How can there be love without god?

Medievalguy
Medievalguy's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: 2007-03-01
User is offlineOffline
How can there be love without god?

 My gf is refusing to speak with me. After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

She wrote the following:

The whole store about the dragon in the garage could theoretically disprove anything that could not be proved, like human relationships. Whit if I were to say something like, "My parents love me?" You might ask for evidence: have they told me so? Have they taken care of me? Have they been to my sports games, plays, graduations? You then could present concepts like the biological impulse to breed, societal pressure to partner and breed, birth control failure, sense of duty and reciprocation - the idea that if they care for you now, build up a bond now, you will be in the physical and mental condition to care for them later.

Or what about your friends, or romantic relationships? Do they really think you're interesting, or are they afraid of being alone? Remember, humans are social creatures. Does your partner really love you, can that be said objectively, or is the relationship based upon their decision that you are a decent option to provide for them and any possible children?

It could be said that because it cannot be proven with logic, love as we think of it cannot exist. Emotional bonds serve the purpose of social order, and any ascribed meaning beyond that is all in our heads. When we die, the concepts of love and caring die. Aesthetics and philosophy are also the product of human minds and nothing more. None of these things existed before us, like gravity or mitosis, and they will not exist after us, which means that we have made it up. We have imagined these wonderful ideas that someone on this earth "loves" us and that the art we view offers insights into humanity, but they do not exist in reality. They are not real, no matter how much we beg and plead and pretend they have lasting significance.

Do you see how your argument plays out in reality? According to this line of logic, something cannot have significance - nothing can have significance - just because we have deemed it so. If it does not exist before we are borne/can formulate thoughts, and dies when we do, and cannot be proven by science or logic, then it is not viable, but useless.

 


Antipatris
atheist
Antipatris's picture
Posts: 175
Joined: 2011-05-20
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote: My gf is

Medievalguy wrote:

 My gf is refusing to speak with me. After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

She wrote the following:

The whole store about the dragon in the garage could theoretically disprove anything that could not be proved, like human relationships.

 

I'm not entirely sure I follow her. I have more proof for the existence of my human relationships than someone's say-so, which is the only thing Sagan's garage-dwelling dragon has going for it. She's looking for nihilism were there isn't any.


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

That time of the month again?

 

Really, love is not all that hard to find. Take a walk in the park on Saturday and you should have no problem finding couples doing flirty stuff. If you go with the thesis in her rant, that is the urge to breed and possibly one day pool resources for greater efficiency. But we all know better.

 

Another point is that at some point we have all had pets. Do you really think that they only keep us around because we happen to be really good at building structures that will keep them warm and dry in bad weather? Not likely. Of course it helps if your pets are one of the more advanced mammals. For fish you really are a slave to maintaining the correct water conditions. For snakes, the only thing that they really care about is that you throw them a mouse once in a while. Still, a cat or a dog will let you know very quickly about love. Hell's bells, I once had to send a condolence card to someone who lost his horse.

 

The thing is that you don't need god to explain any of that.

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


Deadly Fingergun
atheist
Deadly Fingergun's picture
Posts: 237
Joined: 2009-11-19
User is offlineOffline
I really hate the "argument

I really hate the "argument from consequence" fallacy.

My counter argument: Don't make the mistake of conflating "significant" with "objective reality". The human constructed concepts are significant to us whether or not they are a part of objective reality.

We are, indeed, social creatures. From our social instincts emerge things of significance to us, like feelings of love. Just because these social instincts are about "decent options for possible child rearing" does not diminish the feeling of love itself. After all, love felt and was acted on as "real" before knowing it was the result of electro-chemical activity in the brain, why would it not be felt and acted on as real afterward? Nothing has changed other than the understanding of the feelings origins.

So, in reality, the dragon in the garage plays out just fine.

Big E wrote:
Clown
Why, yes, I am!


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote: My gf is

Medievalguy wrote:

 My gf is refusing to speak with me. After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

She wrote the following:

The whole store about the dragon in the garage could theoretically disprove anything that could not be proved, like human relationships. Whit if I were to say something like, "My parents love me?" You might ask for evidence: have they told me so? Have they taken care of me? Have they been to my sports games, plays, graduations? You then could present concepts like the biological impulse to breed, societal pressure to partner and breed, birth control failure, sense of duty and reciprocation - the idea that if they care for you now, build up a bond now, you will be in the physical and mental condition to care for them later.

Or what about your friends, or romantic relationships? Do they really think you're interesting, or are they afraid of being alone? Remember, humans are social creatures. Does your partner really love you, can that be said objectively, or is the relationship based upon their decision that you are a decent option to provide for them and any possible children?

It could be said that because it cannot be proven with logic, love as we think of it cannot exist. Emotional bonds serve the purpose of social order, and any ascribed meaning beyond that is all in our heads. When we die, the concepts of love and caring die. Aesthetics and philosophy are also the product of human minds and nothing more. None of these things existed before us, like gravity or mitosis, and they will not exist after us, which means that we have made it up. We have imagined these wonderful ideas that someone on this earth "loves" us and that the art we view offers insights into humanity, but they do not exist in reality. They are not real, no matter how much we beg and plead and pretend they have lasting significance.

Do you see how your argument plays out in reality? According to this line of logic, something cannot have significance - nothing can have significance - just because we have deemed it so. If it does not exist before we are borne/can formulate thoughts, and dies when we do, and cannot be proven by science or logic, then it is not viable, but useless.

This is what I would say. Your mileage may vary.

It is simply not true that love does not exist without some god to sustain it. That is the big thing you have to understand if you want to understand how an atheist views the world.

Of course love exists. I experience it, you experience it. Dogs, cats, chimps, and dolphins experience it. Humans are not the only animals capable of experiencing love. That's another big thing to wrap your mind around, but it's true.

You do not lose anything when you give up belief in an imagined god. Nothing disappears, you don't vanish in a puff of smoke, you don't lose any feeling. You don't lose love or hope or dreams, desires, or any other emotion.

It is only religiously based anti-atheist propaganda that has given you that idea. You'll hear it in church sermons, and you might even read it in the Bible if you actually read the whole thing. But it's just a lie. In fact, it's one of the most evil and pernicious lies that religion typically promotes. Think about it. Are you really saying that atheists do not have any love or meaning in their lives? That they lose something essential? That they are basically not really human?! This is a disgusting lie that has been fed to you from a very young age, and it is simply not true. You do not need to believe that. In fact, you shouldn't, because not only is it false, but it is disrespectful and dehumanizing.

The real truth is that all people can feel love, hope, meaning, awe, and wonder. The religions do not have any sort of monopoly on wondrous experience. All humans have it. I am no less human than you. I can feel just as much love as you can. There is nothing wrong with me. You have simply been lied to. You've been fed fear and terror at the idea that there could be no god. It is a good way to keep people believing--in terror at the alternative of even wondering about the non-existence of a god--but it is not good for your mental health to live in fear and terror.

The good news is that you do not have to live in terror at disbelief. There are millions of atheists all around you, and you probably don't even know it. That's because they are happy, normal, and good people, just like anyone else. If what you say is true, that all life would be meaningless and useless without god, then these people would be suicidally depressed, but that is simply not the case.

Love is real. To be specific, love is physical. Love is an emotion that most mammals feel, and human love is a highly developed form of love, but it is the same basic love that we share with many other animals.

Even though it is physical, being based in the brain, under the influence of hormones such as oxytocin and neurotransmitters such as seratonin, that does not mean that the experience of love is any less 'real'.

If you know the recipe for a chocolate cake or apple pie, does that make it any less yummy? No. Just knowing that chocolate cake is made up of sugars, starches, fats, and other chemicals, doesn't reduce our enjoyment of it at all. In fact, many chefs have a superb appreciation for good food. Do they lose this ability when they learn that salt is made of sodium-chloride? No.

Food is chemical, not magical. And yet it tastes good. Understanding its chemical nature doesn't change this at all!

Love is physical, it is something our brains do, and something that we therefore experience consciously. All of this happens in this world, the physical world, not some magical world outside of our reality.

If anything, understanding the physical basis of our conscious experiences like love is a mind-blowing, uplifting source of awe and wonder, far beyond the out-dated superstitious ideas of love from people 2000 years ago, who didn't even know how to build a toilet, let alone how our minds work.

Understanding the real, physical world is far more satisfying to an atheist than surrendering our natural wonder to the doctrine of terror that tells you that if you don't believe in 'god', then you are not really human and you'll lose out on love and life.

It is simply false. We know this. That's why we're still atheists. It is a lie you've been told. You do not have to accept it. You do not have to live in terror anymore.


This, in a roundabout way, tailored to your gf's letter, is the Argument from Wondrous Experience, which is a direct rebuttal to the so-called Argument from Religious Experience, and its kin.

Hope you like it. Hope you try it (in your own words, as you see it, of course). Let me know if it helps. I'd love to hear feedback from others beside myself. I find it about as rock-solid effective in my own interactions with theists as I could hope for. It tends to leave them speechless with nothing to say.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5850
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
Things don't have to last

Things don't have to last forever to be have significance.

We don't prove anything exists with 'logic' - logic can only 'prove' what cannot exist, if it is logically contradictory.

The fact that thoughts and emotions are "only in our head' does not mean they have no meaning - the 'meaning' of something is only 'meaningful' to us, but that is all we need.

They have significance to us while we exist. Our ideas do not exist in some external Platonic realm, but that does not mean they do not exist, and are not important to us while we are alive.

'Love ' is an emotion, therefore it only depends on us experiencing it, for it to exist.

The 'dragon in the garage' is meant to demonstrate that if you don't have positive evidence of some kind for the truth of some claim - not necessarily 'proof', just something which suggests that the claim is a better explanation for something actually observable than anything else we can think of - then there is no reason to take it seriously. The point is that there are an infinite number of things which we could be claimed which we would then have to take seriously if all that was needed was an inability to disprove them. That is just unworkable.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10687
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
In reality, only without god

In reality, only without god can there be love. The christian, and other gods care nothing for love, they just do lip service. The gods are about hate, not love.

No theist can truly love until they let go of the hate their god promotes.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Atheistextremist
atheistSilver Member
Atheistextremist's picture
Posts: 5102
Joined: 2009-09-17
User is offlineOffline
Nice posts

 

Natural and Fingergun. Very well put. 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:This, in a

natural wrote:

This, in a roundabout way, tailored to your gf's letter, is the Argument from Wondrous Experience, which is a direct rebuttal to the so-called Argument from Religious Experience, and its kin.

Hope you like it. Hope you try it (in your own words, as you see it, of course). Let me know if it helps. I'd love to hear feedback from others beside myself. I find it about as rock-solid effective in my own interactions with theists as I could hope for. It tends to leave them speechless with nothing to say.

 

This is lovely.  I am going to copy it and try to memorize the highlights for "casual" conversation.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote:<from the

Medievalguy wrote:

<from the gf>...

 

 

Do you see how your argument plays out in reality? According to this line of logic, something cannot have significance - nothing can have significance - just because we have deemed it so. If it does not exist before we are borne/can formulate thoughts, and dies when we do, and cannot be proven by science or logic, then it is not viable, but useless.

 

 

First off, of course love (and other emotions) can be proven to exist, as she herself stated.  By our actions, by our hormonal changes.  And of course, any significance for any emotion is what we ourselves assign to it.  How is significance assigned by some imaginary friend more significant than your own personal feelings?

And love is very useful - for forming bonds of caring and sharing between family members (which includes other species we adopt into our families).  Without these bonds we could not survive.  And with these bonds our lives are more enjoyable and meaningful. 

So lets pretend there is an afterlife.  And you get to meet your great-great-great-grandparents.  So?  You spend eternity with your family.  Um, some members of my family I would just as soon not, thank-you-very-kindly.  Why is this more significant than not spending eternity with a bunch of people I'm not fond of in this life?  Those who love me will remember me.  A few generations in the future, no one living will remember me.  And it wouldn't matter if I were churchy or not.  Why get all het up about it?

So don't let her get on about it is a "guy" thing, this unsentimentality.  I am definitely female.  And I do not need an imaginary god/s/dess to give my love for those of my family and friends I do love any false significance.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Luminon
SuperfanTheist
Luminon's picture
Posts: 2455
Joined: 2008-02-17
User is offlineOffline
I could of course repeat

I could of course repeat some statements of esotericism on that topic (I'm crazy enough for that as always), but seeing this is useless but for the interested few, I choose to analyze it with some universal philosophy, based on internal and external consistency. Hope someone appreciates that Smiling

Medievalguy wrote:
The whole store about the dragon in the garage could theoretically disprove anything that could not be proved, like human relationships. Whit if I were to say something like, "My parents love me?" You might ask for evidence: have they told me so? Have they taken care of me? Have they been to my sports games, plays, graduations? You then could present concepts like the biological impulse to breed, societal pressure to partner and breed, birth control failure, sense of duty and reciprocation - the idea that if they care for you now, build up a bond now, you will be in the physical and mental condition to care for them later.

Or what about your friends, or romantic relationships? Do they really think you're interesting, or are they afraid of being alone? Remember, humans are social creatures. Does your partner really love you, can that be said objectively, or is the relationship based upon their decision that you are a decent option to provide for them and any possible children?

People are typically not such cold-hearted calculators, caring for others just to be secured in old age. We evolved from animals, animals are almost entirely emotional and we're emotional too. That wouldn't work anyway, if human nature would be all the same in that aspect, there would be no guarantee that the children will take care of the old parents. They would consider it more "efficient" not to, I guess. Thus the argument defeats itself.

Medievalguy wrote:
 It could be said that because it cannot be proven with logic, love as we think of it cannot exist. Emotional bonds serve the purpose of social order, and any ascribed meaning beyond that is all in our heads. When we die, the concepts of love and caring die. Aesthetics and philosophy are also the product of human minds and nothing more. None of these things existed before us, like gravity or mitosis, and they will not exist after us, which means that we have made it up. We have imagined these wonderful ideas that someone on this earth "loves" us and that the art we view offers insights into humanity, but they do not exist in reality. They are not real, no matter how much we beg and plead and pretend they have lasting significance.

The sun will not last forever. Does it mean the sun is not real?
The stars made us up, literally out of elements they synthesized. Does it mean we're not real? Maybe not for the stars.

The problem here is, that your GF is infected with the eternity meme. Nothing ever is good enough, compared to the eternity. It is the combination of demanding eternity for our self-centered purposes, that makes it so arrogant. 
I may believe in various things, but not in perfect and omnipotent gods or eternal existence. These words have no meaning in reality. Our reality is the one of limitations (so at least something happens and not everything at once), imperfections (so there is something to improve upon) and impermanence, so there is always room for new things. It's like the ancient riddle of "is the jug of wine half full, or half empty?" I guess that depends on who drank the first half Smiling

Yes, things like love or art may be artificial products, but that doesn't make them less real. The truth is, they're useless for all the rest of nature, this is why they're bio-degradable along with us, so the surface of Earth won't be littered with statues and paintings and immaterial apparitions of love, after our civilization vanishes Sticking out tongue

 

 

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


Answers in Gene...
High Level Donor
Answers in Gene Simmons's picture
Posts: 4214
Joined: 2008-11-11
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote:It's like the

Luminon wrote:
It's like the ancient riddle of "is the jug of wine half full, or half empty?" I guess that depends on who drank the first half Smiling

 

If it was me then I see half a jug to go.

 

 

NoMoreCrazyPeople wrote:
Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."

=


kimsland
atheist
kimsland's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: 2011-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote: My gf is

Medievalguy wrote:

 My gf is refusing to speak with me. After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

She's obviously a witch.

Mind you in Islam by refusing to speak to you she may need to be stoned to death.

A woman with intelligent points of view against her partner, has no right in the religious world.

As a religious person yourself (?) you must already know this.

But just in case you are not a god believer (I'll allow dragons though), I'd suggest you try to make up if you still love eachother, but otherwise no way in hell.

 

I hope that helps Smiling

 


redneF
atheistRational VIP!
redneF's picture
Posts: 1971
Joined: 2011-01-04
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote: My gf is

Medievalguy wrote:
My gf is refusing to speak with me.

That's when you leave, and don't come home till she's normal again.

And she doesn't get the privilege of keeping tabs on you, or asking where you've been. She shuts you out? Shut her out as well. That kind of bullsh1t doesn't fly with me.

Medievalguy wrote:
After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

I'd ask her who the fuck she's been talking to, and WTF is this all about.

 

***************

Quote:
According to this line of logic, something cannot have significance - nothing can have significance - just because we have deemed it so.

BJ's are significant.

 

Quote:
If it does not exist before we are borne/can formulate thoughts, and dies when we do, and cannot be proven by science or logic, then it is not viable, but useless.

This is called 'projecting'.

 

I don't care what feelings you have invested in this girl, she's broken. This is completely batsh1t crazy talk.

Move to the big city and find a girl with her head screwed on right. Let this one be someone else's science project.

 

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


100percentAtheist
atheist
100percentAtheist's picture
Posts: 679
Joined: 2010-05-02
User is offlineOffline
Medievalguy wrote: My gf is

Medievalguy wrote:

 My gf is refusing to speak with me. After an entire day of silence and crying she handed me this note...thoughts?

She wrote the following:

***

 

I agree with redneF.  I think that if you gf refuses to speak with you because of what you presented here, she either has some temporarily (hopefully) mental issues or she doesn't really love you.  Or maybe she needs a job (or study harder, or get children), so there will be no time for an ENTIRE day of silence and crying. 


kimsland
atheist
kimsland's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: 2011-09-12
User is offlineOffline
A woman telling a man what

A woman telling a man what to do? Cursing Man

 

Its Adam and Eve, not Eve and Adam! Head Bash

 

This would only be accepted by people without faith Jawdropping! , and we all know what they have to say, important things. Equality and understanding etc etc etc.  That makes me sick to the bone. Does she listen to heavy metal music too? Its satan's child, and I highly suspect a red head (watch out for the snakes, Allah advises you)

I say love is blind and so is religion, so therefore love her religiously, or try to listen to her and come to an understanding and grow together in love, as per what Atheists feel; and you know what we believe about them! THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN FAIRY TALES, um what about how religion knew the world is flat? Even some scientists believe the universe is flat. Atheists don't belong in a world of religion, or the other way around, I forget  Puzzled

So lose the b1tch, there's plenty more wide eyed dumb ignorant women in the sea (ie church) and that's where they belong I say. Shutup you insolent woman, the man of god is speaking. It does amaze me that women are religious though Puzzled They must all be dumb shooting Cover your shame girl, I am your lord.

 

Again if you love each other, then try to reconcile, but otherwise refer to the above, woman!


harleysportster
atheist
harleysportster's picture
Posts: 3312
Joined: 2010-10-17
User is offlineOffline
Well

My girlfriend happens to believe in god (not in the usual way, but in some new age, god is energy and karma kind of way). She knows how I feel and we have had some very deep conversations and disagreements about it. But it has never come to actual anger or hostility between us. I would first tell her that she is way overreacting. I would then tell her that I don't communicate with my significant other via notes.

I mean, when she wants me to wash the dishes, she doesn't hand me a ranting note, she just says so.

Like others have already stated, we CAN prove the existence of love via biological means. I am not sure why people get so upset at the idea that love is simply biology. If I am sad and I began to have tears come out of my eyes, the tears are because of a biological component. Does that make me any less sad because I know that. I mean, something supernatural is not producing the tears. I would ask her why she thinks that things like love and friendship have to be attributed to supernatural means, in order for those things to have worth ? What is so horrifying about them being a perfectly natural thing ?

If she refuses to answer that question and ends up handing you another note, that would probably be the point where I would go from debating Atheist to belligerent Atheist.

 

 

 

;

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


kimsland
atheist
kimsland's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: 2011-09-12
User is offlineOffline
harleysportster wrote:My

harleysportster wrote:
My girlfriend happens to believe in god (not in the usual way, but in some new age, god is energy and karma kind of way). She knows how I feel and we have had some very deep conversations and disagreements about it.

You know there may be something in that.

 

I mean not 'god' (a single entity) but maybe some unmeasured non-tested, unknown energy force in our universe, and even in us!

As a common example, is the parent who just knows something is wrong with their child, so contacts (or goes check) them and discovers some major concern. But since that could be attributed to co-incidence or even normal, then I'll tell you a true story.

 

When I was a kid, my brother woke up and said GrandDad came to him in a dream and said goodbye (note 'GrandDad' lived about 3000miles away from us)

Anyway, this is NOT what a young kid would normally say, and it was NOT what my brother would say normally either ie It WAS certainly in his dream.

So he runs to my parents room and informs my Mom that her Dad (our GrandDad) said 'Goodbye' I also came to my parents room too, because kids can get scared of nothing, and this was about 5am in the morning.

So Mom says, don't worry "It's just a dream" I spoke to my Dad on the phone only two days ago, and he isn't going anywhere.

So we went back to bed 'feeling better', that it was 'just a dream' (I mean who cares anyway? GrandDad saying 'goodbye'? So what?)

Later on us kids woke up again to Mom crying in her room!

Again we ran to her room, but this time it was for the concern of Mom.

"What's wrong Mom?" We said (knowing our Dad was usually abusive, and could have easily upset her again.

I rang GrandDad (her dad) just then, and I was told that he passed away during the night!!!! (Something about old age)

?

Say what?

 

Now you tell me. Why did my brother have this dream that he had NEVER dreamed before? Why did he feel compelled (at around 10years old) to run to Mom with this concern, at about 5am??

 

Is there another unknown energy in the universe? I say likely. Although I feel its natural and it goes along with our universe, ie its NOT religious. We just haven't discovered this energy yet, and called it a name.

 

Someone once asked me, if the utmost top speed is the speed of light (and this without weight) how on Earth are we ever going to get to the other side of the universe? Other than wormholes and bending of the universe ideas, there IS one more way, and it FASTER than the speed of light.

We can dream or imagine we are at the other side of the universe. And why isn't this real? It was most definitely REAL to my brother when GrandDad said goodbye to him.

 

There you go, answer that, or ask your girlfriend/wife that one, maybe she'll agree.


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
kimsland

kimsland wrote:

harleysportster wrote:
My girlfriend happens to believe in god (not in the usual way, but in some new age, god is energy and karma kind of way). She knows how I feel and we have had some very deep conversations and disagreements about it.

You know there may be something in that.

 

I mean not 'god' (a single entity) but maybe some unmeasured non-tested, unknown energy force in our universe, and even in us!

As a common example, is the parent who just knows something is wrong with their child, so contacts (or goes check) them and discovers some major concern. But since that could be attributed to co-incidence or even normal, then I'll tell you a true story.

 

When I was a kid, my brother woke up and said GrandDad came to him in a dream and said goodbye (note 'GrandDad' lived about 3000miles away from us)

Anyway, this is NOT what a young kid would normally say, and it was NOT what my brother would say normally either ie It WAS certainly in his dream.

So he runs to my parents room and informs my Mom that her Dad (our GrandDad) said 'Goodbye' I also came to my parents room too, because kids can get scared of nothing, and this was about 5am in the morning.

So Mom says, don't worry "It's just a dream" I spoke to my Dad on the phone only two days ago, and he isn't going anywhere.

So we went back to bed 'feeling better', that it was 'just a dream' (I mean who cares anyway? GrandDad saying 'goodbye'? So what?)

Later on us kids woke up again to Mom crying in her room!

Again we ran to her room, but this time it was for the concern of Mom.

"What's wrong Mom?" We said (knowing our Dad was usually abusive, and could have easily upset her again.

I rang GrandDad (her dad) just then, and I was told that he passed away during the night!!!! (Something about old age)

?

Say what?

 

Now you tell me. Why did my brother have this dream that he had NEVER dreamed before? Why did he feel compelled (at around 10years old) to run to Mom with this concern, at about 5am??

 

Is there another unknown energy in the universe? I say likely. Although I feel its natural and it goes along with our universe, ie its NOT religious. We just haven't discovered this energy yet, and called it a name.

 

Someone once asked me, if the utmost top speed is the speed of light (and this without weight) how on Earth are we ever going to get to the other side of the universe? Other than wormholes and bending of the universe ideas, there IS one more way, and it FASTER than the speed of light.

We can dream or imagine we are at the other side of the universe. And why isn't this real? It was most definitely REAL to my brother when GrandDad said goodbye to him.

 

There you go, answer that, or ask your girlfriend/wife that one, maybe she'll agree.

 

How many times did you or your brother dream and it didn't come to pass?  Don't know?  I'm not surprised.  It is called "discarding unfavorable data" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misuse_of_statistics#Discarding_unfavorable_data

See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_validation

And also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attentional_bias

And also - The Invisible Gorilla - http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Gorilla-How-Intuitions-Deceive/dp/0307459667/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316028664&sr=8-1

If you do not record unfavorable data, then you have a tendency to ignore it.  The only way to be certain you have not missed significant data - especially "predictive" dreams - is to write it down.  Always.  I'll bet that you or your family members had hundreds if not thousands of dreams that never came true.

It is not surprising you remember this dream as the coincidence is very meaningful.  I do not mean to be disrespectful of your and your family's feeling for your grandfather.  But the dream and subsequent event is no more than a coincidence.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
kimsland wrote:How many

kimsland wrote:

How many times did you or your brother dream and it didn't come to pass?  Don't know?  I'm not surprised.  It is called "discarding unfavorable data" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misuse_of_statistics#Discarding_unfavorable_data

See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_validation

And also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attentional_bias

And also - The Invisible Gorilla - http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Gorilla-How-Intuitions-Deceive/dp/0307459667/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316028664&sr=8-1

If you do not record unfavorable data, then you have a tendency to ignore it.  The only way to be certain you have not missed significant data - especially "predictive" dreams - is to write it down.  Always.  I'll bet that you or your family members had hundreds if not thousands of dreams that never came true.

It is not surprising you remember this dream as the coincidence is very meaningful.  I do not mean to be disrespectful of your and your family's feeling for your grandfather.  But the dream and subsequent event is no more than a coincidence.

Well I'm not so arrogant to think we've figured everything out.  I've experienced some odd things, most are probably easily explainable, maybe some aren't.  We still have a lot of shit to figure out.  The stuff that I know I don't know is absolutely dwarfed by all the stuff I don't even know enough to realize I don't know it.

So who knows what's going on there?

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5850
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
So far, there is no

So far, there is no indication whatever that we can travel faster than light - NOTHING with any mass can even reach the speed of light.

There is not really another 'side' to the Universe, AFAWK, it has no edge, it is curved in a fourth dimensions, just like the surface of the Earth is curved in three, and also has no edge.

The latest finding of a probable new energy is called Dark Energy, and is suspected by its apparent effects on stuff we can observe and measure.

Being able to 'feel' you are on the 'other side of the Universe' means nothing, any more than feeling that there must be a God, and that he is communicating with you.

Those intuitive feelings are the same sort that had people convinced that the stars were lights attached to celestial spheres, and that the Sun went around the earth. That is the basic problem with religion, believing that if something 'feels' real and convincing it 'must' be true. It applies similarly to all other superstitions and 'woo' ideas.

The progress of science has shown more and more that Reality is not what we imagine, not even what we can imagine, as Quantum and Relativity Theories show.

We have long gone past what our limited minds can imagine - we have to seriously study reality with all the tools we can come up with, not just think and dream about it. That approach to understanding the Universe and even ourselves belongs with the nonsense of Plato and Theology and Metaphysics.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
kimsland wrote: Someone

kimsland wrote:
 

Someone once asked me, if the utmost top speed is the speed of light (and this without weight) how on Earth are we ever going to get to the other side of the universe? Other than wormholes and bending of the universe ideas, there IS one more way, and it FASTER than the speed of light.

We can dream or imagine we are at the other side of the universe. And why isn't this real? It was most definitely REAL to my brother when GrandDad said goodbye to him.

 

There you go, answer that, or ask your girlfriend/wife that one, maybe she'll agree.

What kind of a reasoning is that? Most theists believe personal experience is the most powerful evidence for god, how is what you said any different than what any theist is saying?   

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


kimsland
atheist
kimsland's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: 2011-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote:Well I'm not

Watcher wrote:

Well I'm not so arrogant to think we've figured everything out.  I've experienced some odd things, most are probably easily explainable, maybe some aren't.  We still have a lot of shit to figure out.  The stuff that I know I don't know is absolutely dwarfed by all the stuff I don't even know enough to realize I don't know it.

So who knows what's going on there?

Watcher (in my view) thankfully answers those questions for me already.


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
kimsland wrote:Watcher

kimsland wrote:

Watcher wrote:

Well I'm not so arrogant to think we've figured everything out.  I've experienced some odd things, most are probably easily explainable, maybe some aren't.  We still have a lot of shit to figure out.  The stuff that I know I don't know is absolutely dwarfed by all the stuff I don't even know enough to realize I don't know it.

So who knows what's going on there?

Watcher (in my view) thankfully answers those questions for me already.

Ok... wait, what? This is the exact vague reasoning and explanation that apologists LOVE.  Of course we don't know everything, but to say that because you, personally don't know everything, hence most everything is unknowable is just silly.  There may be stuff we don't understand, but whatever we find out, will follow some sort of a logical structure, and absorb our current scientific paradigm much like general relativity absorbed and improved on Newton's theory of gravitation.  We're not going to suddenly wake up and realize we've been completely wrong about everything.  

"So who knows what's going on there?" There where? you mean in the specific scenario you have outlined with the perceived paranormal experience?  I don't know any of the details, so I'm not going to try and guess, but I'm 99.9999999 percent certain that there is a reasonable explanation for that.  Ockham's law of economy dictates that.  If you mean there as in out there... you would have to be more specific otherwise you can keep moving the goal posts ad infinitum.  

Everything is relative, all of our perspective is subjective and absolute knowledge does not exist.  That, however, does not mean that nobody "knows what's going on there".  There are degrees of certainty regarding most things that are so high, they may as well be part of an objective reality.  

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
Ktulu wrote:Ok... wait,

Ktulu wrote:

Ok... wait, what? This is the exact vague reasoning and explanation that apologists LOVE.  Of course we don't know everything, but to say that because you, personally don't know everything, hence most everything is unknowable is just silly.  There may be stuff we don't understand, but whatever we find out, will follow some sort of a logical structure, and absorb our current scientific paradigm much like general relativity absorbed and improved on Newton's theory of gravitation.  We're not going to suddenly wake up and realize we've been completely wrong about everything.  

"So who knows what's going on there?" There where? you mean in the specific scenario you have outlined with the perceived paranormal experience?  I don't know any of the details, so I'm not going to try and guess, but I'm 99.9999999 percent certain that there is a reasonable explanation for that.  Ockham's law of economy dictates that.  If you mean there as in out there... you would have to be more specific otherwise you can keep moving the goal posts ad infinitum.  

 

Alright, I'll expand on my thoughts then.

To start with, Ktulu.  What are you?

Well you could answer that you are an individual of the Homo sapiens species.  A human.

Ok, well what is a human?  Mammal.  And?  Mammal is a type of animal.  What is an animal?  Multicellular life form on Earth that has certain characteristics.

Ok, well let's get down to the nitty gritty.  You, I, everything, is a collection of atoms.

So you could simply say that you are a collection of atoms in a certain arrangement that makes you, you.  Now are you alive?  Are you the same individual you were ten years ago?

Let's say you have a car.  And one year you replace 25% of everything it is made of.  The next year you do the same.  And so on until after 4 years you have replaced every single thing that made that car.

Is it the same car?

Because that's what is happening to us all the time.  Our atoms are constantly being replaced.  Now there is some debate whether some atoms linger around for a long time, but modern science tells us that the huge, vast majority of our atoms are replaced many times in our lives.

Now if I can make an exact biological recreation of you right now, is that copy you?  What is your "consciousness"?  Would you be looking out of both set of eyes?

Well you would say no, that copy of me will have my memories, my looks, etc., but it wouldn't be me.

Then what are you?  Somewhere like 99.9% of the atoms currently in your body were not there 10 years ago.

So when I say I was in Israel back in 1999.  Is this the truth?  What am I?  I'm a collection of atoms.  A collection of atoms at the moment that were not me back in 1999.

So what the hell is consciousness?  What is self?  I used to have this weird idea as a kid that what if, every night when you went to sleep, you really never woke up.  Another consciousness with all your memories woke up in your body the next day.

Now some of this might sound crazy but a lot of people thought they knew easily what time was before Einstein was born.  It always troubled Albert.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about.  Am I me?  What is me?

Humanity can't answer this yet.  Science has not been able to tell us yet.

We're a briefly self maintaining pattern of atoms for a few decades much like a whirlpool in a river is a self maintaining pattern of water and dirt molecules comprised of atoms for a brief time.

We're a pattern.  Now when this pattern gives up on this self maintenance and you bury the last set of atoms that comprised me while I functioned, is that pattern really gone?

 

Now personally I think I'm just going to die.  Nothing is going to happen.  Which is fine because I won't be around to think on it or realize it.

But I can't say with 100% confidence this is what is going to happen.

And if you say that you can tell me this with 100% confidence you aren't much different than a theist telling me there's a god out there.

 

I'd call BS.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Ktulu wrote:Ockham's law of

Ktulu wrote:
Ockham's law of economy dictates that. 

Quick aside to Ktulu first: I don't think it's usually considered a 'law'. More of a 'principle', AFAIU

Watcher wrote:

To start with, Ktulu.  What are you?

Well you could answer that you are an individual of the Homo sapiens species.  A human.

Ok, well what is a human?  Mammal.  And?  Mammal is a type of animal.  What is an animal?  Multicellular life form on Earth that has certain characteristics.

Ok, well let's get down to the nitty gritty.  You, I, everything, is a collection of atoms.

So you could simply say that you are a collection of atoms in a certain arrangement that makes you, you.  Now are you alive?  Are you the same individual you were ten years ago?

Let's say you have a car.  And one year you replace 25% of everything it is made of.  The next year you do the same.  And so on until after 4 years you have replaced every single thing that made that car.

Is it the same car?

This conundrum is so old they have an ancient Greek parable about it, based on some guy borrowing another guy's boat, constantly repairing it, and then returning 'the same' boat. I forget the name, but it may have involved one of the Argonauts, if I recall correctly.

The key to understanding this, and coming to a satisfactory answer, is that idea of "a certain arrangement" of atoms, not just any old bag of atoms at all.

It is the arrangement itself which holds the key to identity.

The Greeks called this the 'form' of a thing. Today, in Physics, we call it information. Other words are: Structure, pattern, relations, etc.

Consider a music CD. Does it contain a song? Really? What does this song consist of? Not sound vibrations, not musical instruments nor anyone singing. Not even a rough facsimile of any of these things.

The CD, if it contains anything at all, contains little bumps and pits burnt into it by a laser, in "a certain arrangement", a particular pattern, which encodes some information. (edit: Oops, forgot that most music CDs are stamped, not burned. Whatever. Same idea.)

Is this information real? Or is it just imaginary? Is it really there? Or does it require a human mind to interpret it (while being played in a CD player, one presumes)?

Well, how do you know if something is real? For one thing, you should be able to do some sort of measurement of it, right?

Well, let's ask the question. If there really is information on the CD, how much information is there?

I can give you a rough guess: About 700 mega-bytes of it. Give or take. If you want to know exactly, plop it into your CD ROM drive, and the amazing information measuring device--known as your computer--can tell you down to the byte. Multiply that number by 8, and you have the number of bits of information stored on the CD.

The amount of information in one bit is equivalent to the amount of information in one coin toss. It is enough information to decide between two equally probable options. That's how we measure information, in terms of narrowing down possibilities in a noisy, complex, randomly probabilistic universe.

So, am I the same 'me' I was ten years ago? Yes and no. I have changed a lot, so I am very different. But many things about me remain the same, and so I am the same.

Similarities and differences. Sames and diffs, yeses and nos, heads and tails, trues and falses, zeros and ones. Information.

I still have my memories from my childhood, so I'm the same. I've learned a heck of a lot in the last ten years, so I'm different.

None of my atoms may be the same, that's true, but it is not the atoms that are important, but the structures and forms that they hold. Those structures and forms have been maintained throughout those ten years. I still have two arms and two legs, a beating heart, a functioning liver and kidneys, etc. I still remember my ABCs, still have relationships with friends and family, still have the same hopes and desires for the future, still have a sense of who 'I' am, even if it's not a perfect sense.

I've grown older, and not all of those changes are great, and eventually I'll die, and the forms and structures that make me 'me' will lose their stability and decay. I will lose all consciousness, and cease to exist as 'me', and will revert to a noisy, random, unordered set of atoms.

On the other hand, a lot of what I've done in life will continue to reverberate throughout society, in small ways, and possibly in bigger ways, if some of my interactions with people have been helpful. And so, in a certain sense, some of 'me' will continue to exist after my biological body has decayed, even though that 'me' won't be a conscious human mind.

Consider that CD again. If you toss it in a fireplace, the song that was recorded on it will cease to exist... on that CD. But will the song cease to exist in all of its copies around the world? Possibly not. If it was a Beatles song, it's probably going to outlast the life-time of anyone living today, because information can replicate.

This is how DNA stores the recipe for a human being and has been storing it for thousands and millions of years. The key ingredient of DNA is not Cytosine or Adenine or Guanine or Thymine. The key ingredient is information!

Quote:
Now if I can make an exact biological recreation of you right now, is that copy you?

Both copies would be 'me', but each would be a separate copy of me, in a separate body, and each would go on living separate lives, just like identical twins share the same genetic information, but inhabit two separate bodies.

When you get down to the physical information, no two quanta can occupy exactly the same quantum state (Pauli Exclusion Principle). What that basically means is that two bodies, occupying two distinct positions in space, are different precisely because they are in two different places. Physical information includes position.

So, although a lot of the information in each copy represents 'me', it is actually not possible to make an exact biological recreation of me, because to be exact, it would literally have to occupy the same place that my present body occupies, and that's not possible (Pauli Exclusion).

So, you can't actually create an exact copy of me (or anything else). You can only make more-or-less accurate copies of me. But if you make them accurate enough, then each of my two bodies would wake up from the procedure perfectly convinced that they were each the original. And if there was no record of which was actually the original, then it may literally be impossible to tell the difference (quantum indeterminacy).

But because me1 would be sitting on the South end of the room, and me2 would be sitting on the North end, me1 would have slightly different experiences as me2, and so, right away, me1 and me2 would begin to diverge into two distinct people, although extremely similar.

Me1 wouldn't remember getting bit by a mosquito on Wed., because the mosquito bit me2, not me1. Me2 wouldn't remember getting food poisoning on Fri., because me2 had the tuna, and it was me1 that had the egg salad.

They would start out the same, but different experiences would accumulate different information into each person. And it's the information that matters.

Quote:
  What is your "consciousness"?

My ability to be aware of my own awareness.

Quote:
  Would you be looking out of both set of eyes?

No. Me1 would look out of me1's eyes, because me1's brain is connected to those eyes in that location. While me2 would see through me2's eyes.

Quote:
Well you would say no, that copy of me will have my memories, my looks, etc., but it wouldn't be me.

It sure would think it was you! Just as you think you are you now.

Quote:
Humanity can't answer this yet.  Science has not been able to tell us yet.

It can, it's just not widely known yet. And our knowledge isn't perfect, and will always improve, but that's not to say we don't have any knowledge at all.

Quote:
We're a briefly self maintaining pattern of atoms for a few decades much like a whirlpool in a river is a self maintaining pattern of water and dirt molecules comprised of atoms for a brief time.

We're a pattern.

Bingo.

Quote:
Now when this pattern gives up on this self maintenance and you bury the last set of atoms that comprised me while I functioned, is that pattern really gone?

Do you mean: When the pattern ceases to exist, has the pattern ceased to exist? I think the answer is clear. Is death really death? Any death worth its salt would really be death.

Quote:
But I can't say with 100% confidence this is what is going to happen.

And if you say that you can tell me this with 100% confidence you aren't much different than a theist telling me there's a god out there.

Do you know anything with 100% confidence? Me neither. Doesn't stop me from looking both ways before I cross the street. Let's just say I'm very confident this is the only life I get.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10687
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
I loved both those posts,

I loved both those posts, Watcher and Natural. I've spent much time coming to the same conclusions, or at least similar ones.
One of the pieces of information I used in my thoughts, however, is missing here. And that is the fallibility of memory.

"I still have my memories from my childhood, so I'm the same. I've learned a heck of a lot in the last ten years, so I'm different."

This line from Natural brought it to mind. In reality, memory of childhood is mostly imagination, with a few actual memories serving as the dots in connect-the-dots. All memory functions this way. Though there are methods (and types of situations) that can allow you to remember an event more solidly, you are remembering remembering more than you are actually remembering. Actual memory degrades rapidly. So rapidly that after a month, you may only recall 20-some % of the original memory. (Ebbinghaus; Curve of forgetting: 1913).

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:This conundrum

natural wrote:

This conundrum is so old they have an ancient Greek parable about it, based on some guy borrowing another guy's boat, constantly repairing it, and then returning 'the same' boat. I forget the name, but it may have involved one of the Argonauts, if I recall correctly.

The key to understanding this, and coming to a satisfactory answer, is that idea of "a certain arrangement" of atoms, not just any old bag of atoms at all.

The conundrum is so old because we can't come to a satisfactory answer, wouldn't you agree?

natural wrote:
It is the arrangement itself which holds the key to identity.

Maybe to an outsider looking in.  From us on the inside looking out...well no.

If you could make an exact replica of my wife (of course with different atoms) so she looked and acted exactly the same, well to ME she would be the same person.  But I'm not a...well a robot.  *Hell even our language doesn't work well when discussing this*  I feel, and so do you, that we aren't just some "thing" that responds to outside stimuli.  We're...well we exist.  Not just a body pooping and eating. 

Somebody is in here.  Do you get what I mean?

What's that movie with Arnold Swartzenegger, I think "The Sixth Day" maybe, where they scanned his eyes and using that somehow they had the information to clone him?

Well the henchmen in the movie kept getting killed.  So they would just clone them and the new clones would pop up thinking they were the exact same person that died the previous day.  Now to everyone ELSE that seems certainly true.  Same person new body.

Is that what it is to them?  Not the new them.  The old them that died the previous day I mean.

I don't think that dead person is there in that new body.  No matter how closely it mimics the dead person.

My personal belief is that this identity as self, the propensity to say "I" and "me" like I'm something inside of this physical construct is an illusion.

A damn good one because it has me fooled completely.  I think I really exist.

Now certainly this arrangement of atoms exist.  But it is no more real than a highly developed robot that mimics a human being.  We shouldn't ask if an AI is really artificial.  We should ask if we are not all artificial.

The very fact that we would say we are real and a AI robot is artificial is egoism.  I don't believe it.

So if this is an illusion then all that really exists is an evolved organic robot.  So that thing is alive, but "I"...I'm not alive.  I don't even exist.

Therefore if I'm not really alive, I can't die.

Anyway, this is a blog post on the topic that lead me to ruminating on all this.

Quote:

http://stevegrand.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/where-do-those-damn-atoms-go/
Jan 12, 2009
 
Where do those damn atoms go? by Steve Grand
 
                Mark Jones left the following interesting question in another thread and I thought it was worth starting a whole new post in reply, because I’m often asked this question and I’m sure people would like to discuss it or at least hear me expand on it:
 
                “Richard Dawkins intriguingly quoted you in his recent book, The God Delusion, “not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place…” meaning, that every atom in the human body is replaced within our lifetime. I have read this assertion many times, but it’s source is never attributed. It is fascinating if true but I don’t want to quote it unless I’m sure of its scientific origins. Who can be cited?”
 
                I can’t cite any single definitive authority, although see the last paragraph below. For my part I draw the conclusion from a whole bunch of evidence.
 
                The first thing to say, though, is that it ISN’T ABSOLUTELY TRUE. Not quite. Not as an irrefutable and precise fact. I didn’t say it in the first place to declare a free-standing scientific fact but to add emphasis to an important but otherwise hard to believe point, and that point is still true even though I may have exaggerated by an atom or two.
 
                The reason it can’t be true is actually supportive of my main point, so I might as well admit to it. It’s often pointed out (and again I can’t quote a higher authority on this) that statistically speaking, any glass of water you drink is likely to contain one or more water molecules that were previously drunk and later excreted by, say, Isaac Newton. Since water makes up a large percentage of our tissues, your morning coffee probably contained a molecule or two that was once an active part of Newton’s brain.
 
                Logically speaking, therefore, you probably also have some atoms/molecules that were in your own body on the day you were born but then were excreted, recycled through rivers and seas, the sap of trees and the bodies of other creatures, only to turn up a second time in your food.
 
                But this doesn’t alter the fact that all these molecules are transient parts of you. You are a system in flux; a pattern and not the sand in which the pattern is drawn; you are not the stuff of which you are made, and this was the point I was trying to make in my book.
 
                Nevertheless, people still don’t believe me, so I need to counter some potential objections. The thing that makes it so hard to believe in the first place is the intuition that we absorb food, excrete most of it but retain a little, growing as we go. I’ll deal with some trickier examples in a moment, but in general this just isn’t true. Biological molecules don’t tend to last very long and need to be replaced. That’s why every cell’s DNA is kept so incredibly busy making new proteins. We grow when the input outweighs the output, that’s all.
 
                Not only do whole cells die in their millions and need to be replaced, but individual molecules in those cells are constantly being recycled and repaired, even the DNA itself. We have no problem recognizing that our hair and fingernails look the same from day to day yet are constantly being replaced, but it’s harder to see this going on inside the cell membrane so we find it hard to believe. Yet every cell is engaged in a constant struggle to maintain itself against decay, not just day to day but second to second. It consumes a lot of our energy.
 
                “What about brain cells?” people say. “I’ve heard that neurons aren’t replaced once we become an adult.” Well, until recently we didn’t think that adult brains produce new neurons but we now know this isn’t true. Maybe the new neurons go on to add new matter and not “replace existing memories”, but our brains don’t get heavier so it seems to me most likely that the new cells take on connection patterns similar to existing ones, which later die. The memories and mental functions remain but the neurons that represent them change over time.
 
                Either way, just because a given neuron stays around for many years, this doesn’t mean the cell is made from the same molecules all that time. Just like any other cell (and neurons are especially metabolically active) they consume energy to maintain themselves against decay and repair themselves from damage. Keep taking those antioxidants, because oxidation due to free radicals is one way in which the components of cells are repeatedly being broken down.
 
                “Alright then, so soft tissue is constantly being replaced, but what about bone? People exposed to radioisotopes like Strontium absorb it into their bones and the radiation from these can still be detected many years later, so bone must be a permanent fixture, surely?”
 
                Ok, you kinda got me on the Strontium, maybe. Same with lead. But not the bone. Bone is constantly being broken down, not just by the ravages of time but by cells called osteoclasts. And new bone is constructed by osteoblasts to replace it. This deliberate destruction of body tissues is more the rule than the exception: the body is maintained in a dynamic equlibrium, between in-built destructive and constructive processes. If it weren’t then it couldn’t adapt, and adaptation is the name of the game, even for bone. You only (!) have to go into space for a few days, or lie in a hospital bed for a few weeks, to see your bone mass drop substantially as the constructive forces are slowed (because the body thinks they’re now an unnecessary waste of energy), leaving the destructive forces to set a new balance.
 
                And about that Strontium. I imagine it’s probably true that you can pick up a little radiation for years after exposure (although I don’t know for sure that it is retained for a lifetime, and the retention still has a half-life [a chemical half-life, independent of the radioactive half-life], so all of it would be removed if you lived long enough). But that doesn’t mean the Strontium atoms are in the same bits of bone from moment to moment. Calcium, magnesium and elements that mimic them get removed from bone all the time by osteoclasts, and much of it gets re-used to make new bone. Some of the minerals in bone do take a long time to leave the body but they’re still being recycled (reabsorbed) all the time, and that’s all I was trying to say.
 
                Things get a bit more philosophical when we ask the question: “what does it mean for a molecule to be the same molecule anyway?” One of the things I was trying to get across in my book was that, not only are bodies processes or patterns, not “stuff”, but even stuff is a process. A subatomic particle is (I believe) a resonant state, not a little lump floating in space. An electron is conceptually more like a hurricane or the whirlpool that forms around your bath plughole – it’s a persistent disturbance in something (in this case a “field&rdquoEye-wink. It’s more like the ringing of a bell than the bell itself. And is the sound you hear from a bell now the same sound you heard a moment ago, or is it a different ring that simply sounds the same as the previous one? When you start to look at particles, and therefore atoms and molecules, as self-preserving dynamic states, the whole concept of static “sameness” ceases to be meaningful.
 
                What I was trying to do in Creation was to dismantle our intuition that the universe is made of (a) “real stuff” and (b) mere patterns in that stuff, by showing that even the real stuff is patterns too. There’s therefore no fundamental distinction between, say, mind and matter. It’s not that matter is somehow real and physical, while mind is not, they’re just different levels of self-maintaining pattern. Nor do we need to invent a special kind of (dualistic) reality for mind. And I then went on to assert that, when the processes that we think of as “real things” in the so-called physical universe arise inside a virtual universe in the same fashion, then we have to consider them just as real. Artificial life can therefore (under the right circumstances) be real life. But that’s a long argument and one book wasn’t nearly enough to do it justice.
 
                So that’s the reason I made the assertion about the total replacement of our bodily atoms. I may have overstated it – there may be a few atoms that still ring like the same bell all our lives, but it’s more of a statistical accident than anything else. The central point is that our bodies are in constant flux. We are not the stuff of which we are made; we are a self-maintaining pattern in a constantly changing substrate.
 
                I hope you’ll agree, because I think that once we rid ourselves of our innate dualism, the whole universe takes on a very different and much more creative look.
 
                So I can’t cite a single definitive authority, but the evidence for the principle of constant renewal is out there in spadefuls. Someone once sent me a link to an NPR story that discusses some of this, and that does quote some specific experiments that show 98% of our bodily mass being replaced each year. Now, assuming this doesn’t mean that everything that could be replaced is totally replaced inside a year but 2% remains forever indelible, then if 2% remains after one year, only 2% of that 2% will remain the second year. When you get to be as old as I am, that brings it down to 1E-83 of a percent, and yet our bodies only contain something of the order of 1E29 atoms. So that suggests we are totally replaced many, many, many times over, and any atoms we have now that WERE in our body on the day we were born are almost certainly back for their second or third appearance!

 

 Makes me think of the stand up routine of Bill Hicks.  Unfortunately his pattern is no longer present to our observation. (IE.  Fucker died of cancer)  
Quote:
Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration -- that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.  There is no such thing as death; life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves... Here's Tom with the weather.

 

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
Anyway, just to piss a

Anyway, just to piss a couple people off Sticking out tongue I thought I'd post this too.  I don't know shit about buddhism.  But what the fuck?  This seems to relate very similar to the science based blog post I just quoted.

Quote:
http://mysite.verizon.net/trcbmc/id35.html
2003

EMPTY COFFEE by Mike Wright
Hi Mac,

 I see that you and your fellow coffee drinkers seem to enjoy a bit of philosophical discussion. I'm afraid that Buddhism has flat-out ruined philosophy for me. However, that has not stopped me from being as verbose as any real philosopher. It's actually easier to write this kind of thing than to write about real coffee.

 I no longer claim to be a Buddhist, as many of my ideas would seem strange to the average Buddhist. (I know this, because back when I had a Web page where I expounded on some of these ideas, I frequently received email from more-traditional Buddhists who found my thoroughly materialistic approach upsetting.) Nevertheless, some of the core ideas that I have about the world and the way it works came from my exposure to Soto (Sootoo) Zen. (Since one of the great failings of the Macintosh is that the standard character set lacks the macron that is used to show long vowels in many romanizations, I'll be using double vowel letters to show long vowels in Sanskrit and Japanese.)

 One of these foundational ideas is that of "no self" (Sanskrit "anaatman" [often Romanized as "anatman"], Mandarin "wu2wo3", Sino-Japanese "muga&quotEye-wink. I'll stick to just this one idea for now. Soothill's "A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms" has the following entry for wu2wo3:
 "Anaatman; nairaatmya; no ego, no soul (of an independent and self-contained character), impersonal, no individual independent existence (of conscious or unconscious beings, anatmaka). The empirical ego is merely an aggregation of various elements, and with their disintegration it ceases to exist; therefore it has no ultimate reality of its own..."

 "Anaatman" is closely related to "suunyataa" (emptiness--often romanized as "sunyata&quotEye-wink, so maybe I'll have to write about both. I'll start with a little personal background, as I love to talk about myself (but not my self).

 I began reading about Zen Buddhism in college. This was due in part to a book on Taoism that I read as a high school senior, and in part to having read Kerouac's "The Dharma Bums" and other novels during the summer after high school. I'd sit in the music room of the Southwestern University Student Union Building, listening to folk music or jazz on the phonograph and reading whatever I could find by Alan Watts and D.T. Suzuki. It was intriguing stuff, but it seemed strange, hard to pin down, and beyond the possibility of intellectual understanding. I was then, as now, exceedingly cerebral and very literal-minded, and none of it made any sense. Still, there was something about it all that appealed to me, so I kept at it over the years as I flunked out of SU not once, but twice, hitchhiked out to California--too late to be a Beatnik and too early to be a Hippie--and back to Houston, joined the Army, learned Mandarin Chinese, spent almost two years in Taiwan, got married, learned Japanese, then spent five years in Japan (and another two and a half years later on).

 While in Basic Training at Fort Lost in the Woods, Misery (Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, for the non-Army folks), I was told that I would be going to the Defense Language Institute to learn a foreign language. Those of us headed for DLI were each given a list of 40 languages and told to number them in order of preference. I had great hopes that understanding Japanese would help me understand all that odd stuff about Zen, so I put Japanese down as my first choice. Mandarin was my second choice and, of course, that's what I got. At the end of the 47-week course (six hours a day, five days a week, not much else but classroom and homework), I could speak pretty decent Mandarin. I had a useful vocabulary and a surprisingly thorough grasp of the essentials of the syntax of the spoken language. I "knew" about 2000 characters, but had no exposure to Classical Chinese, and very little even to the kind of Chinese that appeared in newspapers and most books in Taiwan.

 After I got to Taiwan, I tried to find information on Buddhism. As it turned out, the average Taiwanese Buddhist" didn't seem to know much about Buddhism--probably even less than the average "Christian" in the US knows about Christianity. Looking back over the wee bits of Chinese in Watts' books, I found that it didn't add up to much either.  So, a few years later, when I got a chance to apply for another language course at DLI, I put Japanese as my second choice--after Cantonese--and, naturally, that's what I got. The results this time were even more disappointing from the perspective of a student of Buddhism. Most Japanese that I met didn't even claim to be Buddhists, much less to know anything about it. On top of that, all the written materials I could find were actually in Classical Chinese. Still, I kept digging into it. I took up martial arts, Chinese ink and watercolor painting, and Japanese calligraphy, all supposedly influenced by Zen. But I never met anyone who knew the slightest thing about the subject.

 A typical bit of Buddhist writing that exemplifies the apparent strangeness of it is the "Prajnaparamita Hrdaya Sutra", AKA "The Heart Sutra". It contains the following lines:

"Form is not different from emptiness;
Emptiness is not different from form.
Form is just emptiness;
Emptiness is just form."
 
 I memorized the whole thing in Mandarin (it takes up only a small page in Chinese), and wrote it out over and over, and spoke it to myself whenever I had nothing more pressing to do. I did find that it doesn't make any more sense in Chinese than it does in English. I have no idea how it works out in the original Sanskrit, but I'm willing to bet that it's no better.

 I don't know exactly when it clicked. There was no sudden burst of understanding. There was no light from Heaven and no singing of birds. But at some point, I discovered that it all made perfect sense--and this wasn't some kind of mystical, spiritual sense. It was perfectly logical sense that fits quite well with physics, neuroscience, and natural selection. So much had been made of its difficulty that I was surprised to find how simple it actually was. I think that I was at least partly prepared by repeated exposure to the oddities of relativity and quantum electrodynamics. Einstein and Feynman were already preparing me to abandon intuition as a foundation for understanding my world. Chaos theory and symmetry theory also helped me dispense with the idea of perfectly definable entities.

 Little things from my youth sometimes come back to me in connection with whatever I'm learning about at the moment. One that seems to relate to my understanding of anaatman is an incident that occurred when I was about 10 years old. I was visiting my paternal grandparents, Mamie and Ikey, in Rosenberg, TX, and my Great Aunt Jessie, who lived with them and worked as a reporter for Ikey's weekly newspaper, "The Fort Bend Reporter", was dragging me along with her on her rounds. At one point, she pulled up near one of the many bridges across the Brazos River--somewhere out in the country, away from town--and we walked over to the bridge and looked at the red, muddy water, far below. She told me that someone had just drowned in it at that very spot. She pointed out several little whirlpools at various places along each bank. The whirlpools, she said, were what sucked people down and drowned them. Poor folks, including Mexican farm workers, used the river as a combination laundry, bathtub, and swimming pool, and quite a few died there each summer. As we watched, the little whirlpools moved along, changed shape, and disappeared. Then new ones arose at other points and went through a similar process. That image of whirlpools, appearing and disappearing, is still with me 50 years later--and it's one of the images that became a symbol of anaatman to me.

 A whirlpool exists for a time. It's real enough to drown a child. But it arises where there was no whirlpool before and it often disappears leaving no detectable trace of its existence. Neither its shape nor its location remain unchanged for even the shortest period of time. Even its content in terms of a specific set of molecules shifts constantly. When we see a whirlpool moving down a river, we are not seeing a "thing", we are seeing a process.

 When we look at the "things" that temporarily take part in the whirlpool process--water, clay, iron oxide, organic compounds, etc., we find that they, too, are subject to constant change. They, too, are processes. The most obvious thing is that they constantly change position. Furthermore, they are all made up of smaller components that constantly change position. Ions gain and lose electrons. Photons are absorbed and emitted. We have not yet found a place where we can stop and confidently say, "This is an ultimate constituent of matter. It cannot be broken down any further." And, even if we could, these constituents will be moving relative to one another, and may also undergo other changes. All edges are fuzzy if we look at them under sufficient magnification.

 So, now I see the universe as this vast collection of "things", each composed of other "things". At any moment in time, if we imagine that we could take a series of snapshots of it, one nanosecond apart, we would see that each snapshot was, at the highest magnification, not precisely the same as the previous one, and if we looked at a few trillion of them in order, we would be able to detect some vectors of change. If we zeroed in on a small segment of the Rio de los Brazos de Dios where it runs through Ft. Bend County, we might see a whirlpool forming, changing, and disappearing, and we might think that we see certain vectors of change that can be expressed in mathematical terms. But none of those photos would contain the eternal essence of an individual whirlpool.

 There is a practical utility in saying that whirlpools exist, but when we try to pin one down, there is nothing there but a series of mental snapshots. Whenever we look deeply at anything, it turns out to be no more stable than a whirlpool. No thing is unchanging. No thing is eternal. No thing has an essence that can be grasped. That's what "no self" means. That's what "emptiness" means.

 I am just another whirlpool. I have no eternal, independent self. I am empty--just a part of the flux. It's good that I have almost infinitely high self-esteem, otherwise that fact might bother me.

http://www.io.com/~snewton/zen/heartsut.html and
http://www.io.com/~snewton/zen/sanskrit.html provise a nice combination of texts on the Heart Sutra.

'Nough for now,
Mike

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Vastet wrote:I loved both

Vastet wrote:
I loved both those posts, Watcher and Natural. I've spent much time coming to the same conclusions, or at least similar ones. One of the pieces of information I used in my thoughts, however, is missing here. And that is the fallibility of memory. "I still have my memories from my childhood, so I'm the same. I've learned a heck of a lot in the last ten years, so I'm different." This line from Natural brought it to mind. In reality, memory of childhood is mostly imagination, with a few actual memories serving as the dots in connect-the-dots. All memory functions this way. Though there are methods (and types of situations) that can allow you to remember an event more solidly, you are remembering remembering more than you are actually remembering. Actual memory degrades rapidly. So rapidly that after a month, you may only recall 20-some % of the original memory. (Ebbinghaus; Curve of forgetting: 1913).

This is true, and a very good thing to remember.

For me, it doesn't diminish the idea that I retain my personal identity over the course of my lifetime, though, because they are still my memories, of me, and of my own experiences of being me. They were created when this body and brain, in an earlier stage, experienced particular events in my life. So, they are authentically 'mine' in that sense.

As for their accuracy, and the fallibility of recollection, it is true that we forget nearly all the details of our experiences, and it's also true that when we attempt to recall some specific details, we often invent the details without realizing that's what we're doing. And so, we can end up with very wrong memories that 'feel' absolutely convincingly accurate. This is a major problem for the idea of 'eyewitness testimony'. It's also one major reason why all people should be open to the thought: "I could be wrong."

However, despite all these limitations in accuracy, there is still some accuracy left in there. It is not perfect, but it is pretty good! For example, I can remember the house where I grew up, and the street it was on, and the town it was in, and lo and behold, the Great Prophet predicts that the house is still there, and on said street, and whaddaya know, when I visit the town there's the house on the same street. It's magic! Well, obviously, not really, but considering that it's now over 30 years since I lived there, yeah, that's pretty good for a memory. It's not perfect, obviously. Even considering things that have changed in the meantime, I've also incorrectly remembered some details of the original experiences. But still, the house is there.

So, to solve the question of fallibility, you really need to focus on the concept of prediction, and specifically of prediction as a measure of the 'truth' of something. I go so far as to define the truth of an idea as its ability to make good predictions. The better the predictions, the 'more true' it is.

With this in mind, it is clear that although memories are not perfect predictors, especially for specific details, they are 'pretty good' predictors.

And this makes sense if you consider, why do we even have memory at all? Because it works. It is helpful. Specifically, it is helpful in the evolutionary context, for survival. Not just remembering where the predator lives, but remembering social interactions with people; remembering places, things, food sources; remembering tricks and deceptions; remembering faces and people's identities; remembering one's own identity.

So, not only are they authentically 'my' memories, but they are 'pretty good' in terms of their accuracy, even considering their well-established weaknesses and fallibilities. Basically, I'm justified in trusting them to a considerable extent, as long as I'm wary of the possibility that "I could be wrong."

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


ex-minister
atheistHigh Level ModeratorSilver Member
ex-minister's picture
Posts: 1708
Joined: 2010-01-29
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:Understanding

natural wrote:

Understanding the real, physical world is far more satisfying to an atheist than surrendering our natural wonder to the doctrine of terror that tells you that if you don't believe in 'god', then you are not really human and you'll lose out on love and life.

 

Excellent post, Natural.

I especially affirm what I kept quoted above. As a religious person I was constantly fighting my "evil" feelings. Could not be angry, could not have lust, could not  be fearful, could not feel pain/weakness (stiff upper lip). I was to be perfect as my sky daddy was. It took away from the enjoyment of life and awareness of what was going on. To extend your analogy it would be like eating chocolate cake and berating myself because it was bad for me even though it tasted so good. I would shame myself because it would me fat.  Avoid the present experience by adding shame and guilt.  This always had the effect to make me want it more. I muddled the experience and could not see it for what it truly was. No wonder I wanted it again and again. 

 

So instead of savoring it and therefore be done with it I would ruin/pervert the experience. I would give it by undue power by fighting the experience.

 

In the origins of religion I think they looked for those experiences people enjoy the most and called it evil using shame to enlist the credulous. This rejection of normal human emotions results in the weirdest shit  popping out. I say even large resentments occur because others get to do it but a righteous man chooses not to. Hostility comes out. So they invented hell. See you will get yours in the end, at death, which of course there is no way to validate until then.

 

===

 

To the OP, I have found to truly love someone is to accept them as they are. And as I have done that my relationships have gotten much better especially with my wife. I say my peace on how I feel about something and listen to hers and don't need to go any further. We can agree to disagree.  She doesn't need to believe like I do and she certainly doesn't in many ways. If I find myself repeatedly trying to convince her of something I am no longer am exhibiting love, but coercion. 

 

I don't mind repeating myself with fundies because I certainly don't love them.  

 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote:natural

Watcher wrote:

natural wrote:

This conundrum is so old they have an ancient Greek parable about it, ...

The conundrum is so old because we can't come to a satisfactory answer, wouldn't you agree?

No. Zeno's Paradox is just as old, and we solved it with Calculus.

This conundrum is solved with Information Theory.

Quote:
natural wrote:
It is the arrangement itself which holds the key to identity.

Maybe to an outsider looking in.  From us on the inside looking out...well no.

Are you sure of that?

From where I stand, on my inside looking out, it does appear that way. If my brain were organized in a different way, I would experience different things, and to the extent that those things were different, I would be different. For example, if you somehow modified my brain to match Steve Martin's memories, personality, desires, habits, behaviour patterns, etc., then my brain would be changed enough to say that it no longer was 'me', but was now Steve Martin inhabiting 'my' body. It would probably be pretty confused at first, but it would eventually say, "What the fuck am I doing in someone else's body?!"

Quote:
If you could make an exact replica of my wife (of course with different atoms) so she looked and acted exactly the same, well to ME she would be the same person.  But I'm not a...well a robot.  *Hell even our language doesn't work well when discussing this*

The word you are looking for is 'zombie', or specifically a 'p-zombie'.

Quote:
I feel, and so do you, that we aren't just some "thing" that responds to outside stimuli.  We're...well we exist.  Not just a body pooping and eating.

Correct, we are not a 'thing' in the traditional sense of old-style materialism. We (our minds) are information, and our conscious experience of the world is an informational process. That process is embodied in our brains. Change the brain, you change the information, you change the process, you change the person.

Ever wonder how a simple chemical like an IV anaesthetic can shut off your consciousness? It affects the brain. It's sorta like putting your laptop into sleep mode. You wake up and go, "What do you mean the surgery's over?" How is that possible unless consciousness is physical?

Think of computer hardware and software. If you have Windows on your machine, your machine will behave like Windows. If you instead have Linux on your machine, it will behave like Linux. Same hardware, different software. The software is not some 'thing', in the naive sense of that word. It is simply information. You can download Linux off the internet. You can install Windows from a CD/DVD-ROM. It's the same Windows if you install it on a different machine. It's the information on that DVD-ROM that's important. It's the binary bits you download off the internet that's important.

Quote:
I don't think that dead person is there in that new body.  No matter how closely it mimics the dead person.

Ignoring the crap scifi, are you sure about that? Is it a different Beatles song just because it's on my CD and not yours? No. It's the same song, just in a different 'body'. On the other hand, maybe mine is a re-mastered version, so it's actually a little different from yours. So technically, it's different. But it's still the same song. Get it? It's not a strict classification. It depends on how much is the same, and how much is different.

You can even measure the differences in terms of information. Change one bit on the CD, and you can say, "It is the same song, but with one bit different," or, equivalently, "The amount of information different between these two recordings is one bit." Change two bits, and it's two bits difference. Change 10% of the bits to random, and they will be 10% different. Change all of the bits to random, and you will be able to accurately say, "These two recordings share no information in common."

At a certain point, we say 'same', and at another point, we say 'not the same', but that's not really how it works, especially for systems containing a lot of information, such as a CD recording or a human mind.

It's the same song, just a re-mastered version. It's the same person, just a re-incarnated version. Eye-wink Maybe the word 'version' will help here, since this word is used extensively, especially in software, to differentiate between two things that are 'the same, but different'.

Quote:
My personal belief is that this identity as self, the propensity to say "I" and "me" like I'm something inside of this physical construct is an illusion.

Define 'illusion'.

If you mean, 'isn't what it appears to be', I would agree. If you mean, 'doesn't exist', I would disagree. An optical illusion isn't what it appears to be. But the illusion exists!

Quote:
A damn good one because it has me fooled completely.  I think I really exist.

Despite your self-doubts. I assure you, you exist. Otherwise, who am I talking to?

Quote:
Now certainly this arrangement of atoms exist.  But it is no more real than a highly developed robot that mimics a human being.  We shouldn't ask if an AI is really artificial.  We should ask if we are not all artificial.

A very good question, and ironically it is the death of the p-zombie argument. If there is no way to tell the difference between a p-zombie and a real person, if even the p-zombies are convinced they are real people, then we could all be p-zombies, and having a pointless discussion about the difference between us and 'real' people. In that case, the real illusion (as in, 'doesn't exist') would be the notion that there are such things a 'real' people.

But you wouldn't be able to tell either way, and so it makes no difference.

Quote:
The very fact that we would say we are real and a AI robot is artificial is egoism.  I don't believe it.

I actually agree. Except I wouldn't say that the AI is 'not real' in the first place. We would both be real to the extent that the word 'real' has any meaning whatsoever.

Quote:
So if this is an illusion then all that really exists is an evolved organic robot.  So that thing is alive, but "I"...I'm not alive.  I don't even exist.

This is where you have to give up the illusion that 'you' are something non-physical. You are not.

"All that really exists is an evolved organic robot." Exactly! Isn't that fucking amazing?! Think about it. Seriously. It's fucking awesome. That's how powerful evolution is. We are evolved organic robots, and that is fucking cool!

And we exist. As evolved organic robots. Running little mind programs in our Person OS, which self-programmed itself over the course of several years, having been bootstrapped from the firmware (some would say 'wetware') of the brain, which is itself an evolved organic computer/reality-simulator, developed over aeons according to the specifications (more like a recipe, actually) in our DNA.

Quote:
Therefore if I'm not really alive, I can't die.

Yikes, what a dangerous thought. Planes fly into buildings carrying that thought.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
ex-minister wrote:As a

ex-minister wrote:
As a religious person I was constantly fighting my "evil" feelings. Could not be angry, could not have lust, could not  be fearful, could not feel pain/weakness (stiff upper lip). I was to be perfect as my sky daddy was. It took away from the enjoyment of life and awareness of what was going on. To extend your analogy it would be like eating chocolate cake and berating myself because it was bad for me even though it tasted so good. I would shame myself because it would me fat.  Avoid the present experience by adding shame and guilt.  This always had the effect to make me want it more. I muddled the experience and could not see it for what it truly was. No wonder I wanted it again and again.

 

So instead of savoring it and therefore be done with it I would ruin/pervert the experience. I would give it by undue power by fighting the experience.

 

In the origins of religion I think they looked for those experiences people enjoy the most and called it evil using shame to enlist the credulous. This rejection of normal human emotions results in the weirdest shit  popping out. I say even large resentments occur because others get to do it but a righteous man chooses not to. Hostility comes out. So they invented hell. See you will get yours in the end, at death, which of course there is no way to validate until then.

This reminds me of a great book I read a while back called The Mind of the Bible Believer by Edmund Cohen. He dissects the various mechanisms religion, specifically Christianity, twists the mind to make good things seem bad, and various other tricks and hooks it plays on the mind.

Quote:

To the OP, I have found to truly love someone is to accept them as they are. And as I have done that my relationships have gotten much better especially with my wife. I say my peace on how I feel about something and listen to hers and don't need to go any further. We can agree to disagree.  She doesn't need to believe like I do and she certainly doesn't in many ways. If I find myself repeatedly trying to convince her of something I am no longer am exhibiting love, but coercion. 

 

Excellent insights, ex-minister! I agree wholeheartedly. This is the way to a healthy relationship.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Medievalguy
Medievalguy's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: 2007-03-01
User is offlineOffline
 Hey everybody, I just

 Hey everybody, I just wanted to say thank you for the responses so far. She's since gone back to talking to me and apologized for her breakdown that day. A littler more pertinent info:

 

She's a very liberal catholic that lost her mother at 5 to breast cancer. Everyone in her family is religious, some more than others, and she's never really given it a lot of thought.  Her life situation is really rocky right now. We both are unemployed (I just lost my job, she just graduated) and she feels like she has nothing to hold on to. A while back I came home to find her in the bathroom sobbing, having a full blown existentialist meltdown. The night before this happened we got talking about religion and I non-aggressively explained some of my positions that I had arrived at after years of searching and reading.

She seems to be stuck in this false dichotomy of either theism or nihilism. A lot of her reasons for believing are social/emotional. (As you won't be surprised) I'm trying to take it very slowly with her. I keep telling her that this is something she needs to come to on her own, that she needs to do some research for herself, that I don't have all the answers, and that I care about her regardless. Baby steps.

 

Thanks again everybody.


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote:Anyway, this

Watcher wrote:

Anyway, this is a blog post on the topic that lead me to ruminating on all this.

The blog post is basically identical to my position (with only a couple extremely minor differences not worth mentioning).

Here are some examples:

Quote:

                But this doesn’t alter the fact that all these molecules are transient parts of you. You are a system in flux; a pattern and not the sand in which the pattern is drawn;...

...The memories and mental functions remain but the neurons that represent them change over time.

... When you start to look at particles, and therefore atoms and molecules, as self-preserving dynamic states, the whole concept of static “sameness” ceases to be meaningful.
 
                What I was trying to do in Creation was to dismantle our intuition that the universe is made of (a) “real stuff” and (b) mere patterns in that stuff, by showing that even the real stuff is patterns too. ... It’s not that matter is somehow real and physical, while mind is not, they’re just different levels of self-maintaining pattern.

... And I then went on to assert that, when the processes that we think of as “real things” in the so-called physical universe arise inside a virtual universe in the same fashion, then we have to consider them just as real. Artificial life can therefore (under the right circumstances) be real life.
 
... The central point is that our bodies are in constant flux. We are not the stuff of which we are made; we are a self-maintaining pattern in a constantly changing substrate.
 

 

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


cj
atheistRational VIP!
cj's picture
Posts: 3330
Joined: 2007-01-05
User is offlineOffline
Watcher wrote:cj wrote:How

Watcher wrote:

cj wrote:

How many times did you or your brother dream and it didn't come to pass?  Don't know?  I'm not surprised.  It is called "discarding unfavorable data" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misuse_of_statistics#Discarding_unfavorable_data

See also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_validation

And also - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attentional_bias

And also - The Invisible Gorilla - http://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Gorilla-How-Intuitions-Deceive/dp/0307459667/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316028664&sr=8-1

If you do not record unfavorable data, then you have a tendency to ignore it.  The only way to be certain you have not missed significant data - especially "predictive" dreams - is to write it down.  Always.  I'll bet that you or your family members had hundreds if not thousands of dreams that never came true.

It is not surprising you remember this dream as the coincidence is very meaningful.  I do not mean to be disrespectful of your and your family's feeling for your grandfather.  But the dream and subsequent event is no more than a coincidence.

Well I'm not so arrogant to think we've figured everything out.  I've experienced some odd things, most are probably easily explainable, maybe some aren't.  We still have a lot of shit to figure out.  The stuff that I know I don't know is absolutely dwarfed by all the stuff I don't even know enough to realize I don't know it.

So who knows what's going on there?

 

Hey, Watcher - it was me you were responding to, not Kimsland.  I fixed it.

I skimmed the rest of the posts first, but I am really not interested in the existential stuff.  (No surprise, huh?)  We are what we are, we perceive what we perceive, staring at our navels doesn't change the fact that I need to get the dishes washed up.  I'm just too pragmatic to give a damn about the whichness of the why.

My point was that we all have a bias towards remembering the hits and forgetting the misses.  If you really truly want to know if you have prophetic dreams, you have to keep track.  Write it down.  Count.  And you will most likely find you are no better than chance at predicting stuff and really likely that your predictive skills are worse than chance.

There is a lot of stuff I don't know about the universe or about self awareness.  There is a lot of stuff no one knows about stuff.  So?  We will either take the time to find out or we won't want to or we won't be able to.  This doesn't make it mysterious or spiritual or significant. 

Am I arrogant?  Maybe, but I think of myself as a pragmatic realist or a realistic pragmatist (on alternate Tuesdays).  Zen is all very well, but all that navel gazing doesn't get the dishes done.

Quote:

When a superior man hears of the Tao,
he immediately begins to embody it.
When an average man hears of the Tao,
he half believes it, half doubts it.
When a foolish man hears of the Tao,
he laughs out loud.
If he didn't laugh,
it wouldn't be the Tao.

 

Color me laughing.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Glad to hear it's on the

Glad to hear it's on the mend, MG. You seem to be handling it just right, IMO.

Medievalguy wrote:
She seems to be stuck in this false dichotomy of either theism or nihilism.

This seems to me to be extremely common, and is one of the things that got me into philosophy in the first place, way back in grade school when it got out I was an atheist.

For a while, I figured I was a nihilist, just because that seemed to be the right word for 'not believing' in things. But it didn't take long before I realized how silly nihilism is (esp. epistemological nihilism, which is what I was courting). I may not believe in 'god', but I believe lots of things, most with good reason, but some are surely mistaken. And yet, everybody does this, so what's the big problem with not believing in one specific concept, the god-concept? Nothing. That's when I realized why the word 'atheist' is the right word.

As for 'belief', the question remains, if I'm not a nihilist, how do I know anything at all?

That search took much longer. It was fueled by an intuitive feeling that there must be some sort of justification for believing some things and not others. Eventually, I hit upon pragmatism, and refined that to my 'truth as prediction' formulation of pragmatism, and I've been extremely happy with that ever since.

As for the 'bleak' and 'empty' argument against nihilism/atheism, I went through a rough patch a while back and wondered, "Why do I keep going? What's the point?" And I thought about it, and realized that regardless of the ups and downs in life (and I've had plenty of downs), I do keep going. I simply do. I keep looking, keep searching, keep hoping there's a better way to life, and eventually, usually, I find it. And then I hit another hurdle, and wonder why keep going, but I just keep going, keep looking and searching, and keep wondering, what's the better way?

And that's where I hit on the concept of wonder. It's that itch to understand, the yearning to know, that keeps me going. And I don't have to justify it, it's just there. And almost certainly, everybody has it, or they wouldn't still be around.

And eventually, that line of 'wondering about wonder' has yielded lots of goodies, including the Argument from Wondrous Experience in my first comment to the OP.

These feelings of terror/despair on the one hand, and wonder on the other, are real feelings. And we ignore our feelings at our own peril. Mental health is a crucial aspect to life, equal to bodily health. These things do not get enough attention in our current societies (I'm thinking Canada and the US, being Canadian myself). Since that rough patch, I've been focusing on the mind, mental health, how religion affects the mind, and if there are any useful techniques for managing mental health (there are; religion has no monopoly on that, and usually does more harm to mental health than good).

Recognizing the reality (i.e the physical reality) of the mind, and feelings, etc. I believe is crucial to putting an end to religious mental abuse of people. I'm glad you're supportive of your gf's struggles. That's what she needs, and that, eventually, may lead her to overcome her religion.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


ex-minister
atheistHigh Level ModeratorSilver Member
ex-minister's picture
Posts: 1708
Joined: 2010-01-29
User is offlineOffline
kimsland

kimsland wrote:

harleysportster wrote:
My girlfriend happens to believe in god (not in the usual way, but in some new age, god is energy and karma kind of way). She knows how I feel and we have had some very deep conversations and disagreements about it.

You know there may be something in that.

 

I mean not 'god' (a single entity) but maybe some unmeasured non-tested, unknown energy force in our universe, and even in us!

As a common example, is the parent who just knows something is wrong with their child, so contacts (or goes check) them and discovers some major concern. But since that could be attributed to co-incidence or even normal, then I'll tell you a true story.

 

When I was a kid, my brother woke up and said GrandDad came to him in a dream and said goodbye (note 'GrandDad' lived about 3000miles away from us)

Anyway, this is NOT what a young kid would normally say, and it was NOT what my brother would say normally either ie It WAS certainly in his dream.

So he runs to my parents room and informs my Mom that her Dad (our GrandDad) said 'Goodbye' I also came to my parents room too, because kids can get scared of nothing, and this was about 5am in the morning.

So Mom says, don't worry "It's just a dream" I spoke to my Dad on the phone only two days ago, and he isn't going anywhere.

So we went back to bed 'feeling better', that it was 'just a dream' (I mean who cares anyway? GrandDad saying 'goodbye'? So what?)

Later on us kids woke up again to Mom crying in her room!

Again we ran to her room, but this time it was for the concern of Mom.

"What's wrong Mom?" We said (knowing our Dad was usually abusive, and could have easily upset her again.

I rang GrandDad (her dad) just then, and I was told that he passed away during the night!!!! (Something about old age)

?

Say what?

 

Now you tell me. Why did my brother have this dream that he had NEVER dreamed before? Why did he feel compelled (at around 10years old) to run to Mom with this concern, at about 5am??

 

Is there another unknown energy in the universe? I say likely. Although I feel its natural and it goes along with our universe, ie its NOT religious. We just haven't discovered this energy yet, and called it a name.

 

Someone once asked me, if the utmost top speed is the speed of light (and this without weight) how on Earth are we ever going to get to the other side of the universe? Other than wormholes and bending of the universe ideas, there IS one more way, and it FASTER than the speed of light.

We can dream or imagine we are at the other side of the universe. And why isn't this real? It was most definitely REAL to my brother when GrandDad said goodbye to him.

 

There you go, answer that, or ask your girlfriend/wife that one, maybe she'll agree.

 

We process lots of data and emotions in our sleep. It sounds like there was talk of granddad getting old and maybe dying. Your brother was just processing the meaning of that in a dream, I suspect

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


Luminon
SuperfanTheist
Luminon's picture
Posts: 2455
Joined: 2008-02-17
User is offlineOffline
BobSpence1 wrote:So far,

BobSpence1 wrote:

So far, there is no indication whatever that we can travel faster than light - NOTHING with any mass can even reach the speed of light.

Actually, there are a plenty of stars and galaxies traveling more than the speed of light. This is due to expansion of the universe, the speed of expansion of the space itself and their speeds add together, surpassing the speed of light. So I heard in some of the scientific podcasts or audio books. Just playing a smartass.

natural wrote:

This is how DNA stores the recipe for a human being and has been storing it for thousands and millions of years. The key ingredient of DNA is not Cytosine or Adenine or Guanine or Thymine. The key ingredient is information!

Can you tell me please, how detailed is the language of DNA? How much detail does it take to build a human body? I estimated the size of our genome for about 600 MB in computer terms, one base pair being two bits, for four potential states, already subtracted the 23% of that is unclassified, i.e. junk DNA.

The genome itself looks like a lots of instructions for creating proteins. I'm not sure how can that lead to a fully operational complicated organ, like the eye. I can understand the stem cells specialize on other cells, like heart cells, but how do the heart cells know, what shape or construction they should achieve? Is there a final design of an eye stored somewhere in genome? Is there something like an infinitely scaleable vector image? 

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5850
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
Sorry, Luminon, the

Sorry, Luminon, the expansion of the Universe is effectively the expansion of space itself, and the fact that this leads to parts of the Universe far enough apart separating at greater than the speed of light in no way invalidates the basic 'speed limit'.

Here is a reasonable explanation of this:

http://www.universetoday.com/13808/how-can-galaxies-recede-faster-than-the-speed-of-light/

Quote:

This sounds like it breaks Einstein’s theories, but it doesn’t. The galaxies themselves aren’t actually moving very quickly through space, it’s the space itself which is expanding away, and the galaxy is being carried along with it. As long as the galaxy doesn’t try to move quickly through space, no physical laws are broken.

If you google around, you can find plenty more explanations.

You really need to read more actual science.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5850
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is onlineOnline
The 'information' to build a

The 'information' to build a body is not just in the DNA, it is in the whole set of chemicals making up the cell.

What DNA encodes and preserves are the key differences which make one organism different from another, and one individual different from another, thus supporting the mechanism of evolution and adaptation.

Biological 'mechanisms', as evolved rather than designed mechanisms, are not as neatly divided into clearly distinct functional pieces like our computers, with memory here, processing there, interfaces in other chips, etc.

Most of the complexity in an adult organism is not specifically encoded in the DNA, it emerges in a fractal way from the basic 'specs'. Evolution of more functional brains and other organs is based on finding which specific protein patterns lead to 'better' structures. This is not predictable in advance, hence can only be found by random variation + selection.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote:natural

Luminon wrote:
natural wrote:

This is how DNA stores the recipe for a human being and has been storing it for thousands and millions of years. The key ingredient of DNA is not Cytosine or Adenine or Guanine or Thymine. The key ingredient is information!

Can you tell me please, how detailed is the language of DNA? How much detail does it take to build a human body? I estimated the size of our genome for about 600 MB in computer terms, one base pair being two bits, for four potential states, already subtracted the 23% of that is unclassified, i.e. junk DNA.

The genome itself looks like a lots of instructions for creating proteins. I'm not sure how can that lead to a fully operational complicated organ, like the eye. I can understand the stem cells specialize on other cells, like heart cells, but how do the heart cells know, what shape or construction they should achieve? Is there a final design of an eye stored somewhere in genome? Is there something like an infinitely scaleable vector image? 

 

You are correct, and this was mind-blowing when I first did the same estimation. The raw amount of information in the human genome is only about 600-700 MB, which could easily be stored on a single CD ROM. Holy crap.

The story is even worse, because, as you pointed out, much of the DNA seems to be 'junk' or filler, in between actual protein encoding gene segments.

Furthermore, it is well-known that significantly large chunks of DNA are composed of seemingly-parasitic 'transposable elements' or 'transposons' such as the Alu sequence in humans.

Basically, a surprisingly smaller amount of DNA actually encodes proteins than was originally estimated.

Even taking that into account, the story is even worse than that, because a good measurement of information content usually tries to compensate for repetitive sequences and patterns. And DNA is chock full of repetitions and re-occurring patterns, even in the functional parts.

To measure information content when lots of repetition occurs, a good way to do it is to try to use a data compression algorithm on the raw information, and see how small you can compress it.

For example, English text written in standard character encodings will quite often get in the neighbourhood of 90% compression, depending on the nature of the text, using standard compression tools such as ZIP.

I don't know if anyone has actually tried to do this yet on the human genome, but from my experience with compression algorithms and the nature of the human genome, I would not be surprised if you could compress it down by 75% reduction or possibly more. This is just a rough, off the top of my head guess. Just saying I wouldn't be surprised.

Assuming my guess is accurate, that would put the human genome in the neighbourhood of 175 MB of information. Possibly less.

That does not sound like much at all. In fact, it isn't much at all. It's surprisingly low. However, there are some things to consider, which make sense to me and which lead me to believe that this is not all that unreasonable in fact.

  1. This is a measure of the information content in the human genome, but every single cell in your entire body contains a complete copy of this entire genome, and there are approx. 10 to 100 trillion (10^14) human cells in your body. And every single one of them holds about as much genetic information as an entire CD ROM. Could you imagine how much space 100 trillion CD ROMs would take up? A quick, conservative calculation puts it in the neighbourhood of 4 billion cubic metres. Or about 4 cubic kilometres. That's enough to fill over 1 million Olympic sized swimming pools. And it's all packed into your little tiny cells.
     
  2. Each cell only needs to do it's own tiny part in your overall body. Basically, it mostly needs to just keep itself alive and functioning just like every other cell on the planet. The additional features of multi-cellularity arise when multitudes of cells cooperate together in the shared environment of the 'body'. This kind of 'social' cooperation does not need to be spelled out in detail in each individual cell, just like neither you nor I need to know how our entire countries work. We just each play our tiny little role in the whole scheme, and everyone else does the same, and somehow the whole thing comes together to act like a (mostly) coherent entity. So the human DNA doesn't need to say, "If you are cell X, then help out cell Y, because of reason Z" it just has to say, "Just be generally helpful and you'll get along fine."
     
  3. Not all information needs to be stored in the DNA, because the cells/body are going to be collecting a lot of information from the environment around them, and the cells only need to deal with general strategies for doing cell-like stuff. For instance, there's probably no information in the genome to specify exactly how the brain will form, and exactly how big it should be, etc. It probably just says general things like "If you're a neuron, and in the fetal development stage, keep replicating until it gets really crowded." That's a relatively short bit of information, but in the environment of a fetal neural cell, it will produce a very complex set of millions of brain cells filling up the cranial cavity. There's no need for the DNA to encode, "You go here, you go there, you go over there, ... etc. for each neuron."

    Furthermore, most cells in a particular tissue are very similar to each other. Again with neurons, the DNA doesn't have to say, "Here's how you make a neuron for the visual cortex, here's how you make a neuron for the auditory cortex, here's how you make one for the speech processing cortex, etc." It just has to say, "Here's how you make an all-purpose, generalized learning neuron that can be used for pretty much any purpose in the neo-cortex. So, although our brains end up being incredibly complex (encoding far more raw information than the DNA could possibly store in less than 700 MB), all of that information is built-up from billions or trillions of essentially identical neurons, each finding itself in a distinct location in the brain, and so automatically taking up whatever role seems to be needed by the neurons around it.

    The brain is a good example, because it is on the extreme end of things, as far as information goes. There's simply no way that DNA could store all the information that our brains end up encoding. And yet, the simple (relatively speaking) little neurons that make up the brain have no problem all cooperating together with generalized rules for 'just learning stuff'.
     
  4. DNA does not act so much like a blueprint, or a linear sequence of commands. It is more like a recipe, with lots of room for error, and for dealing with whatever the environment throws at it. So instead of saying, "First, split into two cells, then one of you cells, go on to make the head and torso (see page 9307), and you other cell, go on to make the lower body by dividing into two more cells... etc." it might just say, "First, make a whole bunch of cells. A bit later, if you happen to find yourself getting lots of oxygen (closer to the placenta), switch over to making a bunch of type A cells. Otherwise, make a bunch of type B cells." Not every detail needs to be encoded, just a general plan that can be adapted as the cells find themselves in different local environments.

    Or, instead of saying, "When a bee stings you, first, send out a pain signal. Then, stop the venom spreading by swelling up and constricting the blood vessels, etc." it can simply say, "If you find yourself suddenly dying, release some histamine. If you find yourself surrounded by histamine, shift the balance of fluid intake a little bit (causing swelling), and if you happen to be a blood vessel cell, contract a bit." This generalized strategy for dealing with wounds works whether it's a bee sting, an infection, some other toxin, a mosquito bite, a blister, etc. The specific details don't need to be encoded. Just a general reaction that happens to work well for a lot of different cases.
     
  5. While DNA primarily encodes protein generating sequences (proteins do almost all the work in the cell/organism), in multi-cellular life, a good portion of the DNA is also devoted to coordinating the development of the organism from a single cell to the adult, and a lot of this information does not encode proteins specifically, but instead encodes 'switches' that 'promote' or 'inhibit' gene expression in particular kinds of cells. So, while all the cells contain the same CD-ROM's worth of DNA information, some cells are using gene X, and others aren't, while some of the others are using gene Y, while yet others aren't. It's like all the cells get the same 'basic training', but different specialized cells get different 'special training' and special tools that they need to do their specific jobs. And even different kinds of cells can often re-use the tools that are originally intended for a certain specialized cell.

    For example, the protein keratin is found in skin cells, because it is tough and protective. Well, the same protein keratin is also made by hair follicles, to make hair, because it allows light-weight fibres to stick out from the skin to protect it from sunlight, and to conserve heat energy. But this same protein keratin is also found in the fingernails, because it makes them hard, and allows them to be used for picking and scratching at things (like fleas or other parasites, and whatnot). And this same protein keratin is used in rhinoceroses to make their huge horns for defense and for male competition over territory. So, you see, the proteins are often widely used in different cells for different purposes. The same protein may have dozens of different functions throughout the body. These kinds of proteins are like a tool box of tried-and-true all-purpose master tools that have been crafted over millions of years of evolution.
     
  6. The developmental portions of DNA, the promoters and inhibitors, are also hierarchical in function. So, you get embryonic stem cells which produce neural stem cells, which produce both nerve cells and brain stem cells, and the brain stem cells produce neurons, and additional cells called glia. And there are similar hierarchies for each specific type of tissue in the body: Skin, muscle, bone, immune system, internal organs, etc. This, potentially, has a great ability to reduce the amount of information needed to encode for all these different types of cells. Instead of having completely separate information for each and every type of cell, the DNA can just say, "If you're just getting started, act like a generic embryonic stem cell. If you find yourself getting signalled to become a neural stem cell, then basically keep going doing what an embryonic stem cell does, but tweak it a bit to be a bit more specialized. If you later find yourself in the cranial region, then keep being a neural stem cell, but tweak it a bit to become more brain-stem-cell-like. If you happen to be signalled to become a neuron, then keep acting like a brain stem cell, but tweak it a bit more to become a full neuron."

    So, different cell types don't have to completely re-invent the wheel. They inherit most of the capabilities of their developmental predecessors, and just specialize them a bit. These incremental specializations mean that the DNA doesn't have to encode every little detail of every cell's eventual fate. It just has to encode the relatively minor differences from one cell type to the next in a gradual sequence. This can be as little as turning on (or off) a few genes to start making more or less of some particular proteins.

If you compare 175 MB with a digital video file, it seems very very small (A few minutes of video), but if you compare it to something more akin to what DNA does, which is more analogous to a computer program than just a data file, then 175 MB is actually HUGE for a computer program.

To compare, find your copy of the Java JRE (Java Runtime Environment) installed on your system (most people have it, I think). If you're using Windows, a likely install location would be Program Files\Java\jre. It might be jre5 or jre6 or jre7. Now right-click the entire folder and click Properties. It should show a size of roughly 100 MB.

The reason I picked the JRE to compare is because it is enormous, as far as executable software goes. It is basically able to do just about anything you could want it to do. It's a giant toolbox of tried-and-true tools, just like I was describing DNA as being. And it's pretty much self-contained, compared to most programs which borrow heavily from the operating system, making them seem smaller than they are.

Here's the thing: A large portion of that JRE is mere data, not executable stuff. Things like language files, icons and other images, fonts, locale data, character sets, etc. Things that don't really have an analog in DNA. And, at the end of the day, that's not even the compressed size! When I compressed my 100 MB jre7 folder, it shrunk to 21 MB (using 7Zip).

So, comparison:

  Human Genome
Java JRE
What is it? Massive toolkit of functional proteins. Massive toolkit of functional algorithms.
What can it do? Can build any cell in the body. Can build just about any program you can think of.
Non-functional Content Lots of 'junk' DNA Lots of non-functional data
Uncompressed 700 MB 100 MB
Compressed ~175 MB or less (rough guess) 21 MB
Location Every cell in your body Your hard-drive (probably)

 

So, with some of these considerations in mind, realizing that DNA works more like a generic recipe or a toolbox of little 'programs' rather than a simple, linear sequence of instructions, or a super-detailed blueprint, DNA actually comes off looking pretty close to what we might expect when we compare it to one of our most advanced pieces of software which is more analogous to DNA than a less analogous comparison, like to a data file such as a super-detailed, linear video file.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10687
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote:BobSpence1

Luminon wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

So far, there is no indication whatever that we can travel faster than light - NOTHING with any mass can even reach the speed of light.

Actually, there are a plenty of stars and galaxies traveling more than the speed of light. This is due to expansion of the universe, the speed of expansion of the space itself and their speeds add together, surpassing the speed of light.

Relativity, my dear Watson. For observers not getting it, objects can appear to move faster than light, but they aren't actually doing so. If I roll a ball in one direction at 5kph, and roll a different ball in the opposite direction at the same speed, then an observer on either ball might assume they were travelling at 10kph if the only frame of reference were the other ball. But in reality both balls are moving at 5kph, they only move at 10kph relative to each other.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Vastet wrote:Luminon

Vastet wrote:
Luminon wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

So far, there is no indication whatever that we can travel faster than light - NOTHING with any mass can even reach the speed of light.

Actually, there are a plenty of stars and galaxies traveling more than the speed of light. This is due to expansion of the universe, the speed of expansion of the space itself and their speeds add together, surpassing the speed of light.
Relativity, my dear Watson. For observers not getting it, objects can appear to move faster than light, but they aren't actually doing so. If I roll a ball in one direction at 5kph, and roll a different ball in the opposite direction at the same speed, then an observer on either ball might assume they were travelling at 10kph if the only frame of reference were the other ball. But in reality both balls are moving at 5kph, they only move at 10kph relative to each other.

The 'moving faster than light' thing doesn't quite work like that. It works because space itself is expanding.

So, it would be more like if you had two balls on the surface of an enormous balloon which was constantly expanding. Except this balloon is so enormous as to appear flat, like the Earth; hmmm, yeah, let's say that the Earth itself was expanding like an enormous infinitely-stretchy balloon.

You roll two balls away from each other, and they are initially moving at 10kph away from each other (relative to each, respectively), but the surface of the Earth is expanding at a rate of 1kph per kilometre (nearby objects don't recede much, but distant ones recede more quickly, just like the marks on an expanding balloon).

So, after rolling a kilometre away from each other, each one appears to be now rolling at 11kph relative to the other, even though locally each ball is still only travelling at 5kph relative to the ground nearby (assuming no friction). Then, after rolling 10 km away from each other, they now appear to be each rolling 20kph away from each other, even though each is still going only 5kph relative to the ground near it. It's because the space between them is literally expanding itself now at a rate of 10kph, that the balls' relative velocities appear to be boosted by 10kph.

Even if the balls were originally stationary relative to each other, at say an initial distance of 1m, eventually the tiny gap between them would grow and grow, and eventually they would be 10km apart, and apparently moving at 10kph away from each other. This latter example is more analogous to our observations of the Big Bang, distant galactic red-shift, and the idea that extremely distant parts of the universe are receding so quickly (due to space expansion, not velocity itself) that they appear to be moving faster than light. But light remains a speed limit in terms of velocities are concerned.

And, actually, those parts of the universe receding faster than light are actually not visible at all! They don't literally 'appear' to be moving faster than light, because we have no way of detecting them anymore since light from them, limited to the speed of light, will never be able to reach us. The space between us is growing too fast, faster than light itself can travel.

Imagine those balls (for whatever reason) have a maximum speed limit of 30kph. As soon as they are 60 km apart, then no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to reach each other ever again, even if they travel at top speed toward each other. Each ball is lost to the other forever.

And those distant parts of the universe outside of our 'light-sphere', are also lost to us forever (assuming space continues to expand at the same or greater rate forever, which is the current best theory).


As far as relativity goes, to calculate relative speeds/velocities, you need to always have two objects in mind, the 'stationary' object, and the 'moving' object. All objects think they themselves are 'stationary', even though this is simply their own frame of reference. There's no such thing as their 'actual' speed, or their speed 'in reality'. According to their frame of reference, they are always just sitting there, and all the world around them are the crazy ones flying around at high velocities.

So, imagine we lower the speed-limit c from the current velocity of light down to 10kph. And you roll two balls away from each other, each at a velocity (relative to you) of 5kph.

Then, each ball will think that it is the stationary one, and you are moving at 5kph away from it (i.e. relative to the ball). But how fast will each ball see the other ball relative to itself?

Here you need to use the Lorenz transformation, which for parallel velocities works out to a fairly easy equation:

V(2->3) = (V(1->3) - V(1->2)) / [ 1 - (V(1->3) x V(1->2)) / c2 ]

(It looks harder than it is. Try writing it on paper, or see a better formatted version on Wikipedia.)

V(1->2) means "the velocity of object 2 as seen by object 1" (if you prefer, read 'velocity' as 'speed', if that makes more sense), so the equation reads, in English:

  • The velocity of ball B (object 3) relative to ball A (object 2): V(2->3)
  • Equals the velocity of B (obj 3) relative to you (object 1), subtracting away the velocity of A (obj 2) relative to you (obj1): = (V(1->2) - V(1->2))
  • Divided by, in brackets: / [
    • One minus: 1 -
    • The two velocities multiplied by each other: (V(1->3) x V(1->2))
    • But divided by the speed-limit squared: / c2
  • Close bracket: ]

The only really tricky part of this formula is that you have to remember that if the objects are moving away from each other (i.e. in opposite directions from you), then one of them will have a negative velocity, and the subtractions turn out to work more like additions.

So, if we have V(1->3) = 5kph, and V(1->2) = -5kph (notice the negative), and c = 10kph, then the formula works out to

V(2->3) = [5kph - (-5kph) ] / [ 1 - [5kph x (-5kph )] / (10kph)2 ]

= (5kph + 5kph ) / [ 1 + (5kph x 5kph) / (10kph)2 ]  (notice the negatives cancel to become pluses)

= 10kph / [ 1 + 25kph2 / 100kph2 ]

= 10kph / [ 1 + 25 / 100 ] = 10kph / [ 1 + 1 / 4 ] = 10kph / [ 1 + 0.25 ] = 10kph / 1.25

= 8kph

Notice that 8kph is less than 10kph, which was our speed-limit c.

So, relativity can't get you faster than the speed of light. You need an expanding space balloon to do that. Eye-wink

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Luminon
SuperfanTheist
Luminon's picture
Posts: 2455
Joined: 2008-02-17
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:So, with some

natural wrote:

So, with some of these considerations in mind, realizing that DNA works more like a generic recipe or a toolbox of little 'programs' rather than a simple, linear sequence of instructions, or a super-detailed blueprint, DNA actually comes off looking pretty close to what we might expect when we compare it to one of our most advanced pieces of software which is more analogous to DNA than a less analogous comparison, like to a data file such as a super-detailed, linear video file.

Thanks a lot for the explanation. This is amazing.

I got interested in this, because there is a constant friction in my mind between esoteric and scientific worldview. They have their own places for the most part, but there is a thin area where they overlap and interact. And in that area there's a lot to think about.

The problem of cellular growth is, how can all these cells build identical shapes. I mean, a surgeon can open up almost anyone and all organs will be in the same places, the same shapes, relatively the same sizes and so on. With so much improvisation on the part of cells, I'd expect a lot more variety, specially with the non-symmetric organs. This is seems like a mind-boggling co-operation and interaction of a cell with everything around, with usually nothing going wrong. According to chaos theory, in complex systems changes on small scale may have big consequences on large scale. But here, no matter how much cells improvise, they always end up in the same shape, like they fall into the pattern, rather than create one. 

Basically, esotericism claims that there is etheric body (which is measurable) and also claims, that cellular lives follow this etheric body as a template and grow into it. Etheric body is something like a mesh of lines of force underlying nerve system, with main conduits along the spine and several major centers associated with endocrine glands, heart and brain. 
So besides the nerve system and vital areas, the interaction isn't much, but it seems enough for the cells to guide themselves, just like birds and whales orientate themselves by magnetic field of Earth. 
This is why the etheric body is claimed to be the holy grail of medicine and health, because it directs the growth of cells, but also most of the diseases first show up on etheric body and develop visibly only after the dense body follows.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote:The conundrum

natural wrote:

No. Zeno's Paradox is just as old, and we solved it with Calculus.

This conundrum is solved with Information Theory.

Read it.  Don't believe it.  Of course, maybe I'm just not smart enough...

[quote=natural]

Are you sure of that?

Crap dude.  I'm not sure of anything.  That's how I became an atheist.  haha

natural wrote:

The word you are looking for is 'zombie', or specifically a 'p-zombie'.

Never heard of that.  I need to look it up.

natural wrote:

Correct, we are not a 'thing' in the traditional sense of old-style materialism. We (our minds) are information, and our conscious experience of the world is an informational process. That process is embodied in our brains. Change the brain, you change the information, you change the process, you change the person.

Ever wonder how a simple chemical like an IV anaesthetic can shut off your consciousness? It affects the brain. It's sorta like putting your laptop into sleep mode. You wake up and go, "What do you mean the surgery's over?" How is that possible unless consciousness is physical?

Think of computer hardware and software. If you have Windows on your machine, your machine will behave like Windows. If you instead have Linux on your machine, it will behave like Linux. Same hardware, different software. The software is not some 'thing', in the naive sense of that word. It is simply information. You can download Linux off the internet. You can install Windows from a CD/DVD-ROM. It's the same Windows if you install it on a different machine. It's the information on that DVD-ROM that's important. It's the binary bits you download off the internet that's important.

Too long.  Didn't read.

Just kidding.  I know how computers work.  I'm an IT guy.  Sticking out tongue

I still don't think you can boil down my consciousness, my elan vital, to "information" or "information process".  I dunno.  Sounds fishy to me.  But this is the first time I've really discussed this topic with anyone, so this usually leads me to reading and ruminating on the topic.  I'll let you know what conclusions I stumble across in my thoughts.

natural wrote:

Ignoring the crap scifi, are you sure about that? Is it a different Beatles song just because it's on my CD and not yours? No. It's the same song, just in a different 'body'. On the other hand, maybe mine is a re-mastered version, so it's actually a little different from yours. So technically, it's different. But it's still the same song. Get it? It's not a strict classification. It depends on how much is the same, and how much is different.

You can even measure the differences in terms of information. Change one bit on the CD, and you can say, "It is the same song, but with one bit different," or, equivalently, "The amount of information different between these two recordings is one bit." Change two bits, and it's two bits difference. Change 10% of the bits to random, and they will be 10% different. Change all of the bits to random, and you will be able to accurately say, "These two recordings share no information in common."

A song?  Bad analogy.  Don't use a song as a comparison to a human consciousness.  Totally loses me there. 

natural wrote:

Despite your self-doubts. I assure you, you exist. Otherwise, who am I talking to?

Heck you might be talking to yourself.  I might be talking to myself.  Who knows?

natural wrote:

This is where you have to give up the illusion that 'you' are something non-physical. You are not.

Maybe.

natural wrote:

Exactly! Isn't that fucking amazing?! Think about it. Seriously. It's fucking awesome. That's how powerful evolution is. We are evolved organic robots, and that is fucking cool!

Fuck yeah!  High five!

natural wrote:

Yikes, what a dangerous thought. Planes fly into buildings carrying that thought.

What?  The idea that they would go to Paradise and have 72 virgins is what those hijackers were thinking.

Have you heard the tapes?  Muslim bastards were chanting "God is Great" over, and over, and over, and over as they flew to the WTC.  Fucking bitches.  Did I mention I hate muzzies?  Well, I do.  I watched NYC smoke for four days after the attacks.  It was a huge dirty column of filth wafting up into our stratosphere.

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Watcher
atheist
Posts: 2326
Joined: 2007-07-10
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote:I mean, a

Luminon wrote:

I mean, a surgeon can open up almost anyone and all organs will be in the same places, the same shapes, relatively the same sizes and so on.

 

This is totally unrelated to the discussion but you just reminded me of something Luminon.

Have you ever heard of people having "reverse" organs?  Like a mirror image of a normal person's organs.

Freaking fascinating.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situs_inversus

"I am an atheist, thank God." -Oriana Fallaci


Kapkao
atheistSuperfanBronze Member
Kapkao's picture
Posts: 4121
Joined: 2010-01-12
User is offlineOffline
Answers in Gene Simmons

Answers in Gene Simmons wrote:

p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }

That time of the month again?

 

Really, love is not all that hard to find. Take a walk in the park on Saturday and you should have no problem finding couples doing dirty stuff.

 

Freudian moment...

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10687
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
@ Natural: You are correct

@ Natural: You are correct of course. I just figured on dumbing it down a bit so I didn't have to multipost, and figured my analogy was "close enough", as it were.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
Makes sense. When I write

Makes sense. When I write big posts like that, I'm usually not only writing to the person I'm replying to, but also to everyone else reading. So I can sometimes be overly pedantic, but don't take it personal. Just cuz I write like that doesn't mean I think nobody else knows this stuff. I just want more people to know it.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!