Author Topic: desire for the transcendent  (Read 1303 times)

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Offline hypagoga

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2011, 07:07:59 PM »
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What is "consciousness" to you?

something that thinks before it acts

If animals had a "consciousness"  they would not act out of pure instinct, therefore would not kill a person that feed them

Well probably there is where your problem is. Even if that was what consciousness was, many animals think before they act. As for killing the person that feeds them, how is that different from a person betraying/killing someone that helps/feeds them? It doesn't require a lack of forethought to do stupid things.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #30 on: September 29, 2011, 07:11:17 PM »
How do you explain animals that don't kill the person that feeds them, then?
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Offline Babdah

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2011, 07:17:11 PM »
How do you explain animals that don't kill the person that feeds them, then?

Mutual respect???

Quote
Well probably there is where your problem is. Even if that was what consciousness was, many animals think before they act. As for killing the person that feeds them, how is that different from a person betraying/killing someone that helps/feeds them? It doesn't require a lack of forethought to do stupid things.

i think that would be considered impulse maybe?
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Offline Alzael

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2011, 07:30:55 PM »

Mutual respect???

Wouldn't the ability to respect another lifeform be a very good indication of consciousness.

i think that would be considered impulse maybe?

If it can be considered to be simply an "impulse" then the same explanation could apply to the animals you were using as an example. Which means that it fails to be useful as an example for consciousness.

You could have simply admitted this, instead of trying to make poor excuses.
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Offline Babdah

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2011, 07:43:19 PM »

Mutual respect???

Wouldn't the ability to respect another lifeform be a very good indication of consciousness.

i think that would be considered impulse maybe?

If it can be considered to be simply an "impulse" then the same explanation could apply to the animals you were using as an example. Which means that it fails to be useful as an example for consciousness.

You could have simply admitted this, instead of trying to make poor excuses.

if you never fail then, how can you learn?  if animal behavior is like this would it not be proper to say that some people are like this also? therefore if you say that society has nothing to do with would be correct and therefore punishment will not correct them, only make them more violent?
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Offline Alzael

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2011, 07:59:47 PM »

if you never fail then, how can you learn?

Not what I asked. I asked you why you didn't just admit that you failed, instead of continuing to try to make justifications for a failed point. You learn by admitting that you failed and then correcting it. Not continuing on with the same behaviour. So this question, as well, fails. Perhaps you'll actually learn this time.


 if animal behavior is like this would it not be proper to say that some people are like this also?

No, because you used it as an example of why animals didn't have consciousness. If the same behaviour is in humans and humans are consious, then it can't be an example of a lack of consciousness. If you excuse the human behaviour as impulse, then the argument can also apply to animals, which means that the example you used does not demonstrate a lack of consciousness in animals.

You can say that humans are like that as well, but the argument regarding a lack of consiousness still fails for the exact same reason. All you've said is that humans are essentially animals, which while being true, has little bearing on what it seems you are trying to justify.


 therefore if you say that society has nothing to do with would be correct and therefore punishment will not correct them, only make them more violent?

This also has nothing to do with the point we were talking about. At least keep your thoughts in some semblance of coherence, please.

As to what you said, punishment does not make animals (nor people) more violent in and of itself. It is the manner of punishment that does so.
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Offline Babdah

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2011, 08:11:02 PM »
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I asked you why you didn't just admit that you failed,

Ok i failed

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you are trying to justify.

i am trying to figure out if animal even have one in the first place. if they do do they have rational thought process. were as we do or are they more impulse then rational thought.

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It is the manner of punishment that does so.

how so?
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Offline Alzael

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2011, 08:15:23 PM »

how so?

There's a difference between punishing someone by taking away their tv privileges, and beating them with a stick to within an inch of their lives.

I actually have to explain this to you?
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Offline Babdah

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2011, 08:18:57 PM »
No i understand the difference but then how do people blame it on socity?
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Offline Alzael

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2011, 08:35:39 PM »
No i understand the difference but then how do people blame it on socity?

Because there are many different things that factor into our behaviour, society being one of them.

For example, in a society with a high poverty rate you have people who have little food, no shelter, etc. Being unable, or nearly unable, to satisfy ones basic needs can make a person desperate. Especially if you involve dependants like children.

You see, for a person who has a relatively decent job and an ok place to live, it's an easy thing to say that it's wrong to steal. It's an entirely different thing if you're constantly hungry and living in a urine-stained box in a backalley.. In that sort of position you might see the thought of mugging the next guy you come across in an expensive suit as your only hope of making it to the next day. Whereas a well-off person would have little reason to do such a thing. This is one of the reasons why poverty and crime are so well-linked. Because the society makes people desperate just to survive, and they are more willing to cross moral lines because they think they have no other choice. Then once you've tip-toed over the line once it becomes easier to justify the next big step.

Society is a huge factor into our behaviour. This is why you can stereotype people in different cultures. Canadians (like me) don't behave (on average) the same way that Americans do. Because we live in different societies with different cultures and differing priorities.

There are other large factors as well, family being another one, genetic make-up to an extent, personal experiences, etc.
"I drank what?!"- Socrates

"Dying for something when you know you'll be resurrected is not a sacrifice.It's a parlour trick."- an aquaintance

Philip of Macedon: (via messenger) If we enter Sparta, we will raze all your buildings and ravage all your women.
Spartan Reply: If.

Offline Babdah

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2011, 08:41:41 PM »
No i understand the difference but then how do people blame it on socity?

Because there are many different things that factor into our behaviour, society being one of them.

For example, in a society with a high poverty rate you have people who have little food, no shelter, etc. Being unable, or nearly unable, to satisfy ones basic needs can make a person desperate. Especially if you involve dependants like children.

You see, for a person who has a relatively decent job and an ok place to live, it's an easy thing to say that it's wrong to steal. It's an entirely different thing if you're constantly hungry and living in a urine-stained box in a backalley.. In that sort of position you might see the thought of mugging the next guy you come across in an expensive suit as your only hope of making it to the next day. Whereas a well-off person would have little reason to do such a thing. This is one of the reasons why poverty and crime are so well-linked. Because the society makes people desperate just to survive, and they are more willing to cross moral lines because they think they have no other choice. Then once you've tip-toed over the line once it becomes easier to justify the next big step.

Society is a huge factor into our behaviour. This is why you can stereotype people in different cultures. Canadians (like me) don't behave (on average) the same way that Americans do. Because we live in different societies with different cultures and differing priorities.

There are other large factors as well, family being another one, genetic make-up to an extent, personal experiences, etc.

ok. i get it. any suggestion as to what to read? to learn more about how religion is false ? or just to educate my self about this
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Offline Alzael

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2011, 10:57:19 PM »

ok. i get it. any suggestion as to what to read? to learn more about how religion is false ? or just to educate my self about this

Well Richard Dawkins has some good books on the subject such as the God Delusion. Christopher Hitchens has a lot of good ones as well such as "God is not Great". Also Sam Harris has several good books and Bart Ehram has a lot of good stuff as well.

Really though, what I would actually recommend is to pick a holy book from a religion other than the one you were raised in and read it while thinking about it from the position of a skeptic. Write down all of the questions that come to mind, such as "How do I know this is true?" or "Where is the evidence that this happened?", anything that makes you question what the book says. Then try to see what answers the people of that faith provide for those questions (most of the questions you'll have written down will likely have been asked many times before so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them). Then ask yourself why their answers don't convince you (or why they do).  Also note down whenever it says something that you have a hard time believing and also note why you don't believe it.

Then take whatever holy book is used in the faith you were raised in and apply those same questions to what you read there, trying to be as skeptical as you can (sometimes hard to do when it's your own religion you're thinking about, I know). Then ask for answers from others of the faith (don't answer them yourself, see what others tell you). Then note why they convince or don't convince you. Then compare the two sets of notes, and by that time I think you'll have had a lot of revelations about the nature of religion.
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Offline kcrady

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Re: desire for the transcendent
« Reply #41 on: October 01, 2011, 03:55:22 AM »
If there is no God, we don’t make sense,

What, in your view, is the linkage between "God" (however you define that) and "making sense?"  As far as I can tell, we make as much sense as any other organism or class of objects in Universe.  How, in your theistic cosmology, does a Vampire Squid "make sense?"  How about Toxoplasma gondii?  Tau Ceti?

The unspoken premise of this question is that humans need some sort of external authority to impose "sense-making" upon them.  You have provided no evidence or argumentation indicating why this should be so.  Even if that were the case, what about "God?"  If your concept of "God" happens to be within the conceptual ballpark of the anthropomorphic monotheisms (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) in which "God" is said to be a male personal entity with humanlike thoughts, emotions, desire for status and power ("King of kings and Lord of lords!") and so forth, and his authority is needed to impose things like "sense-making," morality, purpose, and so forth upon us, then your model only kicks the problem back a step.  Who decrees that "God" "make sense?"  Who gives "his"[1] life meaning and purpose?  How can "God" have morality, without a Moral Lawgiver to impose it on "him" from above?

The usual answer--that things like "making sense," meaning, purpose, and morality derive from "God's" nature--may be applied with far greater logical validity to human beings.  For example, take the common moral injunction forbidding theft.  "God" is usually said to, in some sense or other, "own" the Cosmos and everything in it.  I do not know of any theological viewpoint in which it is considered metaphysically possible for a capital-g "God" to steal anything.  Nor would it be possible (apart from metaphor) for anyone or anything to steal from "God."  Even if someone could somehow steal, say, the Andromeda Galaxy from "God," "God" is not in any sense harmed.  How can a prohibition against theft derive from "God" when it isn't even applicable to such an entity? 

The concept of "theft" arises in a specifically human context.  Humans need or want material things (farmland, money, a television) that can be taken from them by other human beings, and this action results in harm to the victim.  Thus, a prohibition against theft makes sense in a human context, but does not make sense in a monotheistic context of "God."[2]  You can go down any list of moral precepts you choose and encounter the same situation; likewise for concepts like "purpose," "meaning of life," and so on.

So, we have no reason to link any notion of "God" to the question of whether humans "make sense" or not. 

so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent?

First of all, I would have to say that genuine longing and desire for the transcendent (however defined) appears to be fairly rare among humans.  Mysticism is a lot of work.  It requires considerable time and sacrifice.  Most people are not willing to give up their car and television (or their farm and oxen in pre-industrial times)--not to mention things like beer, sex, or nice clothes--to live in a monastery contemplating the transcendent.  Or (in a secular scientific context) pursue a degree in astrophysics, mathematics, or physics so that they can dedicate their lives to probing the mysteries of Universe.[3]

How do we even explain human questions for meaning and purpose, or inner thoughts like, why do I feel unfulfilled or empty?

The primary method of survival for humans is tool-making.  Whether you're talking about a Clovis point or a cyclotron, tool-making involves the act of adapting available resources to serve teleological ends.  We make a tool to serve a particular purpose.  While some animals do make and use tools, they do not do so in the wide-ranging way that humans do, and their survival is not wholly dependent on tool-making as ours is.  Humans have a natural tendency to look at Universe through human-colored glasses.[4]  We tend to "see" human-like sapience where it does not exist.[5]  Since we survive by making things "for" various purposes, it is not a great leap to expect that we would look at Universe and ourselves and wonder, "What for?"

Why do we hunger for the spiritual, and how do we explain these longings if nothing can exist beyond the material world?

Again, genuine "hunger for the spiritual" sufficient to motivate a person to actually cultivate mystical experience (spending an hour a day in meditation/tai chi/yoga/Thelemic magickal practice/whatever, monastic life, expensive and/or difficult pilgrimages to sacred sites, etc.) is fairly rare.  Most religious people are content to substitute unquestioning acceptance of the second-hand dogma of clerical institutions (usually the ones that just happen to be prevalent in their local culture) for any sort of "spiritual quest."  This common religiosity usually serves other purposes to a greater degree: community-building, provision of mutual support and charitable aid, tribal identification, a communal moral framework, the ego-gratification that comes with being a member of the One True Faith, a framework for status-seeking and/or finding an Authority to submit to, etc..

Your question also founders on the assumption of a duality between "the spiritual" and "the material world."  A neutrino can shoot through Planet Earth at the speed of light as if Earth isn't even there.  Is the neutrino "material?"  Certain mushrooms that can be weighed on a scale or dried, ground up, and placed in a test tube, can generate profound mystical experiences when ingested.  For that matter, so can entirely synthetic chemicals like lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).  Are they "spiritual?"  Our current best scientific understanding holds that the "stuff" we can see and touch (plus most of the things we can't, like radio waves and gamma rays) constitutes around 4% of the known Cosmos.  The rest is composed of stuff we call "dark matter" and "dark energy."  "Dark matter" apparently responds to and generates gravity similar to normal matter, but it doesn't interact with normal matter or electromagnetic radiation.  If it were so that there were enough different, mutually-interacting types of "dark matter" to constitute life, Jim, but not as we know it, would such incorporeal creatures be "spiritual," or "material?"

Once we dispose of the "material/spiritual" dichotomy, which is slippery at best and false at worst, we're back to the two, basic questions that distinguish atheists from theists: Does any sort of deity/deities exist?  How would we know?
 1. "God" is usually declared to be male, by all-male clerical establishments who base systems of male supremacy and privilege on this notion.  Coincidence?  I think not.
 2. It could make sense in a context of a society of non-omni-attributed polytheistic "gods" and "goddesses" who need/want celestial palaces, magic thunderbolts, and whatnot which could be taken from them by other "gods" and/or "goddesses," but such beings would be in the same place we are when it comes to the question of the "source" of purpose, meaning, morality, and so on.
 3. This despite the fact that you don't have to foreswear beer, sex, or nice clothes to be an astrophysicist--you just have to be willing to work with a lot of scary mathematical equations.
 4. What other-colored glasses could we look at Universe through?
 5. We have received no rain this year.  The rain god must be angry with us, that's why he's not giving us rain.  Maybe we can appease him with sacrifices...
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