inevitable evolutionary function. This kind of instrumental reasoning collapses all that human beings truly care about, and indeed human individuality itself into an irrelevant froth on the surface of meaningless cortical spasms.

Just because we can determine the purely physical basis of elaborate behaviors and emergent properties like conscious thought, we should immediately start acting like self-interested machines? This sounds like another version of "Well, if you believe we evolved from animals, why not behave like an animal?" Do you really think this knowledge invalidates human feelings and social constructs? It certainly doesn't for me.

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What is needed now, I think, is a cultivation for true science, which doesn't shy away from examining the deep nature of identity and imagination, personally, collectively, and cosmically.

Define "true science". It seems to me that's what we have right now. The scientific outpouring I see, even a layman, in modern society is staggering. We are in a scientific renaissance: medicine, physics, biology, genetics, cosmology... you name it. For all its imperfections and abuses, this is an amazing time in human history to be alive.  ;D
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2010, 06:38:42 PM »
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Please give an example of how science has limited the "evolution" of the collective lives of any particular group of people.

We won't really know how this era of overcorrection by scientific empiricism is holding us back until the next era has been fully realized. It's a bit like demanding, in the 12th century, to list how the Catholic Church has held back evolution.

What I can say is that by divesting itself of the moral dimensions and subjective context of universal truths, science has actively or contributed through negligence to many regressive technologies and practices including, but not limited to:

The misdirection of civilian resources towards the costly manufacture and ongoing maintenance of weapons of mass destruction.

The stifling of innovation and individuality through the perpetuation of fetishized academic formalism.

The dismantling of public services and common wealth in favor of privatization and the withering of shared aesthetic environments in the service of productivity for the sake of productivity.

The persecution of people involved with alternative medicine, paranormal, occult, and parapsychological studies.

The rise of depression, mental illness, obesity, and the coarsening of culture.

So many of the ills of modern society can be traced back to the failures of science to accomplish it's mandate of serving humanity as a whole, rather than as a whore to the commercial and political systems which it pretends to inform. Don't get me wrong, I love science, but until it confronts reality as a whole and not it's own cherry-pickings of it, science causes as many problems for people as it solves.

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Please define the "evolution of evolution"
By this I mean that evolution is not the only conceivable universal process by which change can occur. How was evolution itself selected to be the dominant mechanism underlying the cosmos? Either it was inevitable in all possible universes (if so, why?) or there was some purpose for inanimate, inorganic matter to begin to develop a need to become something other than what it already was?

Quote
Modern science is better at explaining the universe, making predictions and improving the human condition than any of its precursors. If that were not true, then we would still use them, or something else.
Better at explaining the material universe and making predictions of what it deems predictable, but scientific models fail to address many of the ordinary circumstances that ordinary people encounter in their lives. People's lives have improved in measurable ways but have lapsed in many qualitative senses. We still do use Astrology and divination, in fact I've heard that there are far more Astrologers than Astronomers.


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Show me an example of science "un-asking fundamental questions of our human existence"

Many of the skeptical positions I have read from a scientific point of view (mostly philosophy professors rehash of Dennett) disqualify the contents of human consciousness as mere correlates to neurological states rather than their own indivisible and elementally grounded dimension of existence. The current scientific conventional wisdom on the origins of life, meaning, consciousness, etc avoid the hard problems of how and why chemistry translates into subjectivity. The whole hemisphere of cognition represented by the question 'Why' and 'Who' we are collapsed into a maze of Hows and Whats, reducing the concrete universe of our own experience to a sterile mechanism of purposeless replication.

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Do you really think this knowledge invalidates human feelings and social constructs? It certainly doesn't for me.

This is the heart of my complaint. Why doesn't it invalidate it for you and why shouldn't it? It's not enough for science to not invalidate human feelings and social constructs. Science has to embrace human existence, inform it and be informed by it, not merely reinforce the orthodoxy of evolutionary functionalism. Currently we have most educated people walking around believing that beauty was conjured as a solution to a problem of motivating genetic agents to replicate.

This offers no explanation as to how the idea of beauty itself was conceived - that bit of staggeringly important magic is left off the table in favor of some disenchanting story about how the obviously significant aspect of beauty is not important, but it's utility somehow called it into being out of nowhere. It's like consciousness. If that can evolve from cellular processes, why not time travel? Why is the potential for life and consciousness to exist supported by the laws of physics but not teleportation? Science seeks to reverse engineer the universe but it fails to include itself - order, and the seeking of order as a fundamental principle of nature. It's a form of reverse solipsism: the universe is real, but what I think and feel really is not.

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Define "true science". It seems to me that's what we have right now. The scientific outpouring I see, even a layman, in modern society is staggering.

To me a true science would be one that is committed to seeking explanations and models for all phenomena, subjective and objective. I would like to see the rise of a new generalism which synthesizes the essential truths of the multitudes of scientific specialties into a coherent, pocket sized set of perspectives that encourage people to live more fully self actualize lives and reduce the level of oppression and suffering in the world while remaining authentic and true.

To me the scientific outpouring peaked in the 20th century. In my parents lifetime, they witnessed the arrival of jet aircraft, spacecraft, nuclear energy, genetics, birth control, LSD, amplified music, color tv, plastic, synthetic fibers, etc. In my lifetime the technological improvements have been largely confined to computer technology. We are still moving around in essentially the same cars and planes despite the realization that it is beginning to threaten our civilization, same basic medical approaches, same houses, same manufacturing - no fundamental new cures of old diseases, no real progress in repealing the religious superstition and intolerance...mainly we've gotten a lot of promises and reworking of old ideas in order to justify popular investment. I'll take 20th century scientific progress over 21st century progress any day. Let's see, automobiles, electric lights, recorded music, motion pictures, and powered flight vs Facebook, Twitter, and Viagra spam.

"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Grendel

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2010, 08:33:47 PM »
Idiocracy would have been a more proper username I think...
This 'free will' nonsense didn't seem to bother your god when it set up the sting operation in the Garden of Eden with two magic trees and a Talking Snake™

Offline wright

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2010, 08:59:00 PM »
Immediacracy:
Quote
Don't get me wrong, I love science, but until it confronts reality as a whole and not it's own cherry-pickings of it, science causes as many problems for people as it solves.

Seriously? My seven year-old nephew didn't need to be vaccinated against smallpox. Don't tell me "science causes as many problems for people as it solves." I don't like feeling enraged.
 
A more detailed reply to follow.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2010, 09:18:18 PM »
it's definitely    "..............Ah! but where's the romance?"

Great rant but requires supporting evidences.

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Instead, I wonder if the better way to go would be to address what religion addresses but with science as a partner. A science which embraces subjectivity and mystery as well as material and objectivity.
perhaps you could start with practical examples that would indicate a real method of applying the above proposition.  I mean how do you see it working in the real world?

Astrologically favourable dates on which to conduct certain experiments?
Perhaps applied chanting to order the energies of those conducting the research?
Prayer.   Perhaps we should pray that science renounces it's evil ways and embraces full fledged mysticism?

I mean the one true glory of your sadly shunted, subjective context of absolute truths, is once having established any authority in regard to any subjective absolute truth, then evidence is never needed again, just authorised proclamations of knowledge from yet more holier than thou men claiming said absolute truth .

No mate, sorry, great rant, stupid idea.


"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2010, 09:37:23 PM »
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"I don't like feeling enraged."

If a common observation like mine about the mixed blessings of science makes you feel enraged I would encourage you to examine your own defensiveness rather than target me personally. The eradication of smallpox may have been an amazing consequence of 20th century medicine, although viruses tend to mutate themselves out of existence on their own sooner or later as well.

I'm not arguing the past achievements of science, which obviously have obviously been overwhelmingly positive, I'm observing that continuing to do science in the same way that we have been doing it seems to be having a strong negative impact on civilization and a diminishing positive one.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Agamemnon

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2010, 09:59:11 PM »
...I'll take 20th century scientific progress over 21st century progress any day. Let's see, automobiles, electric lights, recorded music, motion pictures, and powered flight vs Facebook, Twitter, and Viagra spam.

Wow.  The 21st century has only just begun and you're already pronouncing it a scientific bust? At least give it a half-century before you call it a wrap.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.  --Bertrand Russell

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2010, 10:06:11 PM »
Quote
practical examples that would indicate a real method of applying the above proposition.  I mean how do you see it working in the real world?

To reunite the rift between science and mysticism I would propose broad investment in the study of semiotics, aesthetics, ethics, anthropology, and a variety of Western and Eastern philosophical ideas with the idea of uncovering the patterns of loose synchronization with the hard sciences. By revealing the parallels between the I Ching, genetics, and binary systems we would begin to establish a multivalent, integrated perspective reality as a complex layered text which is parsed simultaneously in incongruous and seemingly mutually exclusive ways but is in reality part of a larger whole.

We would then apply this revolutionary understanding of ourselves and our cosmos to our ossified political structures to experiment with choice-centered participatory government, education, and business, replacing monolithic corporate systems with a more fully democratized distribution of financial power and political control over our ways of life. With exploding population and finite resources driving populations into archaic relapse, there's no time to play semantic games about what science should or should not be. Science either has to eventually either save the world or else surrender to the ignorant masses it has fails to enlighten. We need more than arguments about religion, we need to develop an aerosol vaccine for it, and quick. To do that, we need to first understand what religion is and give it the respect that is required to finally transcend it.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2010, 10:13:17 PM »
Quote
At least give it a half-century before you call it a wrap.

No no, I was careful to compare the standout popular technologies of the first decade only of each century. I'm not calling it wrap by any means, I'm just saying that if we continue on the path we're on, the rest of the century promises little more than ever cheaper digital crap to distract a jaded population from their own disposable and massively redundant lives.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Online kin hell

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2010, 10:29:19 PM »
I call po

no, not poe, po   23rd hexagram of the Iching[1]  chaos or splitting asunder.

I cannot call poe and remain in sync with the OP topic, but because I have no evidence, I can apply mysticism and call po, and the OP must be content.

.....meanwhile I'm.media.crazy (I'mmediocracy) your fruitloops version quaker avatar is very very funny

I mean whacky with QUAZY energy






 1. not to be mistaken for Itching as in s.i.b. swelling itching brain [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UynB9cBms_w&feature=related[/youtube]
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 03:45:46 AM by kin hell »
"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline Agamemnon

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2010, 11:15:01 PM »
No no, I was careful to compare the standout popular technologies of the first decade only of each century. I'm not calling it wrap by any means, I'm just saying that if we continue on the path we're on, the rest of the century promises little more than ever cheaper digital crap to distract a jaded population from their own disposable and massively redundant lives.

Sorry, I'm not really getting anything from this that seems actually useful. It's interesting reading, though.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.  --Bertrand Russell

Offline wright

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2010, 11:51:32 PM »
Immediacracy:
Quote
The eradication of smallpox may have been an amazing consequence of 20th century medicine, although viruses tend to mutate themselves out of existence on their own sooner or later as well.

I'm not arguing the past achievements of science, which obviously have obviously been overwhelmingly positive, I'm observing that continuing to do science in the same way that we have been doing it seems to be having a strong negative impact on civilization and a diminishing positive one.

May have been? Wow. Just wow. How is that little gem "not arguing the past achievements of science"? And would you really have been willing to wait until blind evolution changed smallpox into a harmless form?

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What I can say is that by divesting itself of the moral dimensions and subjective context of universal truths, science has actively or contributed through negligence to many regressive technologies and practices

Science as a method is unconcerned with morality. People doing science, either in research or applications certainly should be (and for the most part are) constrained by law and morality. And what is a "universal truth"?

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The misdirection of civilian resources towards the costly manufacture and ongoing maintenance of weapons of mass destruction.

The decision to invest in those weapons is the responsibility of military and political planners. Scientists have often protested the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Andrei Sakharov comes to mind.

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The stifling of innovation and individuality through the perpetuation of fetishized academic formalism.

Not sure what this means. Are you referring to peer review? That is essential to modern science: new theories are ruthlessly scrutinized to weed out mistakes and sloppy thinking.

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The dismantling of public services and common wealth in favor of privatization and the withering of shared aesthetic environments in the service of productivity for the sake of productivity.

Sorry, I don't understand what you mean here.

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The persecution of people involved with alternative medicine, paranormal, occult, and parapsychological studies.

Criticism and requiring solid evidence is not persecution. See the history of organized religion for examples of that.

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The rise of depression, mental illness, obesity, and the coarsening of culture.


Hm. Is it possible that improved diagnosis could account for an increase in depression and mental illness, as it does for the apparent rise of autism? I myself don't know. But I also don't see how you can blame that, obesity and "the coarsening of culture" (whatever that means) on science.

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Please define the "evolution of evolution"

By this I mean that evolution is not the only conceivable universal process by which change can occur. How was evolution itself selected to be the dominant mechanism underlying the cosmos? Either it was inevitable in all possible universes (if so, why?) or there was some purpose for inanimate, inorganic matter to begin to develop a need to become something other than what it already was?

Of course evolution isn't the only way change occurs. Who said it was? Are you conflating stellar evolution with the evolution of living things? And who said it was "inevitable in all possible universes"?

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Modern science is better at explaining the universe, making predictions and improving the human condition than any of its precursors. If that were not true, then we would still use them, or something else.

Better at explaining the material universe and making predictions of what it deems predictable, but scientific models fail to address many of the ordinary circumstances that ordinary people encounter in their lives. People's lives have improved in measurable ways but have lapsed in many qualitative senses. We still do use Astrology and divination, in fact I've heard that there are far more Astrologers than Astronomers.

What are those ordinary circumstances that science fails to address? And what are some of the lapses in the quality of life?

That astrology and other superstition persists is unfortunate, but understandable. Doesn't change the fact that they're superstitions and cons.

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Show me an example of science "un-asking fundamental questions of our human existence"

Many of the skeptical positions I have read from a scientific point of view (mostly philosophy professors rehash of Dennett) disqualify the contents of human consciousness as mere correlates to neurological states rather than their own indivisible and elementally grounded dimension of existence. The current scientific conventional wisdom on the origins of life, meaning, consciousness, etc avoid the hard problems of how and why chemistry translates into subjectivity. The whole hemisphere of cognition represented by the question 'Why' and 'Who' we are collapsed into a maze of Hows and Whats, reducing the concrete universe of our own experience to a sterile mechanism of purposeless replication.

Quote
Do you really think this knowledge invalidates human feelings and social constructs? It certainly doesn't for me.

This is the heart of my complaint. Why doesn't it invalidate it for you and why shouldn't it? It's not enough for science to not invalidate human feelings and social constructs. Science has to embrace human existence, inform it and be informed by it, not merely reinforce the orthodoxy of evolutionary functionalism. Currently we have most educated people walking around believing that beauty was conjured as a solution to a problem of motivating genetic agents to replicate.

This offers no explanation as to how the idea of beauty itself was conceived - that bit of staggeringly important magic is left off the table in favor of some disenchanting story about how the obviously significant aspect of beauty is not important, but it's utility somehow called it into being out of nowhere. It's like consciousness. If that can evolve from cellular processes, why not time travel? Why is the potential for life and consciousness to exist supported by the laws of physics but not teleportation? Science seeks to reverse engineer the universe but it fails to include itself - order, and the seeking of order as a fundamental principle of nature. It's a form of reverse solipsism: the universe is real, but what I think and feel really is not.

Hm. Well, I doubt my answer will satisfy you but you've been kind enough to put some time into this conversation, so I'll reciprocate. I honestly don't have a problem with knowing that my very sense of self is ultimately the product of complex biochemical interactions. I exist in a society that showed me, through my interaction with other people, that there are clear benefits to going along with laws and social mores. Day to day, that's enough to keep me from going off the rails and behaving with less decorum than a lone wolf.

I see science as very much informed by human existence; science is a human construct. Just because I know my sense of beauty (in human form or a kitten or a sunset) is a wholly material phenomenon doesn't lessen my appreciation of it. It's true that science can seem very bleak in its reductionism, but that isn't the fault of science. We have to make our own meaning, informed (ideally) by our associations with other people.

Do you seriously equate the emergence of conscious thought with time travel and teleportation? That if the first developed from blind processes, the other two must be equally probable?

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Define "true science". It seems to me that's what we have right now. The scientific outpouring I see, even as a layman, in modern society is staggering.

To me a true science would be one that is committed to seeking explanations and models for all phenomena, subjective and objective. I would like to see the rise of a new generalism which synthesizes the essential truths of the multitudes of scientific specialties into a coherent, pocket sized set of perspectives that encourage people to live more fully self actualize lives and reduce the level of oppression and suffering in the world while remaining authentic and true.

To me the scientific outpouring peaked in the 20th century. In my parents lifetime, they witnessed the arrival of jet aircraft, spacecraft, nuclear energy, genetics, birth control, LSD, amplified music, color TV, plastic, synthetic fibers, etc. In my lifetime the technological improvements have been largely confined to computer technology. We are still moving around in essentially the same cars and planes despite the realization that it is beginning to threaten our civilization, same basic medical approaches, same houses, same manufacturing - no fundamental new cures of old diseases, no real progress in repealing the religious superstition and intolerance...mainly we've gotten a lot of promises and reworking of old ideas in order to justify popular investment. I'll take 20th century scientific progress over 21st century progress any day. Let's see, automobiles, electric lights, recorded music, motion pictures, and powered flight vs Facebook, Twitter, and Viagra spam.

As Agamemnon pointed out, it's awfully early to tell if science has reached its peak yet, in the current century or in general. Barring some horrific disaster or series of disasters, I'm inclined to be optimistic about the future.

Again, I see current science as already interested in all phenomena. To my mind, the true flowering of scientific thought has barely begun. It's off to a pretty good start, the abuses of the past and present notwithstanding.
 
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline kindred

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2010, 11:54:58 PM »
To the OP, objectivity(science) is the best way to achieve happiness(which is subjecive). If you find what makes you subjectively happy(chemicals in your brains) and then use science to learn what activities produce those are and then do those activities, then voila. You're happy. You've used science to achieve subjective happiness.

Simple as that.

"Keep calm and carry on"

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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2010, 06:25:53 AM »
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Do you seriously equate the emergence of conscious thought with time travel and teleportation? That if the first developed from blind processes, the other two must be equally probable?

I'm asking why we think that consciousness is inherently less alien to the inorganic universe than time travel or teleportation. What makes consciousness any more probable to have evolved than say 'magic' other than our own reverse engineering? Can you give me an example of something which would have been a precursor of the color blue for example, or why it would have been selected to settle on it's particular range of the e-m spectrum and not another?

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Science as a method is unconcerned with morality. People doing science, either in research or applications certainly should be (and for the most part are) constrained by law and morality. And what is a "universal truth"?

This is the problem. Science unconcerned with morality can take you further than science suffocated by religious morality but without ultimately reconnecting with it's source (universal truths - i.e. the underlying patterns of order and organization which repeat throughout the subjective and objective sides of our cosmos) it can't go 'all the way', and all the way is what we need now.

Again, I'm not trying to say that science hasn't been the most miraculous boon to humanity in history so far, I'm just saying that until it addresses all of reality I hypothesize that it's going to remain relatively stalled.

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That astrology and other superstition persists is unfortunate, but understandable. Doesn't change the fact that they're superstitions and cons

After having spent 26 years looking at hundreds of people's charts I can tell you conclusively that astrology, numerology, Tarot, and I Ching among others each yield significant merits (exceeding the totality of what was offered in my Western academic experience) and completely independent from any superstition or con, which is why these interests not only persist but thrive (Not to say there aren't superstitious people using it to delude themselves). Like consciousness, you have to look at it first before you can presume to understand it.

Ironically it's the idea that occult study is a con which is a superstition. These days the con is in finance and banking, as there is little profit motivation to pursue occult investigations. "Billionaire astrologer" is not a phrase you are likely to hear very often. Try it. Learn the basic language of astrology (numerology is good too - which is what I started with because I 'knew' that astrology is a crock) and look at your chart and those of your family and friends. See if you don't have valuable insights about the nature of your identity.

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just because I know my sense of beauty (in human form or a kitten or a sunset) is a wholly material phenomenon doesn't lessen my appreciation of it

What 'material'? A beauty particle?

As for the other rebuttals to my criticisms of the shortcomings of recent science, I can only say that post-Enlightenment scientific thinking is at the very heart of our postmodern culture. If you assign to it the benefits we now enjoy as a society you have to also give it the responsibility for correcting the problems which have arisen since that style of problem solving rose to prominence. Saying this or that isn't science's fault only underscores for me the sophistry that ego-driven intellect uses to protect itself. Whatever problem science doesn't address, it leaves to the cannibalistic forces of human nature. Who or what is to blame is irrelevant, science is all we have and spirituality is all science needs.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2010, 06:34:30 AM »
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If you find what makes you subjectively happy(chemicals in your brains) and then use science to learn what activities produce those are and then do those activities, then voila. You're happy. You've used science to achieve subjective happiness.

Even more convenient since pharmacology has provided a variety of powerfully addictive drugs to accomplish this. We want chemicals in our brains? Why not just put them there ourselves?
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2010, 06:48:38 AM »
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I can apply mysticism and call po, and the OP must be content.

Yes! Poe, po, PO, and Devo all spot on, intuitive, and by far the most worthwhile comment on the thread. This is what I'm talking about. Down with the humorless, disenchanted, anti-mythologized cosmos of mechanistic materialism - free the animated hilarious celebration of the essence of our existence.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Gimpy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2010, 08:38:17 AM »
Infidel Muhammad, is that you?

 ;)
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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2010, 07:22:44 AM »
Immediacracy,

First off, I don't share your view of science being the mere 'reverse-engineering' of the universe. Sure there are many, if not most, physical scientists who try and explain the complex by the behaviour of the smallest parts. However there are many areas of science where this is not true.

Chaos Theory is about discerning patterns in macro-systems. Lovelock's Gia theory looking at the earth as a holistic stable system is now accepted in principle (despite that pr*ck Dawkin's ill informed attack on it). Increasingly Neurologists are probing the particular function of consciousness. etc, etc, etc...

As for Mysticism: it is undeniable that most humans will have some experiences which they would call mystical. While the sheer diversity of these experiences do not make for easy generalisation, in very lose terms they are categorised by a sense of Being (in the sense Sartre or Tillich would use it), coupled with a sensation of unity with the world. The problem is that people tend to integrate these mystical experiences into their own internal narratives: the Christian sees the face of God the Son; the Muslim is supplicated to God's will; the Hindu becomes one with the Brahma; the shaman converses with Mescal; the Buddhist loses the self.

The question then is how do we address this part of our nature. For my own part, I have no desire to 'de-convert' theists (I would like them to stop indoctrinating their kids but that a whole different can of worms).But what is your wish? What would you have us do as a society to try and embrace the mystical in all its diverse forms? Why? What do you propose the relationship of mystical experience and truth should be?

After having spent 26 years looking at hundreds of people's charts I can tell you conclusively that astrology, numerology, Tarot, and I Ching among others each yield significant merits (exceeding the totality of what was offered in my Western academic experience) and completely independent from any superstition or con, which is why these interests not only persist but thrive (Not to say there aren't superstitious people using it to delude themselves). Like consciousness, you have to look at it first before you can presume to understand it.

Ironically it's the idea that occult study is a con which is a superstition. These days the con is in finance and banking, as there is little profit motivation to pursue occult investigations. "Billionaire astrologer" is not a phrase you are likely to hear very often. Try it. Learn the basic language of astrology (numerology is good too - which is what I started with because I 'knew' that astrology is a crock) and look at your chart and those of your family and friends. See if you don't have valuable insights about the nature of your identity.

You ever read Charles Fort's Damned Data. Think you'd enjoy it.

I'm not sure what benefit of the occult are you alluding to? Things like Tarot or I Ching readings do not give us knowledge, rather they are interpretive. You take a random pattern (and through the active participation of the subject) this pattern is applied to the subject's life. Bit of the pattern that appear to match get focused on, bits of the pattern that don't get ignored. This act of interpretation can give one new ways of seeing things. They work in the same manner that a Rorschach test does, ie through the subject's own interpretation.

The problem is that a particular set of Tarot cards, or particular astrological chart, or I Ching reading, is, without a subject, meaningless. The same set of Tarot cards will have a completely different interpretation depending upon the person whose fortune is being read.

Given the particularity of such things how do you suggest we integrate these things into a system of knowledge?

If your answer is that it tells us about human nature in general, in in particular ritual behaviour, then fine. However that is the job of science, and there are many studies looking at exactly this.

If your answer is that it tells us about the particular individual's psychology then, once again, fine. However this too is within the perview of scientific psychology and neurology.

If, however, your answer is that occultism tells us some truth about the way things are in the world. That occultism can tell me that "I-will-marry-a-blue-eyed-brown-haired-girl-called-Elizabeth-who-will-be-dressed-in-red-when-I-meet-her", then I call foul.

The problem, in a nutshell, is this. I agree that occult behaviour and the human experience (esp consciousness itself) are valid areas of study. The question is how they are studied. We can, and do, look at them scientifically; both in general terms (what social and ritual functions they fulfil) and specific terms (the task of the psychologist and neurologist). If, however, you are asking us to look at the occult on its own terms, then you would doom us to tall grass. There is simply no knowledge to be gained by accepting the veracity of the occult.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2010, 09:48:53 AM »
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What would you have us do as a society to try and embrace the mystical in all its diverse forms? Why? What do you propose the relationship of mystical experience and truth should be?

I have no problem with what you're saying, and yeah using Tarot or other forms of divination for 'fortune telling' is a bad idea - not simply because you are surrendering critical reasoning to randomness but because that surrender has a momentum of it's own which can lead to some very unfortunate outcomes.

The Rorschach explanation is only part of it however. The mirroring function of seeking an answer from an irrational source can give you immediate access to the intuitive functions of your psyche. You can reframe the situation that you're in and gain real insights. These insights may not turn out lead to to better judgments, and in fact the very fact that you are turning to your intuition may be a sign that you should be looking at your external conditions and executive processes more than the intuitive last resort, but nonetheless, it can clear the pipes and get you thinking in a new direction that can be fun.

The other part is that these divinatory methods themselves have loose things in common. They all are built upon the exact same sorts of symmetries and cycles, mandalas and symbols. They directly represent our ancient modeling of ourselves and our connection to the cosmos and as such they are primary texts which likely predate written language. They may not hold the secret of the universe, but they are evidence that people all over the world have concluded more or less what the secret of the universe looks like - and surprise, it looks just like binary math and genetic bases, it looks like all of the pantheons and calendars, the forces of physics, the maps and models of human and cultural development.

There is a third part, which I hesitate to get into because people who have not experienced it themselves will be forced to dismiss it out of hand. And that it that it's not random. Not completely. I can tell you that beyond Rorschach and beyond sacred geometry, there is something out there that if you go fishing for, tugs on your line pretty quickly. Astrology is a lot of things, but random is not one of them. Sure, you could pull cold readings out of your ass and justify it as a pretty decent therapy, but I tell you that when you look at hundreds of people's charts - their families (especially families, my God), celebrities, events - it's like any other text. You begin to be able to read more of what it says. The beauty of the radically improbably connections between people who are connected by birth is jaw dropping. Chilling. 'Why the hell aren't people talking about this on the news' level of amazing.

Astrology is just a more detailed and heavily anthropomorphizing kind of clock. Rather than producing a one dimensional calendar of meaningless duration, Astrology uses the apparent motion of planetary orbits as more of a musical farmer's almanac. And it works. Occasionally very well - not as a predictive tool (waste of time...try predicting 'Wikipedia' in 1988, it comes out like..'something with computers and knowledge and large groups of people in a non-profit....not very helpful'.

Is it the physical planets that cause things to happen? No more than the hands of a clock cause lunch time to happen or the light of the sun causes most of the world to rise out of complete unconsciousness ever morning. It just coincides. It correlates. These cycles have been around a lot longer than life has and we, more than anything else, have come out of their relationship over time. Their time.

As a society, you know, I don't know if it's wise to try to have the general public embrace the mystical. They have enough trouble wrapping their heads around 'God is imaginary'. I would however promote some rigorous dialogue and experimentation between neuroscience, genetics, anthropologists, and psychologists that brings in art and mysticism to help better model subjective consciousness and it's relation to our intersubjective apprehension of our world.

Mainly though, I'm not at the hypothesis-experiment-conclusion step, I'm all about the Statement of The Problem. (I'm a sextouple Aries and a quadrouple Virgo, hah - I only do beginnings and criticisms) What do you think the future of science and mysticism should be?
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 09:52:43 AM by Immediacracy »
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Grendel

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2010, 09:07:48 PM »
fucking hippies
This 'free will' nonsense didn't seem to bother your god when it set up the sting operation in the Garden of Eden with two magic trees and a Talking Snake™

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2010, 08:20:04 AM »
fucking hippies


^^^^^ That. . . . . .
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Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2010, 08:24:54 AM »
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_v9tz2nxvs[/youtube]
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline Grimm

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2010, 04:44:47 PM »
Quote
What would you have us do as a society to try and embrace the mystical in all its diverse forms? Why? What do you propose the relationship of mystical experience and truth should be?

I have no problem with what you're saying, and yeah using Tarot or other forms of divination for 'fortune telling' is a bad idea - not simply because you are surrendering critical reasoning to randomness but because that surrender has a momentum of it's own which can lead to some very unfortunate outcomes.

The Rorschach explanation is only part of it however. The mirroring function of seeking an answer from an irrational source can give you immediate access to the intuitive functions of your psyche. You can reframe the situation that you're in and gain real insights. These insights may not turn out lead to to better judgments, and in fact the very fact that you are turning to your intuition may be a sign that you should be looking at your external conditions and executive processes more than the intuitive last resort, but nonetheless, it can clear the pipes and get you thinking in a new direction that can be fun.

I can certainly get behind 'thinking in new directions', intuition is valuable, inasmuch as it's a useful tool to solve problems or step towards greater understanding.  Intuition can be triggered by any number of associative tools; I get mine from music, you seem to get yours from, say, Astrology.

The problem, however, is that an associative tool - say, the shifting patterns of a sheen of vegetable oil on water, or even the shape of clouds on a sunny day - is just an associative tool.  If you assign it any additional significance, any sort of mystic superiority of any stripe, you're moving out of 'using a tool' and into 'believing in a process'.  It's the difference between believing the cards say something when using a Tarot and a recognition that you're abusing cold reading and microreactions for the same insights.  If you fall victim to your own confirmation bias, you contribute nothing.

I think you'd agree with that, wouldn't you?  If something is real only because of a bias, then it's not really real, you only perceive it as being so.

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The other part is that these divinatory methods themselves have loose things in common. They all are built upon the exact same sorts of symmetries and cycles, mandalas and symbols. They directly represent our ancient modeling of ourselves and our connection to the cosmos and as such they are primary texts which likely predate written language. They may not hold the secret of the universe, but they are evidence that people all over the world have concluded more or less what the secret of the universe looks like - and surprise, it looks just like binary math and genetic bases, it looks like all of the pantheons and calendars, the forces of physics, the maps and models of human and cultural development.

Not really. Astrology has very little to do with any modern analogue, especially given that via precession the astrological charts modern astrologers use are nearly two 'houses' out of date, and they have no idea.  I can demonstrate a bit of this now, for you, if you'd like.  In fact.. why not?

Read this.  Tell me, do you think it applies to you?   Do you know someone to whom it may apply?  What sign do you think I'm describing here?

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They make very interesting and exciting friends. They like to leave their mark on everyone they meet.  If you need any advice, they are the ones to ask.  On one side, they have the perseverance and drive to do what needs to be done, they are self-sufficient and do not need to depend on other people for the material and physical things in life. On the other hand, they depend on people for emotional support and encouragement. They are excellent business people and investors because of their intuitive and psychic ability and their creative forward thinking mind, they are able to predict future trends.  They love to make people laugh and cheer people up and it makes them feel good to make others feel good.  They are always after intellectual stimulation, constantly discovering something new, forming new opinions and stubbornly traveling their way regardless of what other people think.    They are very prone of living in denial. They will say the feel okay or everything is alright even when it's not.  They need to be organized in their mind, sometimes all their energy is taken from organizing their mind that they have a difficult time organizing their surroundings. They easily look too deep into an issue and over analyze what they percept.

This was all taken from an outside site - but you tell me... is it close?  Do you know someone like this?  Who are they?  What sign are they? 

In truth, the above is an amalgamation of four signs.  Can you tell me what four?  Statistically, you should be able to (by sheer accident) guess two - but did you originally concieve of this being a single sign?  Did you already  have a sign in mind when I asked? 

Astrology works by generalization coupled with confirmation bias.  Most of the phrases above are null phrases, that is, they're either complimentary or subjectively wide enough that they can be applied across a large swath of the population.  Additionally, they're in triplets that are diametrically opposed - look at  this one: "On one side, they have the perseverance and drive to do what needs to be done, they are self-sufficient and do not need to depend on other people for the material and physical things in life. On the other hand, they depend on people for emotional support and encouragement." This was pulled from a single entry... don't you think that one or the other applies to just about anyone?

Take it from a former grifter - phrases like these are money.  People light up when they feel that you have some unusual insight into them... but that is just meaningless drivel designed to elicit precisely that response.

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There is a third part, which I hesitate to get into because people who have not experienced it themselves will be forced to dismiss it out of hand. And that it that it's not random. Not completely. I can tell you that beyond Rorschach and beyond sacred geometry, there is something out there that if you go fishing for, tugs on your line pretty quickly. Astrology is a lot of things, but random is not one of them. Sure, you could pull cold readings out of your ass and justify it as a pretty decent therapy, but I tell you that when you look at hundreds of people's charts - their families (especially families, my God), celebrities, events - it's like any other text. You begin to be able to read more of what it says. The beauty of the radically improbably connections between people who are connected by birth is jaw dropping. Chilling. 'Why the hell aren't people talking about this on the news' level of amazing.

I have looked at hundreds of people's charts.  Your confirmation bias is showing, and no, it's not chilling.  It's generalization, confirmation bias, and credulity all rolled together in a pervasive package that keeps its believers because of seeming utility.  I cannot do more than to say "I could throw your chart now, and you'd believe me, and I've done it a hundred times - and every last time was a scam." 

I do firmly believe that a lot of practitioners do believe in what they're doing, but that's simply because this particular system offers such a general result that they seem to be doing well and they get a lot of positive feedback.  The data, however, is against you - any system you care to name can predict fuzzy things like "you are intuitive" or "you have a decent eye for color" and get lots of positive feedback.  It can even say "you'll be lucky this week in money" - but don't you realize just how nebulous that is?  If I win $5 at the scratch-off or inherit a million from a dead relative.. both fulfill the prediction.  If I find a quarter in the street, it does as well - but random chance specifies that any event predicted with either a relatively long or no time boundary will eventually result in a positive outcome.

There's nothing special at all in that - especially when interpretations of the predictions are so damned subjective.

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Astrology is just a more detailed and heavily anthropomorphizing kind of clock. Rather than producing a one dimensional calendar of meaningless duration, Astrology uses the apparent motion of planetary orbits as more of a musical farmer's almanac. And it works. Occasionally very well - not as a predictive tool (waste of time...try predicting 'Wikipedia' in 1988, it comes out like..'something with computers and knowledge and large groups of people in a non-profit....not very helpful'.

Precisely.  Except it doesn't work - because marking past events by nebulous generalizations is so easy as to be child's play, and its predictions (as you point out) are so fuzzy as to have infinite probability.

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Is it the physical planets that cause things to happen? No more than the hands of a clock cause lunch time to happen or the light of the sun causes most of the world to rise out of complete unconsciousness ever morning. It just coincides. It correlates. These cycles have been around a lot longer than life has and we, more than anything else, have come out of their relationship over time. Their time.

Woo.  Unsupported woo.  This is similar thinking that is absolutely certain that homeopathic dilutions have some significance beyond being water - or, as Tim Minchin puts it, "isn't it amazing that a homeopathic remedy remembers the stuff you put in it, but somehow forgets all the poo its had in it."   Confirmation bias does not equal useful principle.

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As a society, you know, I don't know if it's wise to try to have the general public embrace the mystical. They have enough trouble wrapping their heads around 'God is imaginary'. I would however promote some rigorous dialogue and experimentation between neuroscience, genetics, anthropologists, and psychologists that brings in art and mysticism to help better model subjective consciousness and it's relation to our intersubjective apprehension of our world.

Define 'subjective consciousness'.  Define 'intersubjective apprehension'.  Explain how people's perceptions of reality, so easily fooled by their own biases and suppositions, can possibly be worthwhile in defining anything as a gestalt.  Art is a useful emotional tool, but mysticism is just mysticisim - it's waving hands and going 'wooooo' in some way or another, disguising reality by platitudes that are absolutely worthless for determining truth.

That's the funny thing about gurus, my friend.  Every one of them has Truth, but only if you don't notice they're making assertions in every case without evidence of efficacy.  Intuition is a valuable tool, but only insofar as it allows you to determine the reality around you - not obfuscate it with some nuanced sense of what that reality might be if you ignore pieces of it.

Woo of all stripes preys on imperfect understanding and our tendency to believe in authority.  You can test most of the woo yourself, if you'd like - but if you leave it untested, it certainly looks good.  Unfortunately, it is gilt over nothing, the hollow chocolate bunny of reality.

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Mainly though, I'm not at the hypothesis-experiment-conclusion step, I'm all about the Statement of The Problem. (I'm a sextouple Aries and a quadrouple Virgo, hah - I only do beginnings and criticisms) What do you think the future of science and mysticism should be?

I think that science should spend its existence debunking mysticism, where they must intersect.

Look - ancient belief isn't terribly wise; that's the problem with it.  Let's pick on something neutral.. howabout Acupuncture?

If you take subjects into what they think is an acupuncturist, and you use one real acupuncturist and one fellow who inserts the needles at random, you get precisely the same net positive effect; that complex systems of meridians and chi makes absolutely no difference compared to a fellow who just sticks needles in you while talking about how awesome it is.

Does this mean that sticking needles in people doesn't have a positive effect?  Well, surprisingly, no - it does, in many cases and for many issues.  Does it mean, however, that the entire system that is built around sticking needles in people is absolutely immaterial to that effect?  Yes.  Thousands of years of tradition missed the point - and so it is with all magic.  There may be a grain of truth at the bottom of a practice, but 'ancient wisdom' is filled with unnecessary practice that is absolutely useless.  'Cupping' is worthless.  Homeopathic dilution leverages the placebo effect (and thank goodness for dilution, or we may not have ever found the placebo effect - and the effect itself is very useful!). 

Your belief in astrology is just that - a belief.  Unfortunately, in reality, Saturn neither has an effect on me, nor is my existence at a certain time and place of any impact on it.  This grand clock you describe is an ancient practice that tried to tie celestial objects to events in a time before anyone even knew what stars (and planets) really were.  It exists now as it was studied as a science for some time, but the best it has is generalizations.  It offers nothing.  Produces nothing.  It is an amusement, offering no significant insight.

Astrology led us to Astronomy - which is something else entirely.  Without the former, there would not have been the latter - but like Alchemy, Phrenology, bloodletting, ... well, the list goes on, it has no real merit in the modern world.  Its study has turned out to debunk itself.

Prove it for yourself, if you'd like.  Throw a chart for a half dozen of your friends.  Read those charts, and write down your results.  Take those charts to another, unsuspecting astrologer and ask them to match the charts to your friends - they should get two right, by random chance alone.  Be skeptical of your own experiences; design an experiment (or borrow one of Randi's!) that removes your bias from the equation.  The hard data is against you.

Can this stuff be useful?   Vaguely, I suppose - but their use in intuition is overshadowed by their ability and tendency to manipulate, to become self-fulfilling in their generalizations.  Fun woo is one thing... but mysticism has no place in determining truth.
"But to us, there is but one god, plus or minus one."  - 1 Corinthians 8:6+/-2

-- Randall, XKCD http://xkcd.com/900/

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2010, 07:27:54 PM »
I think you'd agree with that, wouldn't you?  If something is real only because of a bias, then it's not really real, you only perceive it as being so.
Intuitive arts can be very dangerous when people consider them 'really real', but when used simply as a tool to reveal insights that someone wouldn't ordinarily have access to, they can add to our understanding. For me it's no different from wine tasting or a cigar review. Is it an objective fact that these things will deliver 'notes of toast, black currant, asphalt, and minerals'? Of course not. Does it help sell luxury goods at higher prices? Obviously. But does this mean that wine critics are charlatans? Does it mean that their palette isn't worthy of consultation or that their input shouldn't improve a consumer's experience of purchasing or enjoying the thing?

So that's what astrology is to me - personality connoisseurship. I taste people's charts and try to translate what the chart looks like into English. I have done it professionally a few times but I prefer just to do it for free for people I feel like doing it for. I have no charge on it as far as whether people believe me - I myself don't 'believe' in it, I simply observe where the system seems to accurately reflect subtle and otherwise difficult to express influences and patterns.

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Not really. Astrology has very little to do with any modern analogue, especially given that via precession the astrological charts modern astrologers use are nearly two 'houses' out of date

Astrologers know all about the shift from classical constellation positions. It doesn't matter though because it's not about the constellations, it's about the planets. The constellations behind them are just a way of keeping track of where the planets are. Personally I don't think even it's about the planets, if anything it's about the interaction of their orbits. It's just THE clock of our solar system.

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Read this.  Tell me, do you think it applies to you?   Do you know someone to whom it may apply?  What sign do you think I'm describing here?

Pfft. I didn't even have to finish the sentence to know you were going to provide a paragraph like that and skimming the paragraph only reinforces how much real astrology differs from sensationalist fortune-cookie astrology. If you know how to read a chart, you know that someone's 'sign' is just one very general influence depending on what the rest of the chart looks like. To a person like me, reading a paragraph like that and trying to guess what signs they supposedly describe would be like giving a chef a meatball supposedly made of four meats and asking them to guess what kind they are. I'm not trying to guess what people are made of, or get them to believe something, I'm just asking them if the recipe I'm reading to them sounds familiar...only I don't really need to ask because when I'm right on I can tell before I even can see their reaction. It just sounds right when it comes out of my mouth...because it is right. It's not magic, it's just like an assisted cold reading only it's really really cold because I'm not trying to tell them what they want to hear or look for cues or clues or anything.

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Astrology works by generalization coupled with confirmation bias.
 

That belief about astrology works in precisely the same way. But that's ok, I'm not defending astrology, and I know for most people it's always going to be woo BS, I'm just saying that I knew every bit of what your are talking about before I ever looked at a chart.

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Take it from a former grifter - phrases like these are money.  People light up when they feel that you have some unusual insight into them... but that is just meaningless drivel designed to elicit precisely that response.

That's the thing, I'm not a grifter and I never have been. I cringe when I think that people are just hearing what they want to hear from what I tell them. I don't do it to get a response from them although it can be enjoyable and validating, but I also find it draining and unsatisfying to do long readings for people. I read people's charts because I'm curious. Like you meet someone online and you might want to see what they look like or hear their voice. That's why I keep hundreds of charts from people I've known and met over decades and pour over them, learning new things all the time. It's kept my interest much more over the years than any subject that I studied in college, even my major.
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this particular system offers such a general result
Only if you get your result second hand. Do the chart yourself. Learn the language in terms of real people you know and of yourself and it's very specific. Paradoxical, yes, but you get to weigh the various factors to better read which influences are stronger. Each chart is it's own thing, like a recipe and it's correlation to the finished meal. Sometimes the meal doesn't come out exactly how you might expect, but it's got the right ingredients and it's often uncanny in it's insights - much different from what you characterize.

If I looked at Sarah Palin's chart, for example, I would say 'wow, during 2009 and 2010 transiting Neptune, which has to do with illusion and glamour and the dreams of a generation, will be conjuncting your most potent identity influences, which, as a triple planet conjunction in Aquarius are already quite uncommon and significant...the combination of telegenic, revolutionary Aquarius with hypnotic Neptune...this is definitely one of the most interesting times of your life'. Of course, there are a few people walking around with charts nearly identical to Sarah Palin who are not enjoying worldwide celebrity - it's not a deterministic thing where the chart makes things happen to you - its just a loose timetable of changing influences.

It's not just people either. Look at history through an astrological lens and you can easily see how specific themes manifest in specific ways. It's really not very subtle if you look at the positions of the outer planets - pretty straightforward map of the zeitgeist.
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There's nothing special at all in that - especially when interpretations of the predictions are so damned subjective.

Astrologers shouldn't try to predict. It's just good for analysis. Prediction is too determined by the limitation of the time you are in. For example, when Uranus was transiting through Aquarius around 1995-2003, I was excited to see what Uranus (planet associated with technological change, among other things) in the sign it 'rules' (Aquarius - having to do with distribution, rationality, democracy, science, and especially a leveling of status) might mean.

At the time, I had no way of knowing that the blossoming internet would turn into THE Internet, a technology as powerfully Aquarian as TV and TV dinners, and the electric kitchen were perfectly Uranus in Cancer (the home, family, food) during 1948-1955. Believe what you want and what you know, but I like my rich mythic appreciation of the zeitgeist. It's much better than the alternative which is..what? There is no zeitgeist? It's all just random? Time periods don't have themes that cross cultural categories? Personality is an illusion? Sounds fun. I can't imagine why more people aren't anxious to jump on that bandwagon.

Precisely.  Except it doesn't work - because marking past events by nebulous generalizations is so easy as to be child's play, and its predictions (as you point out) are so fuzzy as to have infinite probability.


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Woo.  Unsupported woo.  This is similar thinking that is absolutely certain that homeopathic dilutions have some significance beyond being water

Except that I've tried homeopathic remedies and they've never worked for me.

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I would however promote some rigorous dialogue and experimentation between neuroscience, genetics, anthropologists, and psychologists that brings in art and mysticism to help better model subjective consciousness and it's relation to our intersubjective apprehension of our world.
Define 'subjective consciousness'.  Define 'intersubjective apprehension'. 

Subjective consciousness, as in, character and potential, Identity. Intersubjective apprehension - conventional wisdom, shared understandings, maps and models.

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Explain how people's perceptions of reality, so easily fooled by their own biases and suppositions, can possibly be worthwhile in defining anything as a gestalt.
Because our entire reality is still just a collective perception, enhanced by our own tools designed specifically for the purpose of increasing particular biases. Science is made of human measurement and human reasoning, not of universal truth. Raw subjectivity, with it's half-understood foolishness is the root essence of what science seeks to escape from and in it's own pseudointuitive way, believes - knows it has. How's that working out for us on planet Earth?

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Woo of all stripes preys on imperfect understanding and our tendency to believe in authority.

That's the thing, I've never had that gene of belief in authority.

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I think that science should spend its existence debunking mysticism, where they must intersect.
Well it already does do that, and it does a decent job of it too. It's a needed service for the general public.

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Your belief in astrology is just that - a belief. 


Not at all. I try to avoid having beliefs. Astrology is simply something I choose to continue observing because the more I observe it, the more it makes sense to me. I don't care about how Astrology works or doesn't work, I care about what sense it makes of time and of identity.

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Unfortunately, in reality, Saturn neither has an effect on me, nor is my existence at a certain time and place of any impact on it. 
How would you know though? Does it seem to you like a particular glitch on one of your chromosomes might be determining some aspect of your physical survival right now? To me the Big Bang means that on some level EVERYTHING is one thing. Consciousness, matter, time, space...all real, all unreal, all connected, all separate.

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It offers nothing.  Produces nothing.  It is an amusement, offering no significant insight.
You probably have a hard natal aspect from Saturn to Mercury...more than likely being transited right now. :)

Astrology led us to Astronomy - which is something else entirely.  Without the former, there would not have been the latter - but like Alchemy, Phrenology, bloodletting, ... well, the list goes on, it has no real merit in the modern world.  Its study has turned out to debunk itself.

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Be skeptical of your own experiences; design an experiment (or borrow one of Randi's!) that removes your bias from the equation. 

Yes, you can reduce everything to stage magic - you can pour cheap wine in a fancy bottle and 'prove' there is no such thing as fine wine... whatever, that's one perspective and it's entirely valid, but you're likely to have some heavy Saturn-Mercury aspects in your chart to really love it.

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Fun woo is one thing... but mysticism has no place in determining truth.
There is some valuable truth in anything fun.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler

Offline penfold

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2010, 01:26:16 AM »
You can reframe the situation that you're in and gain real insights.

This I agree with.

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[...]there is something out there that if you go fishing for, tugs on your line pretty quickly. Astrology is a lot of things, but random is not one of them. [...] but I tell you that when you look at hundreds of people's charts [...] The beauty of the radically improbably connections between people who are connected by birth is jaw dropping.
[...]
Is it the physical planets that cause things to happen? No more than the hands of a clock cause lunch time to happen or the light of the sun causes most of the world to rise out of complete unconsciousness ever morning. It just coincides. It correlates.

This is where you lose me.

In fact I detect a hint of hypocrisy. Your claim is based upon 'looking at hundreds of peoples charts'. Your claim then is based on data, on evidence. The problem is that the evidence is largely against the validity of astrology as a predictor of personality. Moreover there is no evidence for any mechanism by which the alignment of the planets at birth would affect personality. As Sagan rightly said “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, your personal reading of the data is not sufficient. Yet it is exactly this evidence that you seem to be appealing to. You cannot argue for the essential validity of an unscientific theory by reference to data!

I am willing to concede that there may be some macro-system which would produce a correlation between personality and birth date. For example we know that in temperate zones significant numbers of people display seasonal depression (Seasonal Affectedness Disorder – SAD), so it is possible that being born in the winter may be more likely to predict one personality type over another. However if such deep rhythms really exist then they are the proper topic of scientific study not an interpretive activity like astrology.

Astrology cannot have it both ways. If you want to claim that it tells us about the way things really are, then it must be subjected to empirical method. We both know it cannot survive that test.

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What do you think the future of science and mysticism should be?

For my own part I have sympathy for your viewpoint. I think the likes of Dawkins et al lack the poetic, the artistic. It may explain why great figures like Lovelock have trouble with such people, his artistic use of language is anathema to them.

However, empirical method leads us to knowledge about the way things are. Knowledge about the way things are is the realm of science, and mysticism should stay out. Everything else: how we live as humans, how we treat others, how we cope with adversity; that requires wisdom. Wisdom is artistic and poetic, it is mystical not empirical (apologies to Bentham).

So science and mysticism, I think we have need of both. I also think we should keep them within their proper spheres.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Immediacracy

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Re: God is Imaginary but Logic Fails to Address Imagination
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2010, 06:25:46 AM »

The problem is that the evidence is largely against the validity of astrology as a predictor of personality. Moreover there is no evidence for any mechanism by which the alignment of the planets at birth would affect personality.

I would say that astrology isn't a predictor of personality but a predictor of archetypal influences. The mechanism I would compare to the mechanism which governs the geography of phenome expression. At some times and places on the Earth's surface, certain species of plants and animals thrive and others do not. Not just species, but species styles. From the 'bottom-up' we see genetic causality, undifferentiated natural and artificial selection. From the top-down, we see regions of the planet or times of year which evoke a set of idiosyncratic gestalts. We see that the 'personality' of the tropics is different, as a single 'thing' from the personality of 'the desert'. We can access these archetypes instantly, and even refine the raw distinctions into quite specific esoteric stereotypes. 'Spring in Paris is most beautiful', 'Kona coffee is delicious in a Hawaiian way but Columbian coffee had more of a South American flavor'

This is all astrology is to me. A nice simple old map of what kinds of human fruits and vegetables tend to crop up where and when - based strictly on it's own system of observation (refined, possibly, over centuries of careful observation...or is it more of an unchanging absolute?) but whenever I put it to use, I find it's results surprisingly adequate. It's never going to be hard science because the subject matter itself is exceedingly soft. It's just saying that the mechanism that makes the 1950s a good time for the dawn of family TV is the same one that makes the 1990s a good time for the dawn of early 'global family' world wide web.

It's just so much nicer to have an orderly framework to help organize it on a subjectively satisfying continuum - and once you learn the framework, like any language, it is difficult to unlearn and you begin to parse the world of personalities and events in this context - reading time and identity as a single, grand, intertwined phenomena which we know, scientifically must exist. Science has no real cause to deem any parts of the cosmos as literally and fundamentally separate from any other part of the cosmos, whether it seems to us like it's only in our heads or not, it's still part of our cosmos.

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Astrology cannot have it both ways. If you want to claim that it tells us about the way things really are, then it must be subjected to empirical method. We both know it cannot survive that test.
Right, it's not empirical but I would say that it does leverage a modicum of empiricism to access instinctive archetypal, stereotypical, quadratypical, and dodecatypical intuitions.

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So science and mysticism, I think we have need of both. I also think we should keep them within their proper spheres.

I agree, only I feel that we shouldn't insist that the separation is 'really real' because we know that the cosmos, on some level, is also a singularity and not only duality or a multiplicity.
"That which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes–no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe."
- John Archibald Wheeler