On Feb 18, 1:35 pm, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 17, 2012  Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > > It's not trying to explain how God did it though, it gets around that by
> > collapsing all whats and hows into a single overarching Who and Why.
>
> Exactly, religion takes everything we don't understand and puts it into a
> box, it then writes "God" on a label and sticks it on the box and decrees
> that the problem is now solved. This is progress?

I didn't say it was progress. I'm explaining the symmetry of
anthropomorphism and mechanemorphism as incomplete cosmologies rooted
in natural cognitive bias, not arguing for one over the other.
Progress is transcending the bias, or understanding how its modulation
is a tool.

> If the physicists at CERN
> announced that all life including human life was created by the Klogknee
> Field but didn't even attempt to explain how it had done this miraculous
> thing would you be satisfied? I wouldn't be.

They will name it the Higgs instead, and then you will be satisfied. I
would be too, because I assume they know what they are doing, not
because it has been proved to me in some kind of logically satisfying
way.

>
> When Charles Darwin wrote his book in 1859 he didn't just say Evolution is
> the key to understanding life he explained how, he explained how it could
> lead to the origin of species; and that's why he was the greatest scientist
> who ever lived and that is the difference between science and religion.

Species = life. Nothing in the Origin of Species pertains to anything
outside of biology. I don't know what your opinion of the greatness of
Darwin is supposed to add. Darwin was great, as was Newton, Descartes,
Bacon, Einstein, etc. All of them stood on the shoulders of earlier
giants of natural philosophy, theology, and religion. Science is the
flowering of religion, not the antidote.

>
> > The mechanemorphic model is certainly a tremendous improvement over the
> > anthropmorphic but it is still half wrong. [...] The biggest problem for me
> > with the God idea is that it is arbitrarily humanoid.
>
> I don't dislike the God theory because of anthropomorphism, although I'm
> not a big fan of long white beards myself I feel than any being should have
> a right to facial hair if He fancies that sort of thing. The reason I
> dislike the God theory is that it explains absolutely nothing.

God isn't a theory, it is a character in a story. It does not address
explanation, it specifically makes explanation irrelevant in favor of
identification with the miraculous. It make be the case that this
particular story winds up freeing up resources in the wandering,
wondering primitive mind, allowing focus on political organization and
unleashing crusading energies into the culture. Religion is a
political technology. It is a weapon as powerful and useful as early
flint knapped knives. We have better knives now, and more advanced
tools and weapons, but they all share the original DNA of religion;
applied storytelling - sensemaking.

Like it or not, religion is the universal dynamo which generates
civilization. Science is a product of civilization. No paleolithic
Charles Darwin would have stood a chance to convince a bunch of
illiterates to build a laboratory or a school. Popular support
requires passionate subjective identification. Sex, horror, torture,
supernatural characters, etc. This is who we are. Not logical
machines.

>
> > > If we were to take the worldview of mechanism literally, we would have
> > no idea who we were, nor would we care.
>
> I don't know what this means.

It means that if we literally believe that all we are is molecular
processes, then there could be no reason to prefer any one set of
processes or outcomes over another. There would be no difference
between one opinion and another or one person and another. We would be
empty puppets of circumstance, completely alienated from ourselves,
other people, and nature.

>
> > I don't see that it would be a problem for God to make physics
>
> Great, so how did He do it? I'm all ears!

Let there be Physics!

>
> > I can make a castle out of sand, so God can make a universe out of physics
>
> I don't know about you but I can explain how I made a castle out of sand,
> so why can't God do what I can.

I don't think that you can explain how 'you' can do anything in the
first place. How do you fire your neurons to move your hand to scoop
the sand?

> If' you're puzzled how something as
> marvelous and complex as X came to be and someone tells you that Y made it
> but cannot even begin to explain how it did so and also cannot explain how
> Y came to be in the first place then that "explanation" has not really
> rendered you any the wiser. It's often said that science can't explain
> everything and that's true, but religion can't explain ANYTHING.

You misunderstand the purpose of religion. It isn't supposed to
explain anything, it is supposed to unify human beings to a common
sense and motive for political purposes. You are assuming that the
content of the religious stories is important, but it isn't. It's just
like a Turing machine in reverse. It turns explanations into
meaningless poems so that the social machine can get on with the
business of enslaving (for service and manufacturing), killing,
looting, raping, and conquering land. Scientific explanations are only
useful to humans to the extent that they enable more powerful methods
of accomplishing the business of civilization. The fact that business
has progressed from literal enslavement and murder to what seem to us
as softer tyrannies is only a fortunate side effect, and an
increasingly tenuous one at that in more and more regions of the
world.

>
> > I don't see that the universe has any particular preference for
> > simplicity over complexity, it seems to make good use of both.
>
> Yes but explanations do have a preference for simplicity over complexity;
> that's what a explanation is, describing something we don't understand in
> terms of something we do understand.

But what we do understand is not simple, it is more infinitely more
complex than what we are explaining. We understand millions of
interrelated things. Some people prefer simple explanations, some
prefer complex, nuanced explanations. Explanations themselves have no
preferences.

>
> > You must understand that spirituality is an anthropological universal: we
> > have never, ever come
> > in contact with any culture which does not have spiritual concepts.
>
> And what things have all those millenniums of spirituality produced?
>
> 1) Lots and lots of fancy tombs built with backbreaking effort by people
> who would have preferred to be doing something else.
>
> 2) Some good paintings.
>
> 3) Poetry that nobody reads if they're not teaching or taking a class in it.
>
> 4) Ridiculous philosophy.

>From which all science is born.

>
> 5) Lots and lots of cadavers manufactured in bloody holy wars.
>
> > > This cannot be brushed aside
>
> I think I just did.

Not talking about the contribution, I'm talking about the
universality. You might say that air doesn't do much, spins windmills,
props up clouds, etc, but that does not mean we can dismiss the fact
that our atmosphere does indeed contain air.

>
> > > randomness becomes another name for God.
>
> Yet another example of someone willing to abandon the idea of God but not
> the 3 letter word "G-O-D".

Huh? We can call it R-A-N-D-O-M-N-E-S-S if you prefer.

>
> > Causality magically appears from randomness. Why?
>
> I don't know, but I do know that given enough time even astronomically
> unlikely things will happen, in fact they will happen a infinite number of
> times if infinity is at your disposal.

Then you are saying that eventually even an astronomically unlikely
thing called G-O-D will happen. By the anthropic principle you can
just say that we happen to be in the universe in which God happened to
form out of randomness and to keep happening for all eternity. Guess
we're just lucky. If you disagree, as I do, then you have to
acknowledge that in fact the universe makes a particular kind of sense
which is more powerful than quantitative logic. There is something
that prevents infinite nonsense universes, and that something is not
an automatic machine nor is it an omniscient being. It is symmetry and
relation. Sensitivity. Being. Experience.

Craig

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