Belief versus reality
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27-10-2017, 02:28 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 02:21 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(27-10-2017 02:01 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I’ve come to terms that my poor, feeble, human brain does not like anything that has always existed (whatever that means). I accept that we humans will never fully understand the how of the observable universe. This does not bother me one iota, I’m fine with it, it doesn’t affect me one way or another in my daily life.

When I compare this to how I used to think as a child and then as a believer in the supernatural I see it for what it is, our human drive to find closure to questions. Our species will make shit up if necessary so we can sleep comfortably at night. Cue the gods.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closure_(psychology)
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/side...-avoidance

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27-10-2017, 02:32 PM (This post was last modified: 27-10-2017 02:56 PM by Free.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 02:01 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I’ve come to terms that my poor, feeble, human brain does not like anything that has always existed (whatever that means). I accept that we humans will never fully understand the how of the observable universe. This does not bother me one iota, I’m fine with it, it doesn’t affect me one way or another in my daily life.

When I compare this to how I used to think as a child and then as a believer in the supernatural I see it for what it is, our human drive to find closure to questions. Our species will make shit up if necessary so we can sleep comfortably at night. Cue the gods.

Perhaps the answers we are looking for are not matter of what we can demonstrate to be true or false, nor are they about what we need or want to understand?

Perhaps some things do not require knowledge, as knowledge is simply not applicable?

Perhaps ... it's simply a matter of acceptance of that which is incomprehensible due the possibility that comprehension is not what is required?

If, for example, the universe is infinite and eternal, then there is nothing to comprehend. It's just a matter of accepting it. We do not even try to make sense of it, but rather we simply shrug and say, "It is what it is."

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27-10-2017, 03:46 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 02:32 PM)Free Wrote:  
(27-10-2017 02:01 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I’ve come to terms that my poor, feeble, human brain does not like anything that has always existed (whatever that means). I accept that we humans will never fully understand the how of the observable universe. This does not bother me one iota, I’m fine with it, it doesn’t affect me one way or another in my daily life.

When I compare this to how I used to think as a child and then as a believer in the supernatural I see it for what it is, our human drive to find closure to questions. Our species will make shit up if necessary so we can sleep comfortably at night. Cue the gods.

Perhaps the answers we are looking for are not matter of what we can demonstrate to be true or false, nor are they about what we need or want to understand?

Perhaps some things do not require knowledge, as knowledge is simply not applicable?

Perhaps ... it's simply a matter of acceptance of that which is incomprehensible due the possibility that comprehension is not what is required?

If, for example, the universe is infinite and eternal, then there is nothing to comprehend. It's just a matter of accepting it. We do not even try to make sense of it, but rather we simply shrug and say, "It is what it is."
Every belief position is based on knowledge or the lack thereof. Where knowledge or comprehension are lacking, the rational default is to not believe until better data or understanding are available. Where knowledge and comprehension are obtainable then our beliefs should follow the preponderance of evidence that leads to a sufficiently high likelihood of a thing being true. If there is conflicting evidence, again, belief is withheld until better info or understanding are obtained.

It's very simple really.

Are there areas of knowledge where it's unlikely that we'll ever have good knowledge and understanding? Arguably, yes. The universe is, from our perspective at least, a closed system. We don't have a way to go outside that system and look at it from there. We may never have a way. And as such, certain "big" questions may be forever closed to us insofar as a definitive answer is concerned.

There are also hypotheses that are unfalsifiable (the existence of invisible "supernatural" gods / beings / realms for example). These will inherently remain forever unproven.

The thing we as humans often find irresistible is to imagine explanations for the unexplained. This never ends well. It is a virtue to train yourself out of it.

All that said, we're likely no better at predicting where we'll be, say, 200 years from now, as the people of 1817 were at predicting what 2017 would be like. Much of the knowledge needed to frame an understanding of 2017 didn't exist in 1817. The germ theory of disease, practical applications of electromagnetic energy, general relativity, and a host of other concepts simply didn't exist yet. As such, much of our everyday technology was literally unimaginable 200 years ago.

So who knows where we'll be in 2217. By then, we may understand way more about the Great Questions than we can presently anticipate.

The one thing I'm certain of is that whatever innovation and advancements occur won't be because of religious faith.
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27-10-2017, 04:01 PM (This post was last modified: 27-10-2017 04:11 PM by Free.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 03:46 PM)mordant Wrote:  Every belief position is based on knowledge or the lack thereof. Where knowledge or comprehension are lacking, the rational default is to not believe until better data or understanding are available. Where knowledge and comprehension are obtainable then our beliefs should follow the preponderance of evidence that leads to a sufficiently high likelihood of a thing being true. If there is conflicting evidence, again, belief is withheld until better info or understanding are obtained.

I completely agree.

But we do know something to justify the belief of an eternal and infinite universe.

My point was really all about digesting the magnitude of accepting that something can exist without dimensions, and of it not being subjected to time. Especially since, if the universe were to be eternal and infinite, it would be absolutely impossible to know it no matter how many years passed, or what kind of knowledge we accumulate.

Therefore, no matter what we do, we will never prove an infinite and eternal universe, and that means we either accept it as such, or we don't accept it and perhaps fruitlessly keep looking for its possibly non-existent dimensions.

It is exactly the same as trying to prove that we can count numbers infinitely. We 'know" they will continue infinitely, but we can never prove it.

Sometimes I think the answer is merely about accepting what we can effectively reason in response to an inability to collect conclusive empirical data.

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27-10-2017, 04:54 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 02:32 PM)Free Wrote:  Perhaps ... it’s simply a matter of acceptance of that which is incomprehensible due the possibility that comprehension is not what is required?

It's just a matter of accepting it. We do not even try to make sense of it, but rather we simply shrug and say, "It is what it is."

(27-10-2017 03:46 PM)mordant Wrote:  The thing we as humans often find irresistible is to imagine explanations for the unexplained. This never ends well. It is a virtue to train yourself out of it.

Exactly, that is what I’m trying to say.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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27-10-2017, 06:40 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 04:01 PM)Free Wrote:  My point was really all about digesting the magnitude of accepting that something can exist without dimensions, and of it not being subjected to time. Especially since, if the universe were to be eternal and infinite, it would be absolutely impossible to know it no matter how many years passed, or what kind of knowledge we accumulate.

Therefore, no matter what we do, we will never prove an infinite and eternal universe, and that means we either accept it as such, or we don't accept it and perhaps fruitlessly keep looking for its possibly non-existent dimensions.
Such things CAN often be determined via mathematical proofs. It's just over my head (and, I assume, yours). So if you're saying that an eternal universe can't be proven experientially I would agree. But that's not to say we can never form a justified belief about things like the eternality of the universe.
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27-10-2017, 07:08 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 06:40 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(27-10-2017 04:01 PM)Free Wrote:  My point was really all about digesting the magnitude of accepting that something can exist without dimensions, and of it not being subjected to time. Especially since, if the universe were to be eternal and infinite, it would be absolutely impossible to know it no matter how many years passed, or what kind of knowledge we accumulate.

Therefore, no matter what we do, we will never prove an infinite and eternal universe, and that means we either accept it as such, or we don't accept it and perhaps fruitlessly keep looking for its possibly non-existent dimensions.

Such things CAN often be determined via mathematical proofs.

Determined, yes, but not conclusively proven. This is what I mean by "accepting" based upon reason in the face of our inability to collect conclusive proof.


Quote: It's just over my head (and, I assume, yours).

The math? Yes. But not the ability to understand the concept and accept it as a likelihood based upon what we can reason.


Quote:So if you're saying that an eternal universe can't be proven experientially I would agree. But that's not to say we can never form a justified belief about things like the eternality of the universe.

That's exactly what I am saying.

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28-10-2017, 01:07 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
I think it's important to note that the very questions we ask may be malformed or even nonsensical when viewed by a theoretical person who has all knowledge of reality.

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28-10-2017, 06:21 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(27-10-2017 04:33 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(26-10-2017 07:56 PM)Chas Wrote:  If these causes all exist simultaneously, then a "first cause" does not exist.
Your argument appears to be self-refuting.

No, you fail to understand the argument. "First" in this context does not mean first in a line of temporal succession. It's more like how Michael Jordan was first among basketball players in his time, or Donald Trump is first among buffoons, or quarks are first among the constituents of matter. It's a logical hierarchy, not a temporal succession. Quarks, protons, neutrons, atoms, molecules, cells, materials, organisms, etc. can all exist simultaneously, and yet quarks are "first" (i.e., most fundamental) in the sense that is relative to this argument.

Don't go all Richard Dawkins on me. If you want to refute an argument, you have to refute the one that's being made, not some other one.

How is that meaningful in regards to causation?

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29-10-2017, 08:09 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(28-10-2017 06:21 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(27-10-2017 04:33 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  No, you fail to understand the argument. "First" in this context does not mean first in a line of temporal succession. It's more like how Michael Jordan was first among basketball players in his time, or Donald Trump is first among buffoons, or quarks are first among the constituents of matter. It's a logical hierarchy, not a temporal succession. Quarks, protons, neutrons, atoms, molecules, cells, materials, organisms, etc. can all exist simultaneously, and yet quarks are "first" (i.e., most fundamental) in the sense that is relative to this argument.

Don't go all Richard Dawkins on me. If you want to refute an argument, you have to refute the one that's being made, not some other one.

How is that meaningful in regards to causation?

There are different senses of the word "causation". You appear to be stuck on the modern sense -- what most people today think of when they see or hear the word. The "first cause" of the cosmological argument has nothing to do with this type of causation. Better words might be "dependence" or "ground". The fundamental notion is that contingent things require something else to sustain their very existence at each and every moment of time. The chain of dependence is vertical, not horizontal (where the horizontal axis represents time).

My arguments in this thread have nothing to do with the sort of causation that you keep referring to, and everything to do with the entirely different sort of causation that Aristotle and Aquinas were referring to.

Just to keep the record straight, I will repeat that I do not buy the cosmological argument, and I do not believe in God (and most certainly not in the God of the Bible). There are several things about the argument that make me uneasy, not least of these being its conclusion (that an immaterial and immutable intelligence can affect material objects). However, I don't think the argument can be dismissed as trivially as most people here seem to be doing. You can't dismiss an argument merely because you don't like the conclusion. You need to point out the specific flaws in the argument, and I don't see anyone doing that. Instead, they repeatedly point out flaws in a different argument -- one that Aristotle and Aquinas were not making.
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