On Sun, Sep 9, 2012 at 9:37 AM, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Sep 8, 2012  Jason Resch <jasonre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> >You call yourself an atheist,
> I do, but that's only because I also have the rather old fashioned belief
> that words should mean something.
> > which means you reject every notion of God, of any religion, does it not?
> Apparently not. If we live in a world where words mean whatever Jason
> Resch wants them to mean then I'm not sure if I'm a atheist or not. However
> I do know that the idea of a omnipotent omniscient being

Omnipotent and omniscient may be inconsistent properties, which would mean
they don't exist anywhere.

> who created the universe is brain dead dumb.

But having complete power over a universe (not the whole of reality), or
complete knowledge of the goings-on in a universe (not the whole of
reality), may be possible.  Consider an omega-point civilization that
creates a universe within a computer.  Would those simulated entities in
such a universe not have an omnipotent omniscient (being or beings) as a
creator?  We cannot rule this possibility out even for our (apparent)
universe.  It's likelihood is another question, but our minds exist within
an infinite number of universes and circumstances, so you might look at it
as within some fraction of the universes you exist in, they were so
created.  To throw a whole class of ideas out because of your
preconceptions say they are "brain dead dumb" may lead you to overlook some
more interesting ideas.

> And I do know that I have never heard any religion express a single deep
> idea that a scientist or mathematician hadn't explained first and done so
> much much better.

Okay I will provide you with a few examples:

*Particle nature of light, and beginnings of matter-energy equivalence:*
Indian Buddhists,  Dignāga and Dharmakirti, in the 5th and 7th centuries,
respectively, developed the view that light consists of atomic entities of
energy and further postulated that all matter is composed of these energy

*Trichromatic vision:*
In the Rigveda, a Hindu text that was composed between 1700 and 1100 B.C.,
it was written, “Mixing the three colors, ye have produced all the objects
of sight!” This predates Young–Helmholtz theory of trichromatic vision by
over 3,000 years.

*Multiple, and universes planets beyond ours:*
Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, a Persian polymath and Islamic theologian of the 12th
century, wrote, “It is established by evidence that there exists beyond the
world a void without a terminal limit, and it is established as well by
evidence that God Most High has power over all contingent beings.
Therefore He the Most High has the power to create a thousand thousand
worlds beyond this world.”
The prevailing scientific view at this time was that everything fell toward
the center of the Earth, which ruled out the existence of other worlds
(there would be nothing to hold them together).
Al-Razi went further and extended this to universes, saying “God has the
power to fill the vacuum with an infinite number of universes.”
In the Puranas, a set of religious texts significant in Hinduism, Jainism
and Buddhism, it is written “Even though over a period of time I might
count all the atoms of the universe, I could not count all of My opulences
which I manifest within innumerable universes.”

Serious and good thinkers have existed in every time.  Some of them were
religious or influenced religious texts.  There is no reason to throw the
baby out with the bathwater in regards to every idea that is associated
with religion merely for that association.  Many religious ideas (like many
scientific ideas) turn out to be wrong.

There is a way of thinking, and there are ideas.  Perhaps the difference in
our view points is that you consider religion a way of thinking, where I
see it as a collection of ideas.  As a way of thinking, science is
certainly superior, but regarding ideas, let each stand on its own,
regardless of its origin.

> You tell me if that's good enough to make me a atheist or not.
You seem to be a Platonist, which as I mentioned (and Bruno's UDA shows),
makes infinite truth the reason for our existence.  You may or not be
willing to label such an object God, that is up to you.  I was merely
showing that some religions do consider God to equal Truth, so to them you
would not be considered a disbeliever of their conception of God.

> > you cannot simply reject the weakest idea, ignore the stronger ones,
> That is just about the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard in my
> life!

I said "ignore" where below you say "embrace".  If you embraced the
stronger ideas from some religions, for example regarding what God is we
probably wouldn't be having this discussion.  An atheist, by definition,
disbelieves in all Gods (as you Richard Dawkins quote below suggests: you
disbelieve in one more God than I.  Assuming I believe in one God that
implies you believe in zero gods).  According to this definition of
Atheism, all Atheists automatically pretend as though the stronger ideas on
God do not exist, or worse, they reject them out of hand without reason.
You seem to not reject them, which is good, but you say that I am the one
redefining God (when it was the religions who defined their notion of God,
not I.)  It is Atheism's problem if it wishes to take the stance that all
religions are false.

I won't defend the Atheism because I realize that if it is defined by
belief in no gods, it is bound to fail.  I also don't think redefining
Atheism to reject the Gods of some religions but accept the Gods of other
religions on a case by case basis to be a workable solution either.  Since
each atheist could believe or disbelieve in varying conceptions of God, and
the word loses its meaning.  Note that so far in the conversation, we have
only talked about the religious idea that God == Truth, but there are other
notions of God, which are also supported in various religions.  The notion
that God is the universal mind or universal soul that exists in all
conscious beings.

Hinduism: "By understanding the Self, all this universe is known." —
Yoga: "God dwells within you as you."
Islam: "He who knows himself knows his lord." — Muhammad
Confucianism: "Heaven, earth and human are of one body."
Zen Buddhism: "Look within, you are the Buddha."
Christianity: "The Kingdom of God is within you."

Since there are religions that adhere to ideas for God which I cannot
reject, the only solution is to reject atheism, and declare what one does
or does not believe in on a case by case basis.  As I believe in Platonism,
it is very difficult for me to find something I do not believe exists, in
some sense, or somewhere, so where I draw the line is on things which are
self-inconsistent.  For example, am omniscient+omnipotent god, can it
forget?  If so is it still omniscient, if not is it still omnipotent?  It
is easy to show the inconsistency for some ideas of God, and thus reject
them, but this is less easy for other notions of God.

The key to wisdom is to reject weak ideas and embrace strong ones
> regardless of where they originated.

I agree wholeheartedly with the above.

> > rejecting the idea of Santa Clause won't make you an atheist
> I am a Santa Clause atheist and you are a Thor atheist, and in fact you
> are a atheist for nearly all of the thousands and thousands of Gods that
> the Human race has created over the centuries, I just go one God further
> than you do.
Okay, please tell me what this one God is that you are rejecting.

> > In my post, I showed that the notion of God as eternal, immutable,
>> unlimited, self-existent truth appears in many religions. Do you reject
>> this concept of God?
> No, I don't reject that true things are true, and I don't reject that a
> being that was eternal and knew everything that was true would have
> superpowers, and I don't reject that Superman in the comics had X ray
> vision or that Harry Potter was good at magic. Perhaps you find this sort
> of  fantasy role-playing philosophically enlightening but I don't.

You avoided the question with a bunch of references to properties of
imagined objects.  If you are a Platonist, then truth and mathematical
objects are not imagined.

> > I have studied some of the beliefs of other religions.
> So have I and I've concluded that to a first approximation one religious
> franchise is about as idiotic as another.

Franchises, perhaps, but not all ideas found in religions are idiotic.  As
you said above, embrace the strong ideas regardless of their origin.

> > I am showing the common themes: "self-existent" and "cause of existence"
> Just saying that God caused Himself to exist without even giving a hint as
> to how He managed to accomplish that interesting task is as vacuous as
> saying the Universe cause itself to exist with no attempt at a explanation
> of how it works.
I don't disagree with this.  But it wasn't wrong or totally vacuous to
admit there has to be a self-existent thing for anything to exist at all.
It may not be deep but it is a step in the (plausibly) correct direction,
and likely why so many religions attribute self-existence to their concept
of God.

> >> The following sentence has identical informational content: "in the
>>> beginning was stuff, and the stuff was with stuff, and stuff was stuff".
>>> Funny ASCII characters do not make things more profound.
>> > Logos is not a meaningless term,
> Logos has more meanings than you can shake a stick at, none of them
> profound; "Logos" can mean a reason or a speech or a word or a opinion or a
> wish or a cause or a account or a explanation or many other things; when
> religion says "in the beginning there was logos" it means "stuff"; but I do
> admit that "logos" sounds cooler than "stuff" and is more impressive to the
> rubes.

Yes its abundance of possible translations is quite unfortunate, for
clarity's sake.

> > and therefore the above expresses a meaningful idea about the notion of
>> god,
> Yes, the sentence "at the beginning of stuff there was stuff" is not only
> meaningful it is also without question true, its just not very deep. Oh
> well, you got 2 out of 3.
"Logos" is a little more specific than "stuff", so while it may not narrow
down what exactly John was saying about God, it does rule out a lot of
possibilities for what God could be.  E.g., Logos obviously is not a white
man with a beard, so this statement could be seen as a rejection of God as
an entity that is in any way like us.

> > which is almost word-for-word identical to Keppler's quote below.
> If God is geometry like Kepler thought then I'm not a atheist. If God is
> an ashtray then I'm not a atheist either.
> > mathematics is a form of theologh.
> OK two can play this silly word game, theology is the study of the
> gastrointestinal tract.

Let's stick to this definition:
1. the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God's
attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or
religious truth; divinity.

If God is Truth or Geometry (I think Keppler said Geometry because Euclid's
axioms were the basis of Mathematics in Keppler's time, if he were to say
this today, he might say Mathematics instead), then the field of
mathematics is a form of theology, and if God is truth, true statements are
facts about God.

> > > Only a fool would say truth does not exist so with that definition God
>>> certainly exists.
>> > Ahh, so you are not an atheist after all.
> In the English language I'm a atheist but In the Jasonresch language I am
> not,

You make this into an issue of language when it is not.  It is an issue of
religions.  God, as conceived by some religious people, or as described in
some religious texts is something you variably accept or reject, depending
on what the specific traits of the idea happen to be.  Faced with this, you
have two choices: define Atheist as someone who only rejects a certain
class of Gods (those you reject), or accept that you do not fit the
definition of atheist.

> the definition of "God" in that language is whatever it takes to be able
> to say "I believe in God". The important thing is to be able to chant those
> 4 words in your mantra, what the words actually mean is of only secondary
> importance.
I accept the existence of many ideas that various religions would call God,
therefore I cannot rightfully say I believe in no God(s).  I think in this
regard, you are in the same position.

> > This is not re-inventing language to keep the ASCII letters "God", this
>> concept of God has existed in Hinduism for thousands of years.
> I might be impressed if only you had bothered to say what "this" is.

Here is a example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita#Philosophy

"According to Adi Shankara, God, the Supreme Cosmic Spirit or *Brahman* is
the One, the whole and the only reality (Paramarthika Satyam). Other than *
Brahman*, everything else, including the universe, material objects and
individuals, are false. *Brahman* is at best described as that infinite,
omnipresent, omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that
is the divine ground of all Being. *Brahman* is often described as *neti
neti <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neti_neti>* meaning "not this, not this"
because *Brahman* cannot be correctly described as this or that. In fact,
Brahman can never be known as an object of experience because it is the
very subject that experiences everything."


"Due to ignorance (avidyā), the Brahman is visible as the material world
and its objects (nama rupa vikara). The actual Brahman is attributeless and
formless (see Nirguna Brahman <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nirguna_Brahman>).
It is the Self-existent, the Absolute and the Imperishable. Brahman is
actually indescribable. It is at best *Satchidananda* (merging "Sat" +
"Chit" + "Ananda", i.e., Infinite Truth, Infinite Consciousness and
Infinite Bliss)"

I am sure you will pounce on every minor thing in the above that you
disagree with, but if you look at the whole message being communicated, you
find many deep ideas.  The dream argument, the notion of a universal
self/mind/experiencer, the singular infinite reality which is the platform
for all existence, the identity between the all (Brahman) and the self
(Atman) and so on.  There are many interesting ideas throughout that whole
article, and I invite you and others to go through it if you are not
familiar with this school of Hindu thought.

I don't mean to suggesting that you (or anyone) blindly embrace any
religious idea, but you (and others) should be aware of some of the ideas
you are rejecting when you label yourself an Atheist.

> > I had quotes from religions texts saying that "The infinite truth is the
>> source of Brahman",
> So the Brahman has infinite truth because He is omniscient and He is
> omniscient because He has infinite truth; and a black dog is a dog that is
> black and a dog that is black is a black dog. This is the level of
> profundity that I've come to expect from religion.

You could interpret it as the infinite truth is the source of Brahman,
which you can think of as the infinite platonic realm of all objects that
exist or alternatively as the infinite set of experiences.  This is made
clear in the four great sentences, among which is: This Atman is Brahman (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advaita#Mahavakya_-_The_Great_Sentences ).

I think your are willfully shutting out these ideas, because of their
origin, which is unscientific.

> > and "Brahman is the totality of what exists".
> If Brahman and Universe are synonyms then Brahman certainly exists, but I
> am not impressed by the depth of Indian religious thought.
There are many ideas that are quite deep, especially considering the time
period in which they were conceived.

I would be more surprised if there were no gems in the recorded thoughts of
some of the smartest thinkers over a period of thousands of years.

> > This is Platonism before Plato, and not so easy to refute.
> That is absolutely true, it would be very very difficult to refute that
> the totality of existence exists; but I'm not sure that proves that the
> ancient Indian philosophers were deep thinkers.
> > Do you really see no connection at all between the notions of
>> mathematical truth and some of the ideas found in these religions?
> I think that saying "God is mathematics" does not help in the slightest
> degree in figuring out how the world works and provides zero philosophical
> value; although is sounds nice as long as you don't think about it.

It does help.  It could explains fine tuning and quantum mechanics, and it
reduces the question of why there is anything at all to why does 2 + 2 = 4 ?

> > I see you ignored the names of God in Islam,
> Names? What the hell difference would it make if God's name was Seymour
> Butts or I P Daily?
Now you are just exhibiting willful blindness.

> > as well as the Sikh mantra, which are very clear on this. "There is one
>> creator whose name is truth", and among Islam's names: "The Eternal,
>> Immutable, Truth".
> Do you really care what these jackasses sing in their mindless mantras? I
> don't.
You should, because when you call yourself an atheist you are rejecting the
God of the Sikhs.

> > Platonism is the most common viewpoint of modern mathematicians, and
>> this leads to the existence of infinity.
> OK, there is no largest integer. What does that have to do with a
> omnipotent omniscient conscious being who created the universe?
Where did you get omnipotent, omniscient, and conscious out of God == Truth?

> > many religions already profess that God is the infinite:
> Crossword puzzles are more fun than this sort of silly wordplay.

You are again avoiding the issue at hand.  Given that some religions assert
their God as "the infinite, uncreated truth and source of existence", you
must redefine the scope of atheism, give up atheism, or reject the notion
that "the infinite, uncreated truth and source of existence" exists.

I think so far now you have been fighting the redefinition of atheism, and
saying it is those religions who should give up the word God, since it does
not agree with your notion of what a God should be i.e., "the omnipotent
omniscient conscious being who created the universe".


> > "Everything that is", "Totality of Existence",
> So everything is everything. Wake me up when religion says something
> interesting.
>   John K Clark
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