Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

the preamble...

The next post will be my final one (or it won't be) on the topic of "what's wrong with atheists."

It occurred to me after reading the responses to the most recent two [1] [2] items on this subject that we need to cover some basic ground first. Establish foundations, so to speak.

The first foundation stone then is the subject of definitions. The first law of philosophy is 'define your terms'. Nowhere does it say that you have to agree with a definition. All it says is that this is the definition used within the boundaries of this work and as such that's where it ends. If you want to have a debate about my definitions be aware that I do not have to accept your definition any more than you have to accept mine and therefore why bother.

All a definition does is to provide a means of trying to understand what the writer is trying to say. A definition sets boundaries for understanding meaning. It does not pretend to be the bees knees of definitions. I'll leave the study of Superior Meanings to the Meaning Fascists. They can be found soaring the upper altitudes of the blogostratosphere. This plane don't fly that high... Nor do we want sudden and catastrophic depressurisation due to a smashed windscreen caused by birdstrike... Save the Philosophic Vultures , I say....

The second foundation stone is "Don't ever, EVER, forget the first foundation stone."

So, before we get going in a day or two, let's use this preamble to get all of the cat-calls out of the way. Got problems? Speak now, or forever hold your piece [sic]...

27 Comments:

Blogger Mike B) said...

"Nothing in this blog can be believed." ;P

I had this revelation the other night. While I was praying, I discovered that I was talking to myself.

July 08, 2006 3:28 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Oh, Mike, you can believe it, so long as you use ANOTHER source as your primary source... And then you can tack on the comment "Gerry agrees with (primary source) and see how much extra credibility you harvest by doing that... ;-P

Don't like your chances though... :-)

July 08, 2006 4:16 PM  
Blogger Davo said...

I guess it depends on whether human beings decide whether they want to live in analogue .. or digital time.

Self has yet to escape analogue, but has fun with digital.

July 08, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger JahTeh said...

Stuff atheists, stuff agnostics, stuff religion, stuff gods of all description, stuff philosophy, stuff misogynists, stuff misandrists, stuff Howard, stuff ASIO and that ought to make the world bearable.

July 09, 2006 1:25 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Can I play too?

If I may start with putting forward two postulates and one universal analogy.

Postulate One: Truth is independent of its source.
Postulate Two: Truth is not a majority vote construct.
Universal Analogy: We live in a Fractal Universe. (http://www.cyberian.ca/fractals/)

P1. Truth exists independently of its source. A child may utter the most profound truth, with or without an awareness of its ramifications. Credibility of the source is irrelevant. Perception of truth, analysis and interpretation of truth is however influenced by the knowledge, experiences, and the precursive assumptions and attitudes of the postulant.

P2. Truth is not defined or quantified by the number of people who believe in it. Unless ofcourse one lives in a J.M.Barrie (Peter Pan, author) universe where a fairy dies every time someone says, "I don't believe in fairies!" A stone is a stone. You may state, "I don't believe in stones." Stone don't care. It will still break your toe when you kick it no matter how much you don't believe in it.

Universal Analogy. Fractals are patterns which repeat at every scale from the subatomic to the galaxy. Find a pattern, examine it closely, and within its detail, you will find the same pattern repeated (iteration) again and again. These patterns are a function of the materials from which the patterns are constructed. Take a seashore any where in the world. A random, near infinite number of water molecules interact with a random, near infinite number of sand particles. Does this result in a near infinite number of random patterns? No. Maybe half a dozen variations of patterns of sand ripples are evident across the planet.

Change of pace. I have never understood the veracity of 'angels on a pinhead' discussions about religion, God, universal beliefs etc. I don't get it. What does it matter what somebody else believes? Personal faith is an alchemy, a transmutation which occurs within a person's heart. A transformative process involving a person's knowledge, personal history, and most of all, their needs. Faith does not need to be quantified, rationalised, or justified. It is what it is. God does not exist nor cease to exist on the balance of how many people believe.

A child having nightmares about 'monsters under the bed' doesn't seek a philosophical debate upon their existential nature. He fears, he seeks consolation, security, safety. It is irrelevant whether he is experiencing the effects of indigestion, just watched a scary movie, or if the 'monsters' are metaphors for some deeper sense of insecurity. He seeks empowerment over his fears and vulnerabilities. Don't deny his personal reality. Work within it. One way may be to teach him how to create his own guardian monster, stronger and better than any other. To deal with the demons from within the same demonology. (eg. the killer squirrels scene between Patch Adams (Robin Williams) and Rudy (Michael Jetter) in the 1998 movie, Patch Adams)

However a person deals with the insecurities, the pains, the vulnerabilities and fears of this life, it's okay. It's personal. If it makes sense to them at some deep personal level, WTF....

It is only when one person's beliefs interferes with that of another, does it become an issue. And that is an issue of Conflict Resolution, not of philosophy or religion.

Oh, Fractal Universe? If the pattern of God is in the universe, then it is also within us. Layer upon layer, upon layer (Sara Lee?!) And we are in him. Each interacts with each other in constant mutual creation and recreation. One forms the other. And thus truth will always harmonize and resonate within the very fibre of our existence. Our experience of truth is not in the knowing of it, it is in the feeling of it.

July 09, 2006 3:30 PM  
Blogger Davo said...

There was a time in history when the atom was considered the smallest indivisible particle. The Manhattan Project proved otherwise. From my point of view "god" (for want of a better word) is the sum total of all the energy available in the universe. Sort of undefinable and not quantifiable. All quibbles about which "god" is strongest is a sort of democratic, political human endeavour. ("Hey, my god is the best, rally to this side, we need the troops.")

On the other hand, if all is pure energy, why is it that when i bang my head on the desk in sheer philosophical frustration, I bleed. Curious.

July 09, 2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

At the risk of splitting hairs, Davo, I would have thought the totality of universal energy was the most quantifiable and definable of all things.

1=1, ∑(Universal Energy) = ∑(Universal Energy)

Assuming ofcourse that we percieve the universe as being the totality of all possible existance. Once we introduce worm holes and parallel universes, things get a little screwy.

As far as pure energy, presumably it shifts from one form to another. The relative density of different energy forms leads to the illusionary perception of solidity. As to why you bleed? 'Cause you're a bloody idiot for deliberately bashing your head? Darwin's Law of Selective Evolution? Go figure. Duh! What tha....

:-) (just messing with you, Davo!!)

(Hey, my God gives out free lollypops, can your God do that?? Thuurrrpppsss........)

July 09, 2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger Davo said...

My god give out free sunlight .. from whence all lollypops come .. heh. Doh. (bangs head on desk yet again. There is no hope for some people. ;-))

July 09, 2006 9:30 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Hey, I remember you now, Davo!! Weren't you in that movie..... You know, you were one of the knights who said "Ni!", while banging your head on a wooden slab. Or was it the Knights of Shrubbery? Monty Python and The Holy Grail. Wow, a real life movie star, Cool!!!

July 09, 2006 9:47 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

JahTeh, Not sure what you're getting at there... But maybe I do... If it will ease yours and others' minds, I plan soon to put this blog into suspended animation and exit the blogosphere. I just need to say a few more things to round off some rough edges. Then I will leave it up as a testament to my insanity, to remain hanging there, in limbo, till all Blogger blogs instantly evaporate with a flick of Google's corporate switch.

Bluey, I agree with P1, P2, and the possibility that the universes are just part of one humungous fractal.

"I have never understood the veracity of 'angels on a pinhead' discussions about religion, God, universal beliefs etc."

It just goes to show that any conversation quickly degenrates into obfuscation, equivocation and other sinfully sophist behaviour. As I'll point out in my next post, Atheists are experts at this too.

"It is only when one person's beliefs interferes with that of another, does it become an issue. And that is an issue of Conflict Resolution, not of philosophy or religion."

Now you're talking! I've never heard it put that way before! That's excellent! Do you include Atheists slagging off at religions in that pardigm?

"One way may be to teach him how to create his own guardian monster, stronger and better than any other"

Very similar to the dream work the Senoi tribe use to teach their kids.

Also similar to the primary operating principle used when one is doing (Spiritualist - for want of a better term) exorcisms. Nothing to do wit the way the Catholics do it.

"If the pattern of God is in the universe, then it is also within us."

As a metaphor I like the fractal thing, but as a mathematical equation, well, what's the equation for God? What are the variables?

What was Tesla working on? What was Reich working on? Were they the same thing? And why don't we crash the global economy by putting that information on the net? Forgive this last, I just couldn't help getting a bit impish...

July 10, 2006 12:02 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

But the mathematical fractal equation is not the pattern. It is merely our fumbling attempt to quantify observation. The more closely we examine the pattern, the bigger and more detailed it becomes. Then when we look up from the microscope, we find that we too are part of an even greater pattern which extends beyond the horizons of our observation in all directions, in all dimensions...

July 10, 2006 6:34 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

"Do you include Atheists slagging off at religions in that pardigm?"

Think about that for a moment. Atheists slagging off at believers....
If their belief in atheism was truly comprehensive, truly complete, why would they bother saying anything at all? Why do they seek companionship in their atheism?

Could it be that they are afraid? That they, more than others, want to be convinced as to the validity of their own words. They cannot prove the non-existence of 'their God' any more than believers can empirically prove the existence of 'their God'.

But the believers can live with the 'non-proof'. It is enough that they believe. Atheists, for the most part, cannot. They are torn and shredded by their own fallibility, their own doubts and fears. They seek solace and refuge by clawing through the sophist cobwebs of doctrine, retreating into the lonely womb of their own egotism and arrogance.

If they are right, if in their reality, there is no 'God' (however the concept may be defined), then who are they really flailing against? By their definition, not God, he doesn't exist. Rather, they are seeking to trash the warm, moist, very human dreams of hope and desire for sanctuary beyond the pain, beyond the fears, beyond the betrayals of significant others.

They seek to kill the simple transient joy of a child marveling at a necklace of diamonds as early morning sun glistens through a dew spangled web. To snatch away that vision of beauty, to instead tell of blood-splattered wars, of mud and tears, of rape and violation. What kind of mongrel would do that and call it humanist reality?

What may come, will come, eventually. If the belief is only illusionary, the comfort only temporary, then it is a damn fine one. What will come, will come, regardless of what we believe. Who among us would not bask in the warmth of the rising sun on a cold frosty morning, as transient as that warmth may be?

A humanist atheist would keep his belief in disbelief to himself, allowing others to enjoy their brief comfort in self-deluding absolutism. The noisy atheist is like the chubby schoolyard bully who seeks to hide his own groveling fear and pain through trashing the playground happiness of others.

And in doing so he serves only to isolate himself. Not only from himself, but also from those who might otherwise freely give him companionship regardless of his disbelief. Thus the bully uses his self-induced isolation to validate his own denial. A fortress of solitude from which nobody but himself, can free him. He wails from high up on the lonely battlements for someone to unlock the gates of his own castle.

July 10, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Impishly?!!

You know Gerry, I can imagine you in all manner of shapes and costumes. But a winsome, wispy, willowy 60 year old imp in tinkling petite leather slippers with long curled up toes isn't one of them........

July 10, 2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger Kurt Reply said...

Forgive me if I cannot follow along with much of this discussion in the detailed, philosophical, and adversarial vein in which you seem to be proceeding, but can't much of this discussion be simplified into a few statements? I'll try here.

Humans are social animals. It's simply human nature to want to belong to a group, a tribe, a community, a pack--whatever. Very very few of us are happy being entirely alone. It's simple human nature to want to be accepted by others with similar interests and values and beliefs, and then (to a lesser extent) influence others to come into the fold.

Some people believe in God, some don't.

Be it right or wrong, those who do believe in God have allied themselves into different groups (religions, faiths, even nations-- whatever). The next natural step is to try to influence governments, policies, and society to be sympathetic to their beliefs and motives.

What's so odd about those who don't believe in God wishing to come together as well, especially (for example) when the religious interests start meddling with government and policy (as they are doing in the USA with science education)?

July 10, 2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger Kurt Reply said...

Sorry, Gerry, maybe this wasn't the place for this comment, but I wasn't sure where that place is. Delete it if you will if it's off-topic.

July 10, 2006 10:35 AM  
Blogger JahTeh said...

The Bear's a mind reader now.

If you quit I'll form a hunting party. We'll follow the trail of dismembered atheists.

July 10, 2006 5:43 PM  
Blogger phil said...

There's nothing wrong, imho, in admitting that you don't know. I don't, but I'm also bloody sure that I don't want someone else selling me their particular version of reality. I got tricked - yes, tricked once into signing up, when I was but a wee tacker, and after that I decided never again, if they have to descend to that level. Picking on innocent kids.

I'm perfectly happy with the notion of energy, provide some total stranger doesn't accost me and try to convince me that "Energy says you should do this, Energy says do not do that, etc etc."

Gerry, I can understand - sort of, I know I really don't, but I'm locked into social norms - if you want to give it away. But I'll miss your particular view on this life. If you trurn in a different guise, do let me know.

July 10, 2006 8:39 PM  
Blogger phil said...

"If you return..."

stupid fingers, stupid keys....

July 10, 2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Hooley dooley!!! Ok, I'll try and respond...

Bluey: About fractals, I'm no higher level mathematician but as understand it, a fractals are generally two dimensional, multi coloured representations of AN EQUATION. (Hey, that probably means that they COULD also be represented in THREE dimensions - wow, that would be mind-blowingly cool.)

But... As I understand it, they are still REPRESENTATIONS of a mathematical equation, not the other way around.

Therefore, if the universe is a fractal, there MUST be an equation for it. And if you now wish to postulate that God is in there too, then that equation is also the equation for God. A very bold hypothesis indeed. And scientifically verifyable... Let me know when they crack that equation... In the meantime... Waiting is...

About atheists, you nicley pre-empted much of what I'll be addressing (and even adding more colour to it) in the next post, which I will now delay for a bit longer till this beautiful thread runs its course.

And I don't care what you say, I believe I'm an imp. Maybe an imp who occasionally dons bovver boots, but an imp... :-)

Kurt: Yes, I often tend to adversarial. Do you know many Vietnam vets who suffer from PTSD? How many of them are calm, placid, non-adversarial Ghandi-like gurus? I've put up a fair disclaimer on this blog, those who have a problem with my imperfect character are always free to stop coming here. Please don't explode a blood vessel, old Kurt, but if my nature is intolerable to you, or a vexation to your spiritual equilibrium, then you need to take the appropriate action. And you know what that is.

The rest of your comment is absolutely fine by me, Kurt. I'm even in total agreement with all of it. But I will not deal with it here because this is merely the preamble. I will, however, refer to it (via link-back) when I do that post.

All I'm doing here is saying (for VERY good reason, that the ONLY definitions within which I will debate what I say in that post, will be the definitions as I define them in that post. About this, we could have a debate here if anyone has problems with this idea (because they sure did before!!!) :-)

JahTeh:

[1] Nothing in this blog can be believed...

[2] Abandon all hope ye who enter here...

[3] If I kept blogging, it would always be to rant about five or six major issues over and over and over and over again... I feel I've (nearly) said enough about them.

[4] I never said I would't start a completely different flavour of blog elsewhere. But if I did, it would be anonymous and no one from here (or anywhere else) would know about it unless they stumbled across it themselves. Sorry if this is unacceptable... Oh, and there would be absolutley NO links given or invited, or even condoned. Such a blog would only ever have a very select and very tiny readership. To spare the rest of the world...

July 10, 2006 8:57 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Double hooley dooley! Phil entered the fray whilst I was typing the previous.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Phil, but even I can only rage against the machine for so long. It's like the whole human race has lost the plot. Of course the truth is, it's me who's lost the plot. One more reason to stop boring people or providing silly entertainment along the lines of "watch the fool."

And yes, as I said to JahTeh, I do have another idea for a blog but I doubt anyone from here would ever stumble across it, and even if they did they wouldn't know it was me. And I would deny all knowledge of me. It would be 100% anonymous.

Sorry...

July 10, 2006 9:14 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Fractals?

Somewhat of a reversable arguement, Gerry. The mathematics of fractal seeks to model and imitate patterns which already exist naturally. This is also tied up with related concepts such as 'The Golden Mean' and the Fibonacci number sequence. Yes, fractal software has most definately gone 3D*. Entire landscapes with mountains, rivers, and seas can be created through fractal software. With the right surface texturing and rendering, it is virtually impossible to distinguish between the image of an artificial landscape and photos of a real one.

Yes, this has its origins in mathematical formulae, reproducing the appearance of a fern or a tree, or a mountain range. But the pattern which it is seeking to imitate is a natural one. A fern does not use mandelbrot sets to determine its growth patterns. But mandelbrot sets can imitate the appearance of a growing fern.

The theorists indeed suggest that the universe can be digitised, that all matter is ultimately encoded information. But not in the reductionist cartesian sense of Newtonian physics where all things could be reduced to an equation with known variables.

*Examples of 3D Fractal software for creation of landscapes etc. http://www.vterrain.org/Packages/Com/index.html

PS Hey Gerry, if I am posting too much, please feel free to tell me to shut up and bugger off. ( blueyk@rock.com )

July 11, 2006 10:42 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Imp!?

Loki, perhaps?

July 11, 2006 10:53 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey: You're not posting too much. Relax. This blog (generally) works on the basis that too many posts are bearly enough... ;-)

If a particular commment is utter crap I'll either ignore it or delete it. But none of yours have even gone close. And you don't strike me as a crap-commenter. Now I AM a crap commenter - just ask the other bloggers...:-(

So, back to fractals.

Am I not correct in saying that if the universe/god is a fractal, there has to be an equation for this?

Thanks for the 3D fractal info. But we're still locked into equations here. All software can do is process equations and commands. So back to the fractal universe now: I assert that if the universe/God is a fractal, then there must be an equation. If there is an equation then we will be able to create software to duplicate/manipulate the universe/God thingie. Neat trick if you can pull it off... What would Father Bob think of that one? :-)

And no, I don't think I'd like to be thought of as Loki. He was a shyster by all accounts.

July 11, 2006 12:19 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

I don't know, Gerry. All I'm saying re fractals is that they are an attempt to model natural patterns. They are not necessarily the patterns themselves. Just as a photo of a flower, is not the flower. Even a hologram of the flower is not the flower. A map is not the landscape, but a 'point-in-time' capture. (If I thought long enough I could probably recite the infanteer's mil definition but can't be bothered.)

Actually, both the fundamentalist Christians and young physicists probably inadvertantly agree on the question you are raising, as do many traditional mythologies**. The Christians would say something like "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God" Some writers have equated this "Word", with the God Equation that you are talking about. (Which also happens to be the title of an interesting book by mathematician, Amir Aczel) Physicists and mythologies talk of something similar, with the universe beginning with the singularity, a single shout/burst of pure information (God?) which expands into all forms of energy, matter, and transitions thereof. The ability of fractal software to mirror natural patterns so effectively does seem to suggest consistency in underlying forms beyond purely random juxtapositioning.

**(David Suzuki wrote an interesting book, 'The Wisdom of the Elders', where he compared the mythology and stories of traditional cultures with modern scientific theories, finding a lot of similarities. Though this book was primarily focused on environmental issues.)

I should probably point out some time that in none of these posts, am I debating from a particular stance or religious positioning. I am neither postulating for or against 'thesim of any flavour.

July 11, 2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Oh, almost forgot. Re Father Bob and fractal worlds.

There is a virtual (Fractal?) online world called Second Life. It is currently very popular with many thousands of participants world wide. It simulates all aspects of society, economies, and landscapes. People take on an avatar identity, construct homes and businesses, buy and sell real estate, and have jobs etc, earning currency which can be spent in the many shopping malls within Second Life. It even has its own Mafia, who you can pay to knock certain players off. (I have never actually tried it out myself) I read recently where some friends of Father Bob helped him set up an avatar within Second Life as their first priest/prophet. Apparently there are plans to build a church for him within the cyberworld of Second Life, and establish a virtual congregation, perhaps even delivering actual Mass and Communion online. Interesting notion...

July 11, 2006 2:44 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey said: "I should probably point out some time that in none of these posts, am I debating from a particular stance or religious positioning. I am neither postulating for or against 'thesim of any flavour."

Neither am I old son, neither am I.

Second World: Interesting. Maybe I should go live there. I have too much trouble with the real world.

July 11, 2006 4:10 PM  
Blogger JahTeh said...

Synchronisity at work. Just before I logged on here I posted about Second Life but I wasn't looking at Father Bob or religion.

July 11, 2006 5:54 PM  

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