Is "Infinite" Incoherent?

JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Is "Infinite" Incoherent?

The topic states the question clearly.  Here's the issue it stems from.

Assuming no god, and assuming causality and the first law of thermodynamics, the universe cannot at any point have spontaneously come into existence.  If those are refuted, the query ends there.  If not, this necessarily means the universe is infinite.  However, I think "infinite" might be an ontologically incoherent term.  It cannot be defined with any positive traits, only by things it is not.

Epistomologically, it seems no better off than claims of "supernatural" origins, as neither word has any meaning.

Is that accurate, or is there an ontology for "infinite"? 

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


James Cizuz
James Cizuz's picture
Posts: 261
Joined: 2007-02-11
User is offlineOffline
JHenson wrote: The topic

JHenson wrote:

The topic states the question clearly. Here's the issue it stems from.

Assuming no god, and assuming causality and the first law of thermodynamics, the universe cannot at any point have spontaneously come into existence. If those are refuted, the query ends there. If not, this necessarily means the universe is infinite. However, I think "infinite" might be an ontologically incoherent term. It cannot be defined with any positive traits, only by things it is not.

Epistomologically, it seems no better off than claims of "supernatural" origins, as neither word has any meaning.

Is that accurate, or is there an ontology for "infinite"?

 

Who's saying the universe just spontaneously came into existence? Whoever it was, they are a moron. 

"When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness.... No show, however good, could conceivably be good forever.... I do not believe in immortality, and have no desire for it." ~H.L. Mencken

Thank god i'm a atheist!


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Infinite, as far as I'm

Infinite, as far as I'm aware, is a negative term.
We have a notion of finite and infinite is 'not finite'.
It is basically a way of saying 'no last number'.
If the yellow brick road is infinite then you will never seen an end to it no matter how far you go.
To say that the universe is infinite is to say that no matter how far we look back there will be further to go.

Infinite doesn't require an ontology in the same way God does, because God is noun, a 'thing' while infinite is a concept of quantity.
Infinite does place a limit on our epistemology, that our knowledge will never ever be complete but it doesn't affect the coherence of what we do know.


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote: Infinite

Strafio wrote:
Infinite doesn't require an ontology in the same way God does, because God is noun, a 'thing' while infinite is a concept of quantity.

I was thinking more in comparison to "supernatural" than "God."  Thank you for your response.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
James Cizuz wrote: Who's

James Cizuz wrote:
Who's saying the universe just spontaneously came into existence? Whoever it was, they are a moron.

He was just stating that's the logical alternative to the universe being infinite. So if we reject that, as we do, then we have to answer his query on the notion of infinite. A major part of the Kalam Cosmological Argument is an attempt to show that an infinite universe is logically impossible.


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
JHenson wrote: I was

JHenson wrote:
I was thinking more in comparison to "supernatural" than "God." Thank you for your response.

Ah! I see.
Well, infinite is negative of one thing; quantity.
This allows it to be silently positive of other characteristics.
E.g. the infinite road is has no end or finite length but has positive characteristics like being a road, having a width, etc...

Supernatural doesn't allow for any positive characteristics.


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote: Well,

Strafio wrote:
Well, infinite is negative of one thing; quantity.
This allows it to be silently positive of other characteristics.
E.g. the infinite road is has no end or finite length but has positive characteristics like being a road, having a width, etc...

Supernatural doesn't allow for any positive characteristics.

Would a supernatural road not share all similar positive qualities with an infinite one?

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
I think that supernatural

I think that supernatural rules out all positive characteristics, while infinite only rules out finite quantities.


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Fair enough, thank you.

Fair enough, thank you.


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Always a pleasure.

Always a pleasure. Smile


DewiMorgan
DewiMorgan's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2007-05-20
User is offlineOffline
Quote: Assuming no god, and

Quote:
Assuming no god,
and assuming causality
and the first law of thermodynamics,

Universe-beginning hypotheses (and that's all we have, we've got no "knowledge" right now) try to get around each one of these three.

There's the first one, which is got around by... well any theistic Creation story.

The second and third are the subject of the ideas which suggest that it did, indeed, spring from nothing - I've not read any good ones.

Or there's the whole "push it somewhere else" problem, which just says the universe was around before the big bang in some form: that we are on the inside of a singularity; that the universe is the aftermath of a "big crunch"; that it came from the collision of two branes; that we came from a random creation in a foam of strings... all these, like theism, just shift the question to a predecessor to the universe, and make us ask "so, what made THAT?"

There are no answers that make me happy.

Quote:
If not, this necessarily means the universe is infinite. However, I think "infinite" might be an ontologically incoherent term.

Yup. Infinite branes give me the same problem. Any time infinity comes into the picture, I think the hypothesis is broken. So an infinitely (adjective) God doesn't sit well with me, simply because... well, when you have infinity anywhere, other things become zero. Like if you have an infinitely pink unicorn deity, then all other pinkness is, technically, zero. If you have an infinitely good God then all our actions are neither good nor bad, they just count for nothing. But yes, if you have an infinitely large and old universe then...

Well, what made the infinite size and time? You still have to explain the primary cause question, and you're also stuck with the question of how it got to be infinite.

Quote:
It cannot be defined with any positive traits, only by things it is not.
Epistomologically, it seems no better off than claims of "supernatural" origins, as neither word has any meaning.

I'm with you on that. A road being infinitely pink is meaningless. You promptly know nothing about how pink it is (other than "really very pink indeed"). Something being infinitely long, the same. Its other traits are unaffected.

I think the same is true of supernatural. If a road is "supernaturally pink", it's still a road and cars driving on it are still driving one side or the other, the camber is still so many inches, and so on.

But, you don't even know whether it's really very pink or whether other things could be pinker. You do know that it was not a naturally formed pinkness. Or length, or other attribute.

T="theists who's posts are fun-to-read, truth-seeking and insightful". Your own T will be different, but Tdewi includes { Avecrien, Cory T, crocaduck, JHenson, jread, wavefreak }


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
DewiMorgan wrote: Like if

DewiMorgan wrote:
Like if you have an infinitely pink unicorn deity, then all other pinkness is, technically, zero.

I love this!  Seriously, it's a wonderful analogy.  While other pinkness isn't precisely zero, it may as well be infinitely less than infinite pinkness.  No matter how close you come to infinity you are still finite, and may as well be infinitely far away - just as good as if you were at zero.

DewiMorgan wrote:
If you have an infinitely good God then all our actions are neither good nor bad, they just count for nothing.

This is one theologians sometimes have trouble with.  It's the basis of the doctrine of grace in Christianity (and seeing as I'm a Christian, it's all I can really speak on).  Romans 3:10-12 says it well: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one."

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Ophios
Ophios's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: 2006-09-19
User is offlineOffline
James Cizuz wrote: JHenson

James Cizuz wrote:
JHenson wrote:

The topic states the question clearly. Here's the issue it stems from.

Assuming no god, and assuming causality and the first law of thermodynamics, the universe cannot at any point have spontaneously come into existence. If those are refuted, the query ends there. If not, this necessarily means the universe is infinite. However, I think "infinite" might be an ontologically incoherent term. It cannot be defined with any positive traits, only by things it is not.

Epistomologically, it seems no better off than claims of "supernatural" origins, as neither word has any meaning.

Is that accurate, or is there an ontology for "infinite"?

 

Who's saying the universe just spontaneously came into existence? Whoever it was, they are a moron.

Todangst might want to have words with you. 

AImboden wrote:
I'm not going to PM my agreement just because one tucan has pms.


rexlunae
rexlunae's picture
Posts: 378
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
The problem comes from

The problem comes from trying to use the word infinite to describe things that ultimately contradict the concept.

For instance, the concept of "infinitely pink". Pink is a color, a range of frequencies of light which we have named, so 'pinkness' would have to be a measure of how close to this range (or a specific value) something is. It makes no sense for this to be infinite, since pink is a finite range, just as it makes no sense for something to be infinitely between 4 and 8.

Likewise the notion of 'infinitely good'. I don't know how to quantify 'goodness', so the notion that it is infinite is meaningless to me. However, this usage strikes me as potentially a non-technical lay expression, and I would doubt that it was used traditionally within religion.

However, the concept of an infinite (length) road does not have such problems. There are practical problems, of course, but there is no logical problem, no ontological problem with it. You can describe an infinite road, what it's made of, such as concrete, or brick, or gravel or dirt, how it's paved, what the bed is made of, etc, so it does have an ontology. It just isn't possible to build.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


DewiMorgan
DewiMorgan's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2007-05-20
User is offlineOffline
But on the other paw, if

But on the other paw, if there's an infinitely good god, then nobody has ever done anything at all evil: just zero. Nobody has ever accomplished anything good or evil. Hitler, Gandhi: same thing. All of man's morality is as naught.

T="theists who's posts are fun-to-read, truth-seeking and insightful". Your own T will be different, but Tdewi includes { Avecrien, Cory T, crocaduck, JHenson, jread, wavefreak }


DewiMorgan
DewiMorgan's picture
Posts: 126
Joined: 2007-05-20
User is offlineOffline
Quote: Pink is a color, a

Quote:
Pink is a color, a range of frequencies of light which we have named, so 'pinkness' would have to be a measure of how close to this range (or a specific value) something is. It makes no sense for this to be infinite, since pink is a finite range, just as it makes no sense for something to be infinitely between 4 and 8.

I would argue that pinkness is not just related to frequency. If you have two pinks of the same frequency but one is twice as bright, or twice as saturated, then one is "more pink".

Brightness doesn't have any upper bound.

It's possible you're right about the lay use of infinite goodness, and that actually it means "limitless capacity for being good" rather than "possession of a 'good' that has no limits".

T="theists who's posts are fun-to-read, truth-seeking and insightful". Your own T will be different, but Tdewi includes { Avecrien, Cory T, crocaduck, JHenson, jread, wavefreak }


rexlunae
rexlunae's picture
Posts: 378
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
DewiMorgan wrote: I would

DewiMorgan wrote:
I would argue that pinkness is not just related to frequency. If you have two pinks of the same frequency but one is twice as bright, or twice as saturated, then one is "more pink".

Brightness doesn't have any upper bound.

If you want to incorporate brightness into pinkness, that's fine, and then concept then becomes meaningful. The point, which I think is taken, is that when it's just color, without something like brightness thrown in, it's an incoherent concept.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
DewiMorgan wrote: But on

DewiMorgan wrote:
But on the other paw, if there's an infinitely good god, then nobody has ever done anything at all evil: just zero. Nobody has ever accomplished anything good or evil. Hitler, Gandhi: same thing. All of man's morality is as naught.

I don't know if this exactly works.  Goods and evils, if quantifiable, could exist relative to each other on a finite continuum, it's just that the upper (and possibly lower) bound is nonexistant.  Theologically, I would rather argue that evil is when good is quantified at zero, that is 'no good.'  That would place a lower bound on our continuum at zero.  Christianity holds that all people are sinners, and no person is righteous.  It's an odd model to approach the subject from, but I suppose it works.

rexlunae wrote:
However, the concept of an infinite (length) road does not have such problems. There are practical problems, of course, but there is no logical problem, no ontological problem with it. You can describe an infinite road, what it's made of, such as concrete, or brick, or gravel or dirt, how it's paved, what the bed is made of, etc, so it does have an ontology. It just isn't possible to build.

Well, the issue isn't that an infinite thing has no ontological properties, just that the property of infinite itself is incoherent. 

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Deliciously_Saucy
Deliciously_Saucy's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: 2007-05-24
User is offlineOffline
Quote: Goods and evils, if

Quote:
Goods and evils, if quantifiable, could exist relative to each other on a finite continuum, it's just that the upper (and possibly lower) bound is nonexistant. Theologically, I would rather argue that evil is when good is quantified at zero, that is 'no good.'

How do you define between good and evil? I take the stance that good and evil is nothing more then a point of view shared in a culture. Could you please separately write down what is right and what is wrong if you can so easily put them into two separate categories?

If good and evil is absolute, and you can't give me the definition between the two exactly, then how did god expect us to follow these rules and ideals? That is why we have good and evil right, to correctly live our lives? If we can't tell the absolutes apart, then how could we be blaimed for doing something we thought good, but turned out evil?


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Deliciously_Saucy

Deliciously_Saucy wrote:
How do you define between good and evil? I take the stance that good and evil is nothing more then a point of view shared in a culture. Could you please separately write down what is right and what is wrong if you can so easily put them into two separate categories?

First I should make clear that the use of "good and evil" in this discussion hasn't related to any particular ethical scheme, because there are many.  It has been sufficient thus far to accept that the two exist, and that they are ontological opposites (each describes the leftovers of the other in a universe of discourse).  I think a relevant point is that we all agree "good" and "evil" have meaning relative to something, and that something is ethical/moral in nature.

You say good and evil are cultural perspectives, presumably one no more right or wrong than the other.  Are ethics entirely learned then, and we have no predispositions?  I think you're overgeneralizing and ignoring a great deal of the human condition.

Deliciously_Saucy wrote:
If good and evil is absolute, and you can't give me the definition between the two exactly, then how did god expect us to follow these rules and ideals? That is why we have good and evil right, to correctly live our lives? If we can't tell the absolutes apart, then how could we be blaimed for doing something we thought good, but turned out evil?

My own beliefs hold that morality comes directly from God, not in terms of wrote laws (aka "the Law&quotEye-wink, but in terms of conscience.  The Bible (a guide, not a rulebook) states that "the Law is written on [our] hearts" in reference to non-Jews doing good deeds.  It is clear that Law is not necessary for good (in fact, Paul the Apostle has it that the Law invites sin more than prevents it!).

While we all have a conscience, we are at best conflicted over it because we are enslaved to sin.  Sin is a separation from God and a disobedience of his authority.  While we have a conscience, at best we can only be humanitarians.  Truly good is loving God, neighbor and self alike - and all three are complimentary, for to love a creator is to love his creation, and vice versa.

Unfortunately, no person seeks God.  This is the nature of sin.  Because of this, no person is good.  If you love yourself and your neighbor but hate their creator, you are hating a part of your neighbor and yourself.  We are not free of responsability to try to be good (be good, rather than do good), but we know that the only good we can do is by the power of God working through us.  This is what is meant by faith, absolute trust and confidence in God to have authority over our lives.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
Hey. Todangst actually has

Hey. Todangst actually has an article that deals with conscience.
It's about Christian conceptions of morality in general, but if you search for "A Theist Response" then you'll reach near the end of the article which deals with conscience.

Point 3) is the one I'm thinking of.
If you disagree with it then I'd like to hear your response. Smile


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote: Point 3) is

Strafio wrote:
Point 3) is the one I'm thinking of.
 

todangst wrote:
3) There is an infinite reward for blind obedience (heaven) which undermines any intrinsic motivations for behavior

This point is refuted outright by scripture.  Nobody can merit heaven.  No person is worthy of God's blessing, or any form of reward.  If I were to claim I were blameless according to God's Word I would be "owed" heaven as due payment.  God grants salvation by grace alone, and there is no grace in paying a debt.  The idea of God being indebted to us is preposterous to begin with, but the notion of being good to earn heaven must often be revealed as buying into this logic.

Romans 3:10-12 (quoted earlier) states this plainly, although there are other verses if you have need.

These are taken from "A Theist Response" in Todangst's article:

todangst wrote:
We know from analytical work that we have a more parsimonious explanation for conscience: our conscience is introjected into us, as young children, through the rules and desires of our parents. What becomes our conscience was once the words of our parents, our families, etc.

todangst wrote:
In her work with patients, she found that many statements stemming from the conscience of her patients were NOT moral in character, only in tone. What I mean by this is that people's conscience often speaks in a moral sounding way on things without any moral bearing.... "I should be able to get through traffic without delay" "I should be able to finish my work faster than my co workers:

These "shoulds" have the same moral tone of any other conscience statement, yet they are without any actual moral import.

So from this, it is clear that there is no "supernatural moral law from a god' introjected into us... our conscience is not merely a set of 'moral rights and wrong' but all sorts of statements that have the tone of 'right and wrong' but not always an actual moral character.

The conclusion is a logical leap.  Sure our parents teach us from an early age.  Genesis 5:3 says "When Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth."  This is after Cain and Abel, to be clear.  The language is plainly echoing human creation in God's image, indicating our plight and Todangst's premise of ethical inheritence.  The cited study makes clear our inheritence is flawed at best.  This supports the Bible's claim, not refutes it.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
JHenson wrote: Strafio

JHenson wrote:
Strafio wrote:
Point 3) is the one I'm thinking of.

todangst wrote:
3) There is an infinite reward for blind obedience (heaven) which undermines any intrinsic motivations for behavior

I meant point 3) of the A Theist Response section! Laughing

Quote:
The conclusion is a logical leap. Sure our parents teach us from an early age. Genesis 5:3 says "When Adam had lived one hundred thirty years, he became the father of a son in his likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth." This is after Cain and Abel, to be clear. The language is plainly echoing human creation in God's image, indicating our plight and Todangst's premise of ethical inheritence. The cited study makes clear our inheritence is flawed at best. This supports the Bible's claim, not refutes it.

Fair enough.
The argument was designed to combat the idea that conscience was innate or supernatural, like some sixth sense of morality. As your argument accepts that conscience is inherited, the one I presented doesn't touch it. I don't think your argument was anticipated.

I think it's because once you take away the supernaturalistic powers of conscience and admit that it is inherited, it loses its special authority. An obvious argument to this effect is that the traditions over the last 1000 years have been in improvement rather than decline, and if morals have improved and the root conscience is inherited then it shows that our morals must come from elsewhere.
Advoates of the 'supernatural conscience' could combat this by declaring the innovators were relying on the innate qualities of their conscience which had a supernatural origin, so they could revise tradition accordingly. So once you give up this supernatural conception (the one that Tod refutes) you are open to fresh arguments on the role of conscience in determining our morality.

The fact that morals have improved from bad inheritance is my first argument against your "morality comes from conscience" position. I'll see if I come up any more.


rexlunae
rexlunae's picture
Posts: 378
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
Seems I lost track of this

Seems I lost track of this thread.

JHenson wrote:
DewiMorgan wrote:
But on the other paw, if there's an infinitely good god, then nobody has ever done anything at all evil: just zero. Nobody has ever accomplished anything good or evil. Hitler, Gandhi: same thing. All of man's morality is as naught.
I don't know if this exactly works.  Goods and evils, if quantifiable, could exist relative to each other on a finite continuum, it's just that the upper (and possibly lower) bound is nonexistant.  Theologically, I would rather argue that evil is when good is quantified at zero, that is 'no good.'

Ignoring, for a moment, the problems of quantifying good or evil, that would mean that evil is literally nothing. There's no such thing as evil. Sitting around doing nothing is the most evil thing you can do. In fact, eating babies for breakfast isn't more evil, and in fact could be less so, under this sort of morality.

Seems like a rather incorrect morality, doesn't it?

JHenson wrote:
rexlunae wrote:
However, the concept of an infinite (length) road does not have such problems. There are practical problems, of course, but there is no logical problem, no ontological problem with it. You can describe an infinite road, what it's made of, such as concrete, or brick, or gravel or dirt, how it's paved, what the bed is made of, etc, so it does have an ontology. It just isn't possible to build.
Well, the issue isn't that an infinite thing has no ontological properties, just that the property of infinite itself is incoherent.

Infinite is perfectly meaningful in the right contexts, but there's no general ontological issue with the idea as a whole. Ask a mathematician. I suspect that no property of physical things can be actually infinite. Do you have something specific in mind? It's hard to speak in complete generalities.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


JHenson
Theist
Posts: 112
Joined: 2007-03-29
User is offlineOffline
Strafio wrote: The argument

Strafio wrote:
The argument was designed to combat the idea that conscience was innate or supernatural, like some sixth sense of morality. As your argument accepts that conscience is inherited, the one I presented doesn't touch it. I don't think your argument was anticipated.

In fairness, I should elaborate.  As far as this layperson is able to understand, Biblical morality is essentially two-fold.  First, we certainly have a kind of "sixth sense morality," to use your wording.  It is nothing more complicated than what is referred to as fear of God.  "Fear" is a rough translation more akin to awe, but I don't know of a really appropriate word.

Second we have our powers of judgement, our sapience.  This is rooted in our first sin, eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Judgement holds little water without information by which to render it.  Our capacity for information is limited by our perceptions, memory, cognicense, and other faculties.  It goes right to our issue with infinite pink or infinite good.  If God is omniscient, our perception - and therefore rendered judgements - are effectively nothing by comparison.

Our conscience is a two-fold combination of these things.  There's an apt saying, that if you put a little wine is some sewerage you still have sewerage, but if you put a little sewerage in some wine you have more sewerage.

Now by Christianity, our conscience is actually three-fold by the introduction of the Holy Spirit.  I don't know what more to say about it than that it is the avenue of divine control and motivation.  If our conscience is corrupt, we can still be righteous by surrendering use of our conscience to a perfect authority.  Saying anything about it at all is really meaningless without the experience itself, but I felt in fairness I should at least take a brief stab at it.

Strafio wrote:
The fact that morals have improved from bad inheritance is my first argument against your "morality comes from conscience" position. I'll see if I come up any more.

Here is a point I'd actually disagree with.  I think our morality has kept a steady level.  Sure we have a lot more theory and depth of understanding, but that says nothing of comprehension, let alone practice.  I don't feel the human animal has seen much if any change in its motivational forces since it was first sapient.  Based on studies of child rearing I see little difference in physical and emotional barbarism.  By that count our society is no less barbaric than the Mongolian hordes or Germanic Goths.

rexlunae wrote:
Ignoring, for a moment, the problems of quantifying good or evil, that would mean that evil is literally nothing. There's no such thing as evil.

No such thing as evil?  How'd you get there?  I don't think 'evil equaling zero good' translates to "no such thing as evil."  And yes, it's ignoring the massive and likely impossible problem of quantifying it all in the first place, but still makes fun discussion I hope. Smiling

rexlunae wrote:
Infinite is perfectly meaningful in the right contexts, but there's no general ontological issue with the idea as a whole. Ask a mathematician. I suspect that no property of physical things can be actually infinite. Do you have something specific in mind? It's hard to speak in complete generalities.

Infinite time, and the necessarily infinite existence of the universe without an external creative force.  It was my original context.

"The map appears more real to us than the land." - Lawrence


rexlunae
rexlunae's picture
Posts: 378
Joined: 2007-01-07
User is offlineOffline
JHenson wrote: rexlunae

JHenson wrote:
rexlunae wrote:
Ignoring, for a moment, the problems of quantifying good or evil, that would mean that evil is literally nothing. There's no such thing as evil.

No such thing as evil?  How'd you get there?  I don't think 'evil equaling zero good' translates to "no such thing as evil."

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the term is meaningless. I'm just saying that it is a negative trait. Since we're already stealing from the material to make this comparison, lets steal some more for the sake of a clearer example.

Take a physical property like brightness. It's essentially unlimited. You can just keep making something brighter and brighter. So what is darkness? It's just the absence of light. When brightness is quantified at zero, we have what we call darkness. But darkness is also not a thing, rather it is the absence of a thing, namely light. You seem to be offering similar definitions for good and evil.

If it were true that evil is good of quantity zero, it would be the same sort of word: a purely negative one. And then the only thing you can do to be more evil is to be less good, which would mean that evil has a cutoff point, and if you are doing nothing, I don't see how you could be accomplishing any less good.

JHenson wrote:
And yes, it's ignoring the massive and likely impossible problem of quantifying it all in the first place, but still makes fun discussion I hope. Smiling

Fun, yes. But we will have to get back to it eventually.

JHenson wrote:
rexlunae wrote:
Infinite is perfectly meaningful in the right contexts, but there's no general ontological issue with the idea as a whole. Ask a mathematician. I suspect that no property of physical things can be actually infinite. Do you have something specific in mind? It's hard to speak in complete generalities.
Infinite time, and the necessarily infinite existence of the universe without an external creative force.  It was my original context.

We aren't talking about an actually infinite amount of time. Just potentially infinite. Meaning, starting from now, you could keep looking back for more and more progressively prior causes, or foreward for more and more progressive effects and never reach a first or last one. In other words, no first cause existed, and no last effect will exist.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


Strafio
Strafio's picture
Posts: 1346
Joined: 2006-09-11
User is offlineOffline
JHenson wrote: In

JHenson wrote:

In fairness, I should elaborate. As far as this layperson is able to understand, Biblical morality is essentially two-fold. First, we certainly have a kind of "sixth sense morality," to use your wording. It is nothing more complicated than what is referred to as fear of God. "Fear" is a rough translation more akin to awe, but I don't know of a really appropriate word.


Okay. The argument in Todangst's article denied this 'sixth sense' supernatural powers, that it was really just repeating commands drilled in by parents, whether these commands are moral or not.

Quote:

Second we have our powers of judgement, our sapience. This is rooted in our first sin, eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Judgement holds little water without information by which to render it. Our capacity for information is limited by our perceptions, memory, cognicense, and other faculties. It goes right to our issue with infinite pink or infinite good. If God is omniscient, our perception - and therefore rendered judgements - are effectively nothing by comparison.


Here you're saying that we make moral judgements through reason, and that as human judgement is flawed that God's word will be better, so it makes sense to follow God's rules. However, it seems to me that judging whether something is the will of God (or even what the word 'God' means) is a lot more difficult than making the straight moral judgement.

Besides, the Bible has a bad track record.
Increase in morality in society corresponded to a decrease in biblical influence.

Quote:

Here is a point I'd actually disagree with. I think our morality has kept a steady level. Sure we have a lot more theory and depth of understanding, but that says nothing of comprehension, let alone practice. I don't feel the human animal has seen much if any change in its motivational forces since it was first sapient. Based on studies of child rearing I see little difference in physical and emotional barbarism. By that count our society is no less barbaric than the Mongolian hordes or Germanic Goths.


So you're saying that our genetic instincts haven't progressed morally compared to barbaric societies? I don't think that anyone here will dispute this. However, we don't claim that we have advanced genetically in order to become more moral, we are claiming that we have advanced socially and rationally in order to devellop our superior morality, and in that sense our morality has progressed tremendously over the past thousand years.

Surely it only takes a brief skim through history to see that the further back you go, the more horrific the travesties against human rights. You need to read some horrible histories books! Smiling