Refuting Atheism
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21-10-2010, 10:11 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
That's the beauty of the subjective world. What we humans perceive is a mediated version of reality. We don't think about reality, but instead, we process signals, assign them meaning and build an abstracted model of reality in our minds. We think of that model, not reality itself. A model, by definition, cannot be 100% accurate because a 100% accurate model of something is that thing. A 100% accurate model of the universe would be the universe and that simply would not fit in a human mind. While our model of reality is highly useful in our interaction with reality, it is not reality itself. As statistician George E.P. Box once said, "All models are wrong. But some are useful." Not only is it not reality, the model is not universal. There are many models. Through memetic transmission, we share these models and as societies, through agreement, create socially constructed realities. While our physical bodies might exist in reality, our minds exist within a virtual world of our own creation, based on reality, but not reality itself. Thus all truth is created and all truth is subjective, not objective, including all of the meaning in this paragraph. This paragraph is not objective truth, but subjective truth. Objective truth is a thing that is beyond the ability of the human mind to know just as lift is a thing beyond the ability of the human arm to create. That understanding, too, is subjective. Trippy eh?

All of this is to say that subjectivism is not defeated by objectivism simply for making assertions.

Now while I'm not immediately saying that what the man said supports what I have said, is "No they don't" the best counter argument to frederick wittman's post available?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-10-2010, 06:39 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Quote:All of this is to say that subjectivism is not defeated by objectivism simply for making assertions.

And so begins the argument that never ends.

When someone comes along and says, basically, "my subjective perceptions are as valid as any objective facts or research you may wish to show me", then the discussion is pretty much done. What's the point.

Objective guy: the sky is blue because of light refracting off the atmosphere.
Subjective guy: hey look, unicorns!
Conclusion: argument terminated.

If your world view says that a rock is not a rock and facts are subjective, then there is zero possibility of having a rational discourse. I'm not even saying that the subjective view is wrong, it's just impossible to have a discussion on people's perceptions.

Quote:Now while I'm not immediately saying that what the man said supports what I have said, is "No they don't" the best counter argument to frederick wittman's post available?

Given the evidence he's provided to back up his rambling, I'd say "yes", it was an adequate counter.

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22-10-2010, 08:03 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
(21-10-2010 10:11 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Now while I'm not immediately saying that what the man said supports what I have said, is "No they don't" the best counter argument to frederick wittman's post available?

As fred's post relies on solipsism as its main defense, yeah, pretty much. Can't disprove solipsism. But "Ha! Reality is a lie! Therefore you're just as wrong as I am!" is a pretty weak defense, you must admit.

EDIT: Oh yeah. And he's strawmanning atheism.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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22-10-2010, 08:50 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Hey, BnW.

For the record, subjectivism is not a synonymn for idiocy. So if you want to throw out stuff like "hey, unicorns," then no, there's no discussion. Not because of anything a subjectivist says, but because you're simply dismissing the entire argument with a facetious statement.

Subjectivism isn't a defence for the wacky, it's a theory about how humans perceive the universe and the limits of that perception. The idea that humans have an unlimited ability to perceive the universe seems idiotic and utterly arrogant to me.

The reason the argument never ends is because the two ideas are incompatible. If subjectivism is true then objectivism can't be and vice versa. Simple as that. So consensus is impossible. If that frustrates you, you have my sympathy.

And no, that doesn't mean, if subjectivism is true, then that's an objective truth, haha! Subjectivism separates ideas from reality. It doesn't say that there aren't objective truths in the universe and that there is no reality. Actuality is what it is. What is fluid and arbitrary and mediated and abstracted is our understanding of it. If subjectivism is true, we'll never know about it. Like my man says, all models are wrong. But some are useful.

Subjectivism suggests that the statement, "the sky is blue because of light refracting off the atmosphere," is not without meaning, but that that meaning is an abstracted representation of reality and not reality itself. The objective position is that the statement is the reality. So if you want to be facetious and say that unicorns are somehow an opposing understanding of the dynamics of electromagnetic radiation, then yeah, the argument will never end because that's not a reasonable argument, it's an attempt to dismiss.

Quote:If your world view says that a rock is not a rock and facts are subjective, then there is zero possibility of having a rational discourse.

Absolute crap.

My worldview would say, hypothetically, that both of our interpretations of whatever a rock is are subjective. They are two photos of something from different angles and not the thing itself. We aren't looking at the thing, we're looking at the photo. You use your photo to interact with rock and so do I. But if you say that your photo is rock, that's where the conversation breaks down.

If, for example, you had a conversation with an Amazonian aboriginal hunter and they said, "the monkeys are my brothers," and you responded, "actually monkeys are a different species with no possible hereditary relationship and are simply resources to be exploited," and went on to say that your interpretation of reality was objective truth and that because of that, his interpretation was necessarily wrong, you would not be able to have a rational discussion. If however you said, whatever monkeys are is what they are and we have two different interpretations of what that is, let's discuss those interpretations, you would be having a perfectly rational discourse.

This is not to say that understandings of the universe are absolutely unique from person to person. Experience is, but understanding doesn't have to be. Reality is a social construction, born of communication and agreement. For example, millions of people agree that the universe was created by the Big Bang. Within that construction there are internal realities. In the agreed upon understanding, a singularity isn't a unicorn. Outside of that construct, unicorns can feature as significantly or as absently as the society agrees upon.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-10-2010, 09:56 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Before we get to the specifics I'd like to suggest you pick up a six pack of "Lighten Up!" because you really need it.

Quote:For the record, subjectivism is not a synonymn for idiocy. So if you want to throw out stuff like "hey, unicorns," then no, there's no discussion. Not because of anything a subjectivist says, but because you're simply dismissing the entire argument with a facetious statement.

I wasn't dismissing anything. I was demonstrating, in my own humorous (or not) way, how at cross paths these two ways of looking at the world. And, how irreconcilable that makes them.

Quote:The reason the argument never ends is because the two ideas are incompatible. If subjectivism is true then objectivism can't be and vice versa. Simple as that. So consensus is impossible.

And, this was precisely my point. Drink the 6 pack and it will be clear to you.

Quote:If that frustrates you, you have my sympathy.

Thank you. I need all the sympathy I can get. No one is ever sympathetic to me. It's a burden.

Quote: Quote:If your world view says that a rock is not a rock and facts are subjective, then there is zero possibility of having a rational discourse.


Absolute crap.

My worldview would say, hypothetically, that both of our interpretations of whatever a rock is are subjective. They are two photos of something from different angles and not the thing itself. We aren't looking at the thing, we're looking at the photo. You use your photo to interact with rock and so do I. But if you say that your photo is rock, that's where the conversation breaks down.

So, you call my statement "absolute crap" and then reach the exact same conclusion and just try to dress it up differently. Interesting.

Quote:If, for example, you had a conversation with an Amazonian aboriginal hunter and they said, "the monkeys are my brothers," and you responded, "actually monkeys are a different species with no possible hereditary relationship and are simply resources to be exploited," and went on to say that your interpretation of reality was objective truth and that because of that, his interpretation was necessarily wrong, you would not be able to have a rational discussion.

Once again, this was my point. If you have a pure objective view of the world the viewpoint of someone with a subjective view of the world is going to seem as rational to you as belief in unicorns. Again, that does not mean I'm passing judgment on the subjective view or, again, that I am saying it is even wrong. What I am saying is the two schools of thought cannot have a rational discourse; a conclusion you have also reached.

Quote:If however you said, whatever monkeys are is what they are and we have two different interpretations of what that is, let's discuss those interpretations, you would be having a perfectly rational discourse.

So, your view is for a rational discourse to occur, a person must abandon their objective view point and come to the side of subjectivism. It's a good thing you completely reject the dismissing of arguments because otherwise I would feel that is a fairly dismissive position.

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
When ignorance reigns, life is lost
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22-10-2010, 10:18 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Dude, you're always wrong about me on a personal level. It's remarkable. You have a 100% record on this.

I see now where you're coming from. It wasn't clear before.

Objectivists cannot have rational conversations with anyone that disagrees with the objective nature of the objectivist's truth because to the objectivist, they are necessarily wrong. Agreed. But being obtuse doesn't make the objectivist rational and the subjectivist irrational. What I was saying is that rational discussion is entirely possible in a subjective world.

And I stand by what I said. When you frame it as, "I say something self-evident and you respond with something that is so ridiculous that no one listening to this conversation could ever possibly take sides with you," you're creating a dismissive frame. If you replace "unicorn" with "matter and energy are the same thing" then you suddenly have two reasoned interpretations of reality in discussion instead of a seemingly self-evident one versus the rantings of a lunatic.

Also, the objectivist doesn't have to become a subjectivist to have a rational conversation, they just have to recognise a subjectivist view as a subjectivist view, not as an objectivist view trying to destroy your viewpoint so that it can survive itself.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-10-2010, 12:57 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Inasmuch as the two of you (BnW and Ghost) tend to disagree on alot (ok, pretty much everything), I sure as shit am glad you're both willing to argue/debate/discuss this stuff with each other. Both your perspectives are so well thought out that for those of us following your discussions it is enlightening regardless of the opinion we hold. (Ok, maybe I'm just speaking for myself, but I hope not).

Seriously, no sarcasm intended, thanks to both of you. Keep up the insight. It's impressive.

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22-10-2010, 04:30 PM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Quote:Dude, you're always wrong about me on a personal level. It's remarkable. You have a 100% record on this.

I'm not sure if that was towards the "lighten up" comment but it was a joke. And, ironically, if you didn't take it that way then I'd say I was spot on in my assessment. Tongue

Quote:But being obtuse doesn't make the objectivist rational and the subjectivist irrational. What I was saying is that rational discussion is entirely possible in a subjective world.

I don't at all consider being an objectivist as being obtuse. And, objectivists are more than capable of having a rational discussion about what they see and the nature of the universe. Again, I find that to be as dismissive a view point as you accuse me of being. Not taking a shot, just making an observation.

Anyway, i did not address this before, but your "the monkey is my brother" argument is inherently flawed. A metaphorical connection of brotherhood is not the same as a subjective perspective of the universe. Even someone with an objective view point can form bonds and metaphorical relationships. I consider my dog to be part of my family and my wife and I refer to her as one of our children but that doesn't make her my daughter. I've certainly a strong bond with her but calling her my "child" is clearly metaphorical, not literal. What you are describing is not what subjectivism is.

As for the belief that its arrogant to believe man can fully perceive the universe is both dismissive and irrelevant. The universe is what it is whether we can fully perceive it or not. Light moves at a certain speed whether or not we can see it and whether or not we believe it. Reality exists whether we wish it to or not. I don't want to turn 42 this coming January but my choices are either die prior to January 18 or turn 42 (and, for anyone marking that date on their calendar, I can use some speakers to compliment my HD TV).

I consider myself an objectivist but I don't believe I'm in anyway obtuse. I'm more than willing to consider new ideas, new theories, and new ways of looking at things. I approach things in a very certain way and I'm well aware that only attacking something from one angle can be very limiting and having another way to view a problem, a challenge or a situation can often be enlightening. But, another perspective does not change the objective reality of the situation. If I see a blue sky then the sky is blue irrespective of how many people look at it.

So, I accept other idea. What I reject is the idea that reality is completely relative, and subjective, to each individual. And, yes, I'm familiar with Einstein's theory of relativity and have a basic understanding of it. I don't think his point was that the universe is anything other than what it is. Of course we all may perceive it differently, but the universe simply is what it is.

I hope I articulated that well enough. I'd hate to have let Stark down!

Shackle their minds when they're bent on the cross
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23-10-2010, 12:01 AM
RE: Refuting Atheism
Thanks, Stark Raving.

That was very thoughtful. And thank you BnW, for a history of stimulating (if not frequently frustrating) conversations.

So. Bnw.

If you tell someone to lighten up when they are already jovial then you're wrong, not spot on. When he tells you you're wrong, that doesn't make you right. You remain wrong.

Quote:Anyway, i did not address this before, but your "the monkey is my brother" argument is inherently flawed. A metaphorical connection of brotherhood is not the same as a subjective perspective of the universe. Even someone with an objective view point can form bonds and metaphorical relationships. I consider my dog to be part of my family and my wife and I refer to her as one of our children but that doesn't make her my daughter. I've certainly a strong bond with her but calling her my "child" is clearly metaphorical, not literal. What you are describing is not what subjectivism is.

This argument is based on an incorrect assumption. I said if the guy says, "they're my brother." You assumed that was a metaphorical statement because to you "brother" can only mean one thing. It cannot be a relationship between humans and monkeys BECAUSE it is a relationship between siblings. Likely, this hypothetical Amazonian would have a word in their language that had no equivalent in ours. So it would be translated as "brother" with the caveat that it has their meaning, not ours.

Quote:As for the belief that its arrogant to believe man can fully perceive the universe is both dismissive and irrelevant.

In what way is that dismissive? Is it dismissive to say that dogs can't? They have brains don't they? But we all understand that their brains have limitations. Why is it dismissive to suggest that the human brain has limitations as well? I stand by what I said. Thinking that we are perfect and/or without limitation is arrogant.

Irrelevant? Man having a limited perception that cannot achieve an objective understanding of the universe is irrelevant in a conversation about whether or not we can achieve an objective understanding of the universe?

Quote:The universe is what it is whether we can fully perceive it or not. Light moves at a certain speed whether or not we can see it and whether or not we believe it. Reality exists whether we wish it to or not. I don't want to turn 42 this coming January but my choices are either die prior to January 18 or turn 42 (and, for anyone marking that date on their calendar, I can use some speakers to compliment my HD TV).

No concept in the universe exists, not even concept, universe and exist.

All concepts are constructs that exist not in actuality, but in the mind only (although they can be stored externally in anything that can store information, books, paintings and computers for example).

Light, movement, speed, aging, 42, time, death, these are all concepts. Reality exists independently of those concepts. All of these things can be represented by completely different concepts. So light is not light objectively. Whatever light is in actuality exists, but the concept we call light only exists in our heads.

Quote:If I see a blue sky then the sky is blue irrespective of how many people look at it.

Blue, sky, sight, concepts all.

What we call the sky is what it is. It exists in actuality. How it is perceived and understood is what is subjective. So no, it's not blue irrespective of how many people look at it because if people look at it and they have no concept of 'blue' then it's not blue.

The obtuseness of objectivists comes from an inability to recognise the validity of any claim that is counter to a truth the objectivist views as objectively true. Anything that deviates is necessarily incorrect. An objectivist that believes 'babies come from sex' is an objective truth, cannot accept the idea that they come from the stork. The stork origin cannot be true BECAUSE the sex origin is objectively true. That's what I mean by obtuse. What I say beyond that is that clinging tenaciously to an objective truth at the expense of all other truths, doesn't make what is viewed AS objective truth, the objective truth.

Quote:What I reject is the idea that reality is completely relative, and subjective, to each individual.

Reality is not. Actuality is what it is.

Experience is. Understanding is.

I can't stress enough the importance of the idea of separating experience of reality and models of reality from reality itself. Understanding that separation is the key to subjective understanding and to understanding subjectivism.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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24-10-2010, 02:10 AM
 
RE: Refuting Atheism
What I think about this argument likely has been said many times before. We humans only know the world through our sensory input. When I see an object colored red, it has a certain meaning to me. When I talk to other people who can see that object, they call it red as well. Since I can't see into their sensory input, it's impossible for me to know that what they see is the same as what I see, but since we seem to agree that the object is red, my working hypothesis is that the object is indeed colored red and that redness is an "objective" reality - it's a red object.

The notion that reality is totally subjective strikes me as pointless. Even if it's true, how should our behavior reflect the truth of subjectivism? All of our existence depends heavily on the assumption that what you and I experience together is reflective of an objective reality. If we assume otherwise, how would we change our interaction with our perceived reality? What would we do differently? If you believe strongly in something I don't see at all (e.g., a deity), then one of us is probably being deceived by our senses, or interpreting their sensory input very differently, rather than reality being different between us. I guess that inclines me strongly toward objectivism.

The only thing I can be sure of in this world is my sensory input. It's an old sophomoric discussion topic to argue that I'm the only real thing in the world that I can be absolutely certain of, whereas the rest of you are just my sensory input, which might not have any objective reality whatsoever. Once beyond my sophomore year in college, I rapidly tired of this argument because (a) a lifetime's worth of sensory input and real communication with people has convinced me that the argument has no value, and (b) even if it's true and all along I've simply been communicating with figments of my imagination, that lifetime's worth of experience is strong evidence for me that the notion that my sensory input is not reflective of some objective reality is just not believable.

This is why I find philosophers so exasperating. Many of them insist on arguing incessantly about things that might be true but have no real value in living.
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