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Old 01-31-2007, 09:14 AM   #35
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Re: The Root of all Evil/Trobule With Atheism

Mike Doolittle (Post #34):
It's a theological claim, not a scientific hypothesis.
Once you've made an objective claim, you've made a claim which can be tested by the scientific method. In other words, by positing an objective being, you have crossed the line which supposedly separates science from religion. (I'm using religion as a shorthand.)

If rationality is governed by the laws of our universe, how could scientists test the tenability of elements that are outside of our universe – be it God or the multiverse of String Theory? (I find that especially interesting since String Theory has been around for nearly 50 years, and has yet to produce falsifiable claims).
(I suppose I should mention that I'm not too fond of String Hypothesis precisely because it produces no falsifiable claims.)

They can't. Access to that realm is reserved for to theologians and yourself, as y'all seem to compose most of the folk who assert that anything exists outside the universe. (I'm being sarcastic.)

It's like I said, where science ends an equally refined process does not necessarily begin. Any question which can't be objectively answered by science can't be objectively answered it all. Outside the reach of science there exists only subjectivity and infinite regression, of which your "creative god" is a part.

We can see the tenability in patterns of behavior that encourage a deeper sense of bonding and fellowship than other types of behavior. We see that it fulfills needs we may not be immediately attuned with, but give us a profoundly deeper sense of fulfillment than trying to fulfill other needs.
How is what you described any different from other social animals like penguins? (More on this point below.)

My point original point with this "feel good" business was that claims made outside the reach of science, which I reckon you think are just as valuable, offer no definitives. The criterion by which they are deemed is how good they make us feel good.

I think the fact that religion and spirituality are ubiquitous in human history speaks that people recognize that certain needs are not fulfilled by the selfish and material. And I think the personification of God through mythology is simply an expressive tool that helps people discuss their spiritual intuition.
As to your first claim, I take issue with your reasoning: I don't think how ubiquitous something may have been necessarily speaks to how much of a "need" it is. (Patriarchy is also ubiquitous in human history.) It certainly does not mean that the "need" in question cannot ever be replaced. It has been only relatively recently that we have come to grasp the scope of the material (and even then only in certain cultures), so your claim that it has been historically unfulfilling is presumptuous. Materialism was unfilling throughout most of human history only because we didn't know that what we were in awe about was the material all along.

As to you second, it's no secret that personification is more intuitive than abstraction, but--again--this says nothing as to whether it is true or not. It is counterintuitive to think that the Earth is round; that the Earth orbits the sun; that the sun is a star as average as any dot in the night sky; that we are composed of mostly space; that microorganisms are in our immediate proximity by the trillions; that the life on Earth had evolved; that the Earth itself is billions of years old. The fact that historical gods were invented on specious intuition speaks volumes of the validity of truthiness.

(You've essentially made two "feel good" arguments.)

Well sure, that's because there are both selfish and unselfish human needs, and both material and immaterial human needs. These needs often conflict with each other, and their exact nature varies across culture. Religion need not be an easy answer for all questions of morality, but a guide.
I honestly don't know what you've just said. Could you please elaborate?

Definitions of right and wrong do serve a need, but morality often directly conflicts with our selfish needs. But morality often serves a greater need that transcends our selfish desires. And even in cases that we are serving our greater good through morality, it often isn't through means that can be directly observed or understood. That is, we may have certain instincts that drive us toward selfishness and the passing on of genes, but we also have something that drives us toward cooperation, empathy and even altruism – things that only indirectly contribute to our survival and continued evolution.
What I said was that morality originally evolved because it served an evolutionary need, but now it is a bona fide meme. Morality is like a living thing in that it is subjected to the rules of Darwinism--it will evolve, it will diversify, it will selfishly try to replicate itself. I am saying that morality is selfish insofar as its meme-ness.

Also, there is no doubt that the altruism of which you speak most definitely directly contributed to the survival of our species and they exist, albeit in an evolved form, today. If you did watch the Dawkins documentary then you see how altruism isn't unique to our species. Altruism is quite a common trait within social animals like monkeys or dolphins (the latter of which has been known to save human lives--what could be less selfish than going out of your way to save another species), yet both of those animals managed to overcome their "selfish needs." What I am saying is that your notion that such behavior "only indirectly contribute to our survival and continued evolution" is flat wrong. Altruism as direct a factor to our survival as a bird's wing or a fish's gills.

You're simply unable to reconcile your steadfastly materialistic worldview with a spiritual perspective.
It is not the case that I am "unable" to see the spiritual perspective, rather that you have yet to provide any evidence that such a perspective is worth considering. It is you who keeps talking about the spiritual as if it's this established thing. Its existence may or may not be factual, but you can't start on a premise which you haven't verified--that would be circular.

I don't know how much farther we can take the discussion, because you don't believe anything can be intuitively known or understood. You insist that unless immaterial spirituality meets your criteria of material tangibility, it should be discarded. That's simply not what spirituality is.
If by "material tangibility" you mean evidence, then yes. Whatever can be called intuitive gives only a narrow and bias view of the reality of the universe, yet you're so willing to vouch for it. Why? Truthiness just isn't reliable.

Last edited by Nicato; 01-31-2007 at 02:19 PM.
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