While you're running through my mind.
If you understand that the phrase, "I can't explain why", is almost heresy with respect to science, you will understand why when asked why I feel, believe, act, or am, a certain way—I either give an explanation or become stuck figuring out why until I can explain it. And on the occasions I cannot find a good explanation, I become the greatest force of opposition with respect to that specific behavior of mine.
Stay lady stay.
"Popo zow peanut butter jelly time, horse porn."
"Don't hurt me! I'll betray anyone!"
"I want to learn what pleases you. I want to learn everything about you."
I'm starting to think I should set my alarm for a half hour after I go to bed, because it seems like it is only after my alarm goes off that I can fall asleep.
Mean and meaningless.
We do our best, right?
With any luck.
At around 55 minutes, Daniel Dennett says something to the effect that, he must question the potential harm caused by his research before continuing or publishing. I want to say that, any time pure information about the natural world may be regarded as potentially harmful, one should simply preface the publishing of such information with an explanation of how humanity, though emergent from the natural world, and bound to the laws of physics, does appear to have some modicum of self control, whether as individuals, groups, or the whole of the species. Regardless of our understanding of free will and determinism, we have all experienced the guilt of doing something we feel is wrong, as well as the situations of doing something you don't want to, because you know you should, and doing something you do want to, despite knowing you shouldn't. These situations are sufficient for us to know that regardless of the conclusions we draw in our research, our behavior, whether justified through academia or through private self-deceit, as far as our personal experience is concerned, we have some amount of control over our actions, or at least we should be aware that our actions are not the direct consequences of what we consider to be optimal or desirable, without including a multitude of motivations when establishing the optimal criteria. I would argue that this conclusion alone should be sufficient to prevent us from changing our behavior simply because some research indicated what we previously thought to be true may in fact be false.
Oh, in the second part (24 minutes in or so), Dennett says outright that he takes seriously the proposition that there are things we should just not try to find out, that there is such a thing as knowing more than is good for us. I believe I wholeheartedly disagree. Furthermore I would argue that it is not something that can be stopped. Much like technology that appears to contain both positive and negative consequences, unless the bad outweigh the good so disproportionately that no one can bring themselves to investigate the matter, then the investigation of the matter is essentially inevitable. Eventually Hitchens and Harris vocally agree, using biological weapon information as an example. Again, I disagree. Investigation of biological weaponry is our best hope at understanding the dangers of biological threats, whether synthetic or NATURAL. I agree you do not always give everyone all the information you find, but that is not the same thing as deciding not to continue investigating an idea because it could result in such dangers.
I would like to say you should never trust someone who says something is impossible, but then you would have to distrust me! What I should say, more accurately, is that you should never trust someone who says something you have observed is impossible. You should always be open to the possibility that your observations are mistaken or convoluted, or simply illusionary, but to declare them impossible, or unnaturally possible (i.e. supernatural), is to display supreme ignorance, and such people should not be trusted, they are not authorities, and they do not understand the basic tenets of science.
These guys [that is, the religious defenders] like to make a lot of silly claims, like that we must have faith in reason, and I think I can finally resolve my discomfort between mathematics, science, and logic.
Mathematics, and logic, both require axioms, and those axioms are imaginary. Science seems to demand axioms as well, but the axioms are not ours to choose, but rather set out by the nature of the universe. We happened to choose logical axioms that made sense to us, cause and effect, true and false, syllogism, etc. Much in the same way, we chose what appeared to be the most reasonable mathematical axioms as well. In both mathematics and logic, we studied what appeared to most accurately model reality. On occasion, by thinking very critically, we have expanded our logic and mathematics into much more then required to explain reality.
Maybe the defining aspect of humanity is our information processing abilities. Our ability to accumulate, store, process, and communicate, information. And if you look at human history in those terms, you can see how our wellbeing (at least physically) has been largely influenced by our ability to increase the power of our information processing abilities. Language, written words, printing press, radio, television, computers, the internet, the last of which may prove to push us further than the rest combined. Information processing is the ultimate solution to the problem of persistent existence of a replicator (life).
I hate the anthropological argument of how the universe is fine tuned, if the universe were tuned differently, it would behave differently, true. For us to say that changing certain constants would result in our absence is fine, but to claim that it could not lead to other intelligent forms of life seems much less reliable.
Everything I know is determined by what is the more useful assumption. Any unnecessary assumptions will be discarded. The existence of a deity is not a useful assumption, and as such, I discard it.
"The suicide bomber community is entirely religious. The genital mutilation community is entirely religious. I wouldn't say that the child abuse community is entirely religious, not entirely, but it's bidding for it."
Frank Turek was persistently asking Hithens where good came from, and Hitchens was not explaining it really, partially distracted by Turek implying that it must be molecular if one is a materialist (or physicalist, as I might prefer). Eventually Turek, desperate to get a response, asks where evil comes from, to which Hitchens immediately replies, 'religion'. He then says, and mortality comes from humanitarianism, prompting Turek to ask, 'who's humanitarianism? Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin?', and Hitchens asks, 'are you saying Hitler was a humanist?'. It was a funny exchange, but I want to point out, neither of them represented my world view; neither one of them seems to know about what I feel is the obvious answer. Humans are social creatures, as such we rely on one another to survive, let alone prosper. Stable societies can not be formed by individuals that do not have the basic morals that we virtually all agree on (murder, rape, theft...), because in a society that believes these principles are acceptable will simply destroy itself. This also explains why a small portion of society is amoral, and why as individuals we will on occasion perform immoral acts. These are side effects of the fact that beyond some threshold, a good society (with morals) will be marginally tolerant of negative events (these are the so called 'leechers').
Sociopathic and psychopathic.
To Mr. Turek (through http://townhall.com/columnists/FrankTurek):
Hello Mr. Turek, I recently watched your debate with Christopher Hitchens, and I felt obligated to ask you: when asking Hitchens for a materialist (or as I prefer, physicalist) foundation for moral views and what makes something good or not, what exactly did you mean by 'good' or 'moral'. You seem to presuppose that such concepts require a foundation such that they are universally agreed upon (undeniable to other humans). I am a moral relativist, and I contend that the most of our mainstream morals are the direct consequence of our reliance on societal cooperation (I am disappointed that Hitchens did not provide any similar answer, though his response that morals come from humanitarianism is similar). However, I see now that if one were to require that morals were absolute, than this would not suffice, and I know that when people debate absolute versus relative morals, both sides tend to view the opposing side as misunderstanding the concept of morals. So again, my question is, what exactly constitutes a 'good' or 'moral' act to you?
If you could please respond please, I would really like to understand your side of this issue better, because I think that the better we can understand one another, the happier we will all be.
Thank you very much for your time,
Second letter (about gay marriage):
I hope I don't seem to be too forward, but after emailing you that last question, I read some of your articles opposing gay marriage, and I have recently stumbled across a question for opponents of gay marriage: who are intersexuals allowed to marry? (Intersexuals are the modern PC term for hermaphrodites, some of whom are born with functioning male and female genitals.) I have never heard this question asked, and such people are fairly rare (between 1.7% and 0.1% of humans, depending on defining criteria, are born with ambiguous sex characteristics). Personally, I don't really care about gay marriage, or even straight marriage. I would like to marry a nice girl some day, but only to let her know I am committed to her. Otherwise I couldn't care less, other than the discomfort caused me in denying intersexuals this same right.
So I was curious what a staunch opponent of gay marriage would think.
Thank you again,
List ALL of the sources you used to establish your world view:
Theist: holy book of my choice.
Atheist: Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Beakmen, science textbooks from 1st to 11th grade, Mr. Carey (physics teacher in high school), physics textbooks, mathematics text books, astronomy books, chemistry text books, biology text books, and most of all, my mind. Because every one of those sources has made errors, and it takes time to find them, and discard them.
"Fade out again. This machine will not communicate these thoughts and strain I am under."
It is only through the communication with others that I can hope to understand anything.
"...religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality."
-John Stewart (to Mike Huckabee)
John had some really good points for Mike Huckabee, who opposes same sex marriage.
He also said, "...it feels like semantics is cold comfort, when it comes humanity..."
I think there is an important point to be illustrated in a theory's ability to explain it's competitors. For instance, if you were to grant that intelligent design is actually science, and actually competes in some way with evolutionary theory, you should still understand that evolutionary theory can explain the existence of intelligent design, whereas intelligent design has to sustain modifications to explain evolution. In the same way, heliocentric theory explains geocentric theory, but not the reverse. In these instances, the alternatives are such simple illusions, it is a small matter to explain their existence.
I think I want to write a book, about religion and science, and call it something like, "God's place in science", or "Science and God", or "Modern Science and God", or any other misrepresentative title. Then I would make each chapter a misrepresentative title, like, "How God explains Everything", or "The Role of Tradition within the Process of Discovery". Then I would begin each chapter by introducing the theist's view of reality, and slowly explaining it in excruciating detail, I would frequently consult actual theists for their own opinions, to ensure that I was representing their view. Then I would methodically deconstruct and invalidate their views, with each chapter ending in an explanation of why the atheistic view was preferable. Anyone want to fund or publish me? I think it is wonderful what Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins & Dennett have all done, but they have nevertheless aimed at borderline theists and atheists more so than hard-core fundamentalists. I agree that in general, fundamentalists will not be swayed, but I do believe that regardless of how many confederates we accumulate, we could still shake some foundations, and I believe that constitutes sufficient reason to do so. Every single fundamentalist whom hesitates before pushing their views on another person is worth at least one borderline theist who stops voting their pastor's wishes, or who stops accepting their pastor's belief without question.
The one difficulty would be, religious people would tend not to finish the book, or any single chapter. And intelligent non religious people would be reluctant to read any of the book at all, simply by judging by cover.
I wish I had words and phrases like 'jesus' and 'oh my god', because they are so useful (if chosen wisely) in expressing the full gamut of human emotion with respect to surprise, whether surprise in anger, disappointment, happiness, excitement,
"What if everything you had burned down around you?"
"One of yours you had to bury."
"He was getting away." So I shot him in the back.
"It'd be better to forget you, but I really don't want to."
I want to learn what pleases you, what turns you on, what captivates you, and drives you wild.
What gets you going and what stops you in your tracks.
What are your dreams and fears.
What happiness do you lack.
I want to satisfy you, until your needs lose all meaning.