I get to debate a Priest!

Matt-Evolved
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I get to debate a Priest!

Within the next few weeks, my mom and my aunt (both Catholics) are arranging a meeting with me and this Catholic priest to discuss religious issues like does god exist and stuff like that.

I was just hoping you guys could outline the things that would really win this argument for me. I'm really not sure where to start and I'll have to bring a written-up outline to this debate. I'm just asking for some things to bring up at this debate.

Thanks for you help!

"I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough - I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race." -


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GO with what you know best.

GO with what you know best. i.e. If you are more intuned with the Bible, go that route. If you know more about science issues, take evolution with you. If you are more into the ethical problems of a Personal God then go with something more philosophical.

When you have an idea about what your strongest point is, make that your primary assault on his beliefs, while brushing up on your weakest. They will go for your weakest to dissaude you.

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Will the audience of this

Will the audience of this debate consist of Catholics only?


morning star
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Your to old for a Catholic

Your to old for a Catholic Priest !lol
Tell you what why not visit myspace site and look up a friend of mine called "Father Fuckem The Catholic Pedophile Priest"lol, he sure will be able to help with 'mythology and fantasy'..good luckEye-wink


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Brush up on the catechism

Brush up on the catechism here:

http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm

Focus on his inability to relate the church's doctrine to modern mankind. (Sorry. Presupposition.)

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Matt-Evolved
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Considering that I am an

Considering that I am an Ecology/Evolution major, I think I'll go the scientific route.

I am still not sure what the audience will be like, it might just be one on one.

I was raised in a Catholic household, so I know more than my fair share of its facets.

And yes, I am too old for a priest to be interested in me. Thank god...er... you know.

"I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough - I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race." -


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Matt-Evolved wrote: I am

Matt-Evolved wrote:

I am still not sure what the audience will be like, it might just be one on one.

In that case you may want to use this as an opportunity to practice your arguments rather than try to immediately convince anyone of the falsity of religion.

I would probably go with the following points:

1. Religion looks like a scam; we must examine it critically to find out if it is.

Christianity bears a close resemblance to the "Nigerian Letter" scam. The mark is asked to donate money to the worthy cause of informing people they can live forever. No hard evidence and no scientifically credible mechanism is offered for this immortality. Conveniently, the mark can not interview any satisfied customers because the immortality is only received posthumously.

This could be a scam. We must examine Christianity critically to find out whether it is legitimate or not.

2. Supernaturalism is never a good idea.

Religious claims must conform to the same standards of evidence as scientific or non-religious claims. "You must have faith" cuts no ice in physics, and for a rational person it cuts no ice in claims about gods.

3. Either the gods created us in their image or we created them in our image. Which makes more sense?

The Christian story is that we inventented all gods but one, which happens to be real and is our creator. The common-sense theory is that we invented all gods. Which is correct?

Religion depicts god as an intelligent being with interests, preferences and concerns. These are animal properties. There are good Darwinian reasons why we should have these properties, but one is hard pressed to come up with reasons why an omnipotent being like a god would need them. Indeed, even if she did need them there is no mechanism by which she could have evolved them, as she is presumably not a product of natural selection.

It makes perfect sense that humans came about by evolution and invented the gods, giving them humanlike properties. It makes no sense whatsoever that a god miraculously pops into existence equipped with the mental properties of an African ape and then proceeds to evolve biological beings with those same properties.

These three points should blow Catholicism out of the water.


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It almost sounds like

It almost sounds like they're calling in a preist for an exorcism or something like that. Heheh.

A few addendums that might be obvious:

1. If said priest says "well, you don't have to donate money to the church," I would point out that most people consider time an equivalent to money. Moreover, Pascal's Wager is going to come up from that argument so have some notes with which to brutalize his fallacy on that even if it's just so that you don't have to think about it.

The more prepared you are and the more predictable his arguments look, the more right you'll look to all who observe. Chances are good that you won't convert the preist, but you can at least make him look like a nutcase for believing in all of this nonsense and convert the audience.

2. Make sure you're both on the same page as far as faith goes. Faith in the theory of gravitation is not the same as faith in fairies.


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I have no idea why

I have no idea why evolution is an answer to Catholicism in particular. Of all Christian denominations' perspective on evolutionary theory, I'd have to say that Catholicism has the least objection to it.

In early response to your three points:

"1. Religion looks like a scam; we must examine it critically to find out if it is.

Christianity bears a close resemblance to the "Nigerian Letter" scam. The mark is asked to donate money to the worthy cause of informing people they can live forever. No hard evidence and no scientifically credible mechanism is offered for this immortality. Conveniently, the mark can not interview any satisfied customers because the immortality is only received posthumously."

One is asked, in a manner of speaking (anticipating your later argument), to donate everything one has to God; this is true and it goes far beyond merely time or money. In response, first, I think it is silly when you make an accusation of a lack of scientific evidence against a position that is by nature "philosophical" in its subject matter. There is no "scientific" method to demonstrate the nature or existence of pi or mathematical figures (being postulates of the intellect). Second, it depends what you call "hard" or "scientific" evidence, as I would call philosophical demonstrations "scientific", as I would mathematical science. Third, I am unsure whether you refer to the immortality of the soul or the Resurrection of the body as to that which you attack. The first position is both something revealed and provable according to natural reason whereas the second rests on the grounds of revelation. It would be good to clarify this before I proceed further. 

 

"2. Supernaturalism is never a good idea.

Religious claims must conform to the same standards of evidence as scientific or non-religious claims. "You must have faith" cuts no ice in physics, and for a rational person it cuts no ice in claims about gods."

 Again, what standard do we use to establish our 'scientific" claims? I would argue philosophy could be used to establish many of the claims you attack (which, however, do not fall exclusively under the realm of faith), but does this count as "scientific" enough for you? Second, I think your position is vauge as "supernaturalism" can mean quite a deal. My own position is that there is nothing wrong with belief in articles of faith and that it is intrinsically rational. If we accepted my definition of belief and the supernatural (which is "based in" and of the same "genus" as the natural), there would be no accusation of any problem with "supernaturalism." Irrationality is equally attacked by myself as it probably would be by yourself.  

 

"3. Either the gods created us in their image or we created them in our image. Which makes more sense?

The Christian story is that we inventented all gods but one, which happens to be real and is our creator. The common-sense theory is that we invented all gods. Which is correct?"

You ought to study theology more before you attack Catholicism with these words. We depict God the Father in art with a beard, but no Catholic seriously holds that God literally possesses a beard. The same is true for any place where we would use such analogies - to use a timely example, the Church uses the antiphon for these days of Advent "O Clavis David" calling Our Lord the "Key of David" and nobody seriously entertains that Jesus Christ was a brass key.

This is why both Judaism and Catholicism hold that God is inexpressible in human language outside of negations or analogies (naturally speaking). God, as concieved of by Catholics (I cannot speak for Protestants, who I almost discount as Christians nowadays), is most certainly not in the image of man, nor was He in the "image" of man when He was discovered by the philosophers.

 I would have to say that the Trinity bears fairly little resemblance to the way human beings are. However, I would also believe that, supposing God created all things, it would not be a stretch to say that He place in creation reflections of His own qualities. Again, I think we should clarify before we move on here as well.

 

Yours In Christ,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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Matt-Evolved

Matt-Evolved wrote:
Considering that I am an Ecology/Evolution major, I think I'll go the scientific route. I am still not sure what the audience will be like, it might just be one on one. I was raised in a Catholic household, so I know more than my fair share of its facets. And yes, I am too old for a priest to be interested in me. Thank god...er... you know.

 

Well large amount of jesuits endorse evolution, even the last pope - so it might not be such a good route. I'd try to tackle biblical inspiration, even the canonizing of the bible. Inconsistencies in Matthew, Mark and Luke ( Dan Barker's Easter Challenge). I might even read them Part III, section 15 of the Age of Reason, which I think its one of the most damning comentaries.

 

I would also suggest you wearing your tightest pair of nut hugger jeans, it might distract the priest.

 

 

 


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Matt-Evolved wrote: Within

Matt-Evolved wrote:
Within the next few weeks, my mom and my aunt (both Catholics) are arranging a meeting with me and this Catholic priest to discuss religious issues like does god exist and stuff like that. I was just hoping you guys could outline the things that would really win this argument for me. I'm really not sure where to start and I'll have to bring a written-up outline to this debate. I'm just asking for some things to bring up at this debate. Thanks for you help!

#1 Rule: If you get stumped AND YOU WILL, especially if you are new to debate BEING STUMPED DOES NOT AMOUNT TO MAGIC EXISTING.

#2. Keep them on track. They will use distracting arguments such as psudo philosophy and psudo science. The bible does not have an ancient hebrew or greek equivialent of "Entropy" or Second Law. If they use the Second Law BS, point out to them that then that would mean Superman can fly as well.

#3. In the end they still have to defend outragous claims such as dirt "Poof" turning into bone, gosts getting girls pregnant and flesh surviving rigor mortis.

#4. "How do you know he(incert deity here) doesnt exist? Common argument. "How do you know Vishnu doesnt exist? How do you know my purple snarfwidget doesnt exist."

#5. Always keep in mind that in the end they are defending Superman vs Kriptonite claims.

#6. ATTACK THE MAGIC, they cant defend it.

"God can do whatever he wants" is an intelectuall cop out. Once the believer has baught this CLAIM(and that is all it is) It allows them to throw up a wall and make excuses and stories as to why they dont have evidence. "Metaphor" and "missinterpretation" are common tactics used to avoid the fact that they CANNOT explain the mechinisms of how that fantastic claim could have happened.

#7 Don't be intimidated or afraid. Early in debating you will get stumped. That does not default to their deity, or any deity for that matter existing. It merely means you need to think about it.

#7. Man/god characters are based on superhero worship and have existed long before the Hebrews or Christianity. Those modern monotheists adapted characters and glorified the ones they wanted, demonized the pagan gods and incorperated those motifs with different details.

#8. BEWARE OF PASCAL'S WAGER! "If you are wrong, and bet on the wrong horse, you've lost your reward. Better safe than sorry."

Fallacy: To insure that you have the right god you would have to believe in all the current and past claims to insure that you got the right one.

HOWEVER, if the believer got it wrong and there is no god then they have waisted their entire life on a myth.

GOOD LUCK: I hope this helps. 

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StMichael wrote: I cannot

StMichael wrote:

I cannot speak for Protestants, who I almost discount as Christians nowadays

Are you aware that most of the protestants who post on this site say the exact same thing about catholics? I would say, based on my impression of the posts here on RRS, that catholics by far recieve the most scorn from other christians, more than mormons and Jehovah's witnesses. The no true scotsman fallacy is glowing red hot from massive overuse...


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A jovial poke at the

A jovial poke at the Protestants Smiling

 


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Priests are tough nuts to

Priests are tough nuts to debate, and yet much more likely to be converted upon losing said debate. They already know all the inconsistancies and falsehoods. They've just never considered them in such a light. My greatest success was a priest.

 

A relatively simple window through their arguments is that evolution, creationism, and religion could technically co-exist(if religion was real anyway). A usefull question I have found is asking why their religion is so dead set against something that doesn't attack it's credibility.

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StMichael wrote: One is

StMichael wrote:
One is asked, in a manner of speaking (anticipating your later argument), to donate everything one has to God; this is true and it goes far beyond merely time or money.

Yes; that is what the mark may be told. But the reality is that he is donating money and/or time to the church. It is a sufficient reason to examine critically the claims of this religion.

StMichael wrote:
In response, first, I think it is silly when you make an accusation of a lack of scientific evidence against a position that is by nature "philosophical" in its subject matter.

This is what the apologists of all religions and pseudosciences do: they tell you why their belief system is not subject to the same standard of evidence that ordinary people require of all other beliefs.

StMichael wrote:
There is no "scientific" method to demonstrate the nature or existence of pi or mathematical figures (being postulates of the intellect).

Irrelevant. If you are a normal, rational person you will require evidence if I make claims about what happens to you after you die. If you have evidence for the claims of Catholicism about what happens to us when we die, feel free to present it.

StMichael wrote:
Second, it depends what you call "hard" or "scientific" evidence, as I would call philosophical demonstrations "scientific", as I would mathematical science.

Of course you would, because the clergy need you to believe something that is not true. I find "philosophical" demonstrations of religious claims a dreadfully boring exercise in the game of spot-the-fallacy.

StMichael wrote:
Third, I am unsure whether you refer to the immortality of the soul or the Resurrection of the body as to that which you attack.

This is meaningless mumbo jumbo. If I tell an astrologer that I think his discipline is nonsense, he may ask me if I am attacking the influence of Venus in the house of Jupiter or Jupiter in the house of Venus (I am making the terminology up). This does not change the fact that there is no evidence for either one.

StMichael wrote:
The first position is both something revealed and provable according to natural reason

Provable according to natural reason? What nonsense. But go on, tell me if you must. I will then point out the flaws in the reasoning.

StMichael wrote:
Again, what standard do we use to establish our 'scientific" claims?

A claim is scientific if it generates falsifiable predictions.

StMichael wrote:
I would argue philosophy could be used to establish many of the claims you attack (which, however, do not fall exclusively under the realm of faith), but does this count as "scientific" enough for you?

No it does not. Either you have a hypothesis that generates falsifiable predictions or you have no science.

StMichael wrote:
Second, I think your position is vauge as "supernaturalism" can mean quite a deal.

Please bear in mind that my post was addressed to a rational atheist. There was no need to explain my definitions at length because the recipient was in all probability already aware of them. I define supernaturalism as the fallacy of failing to apply to a particular set of claims the same standard of evidence that one applies to the rest.

StMichael wrote:
My own position is that there is nothing wrong with belief in articles of faith and that it is intrinsically rational.

That is downright scary.

StMichael wrote:
You ought to study theology more before you attack Catholicism with these words. We depict God the Father in art with a beard, but no Catholic seriously holds that God literally possesses a beard.

So is the Catholic god not a person? Not intelligent? Not moral? What is the use of such a god-concept, save to bring to money to the church?


StMichael
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StMichael wrote: In

StMichael wrote:

In response, first, I think it is silly when you make an accusation of a lack of scientific evidence against a position that is by nature "philosophical" in its subject matter.

 

 

"This is what the apologists of all religions and pseudosciences do: they tell you why their belief system is not subject to the same standard of evidence that ordinary people require of all other beliefs. "

You use a logical argument to reject logic; it seems rather contradictory, no? Your logical argument is not tested to be valid by being put under a microscope, but subject to rather different standards of truth and falsity. Religious claims are of a different nature than empirical claims.

StMichael wrote:
There is no "scientific" method to demonstrate the nature or existence of pi or mathematical figures (being postulates of the intellect).

 

 

"Irrelevant. If you are a normal, rational person you will require evidence if I make claims about what happens to you after you die. If you have evidence for the claims of Catholicism about what happens to us when we die, feel free to present it."

It is not an irrelevant point. The argument was that evidence advanced for my position needed to be empirical, and I answered by saying that evidence for my position is inherently non-empirical. This is not the say that no evidence is required.

I don't know what you mean by evidence of Catholicism's claims as to what happens to us when we die. I can argue from philosophy that the soul is subsistent and continues after death, that "heaven" as the Beatific vision exists, and that the soul can experience this Beatific Vision. However, certain claims about what happens after death that Catholicism makes are purely theological or revelatory; proof of its claims only comes from Revelation (Scripture, Tradition, teaching of the Church). These claims include Resurrection of the body, personal judgement after death, final judgement, the end of the world, the existence of grace, and humanity's salvation by grace. To explain both would be quite a bit, and the second category would not be intended to convince you (as it is of a different category from demonstrable claims, and is accepted on God's authority).

StMichael wrote:
Second, it depends what you call "hard" or "scientific" evidence, as I would call philosophical demonstrations "scientific", as I would mathematical science.

 

 

"Of course you would, because the clergy need you to believe something that is not true. I find "philosophical" demonstrations of religious claims a dreadfully boring exercise in the game of spot-the-fallacy."

Stop making silly points about the "clergy" wanting somebody to believe something that is not true. First, I am a member of the clergy. Second, there is no motive for "them" wanting me to believe something that isn't true - it might be false, but they conceive of it as true. Third, there is no independent entity of the "clergy," only individual members of the clergy who each have their own motives.

StMichael wrote:
Third, I am unsure whether you refer to the immortality of the soul or the Resurrection of the body as to that which you attack.

 

 

"This is meaningless mumbo jumbo. If I tell an astrologer that I think his discipline is nonsense, he may ask me if I am attacking the influence of Venus in the house of Jupiter or Jupiter in the house of Venus (I am making the terminology up). This does not change the fact that there is no evidence for either one. "

The first category is philosophically demonstrable while the second is only demonstrable according to precepts received in Revelation.

StMichael wrote:
The first position is both something revealed and provable according to natural reason

 

 

"Provable according to natural reason? What nonsense. But go on, tell me if you must. I will then point out the flaws in the reasoning."

Somebody seems rather biased for someone who claims to be rational.

The human soul is immortal. This can be proven because the human mind is not "characterized" by matter in the same way that a sense organ is. If the soul were merely "part" of the body as an organ is (ergo, the brain) and insubsistent on its own, the soul would be limited by the determinate nature of its matter. However, the mind can and does know all variety of bodies in the world, not limited by any determinate character of its body. 

Anticipating an argument made in another forum (Catholic Seminarian...), an argument that the brain is necessary for the action of the soul is not proof therein that the soul is not subsistent. The human mind operates using mental images (phantasms) but is not dependent upon them for its existence. If we said that it was, we would likewise have to claim that animal perception is dependent upon exterior sensible objects for its existence, which is absurd.

StMichael wrote:
Again, what standard do we use to establish our 'scientific" claims?

 

 

"A claim is scientific if it generates falsifiable predictions."

And philosophy or logic is not of the same category as science.

StMichael wrote:
I would argue philosophy could be used to establish many of the claims you attack (which, however, do not fall exclusively under the realm of faith), but does this count as "scientific" enough for you?

 

 

"No it does not. Either you have a hypothesis that generates falsifiable predictions or you have no science."

Where, then, pray tell, do you derive this precept?

StMichael wrote:
Second, I think your position is vauge as "supernaturalism" can mean quite a deal.

 

 

"Please bear in mind that my post was addressed to a rational atheist. There was no need to explain my definitions at length because the recipient was in all probability already aware of them. I define supernaturalism as the fallacy of failing to apply to a particular set of claims the same standard of evidence that one applies to the rest."

The soul does not fall into the same category of being as supernatural even though it is spiritual. The soul is not supernatural as an object; it is a perfectly natural thing and natural categories apply to it.

StMichael wrote:
My own position is that there is nothing wrong with belief in articles of faith and that it is intrinsically rational.

 

 

"That is downright scary."

Why? Your own statement seems a bit biased.

StMichael wrote:
You ought to study theology more before you attack Catholicism with these words. We depict God the Father in art with a beard, but no Catholic seriously holds that God literally possesses a beard.

 

 

"So is the Catholic god not a person? Not intelligent? Not moral? What is the use of such a god-concept, save to bring to money to the church?"

Do you have a beard? If not, obviously you're not a person by your own reasoning. I obviously did not mean that God the Father is not a person when I say He does not literally have a beard. We depict many things in art as illustrative analogies. God can be spoken of in many senses; analogy is one of them. God, as a truly supernatural object, is not really directly able to be spoken of as He (of all things) is the one thing that is truly "supernatural" as the origin of nature. The only way we can speak of Him is negatively or as applying a likeness between His effects (ourselves and the rest of creation) and His own self as cause. It is a true analogy, but it fails to terminate in a full and entire account of the way in which He is as He is beyond being encompassed by our own categories and likenesses.

If you want to make an argument, go ahead; just don't respond with some silly ad hominem accusation that the "clergy" wants to make money with God.

 

Yours In Christ,

StMichael

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StMichael, please use the

StMichael, please use the quote function. It will make your posts more legible.

Quote:
You use a logical argument to reject logic; it seems rather contradictory, no? Your logical argument is not tested to be valid by being put under a microscope, but subject to rather different standards of truth and falsity.

No, my argument is an empirical one. If you want to test it, go and see if the apologists of other religions and pseudosciences will try to convince you that you should accept their claims without requiring the kind of evidence we require for everything else.

Quote:
Religious claims are of a different nature than empirical claims.

Only the metaphysical ones. But metaphysics cannot have an impact on how we should live our lives and make our decisions. In order for there to be a reason why one should give money to a church, empirical claims must be made, explicitly or implicitly.

Quote:
The human soul is immortal.

What is a 'soul' and what evidence do you have of its existence?

Quote:
Why? Your own statement seems a bit biased.

It is frightening that you would think that believing in articles of faith is rational. Are Moslem suicide terrorists being rational when they believe they will go to paradise after blowing themselves up? Or do only Catholic articles of faith count?

Quote:
I obviously did not mean that God the Father is not a person when I say He does not literally have a beard.

Really? Then you have not addressed my original argument; namely, that being a person is an animal quality which we would expect to find only in beings produced by natural selection. Therefore it makes more sense to think that we made the gods up rather than to think they created us.


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Matt-Evolved wrote: Within

Matt-Evolved wrote:
Within the next few weeks, my mom and my aunt (both Catholics) are arranging a meeting with me and this Catholic priest to discuss religious issues like does god exist and stuff like that.

Just curious, was it your idea or their idea? If if was your idea, terrific! Go for it!

However, if it was their idea, you might want to be on the lookout for indoctination tactics.

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  Quote: Quote: You use a

 

Quote:
Quote:
You use a logical argument to reject logic; it seems rather contradictory, no? Your logical argument is not tested to be valid by being put under a microscope, but subject to rather different standards of truth and falsity.

 

 

No, my argument is an empirical one. If you want to test it, go and see if the apologists of other religions and pseudosciences will try to convince you that you should accept their claims without requiring the kind of evidence we require for everything else.

You never answered my argument. Different standards apply to different truths. For example, why are you applying the standard of empirical knowledge to something? I need no empirical knowledge of that claim itself. Nor do I need empirical knowledge to know that something can be or not be at the same time. Different standards.

Quote:

Quote:
Religious claims are of a different nature than empirical claims.

 

 

Only the metaphysical ones. But metaphysics cannot have an impact on how we should live our lives and make our decisions. In order for there to be a reason why one should give money to a church, empirical claims must be made, explicitly or implicitly.

That is a very silly statement. Your own statement is, by nature, metaphyiscal, when you say metaphysics ought to have no impact upon our lives. It is also completely arbitrary. Talk about blind faith.

Quote:

Quote:
The human soul is immortal.

 

 

What is a 'soul' and what evidence do you have of its existence?

I refer you to my discussion of this question with todangst on "Atheist v. Theist" in "Catholic Seminarian...."

Quote:

Quote:
Why? Your own statement seems a bit biased.

 

 

It is frightening that you would think that believing in articles of faith is rational. Are Moslem suicide terrorists being rational when they believe they will go to paradise after blowing themselves up? Or do only Catholic articles of faith count?

The morality of the Catholic Church is based in natural law, which is largely discoverable to reason. As a result, for example, we condemn suicide as contrary to natural law. Muslims, on the other hand, have tended to have a rather negative view toward any introspection into articles of faith, and into an investigation of the relationship between faith and reason. Part of the reason for this is because they are voluntarists, but this is a much too long discussion for right now. I merely point out that the Catholic Church claims that articles of faith are inherently rational and in keeping with what one knows about morality, and Muslim claims are different in origin. I would also point out that Islam has different schools of thought on this particularly voluntarist viewpoint.

Quote:

Quote:
I obviously did not mean that God the Father is not a person when I say He does not literally have a beard.

 

 

Really? Then you have not addressed my original argument; namely, that being a person is an animal quality which we would expect to find only in beings produced by natural selection. Therefore it makes more sense to think that we made the gods up rather than to think they created us.

You are loading the terms with your own meaning, then. I deny that God is an animal, if that is your definition of personhood. The Catholic definition which was made dogma at the First Council of Nicea indicates personhood to be an individual rational substance. Analogy exists in Scripture and theological discourse as a way of describing divine attributes; it likewise exists in art to depict things otherwise undepictable (does Lady Liberty literally have a torch?).

 

Yours In Christ,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: Different

StMichael wrote:
Different standards apply to different truths.

And what standard do you suggest for determining whether a person continues to live after his death? That, after all, was the original context.

StMichael wrote:
For example, why are you applying the standard of empirical knowledge to something?

Because it works.

StMichael wrote:
I need no empirical knowledge of that claim itself. Nor do I need empirical knowledge to know that something can be or not be at the same time.

I cannot make heads or tails of what you are saying here.


StMichael wrote:
Your own statement is, by nature, metaphyiscal, when you say metaphysics ought to have no impact upon our lives.

How is it metaphysical? I should think it is purely empirical. But even if there was a metaphysical component to it, it would not make the statement false.

If you think you can get from purely metaphysical statements to 'you should give money to the Catholic church', please present the reasoning.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
What is a 'soul' and what evidence do you have of its existence?

I refer you to my discussion of this question with todangst on "Atheist v. Theist" in "Catholic Seminarian...."

Neither question was adequately answered in that thread. Nor did it become clear whether the concept has any relevance to what happens to people when they die.


StMichael wrote:
I deny that God is an animal, if that is your definition of personhood. The Catholic definition which was made dogma at the First Council of Nicea indicates personhood to be an individual rational substance.

Rationality is (broadly speaking) an animal quality. Are you aware of anything rational that is neither the product of natural selection (e.g. a human) nor manufactured by one (e.g. a computer)?


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Quote: StMichael

Quote:
StMichael wrote:
Different standards apply to different truths.

 

 

And what standard do you suggest for determining whether a person continues to live after his death? That, after all, was the original context.

Philosophical standards.

Quote:
StMichael wrote:
For example, why are you applying the standard of empirical knowledge to something?

 

 

Because it works.

Not for everything.

Quote:
StMichael wrote:
Your own statement is, by nature, metaphyiscal, when you say metaphysics ought to have no impact upon our lives.

 

 

How is it metaphysical? I should think it is purely empirical. But even if there was a metaphysical component to it, it would not make the statement false.

Why would that not make the statement false? It would seem that if metaphysical considerations have no impact on our lives, you own metaphysical consideration is unimportant and irrelevant.

Quote:
If you think you can get from purely metaphysical statements to 'you should give money to the Catholic church', please present the reasoning.

Frankly, that would take quite a long discussion. Simply, one owes the laborers their due, which means that I have an obligation to support priests and religious out of justice for their work.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
I deny that God is an animal, if that is your definition of personhood. The Catholic definition which was made dogma at the First Council of Nicea indicates personhood to be an individual rational substance.

 

 

Rationality is (broadly speaking) an animal quality. Are you aware of anything rational that is neither the product of natural selection (e.g. a human) nor manufactured by one (e.g. a computer)?

I am aware of angels and God, both of which satisfy that requirement. A computer is not rational, and the human mind is not merely the product of natural selection.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote:Kemono

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:

And what standard do you suggest for determining whether a person continues to live after his death? That, after all, was the original context.

Philosophical standards.

Which ones would those be? How, precisely, do you determine the veracity of a claim about continued existence after death?


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Because it works.

Not for everything.

You were asking why I use the empirical method for something. I am not saying it works for everything. I am perfectly aware of the fact that for example, the veracity of the claim that Sherlock Holmes lives on Baker Street cannot be determined by going to Baker Street.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
How is it metaphysical? I should think it is purely empirical. But even if there was a metaphysical component to it, it would not make the statement false.

Why would that not make the statement false? It would seem that if metaphysical considerations have no impact on our lives, you own metaphysical consideration is unimportant and irrelevant.

The demarcation criterion I am using is falsifiability. Falsifiable claims can be considered empirical (although they do not have to be; the claim that 1 + 1 = 2 can be seen as empirical but is usually not). Unfalsifiable claims go into whatever outer darkness lies beyond empiricalness. Some try to salvage them into the category of metaphysics, others discard them as nonsense.

To be more precise, then, my argument is that unfalsifiable claims have no impact on how we should live our lives. And this argument is itself falsifiable.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Rationality is (broadly speaking) an animal quality. Are you aware of anything rational that is neither the product of natural selection (e.g. a human) nor manufactured by one (e.g. a computer)?

I am aware of angels and God, both of which satisfy that requirement.

...neither of which can be invoked without begging the question. If I was arguing against the existence of flying horses by asking the rhetorical question of whether my opponent is aware of any winged ungulates, my opponent would not be helping his case by claiming that he is "aware" of unicorns and pegasi. (Of course, if he could produce such a beast to support his claims it would be a different matter altogether.)

Quote:
A computer is not rational,

No argument there. I included hypothetical artificial rational entities just to be on the safe side.

Quote:
and the human mind is not merely the product of natural selection.

There is indeed more to evolution, but I am positing natural selection as a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.


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Quote: StMichael

Quote:
StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:

And what standard do you suggest for determining whether a person continues to live after his death? That, after all, was the original context.

 

Philosophical standards.

 

Which ones would those be? How, precisely, do you determine the veracity of a claim about continued existence after death?

The nature of how we know, as opposed to how we sense, indicates that our knowing is not tied to our organs in such a way that its existence is depenent upon them. The proof for this is that, as opposed to sense where our organs sense one category of sensible according to the bodies which they are disposed to recieve, whereas the mind knows all bodies potentially and has no such intrinsic limitation of matter. In this way, it becomes clear that the mind's power of knowing is not tied inextricably to matter and hence subsistent. The mind continues to exist, then, after the death of the body.

As for the Resurrection of the body, that is purely an article of faith. There is no such philosophical proof. I accept God's authority in His Revelation when He tells me such is going to happen (as in Christ's words in the Gospel, the Creeds of the Church, and the Church's declarations on this matter).

Quote:
StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Because it works.

 

 

Not for everything.

 

You were asking why I use the empirical method for something. I am not saying it works for everything. I am perfectly aware of the fact that for example, the veracity of the claim that Sherlock Holmes lives on Baker Street cannot be determined by going to Baker Street.

And this is precisely a non-empirical claim that is true.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
How is it metaphysical? I should think it is purely empirical. But even if there was a metaphysical component to it, it would not make the statement false.

 

 

Why would that not make the statement false? It would seem that if metaphysical considerations have no impact on our lives, you own metaphysical consideration is unimportant and irrelevant.

 

The demarcation criterion I am using is falsifiability. Falsifiable claims can be considered empirical (although they do not have to be; the claim that 1 + 1 = 2 can be seen as empirical but is usually not). Unfalsifiable claims go into whatever outer darkness lies beyond empiricalness. Some try to salvage them into the category of metaphysics, others discard them as nonsense.

To be more precise, then, my argument is that unfalsifiable claims have no impact on how we should live our lives. And this argument is itself falsifiable.

I see no reason why that statement ought to be true, because it contradicts itself. How is the statement 'unfalsifiable claims have no impact on how we should live our lives' not contradictory? I also think that the standard of falsifiability seems to beg the question.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Rationality is (broadly speaking) an animal quality. Are you aware of anything rational that is neither the product of natural selection (e.g. a human) nor manufactured by one (e.g. a computer)?

 

 

I am aware of angels and God, both of which satisfy that requirement.

 

...neither of which can be invoked without begging the question. If I was arguing against the existence of flying horses by asking the rhetorical question of whether my opponent is aware of any winged ungulates, my opponent would not be helping his case by claiming that he is "aware" of unicorns and pegasi. (Of course, if he could produce such a beast to support his claims it would be a different matter altogether.)

They were not intended to necessarily refute the entirety of the argument. You asked whether I was 'aware' of any being that had rationality that was neither animal nor computer. I gave you one.

I would however disagree with the basic premise again. Rationality is not an bodily quality, but a spiritual quality. Rational things only exist without matter. The rules of logical discourse do not exist in matter. Thought itself cannot exist in matter, even though thinking in humans occurs using matter (as I use a notepad in order to compute mathematical problems). Thinking itself is immaterial, as are ideas and any other category of abstraction, universal, and concept.

Quote:
Quote:
and the human mind is not merely the product of natural selection.

 

 

There is indeed more to evolution, but I am positing natural selection as a necessary condition, not a sufficient one.

If we merely stopped that natural selection was a necessary but not sufficent condition for the initial formation of the human mind, I would be tempted to agree (I think not enough has been said about the early origins of man, so that I am not necessarily ready to attach myself to a specific theory). However, this theory is not incompatible with the Catholic understanding of soul, which was created by God and infused into a body (which developed naturally according to God's providence though evolution, possibly). I think it would be too much to claim that evolution produced thought directly, which is too much for evolutionary science to claim. My point is really to agree and point out that while it might be a necessary condition.

But, beyond this, rationality is by nature immaterial and, as the human soul is subsistent, it would seem that seperated spiritual substances can exist. Spirits, as minds seperated from matter and never determined by material bodies, are pure seperated spiritual substances - an angel is an example. God is a spirit in the highest degree, but in a different way from angels and man. However, so that it does not seem I am begging the question, I ought to point out that the existence of God is something able to be demonstrated according to natural inquiry as a necessary cause for the universe (and, following from this, immaterial and intelligent).

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: The

StMichael wrote:

The nature of how we know, as opposed to how we sense, indicates that our knowing is not tied to our organs in such a way that its existence is depenent upon them. The proof for this is that, as opposed to sense where our organs sense one category of sensible according to the bodies which they are disposed to recieve, whereas the mind knows all bodies potentially and has no such intrinsic limitation of matter. In this way, it becomes clear that the mind's power of knowing is not tied inextricably to matter and hence subsistent. The mind continues to exist, then, after the death of the body.

Okay, you lost me there. The mind has no intrinsic limitation of matter? Surely a functional mind requires an intact brain as numerous pathologies show.

StMichael wrote:
As for the Resurrection of the body, that is purely an article of faith. There is no such philosophical proof. I accept God's authority in His Revelation when He tells me such is going to happen (as in Christ's words in the Gospel, the Creeds of the Church, and the Church's declarations on this matter).

I see. So you are accepting this wild fantasy based on nothing but mythology.


StMichael wrote:
And this is precisely a non-empirical claim that is true.

Yes.


StMichael wrote:
I see no reason why that statement ought to be true, because it contradicts itself. How is the statement 'unfalsifiable claims have no impact on how we should live our lives' not contradictory?

How is it contradictory?

 

StMichael wrote:
I also think that the standard of falsifiability seems to beg the question.

Why?


StMichael wrote:
If we merely stopped that natural selection was a necessary but not sufficent condition for the initial formation of the human mind, I would be tempted to agree (I think not enough has been said about the early origins of man, so that I am not necessarily ready to attach myself to a specific theory). However, this theory is not incompatible with the Catholic understanding of soul, which was created by God and infused into a body (which developed naturally according to God's providence though evolution, possibly). I think it would be too much to claim that evolution produced thought directly, which is too much for evolutionary science to claim. My point is really to agree and point out that while it might be a necessary condition.

Great, you see my point. A mind is too complex a thing to spontaneously pop into existence. Our ancestors were able to invent gods (and find their existence remotely credible) because they knew bugger-all about how our minds got here. We should know better.

StMichael wrote:
But, beyond this, rationality is by nature immaterial and, as the human soul is subsistent, it would seem that seperated spiritual substances can exist.

I do not see the logic in this. My web browser window is immaterial in the sense that it is not defined by the molecules that make up my screen (which is where I see the window) but its existence is still very much dependent on matter. How is this different from the mind?

StMichael wrote:
However, so that it does not seem I am begging the question, I ought to point out that the existence of God is something able to be demonstrated according to natural inquiry as a necessary cause for the universe (and, following from this, immaterial and intelligent).

I can hardly wait.


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Quote: The mind has no

Quote:
The mind has no intrinsic limitation of matter? Surely a functional mind requires an intact brain as numerous pathologies show.

Quote:
I do not see the logic in this. My web browser window is immaterial in the sense that it is not defined by the molecules that make up my screen (which is where I see the window) but its existence is still very much dependent on matter. How is this different from the mind?

Basically, looking at the latter statement, the human mind uses matter as an essential part of thinking (this is why brain damage, drunkeness, retardation, affect thought), while at the same time being not dependent upon matter for its existence. This was the proof I gave the first time. As the mind can know all things, unlike a material organ, and hence is unlimited by matter and not dependent upon a material organ for its existence.

Quote:
So you are accepting this wild fantasy based on nothing but mythology.

No, I am accepting it on Revelation. First, it ought to be said that natural reason cannot prove the truth of faith, but it is also true that it cannot disprove that either. There is no reason why one cannot believe it. Second, mythology is of a different species than Revelation. Revelation involves God revealing Himself to man in order to impart truths necessary to salvation. Myths are human-created stories that give some explanation for the world. I don't know exactly what you mean to imply, but I would point out that Revelation is quite a bit different.

Quote:
A mind is too complex a thing to spontaneously pop into existence. Our ancestors were able to invent gods (and find their existence remotely credible) because they knew bugger-all about how our minds got here. We should know better.

Here, I'm not sure what you mean to imply, as I do intend to say that the mind (in a manner of speaking) did literally pop into existence. Evolution might be a necessary condition for its emergence, but God would quite literally have directly created it in man as soon as the requisite body developed naturally according to evolution. And I doubt that is how 'our ancestors' 'invented' gods; also a different process from Revelation and philosophy. This likewise begs the question why human beings have an innate movement towards gods and religion.

 

Yours In Christ,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: This was

StMichael wrote:

This was the proof I gave the first time. As the mind can know all things, unlike a material organ, and hence is unlimited by matter and not dependent upon a material organ for its existence.

I still cannot seem to make sense of this. What does it mean for a mind to potentially know all things? Let us use an example. Suppose that you came across an android whose behaviour was very humanlike. How would you go about determining whether it has a mind which can know all things or merely a material knowing-organ?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
So you are accepting this wild fantasy based on nothing but mythology.

No, I am accepting it on Revelation. First, it ought to be said that natural reason cannot prove the truth of faith, but it is also true that it cannot disprove that either. There is no reason why one cannot believe it.

There are very good reasons why one should not believe such things. One needs not only good intentions but also good information to behave morally. 'Reveal' to a well-meaning man that witchcraft is real and you may soon find him murdering purported witches out of the goodness of his heart.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
A mind is too complex a thing to spontaneously pop into existence. Our ancestors were able to invent gods (and find their existence remotely credible) because they knew bugger-all about how our minds got here. We should know better.

Here, I'm not sure what you mean to imply, as I do intend to say that the mind (in a manner of speaking) did literally pop into existence.

Indeed you do, and I am saying that it is a ludicrous idea which you should abandon.

StMichael wrote:
Evolution might be a necessary condition for its emergence, but God would quite literally have directly created it in man as soon as the requisite body developed naturally according to evolution.

What evidence is there for such a divine intervention?

StMichael wrote:
And I doubt that is how 'our ancestors' 'invented' gods; also a different process from Revelation and philosophy.

I am not describing how they invented the gods but why it was possible for them to take the idea seriously: because they were ignorant of how beings with minds come about.

StMichael wrote:
This likewise begs the question why human beings have an innate movement towards gods and religion.

It is a good question but not a particularly puzzling one. It would seem to me that any information-processing engine like a brain or a computer is by its very nature vulnerable to viral software.


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Quote: StMichael

Quote:
StMichael wrote:

This was the proof I gave the first time. As the mind can know all things, unlike a material organ, and hence is unlimited by matter and not dependent upon a material organ for its existence.

 

I still cannot seem to make sense of this. What does it mean for a mind to potentially know all things? Let us use an example. Suppose that you came across an android whose behaviour was very humanlike. How would you go about determining whether it has a mind which can know all things or merely a material knowing-organ?

The mind knows all things without material limit - the mind can conceptualize infinity without actually experiencing an infinity of matter, the mind could potentially know everything from a kangaroo to a quark without deteriment, the mind is not limited as a sense organ is limited to only know one type of body (smells, bells, ect.). Because a mind knows all types of bodies, rather than being limited to a particular type, it shows the mind is not dependent upon an organ for its existence. Further, nobody would argue that sense, because it requires a sensible object to function, would be dependent upon a sensible object for its power of sense. Similarly, the mind, while knowing through/in matter (images in the brain), does not depend upon matter for its existence/power of thought.

Quote:

 

There are very good reasons why one should not believe such things. One needs not only good intentions but also good information to behave morally. 'Reveal' to a well-meaning man that witchcraft is real and you may soon find him murdering purported witches out of the goodness of his heart.

The first test to see whether a revelation is true is whether it is in substantial correspondence with what is known naturally (aka, is the belief logical). True faith is always a rational thing. Second, while I would argue that witchcraft has been and is a real thing, I find your argument wholly unpersuasive. First, because God reveals things, not me. Second, there is no moral obligation to murder witches and no commonly sensible person would see that as an obligation. Third, faith is good information, not a good intention.

Quote:

 

I am not describing how they invented the gods but why it was possible for them to take the idea seriously: because they were ignorant of how beings with minds come about.

I think that to be overly simplistic and largely wrong. I see no reason why this would amount to a belief in God; if we consider mythology (of which I know a bit), your theory is not supported in the way myths came about. Second, it still does not refute any philosophical argument for the existence of a cause of the universe. Third, I do not believe in what you claim the fundamental theorm that enables one to take God seriously, yet I believe in God.

Quote:
It is a good question but not a particularly puzzling one. It would seem to me that any information-processing engine like a brain or a computer is by its very nature vulnerable to viral software.

I almost laughed when I read this the first time. Is that how you seriously view humanity? Sadly, if this is the case, I would see no reason why you ought to be able to rationalize any debate with me if the human mind is merely a material machine that merely processes sensory data and acts on it necessarily. If that was the case, all logical debate, discourse, and rational thought would be utterly impossible, and likewise this debate would be impossible.

I find it much more probable that religion/belief in God is a rational solution to problems posed by the existence of creation around us. I think it more probable to propose that the reason religion exists in human beings and has spontaneously arose throughout history is because human beings, using their minds, have seen creation and moved from its existence and complexity to conclude that a rational principle for its origin must exist.

If we truly want to argue that religion is a virus of some sort in the "hardware of life," I find this utterly unable to be applied at all. First, because I could equally just argue that atheism is a virus in your brain, maliciously twisting your brain to think that God does not exist. Second, if viruses could just infect my brain in this manner, it would be totally arbitrary what a virus' content was, whether it be atheism, Hinduism, Catholicism, deism, agnosticism, ect. Third, it would seem that any idea would amount to being a 'virus,' as any idea that took root in my brain could be classified as a virus, but this is absurd. Fourth, no proof is offered as to how one could identify a virus versus a non-virus. Fifth, having a 'virus' indicates that one likewise has a state of 'health' in opposition to it. This indicates that an absolute and immaterial standard exists apart from matter by which you are judging what is true and what is not. If you are a true materialist, this would be contradictory with what you are both saying here and elsewhere.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: The mind

StMichael wrote:

The mind knows all things without material limit - the mind can conceptualize infinity without actually experiencing an infinity of matter, the mind could potentially know everything from a kangaroo to a quark without deteriment, the mind is not limited as a sense organ is limited to only know one type of body (smells, bells, ect.). Because a mind knows all types of bodies, rather than being limited to a particular type, it shows the mind is not dependent upon an organ for its existence.

I still do not see it. That the mind can conceptualize all kinds of things is uncontroversial because only conceptualizable things count as things in the first place. But what does that have to do with the mind's dependence on or independence of the brain?

Quote:
Further, nobody would argue that sense, because it requires a sensible object to function, would be dependent upon a sensible object for its power of sense.

If the 'power of sense' simply means the capability to sense, then obviously it does depend on the existense of something sensible (e.g. photons or variations in air pressure).

Quote:
Similarly, the mind, while knowing through/in matter (images in the brain), does not depend upon matter for its existence/power of thought.

Even if the analogy was accurate (and it does not seem to be), it would not warrant this conclusion.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
It is a good question but not a particularly puzzling one. It would seem to me that any information-processing engine like a brain or a computer is by its very nature vulnerable to viral software.

I almost laughed when I read this the first time. Is that how you seriously view humanity?

As possessing an information-processing engine that is vulnerable to memetic infection? Of course I do. It is hardly controversial.

Quote:
Sadly, if this is the case, I would see no reason why you ought to be able to rationalize any debate with me if the human mind is merely a material machine that merely processes sensory data and acts on it necessarily. If that was the case, all logical debate, discourse, and rational thought would be utterly impossible, and likewise this debate would be impossible.

Why on earth would logical debate, discourse and rational thought be impossible? Even with today's technology we can build machines that deal out, receive, and evaluate information. If a computer can do that with purely material processes, why would the brain not be able to do the same thing?

Quote:
If we truly want to argue that religion is a virus of some sort in the "hardware of life," I find this utterly unable to be applied at all. First, because I could equally just argue that atheism is a virus in your brain, maliciously twisting your brain to think that God does not exist.

Scepticism is contagious and atheism is too, albeit to a lesser extent. But the fact that an idea is contagious does not in itself make it true or untrue, or benefical or harmful. Every single human adult in possession of language is infected with countless thousands (if not millions) of viral ideas; some beneficial, some neutral, some harmful.

A similar situation exists with computer software. All software (not just viruses) is viral in this sense of the word. Malicious pieces of code spread because the users fail to stop them, and beneficial ones spread because they are deemed beneficial.

Quote:
Second, if viruses could just infect my brain in this manner, it would be totally arbitrary what a virus' content was, whether it be atheism, Hinduism, Catholicism, deism, agnosticism, ect.

The fact that most religious people follow the religion of their parents does indeed suggest that getting there first is crucially important for a successful infection. Still, this does not rule out the possibility that some world views are more infectious than others or more true than others.

Quote:
Third, it would seem that any idea would amount to being a 'virus,' as any idea that took root in my brain could be classified as a virus, but this is absurd.

That is precisely the way it is and there is nothing absurd about it. The important thing to realize, however, is that not all viral ideas are harmful or untrue.

Quote:
Fourth, no proof is offered as to how one could identify a virus versus a non-virus.

The spread of ideas is empirically measurable. Ideas that spread quickly are (by definition) more viral than those that do not. Naturally, another standard is needed to determine whether the idea is true or false and a third one still to determine whether it is beneficial or harmful.

Quote:
Fifth, having a 'virus' indicates that one likewise has a state of 'health' in opposition to it.

No adult mind is free of viral ideas. Fortunately, most of these ideas are good for us. Of course, if the discussion is limited to religious viral ideas only, one could argue that being irreligious is analogous to being healthy.

Quote:
This indicates that an absolute and immaterial standard exists apart from matter by which you are judging what is true and what is not.

How so?


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Some tips and things

Here are some things I enjoy discussing whenever I'm in a debate with someone. Also, some tips.

 1. Ask him if he feels eternal punishment is just for those who don't even know what Christianity is? If yes, why? This will either show his inability to answer a fundamental question, or show that he's a mean grumpy old man.

 2. If he ever uses a claim that is not backed up, say "Prove it." If he replies with some canned answer such as "You must have faith my son" then you can start widdling away at his wall.

 3. Some people say the devils biggest trick was to make people think that he doesn't exist. People also say that it's easier to tell a big lie than a small one. Combine the two and you'll have them thinking. Of course you have no evidence of it, just as they have no evidence of angels talking to Mary. Ask them how they don't know that the Devil didn't tap into the writers minds. Judas' had Satan in his mind after he lied to Jesus, or some thing similar. What's to say that the inspired word of the lord isn't actually the inspiried LIE of the devil? This usually gets them thinking on a scripture or verse to counter it.

 4. Don't let them use scientific theories to try and sway you. There are many Christian scientists who go out directly to prove, for example, a New or Old Earth. Remind him of the flaw of the one sidedness of these "scientists" and tell him about how a scientist should be unbiased.

 5. Remind him that man is imperfect and any direct idea in the spoken word of god could have easily of been lost in translation. Only do this if he doesn't try to prove anything.


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Quote: I still do not see

Quote:

I still do not see it. That the mind can conceptualize all kinds of things is uncontroversial because only conceptualizable things count as things in the first place. But what does that have to do with the mind's dependence on or independence of the brain?

Because the mind is not limited to a particular species of material body, as are senses.

Quote:

 

If the 'power of sense' simply means the capability to sense, then obviously it does depend on the existense of something sensible (e.g. photons or variations in air pressure).

It does not depend on sensible objects. You have the ability to sense regardless of whether sensible objects are presented to your senses.

Quote:

 

Even if the analogy was accurate (and it does not seem to be), it would not warrant this conclusion.

Why not?

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As possessing an information-processing engine that is vulnerable to memetic infection? Of course I do. It is hardly controversial. 

I find it highly unwarranted. Show me an example, first. Second, there is no evidence that religion falls into this category. Third, there is no evidence atheism does not fall into this category as well. Fourth, if this were true, no thought would be independent, nor would it truly be thought (rather, all thought would be merely an illusion and all rational discourse ultimately futile).

Quote:

 

 

Scepticism is contagious and atheism is too, albeit to a lesser extent. But the fact that an idea is contagious does not in itself make it true or untrue, or benefical or harmful. Every single human adult in possession of language is infected with countless thousands (if not millions) of viral ideas; some beneficial, some neutral, some harmful.

A similar situation exists with computer software. All software (not just viruses) is viral in this sense of the word. Malicious pieces of code spread because the users fail to stop them, and beneficial ones spread because they are deemed beneficial.

If this is true, all truth ceases to exist. Have fun in pure nihilism. Also, all categories of "beneficial" or "harmful" cease to apply, if this were true.

Quote:

 

The fact that most religious people follow the religion of their parents does indeed suggest that getting there first is crucially important for a successful infection. Still, this does not rule out the possibility that some world views are more infectious than others or more true than others.

There is nothing true in the world if ideas are merely "bugs in the machine." That includes atheism. It would be purely irrational to hold any opinion at all, including as to what is rational. It would merely consist of arrangements of molecules bouncing around that produced thought of any sort; no right answers could exist to anything.

The existence of logical thought and reason proves that this worldview cannot be possible at all. It also shows the existence of the human mind (rational soul), which can know these things and is, hence, immaterial.

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That is precisely the way it is and there is nothing absurd about it. The important thing to realize, however, is that not all viral ideas are harmful or untrue.

No standard COULD exist to determine beneficial or harmful if truth was merely an illusion of brain viruses.

 

Quote:
The spread of ideas is empirically measurable. Ideas that spread quickly are (by definition) more viral than those that do not. Naturally, another standard is needed to determine whether the idea is true or false and a third one still to determine whether it is beneficial or harmful.

No standard could exist for anything in this paragraph if all ideas were merely accidents of matter.

Quote:
No adult mind is free of viral ideas. Fortunately, most of these ideas are good for us. Of course, if the discussion is limited to religious viral ideas only, one could argue that being irreligious is analogous to being healthy.

What determines what is 'good' for us? No idea of good can exist, if we assume your premises.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Kemono
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StMichael wrote: Kemono

StMichael wrote:

Kemono wrote:

I still do not see it. That the mind can conceptualize all kinds of things is uncontroversial because only conceptualizable things count as things in the first place. But what does that have to do with the mind's dependence on or independence of the brain?

Because the mind is not limited to a particular species of material body, as are senses.

What the mind can conceptualize is not a proper subset of conceptualizable things; that much seems obvious. But I fail to see how this implies anything about what the mind is dependent on. To give an analogy, a text on a computer screen can be about any form of energy, but the existence of the text depends on a particular kind of energy (electricity).

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
If the 'power of sense' simply means the capability to sense, then obviously it does depend on the existense of something sensible (e.g. photons or variations in air pressure).

It does not depend on sensible objects. You have the ability to sense regardless of whether sensible objects are presented to your senses.

Now I see what you mean, but then the analogy is incorrect. A correct analogy would be that similarly to a sense organ which retains its potential to sense even when a sensible is not present, a mind retains its potential to know even when information of a knowable is not presented to it. But all of this implies nothing about the matter which a mind requires or does not require in order to exist.

In summary, mental activity can be about immaterial things (like tuesdays), but this tells us nothing about whether mental activity requires matter in which to take place.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
As possessing an information-processing engine that is vulnerable to memetic infection? Of course I do. It is hardly controversial.

I find it highly unwarranted. Show me an example, first.

Of a meme? Sure. The idea of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It existed in not a single brain up to 2004. In 2005 it was conceived in the mind of Bobby Henderson and quickly spread to millions of brains across the globe.

StMichael wrote:
Second, there is no evidence that religion falls into this category.

No evidence that religion is contagious? You must be joking.

StMichael wrote:
Third, there is no evidence atheism does not fall into this category as well.

I just told you that atheism is (slightly) contagious. I am not arguing that it is not viral. What I would argue, if need be, is that atheism happens to be true and (at least under some circumstances) beneficial.

StMichael wrote:
Fourth, if this were true, no thought would be independent,

Our thoughts would not be independent of the ideas inhabiting our brains? I daresay they are not! Do you think the same thoughts now as you thought when you were a five-year-old? And with the same frequency? Probably not.

StMichael wrote:
nor would it truly be thought

The worse for 'true' thought. There is no guarantee that thoughts really are what you would like to think they are.

StMichael wrote:
(rather, all thought would be merely an illusion

I suppose that depends on what you mean when you say 'thought'. Usage like "it is an unsettling thought" does not really commit one to the pretence of knowing what actually goes on in the brain. I would therefore say that 'thought', as understood by many if not most people, is not an illusion.

StMichael wrote:
and all rational discourse ultimately futile).

Why futile? Rational discourse is an efficient way to curb the influx of harmful and/or false ideas.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Scepticism is contagious and atheism is too, albeit to a lesser extent. But the fact that an idea is contagious does not in itself make it true or untrue, or benefical or harmful. Every single human adult in possession of language is infected with countless thousands (if not millions) of viral ideas; some beneficial, some neutral, some harmful.

A similar situation exists with computer software. All software (not just viruses) is viral in this sense of the word. Malicious pieces of code spread because the users fail to stop them, and beneficial ones spread because they are deemed beneficial.

If this is true, all truth ceases to exist.

Does it? The idea of a square root, though copied from another brain, allows us to recognise a square root when we encounter one. Similarly, does not the concept of truth, even though it may be copied from another brain, allow us to recognise a truth when we encounter one?

StMichael wrote:
Also, all categories of "beneficial" or "harmful" cease to apply, if this were true.

Why would they cease to apply? Our preferences most definitely exist, regardless of how we got them.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The fact that most religious people follow the religion of their parents does indeed suggest that getting there first is crucially important for a successful infection. Still, this does not rule out the possibility that some world views are more infectious than others or more true than others.

There is nothing true in the world if ideas are merely "bugs in the machine."

(See above.)

StMichael wrote:
That includes atheism.

Atheism, I think, is one of those nice, beneficial bugs in the system, sort of like acidophilus. Eye-wink

StMichael wrote:
It would be purely irrational to hold any opinion at all, including as to what is rational.

I am not convinced that the concept of irrationality is of much use here. I see no need to contest this claim for now.

StMichael wrote:
It would merely consist of arrangements of molecules bouncing around that produced thought of any sort;

Exactly.

StMichael wrote:
no right answers could exist to anything.

That does not follow.

StMichael wrote:
The existence of logical thought and reason proves that this worldview cannot be possible at all.

To be more explicit, your argument goes like this: "If our brains were meme machines, what we call logical thought and reason would not really be what I think they are. Therefore our brains are not meme machines."

The argument is of course fallacious. What you believe about logical thought and reason is irrelevant. To present evidence against the meme machine hypothesis you must show that the hypothesis contradicts not your opinions but our observations.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
That is precisely the way it is and there is nothing absurd about it. The important thing to realize, however, is that not all viral ideas are harmful or untrue.

No standard COULD exist to determine beneficial or harmful if truth was merely an illusion of brain viruses.

The concept of a square root is undeniably copied from other people. Does that make square roots an illusion?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The spread of ideas is empirically measurable. Ideas that spread quickly are (by definition) more viral than those that do not. Naturally, another standard is needed to determine whether the idea is true or false and a third one still to determine whether it is beneficial or harmful.

No standard could exist for anything in this paragraph if all ideas were merely accidents of matter.

Does a virus scanner not have a standard for identifying harmful code? Perhaps instead of a standard you wish to call it a set of criteria; the choice of words is of secondary importance. If a machine can have it, so can we.

You may be tempted to object that harmfulness is meaningless to the virus scanner; it is merely designed to identify that which we call harmful. But our brains are designed too, by natural selection.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
No adult mind is free of viral ideas. Fortunately, most of these ideas are good for us. Of course, if the discussion is limited to religious viral ideas only, one could argue that being irreligious is analogous to being healthy.

What determines what is 'good' for us? No idea of good can exist, if we assume your premises.

Surely the idea of good can exist; the one that is copied from brain to brain. How we come to regard one thing as good and another as bad I cannot say for sure. More empirical research is required.


StMichael
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Quote: What the mind can

Quote:

What the mind can conceptualize is not a proper subset of conceptualizable things; that much seems obvious. But I fail to see how this implies anything about what the mind is dependent on. To give an analogy, a text on a computer screen can be about any form of energy, but the existence of the text depends on a particular kind of energy (electricity).

The issue is not of what the mind can conceptualize, if by that we mean 'imagine.' The point is that the mind is not limited to knowledge of a particular kind of body, but can know all. In fact, whereas with senses an abundance of its particular sensible (too much light, too much heat or cold, too much smell) impairs the organ because it is of a material nature, the abundance of intelligibility does not impair the function of the mind, but rather increases it.

The computer screen is not a knowing or sensing agent, so I can't really see much of a comparison. If we want to stretch it, we can force a comparison. Just because the computer screen requires information in order to display text does not mean that the computer screen requires data to have the power to display. Or, to use your own example, the computer screen's ability to display text is not erased by the lack of electricity. If we plugged the screen into the wall and gave it data, it would continue to display text. In a similar manner, the existence of the mind and its power to know is not dependent upon the body (while its power to know would be impaired, however).  

Quote:
 But all of this implies nothing about the matter which a mind requires or does not require in order to exist.

In summary, mental activity can be about immaterial things (like tuesdays), but this tells us nothing about whether mental activity requires matter in which to take place.

Mental activity might require matter (in the case of human beings) to develop ideas ("nothing is in the mind which is not first in the senses&quotEye-wink, but it does not require matter to exist. Its very immateriality ensures its subsistence. In other words, the mind is immaterial, but requires matter to be presented to it to know material things. Its ability to know all material things proves its subsistent (immortal/seperately existing) existence. 

Quote:
Of a meme? Sure. The idea of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It existed in not a single brain up to 2004. In 2005 it was conceived in the mind of Bobby Henderson and quickly spread to millions of brains across the globe.

I admit the existence of infectious ideas, but there is a difference between an infectious idea and an infectious virus (of which we have to propose is material). Show me the meme in matter. How does this take root in the mind if not immaterially?

Quote:
No evidence that religion is contagious? You must be joking.

There is no unique reason why religion is singled out among all infectious ideas is my point.

Quote:
I just told you that atheism is (slightly) contagious. I am not arguing that it is not viral. What I would argue, if need be, is that atheism happens to be true and (at least under some circumstances) beneficial.

Again, if everything were purely viral material infections in the brain (of which there is no evidence), there are no categories of true and false, beneficial and harmful.

 

Quote:
Our thoughts would not be independent of the ideas inhabiting our brains? I daresay they are not! Do you think the same thoughts now as you thought when you were a five-year-old? And with the same frequency? Probably not.

In the sense of freely willed.

Quote:
The worse for 'true' thought. There is no guarantee that thoughts really are what you would like to think they are.

Including your own statements.

 

Quote:
I suppose that depends on what you mean when you say 'thought'. Usage like "it is an unsettling thought" does not really commit one to the pretence of knowing what actually goes on in the brain. I would therefore say that 'thought', as understood by many if not most people, is not an illusion.

It does insofar as you assume according to your words that universals and immaterial ideas exist by that statement. Any statement presumes immaterials (universal concepts).

Quote:
Why futile? Rational discourse is an efficient way to curb the influx of harmful and/or false ideas.

What is "beneficial," then, if not a virus? There would be no 'better' or 'worse' idea, as everything would be purely material.

Quote:
Does it? The idea of a square root, though copied from another brain, allows us to recognise a square root when we encounter one. Similarly, does not the concept of truth, even though it may be copied from another brain, allow us to recognise a truth when we encounter one?

That is totally nonsensical. First because ideas are not "copied" from brain to brain. Nobody learns by osmosis. Second, there is no such thing as truth, in your world, as everything would be the product of merely material interactions and viral ideas.

Quote:
Why would they cease to apply? Our preferences most definitely exist, regardless of how we got them.

First, if all we have are preferences, there is no way to continue speaking here. Your preference for truth would determine your universe and mine would do so mine. There would be no room for discussion. All categories of truth or falsity would be meaningless, as would any other universal category.

Quote:
Atheism, I think, is one of those nice, beneficial bugs in the system, sort of like acidophilus. Eye-wink

On what standard? You cannot have one, if you seriously embrace your own system. There is further no room in general for considering atheism beneficial. Even if we considered it to be neutral, religion would surely take a more esteemed role in terms of beneficial ideas (having resulted in virtually all beauty and artwork, noble ideas and philosophy, scientific development and learning, in all of history in virtually every culture). Nevertheless, I think this would be inconsequential, as I find no room in your own thought for you to be calling any system of belief more or less 'true' or 'helpful' than another.

Quote:
To be more explicit, your argument goes like this: "If our brains were meme machines, what we call logical thought and reason would not really be what I think they are. Therefore our brains are not meme machines."

Actually, I believe it goes:

"If our minds were meme machines, all ideas are merely interactions of matter.

Hence, no universal category of thought could exist.

However, all thought occurs according to universal categories.

Hence, the argument is absurd, as it violates the rule of non-contradiction. "

Or:

"If our minds are meme machines, thought is an illusion, as is truth.

In other words, truth does not exist.

But, this argument assumes truth.

Hence, this argument does not exist, which is absurd. "

Let's move on.

Quote:
The argument is of course fallacious. What you believe about logical thought and reason is irrelevant. To present evidence against the meme machine hypothesis you must show that the hypothesis contradicts not your opinions but our observations.

Frankly, that is what I am proposing. We do think in logical categories, we do conceive universals, we do have ideas, there is such a thing as truth. Any statement that said that it did not exist would contradict itself, and we would have to conclude (if we took it seriously) that our own ideas did not exist. It has nothing to do with my 'opinions,' it has to do with the idea of 'truth' existing at all.

Quote:
The concept of a square root is undeniably copied from other people. Does that make square roots an illusion?

Again, it is not copied. Second, according to YOU it DOES. This is precisely my point.

Quote:
Does a virus scanner not have a standard for identifying harmful code? Perhaps instead of a standard you wish to call it a set of criteria; the choice of words is of secondary importance. If a machine can have it, so can we.

You may be tempted to object that harmfulness is meaningless to the virus scanner; it is merely designed to identify that which we call harmful. But our brains are designed too, by natural selection.

Then there are no real categories of truth or falsity, of good or evil. If this is the case, your own argument falls apart. It claims to be a true account of reality, saying that no true account of reality is possible. On your own end, it would destroy any possiblity of natural science (and any observations science made), as all observations could never be verified. Science would cease to exist, as nothing could truly be said of anything. I cannot call X a 'quark,' as my ideas are merely something created by interactions of matter and reliant thereupon. My terms and ideas would be meaningless and useless. I would have no way of making any definitions of anything because it would be reliant upon an idea, or a concept, of which there could be none. Mathematics would likewise be impossible, as there is no such thing as a square root, and my own 'idea' is an illusion which means nothing. My mouth might move and sounds might come out, but they could not be called 'words' as my 'words' are not matter. Likewise, they could not be called anything, as it would depend upon an 'idea.'

Quote:
Surely the idea of good can exist; the one that is copied from brain to brain. How we come to regard one thing as good and another as bad I cannot say for sure. More empirical research is required.

The idea of good can never exist if everything is matter. Empirical research can never establish truth or falsity, because they are by nature immaterial and universal terms. If we assume your world, truth would be a construct, and would not exist. Your own attempt to refute religion would be meaningless, as nothing could be true or false.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

PS - Save Truth, become a Catholic Smiling

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Kemono
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StMichael wrote: Its

StMichael wrote:

Its ability to know all material things proves its subsistent (immortal/seperately existing) existence.

At the risk of sounding positively obtuse, I must say that I completely fail to see how the ability of the mind to know all material things proves anything about its subsistence.

Is anyone else reading this thread? If you see StMichael's point, please explain it to me.

StMichael wrote:
I admit the existence of infectious ideas, but there is a difference between an infectious idea and an infectious virus

No there is not. I am talking about infectious ideas, nothing more. Resemblance to computer viruses or biological viruses is in the eye of the beholder.

StMichael wrote:
(of which we have to propose is material). Show me the meme in matter.

Naturally I believe that ideas ultimately have a physical existence in the brain (not as objects but as patterns of neuronal connections) but for the purposes of this discussion we can remain agnostic about that.

StMichael wrote:
How does this take root in the mind if not immaterially?

We do not need to know how, precisely, minds internalize the ideas they encounter. It is enough for the purposes of this discussion to know that they do.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
No evidence that religion is contagious? You must be joking.

There is no unique reason why religion is singled out among all infectious ideas is my point.

And my point is that ideas need be neither true nor beneficial to be successful.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
I just told you that atheism is (slightly) contagious. I am not arguing that it is not viral. What I would argue, if need be, is that atheism happens to be true and (at least under some circumstances) beneficial.

Again, if everything were purely viral material infections in the brain (of which there is no evidence),

I must again stress that while in all probability ideas exist as physical (neural) patterns in physical brains (where else?), the meme machine hypothesis does not depend on it.

StMichael wrote:
there are no categories of true and false, beneficial and harmful.

Even a computer programme can sort hypotheses into the categories of false and not-yet-known-to-be-false by testing their predictions. And a chess playing programme can tell good ('beneficial' ) moves from bad ('harmful' ) ones. So why could a meme machine not do these things?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Our thoughts would not be independent of the ideas inhabiting our brains? I daresay they are not! Do you think the same thoughts now as you thought when you were a five-year-old? And with the same frequency? Probably not.

In the sense of freely willed.

How does a freely willed thought differ empirically from a not freely willed thought? If they do not differ at all, I must submit that the distinction is not meaningful.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The worse for 'true' thought. There is no guarantee that thoughts really are what you would like to think they are.

Including your own statements.

Of course.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Why futile? Rational discourse is an efficient way to curb the influx of harmful and/or false ideas.

What is "beneficial," then, if not a virus?

The concept of 'beneficial' is nothing but a tool, a part of the meme machine. I assign no deeper meaning to it.

StMichael wrote:
There would be no 'better' or 'worse' idea, as everything would be purely material.

There would be (and are) ideas that are subjectively judged as good or bad by the meme machines. Naturally their judgements would depend on the memes inhabiting them.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Does it? The idea of a square root, though copied from another brain, allows us to recognise a square root when we encounter one. Similarly, does not the concept of truth, even though it may be copied from another brain, allow us to recognise a truth when we encounter one?

That is totally nonsensical. First because ideas are not "copied" from brain to brain. Nobody learns by osmosis.

Learned, copied, mimicked, imitated... the choice of words is immaterial.

StMichael wrote:
Second, there is no such thing as truth, in your world, as everything would be the product of merely material interactions and viral ideas.

'True' is a label for hypotheses which have been tested and not yet found to be false. A mere computer can attach such a label. Why would the brain not be able to do the same?

StMichael wrote:
All categories of truth or falsity would be meaningless, as would any other universal category.

Do you mean that if the criteria for determining the veracity of a claim vary freely from one individual to the other, it is meaningless to have conversations about truth? I agree with the inference but not with the premise. We should for good Darwinian reasons expect to see roughly the same epistemology employed by (nearly) all brains: the epistemology that works. If there is sufficient interagent compatibility in individual epistemologies, discourse becomes possible.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Atheism, I think, is one of those nice, beneficial bugs in the system, sort of like acidophilus. Eye-wink

On what standard? You cannot have one, if you seriously embrace your own system.

Of course I can have a standard. If you mean that my standard must be subjective, then I perfectly agree.

StMichael wrote:
There is further no room in general for considering atheism beneficial. Even if we considered it to be neutral, religion would surely take a more esteemed role in terms of beneficial ideas (having resulted in virtually all beauty and artwork, noble ideas and philosophy, scientific development and learning, in all of history in virtually every culture).

I disagree, but in the interest of keeping focused, I must adress the issue later.

StMichael wrote:
Actually, I believe it goes:

"If our minds were meme machines, all ideas are merely interactions of matter.

Hence, no universal category of thought could exist.

What do you mean by a universal category of thought?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The argument is of course fallacious. What you believe about logical thought and reason is irrelevant. To present evidence against the meme machine hypothesis you must show that the hypothesis contradicts not your opinions but our observations.

Frankly, that is what I am proposing. We do think in logical categories, we do conceive universals, we do have ideas,

Yes. How does this contradict the meme machine hypothesis?

StMichael wrote:
there is such a thing as truth.

In some sense at least. It would be a waste of time to debate the existence of the number four, and it would be a waste of time to debate the existence of truth.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The concept of a square root is undeniably copied from other people. Does that make square roots an illusion?

Again, it is not copied.

Learned. Imitated. Whatever.

StMichael wrote:
Second, according to YOU it DOES. This is precisely my point.

Then perhaps there is a problem with your concept of square root. Mine is perfectly compatible with the meme machine hypothesis.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Does a virus scanner not have a standard for identifying harmful code? Perhaps instead of a standard you wish to call it a set of criteria; the choice of words is of secondary importance. If a machine can have it, so can we.

You may be tempted to object that harmfulness is meaningless to the virus scanner; it is merely designed to identify that which we call harmful. But our brains are designed too, by natural selection.

The idea of good can never exist if everything is matter. Empirical research can never establish truth or falsity, because they are by nature immaterial and universal terms.

Once again I point out that even a machine can test hypotheses and label them true or false.


StMichael
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Quote: At the risk of

Quote:
At the risk of sounding positively obtuse, I must say that I completely fail to see how the ability of the mind to know all material things proves anything about its subsistence.

Because the mind is not limited by material conditions in the same way a sense organ is. If a sense organ senses an object, it can only sense a body under its particular aspect. A mind can sense something without restriction under all aspects and can know all manner of bodies. Thus, it is not dependent upon matter for its existence.

Quote:
Naturally I believe that ideas ultimately have a physical existence in the brain (not as objects but as patterns of neuronal connections) but for the purposes of this discussion we can remain agnostic about that.

Ideas might exist in material things, but they are not material. It is an error of conflating two things.

Quote:
We do not need to know how, precisely, minds internalize the ideas they encounter. It is enough for the purposes of this discussion to know that they do.

If we want to work by Rook Hawkins' thesis, you need peer-reviewed journals to prove anything Smiling

However, in this case, you assert without evidence, then, that ideas are materially imbibed. You need material evidence to assert that justifiedly.

Quote:
I must again stress that while in all probability ideas exist as physical (neural) patterns in physical brains (where else?), the meme machine hypothesis does not depend on it.

Ideas exist immaterially as known in the intellect (in the rational soul). Ideas can only exist apart from matter if they are truly ideas.

Quote:
Even a computer programme can sort hypotheses into the categories of false and not-yet-known-to-be-false by testing their predictions. And a chess playing programme can tell good ('beneficial' ) moves from bad ('harmful' ) ones. So why could a meme machine not do these things?

This is a fallacious analogy because a computer has an intelligent designer who gives it information that determines true and false. A computer or any machine moves in the way it was designed to, and can merely test the truth of something according to the standards given it. It does not discover the standard of truth, nor does it innately have any standard of truth and falsity that was not given it.

Our minds know truth, as opposed to a computer. That is why we can make a computer.

Quote:
How does a freely willed thought differ empirically from a not freely willed thought? If they do not differ at all, I must submit that the distinction is not meaningful.

First, empirical standards are useless as free choice is non-empirical. Second, a choice that is free exists without external violence determining its action.

Quote:
 

Of course.

It would then be entirely arbitrary standards of truth. Have fun as a theist.

Quote:
There would be (and are) ideas that are subjectively judged as good or bad by the meme machines. Naturally their judgements would depend on the memes inhabiting them.

Including your own analysis that meme machines exist in the first place. Nothing could be said, ever.

Quote:
Learned, copied, mimicked, imitated... the choice of words is immaterial.

No it is not. Terms determine meaning. I think you would object if I called 'meme machines' 'Tinky Winkies.' Also, copied indicates material transfer. This is obviously not the case with learning.

Quote:
'True' is a label for hypotheses which have been tested and not yet found to be false. A mere computer can attach such a label. Why would the brain not be able to do the same?

Because a brain is not the same as a computer. The computer has external standards implanted within it. It merely tests things according to the information given it.

Quote:
Do you mean that if the criteria for determining the veracity of a claim vary freely from one individual to the other, it is meaningless to have conversations about truth? I agree with the inference but not with the premise. We should for good Darwinian reasons expect to see roughly the same epistemology employed by (nearly) all brains: the epistemology that works. If there is sufficient interagent compatibility in individual epistemologies, discourse becomes possible.

Discourse is impossible, because words are not material. Words indicate realities. If it is merely a chance evolution of all brains in a similar manner, it does not necessitate discourse. First, because without an immaterial standard, there can be no discourse among all however materially similar they are. The reason is that the ideas would then differ according to the material number of people. No real discourse could ever be possible because the ideas would necessarily differ from person to person. Second, nothing could ever be said about Darwinian evolution. What 'works?' No standard could be given. We could only exist, without any intellectual action at all (which it utterly impossible).

Quote:

Of course I can have a standard. If you mean that my standard must be subjective, then I perfectly agree.

Which destroys all science, all truth in any statement (including your own), and eliminates the possibility for any intellectual activity.

Quote:
What do you mean by a universal category of thought?

I mean an objective standard.

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How does this contradict the meme machine hypothesis?

This cannot happen if we accept your hypothesis.

Ideas cannot exist, nor can universals.

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In some sense at least. It would be a waste of time to debate the existence of the number four, and it would be a waste of time to debate the existence of truth.

I do not see what you mean. The question of truth is essential to our debate, as you are denying that truth exists.

Quote:
Then perhaps there is a problem with your concept of square root. Mine is perfectly compatible with the meme machine hypothesis.

That is precisely the problem. You would have to have a concept of square root that is not the same as mind. Hence, it would be impossible, for example, to maintain mathematical truths.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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Hey Matt-Evolved, Has the

Hey Matt-Evolved,

Has the debate/meeting happened yet?

I'd love to hear your notes on it. 


Kemono
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StMichael wrote: Because

StMichael wrote:

Because the mind is not limited by material conditions in the same way a sense organ is. If a sense organ senses an object, it can only sense a body under its particular aspect. A mind can sense something without restriction under all aspects and can know all manner of bodies. Thus, it is not dependent upon matter for its existence.

Surely we cannot infer from the fact that the mind is not subject to a particular limitation that it is not subject to another limitation.

Of course, if it could be shown that matter cannot do what the mind does, it would follow that the mind is something else. But this has not been shown. In fact, computers can already perform some of the most incredible feats that have previously been believed to be exclusively human. Of course we can claim that computer programs do not 'truly reason' and are not 'truly creative' and then go on to state that because only human minds truly reason, there is something unique about them. But this would be committing the true Scotsman fallacy. As they say, handsome is as handsome does.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
We do not need to know how, precisely, minds internalize the ideas they encounter. It is enough for the purposes of this discussion to know that they do.

If we want to work by Rook Hawkins' thesis, you need peer-reviewed journals to prove anything Smiling

However, in this case, you assert without evidence, then, that ideas are materially imbibed. You need material evidence to assert that justifiedly.

Where did I say that? The only thing I am asserting is that one way or the other, contact with other minds increases the likelihood of the ideas inhabiting those minds to also occur in yours. Now I do think any reasonable person will conclude that the method of transmission is through learning and imitation, but my thesis in no way depends on it.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Even a computer programme can sort hypotheses into the categories of false and not-yet-known-to-be-false by testing their predictions. And a chess playing programme can tell good ('beneficial' ) moves from bad ('harmful' ) ones. So why could a meme machine not do these things?

This is a fallacious analogy because a computer has an intelligent designer who gives it information that determines true and false.

We are designed too, albeit unintelligently.

StMichael wrote:
A computer or any machine moves in the way it was designed to, and can merely test the truth of something according to the standards given it. It does not discover the standard of truth, nor does it innately have any standard of truth and falsity that was not given it.

No, the point is that a mere machine does discover the standard of truth if it is made to evolve. An animal's fitness depends on its epistemology. Some epistemologies work better than others if 'working better' is simply definded as 'leading on average to the animal having more offspring'.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
How does a freely willed thought differ empirically from a not freely willed thought? If they do not differ at all, I must submit that the distinction is not meaningful.

First, empirical standards are useless as free choice is non-empirical. Second, a choice that is free exists without external violence determining its action.

How is the presence or absence of external violence non-empirical?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
There would be (and are) ideas that are subjectively judged as good or bad by the meme machines. Naturally their judgements would depend on the memes inhabiting them.

Including your own analysis that meme machines exist in the first place. Nothing could be said, ever.

So if our judgements depend on our ideas, some of which we have learned from others, nothing can be said? Surely you cannot mean that.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Learned, copied, mimicked, imitated... the choice of words is immaterial.

No it is not. Terms determine meaning. I think you would object if I called 'meme machines' 'Tinky Winkies.' Also, copied indicates material transfer. This is obviously not the case with learning.

Does copying data from a DVD to a hard disk indicate material transfer? Matter is not transferred but the transmission is a material (in the sense of physical) process. Is it not the same with learning?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
'True' is a label for hypotheses which have been tested and not yet found to be false. A mere computer can attach such a label. Why would the brain not be able to do the same?

Because a brain is not the same as a computer. The computer has external standards implanted within it.

The brain, too, is built by natural selection to have standards, or at least inclinations towards standards.

StMichael wrote:
Discourse is impossible, because words are not material. Words indicate realities.

Machines can exchange information. If you object that that is not 'true discourse', then the worse for 'true discourse'.

StMichael wrote:
If it is merely a chance evolution of all brains in a similar manner, it does not necessitate discourse.

Chance has nothing to do with it, and I am talking about the possibility, not necessity, of discourse.

StMichael wrote:
First, because without an immaterial standard, there can be no discourse among all however materially similar they are. The reason is that the ideas would then differ according to the material number of people. No real discourse could ever be possible because the ideas would necessarily differ from person to person.

In a population of meme machines, each machine can obtain useful information from the machines that have concepts sufficiently similar to its own. Through experience it can learn to disregard as gibberish all information provided by meme machines whose concepts are too different from its own. Therefore pairs or groups of meme machines with similar concepts could have useful (i.e. fitness-increasing) exchanges of information, also known as discourse.

Of course, it would be adaptive to have a mind whose concepts are in sync with those of others. This can be achieved through malleability, and it is indeed what we observe: children and language learners adjust their concepts (i.e. the meanings they assign to words) to mainstream usage.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Of course I can have a standard. If you mean that my standard must be subjective, then I perfectly agree.

Which destroys all science, all truth in any statement (including your own), and eliminates the possibility for any intellectual activity.

It does no such thing. Science is done because it is deemed, in our subjective judgements, to produce valuable information. Most people agree, because we have similar epistemologies. The similarity of personal epistemologies is a result of evolution by natural selection.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
What do you mean by a universal category of thought?

I mean an objective standard.

I see. Your argument hinges on all thought depending on objective standards. But it does no such thing. Consider this hypothetical thought. "I can have green tea or oolong tea. I prefer the taste of green tea. I shall have green tea." It seems to do fine on subjective standards.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Then perhaps there is a problem with your concept of square root. Mine is perfectly compatible with the meme machine hypothesis.

That is precisely the problem. You would have to have a concept of square root that is not the same as mind.

It is a fact that people sometimes have different ideas about what a certain word means. Does it destroy the possibility of rational discourse? No, for two reasons. One, your information is useful to me as long as your concepts are close enough to mine. Second, we can learn what others mean when they say this word or that, thus making their speech intelligible.

StMichael wrote:
Hence, it would be impossible, for example, to maintain mathematical truths.

Mathematical truths need no maintaining. Mathematics is a cognitive aid. If a mathematical theorem helps me solve a problem in my everyday life, it does not inconvenience me in the least that someone else may have a different understanding of the theorem.


StMichael
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Quote: Surely we cannot

Quote:

Surely we cannot infer from the fact that the mind is not subject to a particular limitation that it is not subject to another limitation.

We can deduce that the mind is not limited by matter. In this, it is subsistent. Nothing more needs to be proved.

Quote:

Of course, if it could be shown that matter cannot do what the mind does, it would follow that the mind is something else. But this has not been shown.

Yes it has. That is precisely the proof. The mind is not identical with a material organ, or else it would not be able to know all material bodies. It would instead know a particular body under a particular material aspect. However, this is not the case. Hence, the mind is not identical with a material organ.

Quote:

In fact, computers can already perform some of the most incredible feats that have previously been believed to be exclusively human. Of course we can claim that computer programs do not 'truly reason' and are not 'truly creative' and then go on to state that because only human minds truly reason, there is something unique about them. But this would be committing the true Scotsman fallacy. As they say, handsome is as handsome does.

I beg to differ. And it has nothing to do with the Scotsman fallacy. Computers merely operate on the basis of information given them. They can perform calculations independent of man, but they cannot operate without man as cause of the information in the first place. Also, they cannot think, not because 'only humans can think,' but because a computer cannot form abstractions of material things, nor can a computer see irony, nor can a computer speak (any more than a parakeet can speak). I think you are operating out of science fiction books rather than facts.

Quote:
Where did I say that? The only thing I am asserting is that one way or the other, contact with other minds increases the likelihood of the ideas inhabiting those minds to also occur in yours. Now I do think any reasonable person will conclude that the method of transmission is through learning and imitation, but my thesis in no way depends on it.

When you assert that all minds are material, it requires a material mode of transmission. "Learning" is an abstraction, not a material mode of transmission. I would easily agree with you that encountering ideas spoken or written by other people would lead to myself thinking them (as this is, in fact, the entire point of speaking and writing, as well as of art). However, this is not the same as holding that immaterial things do not exist, and all is merely matter (which I would disagree with).

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We are designed too, albeit unintelligently.

Design, by definition, requires intelligence.

 

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No, the point is that a mere machine does discover the standard of truth if it is made to evolve. An animal's fitness depends on its epistemology. Some epistemologies work better than others if 'working better' is simply definded as 'leading on average to the animal having more offspring'.

A machine does not discover standards of truth; it must have them put into them by an intelligent agent. Show me the epistemology of a duck, or any other animal or inanimate object, before you claim that competing epistemologies of machines are the cause of knowledge.

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How is the presence or absence of external violence non-empirical?

Because external violence is not limited to material violence against a body.

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So if our judgements depend on our ideas, some of which we have learned from others, nothing can be said? Surely you cannot mean that.

I mean that, if values are subjective, no conversation, no rationality can occur. Our judgements do depend on our ideas, but our ideas are not merely subjective. Objective standards of truth exist apart from myself.

 

Quote:
Does copying data from a DVD to a hard disk indicate material transfer? Matter is not transferred but the transmission is a material (in the sense of physical) process. Is it not the same with learning?

One of the problems here is that you are using 'data' as the subject. Data is not identical with matter; in fact, data must not be matter or you would have to conclude that the only way it could be transferred would be by material transmission in a direct sense (the DVD could never transfer data to the hard drive without direct contact). Also, the hard drive does not learn anything when it receives signals from the computer. Lastly, matter is involved in human learning, but that does not make human learning equivalent with material processes. Humans receive data, not matter, in their learning. The hard drive receives material change which is interpreted by humans to be meaningful. The computer (or the DVD or the hard drive) does not find the matter meaningful.

Quote:
The brain, too, is built by natural selection to have standards, or at least inclinations towards standards.

There I believe you to be reaching too much. The computer was designed and recieved standards from intelligent agents. There is also the difference in what these 'standards' are. For the human being, truth and falsity are categories that are meaningful. For the computer, the standards of truth and falsity are not 'known,' true and false do not exist in a computer - 0 and 1 do (in the sense of the electrical signals), material things to which we humans apply meaning. If you were to hold this to be true, an abacus could likewise have rational thought because it has standards of true and false in it. I would likewise claim that if you were to accept this, any material body would have rational thought (because there could never be a body of which you could say, 'this does not think&#39Eye-wink

Quote:

Machines can exchange information. If you object that that is not 'true discourse', then the worse for 'true discourse'.

Information is only of use to a thinking being, and only exists in relation to thought. The machine does not have information - it possesses signals that hold meaning for us. A piece of paper with writing on it would then be thinking because it possessed information.

Quote:

In a population of meme machines, each machine can obtain useful information from the machines that have concepts sufficiently similar to its own. Through experience it can learn to disregard as gibberish all information provided by meme machines whose concepts are too different from its own. Therefore pairs or groups of meme machines with similar concepts could have useful (i.e. fitness-increasing) exchanges of information, also known as discourse.

Of course, it would be adaptive to have a mind whose concepts are in sync with those of others. This can be achieved through malleability, and it is indeed what we observe: children and language learners adjust their concepts (i.e. the meanings they assign to words) to mainstream usage.

Again, you are reaching here. A machine does not possess information. A machine possesses signals which are meaningful for rational beings, not for the machine itself.

Quote:
It does no such thing. Science is done because it is deemed, in our subjective judgements, to produce valuable information. Most people agree, because we have similar epistemologies. The similarity of personal epistemologies is a result of evolution by natural selection.

Then, again, science is impossible. If it were merely the result of subjective assignments of value which we merely agreed upon, there could be no verifiability, there could be no truth, there would be no usefulness at all.

Quote:
I see. Your argument hinges on all thought depending on objective standards. But it does no such thing. Consider this hypothetical thought. "I can have green tea or oolong tea. I prefer the taste of green tea. I shall have green tea." It seems to do fine on subjective standards.

But this is misleading because it is of a different category (preference). However, it remains an objective truth that you enjoy green tea. It also is objective that statements carry meaning, that 'green tea' means something, and that 'oolong tea' means something else. The meaning of the ohrases requires an objective truth, otherwise it would merely be making noises (or in this case making random markings).

Quote:
It is a fact that people sometimes have different ideas about what a certain word means. Does it destroy the possibility of rational discourse? No, for two reasons. One, your information is useful to me as long as your concepts are close enough to mine. Second, we can learn what others mean when they say this word or that, thus making their speech intelligible.

We are not debating whether words themselves mean different things. We are debating whether words can carry meaning at all. In a purely material universe, words can carry no meaning. The most a word can have is its material existence as a sound or a mark.

Quote:

Mathematical truths need no maintaining. Mathematics is a cognitive aid. If a mathematical theorem helps me solve a problem in my everyday life, it does not inconvenience me in the least that someone else may have a different understanding of the theorem.

Then mathematics has no real truth. Mathematical theorems could be disproven anytime I wish. It is merely convenient that the engineer said that this bridge carries the necessary amount of weight. It is merely convenient that my computer processes information in the way it does. It is merely inconvenient if 2+2 does not equal 4. Truth could not exist. Mathematics would break down, science would be impossible, and no rational thought would be possible.

 The opposite is manifestly the case.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Kemono
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StMichael wrote: Kemono

StMichael wrote:

Kemono wrote:

Of course, if it could be shown that matter cannot do what the mind does, it would follow that the mind is something else. But this has not been shown.

Yes it has. That is precisely the proof. The mind is not identical with a material organ, or else it would not be able to know all material bodies. It would instead know a particular body under a particular material aspect. However, this is not the case. Hence, the mind is not identical with a material organ.

It is difficult to ascertain whether a material organ can know all material bodies as the word 'know' is not quite easily defined. Computers can 'know' things at least in some sense of the word: "Does your operating system know the password to the archive" is a meaningful question. What specific tasks do you propose the mind can perform with is allegedly unique capacity to know all material bodies such that an external observer would be forced to conclude unreplicable by any machine?

StMichael wrote:
Computers merely operate on the basis of information given them. They can perform calculations independent of man, but they cannot operate without man as cause of the information in the first place.

That is absolutely irrelevant. We are debating whether the mind can do something that matter cannot. Computers are matter. How they and their software got here makes no difference. If it is not obvious to you, consider this: if I was a theist, I might think that humans were intelligently designed and that the information in them originally came from the designer (as absurd as the thought is). This would in no way force me to conclude that the mind was anything but the workings of the material brain.

StMichael wrote:
Also, they cannot think, not because 'only humans can think,' but because a computer cannot form abstractions of material things,

Computers can attach labels to patterns of sensory information. It would be difficult to show that when a mind forms an abstraction it is doing something entirely different.

StMichael wrote:
nor can a computer see irony, nor can a computer speak (any more than a parakeet can speak).

It is not that they do not speak; it is just that they are not very good at it yet. If you have not yet done so, do acquaint yourself with some of the better chatterbots out there like Allison. (They are quite fascinating actually.) Of course they are nowhere near as sophisticated as humans, but it would be quite a leap of faith to say they will never get there.

Whether irony detection is present in any existing chatterbots I am not sure, but adding such a feature would not be too difficult. Chatterbots already detect complements and rebukes. The most elementary irony detector imaginable would simply label as irony all complements in places where insults or rebukes are expected from past experience.

The point of course is not that such a detector could do nearly as well as a human but that the difference is merely in the level of sophistication.

In fact, I cannot think of a single task which the human mind can perform that cannot in principle be broken down into subtasks simple enough for a computer to carry out. To come up with such a task is the daunting challenge you face if you wish to maintain that the mind can do something that mere matter cannot.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Where did I say that? The only thing I am asserting is that one way or the other, contact with other minds increases the likelihood of the ideas inhabiting those minds to also occur in yours. Now I do think any reasonable person will conclude that the method of transmission is through learning and imitation, but my thesis in no way depends on it.

When you assert that all minds are material, it requires a material mode of transmission.

Have I asserted such a thing? There are empirical reasons to think that the cognitive tasks performed by humans are carried out by the brain (as opposed to, say, the liver). But I need prove it neither for the purposes of the meme machine hypothesis nor for the purposes of disputing the 'proof' of the subsistence of the mind. (Or the 'soul'.)

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
We are designed too, albeit unintelligently.

Design, by definition, requires intelligence.

Not if design by natural selection is included. But this is mere semantics.

StMichael wrote:
A machine does not discover standards of truth; it must have them put into them by an intelligent agent. Show me the epistemology of a duck, or any other animal or inanimate object, before you claim that competing epistemologies of machines are the cause of knowledge.

The simple fact that animals process sensory information proves that they have an epistemology. Observing their behaviour can even give us clues as to how their epistemology works.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The brain, too, is built by natural selection to have standards, or at least inclinations towards standards.

There I believe you to be reaching too much. The computer was designed and recieved standards from intelligent agents.

You seem to be suggesting that information processing cannot evolve through natural selection. I find this less that convincing as it is easy to imagine how it could happen:

Start with an animal living in the bottom of a body of water. The animal has one sensory organ and is capable of two actions: do nothing or hunt. Suppose then that two kinds of phenotypes exist, one that hunts all of the time and another that hunts when there is sensory input and does nothing when there is none. If the strategy of latter works better (i.e. results in more offspring) due to its energy-saving qualities than that of the former, the genes for the latter phenotype come to dominate the gene pool. We then have a population of animals with a primitive information processing system.

What about the exchange of information, then? Not too hard to imagine either. Suppose that a mutation arises allowing the animal to pick up the pattern of sensory information that is caused by other individuals hunting. As it would pay off to hunt when someone else has detected prey, the mutant gene would spread in the gene pool. Now we have a population of animals that take advantage of not only what they sense but also of what other individuals sense.

Next, imagine a mutant individual whose hunting behaviour is particularly conspicuous. This would benefit the individuals close to it as it it would be easier for them to pick it up. In effect this would be a signal saying, 'there is prey afoot'. The gene could spread in the gene pool because close kin are likely to be located close to each other spatially.

I could go on but I think you get the idea already. This is of course nothing but a just-so story and there is no guarantee that this is the way information processing evolved, but seeing how it might have happened, it is impossible to accept the claim that it could not have happened at all.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Mathematical truths need no maintaining. Mathematics is a cognitive aid. If a mathematical theorem helps me solve a problem in my everyday life, it does not inconvenience me in the least that someone else may have a different understanding of the theorem.

Then mathematics has no real truth.

As always, we should ask: does it conflict with our conclusions or with our observations. I can see no reason why everything we observe about the use of mathematics could not be consistent with what I said above.

StMichael wrote:
Mathematical theorems could be disproven anytime I wish.

Only to yourself. If you showed those proofs to others they would point out that you violate the axioms on which the theorems are built. You might be a nuisance to those who use mathematics, but you could not dissuade them from it.

StMichael wrote:
It is merely convenient that the engineer said that this bridge carries the necessary amount of weight.

It is convenient that architects have the cognitive tools to build bridges that carry enough weight, yes.

 

StMichael wrote:
It is merely inconvenient if 2+2 does not equal 4.

Or to put it more intelligibly, it is convenient that the number of apples in a basket into which two pairs of apples have been inserted can be determined without counting them.


StMichael wrote:
Mathematics would break down,

What do you mean by that? If you mean that mathematics could not be used as a convenient tool, I disagree. Whatever is convenient is used.

StMichael wrote:
science would be impossible,

I see no reason to make that conclusion.


StMichael
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Quote:   It is difficult

Quote:

 

It is difficult to ascertain whether a material organ can know all material bodies as the word 'know' is not quite easily defined. Computers can 'know' things at least in some sense of the word: "Does your operating system know the password to the archive" is a meaningful question. What specific tasks do you propose the mind can perform with is allegedly unique capacity to know all material bodies such that an external observer would be forced to conclude unreplicable by any machine? 

Computers cannot properly know anything. The use is only equivocal, with reference to human knowledge. A computer does not understand anything; it operates solely as a result of electrons pulsing through its circuits, reacting and interacting according to the pre-drawn pathways imprinted on the circuits. It displays one thing merely as a reaction to another. You could then equally say that a pad of paper knows something because it has written on it the words, "I know what you did last summer!"

Quote:

That is absolutely irrelevant. We are debating whether the mind can do something that matter cannot. Computers are matter. How they and their software got here makes no difference. If it is not obvious to you, consider this: if I was a theist, I might think that humans were intelligently designed and that the information in them originally came from the designer (as absurd as the thought is). This would in no way force me to conclude that the mind was anything but the workings of the material brain.

Except that we know from our understanding of the fact that human beings can know all bodies that our mind is immaterial. It has nothing to do with comparing it to computers. We know that our mind is thus constituted and can work from there.

Quote:

Computers can attach labels to patterns of sensory information. It would be difficult to show that when a mind forms an abstraction it is doing something entirely different.

Except that a computer's label is not really meaningful to it, but only to us. Otherwise, the words on a notepad are intelligible to the notepad.

Quote:

It is not that they do not speak; it is just that they are not very good at it yet. If you have not yet done so, do acquaint yourself with some of the better chatterbots out there like Allison. (They are quite fascinating actually.) Of course they are nowhere near as sophisticated as humans, but it would be quite a leap of faith to say they will never get there.

Whether irony detection is present in any existing chatterbots I am not sure, but adding such a feature would not be too difficult. Chatterbots already detect complements and rebukes. The most elementary irony detector imaginable would simply label as irony all complements in places where insults or rebukes are expected from past experience.

The point of course is not that such a detector could do nearly as well as a human but that the difference is merely in the level of sophistication.

In fact, I cannot think of a single task which the human mind can perform that cannot in principle be broken down into subtasks simple enough for a computer to carry out. To come up with such a task is the daunting challenge you face if you wish to maintain that the mind can do something that mere matter cannot.

 

Quote:

 

Have I asserted such a thing? There are empirical reasons to think that the cognitive tasks performed by humans are carried out by the brain (as opposed to, say, the liver). But I need prove it neither for the purposes of the meme machine hypothesis nor for the purposes of disputing the 'proof' of the subsistence of the mind. (Or the 'soul'.)

You do if you want to maintain a pseudo-scientific hypothesis that ideas are materially transmitted. Your interpretation of what meme machines are implies a material transmission of ideas. If you claim that it does not and the mind is immaterial, I agree wholeheartedly.

 

Quote:

 

The simple fact that animals process sensory information proves that they have an epistemology. Observing their behaviour can even give us clues as to how their epistemology works.

That is a very loose definition of epistemology. Epistemology determines how we know. A moose does not know the creek, it senses it. There is a clear difference. If sense was knowledge, then there would be no such thing as a false statement.

Quote:

You seem to be suggesting that information processing cannot evolve through natural selection. I find this less that convincing as it is easy to imagine how it could happen:

Start with an animal living in the bottom of a body of water. The animal has one sensory organ and is capable of two actions: do nothing or hunt. Suppose then that two kinds of phenotypes exist, one that hunts all of the time and another that hunts when there is sensory input and does nothing when there is none. If the strategy of latter works better (i.e. results in more offspring) due to its energy-saving qualities than that of the former, the genes for the latter phenotype come to dominate the gene pool. We then have a population of animals with a primitive information processing system.

Except that you presume that the animal has an information processing system in order to demonstrate a method of its evolution. It begs the question.

Quote:

What about the exchange of information, then? Not too hard to imagine either. Suppose that a mutation arises allowing the animal to pick up the pattern of sensory information that is caused by other individuals hunting. As it would pay off to hunt when someone else has detected prey, the mutant gene would spread in the gene pool. Now we have a population of animals that take advantage of not only what they sense but also of what other individuals sense.

Same mistake again. Random chance causes information system to emerge, hence information system occurs.

 

Quote:

As always, we should ask: does it conflict with our conclusions or with our observations. I can see no reason why everything we observe about the use of mathematics could not be consistent with what I said above.

If everything is purely a result of chance material interaction, mathematics is impossible as the world would be purely chance in nature. Also, mathematics would not be able to exist, as each mathematical theorem would not be able to be true in the world.

 

Quote:

 

Only to yourself. If you showed those proofs to others they would point out that you violate the axioms on which the theorems are built. You might be a nuisance to those who use mathematics, but you could not dissuade them from it.

I am assuming your viewpoint. If chance material interactions determine everything, mathematical truths are merely a matter of opinion and disprovable according to my standards of mathematical truth.

Quote:

I see no reason to make that conclusion.

Science is impossible for the above, namely that every conclusion scientifically said to be a 'law' or an repeatedly observable action would be merely a result of personal opinion. No scientific theory could be made, as eveything was relative.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


Kemono
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StMichael wrote: Kemono

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:

It is difficult to ascertain whether a material organ can know all material bodies as the word 'know' is not quite easily defined. Computers can 'know' things at least in some sense of the word: "Does your operating system know the password to the archive" is a meaningful question. What specific tasks do you propose the mind can perform with is allegedly unique capacity to know all material bodies such that an external observer would be forced to conclude unreplicable by any machine?

Computers cannot properly know anything. The use is only equivocal, with reference to human knowledge.

Which is precisely why we need an empirical standard for measuring knowledge. If we simply say that computers do not know because knowing is what humans do, we are begging the question.

The standard I propose is the ability to perform tasks which require information. But if you disagree, feel free to present any non-question begging standard.

StMichael wrote:
A computer does not understand anything; it operates solely as a result of electrons pulsing through its circuits, reacting and interacting according to the pre-drawn pathways imprinted on the circuits. It displays one thing merely as a reaction to another.

Now you are begging the question. You have not shown that our minds do not function on similar principles.

StMichael wrote:
You could then equally say that a pad of paper knows something because it has written on it the words, "I know what you did last summer!"

No, a paper does not know anything because it does not perform tasks. A computer does.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Computers can attach labels to patterns of sensory information. It would be difficult to show that when a mind forms an abstraction it is doing something entirely different.

Except that a computer's label is not really meaningful to it, but only to us. Otherwise, the words on a notepad are intelligible to the notepad.

Meaningfulness to the label-attecher is not required. There is no doubt that the labels a computer can attach can make the computer perform tasks more effectively as judged by any agent with a concept of effectiveness.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Have I asserted such a thing? There are empirical reasons to think that the cognitive tasks performed by humans are carried out by the brain (as opposed to, say, the liver). But I need prove it neither for the purposes of the meme machine hypothesis nor for the purposes of disputing the 'proof' of the subsistence of the mind. (Or the 'soul'.)

You do if you want to maintain a pseudo-scientific hypothesis that ideas are materially transmitted. Your interpretation of what meme machines are implies a material transmission of ideas. If you claim that it does not and the mind is immaterial, I agree wholeheartedly.

I try not to use phrases like 'materially transmitted' because they are ambiguous and lead to confusion. I propose that ideas are transmitted thusly:

1) An idea (e.g. 'Paris is in France' ) exists in the mind of being A.

2) Being A performs a physical action (e.g. says 'Paris is in France' ).

3) Sensory information of A's activity is picked up by the sensory organs of B (e.g. a pattern of changes in air pressure arrives in B's ear).

4) The mind of B internalizes the information.

5) The idea now inhabits both minds.

With which part do you disagree?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The simple fact that animals process sensory information proves that they have an epistemology. Observing their behaviour can even give us clues as to how their epistemology works.

That is a very loose definition of epistemology. Epistemology determines how we know. A moose does not know the creek, it senses it. There is a clear difference.

What difference, discernible to an external observer, is there?

StMichael wrote:
Except that you presume that the animal has an information processing system in order to demonstrate a method of its evolution. It begs the question.

No, every step that goes into building such a system is small enough to come about by chance. Here is an example of how the capacity to react to visual information could come about:

1) The chemical reactions induced by exposure to sunlight affect behaviour moment to moment.

2) Thin-skinned individuals are more sensitive to sunlight and thus come to dominate.

3) Curvature of the skin affects the amount of sunlight reaching the light-sensitive regions of the body. A bowl shape develops around the light-sensitive region.

4) The overall chemical balance of the creature affects sensitivity to light. More sensitive individuals come to dominate the population.

...and forth and so on.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
As always, we should ask: does it conflict with our conclusions or with our observations. I can see no reason why everything we observe about the use of mathematics could not be consistent with what I said above.

If everything is purely a result of chance material interaction, mathematics is impossible as the world would be purely chance in nature.

I prefer not to use the word 'chance' loosely as what is deemed random in one context can be seen as deterministic in another. Science is made possible by the incontrovertible fact that there is stability in the universe: patterns of matter emerge and remain for non-zero lengths of time.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Only to yourself. If you showed those proofs to others they would point out that you violate the axioms on which the theorems are built. You might be a nuisance to those who use mathematics, but you could not dissuade them from it.

I am assuming your viewpoint. If chance material interactions determine everything, mathematical truths are merely a matter of opinion and disprovable according to my standards of mathematical truth.

The reason it is possible for several people to contribute to the same body of mathematical knowledge is because they are aware of the same axioms. You could claim that in your opinion a theorem is not true, but it would not prevent other people from using it. Mathematics can exist as long as people find it useful.

No assumptions about the nature or existence of truth are required in order to use mathematics. A simple learned rule of thumb will do: 'Whatever follows from the axioms, works.'


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Quote: Which is precisely

Quote:
Which is precisely why we need an empirical standard for measuring knowledge. If we simply say that computers do not know because knowing is what humans do, we are begging the question.

The standard I propose is the ability to perform tasks which require information. But if you disagree, feel free to present any non-question begging standard.

It is not question begging. I am merely stating that the way in which you are referring to computers as 'knowing' is only in reference to human beings by way of analogy.

Knowledge does not occur by way of an 'ability to perform tasks which require information.' Knowledge and knowing is a change of potential to actuality in the mind, so that there is a likeness between the knower and the known. This is not an ability. Computers may be said to possess likenesses of things known in them, but this is not of the same species as knowledge. A computer does not have the potential to possess forms immaterially, as there is no immaterial substance in which change could take place. As such, it could never understand. The most a computer could attain (hypothetically) is if it acheieved sensation (somehow, which I would doubt). Even in sensation, sensation is obviously a material process without a per se existence as is clear because sensation takes on forms in their materiality, where knowledge takes on forms as immaterial. As such, an organ of sense becomes impaired by too much sensible data, whereas an intellect whose object is very knowable profits from it. This indicates the reliance of the sense organ upon a likeness in matter, whereas the intellect is not dependent upon matter for its existence. Also, no powers of a sensing being exist apart from matter. Knowing is the only thing that can subsist without a material body.

 

Quote:

 

Now you are begging the question. You have not shown that our minds do not function on similar principles.

You're missing the point. I have. The mind operates immaterially without dependence upon matter, as per its ability to understand intensely intelligible things easily. It is thus subsistent.

 

Quote:

 

No, a paper does not know anything because it does not perform tasks. A computer does.

Does knowledge imply performing tasks? That is rather arbitrary. Also, it is contrary to the definition of 'knowledge' which implies a possession of something, not an action (other than the reception of knowledge itself).

Quote:

Meaningfulness to the label-attecher is not required. There is no doubt that the labels a computer can attach can make the computer perform tasks more effectively as judged by any agent with a concept of effectiveness. 

That assumes an agent with concepts to make something meaningful. The computer does not process meaning, but merely signals which carry meaning for humans in the same way a piece of paper does not process the meaning of what is written, but merely transmits the meaning by way of a material sign.

Quote:

I try not to use phrases like 'materially transmitted' because they are ambiguous and lead to confusion. I propose that ideas are transmitted thusly:

1) An idea (e.g. 'Paris is in France' ) exists in the mind of being A.

2) Being A performs a physical action (e.g. says 'Paris is in France' ).

3) Sensory information of A's activity is picked up by the sensory organs of B (e.g. a pattern of changes in air pressure arrives in B's ear).

4) The mind of B internalizes the information.

5) The idea now inhabits both minds.

With which part do you disagree?

Then you must claim that the idea of 'Paris is in France' is immaterial. Otherwise, you must show how the matter of the idea moves into the actions of the person and how the matter of the idea moves between the act of person A and into person B, and how the material transmission of the idea is internalized in person B. I agree with the process generally, but I would maintain that the idea itself is immaterial while it is obviously transmitted by aid of material signs.

The same thing, according to myself:

1) Idea X is understood by A.

2) A speaks a word signifying X.

3) B hears the word.

4) B abstracts X from the word.

5) B understands X.

Quote:

What difference, discernible to an external observer, is there?

The difference that epistemology refers to how one gains knowledge, and sensation or nutritive aspects cannot fall into the realm of knowledge (or every thing is knowing). The next step would be to maintain that there must be an epistemology of rocks.

Quote:

No, every step that goes into building such a system is small enough to come about by chance. Here is an example of how the capacity to react to visual information could come about:

1) The chemical reactions induced by exposure to sunlight affect behaviour moment to moment.

2) Thin-skinned individuals are more sensitive to sunlight and thus come to dominate.

3) Curvature of the skin affects the amount of sunlight reaching the light-sensitive regions of the body. A bowl shape develops around the light-sensitive region.

4) The overall chemical balance of the creature affects sensitivity to light. More sensitive individuals come to dominate the population.

...and forth and so on.

Again, the starting point is too broad. You assume that the animal begins with at least a rudimentary informational system. Further, if chance were the key factor in everything (rather than just animal developments) there would be no order to the universe at all. However, this is manifestly not the case as we can discern such things as natural 'laws' (gravity, ect.).

 

Quote:

I prefer not to use the word 'chance' loosely as what is deemed random in one context can be seen as deterministic in another. Science is made possible by the incontrovertible fact that there is stability in the universe: patterns of matter emerge and remain for non-zero lengths of time.

Exactly. This is precisely my point. Stability exists such that we can find intelligibility in material processes; if chance were purely the case, this would not be possible. It indicates a fundamental order stemming from an ordering agent.

Quote:

The reason it is possible for several people to contribute to the same body of mathematical knowledge is because they are aware of the same axioms. You could claim that in your opinion a theorem is not true, but it would not prevent other people from using it. Mathematics can exist as long as people find it useful.

Mathematics then depend on whims, rather than provable and verifiable axioms. The same goes with natural science.

Quote:

No assumptions about the nature or existence of truth are required in order to use mathematics. A simple learned rule of thumb will do: 'Whatever follows from the axioms, works.' 

Except that mathematics does. Mathematics incorporates logic in its statements, which assumes that a true and a false answer can exist in a given situation. It assumes the existence of an objective truth and cannot function without it. You ought to go tell a mathematics professor that his theorems are based purely upon his personal whimsy and convenience and see what he says.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: A computer

StMichael wrote:
A computer does not have the potential to possess forms immaterially, as there is no immaterial substance in which change could take place.

What does it mean to possess a form immaterially, and how does one determine which systems or beings do it and which ones do not?


StMichael wrote:
Then you must claim that the idea of 'Paris is in France' is immaterial. Otherwise, you must show how the matter of the idea moves into the actions of the person and how the matter of the idea moves between the act of person A and into person B, and how the material transmission of the idea is internalized in person B.

I do not make claims about the materiality or immateriality of anything as I do not find the concepts of much use. They cause much confusion while contributing nothing to the discussion.

StMichael wrote:
Again, the starting point is too broad. You assume that the animal begins with at least a rudimentary informational system.

No, what the animal has at the starting point is only in retrospect (the beginning of) an informational system. There is nothing complex or improbable about its existence. On the contrary, it is difficult to build a system which is not affected by external circumstances such as temperature and radiation. The only problem is that in most cases the external influence is harmful or neutral. But serendipitously discovering the occasional usable influence and building on it is just the right job for natural selection.

StMichael wrote:
Exactly. This is precisely my point. Stability exists such that we can find intelligibility in material processes; if chance were purely the case, this would not be possible. It indicates a fundamental order stemming from an ordering agent.

I do not think so. We learn through experience to attribute certain kinds of objects and states of affairs to the activity of conscious agents, but stability in the universe is not one of them. As we only know one universe which has had order in it much longer that we have existed, we simply can make no connetion between agency and the stability of the universe.

In fact, an agent seems an unlikely cause of stability as agents could not exist in an unstable state.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
The reason it is possible for several people to contribute to the same body of mathematical knowledge is because they are aware of the same axioms. You could claim that in your opinion a theorem is not true, but it would not prevent other people from using it. Mathematics can exist as long as people find it useful.

Mathematics then depend on whims, rather than provable and verifiable axioms.

Axioms are not provable. That is why they are axioms.

StMichael wrote:
The same goes with natural science.

Scientists do not seem to lose much sleep over the fact that scientific theories can only be true in some colloquial sense of the word. I think they mainly interested in what works.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
No assumptions about the nature or existence of truth are required in order to use mathematics. A simple learned rule of thumb will do: 'Whatever follows from the axioms, works.'

Except that mathematics does. Mathematics incorporates logic in its statements, which assumes that a true and a false answer can exist in a given situation.

'True' and 'false' in mathematics are just names for the two values of the truth function. 0 and 1 will do equally well. Do computer applications which discover mathematical theorems need to assume anything about the existence or nature of truth? Hardly.


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Quote: What does it mean

Quote:
What does it mean to possess a form immaterially, and how does one determine which systems or beings do it and which ones do not?

There is no immaterial substance in which the change takes place. In man, there is an immaterial substance which is seperate from his body - his thought. In computers or rocks, there is no action which is not dependent not just upon their bodies, but also which is not dependent upon exterior action upon them. A living body, such as a plant or a frog, clearly moves on its own without exterior aid because it has life, but this life is tied to its matter and it does not exercise any function which is subsistently immaterial. Human beings are self-moved and possess an immaterial soul that is subsistent because it performs subsistent action: knowing. The act of knowing and the objects of knowledge themselves are immaterial and can only be known immaterially. The more material an object gets, the less knowable it is in itself. A computer is neither self-moved nor does it exercise any thought. It does not follow to prove that a computer can think because there is no evidence that it does not. We can see that it has no external signs of thought (such as speech, reasoning, or the ability to see irony) and that it likewise exercises no functions past its material components. On the other hand, we clearly see that human beings exercise an immaterial action: thought. 

 

Quote:

 

I do not make claims about the materiality or immateriality of anything as I do not find the concepts of much use. They cause much confusion while contributing nothing to the discussion.

I disagree. It needs to clearly be defined whether or not an idea is immaterial or material. Do not back down from your position. You claimed that nothing existed beyond pure matter and you need to either defend it or concede it. The terms 'material' and 'immaterial' are clearly important to this discussion.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
Again, the starting point is too broad. You assume that the animal begins with at least a rudimentary informational system.

 

 

No, what the animal has at the starting point is only in retrospect (the beginning of) an informational system. There is nothing complex or improbable about its existence. On the contrary, it is difficult to build a system which is not affected by external circumstances such as temperature and radiation. The only problem is that in most cases the external influence is harmful or neutral. But serendipitously discovering the occasional usable influence and building on it is just the right job for natural selection.

Again, then, you assume an information system to show how one can arise naturally. Also, there is no reason why you bring up the irrelevant issue of radiation, ect. I don't see what it has to do with the discussion.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
Exactly. This is precisely my point. Stability exists such that we can find intelligibility in material processes; if chance were purely the case, this would not be possible. It indicates a fundamental order stemming from an ordering agent.

 

 

I do not think so. We learn through experience to attribute certain kinds of objects and states of affairs to the activity of conscious agents, but stability in the universe is not one of them. As we only know one universe which has had order in it much longer that we have existed, we simply can make no connetion between agency and the stability of the universe.

In fact, an agent seems an unlikely cause of stability as agents could not exist in an unstable state.

First, I am not giving the stability of the universe as the proof, but the stability of natural laws governing action in the universe. Second, the proof is in that things act according to rational principles; the rock always moves to the end it pursues in every act governed by a higher ordering power. The only way to posit that it moves toward an end is to posit an intelligence. Hence, an intelligent agent must be governing the action.

I don't see what not knowing about possible universes has to do with it. We know what rational action is and we can see intelligent action in unintelligent things. Thus, an intelligent agent is acting.

Lastly, we are proving that the agent is the cause of stability, not existing in an unstable universe.

Quote:

Axioms are not provable. That is why they are axioms.

Axioms have no proof because they are self-evident. They are fundamental precepts of being.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
The same goes with natural science.

 

 

Scientists do not seem to lose much sleep over the fact that scientific theories can only be true in some colloquial sense of the word. I think they mainly interested in what works.

Nothing works if there can be no such thing as "working." Define "works."

They are interested in how the world works, which entails that there must be a standard of "this the universe does" and "this the universe does not do," or "this theory is accurate" and "this theory is not accurate." Otherwise, the theories and science in general are useless/stupid.

Quote:

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
No assumptions about the nature or existence of truth are required in order to use mathematics. A simple learned rule of thumb will do: 'Whatever follows from the axioms, works.'

 

 

Except that mathematics does. Mathematics incorporates logic in its statements, which assumes that a true and a false answer can exist in a given situation.

 

'True' and 'false' in mathematics are just names for the two values of the truth function. 0 and 1 will do equally well. Do computer applications which discover mathematical theorems need to assume anything about the existence or nature of truth? Hardly.

Truth indicates in mathematics a correspondence to reality. It however is given a sign in mathematical formulas. If there were no such thing as truth arising from them, they would be utterly useless. For example, one could not build a bridge using mathematical formulas as their conclusions would be entirely arbitrary (if no correspondence exists between the symbolic representation and reality).

1 and 0 on a chalk board equally symbolize truth and falsity. Does that mean the chalk board thinks or knows truth? I think not. They only have meaning in relation to us.

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

 

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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StMichael wrote: Kemono

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
What does it mean to possess a form immaterially, and how does one determine which systems or beings do it and which ones do not?

There is no immaterial substance in which the change takes place.

What is an immaterial substance? On the face of it it seems like a contradiction in terms. Surely anything that is a substance must also be material in any reasonable definition of 'substance' and 'material'.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
I do not make claims about the materiality or immateriality of anything as I do not find the concepts of much use. They cause much confusion while contributing nothing to the discussion.

I disagree. It needs to clearly be defined whether or not an idea is immaterial or material.

Fine; define what you mean by 'material' and 'immaterial'.


StMichael wrote:
Again, then, you assume an information system to show how one can arise naturally.

Then by your definition anything that is subject to external influences is an information system. If it happens that a coffee mill grinds the coffee beans finer when it is cool (because of the phenomenon of thermal expansion), it is by your definition an information system. Clearly this is ridiculous.

StMichael wrote:
Also, there is no reason why you bring up the irrelevant issue of radiation, ect. I don't see what it has to do with the discussion.

What are you talking about? I was giving you an example of how visual information processing could evolve; the effects of electromagnetic radiation on the animal are hardly irrelevant! Radiation and temperature are examples of the kinds of external influences which, in the presence of a sensory organ become sensory information.


StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
I do not think so. We learn through experience to attribute certain kinds of objects and states of affairs to the activity of conscious agents, but stability in the universe is not one of them. As we only know one universe which has had order in it much longer that we have existed, we simply can make no connetion between agency and the stability of the universe.

In fact, an agent seems an unlikely cause of stability as agents could not exist in an unstable state.

First, I am not giving the stability of the universe as the proof, but the stability of natural laws governing action in the universe. Second, the proof is in that things act according to rational principles; the rock always moves to the end it pursues in every act governed by a higher ordering power.

You start with an object with no intentions (a rock), then needlessly interpret its behaviour via the intentional stance so that you could add an intender. This is superfluous because the behaviour of rocks can be predicted without resorting to the intentional stance.

StMichael wrote:
The only way to posit that it moves toward an end is to posit an intelligence. Hence, an intelligent agent must be governing the action.

There is absolutely no need to posit that a rock moves toward an end.

StMichael wrote:
Lastly, we are proving that the agent is the cause of stability, not existing in an unstable universe.

No, the reason an agent is unlikely to be the cause of stability is because no agent can exist before the beginning of stability. All agents must come into an already stable universe.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Scientists do not seem to lose much sleep over the fact that scientific theories can only be true in some colloquial sense of the word. I think they mainly interested in what works.

Nothing works if there can be no such thing as "working." Define "works."

'Works' = 'brings desired results.' Where this 'no such thing as working' notion comes from I have no idea. Certainly I am not arguing such a position.


StMichael wrote:
For example, one could not build a bridge using mathematical formulas as their conclusions would be entirely arbitrary (if no correspondence exists between the symbolic representation and reality).

It does not follow from the meme machine hypothesis that the conclusions attained by mathematical means are arbitrary. I have no idea where you got that idea.


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 I want to get this

 I want to get this discussion back on the original topic. I will address the main concern at the end.

 

Quote:

What is an immaterial substance? On the face of it it seems like a contradiction in terms. Surely anything that is a substance must also be material in any reasonable definition of 'substance' and 'material'.

An immaterial subsisting thing. There is no contradiction. Immaterial substances exist in many ways, as I had said before. We see immaterial non-subsistent substances when we consider things in the world (physically), which we know by way of their immaterial "form" or "idea." God Himself is an immaterial subsistent substance, as philosophy proves from the nature of God as first cause. Further, the human soul, as we have been proving, is subsistent and immaterial.

 

Quote:

Fine; define what you mean by 'material' and 'immaterial'.

Material - existing with matter. Immaterial - existing without matter.

Quote:

Then by your definition anything that is subject to external influences is an information system. If it happens that a coffee mill grinds the coffee beans finer when it is cool (because of the phenomenon of thermal expansion), it is by your definition an information system. Clearly this is ridiculous.

I see no relation to what we said. Your definition is precisely what you state there and would necessitate that a coffee grinder is an information system. Further, I merely said that your "process" by which you assume the natural evolution of an information system was only proved by assuming that a basic information system existed in the first place.

Quote:

What are you talking about? I was giving you an example of how visual information processing could evolve; the effects of electromagnetic radiation on the animal are hardly irrelevant! Radiation and temperature are examples of the kinds of external influences which, in the presence of a sensory organ become sensory information.

You assumed an information system in the first place to show the evolution of one. I did not see what radiation had to do with it, but I do not dispute that it might.

Quote:

You start with an object with no intentions (a rock), then needlessly interpret its behaviour via the intentional stance so that you could add an intender. This is superfluous because the behaviour of rocks can be predicted without resorting to the intentional stance.

So can a computer.

Quote:

 

There is absolutely no need to posit that a rock moves toward an end.

A rock falls down. The downward motion tends toward an end - the ground. The rock itself is unintelligent and intelligence moves things toward ends. Hence, an intelligence governs these unintelligent behaviours.

Quote:

No, the reason an agent is unlikely to be the cause of stability is because no agent can exist before the beginning of stability. All agents must come into an already stable universe.

There is no reason that the last statement is true. You assume the conclusion in the premise: "no agent can exist before stability, hence every agent must only exist in a previously stable universe." It begs the question.

I would further maintain that a universe can only exist given a first efficent cause, or a first agency (in the loose sense of the world) to cause it. Stability is a necessary result of this causation.

Further, if there is no efficent cause of stability, why do things follow not merely stable, but rational (in the sense of being ordered toward ends) behaviour?

Quote:

'Works' = 'brings desired results.' Where this 'no such thing as working' notion comes from I have no idea. Certainly I am not arguing such a position.

What is it to bring 'desired results?' Surely you cannot mean that science is based only in the desire of a scientist for some result, regardless of the outcome. This would seem to be the case if they were only looking for 'what works' as defined here.

Quote:

 

It does not follow from the meme machine hypothesis that the conclusions attained by mathematical means are arbitrary. I have no idea where you got that idea.

The same place I see there being no reason how one can posit that science is possible. If ideas are merely viral material things, how could knowledge be anything more than entirely arbitrary?

 

 

In the end, let's come back to the beginning and fundamental discussion. There were three propositions that are fundamental to the problem here:

Quote:
...metaphysics cannot have an impact on how we should live our lives and make our decisions. ...empirical claims must be made, explicitly or implicitly.

Metaphysics must have an impact on our lives. This is tied to why objects of knowledge and the soul must be immaterial. If the objects of knowledge and the soul were material, there could be no such thing as a "standard of truth" by which to evaluate any claims, as we make a metaphysical claim in stating that "metaphysical claims are irrelevant."  There is further no standard of how an empirical standard could confirm anything because an "empirical standard" requires that universality which is metaphysical.

 

Quote:
What is a 'soul' and what evidence do you have of its existence?

A soul is the immaterial principle of life in a thing, regardless of whether it is a plant, a dog, or a man. It exists merely because things are alive; we can know that a principle of their animation exists because they are animated. Some of these principles are, by nature, subsistent (existing apart from the matter in which they act) while others are non-subsistent (acting only in matter). We can know the human mind is subsistent because it can know all bodies without limitation of matter. This is to say that the human mind does not merely know a series of particular events when it concieves of a concept like "whiteness," but abstracts the universal term from the particular instance of whiteness in a thing. If the human mind was purely material, it could not know universals at all, but would only grasp (not properly "know&quotEye-wink particulars. However, this is clearly not the case.

Further, the human mind can know all material things. Whatever knows certain things cannot have any of them in its own nature, because if it has it within its nature its knowledge is impeded by that thing, as a sick man's tongue cannot taste sweet, but only bitterness. Therefore, if the intellect contained a material principle, the intellect could not know all bodies, but would be impeded by its own matter. But every body has its own determinate nature. Thus, the intellectual principle cannot be a body.

Further, it cannot be an organ for the same reason. If we knew the world under the limitation of that particular and determinate nature, it would be as a rose-tinted glass that made everything else appear rose-colored.

Further, things that operate by means of organs are inhibited from acting by the intensity of the material sensation that they know. An abundance of sensation overwhelms the sense. However, with the intellect it is the opposite. An abundance in the knowability of something rather makes something more easily knowable. This is because the soul is immaterial in its knowing power.

Thus, we can at least know that the soul is immaterial and an immortal/subsisting entity apart from the body.

A computer or animal has no universal knowledge, but only knowledge of particulars limited to its particular mode of knowing. A computer, further, does not have information as known by itself, but as known by us. Further, it is clear that all change in a computer or animal is per se in the matter of the thing. This is to say that there is no operation in these which does not depend upon their material conditions.

Quote:

"It is frightening that you would think that believing in articles of faith is rational."

Faith is a rational thing in itself, as it is a form of knowledge. Faith is defined as "knowledge proceeding from God, on whose authority it is accepted as true." Faith can never contradict reason because both proceed from one source, and hence would always be rational if we assumed that God reveals something.

Reason can attain knowledge of God's existence apart from Revelation through knowledge of the natural world. It is evident that things exist in the world which are in motion - in a state of change between potency and act. As nothing is not in motion that is not put in motion by another, every thing in motion has a mover. No thing can cause its own motion in the same way and in the same respect. But the chain of movers cannot go into infinity, because then there would be no first mover and no subsequent motion (because what is in motion can only be brought into motion by being moved). Thus, it is necessary to posit a First Mover, which is unmoved by any other thing, and this is called God.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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  StMichael

 

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
What is an immaterial substance? On the face of it it seems like a contradiction in terms. Surely anything that is a substance must also be material in any reasonable definition of 'substance' and 'material'.

An immaterial subsisting thing. There is no contradiction. Immaterial substances exist in many ways, as I had said before. We see immaterial non-subsistent substances when we consider things in the world (physically), which we know by way of their immaterial "form" or "idea." God Himself is an immaterial subsistent substance, as philosophy proves from the nature of God as first cause. Further, the human soul, as we have been proving, is subsistent and immaterial.

The subsistence of thought has not been shown. You say that the act of knowing proves the subsistence of thought, but your definition of knowledge needlessly assumes the subsistence of the mind. While it is easy to discern that humans know things in some sense of the word 'know', it has not been shown that they know them in your sense: i.e. in a sense that requires a subsistent mind. Therefore your argument is circular.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
Fine; define what you mean by 'material' and 'immaterial'.

Material - existing with matter. Immaterial - existing without matter.

This is a good start, but more precision is needed. Is inflation material? Is the presidency (not the president!) of France material? Is socialism material? Is Beethoven's 7th symphony material?

StMichael wrote:
I see no relation to what we said. Your definition is precisely what you state there and would necessitate that a coffee grinder is an information system. Further, I merely said that your "process" by which you assume the natural evolution of an information system was only proved by assuming that a basic information system existed in the first place.

We seem to be talking past each other here. I sought to demonstrate how an information processing system could evolve in a population where none was present before. Are you saying that such a system could not evolve or are you saying something else?

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
You start with an object with no intentions (a rock), then needlessly interpret its behaviour via the intentional stance so that you could add an intender. This is superfluous because the behaviour of rocks can be predicted without resorting to the intentional stance.

So can a computer.

Yes. The behaviour of any object can be predicted without resorting to either the design stance or the intentional stance. However, computers belong to the small subset of things whose behaviour can be predicted in a much more economic manner (in terms of processing power) by resorting to the design stance: this machine is designed to do X; therefore pressing this button will likely result in X. The fact that such a cognitive shortcut is available is strong evidence that computers are designed.

By contrast, no cognitive shortcut is available for determining the behaviour of rocks. The assumption of agency behind the rock's behaviour makes the calculations no simpler. Therefore the behaviour of the rock provides no evidence of agency.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
There is absolutely no need to posit that a rock moves toward an end.

A rock falls down. The downward motion tends toward an end - the ground. The rock itself is unintelligent and intelligence moves things toward ends. Hence, an intelligence governs these unintelligent behaviours.

Agency or intelligence can be recognized by trying the intentional stance on a phenomenon. If the new stance makes the predictions more economical (again, in terms of processing power), there is evidence of agency. This is not the case with falling rocks.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
No, the reason an agent is unlikely to be the cause of stability is because no agent can exist before the beginning of stability. All agents must come into an already stable universe.

There is no reason that the last statement is true. You assume the conclusion in the premise: "no agent can exist before stability, hence every agent must only exist in a previously stable universe." It begs the question.

Actions, by definition, cause change. Therefore there must be a pre-action state in which the agent already exists. The coming about of stability can not be the result of an action, because the agents existence would have to precede the stability. An agent is a thing, and things cannot exist without stability.

StMichael wrote:
Further, if there is no efficent cause of stability, why do things follow not merely stable, but rational (in the sense of being ordered toward ends) behaviour?

Again, I would not call any phenomenon ordered toward an end unless the intentional stance provides a cognitive shortcut for predicting it. But if you mean to ask why we observe what are sometimes called 'the laws of physics', then I must say I have no idea. But again, an agent seems an unlikely solution as agents are only possible when there is order.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
'Works' = 'brings desired results.' Where this 'no such thing as working' notion comes from I have no idea. Certainly I am not arguing such a position.

What is it to bring 'desired results?' Surely you cannot mean that science is based only in the desire of a scientist for some result, regardless of the outcome. This would seem to be the case if they were only looking for 'what works' as defined here.

No, by desired results I mean knowledge that can be used effectively. People need information to solve problems (like 'how do I determine if this bridge design is strong enough to support X tonnes of weight&#39Eye-wink. There are many ways to get information, but some are more likely than others to provide the kind of information that solves the problem. The best method we have at the moment is to come up with hypotheses and try to disprove them. It is called science.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
It does not follow from the meme machine hypothesis that the conclusions attained by mathematical means are arbitrary. I have no idea where you got that idea.

The same place I see there being no reason how one can posit that science is possible. If ideas are merely viral material things, how could knowledge be anything more than entirely arbitrary?

Because minds are not equally susceptible to all ideas. A meme machine's fitness crucially depends on its tendency to be infected with fitness-increasing memes and not be infected with fitness-decreasing memes. For obvious reasons, it is in most (but certainly not all) cases fitness-increasing to hold true beliefs and fitness-decreasing to hold false beliefs.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
...metaphysics cannot have an impact on how we should live our lives and make our decisions. ...empirical claims must be made, explicitly or implicitly.

Metaphysics must have an impact on our lives. This is tied to why objects of knowledge and the soul must be immaterial. If the objects of knowledge and the soul were material, there could be no such thing as a "standard of truth" by which to evaluate any claims, as we make a metaphysical claim in stating that "metaphysical claims are irrelevant." There is further no standard of how an empirical standard could confirm anything because an "empirical standard" requires that universality which is metaphysical.

You may recall that in this context by metaphysical claims I mean unfalsifiable claims. Logical and mathematical claims are falsifiable and therefore not in this sense metaphysical.

If the claim p is unfalsifiable, its veracity cannot be evaluated. It makes no sense to ask 'is p true'. The veracity of the claim must therefore be irrelevant for all practical considerations.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
What is a 'soul' and what evidence do you have of its existence?

We can know the human mind is subsistent because it can know all bodies without limitation of matter. This is to say that the human mind does not merely know a series of particular events when it concieves of a concept like "whiteness," but abstracts the universal term from the particular instance of whiteness in a thing. If the human mind was purely material, it could not know universals at all, but would only grasp (not properly "know&quotEye-wink particulars. However, this is clearly not the case.

The problem here is that you define knowing in a needlessly extravagant way. If knowing is defined in a way that makes it possible for an external observer to differentiate between knowing and not knowing, I see no reason why a purely material system (like the brain) could not display all those external signs of knowledge. While it is clear that minds know things in an everyday sense of the word 'know', it is not at all clear that they 'properly know' things, i.e. have subsistent thoughts about them.

StMichael wrote:
Kemono wrote:
"It is frightening that you would think that believing in articles of faith is rational."

Faith is a rational thing in itself, as it is a form of knowledge. Faith is defined as "knowledge proceeding from God, on whose authority it is accepted as true." Faith can never contradict reason because both proceed from one source, and hence would always be rational if we assumed that God reveals something.

Do you hold on the basis of 'revelation' (the scare quotes are needed as there is no reason to think that these beliefs come from a higher power) any beliefs that affect your behaviour? I you do not, this 'revelation' thing seems of little import. If you do, you may be harming yourself and others by basing your actions on false beliefs.

StMichael wrote:
As nothing is not in motion that is not put in motion by another, every thing in motion has a mover. No thing can cause its own motion in the same way and in the same respect. But the chain of movers cannot go into infinity, because then there would be no first mover and no subsequent motion (because what is in motion can only be brought into motion by being moved). Thus, it is necessary to posit a First Mover, which is unmoved by any other thing, and this is called God.

The claims 'every thing in motion has a mover' and 'there is a first mover' contradict each other.


StMichael
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I intend to reply

I intend to reply shortly.

 

Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael


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StMichael wrote:As nothing

StMichael wrote:
As nothing is not in motion that is not put in motion by another, every thing in motion has a mover. No thing can cause its own motion in the same way and in the same respect. But the chain of movers cannot go into infinity, because then there would be no first mover and no subsequent motion (because what is in motion can only be brought into motion by being moved). Thus, it is necessary to posit a First Mover, which is unmoved by any other thing, and this is called God.
Are you familiar with gravity?

Objects move each other.  It doesn't simply work like how you claim.  A planet for example is orbiting a greater celestial body.  This planet has moons.  The greater celestial objects are exerting pulling energy and thus cause it to orbit.

You claim that one object causes another to go in motion and that it all has to start with one all powerful "mover".  Apparently you are assuming that this chain of movers are like dominoes.  Do some research on gravity and the idea of bending space.

God had no time to create time.


StMichael
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Quote:The subsistence of

Quote:
The subsistence of thought has not been shown. You say that the act of knowing proves the subsistence of thought, but your definition of knowledge needlessly assumes the subsistence of the mind. While it is easy to discern that humans know things in some sense of the word 'know', it has not been shown that they know them in your sense: i.e. in a sense that requires a subsistent mind. Therefore your argument is circular.
The human mind is subsistent as the ability of humans to know does not depend on matter for its existence (which is the condition for its subsistence). The reasons offered have been mainly three: the mind can know all bodies (which cannot be explained if the mind were a material sense organ; it would only know certain types of bodies), the mind knows more intelligible things more clearly (which would be the opposite if the mind were a sense organ), and the fact that the mind knows universals (which would be impossible if it were matter; matter is particular in character). Hence, the mind is subsistent and persists after death.
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This is a good start, but more precision is needed. Is inflation material? Is the presidency (not the president!) of France material? Is socialism material? Is Beethoven's 7th symphony material?
These are material in different senses. "Inflation" as the filling of a body with gas is a concept about a material substance/action in a substance. It is material in the sense that the action is. The concept exists with a knowledge of matter in general. The presidency of France is likewise a materially referent concept; it refers to a particular material condition which is assumed generally in the concept. Socialism and the symphony of Beethoven are likewise concepts, while themselves immaterial, are dependent upon matter in order to be understood and to exist.
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We seem to be talking past each other here. I sought to demonstrate how an information processing system could evolve in a population where none was present before. Are you saying that such a system could not evolve or are you saying something else?
Information processing systems (not equal to) minds. What could evolve is not a mind, if we even assume an information processing system could evolve (which I don’t necessarily grant – your accounts of it at least assume some sort of previously existing system).
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Yes. The behaviour of any object can be predicted without resorting to either the design stance or the intentional stance. However, computers belong to the small subset of things whose behaviour can be predicted in a much more economic manner (in terms of processing power) by resorting to the design stance: this machine is designed to do X; therefore pressing this button will likely result in X. The fact that such a cognitive shortcut is available is strong evidence that computers are designed.By contrast, no cognitive shortcut is available for determining the behaviour of rocks. The assumption of agency behind the rock's behaviour makes the calculations no simpler. Therefore the behaviour of the rock provides no evidence of agency.
Why not? We understand that the rock itself is not an agent, but it follows from the fact that it tends toward ends that a rational agent orders it. 
Quote:
Agency or intelligence can be recognized by trying the intentional stance on a phenomenon. If the new stance makes the predictions more economical (again, in terms of processing power), there is evidence of agency. This is not the case with falling rocks.
First, there is no reason “economy” ought to be the standard for causal explanation.Second, even assuming this, it is not less economic to posit an ordering God that causes rocks to proceed according to rules of nature.Third, this is an “intention” if the rock achieves an end, just as if I were to move an arrow toward a target by my intentional firing of it.  
Quote:
Actions, by definition, cause change. Therefore there must be a pre-action state in which the agent already exists. The coming about of stability can not be the result of an action, because the agents existence would have to precede the stability. An agent is a thing, and things cannot exist without stability.
Action does not assume change. If the agent is the same as the act itself, no temporal priority need to postulated. Further, temporal priority is not the same as logical priority (look at causation in quantum mechanics where a logical priority is necessary, but a temporal priority is not). The act and the subject could be identical. This is the case with God, as His act of existing is identical with what He is.It also depends what you mean by “stability” because I think you are using the term univocally in a context where it can have equivocal meanings (agents cannot exist without what sort of “stability” versus the “stability” required in the universe). God’s “stability” as being is the ground of “stability” in general because it is the source of reality. God does not preexist this stability, but is the stability. 
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 Again, I would not call any phenomenon ordered toward an end unless the intentional stance provides a cognitive shortcut for predicting it. But if you mean to ask why we observe what are sometimes called 'the laws of physics', then I must say I have no idea. But again, an agent seems an unlikely solution as agents are only possible when there is order.
Agents are only possible where order exists. If the agent, however, is the order itself, then there is no contradiction. Further, why is the postulating of God’s intentional stance in the universe not “economic” or a “cognitive shortcut”? Further, why do we need to use as a standard whether or not it is “economic” or a “cognitive shortcut”? It seems the standard is entirely arbitrary.
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 No, by desired results I mean knowledge that can be used effectively. People need information to solve problems (like 'how do I determine if this bridge design is strong enough to support X tonnes of weight' . There are many ways to get information, but some are more likely than others to provide the kind of information that solves the problem. The best method we have at the moment is to come up with hypotheses and try to disprove them. It is called science.
But this idea of what “works” or what is “desired results” presumes that notion that our ideas can really correspond to reality, and, hence, are true. If we were to base science in just a practical consideration, what is the point? If I believe that the existence of a purple snarfwidget helps me to fry my toast “better,” what can you do, scientifically, to negate that? Nothing, as it would be based entirely on my pragmatic consideration. Further, it begs the question of what it is to do something in a “better” manner.
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Because minds are not equally susceptible to all ideas. A meme machine's fitness crucially depends on its tendency to be infected with fitness-increasing memes and not be infected with fitness-decreasing memes. For obvious reasons, it is in most (but certainly not all) cases fitness-increasing to hold true beliefs and fitness-decreasing to hold false beliefs.
But you beg the question of how true ideas are true. If ideas are merely infectious material entities, there can be no ground even to determine what is more of less “fitness-increasing.” All standards of truth or falsity, better or worse, are then merely materially decided by the particular things existing in my material brain. The terms hold no meaning and speech between agents would be impossible. My ideas would be in my brain and his ideas would be in his brain, and ne’er the two shall meet. Matter itself cannot be universal in the same way an idea can. If I wanted to speak to him my idea, I would need to put it into a sound, which would infect itself in his brain. But it would not be the same idea; it would be now his idea, existing in his numerically one brain. There could be no room for me to speak of “our” idea, but only of my own.
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You may recall that in this context by metaphysical claims I mean unfalsifiable claims. Logical and mathematical claims are falsifiable and therefore not in this sense metaphysical.If the claim p is unfalsifiable, its veracity cannot be evaluated. It makes no sense to ask 'is p true'. The veracity of the claim must therefore be irrelevant for all practical considerations.
And you own statement that “only falsifiable claims are true” is not falsifiable.Hence, its veracity is irrelevant for all practical considerations.If you mean something else by “falsifiable” tell me. I do not see how either mathematics or logic can be falsifiable in the traditional sense. If you consider that they are, then my metaphysical claims are justified because they are falsifiable (metaphysics proceeds from natural truths using logic and hence the same standards apply).   
Quote:


The problem here is that you define knowing in a needlessly extravagant way. If knowing is defined in a way that makes it possible for an external observer to differentiate between knowing and not knowing, I see no reason why a purely material system (like the brain) could not display all those external signs of knowledge. While it is clear that minds know things in an everyday sense of the word 'know', it is not at all clear that they 'properly know' things, i.e. have subsistent thoughts about them.
What is “needlessly extravagant?” I find that statement highly arbitrary.Further, knowledge can be differentiated from non-knowing on external signs. Further, I know something in a universal way. I do not need to prove whether you know something in a universal way to prove that I do.Further, a purely material system can only know particulars. A material system would be unable to know universals (the concept of “whiteness” or “blackness”); it would only know “X, Y…Z are black; A, B…C are white.” Human beings know the nature of thing – a universal. Further, as I said above, external signs can indicate this different in knowledge.  
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Do you hold on the basis of 'revelation' (the scare quotes are needed as there is no reason to think that these beliefs come from a higher power) any beliefs that affect your behaviour? I you do not, this 'revelation' thing seems of little import. If you do, you may be harming yourself and others by basing your actions on false beliefs.
 We are assuming that the Revelation is comes from God; this is what makes it Revelation.However, I see no reason why my beliefs and my behaviors harm anyone else. In fact, their whole goal is to love God above all things and my neighbor as I do myself. If this harms others, I see no action that cannot harm others. Further, we have not proven that my beliefs are false, so there is no ground to infer anything from that statement. Further, this does not contradict my claim that faith can be both rational and reasonable. 
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The claims 'every thing in motion has a mover' and 'there is a first mover' contradict each other.
The Prime Mover is not in motion at all. He only moves. He is pure act.  In response to Pikachu: 
Quote:

Are you familiar with gravity?

We are not speaking of local motions between bodies only. We are speaking of motion in a general sense.

Quote:

Objects move each other.  It doesn't simply work like how you claim.  A planet for example is orbiting a greater celestial body.  This planet has moons.  The greater celestial objects are exerting pulling energy and thus cause it to orbit.

But the motion came from somewhere. The bodies were put in motion by the Big Bang, or some other force.

I likewise point out the law of inertia: "An object that is not moving will not move until a net force acts upon it."

If no mover exists, nothing will be in motion. This mover cannot be in motion. Hence, the mover moves with motion.

You claim that one object causes another to go in motion and that it all has to start with one all powerful "mover".  Apparently you are assuming that this chain of movers are like dominoes.  Do some research on gravity and the idea of bending space.

 Yours In Christ, Eternal Wisdom,

StMichael  

Psalm 50(1):8. For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me.


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While it is true than an

StMichael wrote:
But the motion came from somewhere. The bodies were put in motion by the Big Bang, or some other force.

I likewise point out the law of inertia: "An object that is not moving will not move until a net force acts upon it."

If no mover exists, nothing will be in motion. This mover cannot be in motion. Hence, the mover moves with motion.

While it is true than an object that is not moving will not move until a net force acts upon it, gravity is one of those net forces. In other words, if you took every celestial body and held them all still for a moment, and then let go, they would suddenly "start up" in motion again--unmoved by anything apart from gravity. Nothing external to the system needs to "start" them in motion, or give them a little push to get started, or anything of the sort. Laughing out loud

God had no time to create time.


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StMichael wrote: A jovial

StMichael wrote:

A jovial poke at the Protestants Smiling

Hmmm, if I recall correctly, jovial pokes between Protestants and Catholics can turn into bombs going off in crowded areas.