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Old 10-24-2013, 09:53 PM   #221
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And to paraphrase (poorly) from the book, Harris asserts that we don't have free will in the most obvious way. We are who we are because of our subconscious or events in our life we have no control over (being sexually abused as a child would be example).

If I cannot answer why I did something, then how is that free will? Yes I am in control but our deepest desires or choices stem from a part of our brain we just don't understand (yet).
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Old 10-24-2013, 10:37 PM   #222
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It goes deeper than that though. We - our conscious we - are not in control at all. Our conscious control of our bodies and thoughts is an illusion. And when you think about it, our choice of words, decisions we make, ideas we get to make a decision about something, etc are all obviously not created consciously. They come from deeper in our brains and we are conscious of their manifestation, but we really had no control over their coming into being. Blurt out the first word that comes to your mind. You can't say for certain where that word came from. Why did you say refrigerator instead of muffin top? (and where did those come from in my brain?). It emerged from the darkness of your mind. This goes for everything you've ever done and ever thought. I can't remember if it was in the Harris book or Dennet book, but experiments have been done where the subject was placed in front of two buttons - left and right - and had electrodes stuck to their heads. A screen in front of them would flash a random sequence of numbers. The subjects were asked to push either the left or right button and record what number was on screen at the moment they made their decision. The brain activity indicated their decisions were made several seconds before they were conscious of the decision being made. Sometimes as much as 10 seconds prior. Your decisions aren't coming from your consciousness. It's kind of spooky, but really, what difference does it make? You as a system are still making these choices, it's just that you have no conscious free will over them.

To me, this shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Consciousness seems to be nothing more than a byproduct of memory. I usually use blackout drunkenness as an example, but this past UFC main event provided a great example. The challenger, Junior Dos Santos, took a bit of a beating in the 3rd round. He was nearly knocked out but managed to 'recover' enough to finish and lose the 5 round bout. He doesn't remember conducting the post fight interview nor does he remember finishing the fight. He thought he got knocked out in the 3rd round. For all intents and purposes he wasn't there, but he was still making decisions and functioning as a normal human being. He wasn't conscious of it. He made no conscious choices. But his memory was impeded.
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Old 10-25-2013, 11:22 AM   #223
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It goes deeper than that though. We - our conscious we - are not in control at all. Our conscious control of our bodies and thoughts is an illusion. And when you think about it, our choice of words, decisions we make, ideas we get to make a decision about something, etc are all obviously not created consciously. They come from deeper in our brains and we are conscious of their manifestation, but we really had no control over their coming into being. Blurt out the first word that comes to your mind. You can't say for certain where that word came from. Why did you say refrigerator instead of muffin top? (and where did those come from in my brain?). It emerged from the darkness of your mind. This goes for everything you've ever done and ever thought. I can't remember if it was in the Harris book or Dennet book, but experiments have been done where the subject was placed in front of two buttons - left and right - and had electrodes stuck to their heads. A screen in front of them would flash a random sequence of numbers. The subjects were asked to push either the left or right button and record what number was on screen at the moment they made their decision. The brain activity indicated their decisions were made several seconds before they were conscious of the decision being made. Sometimes as much as 10 seconds prior. Your decisions aren't coming from your consciousness. It's kind of spooky, but really, what difference does it make? You as a system are still making these choices, it's just that you have no conscious free will over them.

To me, this shouldn't come as a surprise, though. Consciousness seems to be nothing more than a byproduct of memory. I usually use blackout drunkenness as an example, but this past UFC main event provided a great example. The challenger, Junior Dos Santos, took a bit of a beating in the 3rd round. He was nearly knocked out but managed to 'recover' enough to finish and lose the 5 round bout. He doesn't remember conducting the post fight interview nor does he remember finishing the fight. He thought he got knocked out in the 3rd round. For all intents and purposes he wasn't there, but he was still making decisions and functioning as a normal human being. He wasn't conscious of it. He made no conscious choices. But his memory was impeded.
I find this fascinating, especially when you consider Alzheimer's patients - when they lose their memory they lose their personality. However, my instincts or "faith" tell me there is more to us than memories. I think that memories are a tool the spirit uses while engaging with this universe ("reality") - but the spirit exists both in and beyond this universe at the same time. When one decreases - the other eventually increases.

That's my Deepak idea of the day! Prove me wrong!!!
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:22 PM   #224
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I find this fascinating, especially when you consider Alzheimer's patients - when they lose their memory they lose their personality. However, my instincts or "faith" tell me there is more to us than memories. I think that memories are a tool the spirit uses while engaging with this universe ("reality") - but the spirit exists both in and beyond this universe at the same time. When one decreases - the other eventually increases.

That's my Deepak idea of the day! Prove me wrong!!!
I don't have great knowledge of the brain, but from what I understand there are parts of the brain that can bring someone to a higher state of mind, kind of like the superego in a Freudian sense.

Let's not forget our heart or gut instincts are not part of the brain, but since they make us feel, they can influence our thoughts and behavior too.
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:36 PM   #225
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Very good. Now is someone going to start a thread about History and Mathematics? How about Linguistics and Geography?

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Old 11-21-2013, 09:42 PM   #226
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Did anyone else catch "Through the Wormhole" last night? It was about viewing the universe as one living organism.
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:46 PM   #227
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I think I watched it on a plane once. I would have loved it, I'm sure, but I can't remember it.
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Old 11-21-2013, 09:56 PM   #228
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Very good. Now is someone going to start a thread about History and Mathematics? How about Linguistics and Geography?
I'm definitely looking to start a history/archaeology thread because I love that stuff as much as JT loves science. I just need a good story to start it off with.

Oh hell, why not just do it?
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:40 AM   #229
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We were talking about this earlier in the thread (watch the Susskind video).

Universe Really Is a Hologram According to New Simulations

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A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection...


The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity....

“They have numerically confirmed, perhaps for the first time, something we were fairly sure had to be true, but was still a conjecture—namely that the thermodynamics of certain black holes can be reproduced from a lower-dimensional universe,” says Leonard Susskind, a theoretical physicist at Stanford University in California who was among the first theoreticians to explore the idea of holographic universes.
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Old 12-21-2013, 11:15 PM   #230
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The idea that science and religion can be complimentary still seems misplaced to me. Obviously people can be religious and accept scientific explanations about the world but it seems that religious thinking is not a hinderance at best because people are great at compartmentalising their thoughts (which we all do). This is all well and good until there are subjects where the a priori religious belief requires something that the science doesn't provide evidence and bad assumptions are made.

Theistic evolution is a nice example of this. The processes that drive evolution which have been uncovered through scientific investigation appear to be unguided (at the level of mutation it looks random and selection itself is without any goals). Theistic evolution (or evolutionary creationism) wants to salvage the idea of a creator with us in mind by asserting an imperceptible God of the Gaps. When Ken Miller starts introducing a God that jigs with mutations over the course of natural history to ultimately lead to humans he's making a pseudoscientific claim. Having an intelligent designer that's intervening in a way that's indistinguishable from explicable natural processes just adds a layer of untestable complication for no good reason. It also reopens the questions of natural evil that come along with an interventionist God. I think these are bad assumptions (made by smart people) and I don't think they would be made without an earlier commitment to the idea of a creator.

/Wandering into town post
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Old 12-21-2013, 11:20 PM   #231
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I'm too agitated to read your post. I will come back later.
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Old 12-22-2013, 12:34 PM   #232
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The idea that science and religion can be complimentary still seems misplaced to me. Obviously people can be religious and accept scientific explanations about the world but it seems that religious thinking is not a hinderance at best because people are great at compartmentalising their thoughts (which we all do). This is all well and good until there are subjects where the a priori religious belief requires something that the science doesn't provide evidence and bad assumptions are made.

Theistic evolution is a nice example of this. The processes that drive evolution which have been uncovered through scientific investigation appear to be unguided (at the level of mutation it looks random and selection itself is without any goals). Theistic evolution (or evolutionary creationism) wants to salvage the idea of a creator with us in mind by asserting an imperceptible God of the Gaps. When Ken Miller starts introducing a God that jigs with mutations over the course of natural history to ultimately lead to humans he's making a pseudoscientific claim. Having an intelligent designer that's intervening in a way that's indistinguishable from explicable natural processes just adds a layer of untestable complication for no good reason. It also reopens the questions of natural evil that come along with an interventionist God. I think these are bad assumptions (made by smart people) and I don't think they would be made without an earlier commitment to the idea of a creator.

/Wandering into town post
Hey! Glad to hear from you!!! I hope all is well!!!

I've come to agree with what you've been saying here over the years. I agree that science and scientific thinking are generally not compatible with religious faith.

Yet - I have both in my mental "toolbox." Trying to use science to "prove" God is basically useless, as Immanuel Kant demonstrated a few hundred years ago. So - trying to insert "God" into something like evolution as serious scientific research is not going to go far. However - that doesn't mean that it isn't safe to discuss in a non-scientific way the nature of the God and his role in the universe (if he has one). Not in order to prove anything - just to simply play the game, "I wonder if..."

To me, theology/philosophy and science live on a sliding scale. If one end of the scale is white (science) and the other end is black (theology/philosophy) the slider sometimes (especially in quantum mechanics and astrophysics) enters into a very grey area. And I love that place!
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Old 12-22-2013, 01:48 PM   #233
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To me, theology/philosophy and science live on a sliding scale. If one end of the scale is white (science) and the other end is black (theology/philosophy) the slider sometimes (especially in quantum mechanics and astrophysics) enters into a very grey area. And I love that place!
The thing that science and theology have in common is that there is no solid answer. Yes, some believe science has the absolute answers and some would say their version of theology is the absolute truth. But many would say there is no absolute in either. I mean, how we see evolution keeps changing. Look at the recent reports of human bones found that are older than Lucy. Plus, no one knows where the universe ends or begins, if it does. Same with God. There have been theologians throughout history who have said that anyone who claims to know who or what God is does not know Him at all.

Science and theology have that big "if" going on, so there's where they are compatible.
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Old 12-22-2013, 03:26 PM   #234
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Science is like Ivory soap, it is 99% pure.

Religion is 99% nonsense (crap)

if one wants to get clean and have good hygiene
to say that both are not 100 pure, therefore, one is not better is a poor argument.
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Old 12-22-2013, 10:44 PM   #235
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Science is like Ivory soap, it is 99% pure.

Religion is 99% nonsense (crap)

if one wants to get clean and have good hygiene
to say that both are not 100 pure, therefore, one is not better is a poor argument.
Well - so far at least - science hasn't been able to tackle some of the big questions like "Why are we here? What' s the purpose of my life? What happens after death?"

This is an area that is quite hospitable to theology and philosophy.
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Old 12-23-2013, 10:50 PM   #236
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Of course if there is no why....(why is a coyote here, why is a lightning bug?--they serve their purposes but pose no cosmic question)....if we have no other purpose than procreation or in some other way nurturing the young....if nothing happens after death...
Then the big questions just sputter with ego diminishing silence if we are dependent on a big answer.

And we are left with creating our own purpose that does not interest the universe.

But, hell, yeah, I love the what if discussions. And I can embrace them whether or not I believe them. I am flexible on there being a big answer. I always found "what if" healthy thought for the imagination.
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:52 AM   #237
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Yes, some believe science has the absolute answers and some would say their version of theology is the absolute truth. .
It's been said before...only a Sith deals in absolutes.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:06 AM   #238
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It is hard to be a skeptic with irrefutable proof like this

'Hand of God' spotted by NASA space telescope | Fox News
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