Author Topic: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?  (Read 3167 times)

Outrider

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2015, 02:18:12 PM »
Factual regurgitation, I like it ;) well that's one of the reasons I dislike Dawkin's approach, he only regurgitates facts to back his case, for a more unbiased approach to theology ( which is not his subject ) I would say, read Armstrong, she gives all the facts, backed up by years of research, a very intelligent woman who does try to walk in another mans shoes, which I do think is a very intelligent thing to do, understanding another man's argument, his point, is a highly intelligent thing to do ( although walking a mile in an atheists shoe's, you don't give much away ).

I have Ms Armstrong on my reading list, but that list is growing rather than shrinking and has been for many years...

The thing is, claims are either right or wrong. People dislike Professor Dawkins' delivery, at times, because he's not sympathetic - he lectures and instructs, because that's his background, and the environment from which he's come. Others dislike his message, but rarely do they actually address his fundamental arguments.

By contrast, for instance, very few of them rail against Christopher Hitchens commentary, which seems strange to me as he doesn't very often actually make any sort of coherent case, he cites anecdotes and experiences which sound horrendous but are actually fairly easily dismissed: the difference is, of course, that he's talking in the language of emotion and feeling and sentiment, not of deductions and demonstrable facts.

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No argument, the evidence is out there, the more economically we become the less we need Church, but that does not say anything about what we replace our religious feelings with, do we agree that we never totally rid ourselves of violent urges, we do suppress them, is it the same with our religious feelings.

I don't think so - I think you either think in a religious fashion or you don't. I think very few of the individual people change, it's that the children of people who are educated are more likely to be taught in the fashion that suits that education, which is not conducive to religion. It's generational shifts, not individual. It seems that the US is going through something along that sort of a shift at the moment, as more and more of the younger generation turn their back on any sort of spirituality or mysticism, and even those that don't are increasingly disinterested in formalised religious practice.

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I think I have covered this part of your post, only to say, don't mention WLC, leave him for when our Alan ( Alien returns ) ;)

WLC is, of course, our Professor Dawkins :)

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Outrider

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2015, 02:20:18 PM »
Do you have any evidence for this assertion, O?

It's the logical deduction from the fact that in thousands of years of trying no-one's yet produced any evidence for gods, but we have any number of examples of the idea of them.

It was stated in this fashion to mirror the original contention (by Alan?), otherwise I wouldn't have simply presented it in that fashion.

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Shaker

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2015, 02:26:11 PM »
Havng readf your original post again, twice, I find this claim rather far-fetched, Shakjes.  It might be similar to what you wrote, but it actually extends and ultimately contradicts what you said
Point out the alleged contradiction, by all means.
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Gonnagle

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #28 on: December 09, 2015, 02:30:49 PM »
Dear Shaker,

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By contrast, for instance, very few of them rail against Christopher Hitchens commentary, which seems strange to me as he doesn't very often actually make any sort of coherent case, he cites anecdotes and experiences which sound horrendous but are actually fairly easily dismissed: the difference is, of course, that he's talking in the language of emotion and feeling and sentiment, not of deductions and demonstrable facts.

Steady!! steady! Outrider is a jolly nice chap, leave him, down boy, heel :P :P :P

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ekim

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #29 on: December 09, 2015, 04:23:37 PM »
Dear ekim,

That concept, where did that come from?

Gonnagle.
A suggestion is that the human mind creates the concept rather than a god.  It might come about this way.  A small child learns how to submit to the authority of the father for survival purposes, which is the beginning of this particular concept formation.  It later recognises that there is a more powerful 'father' who has authority over the tribe, who he has to obey on pain of punishment and the concept is reinforced.  He later realises that the tribal leader or king cannot control all elemental forces, so the concept extends to more powerful gods and goddesses (i.e. otherworldly fathers and mothers) or to a single tribal god.  If a tribe is defeated by another tribe then the superior tribe 'encourages' the defeated tribe to acknowledge worship of the superior tribe's God (the father almighty) without question.  After being impressed upon following generations, perhaps using the 'stick and carrot' method, the indoctrination is complete and unquestioned belief is treated as truth.

Hope

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2015, 05:06:47 PM »
A suggestion is that the human mind creates the concept rather than a god.  It might come about this way.  A small child learns how to submit to the authority of the father for survival purposes, which is the beginning of this particular concept formation. 
That, of course, assumes a god who is into punishment, ekim.  What if a god isn't into all the concepts you have outlined?
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Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2015, 05:18:20 PM »
Define 'lesser.' In what sense? In physical size? That's patent balls; electrons, protons and neutrons give rise to human beings. And mountains. And planets. And stars. And galaxies. So it can't be that. In power? That happens all the time too, so it can't be that.
I would guess, as it is just, as I said, throwing this into the arena, about the mind and ideas. As our mind is what defines us as human beings, our greatness, then, as we are not gods then the idea of a God emanating from our minds would presuppose that our minds have been given something greater than us.....?

Atoms etc. do nothing of the sort. It is the laws or patterns of physics that do that.

I'd like to see your power claim being argued out....


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The phrase 'God is taken to be greater than us' is the weak link in the chain. It's the ontological argument isn't it - assertion by definition - and is as specious as it ever was. You can magic anything into "existence" by defining it to exist; unfortunately the universe doesn't actually operate like that. Saying that we could only have the idea of God if there's actually a God to implant the idea of God is one of the best - or worst, depending on your viewpoint - examples of begging the question/circular reasoning/petitio principii going. I hope they put this sort of thing into undergraduate philosophy textbooks these days; I'd be horrified if anyone who has gone through years of training to become in effect a professional clear thinker thinks this is a valid argument.

Well, yes, it is another version or love child of the ontological argument. But here the definition of God is a little stronger. One could argue that 1) it is not in reference to a specific religious God and 2) other words could replace it like "Something". But either way it would imply that it was more than us, more than what would constitute being human. Even the laws of physics could be categorized like that, they are 'above' us. We supervene on them.

The problem with your impassioned argument is that you would need to explain fully and in detail where such 'more than us' ideas come from. If products are a function of the previous case conditions, i.e. an effect of their causation then an account would need to be proffered to detail how the 'less complex' becomes the 'more complex'.

Shaker

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2015, 05:20:03 PM »
That, of course, assumes a god who is into punishment, ekim.  What if a god isn't into all the concepts you have outlined?
Certainly wouldn't be a god as depicted in any monotheistic scriptures, then.
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Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2015, 05:37:32 PM »
I was interested in your notion of an argument where God implants the idea of God in us,. I'm not sure how this can be somehow more circular than the argument for materialism or naturalism.
Though that is true the difference being that we all experience the phenomena of the material whereas God is nothing more than words on a page the rest is for each persons fancy.

Whether some take materialism etc. beyond the boundary of that phenomena is a different issue, which does encroach into the fantasies of the theists.

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What fascinates me though is the idea of perfection. Many atheists I have spoken to try to get rid of the idea of perfection stating that nothing can be perfect......that doesn't get rid of the idea of perfection but rather reinforces it.....I would have thought.
Perfection is a mere word which lacks clarification and definition (the only definition it does have is a perfect one; i.e. a tautology), very much like the word God.

wigginhall

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2015, 05:43:13 PM »
Jack Knave wrote:

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The problem with your impassioned argument is that you would need to explain fully and in detail where such 'more than us' ideas come from. If products are a function of the previous case conditions, i.e. an effect of their causation then an account would need to be proffered to detail how the 'less complex' becomes the 'more complex'.

One flaw in all these arguments is that they go from conceiving of something to it actually existing.  But there is no link like that.  I can imagine an 8-tentacled purple octopus on Venus, which controls the universe, but that doesn't bring it into existence.

I think also the argument uses a very mechanical view of 'products', as if there is a linear kind of adding up of previous experiences.   But I can synthesize from all kinds of ideas. 
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Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2015, 05:54:20 PM »
The main problem with the 'something complex must be created by something more complex' argument is it is totally self defeating - as everything would need to have been created by something more complex and that thing created by something more complex again and so on ad infinitum.
No. The point of the argument is a teleological one. It starts with an a prior. The complexity, potentially at least, was there from the beginning and it is now being worked out. This of course raises some other problems which are just as heavy as any others in this type of scenario.

wigginhall

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #36 on: December 09, 2015, 06:15:24 PM »
Isn't teleology different from 'complexity being worked out'?  Teleology means that there is a purpose in the universe, whereas an inbuilt complexity is different, it's just a complexity.   We don't say that the water cycle shows purpose, but it shows complexity. 

Actually, this is part of the creationist argument, that nature is so complex that it must have purpose, and where you have a purpose, you have a planner. 
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 06:33:08 PM by wigginhall »
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Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #37 on: December 09, 2015, 06:20:25 PM »
Dear Jack,


 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1211511/Why-born-believe-God-Its-wired-brain-says-psychologist.html

We are born believers, we are all religious, yes even atheists.

Gonnagle.
The first part of that is really anthropology and our natural social make up. Originally religious feeling was just a bonding of tribal affiliation through cultural commonality. The bonding force having to be supra-the-individual. It has to override the personal whims etc. and as such comes across as being more power or like a parent guiding the whole tribe.

The latter bit about children is really psychology but all these things raise uncomfortable questions about their nature and their cause etc.

(hint: don't quote mark quotes as they won't show in the reply. Some one should change this so that at least one level of quotes gets transferred to the reply)

Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #38 on: December 09, 2015, 06:34:55 PM »
It could be that the concept of a god is used to fill in the gaps to explain the powerful forces which have confronted man and over which he had no control like Thor for lightening strikes, Vulcan for volcanoes, Neptune for sea surges, Sol for the sun god etc. and the need was to placate those gods or evoke their favours.  It gradually became unmanageable for the priesthood to manipulate the worshippers, that it was easier to have one god with absolute qualities which was inconceivable and unimaginable (perhaps why one of the Commandments advocated 'no images').  An anointed high priest could then position himself as the intermediary between the worshippers and a God who works in mysterious ways.
That wouldn't necessarily explain why we conceive of gods as such. Chimps have to put up with forces etc. greater than themselves, as do other animals, but do they allocate this phenomena to some supernatural being? Actually coming up with such an idea is something else apart from the encounter with overwhelming power and events etc.

Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #39 on: December 09, 2015, 07:01:25 PM »
Dear Outrider,

Ah right! well I can't argue with Prof Dawkins, I agree it is in least part, I think least is the operative word here, small, very small part of the explanation.

Economics is also a part of the explanation, chasing the dollar sign, we all do it.

Education, does it make you smart? make you intelligent, does educated mean intelligent?

I have to go winging all the way back to Prof Dawkin's, a very highly educated man, but intelligent, is a sign of intelligence, the ability to see both sides of the argument, the ability to walk a mile in another man's shoes?

I don't think we become less religious as we become more educated, education does lift you from one cycle into another, how we use that education, we replace one kind of religion for another, jumping out of aeroplanes with a bit of clothe strapped to your back, climbing mountains, shooting guns, football :o sport in general, anything that gives us a high, drugs, drink, this all comes from having a better economy.

Education is a very small part of why we turn our backs on God.

Gonnagle.
Perhaps one reason why many have given up on religion is because our ability to see patterns has made them realise that religion has failed them. Someone said that the early years has a powerful effect on the child but if social/tribal/cultural bonding and make up is weak then the child will intuitively see that it is not so great and will, with time and age, break from any early years imposed attitudes. It is not the family that is important here but the strength of the social/tribal cohesion.

Our society is barely focused on the family let alone the social, communal bonding, communality and accepted cultural norms, and this may be one reason why the individual has seen that religion has failed to hold society together, that bond that works 'above' the individual whim and selfish wishes.

Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #40 on: December 09, 2015, 07:37:15 PM »
Jack Knave wrote:

One flaw in all these arguments is that they go from conceiving of something to it actually existing.  But there is no link like that.  I can imagine an 8-tentacled purple octopus on Venus, which controls the universe, but that doesn't bring it into existence.

I think also the argument uses a very mechanical view of 'products', as if there is a linear kind of adding up of previous experiences.   But I can synthesize from all kinds of ideas.
But the question is how do you do that and why? That is the essence of the OP. Why should we even think these things. Where do they come from. Do chimps have gods? They experience very much the kind of fears and emotions in their 'tribal' context etc. as us, as do other animals, so do they have gods? We seem to have stepped beyond the natural experiences and come up with metaphysical ideas.

Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #41 on: December 09, 2015, 07:46:31 PM »
Isn't teleology different from 'complexity being worked out'?  Teleology means that there is a purpose in the universe, whereas an inbuilt complexity is different, it's just a complexity.   We don't say that the water cycle shows purpose, but it shows complexity. 

Actually, this is part of the creationist argument, that nature is so complex that it must have purpose, and where you have a purpose, you have a planner.
In all this one would have to explain where the laws of physics have come from. Teleology, entelechy, whatever the potential has to be there in the first place for any progress to take place and potential needs some form of action to get it started and that action needs laws of force to progress it in an orderly fashion, else the ensuing chaos would break it up.

wigginhall

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2015, 08:02:57 PM »
In all this one would have to explain where the laws of physics have come from. Teleology, entelechy, whatever the potential has to be there in the first place for any progress to take place and potential needs some form of action to get it started and that action needs laws of force to progress it in an orderly fashion, else the ensuing chaos would break it up.

It's OK to say that we don't know, isn't it? 
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wigginhall

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #43 on: December 09, 2015, 08:05:44 PM »
But the question is how do you do that and why? That is the essence of the OP. Why should we even think these things. Where do they come from. Do chimps have gods? They experience very much the kind of fears and emotions in their 'tribal' context etc. as us, as do other animals, so do they have gods? We seem to have stepped beyond the natural experiences and come up with metaphysical ideas.

We have metaphysical ideas, therefore God?  That's a terrible argument.  We also have numbers and breakfast and video games and the offside rule - are they arguments for God?  Humans have the power of abstract thought, I can't see how this is particularly peculiar.
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Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2015, 08:24:56 PM »
It's OK to say that we don't know, isn't it?
We know what the phenomena is, and that it is real, and that there is regularity in things but in the end we can't get beyond the phenomena to the thing-in-itself.

Jack Knave

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2015, 08:35:48 PM »
We have metaphysical ideas, therefore God?  That's a terrible argument.  We also have numbers and breakfast and video games and the offside rule - are they arguments for God?  Humans have the power of abstract thought, I can't see how this is particularly peculiar.
But just saying we have abstract thought doesn't explain how we manage to step outside of our limited experience to such thoughts. Also, in the context of the philosophical argument here the word God is not attached to any particular religion, in fact it is areligious. As I have said else where you could use the term "Something" just as well. It is there to account for the way things are not to back up a particular religion or the theistic position.

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #46 on: December 09, 2015, 10:02:17 PM »
I'll just through this argument for God into the arena.

In Descartes Cogito ergo sum his reason for believing in God was based on a supposedly necessary principle to the effect that the lesser cannot give rise to, or be the cause of, the greater. So because we can conceive of God, and God is taken to be greater than us and thus beyond our capacity to conceive of It, the only way that such an idea could enter our minds is by God placing it there in the first instance.

What arguments would the non believers give for showing this to be a bad reason for believing in God.

Descartes was wrong, we can conceive something we think is greater.

Where on earth did he get that assumption?

 :-\

Why is it a supposedly necessary principal?


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Given enough time, the human race could improve itself, to be better in every sense, than the original.


« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 10:05:39 PM by Rose »

Gonnagle

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #47 on: December 09, 2015, 10:11:04 PM »
Dear Jack,

Quote
(hint: don't quote mark quotes as they won't show in the reply. Some one should change this so that at least one level of quotes gets transferred to the reply)

Cheers thanks, I had forgotten all about the quote thing. ;)

And this is a nice little thread, just folks putting their thoughts down, no body jumping on anybodies head, Plato and Aristotle would be most impressed :)

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Gonnagle

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #48 on: December 10, 2015, 09:35:58 AM »
Dear ekim,

Quote
A suggestion is that the human mind creates the concept rather than a god.  It might come about this way.  A small child learns how to submit to the authority of the father for survival purposes, which is the beginning of this particular concept formation.  It later recognises that there is a more powerful 'father' who has authority over the tribe, who he has to obey on pain of punishment and the concept is reinforced. He later realises that the tribal leader or king cannot control all elemental forces, so the concept extends to more powerful gods and goddesses (i.e. otherworldly fathers and mothers) or to a single tribal god.  If a tribe is defeated by another tribe then the superior tribe 'encourages' the defeated tribe to acknowledge worship of the superior tribe's God (the father almighty) without question.  After being impressed upon following generations, perhaps using the 'stick and carrot' method, the indoctrination is complete and unquestioned belief is treated as truth.

It's a good theory backed up by historical evidence, actually theory is the wrong word, hypothesis, a good hypothesis, but historical evidence also tells us we have been doing this god stuff since day dot, why did early man weep for the animal he had just killed to feed his tribe, why did early man pray over his prey to help it into the spirit land. ( pray over his prey :o )

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ekim

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Re: Lesser Agent Can't Conceive of a Greater One?
« Reply #49 on: December 10, 2015, 10:26:47 AM »
That, of course, assumes a god who is into punishment, ekim.  What if a god isn't into all the concepts you have outlined?
That's part of the point of my reply, 'assumptions' and 'what ifs' which could be the result of human values projected on to an imaginary external entity e.g. if being a strong warrior is the desired quality then a Odin style god is worshipped, if love is the desired quality then a Venus is projected.  The source of the word 'god' stemmed from a word meaning 'that which is to be evoked' but somehow it seems to have evolved into 'man writ large'.