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Aug 05, 12 at 2:30pm ^re: Explaining Death
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quote XenoThen you're starting out with a logical fallacy. Assuming purpose.
There is no reason to assume purpose. Things don't need to happen for reasons. Why would you think they need to? There's no evidence to back that point of view up.
quoteI fail to see why. An omnipotent being would be capable of giving an incorporeal form any ability it wished to. Nothing would be impossible if such a being existed and created us.
And besides, most of these "tests" would be pointless if we didn't have bodies. There's no point in testing if someone is able to resist carnal lusts if you don't have any in the afterlife, for example.
quoteNo, because there's no mechanism for that to happen. We know that your personality and memories are a function of the physical structure of your brain. We know this because localised brain damage deletes memories and can change your personality.
Therefore such things do not rely on a soul. If they did brain damage wouldn't change who you are.
quoteThe evidence that we do have is entirely against this as I have just demonstrated.
Humans are the product of evolution. Evolution is the result of self replicating particles replicating and randomly mutating.
There is no mechanism by which this process could result in a "soul" existing.
quoteIf souls don't exist then it is perpetuating the belief in a falsehood. We just can't confirm that at this stage. But if it's wrong then it's already wrong even if we can't prove it yet.
quoteBut on the other hand you could see it as merely grounding them in reality. I don't believe in anything more and I don't feel I have any negative effects as a result of this. It encourages you to concentrate on how you live this life and make the most of it in the time you have.
quoteYeah but they're already asking you the question in the scenario this thread addresses. The issue is what your answer is. And my answer would be that I can't prove it, but in my opinion you simply cease to exist. Worded appropriately as far as possible. This would be trickier if someone they know just died of course.
quoteBut that's not correct. There is only one truth unless as far as science is concerned. We just don't absolutely know what it is. But whatever is true is true. The opposite is not true.
Reality is not a matter of opinion. Morals are, but that's not what we're discussing.
quoteI see instilling religion in a child as an unfeeling action. Instilling atheistic views is no worse and will at least let the child make their own decision.
quoteSame applies to religion. This is why it should not, must not, be taught to children. But it is.
quoteYes but surely you don't think that the most important thing is to make things as easy as possible for a child? It's also important to educate them and prepare them for reality.
Tell them the facts. Do not make things up.
"I don't know" is however a valid answer.
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Aug 05, 12 at 3:41pm ^re: Explaining Death
Post is getting slightly long, so I'll throw away the quote format for a minute.
And by the way, none of this is meant as an attack on your or your ideals. I don't necessarily think you're wrong on any level, I'm just offering you a countering viewpoint.
1. I don't see how assuming purpose is a logical fallacy. If you look at nature, nearly everything that coexists has a reason for being there, be it as a part of the food chain or as a means to control prey populations. The real fallacy, it seems, would be assuming there to be no purpose at all, when the evidence we have is in favor of defined intent. It isn't a huge leap forward to assume there may be another level to purpose that happens to currently be beyond our own grasp of understanding.
2. But here you're pretending to understand a god's will and intentions. I've stated nothing about omnipotence either, for a god does not necessarily have to be infinite in power. But again, and I know you're refuted it with your point of view, I don't quite see how it makes absolutely no sense in your mind for, if God exists, Him to desire to watch how we interact on a human level. Perhaps it can be seen as just a test, but perhaps there is a completely other level to it that bears some honest thought.
3. But now you're looking at things a little more narrowly again. Yes the brain can be damaged, and yes it can cause radical changes in personality, but if you look at it as a hard drive, I don't see how there absolutely cannot be another influence behind the commands given to it. For example; if I was asked to run a machine that only had 20% of its original functionality left from some kind of accident, it would hardly be any fault of my own if I was unable to operate it with total precision. Could it not be the case that your soul is the operator, and your body and organs are simply just tools created for it?
As well, and though this isn't scientifically understood, there have been many instances where organ transplants have led to the implantation of memories of the original owners. Or, more specifically, their personal tastes and interests. Scientifically, it is thought by some that memories are stored not only in the brain, but as well as within other organs, but to a vastly more limited extent. Obviously having your brain removed won't enable you to think with your heart, but the phenomenon is just something to consider and ponder.
4. But as of now you're assuming nothing started with a soul to begin with. And I don't have any qualms about evolution itself, but it is obviously a guided process. Your argument for the randomness of the universe continuously gets dented by the facts that you're bringing up unprovoked. Evolution happens for a reason-- If it did not, we would succumb to our environment. And if there was no purpose to life, I don't understand why nature would not simply allow that to occur.
5. Many scientific theories and beliefs have been perpetuated without concrete evidence. Besides that, with every theory and scientific validity you bring up, you're relying on the findings and teachings of others. That which exists below the superficial exterior is unknown to you, first hand. If you would leave yourself closed to the possibility of there being a god because it is unproven, or because you have not experience it personally, there is much in your argument that you should also be closed to. Proof can be obtained, yes, but until you obtain it, you are reliant on others to provide your points of view.
6. Religion does not prevent you from focusing on life, nor does basic deism. If taken to extremes, sure, but all good things are enjoyed in moderation. Closing a child's mind to philosophy and curiosity by stating that which is not rooted in solid fact, is not worth considering, is really only handicapping them. A child does not need to believe what you believe simply because you think it's right, though if you were to state your point of view and simply say "But that's just what I think. Go find your own answers," I really don't see anything wrong with that.
7. I understand that. And I really don't take issue with your stance on religion or anything like that. Just, as far as if I had my own child asking these questions of an adult, I would hope they would encourage my child's beliefs above trying to dissuade them.
8. Reality differs from person to person, as we understand it. Science is a good foundation, yes. But discouraging all thought and debate that doesn't pertain directly to the topic of proven ideals already defies the fundamentals of scientific procedure. It is from wonder and a fascination with the unknown that we have come to know so much, not adhering strictly to what is thought to be scientifically factual. A truth is a truth until it isn't. Simply, facts can change and what we know now can just as easily be as wrong as that which we accept to already be incorrect. It has happened many times in the past and will continue to do so, even as, or perhaps because of, science's refinement and continuous development.
9. I was raised Christian and have discovered my own views. Being raised an atheist would, in no way, have offered me any greater boon in this regard. Our minds all form differently as we age, and we question that which doesn't make sense to us. But many people hold onto the notion of religion because it is something they emotionally need in order to cope with the trials of life. Perhaps you can look at it as a crutch, and for many it is, but weakness in others is certainly nothing to target or blame them for.
10. There is truly nothing inherently wrong with religion. It affects no one other than the one who believes it, if pulled off correctly. You act as though being taught there is a God poisons a child mind and closes them off to reality-- it doesn't. No more so than believing in Santa or the tooth fairy. If a man of 30 or so years still believed in Santa, you might find it ridiculous, but I honestly don't see the harm it would be doing, besides the inevitability of discovering he doesn't exist. And unless that's your concern about religious beliefs, you really have nothing to worry about.
11. To make things as easy as possible? No, of course not. But if you were a religious man, would you not want to raise your child the same way? As an atheist, could you sincerely say you would not curb religious notions that your child was developing from outside sources? There is no definitely proper way to raise a child. There are too many variables to guarantee they are being raised in specifically the right way. I'm in no way religious, but I don't see having something to believe in as a detriment to one's intelligence or ability to live their life to its fullest.
In summation, I fully believe that religion and science can exist in harmony, though I am totally unsure how it got from "Explaining death to a child" to "Religion vs. Science". Damn things get derailed easily when you get caught up in a good conversation.
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Aug 05, 12 at 5:55pm ^re: Explaining Death
quote XenoSame applies to you just so you know.
quoteOK my issue with this is that the things you're stating as evidence of "purpose" or "reason" are nothing of the sort. They are evidence of physical cause and effect chains. Things happen because other things happen. Molecules hit other molecules and react with them as a result.
You get the idea.
That's nothing like "Things happen because an invisible man in the sky wants them to happen".
There is no evidence whatsoever of intent by such a being. It's a ridiculously improbably scenario when compared to the much simpler alternative that everything happens due to simple cause and effect.
quoteWell most religions would say it's a test. I see the test as nonsensical. If this being was omniscient it would know the answer without carrying out the test. If this being was omnipotent then it could create beings that would never fail the test. There would be no point in creating beings with negative character traits.
If this creator being is neither of those things then it would make a little more sense but would still rely on an unfounded assumption that some kind of mysterious alien being is watching everyone (which would be impossible without being essentially omniscient) and judging everyone (By which set of moral standards? So many different religions out there...)
Now OK, you appear to be suggesting another scenario where it's NOT a test, but that would mean all major religions are wrong. And as such why assume this being exists if all the religious "proof" of it is false?
quoteThere are many, MANY problems with this concept of a soul.
I'll list a few.
1. People claiming to have out of body experiences etc. They claim to SEE and HEAR things. Yet many people are blind and deaf. If you could see and hear with your soul without using sensory organs, that would mean that nobody would ever be deaf or blind. But they are. Conclusion: Souls can't have senses. Therefore out of body/near death experiences must be false.
2. If the soul determined your personality etc and the brain was just a "tool" or "hard drive" to store it in then would you not expect everyone to have the same hardware?
If the brain was a container for the soul then there would be no reason for data to be stored via neuron linkage. The brain would remain in a static state and the data would be contained in the soul itself. But this is not the case. Your brain changes throughout your life. New links form.
3. Seeing as the brain stores data and you cannot recall that data without it, what purpose would this soul have? It wouldn't be capable of containing your personality seeing as your personality is something which changes to brain structure can change entirely. And it cannot contain your memories because as we know, those are stored via neuron links.
quoteYeah I've heard of this. I suspect it's largely psychosomatic. There are neurons in the heart and a few other places but they aren't organised into the same structures you find in the brain. I seriously doubt the heart can store memories.
A lot of the changes in the patients could be explained rather simply. Like those who start taking up sports. They got a new lease of life and are simply making the most of it.
As far as I know the neurons in the heart do not develop a complex linkage system as you get older and gain more memories.
Unless they do that they cannot store memories.
quoteBecause there's no reason to think that anything did.
quoteNo. It is not guided. It merely follows the extremely simple pattern of "beneficial mutation is more likely to survive". That is all.
quoteEvolution happens because something that is more likely to survive is more likely to reproduce itself. And random mutations happen. Some are more likely to survive. That is all.
I have no idea what you mean about succumbing to the environment.
Evolution makes us adapt to the environment. That doesn't mean there's a "reason" behind it.
quoteWhat, life? Why should it not allow it to occur? Life is just something that arises when certain chemical reactions take place. I'll post a perfectly reasonable explanation for the origin of life at the end of this post.
quoteYes, but scientific evidence is peer reviewed. People deliberately set out to disprove it. Only theories that cannot be disproved are taught as "facts".
Religion on the other hand is not peer reviewed. Lots of people have different experiences. It's fairly clear to me that it means the explanation for those experiences is non-supernatural in nature. Probably neurological in many cases. If any one religion was correct, everyone would have religious experiences fitting that one religion.
quoteI never said anything about closing them off to curiosity. Science is all about curiosity. The difference is you shouldn't believe something as fact until there is proof of it.
quoteThat is effectively what was I suggesting. Although I would encourage them to look for proof, not just make up random ideas based on no solid foundation.
quoteWhat if their beliefs were completely and utterly wrong and proven so? Would you want people to never correct them in this case?
quoteNo. Facts never change. What people THINK are facts change. Reality is constant. There are things we don't know, but there are things that we know don't make sense. I'm just against passing on such things to children without encouraging them to question them.
For example if they have heard from someone else that an afterlife exists, encourage the child to question this concept. They might realise it makes no sense.
quoteYes I'm aware of this. But an adult holding on to religion for this purpose is not a valid reason to pass it on to a child. I just don't believe that young children should be taught religion. When they grow up they should be exposed to all the alternatives equally so they can compare them. And presented with all the ways in which religious scriptures are contradicted by scientific evidence.
quoteThe problem is that while people do work out that Santa doesn't exist when they are that age, for some reason the same doesn't often seem to be true for gods.
So while something like Santa is not permanent brainwashing, religion can be said to be.
Obviously each person is different but I have witnessed a large number of people who clearly WERE brainwashed with a religion when young because they are utterly incapable of accepting anything else. Youtube is full of them.
I'm utterly against teaching a child one set of religious beliefs. They are not facts. If anything they are theories. If you're going to present a child with theories then you should present all the alternatives, not tell them that one particular one is correct.
As for the harm it does, it again depends on the individual. Some religious people end up being deeply bigoted against homosexuals for example. Or holding illogical moral beliefs. For example being opposed to stem cell research or genetic engineering.
quoteI would discourage them from blindly believing in anything they were told. And encourage them to use a logical process when thinking about such things. Atheism is about sticking to the evidence. My problem is not so much that people believe in deities. It's with the immense amount of logical errors you need to ignore in order to actually hold such a belief. (For example, the baseless assumption that everything needs a purpose, as you demonstrated in your last post ) Not to mention all the contradictions found in religious scriptures. And the fact that religious scriptures also all contradict EACH OTHER.
quoteIt completely depends on the individual and the exact beliefs that they hold. Some beliefs are unbelievably stupid. The ones that are directly disproved by science and yet people stick to them. Like claiming evolution doesn't happen when it has been directly observed in a laboratory. This kind of belief really does cause problems in the world. (For example these people have no reason to use a full course of antibiotics since they don't believe that bacteria can evolve to be resistant. Therefore they will contribute to MRSA, VRSA etc evolving.)
quoteThe thing is that science is constantly chipping away at religion. The only way they can exist in harmony is by ignoring a lot of the claims made by the religion and keeping the rest.
I can't see the sense in this. If 90% of a holy book is proven false, the other 10% is probably false too.
Obviously I'm exaggerating here.
I would say that science can only truly exist in harmony with something vague like deism. Because that's a belief which science has no way of disproving.
Now, I mentioned earlier that I was going to post an explanation for how life could have formed. I found this a week ago or so and it makes sense to me. I have a degree in genetics, and as far as I can make out this theory makes sense.
Behold. A primitive life form could have formed due to utterly random molecular interactions. No purpose. No reason. Just molecules bouncing into molecules in the right environment.
And the process of evolution happens for the simple reason that something that survives better and/or reproduces better is going to reproduce more and therefore spread its genes around more. Again, no purpose required. Just random molecular interactions.
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Aug 05, 12 at 7:55pm ^re: Explaining Death
Same format, so I'm sorry if it's a bit hard to go back and try to figure out exactly what I'm replying to.
1. I promise I'm not purporting this to be the actions of a god, though referring to such a belief in a condescending term really does little to buoy your argument. It's detrimental in an argument to refer to one's beliefs in a sarcastic manner, and often used in losing debates to deter the stronger argument from further continuing.
I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's been my experience that referring to God as "an invisible man in the sky" is every weak atheists crotch-shot to those who are religious.
Addressing, however, your belief in pure cause and effect, fails to allay my argument that evolution, or the existence of life itself, is not so easily dismissible, Evidence of cause and effect, is of course, more abundant than evidence of purpose. Cause and effect is the generic category of purpose, thus it should definitely be more provable than purpose itself.
But what you're proposing is that random chance is what drives the universe. That may be the case, but I often question what event of random chance created the building blocks of the big bang itself. Something from nothing is illogical, and a scientific impossibility, so I am curious how something came to be at all.
2. Perhaps they do. But I'm not arguing on an entirely religious level here. I suppose my main argument is that of deism, though I'm happy to argue for organized religion as well, because that's just what I do.
Yes, an omniscient being would know all events before they were to transpire, but only if they existed outside of time itself. If they adhered to the same constraints of time and space that we do, they would not know the future, just everything there was to know about the past. In which case, yes, a test such as giving souls unto a body would absolutely be within the logical range of beliefs.
Proof isn't always necessary in order to believe or to theorize. As far as I know, black holes have never been observed, but their effect on the universe has been experienced. Is this absolute proof of black holes, or is this an assumption based on lesser knowledge? Religion operates much the same way, as much as one who is invested deeply in the pursuit of science would dismiss it.
(1) Like I said with brain damage, it is possible that the soul requires access to the parts of the brain governing sight and sound in order to experience that. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the soul exists in an entirely different manner than the body, and therefore does not require such interaction in order to experience similar stimuli once it has departed from the confines of our inherent limitations. That does not, however, mean that the soul can experience the full range that our brains enable it to, but it has never been a real point of argument in religion as to what the soul can and can't feel or do.
(2) Similar hardware? Certainly. I would expect all humans to have the same capacity for learning, feeling, etc. But I would also consider it a failing on the part of humanity for it not to be so. I understand that genetic defects occur in which mental retardation becomes present, and so on, but I also don't claim to believe in an omnipotent being. Perhaps, to us and the writers of religious texts, He was considered to be omnipotent, but that is still a small arguing point in the grand scheme of things. If we're arguing against a god, rather than the typically accepted God, then fallibility is a possibility.
(3) Addressing your next point along with this one, I do understand how the brain works. And I also understand that no other organ should be capable of storing memories. However, psychosomatic or not, there remain inexplicable occurrences that conflict with the modern scientific principles. If you wish, I can cite instances in which such events have occurred, though you're just as likely to easily find it yourself if you so desire.
4. No, there isn't. But there's not much reason, either, to think that something started itself. Perhaps, in a very narrow scope, the first life form on Earth is the true God, in which case, God does exist. Despite the fact that it might be a non-thinking, single cell organism, it somehow managed to reproduce and create all that we know. It might not be something to worship, but on a very limited view, it could be considered a god as much as the next thing.
5. It depends on your definition of guidance. What you're proposing, is survival of the fittest. And that's not to say it's wrong-- it certainly does exist within nature. But it confounds me as to how these rules and laws came to exist. Surely an ant is not as fit to survive as a lion, but they make do just the same. There is guidance, though by what, I cannot fathom. Whether the Earth itself possesses a measure of sentience, or random chance has looked favorably on us, I don't know. Of course, I'm not insinuated that ants and lions are in direct competition, but it seems as though nearly everything is fit to survive on Earth-- It's the most perfect planet, afterall. But we can attribute that to random chance, and I say that without any condescension.
6. Evolution, as I see it, is adaptation to our circumstances and environment. I may have been unclear, but that is the notion I intended to put forth, which I believe is the most generic way of looking at it. Without evolution, our environment would kill us. What benefit survival provides, I suppose I can't say. If we are without reason or purpose, we simply exist in chaos and confusion. You say it is a product of random mutations, yet it seems more likely that it's driven by something more. I'm not putting forth the divine hand of God at this point, but I'm simply saying that specific mutations based on our needs shouldn't just occur out of the blue. Besides that, evolution takes millions of years anyhow. If all of these organisms could survive without it long enough to benefit from it, what is the exact point anyways?
7. Here, I must apologize. I haven't the time at the moment to review your video as well as writing this post. I will get to it, most likely tomorrow, but for now I can only respond as though it doesn't exist to my knowledge.
As far as I can tell, life shouldn't occur, because nothing else should either. Something must have created the very first molecule, for energy can apparently neither be created or destroyed, as I understand it. It all goes back to the very beginning-- to before the big bang, to what created colossal balls of hydrogen, etc. in the first place. I don't think there's a definitive answer to that, and perhaps we can trace life back to its roots in the event itself, but I wish to trace the event back further.
8. I have to agree, but I also see it as deception and the purporting of ideas, rather than concrete evidence. Not trying to incite you or anything like that, but theories are often put forth to the layman as fact, completely ignoring the unproven qualities of the theory. The big bang theory, for example, is taught as fact, despite having the word 'theory' placed directly in it. Alternatives are not offered, and we are therefore corralled into believing the sole lesson we are taught. It is not much different from religion in that regard. Fact until proven false is how both science and religion work, and religion simply works in its own loophole of being impossible to either prove or disprove.
9. Yes, it is all about curiosity, but putting forth an ideal as fact snuffs out any curiosity there may be. I have nothing against, like I said, putting forth ideals to people in order to make your stance known, and to broaden their own horizons, but what I do have something against is assuming yourself to be correct just because your own ideals can be disproved as much as religion's can.
10. I would encourage the same, but I would also encourage thinking outside the box. Daring to go beyond the limits of science itself and to draw your own conclusions. God is a matter that is completely outside the realm of physicality, and is one of the biggest topics to argue that draw from the imagination and from unconstrained thought.
11. There is a line, obviously. I wouldn't say the world should continue, ignorantly indulging one in their beliefs simply because they remain in a bubble. But, as a child, before you can formulate the deep thinking that necessitates belief, there is little reason for you to be subjected to the cold hard facts. We do reach an age where we're able to accept these facts, but at too young of an age, it is simply disheartening to think we are unimportant and useless pawns in nature's game of chess.
12. See, there are different concepts of reality. There is an absolute reality, but there exist personal realities as well. Personal realities are typically the unproven scientific facts that we come to accept, plus the religious beliefs that are impressed upon us. It just works for some people, and if we were to invest fully in science, the world would be a boring one, completely devoid of wonderment. And that might work for you, which is okay. I'll call it a personal reality of your own. I'd do nothing to alter it, and I know I cannot, but I argue for the simple sake of theological discussion.
13. This is a part of the discussion when I could high-five you and offer you a beer. I hold no real argument against this; what you say is perfectly reasonable. I agree that, if you're to teach theories to a youth, you should make that range as broad as possible. It teaches tolerance and understanding, and that's something this world could do with a lot more of.
As far as deeply religious people go, I've experienced plenty of bigots in my time. But there are those who learn compassion through religion, and those are the people I take no issue with. Those with a deep-seeded fear of homosexuality or whatever else are typically those who would experience those thoughts with, or without, those teachings. There is such a thing as an atheistic homophobe.
14. Oh, potshot with the brackets. (You dick [Kidding, obviously]) While I may come off as proposing that we all have a set role in the world, I don't necessarily believe it. But, what I'm doing, as I've said, is just offering up another viewpoint on behalf of the religious people who would not, or cannot argue their views.
But, as much as you consider it to be baseless to see a purpose in all living creatures, it truly is not. You can look to any animal, or even insect, and divine their purpose in this world. All you need to do, is work your way up and eventually past human beings themselves. Like I said, it's more of a philosophical thing that requires abandoning, for even just a moment, your steadfast scientific knowledge.
15. But that's just natural selection. As a science-y guy, you can appreciate the irony more than anyone. And yes, while archaic beliefs in the supernatural can hold us back, they can also hold us up. It's a delicate balance and there is a trade-off, but it's really up to the individual who considers it to be worthwhile.
16. The way I look at religion and the bible, is that it's primarily metaphorical. Science can chip away at metaphors, yes, but that does little to diminish the true stories or meanings behind them. If you look closely at, for example, the Christian bible, you can tell not everything is to be taken literally. There is much that is outside the context of literal interpretation, and can hardly be disproved on the basis of fact.
It's the way it works; religion exists in a loophole. It truly does. But, maybe that's the good thing about it. Sure, there are those that spread hate through it, but there are many who spread hate through other mediums. Any way you look at it, there are going to be those who hate others, and those who love others. Their race or creed will have nothing to do with it, because if we're destined to be ignorant and hateful, we simply will be.
Anyhow, I want to again say that I respect you and your points of view, and I mean no offense or condescension when replying. I think we'd be able to get along quite well if I weren't so argumentative with no personal gain in mind.
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Aug 06, 12 at 1:47am ^re: Explaining Death
^ Well there goes the thread LOL. Again.
quote XenoFirst of all i'd just like to say i am an atheist, or an extreme agnostic LOL. And i would have issues telling a child that. That would be as bad as lying and telling them any perticular religon was real. Its a kinda cowards way out.
"I Dont know" is the only acceptable and honest answer. Its is the only "real" answer anyone can give.
quoteWell, when i grew up and realised there may not be a god i considered everyone who had ever given me a concrete answer to be a bit of a moral coward. Especially those without faith. "I dont know" would have done just fine. Lying to me and teaching me the christian story of creation (in school) and hence the punishment/reward style story of death left me bordeline tramatised about the concept of hell. A horrible piece of religious baggage i still carry and cant help.
quoteAgain for the record I have not claimed unwaranted wisdom here. And you dont have to conform to a pre-existing lie OR make up your own one. Why is there such a problem telling a child you dont know an answer? Why does this seem to be such a big deal? Just tell the bloody truth. Kids are not fragile and dont need to be protected half as much as some of you lot think. Infact a Kid can handle opposing idea's on creation and religion WAY better than most adults.
As happened to me, sometimes "protecting" a child by lying to them has the opposite effect and can really f**k them up. I dont recall any child being traumatised by being told "i dont know" to a question which they ALREADY didnt know.
The only time i would even consider lying to a child is if i knew their parents had a certain preferance. Even then, if a Muslim or Jewish child asked me what happens when they die i'd probably still say "i dont know".
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Aug 06, 12 at 2:12am ^re: Explaining Death
quote KR_1250That's acceptable. But, like I've stated, it isn't a direct lie unless you, yourself, have no belief in it. In the case of teaching a child to accept death, I don't see how white lies are impermissible. We're all raised a different way, and life can be hard enough without believing that grandma is not in a better place, but being eaten by scavenging insects. If you truly want to be honest with the limited scope of death we have, you might as well not spare the gruesome details of human decomposition. It would be lying by omission otherwise, correct?
quoteIt's simple to reflect and think "You know, if they just said they didn't know, I wouldn't push the issue further." Children seek answers, and it is exceptionally difficult to get away with such a vague and unsatisfying response.
But, again, what you were taught are not lies. They are beliefs. I don't believe it's wrong to teach children about cultural beliefs and differences, though I do think it's wrong to completely ignore that there is more than one theory to life and death. I understand how such a topic can be traumatizing, but if I were to subscribe to Christianity, I'd simply teach it as a moral guideline, for it seems to be metaphorical at best. The fact that you were taught it improperly does not invalidate it, it just means your teachers were terrible at their job.
quoteI have no problem telling a child "I don't know", but the child will likely take issue with it. If they are looking to you for some sort of comfort and understanding and you're comfortable shrugging it off, that's okay too. It's up to every individual to do the thing that they feel is right. But it seemed to me, that this thread had turned into an issue of pressing atheistic beliefs onto a child who may already be building upon a religious foundation. To argue your ideals against those the child is raised with is, at the very least, narcissistic and self-indulging. When they're old enough to debate and reason on your level, I suggest you go for it if it suits the both of you. But until then, there's no reason to try and tear down their beliefs.
And I sincerely apologize if having religion pressed upon you has dampened your view of it as a whole, because it truly can be a fun and interesting subject to delve into. That's especially true when you find interest from an objective perspective.
And just throwing this in there, as I may not have made it expressly clear, I am also atheistic. I just find religion to be fascinating when you're not funneled into a narrow scope of ideology, or pressured to conform to the often nonsensical rules and punishments. But, hey, that's just me. Religion doesn't work for me, but it apparently works for many, many other people. It's easy to become embittered with the concept because of the individuals who are morally unsound, but those aren't the people I'm arguing for.
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Aug 06, 12 at 3:32am ^re: Explaining Death
quote XenoIt depends what the child asked. When a child asks what happens to someone after death it is blatantly obvious that they mean the consciousness. The only right and honest answer is that we do not know. If a child ASKED me what happens to his/her bodies then yes i would consider it lying if I avoided the truth. But then you aren’t leaving all options open, you’re looking at it in a rather black and white sense. I'd tell a kid that their bodies are first re-used by humans to save lives, and then recycled by the food chain to carry on life on earth, and then I’d tell them their atoms reconstitute back into earth to perhaps be Nova's off into interstellar space as the sun dies. I'd then tell them that their atoms could perhaps become part of the next generation of stars and perhaps life. That’s what I’d tell them.
quoteYou can misdirect a kid with the right favour of icecream LOL. And in any case i am not misdirecting a child by telling them that. I will not solidify an inaccuracy because the kid wants a better answer. That child will simply have to realise one day that no-one knows what happens when we die. How long would you put it off? If i told a kid that i did not know what happened to their mentality when they died and they were not happy with my response i'd tell them unfortunately thats just the way it is. Im not scared of telling a child, i have both thye time and interest for the inevitable conversation which would follow.
quoteYes, yes they were lies. During my religious education at school i was taught many, many religious absolutes. Hell i was taught that the story of Noah was bloody real. Please sir, don’t tell me what i was taught. I was taught these beliefs as genuine scientific facts. Nothing less. And let’s not fool ourselves here, religious leaders and teachers know fine well that children are often not as good at subjective thinking as adults. Some religious people (and atheists no doubt) teach kids opinion or faith knowing fine well that the kid will take it as fact. This is the desperate method through which we were often taught. No one EVER took one minute to tell us this was just opinion or belief. And looking back that was obviously a conscious decision. Hence a lie. And a big one. I wasnt taught, I was dictated to and lied to. Free thought was indeed punished. And i dont think the method of "teaching" invalidates christianity. I dont think christianities validity is the point in question here.
quoteFirst of all i am not shrugging anything off. "I don’t care" would be shrugging it off. "I don’t know" is just telling the truth. There would obviously be a more in depth discussion about faith and the subject as a whole after that. I wouldn’t just say that, slap the lil' kid and walk away LOL. And also, i am not pressing atheistic beliefs on anyone. I reluctantly admit that I am not even a true atheist. I am pushing honesty onto kids. If you want to talk for others so be it but much of that paragraph wasn’t really relating to my inner thoughts or persopnal feelings on the topic. Were i to tell a child that "the lunatics are wrong and there is no god" and hence afterlife then i'd be being dishonest. Telling a child you do not know the answer to a question is neither narcissistic nor self-indulgent, simply going along with the story their parents told them is arguably patronising and dishonest IMO.
quoteThat’s quite alright LOL. Unless you are actually my old schools priest then you have nothing to be sorry for. And i am massively interested in the subject of religion and am relatively knowledgeable on a lot of it. (For a reluctant agnostic). I often feel I have a lot in common with both atheists and religious people. And i do try to stay objective, but it depends on the specific topic. If i feel any bias slipping in i usually keep schtum.
quoteAnd I don’t seem to be the person you are arguing against. I share many of those thoughts. A lot of that post seemed to be either making assumptions about my beliefs OR was aimed at the general atheists in this thread. I have as much of an issue with them telling kids nothing happens when die as i do faithists telling them their stories.
Because... We simply don’t know. It sounds like an easy road out, like a copout, like a non-answer and like a lazy comment. But it is simply the truth. To tell kids anything else is to either lie, exaggerate, omit the truth or manipulate the child’s inexperience. And i am not going to be so unnecessarily overprotective of the kid’s emotions at the risk of behaving dishonestly. In my experience kids by and large are stronger than people imagine in facing the truth. Hey, maybe if it were something like Santa or the Easter Bunny I’d tell a white lie. But when it comes down to the nature of reality and existence of god I don’t think ambiguity, dishonesty or exaggeration have a place.
I also value and applaud your ability to argue from the other side Xeno. My mates hate debating religion with me because they know i am an agnostic borderline atheist but i always come up with decent arguments FOR the existance of god LOL. IMO you can only trully callibrate and vallidate your own opinions by internally arguing against them and testing them to breaking point. Its something many Atheists and Faithists fail to be able to do.
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Aug 06, 12 at 4:33am ^re: Explaining Death
I'll try to keep this post a bit more brief, as I'm sure DG will have a novel waiting for me to respond to when I wake up.
1. I appreciate that your viewpoint actually includes something other than a concrete finality. That wasn't even close to what was being expressed earlier in this thread by some, and if that were to be a stance you'd take, with some delicate wording and a long sit-down, I'd find no fault with it. And as you have gathered, I address not solely the person I'm responding to when I reply, so if I make generalizations about you, they are typically directed toward the masses, rather than you as an individual.
2. Lol. In the circumstance of close personal loss, it might not be so easy, but then again, I could be giving children either too much or too little credit here. Though, I suppose there was a failure to propose a general age-range throughout these conversations, because I could be talking about a 5 year old, and on the other end, someone considers 13 to be a child.
3. I understand how you feel about what you consider to be lies. I'm not saying they aren't-- just, typically, those who are religious deeply believe in their views. I think many try too hard to impress their ideals on others, yes, but in their own mind they are doing these people a service. What I would consider it, more than a direct lie, is the failure to present those being taught with alternative theories. If a religion is sound in the mind of those who practice it, I don't believe taking the time to explore other faiths should threaten them, nor take away from their personal convictions.
If it does anything to make you feel better, I was taught, not only religion, as fact, but scientific theories alike. Black holes, dark matter, the big bang, evolution. Those were always presented as solid fact, and it does take some time to sort out what we're conditioned to believe. But, the things I questioned, I wasn't typically told to question. It just sort of happens as you come to a certain point in life.
4. See, as an example of things coming off slightly differently than I had intended, I didn't mean it was blatantly arrogant and selfish to tell a kid "I don't know" and explain why you don't. I was referring to taking the child aside and saying "When we die, there is nothing. We sleep forever and never dream again. Your parents are wrong." Obviously, not so harshly, but I just want to make it clear that that was the type of thing I found to be morally objectionable. Besides, I bet the parents would be PO'd if someone did that. Lol.
5. <_< >_> Not that I'm aware of, but depending on your age, perhaps in a former life? In which case, I'd have been wrong about the afterlife, and am now reincarnated as, of all things, a Canadian. /weary sigh. As well, it's difficult to stay objective in an argument, and it sometimes becomes an exercise in futility when you don't allow your own personal emotions and thoughts to show. But if you're able to put it aside and simply hear what people have to say, or read about it, that's the part where objectivity plays a large role.
And I'm sure you have no trouble with that, so you needn't take it as being directed toward you.
6. Typically aimed at other atheists, though I'm willing to acknowledge my mistakes if any assumptions I've expressed your way are wrong. That's why you have a chance to refute the things I say and to put me in my place.
As well, I agree with your last sentence especially, and thanks for the kind words. Theology has always been an interesting subject for me, and though the nature of this thread roots debate in reality, I've still had fun just wasting time and finding out how other people feel about the matter.
Been good talking with you, and am glad to be able to have a discussion about sensitive matters without it being hijacked by emotion. Take care.
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Aug 06, 12 at 5:01am ^re: Explaining Death
quote XenoHAHA, No doubt.
quoteLOL, no problem. If im honest i could plainly see when you were reffering to me and when you meant atheists in general. I just felt the need to make the distinction for anyone reading this so as not to give the wrong impression. And yes, any answer i gave a child on an important topic would hopefully be followed with a carefully worded and age appropriate conversation.
quoteGood point in determining the childs age. Infact this is perhaps the most important part of the whole conversation which no-one has mentioned yet. The childs age would definately influence perhaps not my answer, but most definately the way i phrased it and followed it up. I'd still be as honest as possible though.
quoteAbsolutely. I consider these beliefs lies ONLY because they were taught to me as absolutes with no room left for any alternative theories. I dont think believing in Christ or Allah is a lie, however telling a child that this is a concrete fact to the exclusion of all other faiths or idea's is a lie. And its manipulative.
quoteI was taught three ways. My family were honest and told me they didnt know or have any predetermined idea's and i was comfortable with that. In Primary school i was then taught "Religious Education" whioch may aswell have been called "How to be a Christian or burn in hell trying". And finally in secondary i was taught true "Religious Education". Meaning that i was taught about the diversity in human belief, theological history and was made aware of cultures role in religion. A subject i see great value in and greatly enjoyed.
quoteI wholly agree Xeno. Anyone who tells am kid that is being cruel, insensative and above all dishonest. They cant know that and therefore should propose it as a possibility not a fact. And as you say especially with young kids it may be best to word it very carefully if you do decide to tackle that head on. I would perhaps hint at it if they asked, but not dwell on it too much. Afterall it isnt what i necessarily believe.
Again, agree'd. My objectivity depends on what forum im in LOL.
quoteNo probs, as i said i just wanted to make my position clear for anyone reading. I can see that your inentions are just.
quoteI share your interest in theology and your opinion on the conversation thus far. It is indeed refreshing to disagree with somone then discuss and resolve rather than to argue and insult one another.
It has been a pleasure Xeno.
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Aug 06, 12 at 7:41am ^re: Explaining Death
quote XenoI must disagree. Because by the time they have reached that age, the damage is already done. They have been brainwashed, if you'll excuse the term. Children are more receptive to ideas when young. They believe what they are told to believe. Unfortunately when they grow up what they were told tends to "stick".
Children should never be taught about religion for this very reason. Teach them when they are old enough to not blindly believe without questioning. That way they will not end up with strong irreparable preconceptions when they are an adult.
But if they ARE being taught a religion I don't see anything wrong with providing an alternative for them to think about.
Frankly if you teach a child a religion and you don't tell them about the alternatives, you're a bad parent.
As for our debate about God existing, I'll try to cut this down so it's not super long. Let me know if I leave anything unaddressed.
quoteIt's along the same lines as the invisible purple unicorn method. If something sounds ridiculous if you describe it slightly differently, it must have been pretty ridiculous to start off with.
The Bible claims humans have godlike characteristics (created in his image etc). God supposedly dwells in the heaven. And "the heavens" is a synonym for "the skies". And nobody sees God.
Hence invisible man in the sky. His powers are effectively magic, hence invisible sky wizard.
It may be slightly cheap but then I'm just pointing out that the idea is already silly even without the new title.
quoteOh me too.
But the simple fact is that the alternative is even more nonsensical.
"A magical omnipotent omniscient invisible being magically existed for no reason whatsoever in the darkness before time itself. Then it got bored and made stuff."
You need an origin for "God". You can't use God as an origin for God. Thus presumably random chance has to be the reason for God existing. Therefore it may as well be the reason for the universe existing.
ANY problem to do with the universe existing also exists when you ask how God got there.
Therefore God solves no problems while merely adding a link to the chain of complexity. Occam's Razor does not support his existence.
quoteYeah. But the major (JudeoChristian anyway)deities of this world are claimed to be able to give prophecies.
You cannot prophesise if you cannot see the future.
quoteStill seems pointless. Just create the souls, put them in heaven and then use your omniscience to read their minds in the present and throw out anyone who is a dick.
And besides an omnipotent being must be capable of creating intelligences in a way so that it's impossible for them TO be dicks. Why create evil when there's no point in doing so?
quoteWell that's a fair point. However, we can see some fairly clear evidence of black holes. Or at least "something" sucking things in. It's an inspired guess, perhaps. The details of black holes are theories but the main thing is that there's something there with a really high mass that sucks stuff in. That has evidence for it.
I'm not sure we can claim the same for religion. Religion is claimed to be fact by those who believe in it. Religions all contradict each other thus showing that they cannot all be facts. I see no reason to think any one religion is correct if all the other 99% are wrong.
Religion is more like wild mass guessing based on no evidence. I expect it started with a caveman looking at the sky and asking "HOT THING IN SKY WHAT IS?" Then Ug the other caveman decided to claim it was a sun god then everyone thought that Ug was really smart and made him the shaman/tribal leader. There are logical reasons why religion would arise. People hungering for power over tribes for example.
quoteIf you are correct in this, it means that out of body experiences must be false since those are meant to be someone's soul seeing THIS world from outside their body.
You'd be surprised how many Christians use these as "proof" of there being an afterlife.
Granted, none of this is actually in the core of the religion. But then again the Bible is most contradictory about this anyway. In places it suggests that you don't go to an afterlife but rather wait in your grave until judgement day and get resurrected in your body.
But OK, granted. If a soul existed and was capable of existing on an entirely different plane where it did not need sight and hearing etc as we know them, then that could work.
But this disagrees with near death experiences since people claim to see and hear things during them.
So this is TWO pieces of evidence for the afterlife which we've just debunked.
quoteThat's not what I meant. I meant that if the brain was merely a housing for a soul, then all brains would be structurally identical.
But they aren't. They all have completely different neural links that contain our memories. Thus showing that the soul cannot store memories on its own.
But if the memories aren't stored in the soul then what's the point of having one? If you die and your soul continues on with no memories, then you're effectively dead and gone.
True. But then again we could argue for a deistic god without even invoking the concept of a soul. Even if a deity existed that's no reason to assume an afterlife does.
quoteI have already read several accounts. People developing interests or personality changes that later turn out to match the donor.
I'm just not so quick to jump to a conclusion that this is what it seems to be. I wonder how many recipients undergo no changes at all?
Or undergo changes that are the complete opposite to the donor?
quoteNo but you have that problem whether the universe started itself without God or God started without a creator of its own. You cannot avoid this issue no matter what you do. Therefore it's not an argument for the universe NOT existing on its own. It would equally be an argument for God being impossible.
quoteThere are no rules or laws. That's the point. It's just probability.
quoteNo no no!
An ant is just as fit to survive as a lion. They live in completely different environmental niches. They are not in competition with each other! (As I see you mentioned below...) One of them feeds on aphids. One of them hunts large game. There's just no comparison to be made here.
Species are not "superior to each other". They just evolve to fit different niches. Superiority is a concept thought up by arrogant humans.
quoteIf it's random chance then I think guidance is completely the wrong word to use. I see no reason to assume anything other than random chance seeing as it perfectly explains the evolutionary process.
I mean, I can't think of anything which random chance cannot have caused to happen. The simple process of "favourable mutation means better survival therefore more reproduction chance" works for everything as far as I can see.
Can you state anything that you think cannot be explained by this?
quoteWell like I said this is just organisms evolving to fill niches in the environment.
Some mutant organisms are NOT fit to survive on Earth. And therefore they die.
Those that survive are fit to survive. That's how the system works. Very simple.
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Aug 07, 12 at 12:48pm ^re: Explaining Death
quote DGI completely agree. Routing your child into a dead-end corridor of beliefs can be damaging to their ability to intelligently reason or accept the ideals of others. But, if it seems as though I'm completely advocating closing a young child's mind to a broader range of ideas, I'm honestly not. I just think that the route of least conflict in in issue such as this, where the child is not your own, would be to either offer comfort based loosely on the teachings they were raised to believe, or to nudge them in a direction where they're prompted to ask difficult questions of their parents. I just, personally, don't subscribe to the idea of a bitter bluntness toward the topic of death, though that accusation has been geared mainly towards others with unusually insensitive ways of dealing with kids.
quoteWell, swapping 'sky' for 'heaven' is a bit of a loose analogy. I don't think any religions actually contest the fact that there's nothing straight up but sky and space. Which, I imagine, is where the concept of a soul comes into place. Without trying to debate this too heavily, as it's already gone well past the initial point, I think that most religious people would argue that heaven is in a plane separate from Earth. That, obviously, it's impossible to physically reach it without having first died. Just like, (I hope), religious people don't actually believe Hell is in the middle of the Earth itself.
From my perspective, I don't really care what you choose to call God(s), it just shows a bit of disdain to label someone's deity as... Well, I was going to say 'something so ridiculous as...', but the Hindu gods are sort of far and beyond the concept of ridiculous. Though, I mean, if that's their thing, I say go for it.
quoteWell, I agree that 'God', as defined by Christianity/Catholicism/Judaism/Islam, etc is a blanket concept that essentially covers the ancient unknowns of science, it doesn't make 'less sense' to me, so to speak, than the existence of the universe itself. I'm not exactly arguing for the existence of a god, as without any real evidence, all I could resort to is citing the bible and ignoring anything of merit that you say.
What I am putting forth, is just a little theorizing and wanting to see things from a bit of an in depth perspective.
But, as much as anyone can argue the beginning of the universe, it seems just as easy to debate, and as impossible to truly prove as the origins of God. I know, science has technology on its side, whereas religion only has the power of thought, which in some, (most?), people is probably the last strength you'd want to rely on.
I realize I've put forth no counter-argument, but all I could do is philosophize and keep adding to the back and forth of "Well, what came before that? And that? And that? etc."
quoteHell, we still have psychics working on the principal of knowing the future. Of course, with how many predictions have occurred, you'd think a couple of them would be accurate. I'm not totally sure of every prophecy put forth in the bible itself, but I don't think any are scheduled to come true until it's too late to realize it. Though, of course, the bible itself is penned by man, translated by man, changed by man, etc. So if there did happen to be some kind of divine being trying to teach us something, it's all been muddled up and essentially raped by now.
But this is one of those things I'd encourage people to teach along with the fundamentals of their particular religion. You don't really have to be right in every individual belief to validate the rest of them, nor would it invalidate the whole swath of them to be wrong in some places.
quoteWell, the way I would figure it, is that if God is essentially a judge, you'd first need to stand trial before being sentenced. Whether or not He knows you're a horrible person, perhaps he abides some sort of moral code that He has imposed on Himself, to ensure everyone stands a chance. Or, rather, most. Babies don't get a soul until they're 3 years old. (Kidding about the babies thing, obviously. I don't think it's possible to reasonably explain God, though maybe He just wants it that way to keep faith, rather than absolute knowledge, in existence.
And maybe he is just as fallible as us, but he's the one with the sweet paradise that we're itching to get to. God of all things? Maybe not. God of humanity with the ability to offer salvation? Unlikely, but you never know.
quoteOn your first point, that, my friend, is God's breath. ;p
I would agree. I don't think any religion is correct. But, to me, that doesn't discount the existence of a god. And to get back to the main point, while it might be a false belief, it is usually accepted because those with more knowledge than the laymen put forth these ideals. It works much the same way with science; Unless it can be personally verified, we are accepting facts based on what others claim to know. I'm, of course, not saying there is a huge conspiracy that spans all fields of science and such, just that those who blindly accept what they're told exist in all manners of belief systems.
I've always believed that religion originated from science. Or rather, the pursuit of unattainable knowledge. I mean, without any real technology whatsoever, we've always had to form our own ideas based on what little we can actually prove. No Egyptian would have been able to prove the sun was a giant ball of hydrogen, etc, so obviously they had to theorize what it was. "God" may have been a bit of a stretch, but to them, the sun was God. It provided warmth, enabled crops to grow, gave them light, etc. I mean, a god can be anything, it kind of just depends on your perception of such an entity. Though, nowadays, I can certainly see it as a means to be put in a position of power. Those are the times I wish there truly was God, cause the irony of it all would make everything worth it.
quoteJust for the sake of argument, let's say the soul is still partially tethered to the body until it finally breaks free. Like, if you were to imagine it, an amorphous blob being sucked out and still managing to just barely linger and maintain slight use of it's bodily functions. I'm not putting this forth as my belief, just, you know.
Also, I kind of like the idea of being raised as part of a zombie army. I guess the cremated people are kinda effed, but I'd subscribe to this religion.
quoteAh. In that case, you can blame DNA for that. Let's say genetics applies to the body, but the soul is manufactured divinely or whatever. I mean, as far as the Christian bible is concerned, we've all been incesting it up for thousands of years. That's bound to have an impact on your physicality, and maybe unintentionally limits the range of the soul's abilities and purposes. Perhaps in a sad twist of fate, we're all functionally retarded due to this inbreeding and a far cry from God's original intention.
But as for a point, perhaps it truly is as simple as "Good or bad". In a bleak viewpoint of the afterlife, maybe we don't retain the memories of Earth. Then again, there could be no real 'point' other than being here for God's own amusement. In which case he kind of sucks, but a God's a God. @_o
quoteOf course. But all of these "inclusions and exclusions" is what makes theology such an interesting and versatile topic. I never aim to find the truth behind the matter, but I do enjoy debate for the sake of debate.
quoteI'm sure the majority do not undergo any noticeable changes, though it is interesting to learn about the few who apparently do. If nothing more, I just consider it an interesting subject and a possible testament to what our bodies are capable of that may still be beyond the understanding of science.
quoteI suppose not. I just wish science would hurry up and figure it out for sure.
quotexD Sorry, I didn't mean it quite as it was stated. I'm not saying Ant Vs. Lion, GO! It was more to the effect that nature is a balanced system, where it seems like a creature can't evolve to the point of supreme dominance. Ants fulfill their place in nature, as does the lion, but what I'd expect in a chaotic and unguided system is that every animal would be evolving, not only to cope, but to dominate. Maybe it was random chance that nature struck a balance, somehow starting off with enough different organisms to survive, and surely it's not impossible, but it just feels like there's a larger consciousness at play there.
Whether or not God exists, Earth is alive, or it really is a series of random, and fortunate events, I can't say. It's all just a thought.
quoteWell, it depends on your conception of favorable mutation. Are we talking about the very basic needs for survival, or the evolutionary steps necessary for thriving? It seems as though you're talking about the latter by how you worded it, so I'd try to cite an instance of this, though anything said on this topic could likely be argued one way or another.
A step backwards in evolution can be argued by a lack of use of certain organs or appendages. Mating with weaker members of the species and the stronger ones dying out, etc. I find it would be difficult to provide an example without it being able to be easily argued away, without manipulating the facts. It's just sort of how it is with anything we weren't around to personally witness. And yes, we can witness evolution, but begging explanations for past events are typically up to citing 'potential factors'. I think you understand what I'm getting at, and I just want to state that I don't think random chance is anywhere out of the realm of possibility. The world just has a feeling of intervention to it, though I realize feelings are unsubstantiated by scientific facts. And I'm not referring to God in that last sentence.
quoteIt is simple. The part I find strangest is why organisms are meant to fulfill specific roles. If nothing has a purpose, why do creatures evolve to fit a purpose? It's just sort of back to the philosophical part of the discussion. The basic one, the question of 'why'? But I'm not looking to argue that, trust me. It's been a long winded conversation as it is, and each time we talk, I have to ensure I have an hour or two open to reply. xD
But, hey, I want to thank you for taking the time to indulge me, and I'm sure you'll have a little more to say, but it's been good just throwing things back and forth and seeing where you stand. Though, I must say, it is difficult to argue for the existence of a being with little to no scientific backing to it.
P.S. I didn't cut it down and left it super long because I'm tired, not because I'm lazy. Or it can be both, really.
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Aug 07, 12 at 1:22pm ^re: Explaining Death
This is some great stuff. This will be never ending until everyone loses interest.
I do believe the role of our world plays on intellectual dominance. This is why man has came to be where it is today. We dominate over everything on the planet. But it's always intelligence.
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Aug 07, 12 at 3:03pm ^re: Explaining Death
I'm going to only reply to anything I actually disagree with, so if I don't mention something it means I have no issue with what you said.
quoteAh but out of body experiences are "seen" from a perspective other than through the eyes of the body. Therefore the soul can't be using the eyes to see because what's being "seen" is not through the eyes. It's from the other side of the room, or looking down on the body.
quoteOne other thing needs considering though.
Clones. Identical twins. They have different brain structures. But identical DNA. Brain structures vary due to different information being stored due to different life experiences being stored as memories. You therefore cannot blaim DNA. At least not entirely.
Even with identical DNA, two people will still have different neurons linked up in their brains.
My point is that if the soul determined your personality, memories etc, then clones would have identical brains. But they do not.
quoteYeah but not one I'd want to worship. What would be the point? Losing all your memories is effectively ceasing to exist.
quoteBut they do dominate. In the niche they are suited to exist in and fill. If two animals evolve to fit the same niche they are in direct competition and one of them will end up dominating the other assuming it's "better evolved" to fill that niche.
They just don't dominate the planet as a whole. That's due a natural balance being struck by all creatures evolving. It's like an arms race. One evolves a better weapon, the other evolves a more effective defence. Overall no change to the balance results. There are exceptions.
quoteI'm afraid I just can't understand why anyone thinks this is the case. Random chance works for me and I don't feel like there are any problems left that a consciousness is required to solve.
quoteBoth. I see no difference. A favourable mutation is any change in the DNA that makes a creature more able to survive than other members of its species.
quoteYes. But this is generally outweighed by forward steps because weaker members of the species are not as likely to survive until reproductive age. Which is why evolution works.
quoteIf not God then what do you mean by intervention?
quoteThey don't. Purpose is a fictional concept.
They evolve to fit niches. If there's a certain way of doing things which is theoretically possible but no animal yet does it, something can eventually mutate to do it that way and it will thrive due to the lack of competition.
For example, if there is a volcanic vent, and nothing living around it, random chance may result in something mutating to be able to survive in such high temperatures. Then that creature can live by the vent and thrive because nothing else can live there to compete with it, or feed on it.
quoteSame. I like debating.
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Aug 07, 12 at 5:12pm ^re: Explaining Death
quote DGI know how improbable and strange it sounds, but if the soul were acting as a relay for the main functions of the body, could it not be that it was essentially the satellite for the eyes? At least until the tether was broken and it drifted off to whatever other plane or dimension it would supposedly belong to.
quoteWell, no twin is truly identical. I know, in physical appearance, some may be close enough to be considered 'identical', though I've never seen one that irrefutably is. And no human clone has ever been produced, so it's impossible to claim that their genetic make-up would wind up being exactly the same as the one copied. Dolly would not have died so quickly, were it completely genetically identical to it's donor. Or, rather, should not have. But that may be due to the fact that it isn't currently possible to, with complete accuracy, clone a creature. More experience would be necessary, though the project itself is handicapped by government and public involvement.
But, the thing is, it's unfathomable what impact on the brain the soul would have. It's abstract, and the concept relies on an abandonment of current scientific understanding, which detriments those who would argue in opposition of religion and higher powers.
quoteYou're a man driven by the concept that no point exists. Point or not, I don't think you'd find solace in any religion. No offense intended, I can just see why that would be a large factor for you, as it would be for me.
Memories, as we know them, are exactly that; as we know them. It's difficult to determine quite what a soul would retain, should such a thing exist, or what new 'memories' and functions it may develop once released from the body. Say, for example, all consciousness and knowledge exists in another realm, instantly and simultaneously accessible by all souls. In such a scenario, it would not be unreasonable to think we would be able to re-access our old memories and thus retain our earthly identities. Though, again, this has no roots in science and is just speculation for sake of discussion.
quoteWell, the issue I take with this, is the fact that a creature best suited to its environment, should stay better suited to such an environment. There should be no shift in power, assuming all things evolve at the same rate. If you compare it to an arms race, the one who begins with the better armaments should end with the better armaments. If that is not the case, the weaker species would continuously rise up and overthrow the dominant ones, for the dominant species would not necessitate evolution until they were being overpowered, by which point it should be too late to begin adapting. But, as far as I've noticed, the case seems to be that everything tends to maintain a balance, be it by evolving more quickly, or by simply remaining prey to the predators. I'm sure exceptions exist to this as well, but on a grand scale, I've not really been presented with any evidence that supports this particular theory.
quoteWhich is perfectly okay. It works for you. That's the point. Religion works for some, atheism for others, and on and on and on. It's just how life works. But it's like asking how the house holds the advantage in a game of blackjack, when supposedly, it is all up to random chance. There are tiny, unnoticeable nuances that consciously effect the odds, though they are outside of the understanding of normal people. Most wouldn't question it, and it's just taken at face value. I know gambling is a human invention, and if you wish to dismiss it on those merits, that's alright, but I'm only making a metaphorical comparison.
quoteNoted. Which leads me to wonder why evolution has reached the point of complete tyrannical rule. There are species that have existed far longer than humans, yet we're able to reign over them as if they were nothing. In which case, the arms race should be raging, and other animals should be displaying examples of rapid evolution to keep up.
quoteIn humans, specifically, you see us protecting the weaker members of the species. It happens in animals, as well, though to a lesser extent. Does this mean, humans as a whole, are striving to reverse evolution and will one day become a lower rung on the food chain? If we, in our advanced intellect, can affect the randomness of genetics and nature in and of itself, does it still maintain it's chaos?
quoteWell, it seems as though certain species hit a limit in evolution. Like a brick wall to keep them from advancing to the point of being the only remaining species. It's not so much that I'm thinking of a god swooping down and keeping things in check, but more like there's a certain consciousness to the world itself that maintains a balance. I'm not claiming it to be intelligent, just perhaps a living organism in its own right that strives to maintain its own external balance.
quoteFictional or not, you are determined to find a point or purpose in other beliefs, though there are none in yours. You ask what point tests serve, when you needn't be provided a point for your views. Not criticizing you or anything, it just seems a bit one sided to ask purpose of one's beliefs when you don't ask it of your own.
But a creature would first need to exist near enough to the vent in order to mutate to use it. But, from my perspective, I would not choose the harshest of climates to survive in, if just 100 meters away, one was far better suited for me. It seems like a more logical evolutionary leap to simply develop the intelligence and defenses to move away from the thing that is constantly causing you suffering.
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Aug 07, 12 at 5:55pm ^re: Explaining Death
quote XenoEyes work by reflected light ending up in the retinas. There's simply no way for you to see using your eyes unless your eyes are facing what you're meant to be seeing. And besides the eyes would usually be shut since these experiences tend to be during surgical operations.
I mean, there's no way for a soul to beam information into your eyes. Either you're seeing with your soul or you're not.
quote"Identical twins" are truly identical in terms of their DNA. The differences are such things as fingerprints etc which rely on other factors to determine them.
quoteNo "artificial" clone. But all identical twins are clones of each other.
quoteWell, a lot of religious people (Christians mostly) claim that only humans have souls. Since animal brains work perfectly well without souls (supposedly) it seems they perform no useful purpose.
Depends on those people being right, of course. And they have absolutely no reason to think they are.
quoteWell I do think that existence is pointless unless you make up your own purpose in life, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.
The thing is that if you lost all your memories you would effectively have died and been replaced by a new person. This new person is of no interest to me. It's not me. No matter what paradise or deep meaning awaits this individual, it matters not to me, because I wouldn't be the one experiencing it!
quoteTrue. But I see no use for the neural links in the brain if the soul can store memories from this life. Direct soul-body linkage would be more efficient.
quoteYeah but again this discredits near death experiences. If your soul left your body and went temporarily to the afterlife, you should be able to access all that information. Effectively wouldn't you expect anyone returning from "death" like that to become omniscient?
Yeah but they don't evolve at the same rate. It varies depending on how long the organism takes to reach reproductive age. Not to mention how easily that organism mutates. What DNA error checking mechanisms it has (the more, the slower the evolution), how many offspring it produces, etc.
For example, humans take many years to reach reproductive age, produce relatively few offspring, and we have SEVERAL DNA error checking mechanisms, so relatively speaking we do not mutate much.
Therefore humans evolve slowly.
quoteThink of it as the various countries at war having different industrial capacities. The ones with better scientists and more factories can make more advanced weapons quicker.
quoteEvolution is a constant process. Each species is constantly mutating and going through natural selection.
Whatever selection pressures there are will guide the course of the evolution.
This is going on all the time. What you're talking about is competition from another species. But a species won't start mutating faster just because another species is competing with it.
It might have the balance shifted to be harsher on the individuals lacking advantageous mutations... For example if there is a lot less food available due to the competition, so only those more able to find food better or survive on less food would be able to survive.
So evolution is always happening but the selection pressures can at times be harsher which would speed it up.
quoteWell it all depends what you mean by keeping up. Humans are not invading the environmental niches of these "lower" creatures you're referring to. We aren't competing with them.
In some cases we are trying to kill them off. And in those cases they ARE evolving against us. For example antibiotic resistant bacteria like MRSA and VRSA.
Bacteria actually evolve super fast so this is a good example.
quoteActually yes, I believe this does mean that humans are messing up their own evolutionary process. When we help people with crappy genes to live long enough to reproduce, we're filling the gene pool with crappy genes and "reversing evolution", you could say.
Humans are basically removing selection pressures and therefore allowing bad genes to be equally harmless as good genes.
For example animals with short sight would die off so short sight would evolve into non-existence. Humans on the other hand pass those genes on leading to more problems in later generations.
I doubt we'll become a "lower rung on the food chain" because we compensate through scientific and industrial advancement. But surely you've noticed that humans are actually pathetically weak and easy to kill compared to a lot of other creatures out there?
As for chaos, mutation is always a random process. It's whether or not the mutations stop individuals surviving that we have some control over.
quoteIt's not a perfect balance. Plenty of species die out. Some organisms do become ridiculously over-prevalent. Like humans for example. We are taking over too much of the planet and screwing it up for all the other species that used to live in those places.
Rainforest deforestation for example.
quoteWhat's wrong with that? My main belief is that no intrinsic purpose exists. That everything is at some level the result of chaos and basic physical interactions.
The thing is that if you start claiming that there's an intelligent deity in charge of everything, a deity WOULD have reasons for things. Because intelligent beings like to make up reasons.
quoteWe're talking about creatures that don't even really have the capacity to "choose" where to live. They drift in currents or stick to rocks. And besides, developing intelligence is a lot more complex and difficult than developing heat resistance.
Also, that's not correct. A creature can mutate to be resistant to heat even if it lives in freezing cold environments. Mutations are entirely random. They are not situational.
The only thing that matters about actually being exposed to the selection pressure is whether or not the mutant survives.
So let's say a bacterium was floating around in the sea with some other bacteria. This one bacterium randomly mutated to have cell walls that were resistant to heat.
They floated near the thermal vent. All the bacteria died apart from the one with the resistance.
Therefore this mutant reproduced.
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