1. Standard memberknightmeister
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    16 Jun '07 17:08
    If I may indulge you for a few minutes.....?

    Imagine a room with 20 doors in it you go in and deliberate this way and that which door to walk through. You can see the doors around you but you are aware of the force of determinism pulling at you. You know logically you are a machine , a computer of meat , how can you not be at the mercy of physical laws? How can evolution and it's purposes not have it's way with you? You feel the forces of the natural world pulling at you , desire , ego , fear , thoughtless revenge , war , lust , violence , greed. If you give in to these forces you can potentially become an unthinking animal capable of heinous crimes of humanity. Robotic , irrational and driven by instincts for instant gratification and self preservation.

    You also know that many men have done this . Determinism cannot ensure that humanity is compassionate. We simply have to believe that we are making real choices between real and possible alternatives . It is how we live our lives. It is not inevitable that you will live a life of love. Men have descended into various levels of brute inhumanity , treating others as mere objects , playthings , torture , sadistic entertainment , even food. Your biology rebels against what in your heart you desire , you want to live a life of compassion , rationality , humanity , love , but you have a fight on your hands . How are you to escape? How are you to be more than just a robot following instinct and the dictates of evolution which says "survival of the fittest"?

    In the room you are haunted by your conscience which seems to say to you that there are other ways to live. An inner voice from somewhere seems to say "you don't have to be subject to nature , you can be more than this" . You know that everyday there is a choice to live according to this voice of conscience and it's not easy , it's a struggle and it takes an act of will. Sometimes it's hard , very very hard and you are aware that it would be soooo easy just to give in to determinism and not battle with your own physical nature. Sometimes you do give in and you feel bad because you are aware you betrayed your real nature AND you didn't have to betray it. Your conscience is persistent and will not let you off the hook unless you make a conscioius effort , and act of will , to silence it or muffle it. You know when you choose your conscience over other warring desires that pull at you , you feel stronger and more powerful as if there really is something that is helping you do the right thing. But it would have been so easy to not do the right thing and your conscience does not always force you either , you have to make your own mind up which door you will choose.

    You feel the tension of these real alternatives before you. You are in a real crucible of moral choice and responsibility . This is no computer game of choice , this is real . The program is not set. But you are not forced to rebel , you can hide amongst the herd mentality if you wish. You feel truely alive because you sense that door 13 is as real a possibility as door 20 . But you are caught between making a robotic reflexive or unthinking decision or following your higher nature and doing something less predictable ( like standing in front of a tank or being prepared to be shot to gain civil rights for your people or something more down to earth like standing up for a homeless man when all around you are mocking him). There is a life you can live and you may or may not live it. You are free to will it!!! If you will it you will be given the resources to do it. If not then you will stay stuck in determinism .

    The worm however does not stay in the room at all and does not deliberate or reason or show self awareness . It simply wriggles up the stairs behind door 6. It must do what it must do. It has no dilemma or conscience.It would never occur to it to rebel against the nature forces within it's own body. More than this it has no ability to do so. It is not haunted by something other. It has no real free will to be anything more than what it is. We do.

    So you walk up door 20 and reach the ceiling and look back at door 13 . It had your name written on it also. It could have happened. You could have chosen door 13. But you chose door 20. How? Because you allowed something else to mess around with your nature , you surrendered to it and it changed you . It called your name and asked if you wanted to keep your nature or let yourself die and be transformed. You were not forced because this voice did not come from nature nor was it deterministic. Your humanity with all it's compassion and beauty and love was allowed to grow and blossom...but oh how easy it would have been to have been to have stayed a weed. You could have also freely willed against it too.


    (and if you would like a different way of looking at this you might like to look at this link....)

    http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=7565098915496889282&q=u2+wide+awake&total=21&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=0
  2. Standard memberagryson
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    16 Jun '07 17:52
    You seem to speak of the 'conscience' as if it is not a result of deterministic evolution. You also seem to be saying that deterministic evolution is in some way a bad thing and that we must break free from the deterministic 'choices' presented to us and in some way transcend instinctual responses in order to achieve free will, something you posit can not exist in a deterministic universe.
    Your view of evolution is that of Darwin, a simplified survival of the fittest interpretation when in fact evolutionary theories have moved on somewhat. Being social creatures, it is to the benefit of the species (and thus its genome) that some members of that species sacrifice themselves for the greater good, such as your tank example, and that it is plausible that what we call the conscience evolved to use the enormous computational power of our brains to make moral and ethical decisions which base instincts can not, thus protecting the genome through self-sacrifice and using all of the resources available to the individual to promote their genome.
    Choosing which door becomes a simple computation based on the information at hand, and developing the analogy, any choice is thus a computation of the available information for the best possible outcome. The reasons for choosing a non-optimal strategy are numerous, but ultimately will be weeded out by evolution improving our ability to make such decisions, or if we are unsuitable tot he environment we are in, the species will perish leaving an environmental niche for whatever will come after us.
    While it is an interesting philosophical game to discuss determinism (am I choosing my words or are they an inevitable result of my upbringing and environment along with my genetic coding and biological chemistry) the discussion ultimately has no satisfying end result for all parties and cannot be logically approached without going around in circles.
    Thus, I do choose to simply live life, let determinism have its wicked way with me and concentrate on making the best of what I have, or at least believing I am doing so.
    In this way, if it is a deterministic universe, at least I'm not depressing myself with the pointlessness of it all, whereas if it is not a deterministic universe, I still live a full and happy life making free choices without having to be certain they are free.
    If that's comparable to being a worm, then so be it, they knock the socks off nihilism.
  3. Standard memberknightmeister
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    16 Jun '07 19:19
    Originally posted by agryson
    You seem to speak of the 'conscience' as if it is not a result of deterministic evolution. You also seem to be saying that deterministic evolution is in some way a bad thing and that we must break free from the deterministic 'choices' presented to us and in some way transcend instinctual responses in order to achieve free will, something you posit can not ex ...[text shortened]... .
    If that's comparable to being a worm, then so be it, they knock the socks off nihilism.
    A very intelligent response. I like the way you phrase things objectively and clearly. It seems as if you are uninterested as to whether we really do live in a deterministic universe or not? In a sense your philosophy sounds very much like pascal's wager in the way you talk about it. You see yourself as edging your bets on something that cannot be known , to live life as if we do make real choices in the hope that that might be the way it really is. My view is that experientially everything points to free will and I trust my senses over theorising . We cannot live authentically as fatalists but also I think it's not logical to think that we live in an entirely deterministic universe.
  4. Standard memberagryson
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    16 Jun '07 20:081 edit
    Originally posted by knightmeister
    A very intelligent response. I like the way you phrase things objectively and clearly. It seems as if you are uninterested as to whether we really do live in a deterministic universe or not? In a sense your philosophy sounds very much like pascal's wager in the way you talk about it. You see yourself as edging your bets on something that cannot be know ...[text shortened]... but also I think it's not logical to think that we live in an entirely deterministic universe.
    It is not that I am uninterested, far from it. I agree with your point that I'm probably just hedging my bets, but not in hope, it's more just that I've come to a personal realisation that it is the best reaction in either case, I obtain all of the benefits of a free choice universe, while avoiding the many disadvantages of a deterministic one. (In the sense that I avoid the feeling of helplessness that is bound to be there and not of course actually avoiding the other nasty little things a deterministic universe would provide, such as a random and meaningless death or illness)
    Your point on experiential evidence is a good one, but being a scientist, I've been trained to avoid trusting intuition and senses completely, though we're not exactly dealing with something that's scientifically verifiable!
    In a way, in this case I too am just coasting with my sensory experience and intuition when I act as if there's no determinism. In a way, you could say we've taken door number 20!


    Edit... of course the death or illness would not really be random, but it would be meaningless, you know what I mean.
  5. Standard memberknightmeister
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    16 Jun '07 20:38
    Originally posted by agryson
    It is not that I am uninterested, far from it. I agree with your point that I'm probably just hedging my bets, but not in hope, it's more just that I've come to a personal realisation that it is the best reaction in either case, I obtain all of the benefits of a free choice universe, while avoiding the many disadvantages of a deterministic one. (In the sense ...[text shortened]... r illness would not really be random, but it would be meaningless, you know what I mean.
    Your point on experiential evidence is a good one, but being a scientist, I've been trained to avoid trusting intuition and senses completely, though we're not exactly dealing with something that's scientifically verifiable!

    RESPONSE==

    However , it is not just our own personal experience it is the experience of most of mankind. As humans we behave and live as if we don't live in a deterministic universe . Fatalism is not the norm and is generally seen as evading our human responsibility to shape our own destinies. Therefore it is much more than just 'intuition' , it is a sociological and psychological phenomenon which exists. The question is does this phenomenon correspond to the universe or is it nature's trick on man? I'm going for the former.
  6. Standard memberagryson
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    16 Jun '07 21:13
    However similar arguments were used to explain why the earth was flat, or even more recently to prove that light was a wave as opposed to a particle (when neither is true). We cannot completely trust our senses because in both of the cases above, be it intuition in the case of the photon, or psycho-sociological in the case of the flat earth (there were religious undertones at the time) our senses can be misleading because they rely on things remaining as they are and continuing as they have been.
    Such an argument can be effective, and is always a good starting point, but I cannot allow myself to trust them implicitly beyond what I know to be true. In the case of determinism, I cannot know it to be true or false, and thus can never rely on my experience of the world around me as evidence of one or the other.
    My experience is just that, an experience, which could potentially have been formed by means I do not yet understand and as such I do not want to be fooled by my senses into believing something that I have no good reason to believe.
  7. Standard memberagryson
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    17 Jun '07 19:46
    There is an interesting experiment that I would like you to consider. It was first mathematically postulated and the theory has since been held up by several particle accelerator studies. (Though philosophically, it is true that it can never be proven absolutely, it's just that a lot of physics stops working if you assume it to be false)
    I have an atom with one excited electron. When this electron falls from it's higher energy, it releases a photon corresponding to the energy lost by the electron. Now lets play that in reverse, I have a photon and it strikes an atom, this excites one of the electrons to a higher energy state corresponding to the energy of the photon.
    These events are both the exact same except that time has been reversed. Incidentally, this is also true for particle anti-particle pairs. An electron meets a positron and both are annihilated producing a gamma ray equal to the combined mass energy of the two particles. This too can be played backwards, where a photon becomes a particle antiparticle pair.
    The result is that when trying to predict the result of a particle accelerator experiment, one uses 'Feynman diagrams' which represent antiparticles as normal particles moving backwards in time. The same is true of our atom example, the physics works equally well regardless of the direction of time, suggesting that while we may experience time linearly, these particles don't 'see' time, the future and the past do not exist, all that has and will happen has already come to be.
    If we make the assumption that there is a way to translate this quantum example into the macro scale (which is not an unreasonable assumption) then what effect would this have on the concept of free will?
  8. Cape Town
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    18 Jun '07 07:33
    Originally posted by knightmeister
    You feel the forces of the natural world pulling at you , desire , ego , fear , thoughtless revenge , war , lust , violence , greed. If you give in to these forces you can potentially become an unthinking animal capable of heinous crimes of humanity. Robotic , irrational and driven by instincts for instant gratification and self preservation.
    Those sentences just contradict themselves so many times that I didn't bother reading the rest of the post. You clearly haven't even bothered to think before writing.
    I mean 'robotic' and 'irrational' one after the other? What are you thinking?
    Desire , ego , fear , thoughtless revenge , war , lust , violence , greed are forces of nature? No wonder you are so scared of being a natural being.
    What is "thoughtless revenge" anyway? Surely you must 'think' to get to 'revenge'. Revenge is in fact a sign of intelligence.

    I find a rational natural world so much more likely and meaningful than your spirit generated random choice mechanism that you believe in. You must feel so helpless having the Holy Spirit generate those random choices for you all the time and then leaving you with all the blame.
  9. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 07:55
    Originally posted by agryson
    However similar arguments were used to explain why the earth was flat, or even more recently to prove that light was a wave as opposed to a particle (when neither is true). We cannot completely trust our senses because in both of the cases above, be it intuition in the case of the photon, or psycho-sociological in the case of the flat earth (there were relig ...[text shortened]... t want to be fooled by my senses into believing something that I have no good reason to believe.
    However , I would argue that it is an inescapable human trait that we end up having to live our lives based on some things which we don't know if they are 100% true or not. Your expereince of free will may or may not be an indicator of some deeper reality to life. You cannot know , but you make a decision anyway , we all do.

    I don't think the comparison with the flat earth idea works very well because it's very very hard to see how the human experience of making real choices between real alternatives is going to be proved false. Even if determinism is proven,humans are not going to become fatalists easily. It's too embedded in everything it is to be human.
  10. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 08:19
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Those sentences just contradict themselves so many times that I didn't bother reading the rest of the post. You clearly haven't even bothered to think before writing.
    I mean 'robotic' and 'irrational' one after the other? What are you thinking?
    Desire , ego , fear , thoughtless revenge , war , lust , violence , greed are forces of nature? No wonder you ...[text shortened]... e those random choices for you all the time and then leaving you with all the blame.
    An excellent attempt at misrepresentation!

    Do you not agree that the forces of anture and evolution are essentially discompassionate and unfeeling? Self preservation , competition (between races , gene pools) , survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold . It cares not for the individual (whether disabled or frail) . Nature says might is right and if you don't fit then you fall by the wayside. Animals are ruled by fear and survival and self preservation , driven by nature to reproduce at all costs.

    What's interesting about your post is that I do wonder whether you would be happy to live in a world where men behaved exclusively according to their natural desires and gave in to lust , fear , competition , racial divides with the same cold dispassionate approach of nature ? As for "thoughtless revenge", I say it is thoughtless because although the person may think they are getting even , infact all that revenge does is bring destruction to the individual themselves (either psychologically or physically) . The person caught up in revenge becomes consumed by hate which is not a place a thinking person would want to be unless you know different?

    I don't feel helpless because I know that the Holy Spirit is far more powerful and meaningful than nature (which seems to lack meaningful direction) . At least the supernatural view of reality offers direction and purpose which is in line with human aspirations (a whole lot more appealing than Dawkins selfish gene idea). Please tell me you don't have a mushy , sentimental view of nature and are blind to it's ruthlessness.

    Probably THE most interesting thing you have said here is the "blame" word. This betrays a negative view of choice that you have of the theist view. The power of the Holy Spirit is a way out from just being subject to the natural forces of competition . You have probably been sold on an image of God who is looking for any excuse to judge and condemn and blame , rather than the God who forgives....
  11. Cape Town
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    18 Jun '07 08:35
    Originally posted by knightmeister
    Do you not agree that the forces of nature and evolution are essentially discompassionate and unfeeling?
    I think both words imply that said forces are conscious which is not the case. I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is.

    Self preservation, competition (between races, gene pools), survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold. It cares not for the individual (whether disabled or frail). Nature says might is right and if you don't fit then you fall by the wayside.
    What does this have to do with the discussion at hand?

    Animals are ruled by fear and survival and self preservation, driven by nature to reproduce at all costs.
    Do you have evidence for this? If you ever had a pet you would know that such a claim is complete and utter nonsense.

    I see you have avoided the real issue under discussion which is the source of decisions and decided to pretend that you believe that some entity called 'evolution' makes all the decisions. Last time it was 'nature'. What will it be next?

    What's interesting about your post is that I do wonder whether you would be happy to live in a world where men behaved exclusively according to their natural desires and gave in to lust, fear, competition, racial divides with the same cold dispassionate approach of nature?
    So you believe that "lust, fear, competition, racial divides" are 'natural desires' and 'love', 'compassion', and 'intelligent thought' are 'Godly'?
    Proove it or admit that you don't actually know this. Besides I thought that you believed that they come from the devil anyway so they cant be 'natural'.

    As for "thoughtless revenge", I say it is thoughtless because although the person may think they are getting even, infact all that revenge does is bring destruction to the individual themselves (either psychologically or physically). The person caught up in revenge becomes consumed by hate which is not a place a thinking person would want to be unless you know different?
    Again, provably false claim and also not thought out. Just because somebody is wrong to think something doesn't make it 'thoughtless'.

    I don't feel helpless because I know that the Holy Spirit is far more powerful and meaningful than nature (which seems to lack meaningful direction). At least the supernatural view of reality offers direction and purpose which is in line with human aspirations (a whole lot more appealing than Dawkins selfish gene idea). Please tell me you don't have a mushy, sentimental view of nature and are blind to it's ruthlessness.
    So are you admitting that the Holy Spirit makes you decisions for you in a random manner? Or are you simply trying to avoid the issue as usual?

    Probably THE most interesting thing you have said here is the "blame" word. This betrays a negative view of choice that you have of the theist view. The power of the Holy Spirit is a way out from just being subject to the natural forces of competition . You have probably been sold on an image of God who is looking for any excuse to judge and condemn and blame , rather than the God who forgives....
    I am just reflection your own claims and nothing more. If thats what you are selling then don't be complaining.
  12. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 09:36
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think both words imply that said forces are conscious which is not the case. I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is.

    [b]Self preservation, competition (between races, gene pools), survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold. It cares not for the i ...[text shortened]... g more. If thats what you are selling then don't be complaining.
    I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is. WHITEY


    What a strange thing to say. Surely if it is then it's also accurate to say it is?
  13. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 09:40
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think both words imply that said forces are conscious which is not the case. I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is.

    [b]Self preservation, competition (between races, gene pools), survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold. It cares not for the i ...[text shortened]... g more. If thats what you are selling then don't be complaining.
    Animals are ruled by fear and survival and self preservation, driven by nature to reproduce at all costs.KM
    Do you have evidence for this? If you ever had a pet you would know that such a claim is complete and utter nonsense. WHITEY

    RESPONSE----

    It's called ...erhem....evolutionary theory I think. Do you have an alternative theory for what is driving biological organisms...? Don't tell me you actually think your cat loves you and is not just attached to you as a primary giver of food.
  14. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 09:51
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think both words imply that said forces are conscious which is not the case. I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is.

    [b]Self preservation, competition (between races, gene pools), survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold. It cares not for the i ...[text shortened]... g more. If thats what you are selling then don't be complaining.
    So you believe that "lust, fear, competition, racial divides" are 'natural desires' and 'love', 'compassion', and 'intelligent thought' are 'Godly'?
    Prove it or admit that you don't actually know this. WHITEY

    I cannot prove it nor have I ever said that I could so I don't really need to admit that I don't know this but if you would like me to I will admit that I don't know this. Happy now. Now please stop pretending that I claim proof for anything when I never do. I am not one of those christians who comes on these forums saying "look , I can prove this!" What I can do is give a representation of what Christians believe. If what I say has any truth to it then the Holy Spirit will be witnessing to you and showing you the truth , but it won't be my doing.

    Now , the reason why I say that these things are natural desires is because that's what animals do at a basic level. They compete (often ruthlessly) , they are subject to fight or flight on a regualr basis , they don't show empathy or compassion , and they act in ways that are tribal (driven by dawkins selfish gene no doubt). Mnay animals will even kill or eat their own kind or babies . So answer my question , would you like the world of human affairs to be dictated by evolutionary competition?
  15. Standard memberknightmeister
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    18 Jun '07 09:55
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    I think both words imply that said forces are conscious which is not the case. I would hardly call gravity discompassionate and unfeeling even though it is.

    [b]Self preservation, competition (between races, gene pools), survival of the fittest. When does evolution show compassion or mercy. Nature is pretty damn ruthless and cold. It cares not for the i ...[text shortened]... g more. If thats what you are selling then don't be complaining.
    Just because somebody is wrong to think something doesn't make it 'thoughtless'. WHITEY

    It does if it brings destruction to that individual and thsoe around them. Captain Ahab puts lots of thought into tracking Moby Dick but ultimately it was an irrational all consuming rage that took him to his destruction. He could have stepped back and thought to himself "Hmmm. I should just let this go and get on with my life...no good will come of it.." like a more rational and thinking person would.
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