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Old 12-22-2008, 12:38 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Chemical reactions created life even in it's most primitive forms. This is proved. It would be comforting to know of some higher purpose but it's all just molecules and accidents i'm afraid.
Ah-ha!!, but even the process of chemical reaction must originate from something else Jack. To suggest otherwise would contradict the existence of the universe itself.

Simply put, none of you are thinking on a high enough level here; if everything comes from something, then the processes you people assume have given rise to our rather coincidental existence must originate from something even further back. And ultimately, this train of thought can only keep leading us back and back and back, a straight line moving into the past that has no end. Hence, the source of what determines even the most basic of basics must be something beyond what a human being can define, and the closest concept that humanity has been able to conceive which provides an answer to this absurdity is a little thing called God.

All that aside, it doesn't matter what happens to us after death. The only meaning worth holding close at heart is that the potential of a greater force above us is undeniably there, and that possibility is enough for me in this life that I am living, even if I as a human being am worth no more to the universe than the stray cocckroach that gets crushed beneath the sole of my shoe.
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:50 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I think pure self-awareness is consciousness of the self as nothing, in the sense that Sartre says. I donīt really define myself by my personality or intellect, thatīs how other people define me. I feel like I could lose all my memories, my likes, my appearance, my opinions, and there would be something left (a general force, sure) that I recognize as being more fundamentally me. If all my personality experiences is ultimately my diffracted selves, then once I discard of it every personality would still be there, since they must in some sense be in the will/soul, ready to unfold. As such, Iīd still be aware of what used to be `Tomī but defining myself by what is ultimately just a perspective would seem absurd. The brain would just be a symbol Tom has constructed to attempt to understand himself, which seems equally absurd.
I just have a hard time grasping that sort of idealism. I feel that ultimately everything I am is in my brain and once that dies the only way I'll live on is other people's brains but I won't be conscious of it so that's useless to me.

Though I do find one thing curious about that sort of thought. I just finished reading Pascal's Pensees which (you probably know this but for anyone else reading it) presents an idea that since we can't actually know for sure what there is after death we should wager that there is God exists and we have everything to gain in following his teachings and nothing to lose. Now I have several problems with this (there fairly obvious though, how do you know which religion is the correct one being the big gaping argument and then once you determine that somehow you have to hope that form of religion doesn't have a problem with your rather self-centered motives for following) but it seemed to be to be a commonly practiced idea even though most people aren't aware. I often hear sort of scaremongering arguments into following religions and rather selfish purposes for getting into religion, particularly Christianity (I hear from every kid in high school who argues with an atheist how do you comfort yourself without god and that just doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand how your primary motive for a belief is a benefit of the belief, you'd think that would come with a more concrete idea for it. I just think it's useless; its as if believing will simply make everything better. If you could manipulate reality like that so easily I think the world would've been blown up or something long ago.)

Anyway uh, what I was getting to it's interesting that that belief isn't motivated by the superficiality you typically see in most religious thought. Though I guess that has a lot to do with the lack of a moral code, or bible, or any sort of hint at a conscious interest in the human race. It kind of makes the idea seductive to me.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:16 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Lev Shetov makes an interesting point in Athens and Jerusalem, where he says that reason relies on essentially the same threats to justify itself.

A bit long, but definitely worth reading:

To Necessity all things are indifferent, but to Parmenides all things are not indifferent. On the contrary, it is infinitely important to him that certain things should be and that certain other things should not be — for example, that the hemlock should be dependent on Socrates and not Socrates on the hemlock. Or rather, to make the matter still clearer, let us say this: in the year 399 B.C. the aged Socrates, condemned to death by his fellow citizens, took from the jailer's hands the cup of hemlock and in that very moment, by Socrates' will, the hemlock became a healthful drink. And this is not imagination or fantasy but reality, that which actually was. Imagination and fantasy, rather, are all that is related of Socrates' death in the history manuals. And similarly, what Aristotle teaches us, "Necessity does not allow itself to be persuaded," is also only an invention. Necessity does listen and does allow itself to be persuaded, and it cannot oppose itself to Socrates; it cannot in general oppose itself to any man who has discovered the secret of its power and has enough audacity to command it without turning backward, to speak to it as "one who has power."

Aristotle would certainly have paid no attention to thoughts of this kind. And Seneca and Cleanthes would have completely ignored them as being of no concern to themselves. But Epictetus, perhaps because he was more sensitive or perhaps because he was less well-bred, would have been enraged by them. Is this not an attempt to escape the principle of contradiction? In his eyes, as in Aristotle's, this was clearly a mortal sin, and he considered that he had the right in this instance to give free reign to his anger. "I should have wished," he said, "to be the slave of a man who does not admit the principle of contradiction. He would have told me to serve him wine; I would have given him vinegar or something still worse. He would have become angry and complained that I did not give him what he asked. But I would have answered, ‘You do not recognize the principle of contradiction; hence, wine, vinegar or any loathsome thing are all the same. And you do not recognize Necessity; therefore, no one has the power to compel you to regard the vinegar as something bad and the wine as something good. Drink the vinegar as if it were wine and be content!' Or again, the master orders me to shave him, and I cut off his nose or his ear with the razor. He would again cry out, but I would repeat to him my argument. And I would do everything in the same way until I forced my master to recognize the truth that Necessity is invincible and the principle of contradiction omnipotent."

We see that Epictetus repeats what Aristotle said or, more precisely, gives a commentary of Aristotle's words. And, as almost always happens with the Stoics, Epictetus, in commenting, discovers what in Aristotle had been intentionally left in the dark, and so betrays the secret of the philosophical foundation of the Aristotelian truths. The principle of contradiction, as well as Necessity and the truth itself, with a capital letter or a small letter, are supported only by threats: one cuts off your ears or your nose, one pierces your eyes, etc... Before such constraint all living beings — men and devils and angels, and even the gods — find themselves equal. Epictetus speaks of an imaginary master, but he would say the same thing of Heraclitus, of Parmenides, of Socrates and of God Himself.
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:54 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Christ that was kind of hard to follow, I'm not completely sure I understood it because I don't know much about Socrates and my knowledge of Aristotle is completely political. Is Athens and Jerusalem a good read? I like the idea of contrasting reason and faith. I'm about to sleep...so I'll be more talkative about that bit if you want when I wake and am less tired.

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Ah-ha!!, but even the process of chemical reaction must originate from something else Jack. To suggest otherwise would contradict the existence of the universe itself.

Simply put, none of you are thinking on a high enough level here; if everything comes from something, then the processes you people assume have given rise to our rather coincidental existence must originate from something even further back. And ultimately, this train of thought can only keep leading us back and back and back, a straight line moving into the past that has no end. Hence, the source of what determines even the most basic of basics must be something beyond what a human being can define, and the closest concept that humanity has been able to conceive which provides an answer to this absurdity is a little thing called God.

All that aside, it doesn't matter what happens to us after death. The only meaning worth holding close at heart is that the potential of a greater force above us is undeniably there, and that possibility is enough for me in this life that I am living, even if I as a human being am worth no more to the universe than the stray cocckroach that gets crushed beneath the sole of my shoe.
I don't really understand your thought process here in the slightest. How could an indifferent universe make your life meaningless but an indifferent "God" make your life meaningful?
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Old 12-22-2008, 02:10 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Yes, Athens and Jerusalem is really worth reading and was a big influence on Camus and others, plus itīs available for free online. Itīs a great overview of philosophy in general, especially re the Greeks.
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Old 12-22-2008, 08:18 AM   #26 (permalink)
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I don't really understand your thought process here in the slightest. How could an indifferent universe make your life meaningless but an indifferent "God" make your life meaningful?
Because even if God is indifferent to the daily workings of our lives, he/she/it is still the creator in a certain sense correct? If the universe was given shape by some kind of sentience (a rather interesting thought compared to simply saying that there is nothing but emptiness and coincidence out there), then that would imply that our own development as a species has something to strive for beyond merely living as organisms of instinct. An indifferent universe, however, tells me that my ability to think is worthless and that when I die, I will just vanish into an inevitable state of nothing. Quite depressing really: Why BE HERE with our mental faculties if nothing we do in our lives matters to us personally after death?

So, following my logic that I described from the last post, I pick the indifferent God over the indifferent universe for rather obvious reasons. Maybe it won't be possible within any length of time we can fathom, but if there is something out there beyond the wall of night that started everything, then someday we will surely find it and answer certain questions that the scientific method is unable to touch.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:19 AM   #27 (permalink)
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The problem is that youre essentially making God in the image of man to justify man. We are plagued by seemingly unanswerable questions but if they were all answered what would be the point in thinking at all? The ultimate satisfaction would quickly become ultimate boredom. The reason why thinking is valuable is because it never ends, it continues to hit walls, paradoxes, contradictions and continues to struggle. If there were a point of resolution everything would collapse into undifferentiable nothingness, and the fate you seem to fear would be inevitable. Becoming one with God would be dissolving into absolute nothingness, which is pretty much the atheist conception too.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:27 AM   #28 (permalink)
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The problem is that youre essentially making God in the image of man to justify man. We are plagued by seemingly unanswerable questions but if they were all answered what would be the point in thinking at all? The ultimate satisfaction would quickly become ultimate boredom. The reason why thinking is valuable is because it never ends, it continues to hit walls, paradoxes, contradictions and continues to struggle. If there were a point of resolution everything would collapse into undifferentiable nothingness, and the fate you seem to fear would be inevitable. Becoming one with God would be dissolving into absolute nothingness, which is pretty much the atheist conception too.
Isn't it only a supposition that becoming one with God would be the same as dissolving into a state of emptiness though? (just trying to clarify here. )

Otherwise I completely agree, though I've never thought that even if a supposed entity is somehow brought to light through discovery, it would justify the existence of mankind. There's no way to know such a thing, and perhaps it would be for the best if we simply continue to search.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:31 AM   #29 (permalink)
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I tend to look at life very dialectically, so pleasure only means something when contrasted with suffering, thesis when contrasted with antithesis, master vs slave, etc. So a state of absolute unity, where both sides of the duality collapse, ie man into God, subject into object, must be a state where experience is no longer possible, and hence a state of emptiness.

Of course if becoming one with God meant becoming God and still being aware of people beneath you, the duality would still be intact and experience could continue, only now youīd be master instead of slave
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Old 12-23-2008, 11:20 PM   #30 (permalink)
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I don't think a higher power necessarily implies a sense of purpose...there's just a much a chance this space god of yours sneezed and we know more to him than some bacteria in Russia means to you. Is that why you're Christian? Because you need to think that the beginning has to do with you to feel a sense of purpose?
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