left biblioblography: DUBITO ERGO COGITO - COGITO ERGO DUBITO: FIVE POINTS

Sunday, February 18, 2007

DUBITO ERGO COGITO - COGITO ERGO DUBITO: FIVE POINTS

"In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true." - John C. Lilly

This post was inspired in part by the Jewish Atheist, and partially from reading on the 'Net about some debate, where the theists and atheists had to switch sides, and the theists came up with the best arguments against belief, and the atheists had nuthin'. I'd link, but alas cannot find.

So, as a thought experiment, I will hereby take the other side. This pentalogy consists of items that make me doubt my atheism.

1. Saturn.

Not only does this planet sing, but according to Harlan Ellison, in his book Edgeworks - An Edge In My Voice, he says on page 42 when he was covering the first pictures transmitted from Voyager I (essay entitled Saturn, November 11th, date is 1980) of the planet Saturn:

"The Voyager was literally being shot at by Saturn as it flew past. The 'spokes' seem to be -- hold your breath -- enormous linear particle accelerators!"

On page 43, "And so these electrified ice crystals apparently discharge along the length of the spoke creating, in effect, the Solar System's largest radio antenna as well as a natural linear particle accelerator."

That we, as a species, have constructed an echo of a larger process in the system, is enough to give anyone pause. Quasars, too, are particle accelerators.

2. Also, one Dr. Alexander Graham Cairns-Smith (1931) is an organic chemist and molecular biologist at the University of Glasgow, most famous for his controversial 1985 book, Seven Clues to the Origins of Life. The book popularized a theory he had developed since the mid-1960s, that a simple intermediate step between dormant matter and organic life might be provided by the self-replication of clay crystals in solution."

It makes one wonder, does it not? Many mythologies claim that Man was risen from the clay of the earth, breathed into life.

3. Psalms 90:4 - "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night."

Prior to Einsteinian physics, time and space were considered to be separate constructs. Not until the Relativity theorem redefined Newtonian physics did humanity realize that the two were deeply intertwined. There is no absolute location in time. While all this sounds abstractly metaphysical, an immortal being would effectively defy all four dimensions. The Psalms verse is...eerie.

4. And I wonder, and wonder again, at the problem of evil in this world. Are we but wayward children, denying and defying a celestial parent? The other thing, is this: there is an eternity for this parent to get back to us - assuredly, an immortal being would become somewhat...laconic in this respect. There's always plenty of time, for an entity beyond the constraints we feel, not subject to the shackles that chain mortality, to come and have a sit-down and a bit of a natter, is there not? Are we intemperate offspring, throwing a tantrum, demanding equal and instant attention? When one child is mistreated by another, the cosmological equivalent of a schoolyard confrontation, is it in anyone's best interest to have the parent there, hovering over every minute of the learning process? Will instead justice be meted out in the next life, a gap between the ripples of time that lap with languid tongues at the sandy banks of reality?

5. Quantum physics is also a nagging doubt: between the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the observer effect, and all the strangenesses we encounter on the sub-atomic level that are so counter-intuitive, it seems that in some respects, for reality to exist, it needs to be observed.

These are my five points. Discuss, debunk them at your leisure. I will simply observe (and therein lies the rub, does it not? Will my observation of the discussion effect the outcome? Hehehehe).

"Let's dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues." - David Bowie.

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13 comments:

Randy Kirk said...

In debating with 100's or more atheists and agnostics over the years, it has alway been my curiosity that those (scientists) who are generally trying to find cause are completely immune to concern about purpose. It doesn't give you any pause that your life has no purpose outside of your 83 year contribution?

The other issue I thought might give you pause almost got addressed when you said this planet can sing. I thought you were going to suggest that the earth and all of its living and non-living matter create a kind of concert, which in combination is greater than the sum of its parts. Since you know the Bible, you know that the Bible says the first evidence is of that type.

Krystalline Apostate said...

randy:
This is primarily a thought experiment, & as I stated at the end of the post, I'm leaving it up to my readers to argue out the consequences of the points I've illustrated.
& the truth of the matter is, I give myself purpose.
& I'm not 83: I don't know where you got that # from.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: randy

"It doesn't give you any pause that your life has no purpose outside of your 83 year contribution?"

That atheists or agnostics are without purpose must be one of the biggest and silliest strawman arguments ever perpetrated against them.

That they are without whatever a god believer considers to be a "god's purpose" doesn't mean they don't have meaning and purpose to their lives. They just don't believe that the concept of an afterlife is contigent to any purpose or meaning they have in life.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE KA

"the problem of evil"

I don't believe in the existence of evil. Certainly not evil defined in a religious sense. The natural world has many inherent dangers. It has disease, famine, natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, cyclones and tornadoes. It has, or used to have, animals that would, if given the opportunity, make a meal out of us as soon as we would make a meal out of them.

And it has humans who, for whatever reasons they concoct to salve their actions and behaviours, rape, kill, murder, cheat, lie and steal.

Some of those reasons they justify according to politics, economics, culture, tribalism, greed, and the desire for resources and money. Sometimes they justify their actions according to their god belief or the lack of it.

So, to me, the "concept of evil" has only ever been something which humans consider to be potentially dangerous to our individual or group survival.

In other words, anything which may have the ability to impact negatively upon our survival, is viewed as evil.

Of course when most religious people consider "evil" they tend to view it in a slightly different way. They imagine that "evil" is, for the most part, a force external to themselves which acts with purpose and deliberation upon their lives, looking for a reason or an opportunity to be their undoing.

"Evil" becomes a separate, discrete entity to them. They go on to personify this evil entity, power, or force as various "supernatural beings". Some of these personifications of evil which humans create are the devil, satan, vampires, werewolves and a myriad of nasty manmade entities.

I don't see evil as an entity or being which acts upon the natural world. I see that the natural world isn't always conducive to our survival, or to the survival of other living things. And I see that human beings who are part of the natural world are not always conducive to the survival of other human beings or other natural living things.

So, "evil" is just what human beings arbitrarily consider to be deleterious to their survival.

say no to christ said...

KA, you know that I firmly believe that our prehistoric ancestors had a greater understanding of how the world works than most scientists and people give them credit for. However, I do not understand physics and the cosmos enough to really have a firm opinion. SO, I will just be an observer on this one.

Very interesting!

Randy Kirk said...

Sorry that I didn't stay within the plan for your post. The 83 years was average age for a man. I don't doubt that a person can identify a purpose for themselves. I wonder at an inquisitive personality not wondering whether their life has purpose outside of their own ideation.

beepbeepitsme,

As a citizen, I am always concerned by the issue of source of morality, whether objective or subjective. This forms a huge part of the debate between believers and those who don't believe.

It gets even more problematic if there is no agreed upon evil. But I suppose that could be definitional.

remy said...

Regarding evil.
It's a peculiar term that seems to me to apply only to human behaviour. Animals kill; cats toy with their prey. While ugly, it's a long way from evil.

It is perhaps a contradiction but evil, if it exists, requires intelligence. That is to say, we have choices.

Perhaps it's our reptilian brains which cause some humans to act as they do, but there does seem to me to be actions which I would consider evil.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE randy

"Evil" is whatever we see an deleterious to our survival. Either our individual survival or the survival of whatever group, tribe or nation to which we belong.

"Religious evil" is an entirely different kettle of fish. Religions personify harmful situations, and naturally occuring dangers into "evil humanlike supernatural entities" which are looking for an opportunity to pounce. That I consider evil in this religious sense to be an ummitigated bunch of crap, is an understatement.

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM:
I rather like the 'moral razor' concept -
http://radicallibertarians.blogspot.com/2006/01/moral-razor.html
"The Moral Razor is this :
A moral principle or system, or a political principle or system, is invalid if it is asymmetrical in application (to locations, times or persons)."

Randy:
I wonder at an inquisitive personality not wondering whether their life has purpose outside of their own ideation.
Having studied comparative religion all of my adult life, I have indeed done that 'wondering'.
By use of the 'other' razor, it's simpler to assume that all is guesswork on the part of the religious. Most of them share some commonality: but the fluctuations between them are primarily cultural.

Mesoforte said...

1. We've been mimicing natural phenomenon for ages now. Its not a surprise that we would find partical accelerators in nature.

2. I think those mythologies might have arisen more from skin tone compared to dirt than anything else. However, that theory reminds me of the mythic golems.

3. A being with an absolute frame of reference is impossible according to relativity, and something bound by time must be a part of our universe in our current understanding of the system.

4. The concept of evil is more based on percieved and learned wrongs within a society. History shows gradual steps in the developement of morality that is intertwined with social interaction. Similiar to the Mongols, who after invading China, adopted its social practices and mixed them with its own culture.

5. Quantum physics is an iffy subject for me at the moment. Suffice to say though, that we need to do more expieriments and observations in the field.

Stardust said...

It doesn't give you any pause that your life has no purpose outside of your 83 year contribution?

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is Whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.” Joseph Campbell

The other issue I thought might give you pause almost got addressed when you said this planet can sing. I thought you were going to suggest that the earth and all of its living and non-living matter create a kind of concert, which in combination is greater than the sum of its parts. Since you know the Bible, you know that the Bible says the first evidence is of that type.

The Bible was written by humans, who were influenced by their own experience and perceptions. Writers of the Bible, according to their own understanding (or ignorance) simply created their own answers as to why the earth "sings." (As do most of the human authors of world religions and mythologies.)

mxracer652 said...

Dude, don't sweat the QM. An observer is not needed on the macro scale b/c of all the particle interaction. An unstable isotope will decay & kick off other particles with or without anyone watching it. The moon will be there due to it's interactions with the rest of the universe & on smaller scales, itself, whether or not nobody is looking at it.

This is just another version of Schrodinger's cat.

Go ahead & scratch #5 off your list, the physicists have that wrapped up.

Krystalline Apostate said...

mxracer:
Go ahead & scratch #5 off your list, the physicists have that wrapped up.
Consider it scratched.
It sure is some weird ass shit, though.
The whole point of the post was to throw some curve balls here & there, & get some discussion going on some of the more bizarre items in the natural world.

That theory about crystals in clay is...eerie, gotta admit. & Saturn singing? I know, we see what we prefer, we hear what we want to, but it's still passing strange.