02-04-06 2:22This, Thus, Now

Anjali: I have my beliefs, and you have yours.

So?

Anjali: The difference seems to be that you think that yours are universal facts, whereas I acknowledge that mine are my own beliefs.

There are no universal facts other than the universe itself. Facts are discrete and actual. My beliefs are based on reality where possible: facts, observation, direct experience, etc. Where that is not possible they are based on reason and understanding derived from reality and intuitions based on experience of reality.

You claim your beliefs are based on god. I claim that is untrue because you cannot produce that god, therefore you cannot actualy base anything on that god. What you have are the fantasies of your prophets, who are just people.

But lets suppose for a second that there is a creator god just as you claim. There is one and only one artifact of his which would be genuinely his without a doubt and not some madman's fantasy: reality itself. You waste your time looking at books and reading prophets when you could be examining your god's WORD directly - like I do.

Facts are the only scripture of such a god.
Observation and direct experience are the only way to find him.
Physics is the best we have come to translating his language.

If you seek the god you claim, it is right in front of your nose and the term "god" is actually insufficient.

As I told Nolen: This, Thus, Now.


02-03-06 2:22Atheism and Ethics

Steve: Excuse me, but you claim to be an athiest. That means you have issues justifying your ethics.

Atheism is not an ethical philosophy. In fact it is not a philosophy at all. It is just a denial of the theist claim that their god exists.

That is it. That is all. There is nothing else to it.

Now there are atheists who do more than that. Brights, secular humanists, pragmatists, naturalists, materialists, hedonists, etc. But all of that, while it includes atheism, is not itself atheism or a requirment for atheism.

Steve: Ethics ought to be your primary concern after having chosen atheism because doing so would establish atheist's bounds within your life.

Here is a tip. "Ought to" is usually followed by something which the person speaking would like to impose, but which is not actually relevant. For example, "ought to be the primary concern" means it actually isn't.

Steve: It sounds like your justification of your ethics is based on the pride of having them. Your motivations are competative in nature.

Like all humans I am both competitive and cooperative in nature.

Steve: You don't have any moral requirement, because you are what chooses and justifies ethics as an atheist.

I determine my ethics not as an atheist, but as myself. I am the one ultimately responsible.

I have found I trust the guidance of certain philosophies: Zen, Epicurus, pragmatism, various epics, legends and traditions. I also have found certain people I trust and respect as an example: certain friends, mentors, my sweety, my parents and siblings. But ultimately it is my personal understanding and choice which guides me.

Steve: I'm merely pointing out that none of the ethics you would uphold by fighting the oppressor...

Who said I would fight the oppressor? Fighting is part of the oppression.

Steve: ...is nessessary from your ethical requirement as an atheist.

It is neither necessary nor unnecessary; atheism has nothing to do with ethics.

Steve: You said, "Atheism is not an ethical philosophy. In fact it is not a philosophy at all."

You're either speaking a completely different language or you need to go back to school and study philosophy over again.

Yes, I'm speaking as a philosopher and someone who has studied philosophy and atheism.

But let's do some checking.

===========
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, a nice reference by the way, lists Atheism as a doctrine that there is no god.

A couple dictionaries:
atheism n.
1. 1. Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.
2. The doctrine that there is no God or gods.
2. Godlessness; immorality.

atheism n
1: the doctrine or belief that there is no God
2: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

Wiki: Atheism, in its broadest sense, is an absence of belief in any deities. That is, all who do not have such a belief whether they are nontheists, agnostics, or even Buddhists are covered under this term. ... Although atheists often share common concerns regarding empirical evidence and the scientific method of investigation and a large number are skeptics, there is no single ideology that all atheists share. Additionally, there are atheists who are religious or spiritual, though many of these would not describe themselves as atheists.

Atheism web: Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods....But isn't disbelieving in God the same thing as believing he doesn't exist? Definitely not. Disbelief in a proposition means that one does not believe it to be true. Not believing that something is true is not equivalent to believing that it is false; one may simply have no idea whether it is true or not...Beware of assuming that you can work out someone's philosophical point of view simply from the fact that she calls herself an atheist or an agnostic...So what is the philosophical justification or basis for atheism? There are many philosophical justifications for atheism. To find out why a particular person chooses to be an atheist, it's best to ask her.

===========

So I see no immediate basis for your claim that atheism is a philosophy in and of itself. There are definantely atheistic philosophies, I even mentioned a few, but that does not make atheism itself a philosophy by any stretch of the imagination.

Steve: Having any opinion at all is a philosophy.

Hardly.

Philosophy is first and foremost a love of wisdom. (lit. Philo = love + Sophia = Godess of wisdom) The expresion which this love takes is a deep consideration and reflection upon the nature of wisdom, knowledge, experience and thought.

It is the considered life.

Having an opinion may start you on the path, but it is only the barest movement of a toe. Where you take that opinion is what determines if it is to become a philosophy.

Steve: Atheism is a general term that applys to the branches of philosophy that you mentioned...

No, atheism is a specific term which has little or no application in many branches of philosophy. Atheism is mainly a concern for theology.

Steve: Just as a theist can just be a Theist without further definition in his philosophy so can an Atheist.

Again you are attempting to assign meanings to the terms which they do not possess. I appreciate that you have decided this makes sense to you, but you must either demonstrate why I should allow such non-standard usage or you should stop objecting when I dismiss it.

You can't just redifine the language without substantiating the need for specialized jargon.

Steve: If you choose to have no further opinion to define your reasonings then to stop thinking into it at that point IS the definition of your philosophy whether you admit it or not.

My philosophy is not theology-centered, so deities and the imaginings of deities have little to do with it. There is nothing to preclude me from worshipping an honest-to-god deity, should I ever find one, and it lets me know it would like to be worshipped. Heck, I've been known to go through the motions just to check it out. Curiosity is central to my philosophical view as an inherant virtue.

You may find the lack of theological concern troubling. You may find it incredible considering I'm well educated in the matter. But really, these seem like your problems and not mine. My philosophy is nicely suited to me and it is sufficiently well-developed that that it garners respect from those whose opinions matter to me.

Steve: What the hell even motivaes you, Swarm?

Go to my profile, read my writings. It's pretty self-evident.

Steve: Figure that out and tell us and you will have clearly followed my advice to all atheists by doing so.

How pompus.

It may come as a shock, but I have figured a thing or two out in my day and am telling you. It is making you listen and understand which is beyond my power.

Steve: What is it about ending oppression for others (an "ethical" act in itself) that would justify your motivation to do so other than your own pride?

First, simply because an effect is something you find ethical, that doesn't mean that the causes were necessarily ethically motivated. Oppression is such a pervasive social ill, the motivations for its elimination can be many and varied. For example it could be due to economic reasons or political expediency.

Oddly enough, while I'm not bothered by pride the way many religious people are, it is more a personal and private motivation and not usually a driving motivation for social work for me. Oppression rails against my sense of fair play and I can see the pernicious and insidious harm it causes everyone who comes in contact with it, oppressed and oppressor alike. So I would say both my sense of justice and compassion would be more central than my sense of pride.

If pride were to come into play, it would be as a factor in not participating as either an oppressor or as one oppressed.

Steve: So your justification/philosophy/motivation are a mix of thinking and feeling then. What you can't justify with logic, you choose to deny any requirement to. It makes a little sense. You're probably not the worst person who thinks that way.

I'm certainly relieved I'm not the "worst person who thinks that way."

My philosophy is a mix in much the same way an F-18 is a mix. It covers all aspects of my persona, including thinking and feeling.

Allow me to be so bold as to suggest that if you approach your, and other's, emotional life via logic, you are going to be very unhappy. Logic is a nice tool for certain kinds of symbolic analysis, but it sucks for understanding people, even yourself.

Steve: What possible motivation do you have for not commiting suicide?

Don't need to yet.

Steve: You said, "atheism has nothing to do with ethics." That is where you are completely wrong.

Easy to assert, difficult to prove.

Steve: Anything you believe in has everything to do with the ethics you choose to live by, or not live by as the case may be.

Not really. And speaking of logic, this kind of loosey-goosey "anything you believe in has everything to do with the ethics" type of statement is a misuse of the terms "anything" and "everything," not to mention being very imprecise and unimpressive thinking.

Steve: And also, anything that is not necessary is either unecessary or impossible.

Again, not only is this blatantly untrue, it points to a serious lack of understanding of the difference between necessary and sufficient.

Steve: You're not going to tell me that ethics for or defined by atheism is impossible, are you? If you are then I not only disagree with you, but I pity you.

Quite a number of ethical systems incorperate the doctrine of atheism, I even mentioned a few. That still doesn't make atheism an ethical system.

I recommend saving all your pity for yourself, I think you are going to need it.

Further, you really should actually bother to learn something about atheism, ethics and philosophy.


02-02-06 3:38Steven Harrison

Via: I've been reading this guy named Steven Harrison, who talks about post-spirituality, post-seeking, post-ALL ideas and conceptual constructions. It is, to put it mildly, blowing my mind.

He says, "The end of spirituality is simply the realization that the perspective that seeks resolution is the problem, and this cannot be solved, created as it is by the illusion of separation, which is thought itself."

I'm not trying to give you a hard time here, but what he presents feels like just talk or idle speculation.

Has he done this? Does he know it and can he teach it?

Words form brilliant and dazzling patterns, but it is the mud where the lotus grows.

Via: Would you be more impressed if you knew his credentials?

I tend to avoid basing anything on credentials in these kinds of matters.

If he sees clearly, he sees clearly.
If he truly understands then he can explain it in every word and action that he expresses.

In general I have found excessive complexity is a cover for incomplete understanding.

Or more precisely: He knows that he knows without fully understanding so he covers by trying to make it so complex you'll think it is you that doesn't understand.

The buddha captured it in a single flower.

His book is a poor imitation of that simple and precise statement.

Via: You said, "Has he done this?" I'm not sure why that matters.

It is all that matters.

Via: Like anything written or spoken about - his book can't be the ultimate, but only the symbol for it.

That is exactly why it matters so much. It is so difficult to convey that the ones who have fully apprehended and realized it can barely convey it with all their capacity.

He can play with the symbols, but that's just a game if he has nothing behind the play.


02-02-06 3:33God and suffering

Stuart: Everyone says that God gives suffering to play a role in shaping lives. I say it is an imperfect system. I would set up a system whereby you grew and were positively shaped only by things that were pleasurable.

Perfect and imperfect are value judgements.

Reality is neither perfect nor imperfect. It just is.

Suffering sucks but it is part of the whole.

It is also, at least in part, relative to the person's appreciation. You could never eliminate it without eliminating all who have the capacity to appreciate.

No god creates suffering. Not liking what is and wanting what isn't is what creates suffering.

Stuart: Why do our lives need shaping?

Because we are self-organized goo.


02-02-06 3:33Getting through God

Nolen: I'm a contrarian. But I've read your writing and you know, I find almost nothing to disagree with here.

Its the pragmatist aspect of my belief system. Its hard to object if I succeed in limiting myself to what actually works.

Nolen: If I hold that the mystic insight was a thing of value in and of itself (and I do)...

I do not hold that value exists as an intrinsic property of any aspect of reality. Value is inherantly a relationship established by a valuer.

Nolen: ...that it has a positive effect on the human experience...

Agian I don't find that a positive effect can be an inherant property. Positive is a relative property even if one argues that it has an inherant direction. The most I could agree with is that so far you have found it to have value and you have found its effect to be positive. Unfortunately not every one is you and they may not agree with your assesment.

Nolen: ...couldn't I logically take the position that the 'god concept' as a metaphor and arguably a pathway to that mystic insight has value?

Has value for you, under certain circumstances, as a metaphor? Sure I see no problem there.

I'm just saying that when you reach the other side, it is time to get out of the boat and leave it behind.

Metaphors conceal as much as they reveal and the point of the mystic experience is direct, unmediated apprehension. You can't do that if you are stuck in a metaphor, even a good one, even one you will pick back up once you return.

I should warn you, all of the cool stuff is on the other side of all you fear including your own extinction, surrender, submition, wrongdoing, even death and despair. Facing and passing that is always one of the tests. It is always a bitch. Have courage and trust. You can do it and you get to keep at it as long as you are willing. I don't know if this will help, but fear is empty. Go straight through the middle of the worst.


02-02-06 2:30Supernatural & Science

Tehara: Isn't God defined in terms of the supernatural?

Yes, but what does that actually mean?

"Supernatural" is just a fancy way of saying it is either not real or not understood.

Science is eminantly capable of handling what is not understood, if it falls within its scope, and it doesn't care about what is not real.

"God" is just a fancy way of anthropomorphising what is not real or not understood (often, so as to provide a convenient authority figure and scapegoat.)

Again, science is eminantly capable of handling what is not understood, if it falls within its scope, and it doesn't care about what is not real.

For what falls outside the scope of science, one can attempt to use other techniques and see if there is any fruitful understanding, particularly if that then produces a means of scientific verification at least in part. Indian yogis and buddhist masters have been working with scientists for decades to develop this kind of verification and it has produced some very interesting conclusions. They definately have a "there" to what they do.

Tehara: Wouldn't the attempt to define God according to scientific reason and analysis be impossible?

Again that is putting the cart before the horse.

Show science what you have. It will observe, measure, analyze, conclude, verify and only then will it attempt to define.

Defining what is unknown just camoflages the fact that you don't know.


02-01-06 1:30What is Real?

Dr. Robert: So are you of the opinion that the only real experience or knowledge of a thing comes from what can be scientifically proven or substantiated?

First lets clear up the scope of science.

Science is limited to that which can be observed, measured and replicated. If any one of those is lacking then the applicability of science is diminished and called into question. Also, as we were discussing, each of those processes are subject to a degree of error. Finally, there is an influencial context of established and accepted understanding.

Obviously this means that which cannot be observed, measured or replicated and happens outside the context of established and accepted understanding and is the most elusive to scienentific research.

As a part of this endevor of science, a methodology arose for deriving knowledge which was truly extrodinary.

The first methodology for deriving knowledge was obesience to authority. This is still used in most religions and unfortunately it sucks.

The second methodology was the application of reason. This worked very well in some instances, but it had a big problem. As a purely mental function there was no easy way to distinguish well-seeming but actually false conclusions from unpleasant but true conclusions. It just seemed so reasonable that a heavy object should fall faster.

The third methodology was rely on observation. Look and see what is out there and then figure out what you saw. But always give primacy to the observation of actual reailty no matter what you thought should have been happening.

Almost all disagreements about reality are actually proponents of these three methodologies duking it out for the mindspace.

Any mention of god is obviously a demand for obesience to someone pretending to have the ultimate authority.

The battle between reason and observation can be more subtle. The empiricist uses reason to make sense of his observations. The rationalist knows it is unreasonable to ignore the evidence of his senses. It really boils down to the issue of primacy. For the empiricist nothing happens before the observation and nothing can dispute the observation. It is the standard by which all conclusions are made.

A rationalist begins with an idea. He only turns to observation when it is called for through an application of reason.

Mathamatics is a rational endevor. Physics (well, ordinary physics) is an empirical endevor.

Of course, no one is purely any of these and often one may slop back and forth as necessity or laziness dictates. To quickly stereotype me, you could think of me as a secular-zen-hedonist-pragmatist-naturalist-mystic.

Dr. Robert: So are you of the opinion that the only real experience or knowledge of a thing comes from what can be scientifically proven or substantiated?

Back to the question.

I would say the question is framed within in a rationalist view which renders it unintelligable to me.

Real experience coming from what can be proven is backwards.

What is real is already manifest, self-evident and irrefutable.

Only what is real can experience or be experienced. At the moment science is the best approach for deriving knowledge from that experience if it falls within science's scope.

Its claims about what is real that must be substanciated via actual experience, perferably a refined scientific experience, but not necessarily.

There are valid rational and mystic approaches for having and analyzing experiences which are not valid subjects for direct scientific inquiry. These approaches aren't as rigorous though, and so if there is any overlap, scientific double-checking is a good idea. Ultimately any actual knowledge is tied to actual facts which are manifest aspects of reality. This keeps everything ultimately grounded and substantiated.

Anything else is fantasy, i.e. symbolic representations which lact any firm basis in fact.

Or, as those zen guys are always going off about: This! Thus! Now!

Later...

Stuart: By your definitions, Swarm, Dr. Robert is just asking if you are an empiricist. Now you deem his question irrelevant. So, huh?

I didn't deem it irrelevant. I first attempted to answer what I thought he was trying to ask and then I showed why I couldn't answer exactly what he did ask.

For a rationalist knowledge preceeds all. Cogito, ergo sum.

His question is phrased so that it implies a rational primacy - the only real experience or knowledge of a thing comes from what can be scientifically proven or substatiated - i.e. you are proving reality.

But that is absurd. Reality needs no proof because it actually is. Thus you observe what is, then prove that you understood what you saw.


01-30-06 1:30Doing the Mating Dance

Anne Marie complimented all the male members of the Tribe one by one, and was soon awash in thanks and return compliments.

Anne Marie: You are all sweeties but can I get you guys to say something nice about each other now?

Doubtful.

Saying something nice about everybody is a dominant female portion of the mating dance.

Basically you've just claimed that position.

What you said is "Every body in the tribe is nice and virile.

Let's stop posturing now and get down to boinking."

You might be able to get another female to step up, you internet women tend to have stronger verbal dominant trends than average.

But in 20 years on the net I've never seen a guy give every one a spontaneous compliment, person by person, includung the ones he thinks are doinks, unless he was seriously shamed into it first.

I've only seen follow up lists from gals, and then only infrequently.

The standard is just what you see here. A list of responses acknowledging your position and doing some virtual rebonding.

Even knowing the game, my gut is still saying "just compliment every one? - Ugh!"

Guys dole out complements one at a time after getting mentally sweaty and tousseling around for a while. Usually they are subtle marks of respect, to the point of being barely even visible for the most part. Some times they are very intense direct exchanges, but then every one has to back off for a while.

Of course explaining it like this may be perceived as a gauntlet so we might see one of the guys give it a try. :)

So you might want to imagine a bit of satisfied preening as every one realizes we're on the same team and it's been acknowledged the guys are full of prowess and the women are well worth vying for.

It may seem silly and archaic, but its been that way for millions of years so its a hard habit to shake.

Anne Marie: Oh I see...so it is the mating dance I am doing here?

You aren't eating. You aren't sleeping. Men are posturing.

What did you think was going on?

Anne Marie: is that what gets you going... a nice compliment?

A nice compliment gets any one past puberty going. There is nothing sexier or more alluring.
Why do you think they are rarer than compassionate conservatives?
Dangerous stuff.

Anne Marie: Honey...all i got to say is you are way too easy.

Am I? Which gets you hot? When your sweety insults you, ignores you, or pays you sincere complements?

Trust me, all the people who weren't easy deselected from the gene pool millions of years ago.

Anne Marie: I didn't say everyone was nice... rather I was...

I didn't say you said they were nice, I said you said something nice about them.

That counts, obviously, since the whole crew immediately fell to.

So, why you do you think you did what you did?

Anne Marie: getting (clearing throat) soft

That's the spirit.

Later...

Anne Marie: Silly me...I thought we were having a religious discussion.

Go back to your first post in this thread and highlight the religious bit, I must have missed it.

Anne Marie: You said, which gets me going, ignoring or complements : None of the above.

You are cute when you are in denial.

Anne Marie: Oh, I don't know why I was doing it...

When you don't know that generally means more primitive portions of the brain were driving the behavior which generally means food, rest, survival, or sex. This is troubling to the conscious mind so it does a lot of backfilling to the story to keep the illusion of being in charge.

Current research is questioning whether that part of the mind is ever actually in charge though. It certainly isn't in charge anything close to all the time.

Since we are complex social animals almost all social interactions relate to sex one way or another because not only is it fun, it was about the only fun for a really long time. This of course doesn't mean that everything is only about sex, but you can bet it isn't more than a step or two behind.

To bring it full circle, controlling sex is the number one hook of all religions.

Anne Marie: If I had known I was dancing I would have worn my coin bra...

You are always dancing Anne.

Life loves sex.

It's in your blood and why you are alive.

It takes really twisted and mean-spirited death cult, like say the various Abrahamic "faiths," to shut down and pervert that simple fact.


01-29-06 1:49Uncertainty Principal

Nolen: I understand Heisenberg's microscope, but my reading is that Heisenberg himself took the principal of uncertainty into the discussion of potentialities. That is, staying with photons, they are in a state of quantum flux. Potentially, both wave and particle. By observing, we snap them out of that flux into one or the other of those realities.

By the time you actually observe anything it is ancient history. Photons bounce around, neurons get excited, data is preprocessed and get's cued behind what you had for lunch and if you think the lab assistant is hot. Finally your conscious notices something may have happened and by then most of what you remember is back fill. Truly, the observing part is totally incidental. We just get excited because we happen to be the ones doing it, but that was whole milliseconds ago. The original photons are half way to Nebraska.

Now setting up an observation, that may influence things, or not - it depends on what is happening and how you plan to observe it later.

But all this observing stuff is a red herring. The uncertainty lies in the fact that one cannot, even theoretically, avoid error.

Philosophically this is very reassuring. It means science is always uncertain past a certain point. In effect there will always be a bit of don't know hanging around. It means trying to be right is futile. The best that can be done is to be less wrong than the last time.

Dr. Robert: I could not have stated this better. That has been the main point of my arguments on this thread and others.

Nolen: At the end of the day, you really haven't gotten to the underlying question of whether there is an objective reality.

At the end of the day, you still are the underlying reality along with everything else.

Nolen: Can we get past the question of positive delusion vs. objective reality?

The delusion is objective vs. subjective. We may not fully understand reality as it is, but there is nothing else which actually is. If the delusion is, then it, itself, is pulled from reality no matter what we may think of it.

Nolen: If there is an objective reality, you might reduce it to the point that your data does not speak to the essential question.

There are questions, but there is no essential question. Questions proceed from reality. They depend on it, it does not depend on them.

You can reduce your data to the point that it is meaningless by exceeding your capacity to measure, but again the data proceeds from reality. Reality is not dependent on the quality of your data.

Nolen: You said, "...but there is nothing else which actually is."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that this was the very thing that we were trying to determine. Not much use in wasting time experimenting if we already have decided on the answer...

The experiements are to determine how it works and what its nature is.

That it is, is a given if you are experimenting with it.

You cannot experiment (observe, measure or manipulate) with what is not.

Experimentation is empirical and therefore limited to what is.

Now you may be confusing experimenting with speculation.

Speculation is a rational endevor and therefore can *symbolically* examine what is not.

One can then attempt to experimentally disprove those speculations (experiments are generally designed to disprove) by observing, measuring and/or manipulating what is.

Just to round it out, the final methodology is the apprehension of the mystic.