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Author Topic: rude 'n' ridiculous rants + polite but painfully-slow prattle with passers-by  (Read 19696 times)

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Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #125 on: August 10, 2012, 06:00:44 PM »
I'm a singer (no gigs though; just along with the radio when I'm alone in the car, but I do get a lot of looks from fellow motorists -- apparently my voice projects, lol), and I do have some mad percussion skill.  :P Mostly though, my rhythm comes in handy when I'm practicing my karate. A lot of the more complicated forms can be a bitch to learn, but if you can treat it like a dance it comes so much easier.

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #126 on: August 10, 2012, 07:22:00 PM »
So Oniya, did you learn first on the guitar, or did you start on piano?  I'm guessing piano because it sounds like you know a lot about music.  Do you play any instrument frequently, and is there one you're most comfortable and most skilled at?  Just curious.

I started with piano (and the ubiquitous recorder in school), because that was an 'acceptable' thing to learn.  The guitar I bought with my own money from my first job, and I approached it with mostly piano books to work from - a few had guitar chord diagrams, but for the interesting accompaniments, I was taking the piano 'fake book' renditions and turning it back into guitar.

I don't get a chance to play a lot, but I'm probably most skilled at the piano, just from the formal lessons.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #127 on: August 10, 2012, 10:51:32 PM »
It's a weekend night, and the vodka is sweet and tingle-licious.  :)  Yes I'm by myself.  My social life is non-existent right now, partly because I live in a different city from any of my few, beloved friends; partly because I'm naturally disinclined to socialize much with anyone; and partly because I suck hard at making new friends or socializing with strangers.

(Ironically, I'm pretty good at socializing with people, strangers or not; people enjoy my company, it seems; at least for the most part.  I've even been able to "hit it off" now and then in social settings.  I just don't enjoy myself enough, while I'm busy trying as hard as humanly possible to fit in well and be liked by all those people.  That's a lot of fucking work for me.  It comes easy to some people, I know, but it wears me out in five seconds flat.  I do it when I have to and when I really want to for some reason, but mostly, I avoid socializing, with anyone.  Except a few beloved loved ones whose company I seek out from time to time.  Not even them very often though.)

I spend more time by myself than anyone I know, or even anyone I've heard about.  I suspect I'm sure there are people who spend as much time as I do by themselves, but whoever those people are, you wouldn't ever meet them and find out how they spend their time ... because they don't go to places where you would meet them, or if they do, they don't get around to meeting you or anyone else.  I'm like that myself, so I know about these things.  :)  (How many reclusive weirdos like me are out there in the general public?  I have no idea, although I'd love to know.  Do you know?)

Now, before anyone goes feeling sorry for me because I sit around by myself so much, take note of this fact:  even though I spend more time alone than anyone I know, I am almost certainly not the loneliest person I know, nor am I likely to be the loneliest person you might know.  Feeling loneliness and being alone are not at all the same things.  I don't feel lonely all that often, because I feel so much social anxiety that I prefer to be alone more often than not.  It doesn't mean that I don't get lonely or yearn to be with people; I do, big time.  But more often than not, I'd rather be by myself.  It's a personality thing.

Takes all kinds, as they say.  :)

(What, didn't you suspect that Elliquiy might be a place where some people like me who have totally bizarre and abnormal social habits might be drawn to spend their time?  Yes, it's true.  That's not to say that most people at Elliquiy are like that; most probably aren't.  Also, it's a nice thing that the site is so welcoming and comfortable that some people like me who might be uncomfortable at other sites or in other places where people congregate, virtually or literally, can feel comfortable here.)

(Loneliness is a bit like horniness, IMO:  the people who feel the most loneliness are not necessarily the ones who spend the most time alone, just like the people who get horny most often are not necessarily the ones getting laid the least.  The key variables that determine loneliness or horniness are not the ones you would first expect.)












Mo' Music Nerdery -- audience participation style!

Here's an open invitation to anyone who happens to visit this blog, even the "Guests," although I don't know if they're able to post here or not.  Anyone who visits frequently is welcome to participate at any time but is not in any way obligated, of course.

Tell me five of your favorite musical groups or artists;
or, tell me five of your favorite albums;
or, -- what the hell -- five of your favorite songs. 
If you want to talk about what you like about those things, even better, but not required.

You don't need to rank them unless you like the idea of doing that (in that case, feel free!).  Also, they don't need to be your five favorites of all time, but they could be, if you like that idea.  They could be just five things you like right now, or whatever.

(People younger than me are much more likely than people my age to listen to individual songs without listening to entire albums by artists.  Nowadays the idea of buying and loving a single song is commonplace, but that's an innovation of sorts; prior to iTunes and MP3s, people had to buy the whole damn album or CD to hear the music they liked.)  (Ironically, the popularity of single songs is a return of sorts to the earliest days of rock and roll, when 45s -- little records -- were the most popular medium for music purchasing.  I've always loved the magic of great singles in any format, so I have no objection to people loving individual songs without listening to the whole albums; I do it myself, all the time.)  (No, I'm not old enough to remember the early days of rock and roll myself!  :)  I've read about the history of rock, and talked to a few people who are old enough to remember those years.)

In return for your labor of telling me a few of your faves, I will tell you what I know about those things, what I think about those things, and I might also recommend an artist or album that you might like, based on the stuff you already like.  You may or may not bother to investigate the thing I recommend; no obligation of course.  It's fun for me to make the recommendation even if you don't get around to taking it.  :)

« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 11:59:17 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #128 on: August 12, 2012, 08:35:31 PM »
Today's Words of Wisdom (?)
( ... could be wise ... could be the exact opposite! ... You tell me ...)

"How 'bout a cheer  /  for all those bad girls
and all the boys  /  that play that rock and roll
They love it  /  like you love Jesus
It does the same thing  /  to their souls"


-- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Have Love Will Travel," from The Last DJ, 2002








 
The world is full of Christians who get mad at other people or look down on them for doing things that make them feel good.  Similarly, the world is full of Christians who get mad at other people or look down on them for living their lives in a way that makes them feel happy. 

Sad to say, but I have often been one of those Christians.  I have also often been one of the people whom other Christians were getting mad at or looking down on.

Any person who is feeling any good feeling for any reason, no matter who they are or what they're doing at the time, that person is a person who is enjoying a gift that was given to them personally from God himself, and if that's true, then not only is there nothing wrong with that person enjoying that thing to the fullest and without hesitation or guilt, but it would be wrong for anyone else to begrudge that person his or her good feeling or discourage it; it would be wrong for anyone else to look down upon that person for doing a thing that makes them feel good.

Similarly, if a person is living his or her life in ANY way that makes him or her happy, then it is wrong for anyone else to look down on them or disapprove of them for doing that.

Hmm.  That's a pretty sweeping and counter-intuitive and potentially risky thing to say.  Is it true?  I don't know.  What do you think?

Every happy feeling is a gift from God by definition; every good thing and good feeling comes from God and only God, by definition.  True or false?  True, abso-fucking-lutely true.

Is it possible to do something bad or wrong and then feel good or happy as a result?  Well, yes.  Of course it is; we all know this.  Smoking lotsa crack or shooting lotsa heroin or raping somebody or killing people might make certain people feel good, yet obviously those are bad things to do.  But is that all there is to it?  I don't think so.

Why is it that doing something bad sometimes feels good?  Why is it that doing lots of bad things often feels incredibly great?










The importance of these issues is probably self-evident, but in case it's not, I think these kinds of issues are at the very heart of many of the largest ethical questions of our day and age, questions that have enormous ramifications for our society and the way that people conduct themselves in it.  Whenever one group of people behaves in a way that another group of people disapproves of, the behavior is usually or at least frequently something that feels good or brings happiness, such as the use and abuse of substances, from drugs to food, or any sexual behavior outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage, including premarital and extramarital sex, promiscuity, and other widely-practiced sexual alternatives such as homo-, bi-, and transsexuality (apologies if my terminology there is awkward or dated). 

Even more generally, the way that each person prioritizes every area of his or her life is usually determined by that person's best estimate of what will bring the most happiness.  In that sense, these issues determine at least in part how much focus each person gives to their career, family, financial security, wealth accumulation, hobbies, religion, education, entertainment, etc.; over-emphasizing or over-indulging in certain areas can change them from healthy, good-feeling pursuits to unhealthy and bad ones.  In short, I think the answers to the questions above have a big impact on every important area of life for just about everybody.











As I get older and accumulate personal experiences, I learn a thing or two, and that's really nice.  It is not at all self-evident that people learn and grow as they age; some people believe that one's essential nature is nearly set in stone after childhood.  I don't believe that, although there are things in each personality that are extraordinarily resistant to change, so it's not to be taken for granted either that people will mature and grow; there are so many people who never seem to learn a damned thing.  Heh.

One of the downsides of having strong personal convictions about certain things is that some people may assume that you think you know everything, have your mind made up about everything, or aren't interested in learning from others.  I hope I don't give off that impression, because it's very important to me to keep listening and trying to learn from anyone and everyone around me, and it's very important to me to never become closed off to changing my mind and correcting my inevitable mistakes.  There are a handful of personal religious convictions that I have chosen to set apart as beyond the reach of rhetorical or philosophical attacks, but the decision to do that was made only with great deliberation and care, with what I consider a sound and important justification; even that decision and those convictions are not completely impervious to change or at least evolution over time.

Anyway, the previous part of today's post poses questions and raises issues that are extremely important to me and are very much on my mind, but my ideas about those topics are not yet firm, so I can't wrap up the post with my conclusions about these subjects.  I have some ideas that I may get around to writing about later, but they're still speculative.

All that is to say that I'm especially interested in any observations or arguments or comments from interested readers on these topics.  :)  No obligation though of course.  I don't necessarily assume that anybody even reads these things much less wants to comment.  But it's nice when people do. 










Today:  another of the best days of my life thus far.  How many of these have I had in the last few years?  Way, way more than any sensible person would expect; way more than anybody deserves.  I'm, uh -- just thankful.  :)

I hope similar days are in your recent past or immediate future.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #129 on: August 12, 2012, 10:34:26 PM »
The word "sin" is extremely problematic, like all the other words that occur frequently in Christian church services and don't appear anywhere else very often; all those words bring immediately to mind the worst excesses of televangelists and other asshole Christians who are busy making everything in the world worse for everyone.  (Yes, I just called all televangelists assholes, which isn't very nice of me; if you are one of them, sorry dude, it's nothing personal!)

Here is the evidence that sin exists in the world around us, IMO:  all of us, every last motherfucking one of us, no matter what religion we espouse, no matter where we're from, no matter anything, all of us who have eyes can look around at things and find all sorts of things that aren't the way they should be.  Those who disagree are in denial about it, if you ask me.  Let me give you some examples.

What I said earlier today about how doing bad things often feels good?  There's a great example.  Doing something bad shouldn't ever feel good, but we all know it does quite often, and we all can sense intuitively that things should not be that way, even though they obviously are that way.  Rapists shouldn't enjoy raping, but at least some of them do.  Murderers shouldn't enjoy killing, but at least some do.  Bring it closer to home:  I know what it's like to take pleasure in causing another person pain.  It's not something I'm proud of, but I've done it more than once, sometimes even with careful forethought.  Even though I felt guilty as fuck later on, I got my little jollies for a little while from making another person feel shitty, and I shouldn't have done that.  Not only should I not have hurt the person, but more importantly for this discussion, I shouldn't have felt good while I was hurting the person, and yet I did.

A much more innocuous but still relevant example:  I could easily binge on McDonald's 24-7 and eat my way to a massive heart attack.  I try not to do that.  Mc-junk food tastes really good to me and is really bad for me.  IMO something so harmful and bad shouldn't taste so damn good.

Where does our universal sense of how things should or shouldn't be come from?  We all know that the only people who have no sense of right and wrong are mentally ill or imbalanced in some way; in fact, having a clear sense of right and wrong is a key part, perhaps the key part of our very definition of what it means to be a sane adult.  One huge difference that sets children apart from adults is their inability to tell right from wrong clearly in certain circumstances; one of the ways we determine that a person is no longer a child is by whether or not they can tell right from wrong.  Our judicial system recognizes this.  It's not just a matter of acquired learning, either.  Every so often another child psychology study comes out that supports something we already all knew to begin with (heh, isn't that what most of them are about?  psychology is so fucking dumb in some ways):  children develop a sense of right and wrong as they age without even being taught it.  There are exceptions and fine distinctions to be made from one individual to the next, but the general rule holds, IMO.

I think a sense of right and wrong is built in to each of us, and so is a sense that things often aren't as they should be.  The world is fucked up; life is fucked up; find me a sensible person who denies this in a general sense.  I know, some people want to disagree about every damn thing, but sometimes that's just obstinacy.  ;)












And now, to satisfy my daily quota of self-contradiction.  :)

(I've been highlighting words now and then to indicate key themes of this blog and/or topics or people who are near and dear to my heart.  FYI.) 

I don't know what to make of this Curtis Mayfield song quotation, but I've been thinking about it a lot lately.  If you know or think you might know what to make of it, please do help me out with that.  (Aside:  I have no idea whether Curtis Mayfield was a Christian or not, but I only say that because I feel very strongly that it isn't appropriate for me to ever say whether or not any specific individual besides me is or is not a Christian.  I may try to explain that conviction of mine further sometime.  AFAIK Curtis claimed to be a Christian -- many of his lyrics included religious references -- and he lived a life that any sensible person should admire enormously, whether he was a Christian or not.)  (Also he was one seriously bad motherfucker.  Respect, ya'll.)










More Today's Words of Wisdom (?) ( ... could be wise ... could be just the opposite! ... You tell me)

"... We who are pure at heart  /  somehow might see
There's still light in the world,  /  come rejoice with me ..."


-- Curtis Mayfield, "New World Order," from New World Order, 1996

« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 03:01:31 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #130 on: August 13, 2012, 12:14:01 AM »
Reading, not reading, audiences, behavior of Elliquians, blogs, confessions

Since I'm always harping on the likelihood that few if any people read this blog, I should confess that there's more to it than me being a narcissist who wants an audience.  It's also a matter of guilt.

See, if you asked me to read this blog, or any other blog with this much stuff in it, I would have a very hard time doing it and would probably give up.  I could do it, but it would take me a very long time, and it would require a lot of concentration.  I'm a slow reader, painfully slow, and I'm also a meticulous reader, meaning that I reread each line until it makes sense to me, or until I determine that I can't make sense of it no matter how hard I try.  For those reasons, I find it extremely difficult to read anything longer than a few sentences, and it becomes even harder if the sentences aren't interesting and well-written. 

Honestly, I spend very little time reading anything at Elliquiy.  That's not to say that I don't do it; I do.  But it's very rare for me to do anything other than skim -- read a sentence here, a sentence there; look for key words that might interest me and get me to read further.  There are a few writers at Elliquiy whose writing is so superb that when I look at their stuff, I will read every word of anything they write, but I can only think of one, actually, off the top of my head, and even for that person, I don't bother to read most of their posts.  They're prolific and I'm lazy.

The truth is that I come to Elliquiy mostly to write, not to read.  I suspect this is true for the majority of Elliquians.  I also suspect that there is a small minority of Elliquians who mostly read rather than write; and there is a miniscule number who read and write in roughly equal amounts.

So, when I imagine any person attempting to read anything in this blog, I feel kinda guilty, because I know that even though I like the idea of people reading my posts -- that's why they're here rather than hidden where no one can see them -- personally, I myself am not the kind of person who would be likely to read this blog or any other.  I feel bad about that.  Should I?  I dunno.

A few minutes ago, and not for the first time, I spent some time skimming over other blogs at Elliquiy, and I was quickly reminded of how difficult it is for me to focus and read anything at Elliquiy.  Most of the writing is not very good or very interesting, and even when it is both good and interesting, that's just not my main reason for being here; I'd rather write crappy mediocre stuff than read mediocre stuff written by others. 

So, if you're reading any of this, you have not only my immense gratitude but also my deepest sympathies, because I know my blog is not any better-written or any more interesting than the others.

I will admit to finding one blog at Elliquiy that was relatively short and extremely well-written and so engaging that I read every sentence closely, or nearly that.  Here's a link.  It's very difficult to read because of the topics discussed, but it is well worth anyone's attention, moreso than anything I've written in my blog.  I'm sure there are many other blogs and blog posts worthy of close attention, but I don't usually look for them, for the reasons mentioned above.

I also want to add this:  when I RP with anyone, I read every word of every sentence they write, very closely, both because I'm very interested in what they have to say, and because I hope that those individuals pay close attention to my posts as well.  I do the same thing with every comment to this blog, or with responses to my posts elsewhere at Elliquiy (ex. in the Off Topic section or On Topic or in P&R back when I posted there).  Being a slow and meticulous reader, I spend a lot of time with anything that I do read.  So, if you've commented here or RPed with me, rest assured that your comments or posts got plenty of attention, probably more than you even expected, because I really am a meticulous and slow reader.  :)  FWIW!
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 12:17:14 AM by rick957 »

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #131 on: August 13, 2012, 04:17:48 AM »
Once again, I find myself staring down the twin barrels of a late night and an existential query, pondering whether or not to mount another attack on the battalions of beatitude. But I got hot dogs, Usher is blaring through my speakers, and sleep is for the dead anyway. En garde, mon frere!

The word 'sin' is indeed problematic, as it is a symptom of the kind of destructive magical thinking that religion encourages. The trouble with the 'evidence' that you bring up ('we all know something is wrong, and anyone who says differently is in denial') is that your examples are heavily skewed toward civilized cultures. Consider for a moment the native tribes of Africa, Asia, South America. There are indiginous(sp?) peoples all over the planet who look at the world they live in and see absolutely nothing wrong. Of course, I don't mean to say that rape, murder, and general dickitude are completely absent from their lives, but I highly doubt that these behaviors ever occur without some kind of relatively rational reason. Tiktik of the Pupununu tribe may murder Bokbok because Bokbok shamed Tiktik with his prowess in a hunt, or because he thought Bokbok caused bad juju to befall the tribe, but the kind of sheer sadism you refer to is highly unlikely to cross Tiktik's thoughts. You may call the murder a 'sin', but to Tiktik it may be simply a necessary act to return the tribe to balance, with ideas of conventional morality never entering the equation.

Now, for my next point. The reason we have this sense of how things should or shouldn't be (which, as I feebly demonstrated in the previous paragraph is hardly 'universal') is twofold. First, the evolution of our species has included in us the programming for altruism, selflessness, empathy and cooperation. We are a highly social species, and the aforementioned qualities have proven themselves immensely beneficial to our continued survival and rise to dominance. We know that we, humanity, can accomplish so much more together than we ever could alone, and our higher reasoning abilities allow us to work out those facts from a young age. When we do bad things, we have the instinct in our heads to tell us to stop because we know the bad behavior is directly or indirectly harmful to ourselves or to others. Tommy and Joey both want the last slice of pizza in the school cafeteria. Tommy is bigger than Joey and could easily shove him out of the way, but he recognizes that Joey gets good grades in math or spelling and he wants to ask for help with his homework. Tommy knows that letting Joey take the last slice will probably make him more amenable to helping Tommy, so he relinquishes his claim on the 'za.

Second, our higher reasoning that lets us see what we could do together also tells us that we aren't doing that (because of greed, apathy, fear, paranoia, distrust, etc.), and it creates a subtle sense of cognitive dissonance within our subconscious minds. We are civilized enough to know that we can and should be living in a better world; we know there are problems and deep down, we know we can solve them. But so, so many people are taught from childhood that it's not their responsibility to fix what's wrong; be quiet, sit down, Someone With Authority will be along to rescue your dumb ass when it's deemed convenient. Humanity is shackled with the idea that it's not good enough to fix its own problems and we have to wait around for some dear and fluffy lord to come by and just torch the whole damn thing and start all over again.

As for children not being taught this innate sense of right and wrong: *cough*BULLSHIT*cough*. The only children who are not taught (at least to some extent) how to socialize and interact with their peers and elders within the context of their birth society are the ones who are left in the wild and raised by packs of feral jackalopes. You've heard of how children's brains are like sponges, constantly absorbing and internalizing new knowledge and information. Well, what do you think play is? There have been numerous studies done on this topic as well, proving that play is how younglings (and not just human children, but myriad species of young animals as well) study and learn about the world around them, and how to interact with their environment and each other. Little Suzy may not understand that taking the pretty red ball away from little Jill makes Jill sad when they're 3 or 4 years old, but after age 6 or 7 (say, long enough for Jill to take away Suzy's doll and make Suzy sad too), Suzy and Jill learn to empathize with each other and share their toys equally. Most people develop this empathy in childhood (or in some cases maybe a little later), and those who still commit crimes or otherwise engage in jackassery are more often than not simply displaying bad judgement, mistakenly weighing the temporary benefit of wrong actions as more valuable than the long-term benefit of right actions. We even have words for people who completely fail to develop these empathetic connections with other people; we call them psychopaths, or sociopaths.

This sense of right and wrong is indeed innate in us, after a certain age, and we do know that the world could and should be a better place. But this does not mean any sort of divine plan has been upturned, or that we have strayed from some great holy blueprint. We are animals, and we're doing the best we can. We're cool, absolutely fucking brilliant animals (IMNSHO), and we know we have the potential to do better. We're working on it, slowly but surely. But to call life itself 'fucked up'? Naw, man. Life ain't fucked up. Life just...is. It gives exactly zero shits about our opinion of its progress. Calling it fucked up, or absurd, or beautiful, or exciting, or any other descriptor you want to tag on there is originating strictly from a mammalian point of view.




~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~




Also, for your amusement, Rick, here's a quick top-5 list of my fave bands and artists, in no particular order (you could probably guess most of them just from talking to me, lol):

Aerosmith -- greatest thing to come out of Boston since...frankly, ever. WTF else do I know about Boston? I'm from Mississippi!
Dire Straits -- I have a sneaking suspicion that my life is somehow playing out according to their discography. I can remember at least five separate major events that occurred just before, during or after listening to one of their songs. So either I'm wrong, there actually is a god, and Mark Knopfler is it...or I just listen to way too fucking much DS. Frankly, I'm good either way.
Nickelback -- Everywhere I look, it seems I see hardcore Nickelback hate. Even Maple-Syrupia, homeland of da band, appears to retch every time Chad stands within five feet of a stringed instrument. I don't know what to say, except: fuck y'all haters. I know the music can be derivative, some of the lyrics are cookie-cutter and for all I know the band may even be filled with assholes. But it's also good, dumb fun music, and I appreciate the messages of some of the songs, even if nobody else does.
Lacuna Coil -- I really don't know that much about this band; I listen to music, I don't stalk musicians. But the music is powerful, the lyrics are (to me) profound, and the vocals are hauntingly beautiful. Rather like another favorite band of mine, Evanescence.
Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts -- Anyone who's ever seen an episode of Cowboy Bebop knows the Seatbelts. The first band to ever make me admit I like jazz, and believe me that's no mean feat. My personal definition of 'smooth' (sad as that may or may not be).

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #132 on: August 13, 2012, 10:40:24 PM »
Star -- your posts to this thread do such a good job of providing sensible rejoinders to my posts, giving voice to what other readers (if there are any, heh) might feel themselves but hesitate to say.  Having your insights here to contrast with mine adds immeasurably to the value of the overall thread.  It's appreciated.

Unfortunately, it probably doesn't surprise you that we seem destined to continue disagreeing with each other ... but as long as these are honest and frank disagreements -- ones that truly represent our sincere views -- then I wouldn't have it any other way.  You must follow your inner voice just as I must follow mine.

This is a kind of "sideways" response, hitting the relevant points in an indirect and perhaps obtuse manner.  I hope it isn't too annoying and it covers everything well enough; if it fails miserably in those areas, please let me know so that I can make a better attempt later.  :)  (As to the issue of children and learning, you were right to question my sweeping claim, especially since it lacked sources, but I think we basically agree that all normal children end up with a sense of right and wrong somehow, and that's the important point, regardless of how it gets there.)

Oh, and you needn't make too much of the song quotes; they're as much for personal inspiration as they are relevant to the discussion.  From one of my favorite albums ever.

(Oh, and -- responses about music stuff will happen later.)









"Broken lines  /  broken strings
Broken threads  /  broken springs
Broken idols  /  broken heads
People sleeping  /  in broken beds
Ain't no use jiving
Ain't no use joking
Everything is broken

Broken bottles  /  broken plates
Broken switches  / broken gates
Broken dishes  /  broken parts
Streets are filled  /  with broken hearts
Broken words  /  never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken

Seem like every time you stop and turn around
Something else just hit the ground ..."


-- Bob Dylan, "Everything Is Broken," from Oh Mercy, 1992









Have you ever worked your ass off for something and then not gotten it?  Happens to everyone sometime.  Did it bother you?  Yep. 

Now, why did it bother you?  Because you expected a fair result, and you got an unfair result.  Happens all the time in life.  Good people suffer; bad people succeed.  Unhealthy food tastes good sometimes, while some healthy food tastes awful.  Cheaters get away with it, not to mention thieves, murderers, and other sorts of scoundrels.  Good, decent, kind, caring, innocent people take it up the ass from the moment they're born to the moment they die.

The world is incredibly unfair ... and yet, we are built to expect and desire fairness.  No matter who we are or where we're from or how we were raised. 

Quote
... your examples are heavily skewed toward civilized cultures. Consider for a moment the native tribes of Africa, Asia, South America.

Is the world any more fair for a tribesperson who's never seen a cell phone and never heard of Big Macs?  Fuck no.  If anything, it's probably less fair, facing brutal reality without the comforts of modern technology. 

Tribesperson got the same bullshit to deal with as the rest of us.  His or her world is fucked up too; it's not fair, and for some reason, he or she wants to be treated fairly.  Fair pay for an honest day's work; just treatment within his or her society; attainable goals and bright plans for the future -- is there any doubt that these kinds of things are universally desired by people in any culture or setting?  Are there any people who don't face struggles, frustrations, and disappointments along the way to getting those things? 

That's just life.












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... But to call life itself 'fucked up'? Naw, man. Life ain't fucked up. Life just...is.


"There are no mistakes in life  /  Some people say
And it's true sometimes  /  You could see it that way
But people don't live or die  /  People just float
She'd gone with the man  /  in the long black coat"


-- Bob Dylan, "Man in the Long Black Coat," from Oh Mercy, 1992

It's possible to float through life imagining that right and wrong are social constructs or expedient evolutionary tools, but that's only in one's head.  You can fool the head a thousand thousand different ways.  It's not as easy to fool your heart, your gut.  Try stealing a wallet from a nihilist sometime; see if they get upset.  If they do, ask them why they expected anything better.  They've got the same feelings as you and me and the tribesperson. 

I don't know if you bothered to look at the interview I linked to a while back with science writer Jim Holt.  Long story short, he recently wrote a book pondering the question Why Does the World Exist?  After talking to all sorts of impressive people with conflicting answers to his big existential questions, Holt apparently comes to the following conclusion (quoted from the interview):  "Philosophy is a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing." 

I find his conclusion a little trite, but I'm much more interested in the effect of his chosen philosophy on his life and his personal bearing.  Faced with a personal tragedy no less harrowing than the premature death of his own mother due to a terminal disease, Holt responds with the same bemused indifference that he seems to approach everything else with:  he keeps saying how weird it was to watch his mother's moment of death. 

This is a man who has taken his own heart and stuffed it so far down into the gaping black hole of his oversized intellect that he can't hear a peep from it even when his fucking mother dies.  He is coolly unperturbed, as detached and inquisitive as any good modern scientist.

So what?  So this.  There are horrors in the world around us and catastrophes at different points in each of our lives.  These heartaches cannot be fully explained by anyone -- often there are no sufficient reasons -- but at least in part, they are there to move us emotionally and force us to a response.  Inside each of us is an instinct to revolt against the unfairness and a mysterious intuition that things shouldn't be this way; that it's not right; that it's not fair. 

Even if the world's suffering fails to move a person, every one of us gets knocked down hard once or twice ourselves, and our own lives go to shit all of a sudden.

So what are we to do?  What is the adequate response to all the horror?  What response could possibly suffice?  Can there even be one?

I say yes, there is one; only one.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 10:47:23 PM by rick957 »

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #133 on: August 14, 2012, 01:35:57 AM »
Naw, man, I ain't giving out anything special here. You bring out the meat; I just bring the salt, lol. Still, I'm glad you're enjoying the convo, and I hope your readers are as well (and yeah, you definitely got some; I know that you, Oniya I aren't tapping this thread enough to jack you up to nearly 2000 pageviews, haha).

That said...I think you're right; we're probably going to be at loggerheads for a while on this one. (At least until you give me a better idea of the full framework of your beliefs; I know I said I wasn't interested in fighting invisible lions, but I seem to have walked into the den anyway. So I hope you throw us a bone soon, neh?)

I'm definitely going to have to disagree with you on the importance of the origin of children's sense of morality, for one thing. I think its point of origin is extremely pertinent, as it provides a critical building block for one of our arguments, and if we can't agree on it then neither of us can really use it. But if you wish, we can disregard that issue for now and move on to other matters.

As for the example I gave of the tribesperson, I'll concede that while their morality may not mirror ours, there is likely a relative parallel in their desire for justice and fairness within their society. However, I have to call into question your statement that their lives are less fair than ours because they lack the conveniences and advantages of modern living. That is really a matter of perspective. The tribesperson may look at our lives and conclude that his life is more fair than ours because it's simpler, or because he has greater communal ties, or he has greater personal freedom, or whatever. You are still referring to fairness as being some kind of ideal absolute, which is unattainable through human effort. I see it as being simply another construct (not unlike altruism or empathy and with similar evolutionary advantages -- we judge actions and situations as 'fair' or 'unfair' because we recognize that fairness is more likely to benefit / less likely to harm ourselves, our loved ones, and/or our communities), entirely dependent on perspective.

Ditto the ideas of 'right' and 'wrong'. Since you brought up the idea of nihilism, I don't know whether you take my posts to mean you think that I am any sort of nihilist (according to the definitions provided in your link, I suppose I am, somewhat; but this doesn't mean I'm without hope, because while I highly doubt there is any great cosmic purpose inherent in humanity's existence, I have great confidence that we will find or create such a purpose through our own actions -- if we don't kill ourselves first), but I understand the point you were making. However, I think I disagree with this one as well. First, AFAIK, just because someone might be a nihilist doesn't mean he doesn't live in reality, it doesn't mean he never has to buy food or pay rent, and therefore it doesn't mean he won't break my nose for taking his money. And second, even if he doesn't care on an intellectual level that I rob him, it doesn't mean his instinct for self-preservation isn't activated by my actions, which means his philosophical position may take a backseat (however briefly) to his survival response.

You mentioned thousands of ways of fooling the head, but how hard it is to fool the heart or gut. But this is just using metaphor as a smokescreen. We both know you don't think with the 'heart' or 'gut', so I'm sure you're referring to our capacity to use emotion and intuition to arrive at conclusions with or without the use of reason. But both of these also take place in the brain, right along side reason, so my question is: how can you say these two can't be just as easily fooled?

I admit I didn't watch the interview you linked (it's rather a hassle to watch vids on my phone, and I'm afraid I forgot the links the last time I took my laptop into town for wi-fi; my bad), but the question you say Holt asks is, to me, a nonsense one. I think I see part of the root of the problem between our two viewpoints. From what I can tell (again, correct me if I'm wrong) you seem to be focused on the question of 'why': Why does the universe exist, why does humanity exist, why do we suffer, why do strangely liberated poultry perambulate perpendicularly to well-established routes of transit?

In my opinion, there is no 'why'. The universe exists because it exists; if it didn't, there would be nothing to talk about (pun intended). Earth, and so humanity, exists by pure, random chance. It just so happened after the universe's start that a whole bunch of mass collapsed together to form a star, it just so happened that more mass got attracted in and formed a bunch of planets in orbit around said star, it just so happened that yet more mass landed on one of the planets and got shook up enough to start chemical processes leading to inorganic and organic matter, and it just so happened that one of those millions of years long chains of chemical reactions led to us. If it hadn't happened here, in this solar system, it would have happened somewhere else in the universe (and probably did, several, several times). Our existence is the result of countless coin tosses coming up in just the right sequences to produce us.

And now for your last point, which...I'm not sure I'm detecting, honestly. You brought up our inner sense that something is wrong with the world, which I explained in my previous post, but then you seemed to just turn it around and say 'right, that's God'. You say there are no sufficient reasons for suffering, but in fact there are always reasons; the problem is only that the reasons aren't satisfying to you. Which brings us back to another thing I mentioned in my last post, about how life does not care for our satisfaction.

Earthquakes strike and kill thousands; why? Because the planet's tectonic plates are constantly undergoing subtle and violent shifts, and people decide to live on or near major fault lines. Bacteria and viruses form, evolve, infect and kill countless victims; why? Because we aren't capable of controlling our environment with sufficient precision to keep such lifeforms from coming into being, and we aren't vigilant enough to constantly defend ourselves from their assault. A rapist attacks a young woman and leaves her traumatized for life; why? Because his father was an abusive alcoholic and he grew up lacking the ability to form normal, functional relationships, leading to psychological disorders and violent tendencies which our society overlooks until it becomes an obvious problem. And so on.

You see? There are always reasons, sometimes obvious, sometimes not. The fact that you and I find the results to be horrific does not matter to those results in the slightest; it only matters insofar as what actions it drives us to take. You're looking for some external, guiding hand, a force moving all the factors around like pieces on a game board, and there's just no evidence for anything of the sort. You ask could be an adequate response to suffering; I say it's up to each of us to decide that for ourselves, and if you think only some perfect, celestial guardian can make everything okay, that's your prerogative of course. But personally, I think your standards are way too high.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #134 on: August 14, 2012, 04:17:34 AM »
Naw, man, I ain't giving out anything special here. You bring out the meat; I just bring the salt, lol. Still, I'm glad you're enjoying the convo,

I am -- (convo=conversation? convocation? confabulation? constipation?) -- either way, it's been great.  Here's a question for you though:  what's in it for you?  :)  I'm curious what reasons you would give for your interest in these topics and your willingness to participate in this kind of discussion.  I know what my reasons are but I doubt they're exactly the same as yours.

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and I hope your readers are as well (and yeah, you definitely got some; I know that you, Oniya I aren't tapping this thread enough to jack you up to nearly 2000 pageviews, haha).

Seriously, I think that's all from browsing "guests" and searchbots -- like, a dozen or two dozen hits every day, just from those.  Could be wrong.  If at least two human beans read each post, then I'm plenty happy.

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That said...I think you're right; we're probably going to be at loggerheads for a while on this one. (At least until you give me a better idea of the full framework of your beliefs; I know I said I wasn't interested in fighting invisible lions, but I seem to have walked into the den anyway. So I hope you throw us a bone soon, neh?)
 

So far I've got only the first stage of an outline, so it may take a while.  I'm envisioning something rather long and comprehensive because I'd like to show the document to certain RL people, maybe.  If it takes me forever to get that done, I'll eventually just put a summary here in the bloggio.

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I'm definitely going to have to disagree with you on the importance of the origin of children's sense of morality, for one thing. I think its point of origin is extremely pertinent, as it provides a critical building block for one of our arguments, and if we can't agree on it then neither of us can really use it. But if you wish, we can disregard that issue for now and move on to other matters.

This may be the last thing I get around to responding to right now, but I'm going to respond to other things too, just not right this sec.  I'll return to the child topics soon also; right now I'm going to step back and go a little "meta" on you, if I may.

I'm not sure that "argument" or even "debate" is quite the right word for what I'm trying to do in our little discussion here.  A while back, I made a mistake when I said the following:

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Here is the evidence that sin exists in the world around us, IMO:  all of us, every last motherfucking one of us, no matter what religion we espouse, no matter where we're from, no matter anything, all of us who have eyes can look around at things and find all sorts of things that aren't the way they should be.  Those who disagree are in denial about it, if you ask me.  Let me give you some examples.

The language I used there suggested that I was presenting an argument and offering conclusive evidence for it, but that was a bad choice of words.  Just to clarify ... I believe that one can find lots of supporting evidence that points to the existence of sin, but not enough to add up to conclusive proof.  That's an important point because I believe that the existence of sin cannot be proven logically; it must be accepted on faith or else simply rejected.

This is probably tacky, but I'm going to quote one of my own previous posts for a sec, because it's directly relevant ...

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... argument and debate involve the application of human logic to an issue or question or problem, but Christianity cannot be fully grasped by human logic.   

There are a great many Christians who disagree vehemently with this suggestion of mine; they might argue or debate on behalf of Christianity until their faces turn blue, and in the process, the smartest of them (sometimes known as Christian "apologists") will be so clever and complex with their logic that a few people will be convinced to believe what they say.  In my opinion, however, the smartest non-Christians can logically defeat even the most subtle and erudite pro-Christian arguments.  In part, this is due to the intrinsic nature of religious faith; by its very definition, it cannot be grasped using mere human logic or by any other means.  (At the end of the day, all faith is blind, to the very extent that its object cannot be grasped by logic or scientifically demonstrated.)  Also, in part, and in my opinion, there are limitations and flaws within human logic that make it unreliable as a method of determining certain truths.

The claims I make about the existence of sin can't really be argued, IMO, but they can be discussed, I hope.  I'm content if readers simply understand the central claims of Christianity and understand the related points that I make; whether they accept the claims as true or not is a decision that each person must make for themselves.  I might say things that logically nudge people in that direction, but no argument that I could present will get anyone across that finish line, so to speak.  Faith is required for that.

Sorry if I just repeated myself forty times; I'm tired, too lazy to clean up the writing either, sorry!  :)  I'll be back to do more detailed respondings soon.  Thanks!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 04:19:24 AM by rick957 »

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #135 on: August 14, 2012, 09:19:57 AM »
I'm going to step in here on the subject of 'innate morality' for a minute.  As a parent, I've gotten to witness a lot of child-interaction, and they do have to 'learn' morality.  There was a little girl at my daughter's bus stop, who was, to put it simply, a spoiled brat.  Her father would verbally reprimand her, but since she knew she could out-run or 'cute-face' her way out of any punishment he thought to give her (he had a bad back and walked with a cane), she was clueless when it came to proper inter-personal actions.  She'd cheat at games so often that I had to tell the little Oni to make sure everyone agreed to the rules of a game before play started, or else this little girl would drop a new rule in the middle of play, just to help herself win.  It got better after the little girl entered school, and had to face consequences to her actions, but even her father admitted that she was a brat (and accepted that his lack of discipline with her was the primary reason.)

A child of an abusive parent (to use Starlequin's example) may not ever get struck personally, but has a likelihood of seeing the abusive adult abusing others - and because Mommy/Daddy does it, it must be okay.  An infant bites, because that's what these new teeth things are for - it's up to Daddy and Mommy to teach that biting people (or animals, or possibly toxic things) is not okay.  Kids that bully other kids have gotten it in their heads that this is 'okay' - whether because they've seen the stronger person 'win' over the weaker person, or because they've done it and no one ever told them it was wrong.  Not sure if you've ever read 'Lord of the Flies', but that example - though fictional and a bit extreme - shows how a lack of teaching morality (or enforcing it, in the case of Golding's story) leads to a very different sense of right and wrong.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #136 on: August 14, 2012, 07:49:15 PM »
It's nice to get an actual parent's input on the children's morality issue.  :)  At least, I don't recall Star saying that he has kids, and I got none yet, thank God.

Strange.  Okay, here, look at this; something that occurred to me kind of randomly but seems pertinent.

As a person who chooses to believe or have faith in Christianity, I can honestly tell you that the fact that I have not had the misfortune of fathering any children yet strikes me as evidence of a divine being, one who looks out for both my best interests and the interests of any children I might eventually have.  (I'm not ready yet to father kids.)  See:  a person with faith sees supporting evidence for that faith in many things.  However, supporting evidence is not always conclusive evidence unless there's enough of it to dismiss reasonable doubt and equally-probable alternative explanations.

I've been arguing that all people have both a built-in sense of morality and a built-in sense that something isn't quite right with things; time is out of joint; things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; the world is fucked up.  (Apologies to the Bard and Yeats).  Because I already have faith in the Christian God, by free choice, I look at those built-in senses or universal human intuitions as supporting evidence for the Christian view of reality.  But supporting evidence is not always conclusive, and in this case, it is not.  There is no conclusive evidence to prove the Christian view of reality.

When I first raised the issue of children and their morals, the point I wanted to make was that all kids develop a sense of right and wrong, and that's part of what it means for them to mature into adults.  How they develop that sense is not important to my argument; there are many alternatives, and AFAIK, science has not yet given us a good indication of how children develop their sense of morality.  Is it innate and untaught, or is it taught/learned, or is it a combination of both?  Who knows?  However it gets there, it gets there.

Oniya, your examples give supporting evidence for the claim that morality must be taught to certain children in order for them to learn right from wrong, but it doesn't prove that conclusively.  I would suggest that once a person reaches a certain age, society assumes that person can tell right from wrong, regardless of how well or poorly they were raised, and even if that person chooses to do lots of wrong things; he or she does them while knowing that they're wrong to do.  That's why we lock up criminals instead of putting them all into psych wards; they know right from wrong.  There are people who don't know right from wrong, and we automatically and always identify those people as mentally imbalanced, if they are adults.  If they are still children, we treat them as children and give them the benefit of the doubt that they will learn right from wrong somehow before they reach the age of maturity.

(The child abuse example is particularly telling.  Even though many child abusers were abused themselves, we still lock them up if they too abuse children, and not just to protect children from them; we lock them up because they did something wrong and knew it was wrong.  Their personal history helps to explain why they abuse children, but it does not mean that the abusers think it's right or okay to abuse children; they know right from wrong, and society assumes that they are capable of the choice to do either right or wrong, because not all abuse victims become abusers themselves.  There are child abusers who are also mentally imbalanced and therefore incapable of telling right from wrong, but those are exceptional cases.  We as a society do not automatically designate all child abusers as insane or mentally incompetent simply because they abused a child.  Mental incompetence=can't tell right from wrong.)

These are things we all agree on, I would guess?  If not, we can discuss them further, but it's a side issue in the argument I was presenting.  Unless anyone wants to claim that there are sane adults who do not know right from wrong.  I doubt anyone wants to claim that.

More to come.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 07:55:20 PM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #137 on: August 15, 2012, 12:13:11 AM »
(Wow, what a massive post this turned out to be.  Sorry if that's a problem for anyone!)

I know that I test the patience of any readers that I do have whenever I write such long posts back to back in very little time, but no one should feel any obligation to read any of this.  :)

More from Star's post above ...

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As for the example I gave of the tribesperson, I'll concede that while their morality may not mirror ours, there is likely a relative parallel in their desire for justice and fairness within their society. However, I have to call into question your statement that their lives are less fair than ours because they lack the conveniences and advantages of modern living. That is really a matter of perspective.

Okey-doke.  I hope it was clear that I made that particular statement almost as an aside, because it's not important at all to the larger point I was trying to make.  I might have failed to make that clear.

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You are still referring to fairness as being some kind of ideal absolute, which is unattainable through human effort. I see it as being simply another construct (not unlike altruism or empathy and with similar evolutionary advantages -- we judge actions and situations as 'fair' or 'unfair' because we recognize that fairness is more likely to benefit / less likely to harm ourselves, our loved ones, and/or our communities), entirely dependent on perspective.

You're very sharp, Star; your grasp of logic is very advanced in my opinion.  There are lots and lots of people who think they have a good grasp of logic and really don't.  You're not one of them.  :)

Now then, here's a question for you.  Do you believe that any part of reality exists completely on its own and apart from any individual's perspective?  Or do you believe that everything in reality is perceived from each individual's perspective and therefore exists only in the way that each person perceives it?

Another way of phrasing those two mega-super-important questions is this:  is there such a thing as objective reality or objective truth?  Or is every part of reality and all truth purely subjective and determined by the individual viewer? 

Have you jumped ahead of the class and figured out why the answer to the question is so important?  :)  If everything is relative and subjective -- if everything is a "construct ... entirely dependent on perspective" -- then not only is Christianity total bullshit, but so is lots of other things, including most of science, and, rather ironically, including any attempt by individuals to communicate with each other about anything.  (If words have no objective meaning, then we have no way of knowing whether we understand anything anyone else says; their definitions of words could be totally different from ours.)

The answer to the questions is not at all obvious or simple, and IMO, anyone who thinks those questions have obvious answers has not given them enough thought.  Modern academia in the humanities fields comes down squarely and vociferously and happily on the side of subjective reality only (it's more complicated for the science fields).

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Ditto the ideas of 'right' and 'wrong'. Since you brought up the idea of nihilism, I don't know whether you take my posts to mean you think that I am any sort of nihilist

I wasn't trying to suggest that, hadn't really thought about it.  I think Jim Holt from that interview is probably a nihilist, which is why that school of thought came to mind.

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(according to the definitions provided in your link, I suppose I am, somewhat; but this doesn't mean I'm without hope, because while I highly doubt there is any great cosmic purpose inherent in humanity's existence, I have great confidence that we will find or create such a purpose through our own actions -- if we don't kill ourselves first), but I understand the point you were making. However, I think I disagree with this one as well.

Okey-doke.  :)  Again, the reference to the nihilist was a small sub-point that was sort of tossed in there; it's not a key point.  I hope that was clear (?).  Let's see, let's look at it again.  I said,

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It's possible to float through life imagining that right and wrong are social constructs or expedient evolutionary tools, but that's only in one's head.  You can fool the head a thousand thousand different ways.  It's not as easy to fool your heart, your gut.  Try stealing a wallet from a nihilist sometime; see if they get upset.  If they do, ask them why they expected anything better.  They've got the same feelings as you and me and the tribesperson. 

The key point is this:  do people have any features that are universal and objective and determinable?  If you would say 'no' -- if everything is subjective, or if we can't determine one way or the other -- then that's the end of the discussion, quite literally; if you say 'yes,' then the next question is:  is morality among those features?

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First, AFAIK, just because someone might be a nihilist doesn't mean he doesn't live in reality, it doesn't mean he never has to buy food or pay rent, and therefore it doesn't mean he won't break my nose for taking his money. And second, even if he doesn't care on an intellectual level that I rob him, it doesn't mean his instinct for self-preservation isn't activated by my actions, which means his philosophical position may take a backseat (however briefly) to his survival response.

Very good; precisely so.  When you take the discussion out of the realm of abstract philosophy and look instead at the practical, real, day-to-day ramifications of these ideas, it isn't possible for any person to survive in society unless they grant at least provisionally that some objective reality exists.  People must assume that all kinds of things have real meanings in order to function from one day to the next.  My dollar bill is worth a dollar.  The landlord will evict me if I don't pay rent.

Imagine if everything in day-to-day reality were defined by the individual:  my dollar is worth $100; the landlord will have to settle for whatever amount of rent I decide upon, perhaps none at all.  There are real-life consequences to such silliness, so no one thinks this way.  But that is a real consequence of believing in this falsehood, that each individual determines his or her own reality and his or her own morality.

Of course nihilists won't reach these conclusions or accept this characterization of their beliefs, and neither will academics; there are counter-arguments to be made.  What do you think?  What does your logic tell you?  What about your intuition, your gut?  Let's get to that now.  :)

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You mentioned thousands of ways of fooling the head, but how hard it is to fool the heart or gut. But this is just using metaphor as a smokescreen.

I was making a rhetorical point, and I think I made it clearly.  You can strongly disagree with the point without accusing me of any deceptiveness, intentional or not.  Then again, it's perfectly normal and fine for you to make your points using emphatic language.  I'm not trying to fool anyone about anything, FWIW.

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We both know you don't think with the 'heart' or 'gut', so I'm sure you're referring to our capacity to use emotion and intuition to arrive at conclusions with or without the use of reason. But both of these also take place in the brain, right along side reason, so my question is: how can you say these two can't be just as easily fooled?

I didn't exactly say that in those words, but here's what I would say:  logic (a.k.a. reason, cognitive ability, cognitive capacity, cognitions, the head, the intellect, the brain, the mind, thought, arguments, argumentation) is not 100% reliable as a way of determining objective truths about reality.  Emotion (a.k.a. feelings, the heart, the gut, instincts, intuition) is also not 100% reliable. 

Most people make the most important decisions in their lives using some combination of logic and emotion.  That's what I meant when I suggested that the gut is more reliable than the head sometimes; factoring in emotions and intuition sometimes helps rather than hurts (it usually hurts). 

(Aside:  Some educated people think that they conduct themselves purely according to rigorous logic, and they sometimes also claim either that logic is 100% reliable or, more likely, that logic is far more reliable than emotion.  On the opposite side, there are some people who trust their emotions more than any logical arguments; those are often people who put less faith in academia.)

Is logic more reliable than emotion?  Maybe; I don't know and don't particularly care right now; I think both are faulty, especially when it comes to determining the single most important objective truth that any person is confronted with -- namely, the truth of Christianity.

(Yet another aside:  I believe that there is some faculty within each and every sane person that can and will lead him or her to the objective truth about reality, if they don't ignore that faculty or dismiss it or numb themselves to it.  That faculty is probably a combination of logic and emotion, plus an outside factor that is neither of those things.)

In the remainder of your post, Star, you make certain claims that I consider to be contradictory.  Let me try to explain why and how.

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I admit I didn't watch the interview you linked (it's rather a hassle to watch vids on my phone, and I'm afraid I forgot the links the last time I took my laptop into town for wi-fi; my bad), but the question you say Holt asks is, to me, a nonsense one. I think I see part of the root of the problem between our two viewpoints. From what I can tell (again, correct me if I'm wrong) you seem to be focused on the question of 'why': Why does the universe exist, why does humanity exist, why do we suffer, why do strangely liberated poultry perambulate perpendicularly to well-established routes of transit?

Asking "why" is the same thing as asking for the reasons why.  Can we agree about that?  I hope so.  Then you say,

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In my opinion, there is no 'why'. The universe exists because it exists; if it didn't, there would be nothing to talk about (pun intended). Earth, and so humanity, exists by pure, random chance. It just so happened after the universe's start that a whole bunch of mass collapsed together to form a star, it just so happened that more mass got attracted in and formed a bunch of planets in orbit around said star, it just so happened that yet more mass landed on one of the planets and got shook up enough to start chemical processes leading to inorganic and organic matter, and it just so happened that one of those millions of years long chains of chemical reactions led to us. If it hadn't happened here, in this solar system, it would have happened somewhere else in the universe (and probably did, several, several times). Our existence is the result of countless coin tosses coming up in just the right sequences to produce us.

In other words, there are no reasons why the universe is how it is, and there are no reasons why various things happen or don't happen; things happen by chance, randomly.  I disagree, but I get your point.

Then, however, you turn around and say that there are reasons why certain things happen, and not only that, but you seem to say that the reasons are frequently and perhaps usually determinable!  What the -- ?  :)  Isn't this having your cake and eating it too?
 
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And now for your last point, which...I'm not sure I'm detecting, honestly. You brought up our inner sense that something is wrong with the world, which I explained in my previous post, but then you seemed to just turn it around and say 'right, that's God'. You say there are no sufficient reasons for suffering, but in fact there are always reasons; the problem is only that the reasons aren't satisfying to you. Which brings us back to another thing I mentioned in my last post, about how life does not care for our satisfaction.

Earthquakes strike and kill thousands; why? Because the planet's tectonic plates are constantly undergoing subtle and violent shifts, and people decide to live on or near major fault lines. Bacteria and viruses form, evolve, infect and kill countless victims; why? Because we aren't capable of controlling our environment with sufficient precision to keep such lifeforms from coming into being, and we aren't vigilant enough to constantly defend ourselves from their assault. A rapist attacks a young woman and leaves her traumatized for life; why? Because his father was an abusive alcoholic and he grew up lacking the ability to form normal, functional relationships, leading to psychological disorders and violent tendencies which our society overlooks until it becomes an obvious problem. And so on.

You see? There are always reasons, sometimes obvious, sometimes not. ....

Do you see the contradiction now?  It's not very important even if you don't.  I contradict myself routinely (albeit unintentionally) in this blog and in day to day life; it happens.

Not quite done yet.  BTW Star, I hope these responses aren't boring you; I don't want to bore any readers, which is why I sometimes don't do point-by-point responses.  I guessed that you might like the point-by-point in this case.  (Hell, it's probably more interesting than my other blog posts.  Heh.)

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You brought up our inner sense that something is wrong with the world, which I explained in my previous post, but then you seemed to just turn it around and say 'right, that's God'.

Yep, more or less, and I gave some evidence that I think supports my claims, even if it doesn't actually prove anything.  I didn't bother to cite sources either.  I accept that my claims can't be proven; neither can yours, by the way.  You did an excellent job of presenting the prevailing arguments that go against my claims; it shows that you're well-educated and good at debate tactics.  I don't see your points as disproving mine, frankly, so I agree with most of what you said.  Let's have a look.

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Now, for my next point. The reason we have this sense of how things should or shouldn't be (which, as I feebly demonstrated in the previous paragraph is hardly 'universal') is twofold. First, the evolution of our species has included in us the programming for altruism, selflessness, empathy and cooperation. We are a highly social species, and the aforementioned qualities have proven themselves immensely beneficial to our continued survival and rise to dominance. We know that we, humanity, can accomplish so much more together than we ever could alone, and our higher reasoning abilities allow us to work out those facts from a young age. When we do bad things, we have the instinct in our heads to tell us to stop because we know the bad behavior is directly or indirectly harmful to ourselves or to others. Tommy and Joey ...

Saying that human morality developed due to its evolutionary advantages is not inconsistent with claiming that God was in control of that development.  God's involvement cannot be proven or disproven.  I believe in it; you apparently don't, and that's okay, but you certainly haven't proven my claim wrong.  You've only given an alternative explanation, one that fits well with disbelief in God.  It fits just fine with belief in God too, I'm afraid.  Most of science does, I assume, based on my limited knowledge, and the parts that don't are unproven (involving areas of science that remain uncertain, perhaps because the questions are too vast or cannot be subjected to conclusive scientific inquiry).

I don't claim to be any science genius; I know much less than most people, probably.  But what I do know does not pose a challenge to my religious beliefs.  Some Christians get their panties all atwist over such issues.  I don't, and I have what I think are good reasons for not doing so.  (Is that a sexist expression?  I hope not!)

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Second, our higher reasoning that lets us see what we could do together also tells us that we aren't doing that (because of greed, apathy, fear, paranoia, distrust, etc.), and it creates a subtle sense of cognitive dissonance within our subconscious minds. We are civilized enough to know that we can and should be living in a better world;

Here you get into some murky water indeed, IMO.  Morality is a complicated business.  Using logic and science, non-Christians have not yet constructed an ideal set of moral guidelines by which to govern all human behavior, at least not ones that very many people can agree upon.  Apart from science, different religions propose different moral guidelines.  How do we decide what a "better" world would look like, and then, how do we make it happen?  We can't even agree upon which authorities to trust:  science? religion? learned authorities? academics? some combination of all that?  Ultimately we leave it up to the individual to choose his or her own moral guidelines and live accordingly, as long as they don't break the government's laws.

(As to those ... Governments are partly based upon moral guidelines, and in the civilized West, Judeo-Christian morality has had more influence over government historically than any other set of defined moral guidelines.  That's a historical fact, although some people will dispute it anyway.  Is the predominance of those particular moral guidelines a good thing or a bad thing for society?  Is their degree of influence waxing or waning?  If so, are the changes good or bad?  Those are all complicated questions for some other time or place.)

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we know there are problems and deep down, we know we can solve them.

Ay-yi-yi.  :)  Here you make the claim that somewhere deep down in all people -- perhaps in their "gut" or "heart"? hehehe -- people see certain problems in the world -- hm, world's kinda fucked up, isn't it? heh -- and people think those problems are solvable.  How do you define the problems or their solutions without determining right from wrong, or good from bad, or preferable from non-preferable?  Those determinations are what we refer to as "morality," moral guidelines.  Are you saying morality is innate in all people, and not only that, but the same sense of morality is held in common among all people, at least when it comes to the big questions and problems in the world?  Are you sure you want to say that?  ;)

I hope I didn't come across as being too snide or haughty there!  I'm just trying to describe what I perceive as logical inconsistencies within certain statements of yours.  You've done the same for me and hopefully will continue to do so.  :)

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But so, so many people are taught from childhood that it's not their responsibility to fix what's wrong; be quiet, sit down, Someone With Authority will be along to rescue your dumb ass when it's deemed convenient. Humanity is shackled with the idea that it's not good enough to fix its own problems and we have to wait around for some dear and fluffy lord to come by and just torch the whole damn thing and start all over again.

This is an understandable caricature of the perspective of certain Christians.  I italicized the parts that I would disagree most strongly with.  These issues will be covered at some length whenever I get my summary of Christian core principles written up and posted.

Nearing the end here ...

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You say there are no sufficient reasons for suffering, but in fact there are always reasons; the problem is only that the reasons aren't satisfying to you.

Got that last part right!  Yep.

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Which brings us back to another thing I mentioned in my last post, about how life does not care for our satisfaction.

I disagree in the sense that I believe there is a loving God who has control over life, and he cares hugely for each individual person.  Nothing you haven't heard before.

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Earthquakes strike and kill thousands; why? Because the planet's tectonic plates are constantly undergoing subtle and violent shifts, and people decide to live on or near major fault lines. Bacteria and viruses form, evolve, infect and kill countless victims; why? Because we aren't capable of controlling our environment with sufficient precision to keep such lifeforms from coming into being, and we aren't vigilant enough to constantly defend ourselves from their assault. A rapist attacks a young woman and leaves her traumatized for life; why? Because his father was an abusive alcoholic and he grew up lacking the ability to form normal, functional relationships, leading to psychological disorders and violent tendencies which our society overlooks until it becomes an obvious problem. And so on.

In my opinion these are correlations and not causation.  They help to explain things, but they don't fully explain things.  Not to my satisfaction, as you said.  Not even close to my satisfaction, in fact.

To be blunt, if there's no sense to any of that, then I'd rather be dead than alive.  More specifically, if my own personal life and all the problems I've had -- however paltry compared to most other people's problems -- if my life and problems don't have reasons, frankly, I'd rather not have the life at all.

I'm being morbid, aren't I?  Sorry.  Seriously though, I think this is really how I feel, even though it's an extreme perspective to take, and it's potentially morbid and depressing and bleak and cynical and pessimistic.  It is only those things if I believe that my problems and life don't have a reason.  I believe they do, so for me, this perspective becomes happy and wonderful and optimistic and all that other good stuff.  :)

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You see? There are always reasons, sometimes obvious, sometimes not. The fact that you and I find the results to be horrific does not matter to those results in the slightest; it only matters insofar as what actions it drives us to take. You're looking for some external, guiding hand, a force moving all the factors around like pieces on a game board, and there's just no evidence for anything of the sort.

I understand that you're making a rhetorical point here, so you're probably overstating things, right?  Or, perhaps, you're using the word "evidence" to mean only the conclusive kind.  There's lots of support or "supporting evidence"; effing shitloads, IMO; I see it everywhere, all the time, even right now.  You are supporting evidence, IMO.  ;)  No conclusive evidence though.

Also, as a side point, the idea that God exists and controls reality is not an idea of mine.  It is a central claim of Christianity that each person can choose to believe or not.  Even if I'm full of ca-ca, as I often am, the claim is still out there, and each of those choices -- to believe it, or disbelieve it -- has huge and important ramifications for each person's life.  IMO.

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You ask could be an adequate response to suffering; I say it's up to each of us to decide that for ourselves, and if you think only some perfect, celestial guardian can make everything okay, that's your prerogative of course. But personally, I think your standards are way too high.

This is an interesting point, the high standards thing.  Not counting my limited control over my own life, I have no control over the way things are; they just are.  It's objective truth, objective fact.  IMO.  I'm either right or wrong.  Honestly, I don't see how I or anyone else can live with different standards and different conclusions about reality. 

I know that most people do, most people have totally different conclusions than I do, and most think they're perfectly happy with their conclusions, and they aren't being dishonest or insincere.  I think they're living their lives based on false conclusions, though, and the only true happiness that anyone can have is through faith in Jesus.  Anyone who thinks they're happy without that is mistaken.  If that seems like an offensive thing to suggest, well, I think it is an offensive thing to suggest -- and nonetheless true

IMO!  Thanks for reading.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 12:40:00 AM by rick957 »

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #138 on: August 15, 2012, 05:45:09 AM »
In regard to your question of objective vs. subjective reality, I have a feeling my answer will probably disappoint you. I agree that it's an important question and I've spent a good deal of time considering it myself. I'll ask you to keep in mind that I'm not extensively educated in any particular subject, and my opinion is only that -- my opinion, arrived at only by reasoning through what I've read and picked up on the matter. That said, here are my thoughts on the topic.

I believe that reality is, or can be, both objective and subjective (though not necessarily simultaneously). To explain my reasoning, I'm going to invoke that most dreaded of fields, quantum mechanics. From what I understand of QM (an understanding I admit is woefully limited), scientists have determined that observation of particles affects their behavior; you can look up Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and the Double Slit Experiment (I'm not linking because I'm still lazier than you, Rick :D ) for a more detailed explanation of the concept than I'm capable of providing. But I believe that if reality can be malleable on the micro level, then there's no reason it shouldn't be equally uncertain on the macro level.

Of course I don't mean to say I think that observation will affect phsyical objects directly; I can't alter the state of a truck or a table by just observing it. But I do think that the particles that make up the table do exist relative to each other, and there is a sort of co-dependent relationship between them to maintain that existence. If you get down to the atomic level, you find that the particles that make up the chemical elements the world is made of have huge, empty spaces between them that (proportionally speaking) are equal to the distance between New York and Los Angeles. And then there's the concept of entanglement, Einstein's 'spooky action at a distance' which states that the spin of an electron in one location will influence the spin of it's twin, no matter how far apart they are.

In the words of the eminent philosopher Tennant, people assume that time is as strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint,  it's more like big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff.

And yeah, that did get away from me a bit.

But my ramblings aside, my short and sweet answer is: I think that reality is completely subjective. But I think it's completely objective about it.

To your next point, asking if people have any sort of universal, objective features, you can probably guess my answer. I say no, they don't; while there are many features that may seem ubiquitous and we could probably accurately predict their appearance (including morality), I believe these would be more the results of social and cultural influences rather than innate traits.

The problem with your next example is that you're suggesting that things have real, objective value intrinsically. You can't decide that your $1 is worth $100 on your own, but if enough people get together that decision could be made. Value is agreed upon by consensus; enough people attach value to gold that it seems to have its own intrinsic worth, but if everyone woke up tomorrow and realized that gold is nothing but a common, shiny mineral, that's exactly what it would be -- a worthless rock, nothing more. Another example is inflation. When my grandfather was a boy, he could go see a movie at the theater, buy a soda and some candy, and still have enough left to buy a loaf of bread on his way home, all on less than a dollar. Now the federal government and various other factors have colluded to lower the value of that dollar significantly. Value is still another mental construct; if there were no sentient organisms around to attach it to materials, it wouldn't exist.

I want to take a moment and apologize if I offended you with that 'smokescreen' comment; I certainly didn't mean to accuse you of any kind of deception, and I should have been more clear. I allowed my tendency to wax dramatic to overshadow the point I intended to make, and in so doing I let myself grow careless with my words. For that, I'm very sorry.

I do agree with the points you make about the reliability of reason and emotion, in that neither can be perfectly flawless all or even part of the time. However, as you know, this is where we diverge, because you claim that there is objective truth to be known and reason and emotion are both incapable of discovering it, while I question both of those claims. Once again, I believe we must agree to disagree.

I also agree that the next few points of mine you refer to are contradictory, and I take full responsibility for them. Once again, I failed to use the proper language to convey my point, and confusion is the result. In the points where I stated that I do not believe there is a 'why', what I meant to say is not that there is no reason for the occurrence of events, but that there is no motive, in the sense of an intelligent force causing or manipulating those events for a specific purpose. Complex webs and chains of cause and effect can be proven for any random event, but (to the best of my knowledge) divine intention cannot. You could say that whole point was a long-winded way of restating my acceptance of a strictly natural universe.

(And no, I'm not bored at all, and you're right in that I do prefer these point-by-point responses; I'm sure they're tedious as hell to read through, but they help me immensely in keeping my thoughts on track!)

I'm not sure I agree that my claims couldn't be proven, since I'm only using reason to make them, but I'm not going to try at this time either; for one thing, I'm still a lazy bastard, for another thing, if you do have any particularly curious readers out there I don't think it will hurt them to do a bit of their own research if they get curious, and for a third thing, trying to prove things would turn this from a fun mental sparring exercise into something dangerously close to *shudders* work! :P

And now we come to what may be the crux of the matter, which is whether or not God is involved in the natural processes of the universe. If you say that modern science does not pose a challenge to your religious beliefs, then this is where I have to stop and again say that I can't really continue discussing the matter until you offer that explanation of your belief system (still no rush, though; I understand it can be a bitch to put your thoughts in order, so take all the time you need).

However, here is another point of disagreement between us. You claim that morality is a complicated business, but I say it's not. Morality is to me a very simple thing, although it certainly has the potential to overwhelm us. Imagine a game where you're in a field with a gun, and all around you are cannons that are launching clay pigeons at you. The rules are simple: shoot down all the pigeons. Sometimes it's easy because the pigeons come slow, or all from one direction, and sometimes they come fast and furious from everywhere and it becomes impossible to shoot them all down. Your gun is whatever resources you have at your disposal, the pigeons represent moral questions or dilemmas, and shooting them down represents successful resolutions while misses represent failed resolutions. (...I'm sure that was pretty obvious, but it's really late right now, lol.) And just because there's been no great, world-wide agreement on an effective moral code doesn't mean such a thing is impossible. Maybe there won't be a world-wide code; maybe it will just be a world full of individual codes that, for the most part, happen to mesh well. Would that be so bad?

And if you want to talk about Judeo-Christian morality, I'm not so sure that's such a great source for moral guidance. Both religious doctrines are positively rife with laws, codes and commandments that many today would find morally abhorrent. The Ten Commandments, for example, are often lauded as a great moral authority, yet make no mention of rape, slavery, child abuse, genocide, economic or political usurpation of power or undue influence, etc. And to say that they came directly from God is quite frankly laughable, as there are dozens of examples of legal and moral systems, both more complex and more comprehensive, codified and documented in Babylonian, Sumerian, Chinese and South American cultures thousands of years before the supposed tablature delivery. But again, I digress.

Ah, ya got me on this one; I let my rhetoric get away from me again. Rather than merely saying 'deep down', better to say 'subconsciously'. But I still stand by what I said: people know there are problems, and they know they can be solved. Just because 'right' and 'wrong' cannot be determined objectively does not mean they can't be determined at all; it goes back to our earlier discussion of deciding values. No, morality is not innate in all people, but it's present in enough to form a general consensus which individuals and communities can operate from. Yeah, I'll take the risk and stick with that. ;D

Nonsense, you've not been snide at all! You were quite right to point out the flaws, and I hope I've corrected them sufficiently.

I'm not touching your points about dissatisfaction with a godless universe; honestly, I don't want to go down that road with you because I don't really like any of the possible outcomes. I said before I was hesitant to discuss such things, because if your faith is truly such a cornerstone of your existence as you've presented it to be I really do not want to do anything to damage it. I don't want that on my head.

You're right in that I mean the word 'evidence' to mean 'something conclusive and irrefutable', and yes, to the best of my knowledge, no such evidence has ever been presented. I'll be honest here as well; part of me would really like to believe. I'd love to be able to think that there is a divine architect, someone who really does care for and watch over every being on Earth (although I'd still pass on eternity in any shape or form; I don't want it to come anytime soon, but I will welcome my sweet oblivion when it arrives). But I simply cannot look straight in the face of all the evidence that humanity has accumulated through science about the nature of reality, and have faith that it's all wrong. I'm just not wired that way. I did it when I was a child, because I was uneducated and hadn't yet learned to think for myself. But I'm not a kid anymore, and I can't force myself to believe something I disagree with.

Just me talkin' though, yo.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #139 on: August 15, 2012, 11:30:19 PM »
BTW, Star, if our conversation were happening over in Elliquiy's P & R section, it would look like this:  you would have at least half a dozen super-eloquent compatriots defending your perspective, plus maybe one or two people who get really mad when anyone questions that perspective. 

Me?  I'd be fucked.  :)

In regard to your question of objective vs. subjective reality, I have a feeling my answer will probably disappoint you.

Yeah, sorta.  ;)  But only in this sense:  since science is so important to you, and logic is the cornerstone of science, it's important for your answers to make good logical sense.  I hope you care about being logically consistent; I have a hard time imagining how a person could put a lot of stock in science without caring about logic.

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I believe that reality is, or can be, both objective and subjective (though not necessarily simultaneously). To explain my reasoning, I'm going to invoke that most dreaded of fields, quantum mechanics. ... I believe that if reality can be malleable on the micro level, then there's no reason it shouldn't be equally uncertain on the macro level.

Of course I don't mean to say I think that observation will affect phsyical objects directly; ... the particles that make up the table do exist relative to each other, and there is a sort of co-dependent relationship between them to maintain that existence. If you get down to the atomic level, you find ... And then there's the concept of entanglement ...

... my short and sweet answer is: I think that reality is completely subjective. But I think it's completely objective about it.

Other than demonstrating your formidable knowledge of physics and philosophy, your explanation didn't make logical sense to me.  And, because I think that logic has rules that are objective and independent of my opinions, I think your statements didn't make good logical sense, period -- according to the rules of logic.  But I could be all wrong.

I'm interested in hearing more about those points if you are willing to discuss them further.  I assume the logic of your perspective is evident to you but not evident to me.  Perhaps further efforts at explanation will get me to see the logic too.

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To your next point, asking if people have any sort of universal, objective features, you can probably guess my answer. I say no, they don't; while there are many features that may seem ubiquitous and we could probably accurately predict their appearance (including morality), I believe these would be more the results of social and cultural influences rather than innate traits.

The problem with your next example is that you're suggesting that things have real, objective value intrinsically. You can't decide that your $1 is worth $100 on your own, but if enough people get together that decision could be made. Value is agreed upon by consensus; ...

Very good; yes.  Consensus among individuals who make up society is one way of fixing the practical problems that arise when one defines all meaning in purely subjective terms.  I don't find it a sufficient solution to the problems, but others do, and again, maybe I'm wrong.  I find it unconvincing because I think there are way too many practical problems in that view for all of them to be solved in that way.

From what little I know (very little indeed), the post-modernist movement of the 20th century-and-up has gifted society with a healthy and previously-missing appreciation of uncertainty -- uncertainty of meaning, uncertainty of existence, uncertainty of communication, etc.  Post-modernism and its ideas are very important.  However, seeing all meaning as subjective makes just about everything in life uncertain -- and therefore unlivable.  It's the real-world applications that render the perspective ultimately hollow.  IMO.

No one has the time or ability to check for the consensus about all the meanings of things that confront each person in day-to-day life.  You can argue that this is what science is for -- checking and agreeing upon consensus meanings.  Okay, that's very good -- it solves almost all the daily problems, probably -- except what about the practical problems in life that science can't help with?  There are many such problems (some people deny that of course), and some of those problems are enormously important; each individual has to decide upon workable, livable solutions to those problems, and although science may help, it does not and will not give us the solutions.  Opinions of respected authorities don't help either, because the respected authorities don't agree, and the solutions they present are in conflict with each other -- not all of them can be right.  Once again, the individual must choose.

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I want to take a moment and apologize if I offended you with that 'smokescreen' comment; I certainly didn't mean to accuse you of any kind of deception, and I should have been more clear.

Apology accepted -- that's very gracious and thoughtful of you.  I didn't think you had any malicious intent; I assumed you were just being careless with your word choice, or, more likely, you were too busy making your points to notice that the "smokescreen" bit was potentially problematic, depending on how I took it. 

I wasn't really offended, but I raised the issue anyway, because I think it's worthwhile to be reminded of how difficult it is to measure one's language with sufficient care, especially when you're disagreeing with anyone about anything.  It's a bitch, IMO, and you, Star, are far better at it than almost anyone else I've encountered at Elliquiy.  It's such a bitch that most people don't bother trying to disagree with anyone, they just clam up and move on to other things (especially at Elliquiy, where people want to have fun and not necessarily do anything difficult). 

Learning to be politic and considerate of others is not at all easy.  Apologizing about anything, ever, takes real effort and shows real humility and wisdom, IMO; I think most people never apologize about anything, especially anything of emotional consequence.

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I do agree with the points you make about the reliability of reason and emotion, in that neither can be perfectly flawless all or even part of the time. However, as you know, this is where we diverge, because you claim that there is objective truth to be known and reason and emotion are both incapable of discovering it, while I question both of those claims.

Just want to clarify here, in case anyone is misunderstanding my perspective -- I think reason and emotion provide sufficient means for determining how most things are.  Emotion is usually much less reliable than reason.  Any educated person depends heavily on reason and must do so, but there is one super-important truth that both reason and emotion ultimately fail to grasp.  Most educated people let their sense of reason fool them into disbelieving that truth, and the consequences of that mistake determine in part how they live their whole lives. 

Those who can see through that subtle deception can grab hold of a truth that has the power to transform their entire lives into totally new and wonderful things.  IMO yadda yadda.  :)

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I also agree that the next few points of mine you refer to are contradictory, and I take full responsibility for them. Once again, I failed to use the proper language to convey my point, and confusion is the result. In the points where I stated that I do not believe there is a 'why', what I meant to say is not that there is no reason for the occurrence of events, but that there is no motive, in the sense of an intelligent force causing or manipulating those events for a specific purpose. Complex webs and chains of cause and effect can be proven for any random event, but (to the best of my knowledge) divine intention cannot. You could say that whole point was a long-winded way of restating my acceptance of a strictly natural universe.

Very good.  This is a point that I may be beating to death, but it's really unbelievably rare to find anyone willing to apply the rules of logic so rigorously to his or her own perspective that they can recognize and even openly acknowledge when they have bent or broken those rules.  There are easier and more common ways of dealing with a challenge to one's logic; most often, people twist and bend and distort either their logic or their language until every problem seems to disappear; they end up with a less logical perspective as a result, and worse yet, that perspective is even less likely to ever be corrected

Repeat that process fifty or sixty times and you end up with a person whose perspective is rife with logical errors that he or she refuses to acknowledge or see, no matter what anyone says.  Those are among the potential pitfalls of being super-well-educated and super-skilled with language. 

I find such pitfalls intriguing because they're so complex and so hard to untangle, and because I am myself very often guilty of similar pitfalls, so I have to be wary of them and open to correcting them.  (I'm just well-educated and just good enough with language to let those things trip me up sometimes.  Heh.)

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I'm not sure I agree that my claims couldn't be proven, since I'm only using reason to make them, but I'm not going to try at this time either; for one thing, I'm still a lazy bastard, for another thing, if you do have any particularly curious readers out there I don't think it will hurt them to do a bit of their own research if they get curious, and for a third thing, trying to prove things would turn this from a fun mental sparring exercise into something dangerously close to *shudders* work! :P

Very sensible of you; I dare not look down my nose at anyone else for such an attitude, because I share it most of the time, at least when I'm at Elliquiy.  E is about having fun!, of course.

On the other hand, I will confess that I do not discuss the details of my personal philosophical perspective just for fun, and I don't take such discussions lightly (although there's always room for humor).  Philosophy and religion are not very interesting to me in the abstract; in fact, I think it's a bit odd and perhaps even dangerous to see them exclusively as idle mental exercises.  (You may or may not, Star, but many people certainly do.)  These theoretical discussions have practical and concrete consequences.

One's personal philosophy is nothing more and nothing less than the ideas and beliefs that determine how a person lives.  By definition, everything one does is either in keeping or out of keeping with a set of philosophical propositions, and those propositions can be identified and discussed in the abstract.  In fact, it's very important to do so, I think, because whether people recognize or talk about the philosophy they live by, everyone has one

Some people imagine that they don't subscribe to any given set of philosophical propositions, but they still live their lives according to certain underlying principles; everyone does.  Most people simply and mindlessly adopt the principles by which to live from authority figures or from peers.  It's such a mindless and effortless process that some people think they have no philosophy of their own at all; in fact they do, but it's one that someone else decided upon and defined.  This is how people can resemble sheep.  :)  We're all guilty of it sometimes.

I'm using your post to riff about ideas, Star, but not all of these ideas are directly relevant to your post.  I like doing this kind of thing, so I hope that's okay with you.

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And now we come to what may be the crux of the matter, which is whether or not God is involved in the natural processes of the universe. If you say that modern science does not pose a challenge to your religious beliefs, then this is where I have to stop and again say that I can't really continue discussing the matter until you offer that explanation of your belief system (still no rush, though; I understand it can be a bitch to put your thoughts in order, so take all the time you need).

I really respect you for placing such a high premium on science and scientific principles.  It seems, however, that you might let that wonderful trait lead you to the same false conclusion that most well-educated people draw about Christianity, which is that it's nothing more than overly-influential archaic outdated nonsense, "magical thinking" that any sensible modern should see right through -- worthy only of derision, not even worthy of serious consideration, except in recognizing all the harm it has done to people and society.  That's a very very hard deception to crawl out of.  IMO.  (It's also one that I would probably fall into myself, if I hadn't had the good fortune of having certain personal experiences.)

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However, here is another point of disagreement between us. You claim that morality is a complicated business, but I say it's not. Morality is to me a very simple thing, although it certainly has the potential to overwhelm us. Imagine a game where you're in a field with a gun, and all around you are cannons that are launching clay pigeons at you. The rules are simple: shoot down all the pigeons. Sometimes it's easy because the pigeons come slow, or all from one direction, and sometimes they come fast and furious from everywhere and it becomes impossible to shoot them all down. Your gun is whatever resources you have at your disposal, the pigeons represent moral questions or dilemmas, and shooting them down represents successful resolutions while misses represent failed resolutions. (...I'm sure that was pretty obvious, but it's really late right now, lol.) And just because there's been no great, world-wide agreement on an effective moral code doesn't mean such a thing is impossible. Maybe there won't be a world-wide code; maybe it will just be a world full of individual codes that, for the most part, happen to mesh well. Would that be so bad?

The logic of your pigeons metaphor somewhat escapes me, I admit.  It's the "meshing" part that teaches us just how complicated and difficult morality is.  Morality determines how people treat each other, so it's at the root of all the failures people have to get along with each other.  People have been failing to get along with each other as long as there have been people, and they will continue to.  If "world-wide agreement on an effective moral code" could be reached, many if not most of the world's problems would disappear; most or all reasons for war and conflict would disappear. 

A moral code isn't "effective" unless it allows people to "mesh" well, smoothly, without feeling the need to kill each other over one disagreement or another.  IMO, that's why you're right about this:

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And if you want to talk about Judeo-Christian morality, I'm not so sure that's such a great source for moral guidance. Both religious doctrines are positively rife with laws, codes and commandments that many today would find morally abhorrent. ...

We test and verify the wisdom of moral guidelines by looking at their real-world applications and consequences -- how do people live based upon these guidelines?  Sadly, history has shown us the parade of atrocities that Christians are capable of, and if that's what it means to live by Christian moral guidelines, then to hell with them.

This is one reason why the behavior of Christians is so important and so problematic; non-Christians judge the wisdom or foolishness of Christian beliefs by looking at the behavior of those who espouse those beliefs.  Who the hell would want to join such a sorry, fucked-up, pompous, hypocritical, backwards bunch?  Some Christians behave in downright evil ways; who can deny it?  Some behave in ways that seem insane to everyone else.

Yep, I'm a Christian alright.  Heh.  That's me ...

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Ah, ya got me on this one; I let my rhetoric get away from me again. Rather than merely saying 'deep down', better to say 'subconsciously'. But I still stand by what I said: people know there are problems, and they know they can be solved. Just because 'right' and 'wrong' cannot be determined objectively does not mean they can't be determined at all; it goes back to our earlier discussion of deciding values. No, morality is not innate in all people, but it's present in enough to form a general consensus which individuals and communities can operate from. Yeah, I'll take the risk and stick with that. ;D

This still strikes me as somewhat logically inconsistent, as if you're trying to have it both ways.  If you feel like trying to convince me further of the soundness of the logic behind this, you might succeed; but I don't see it yet, I'm afraid.

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I'm not touching your points about dissatisfaction with a godless universe; honestly, I don't want to go down that road with you because I don't really like any of the possible outcomes. I said before I was hesitant to discuss such things, because if your faith is truly such a cornerstone of your existence as you've presented it to be I really do not want to do anything to damage it. I don't want that on my head.

Wouldn't you agree with me that no one should be afraid or unwilling to look the truth straight in the eye?  To be honest with oneself?  If so, then there's nothing to be afraid of in examining any set of philosophical propositions and testing their veracity or falsehood.  I'm not unaware of most of the strong arguments against Christianity, and far from ignoring them or fearing them, those are exactly the arguments that interest me most; I am eager to weigh my beliefs against the harshest and most-unsparing criticisms that can possibly be leveled against them.  If my beliefs can't take the heat, then I'm better off without them.

Star, you make it sound a bit like you have some secret knowledge which, if you dared to share it with me, would reduce me to a puddle of terrified, faithless goo.  :)  Please feel free to get any such knowledge out in the open.  (FWIW, I'm well-educated enough and have looked into it enough on my own to have heard most of the science-based charges against Christianity.  Some of them can be dismissed by logical counter-arguments; some cannot, and there are reasons for that.  I rarely run across totally-new scientific attacks.)  (I've talked with a couple people at Elliquiy who re-summarized loads of scientific info that in their view posed irrefutable challenges to the truth of Christianity.)

I want the truth, and I do not believe the truth is anything to fear or run away from, even if it comes with difficult consequences for the individual; confronting the truth is always, ultimately, to the benefit of the individual.  Or would you disagree?

I would go even farther; I'd say it's to the benefit of all, not just the individual.  Let's have a society of people who fearlessly chase after the truth, regardless of the consequences.  I'd like to live in that society; I'd like to do anything I can to help that vision become a reality.  Wouldn't you -- wouldn't we all?

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You're right in that I mean the word 'evidence' to mean 'something conclusive and irrefutable', and yes, to the best of my knowledge, no such evidence has ever been presented. I'll be honest here as well; part of me would really like to believe. I'd love to be able to think that there is a divine architect, someone who really does care for and watch over every being on Earth (although I'd still pass on eternity in any shape or form; I don't want it to come anytime soon, but I will welcome my sweet oblivion when it arrives). But I simply cannot look straight in the face of all the evidence that humanity has accumulated through science about the nature of reality, and have faith that it's all wrong. I'm just not wired that way. I did it when I was a child, because I was uneducated and hadn't yet learned to think for myself. But I'm not a kid anymore, and I can't force myself to believe something I disagree with.

Don't let go of science; become as well-educated as possible.  In the process, you'll learn about the limits of science, and you'll hear from many who think that science has disproven religion.  If you look hard enough, you'll also hear from a few who don't believe that, and some of those people are way smarter than me.  Don't be afraid of studying either side, and don't stop until you feel you can do so honestly, with clear conscience.  (This isn't advice I'm giving you from on high; it's advice I try to live by myself.)

That said, no evidence is forthcoming that will satisfy the normal and proper demands of human science and human logic.  Not gonna happen.  There are reasons why.  The reasons can also be shot down using human science and human logic. 

Don't settle down with the life you have and the happiness you have and the truth you choose to believe without at least looking closely at a few of the alternatives that many other people have chosen. 

I believe there is one truth higher than human science and human logic, and it's a universal irony that plenty of poorly-educated and naive and all-around-unimpressive people have gotten ahold of that one truth, while most of the world's geniuses and authorities scoff

Isn't that twisted and perverse?  It is, kinda. 

Maybe it has something to do with God's sense of humor.  Or maybe Neil Young had it right:

"There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye
Hey hey, my my ..."

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #140 on: August 16, 2012, 12:41:27 AM »
Further excessive posting, 'cuz hardly anybody reads this stuff anyway, right?  That's maybe a good thing.  ;)

This blog isn't responding to anything, it's just general blogging, whatever that means.










A lesson I learned right at the beginning of puberty, the beginning of my maturing into an adult:  people matter way more than anything else in life.  Way more.  Fuck all the stuff you can buy and play with and eat and smoke and drink and even read.  None of that shit is more important than even one human being.  All the material crap in the world, even the really good stuff, doesn't add up to one human life.  An important lesson.  One some adults never learn.  We hear about such people in the news; sometimes we encounter them in daily life.  A terrible lesson to miss out on.

A lesson I might be learning now:  people don't really matter in the grand scheme.  Not even people matter in the grand scheme, in the biggest of all possible big pictures.

When you pull the camera shot all the way out, we really are just a speck, and none of us matter, except for one person who isn't really a person, not like the rest of us are.  Not to be coy; it's all about him:  Jesus.  He matters; he's important; so much more important than anything else that even the most important thing other than him -- people; human beings -- people don't matter next to him

Christians learn that each and every person matters just as much as the self; each human life matters as much as mine, and I need to live my life accordingly, prioritizing the lives of others just as highly as my own life. 

But there's one life more important than mine.  Actually, that much is easy for me to grasp, since I have self-image problems and low self-esteem and often think poorly of myself without cause; it's easy to believe I'm less important.  BUT,

here's the discovery, the secret, the news. 

One life is even more important than yours.

It's a gigantic irony, a mystery, a hidden thing, so few of us seem to know, so few of us seem to grasp.  Most of us are so wrapped up in ourselves that we don't even appreciate how important other people and other people's lives are.  Christianity can slowly but surely fix that grave error; we are transformed into new people who live by the truth, that each life is equal in value.  Human life that is.

But then, somewhere down the line -- or maybe right at the beginning, if you're smarter and wiser than me, and I hope you are -- you maybe get around to this other thing.  That human life don't mean shit. 

We are wonderful, miraculous, incomprehensibly magnificent creatures; we are like little gods walking the earth.  But we are less than nothing compared to him.

That's why -- maybe?  maybe, maybe -- that's why the very last and greatest unfairness of all is actually okay.  The greatest unfairness of all is this:  some people -- those priceless creatures -- some people are lost.  Some do not find the truth.  Some do not choose to accept what is freely offered and available to them.  Some never know God.  How can this be okay?  How the fuck can that ever be okay?  How can any Christian face each day knowing that any other human being might not receive the same blessing?  How can we stand it for even one minute?  Shouldn't it break us?  Shouldn't it enrage us and tear us apart inside?  We learn to love each other, to really love each other; we learn what that means; it is the greatest gift of all; it is so much more important than anything else; to love another person.  It is the highest of all.  But only the highest that we can see right now, in front of us.  There is one higher thing, one thing more important.  Only one.

Christianity really is good news, not just news.  It's good.  Man, the fucking Velvet Underground were tuned right into the subtlest truths of the universe when they sang it over and over again:  "It's alright".  It really is.  The fight's over; the hero triumphs and gets the girl.  It's done.  Because of him; he's all that matters, really; more than anything else that matters, more than anyone else that matters.  (More than our loved ones.  How can we possibly ever grasp that?  How can we live that way?  But it's true, and we learn, and it's good.  It's how it was meant to be.  We don't matter, not relatively speaking.)

Everything is alright.







[I don't know why anyone else would want to read this, so sorry if that bored you, but thanks for reading if you did.  I'm still puzzling out why I'm motivated to post this kind of thing here at all.  I'm not quite sure.  It's an impulse that I'm just following blindly for now.  You know, nobody's getting hurt by it, nobody is being forced to read anything, and who gives a shit what I have to say about anything or what I think about anything anyway?  I still don't know what this blog thing is about.  Not yet at least.]

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #141 on: August 16, 2012, 01:10:06 AM »
Oniya, your examples give supporting evidence for the claim that morality must be taught to certain children in order for them to learn right from wrong, but it doesn't prove that conclusively.  I would suggest that once a person reaches a certain age, society assumes that person can tell right from wrong, regardless of how well or poorly they were raised, and even if that person chooses to do lots of wrong things; he or she does them while knowing that they're wrong to do.  That's why we lock up criminals instead of putting them all into psych wards; they know right from wrong.  There are people who don't know right from wrong, and we automatically and always identify those people as mentally imbalanced, if they are adults.  If they are still children, we treat them as children and give them the benefit of the doubt that they will learn right from wrong somehow before they reach the age of maturity.

(The child abuse example is particularly telling.  Even though many child abusers were abused themselves, we still lock them up if they too abuse children, and not just to protect children from them; we lock them up because they did something wrong and knew it was wrong.  Their personal history helps to explain why they abuse children, but it does not mean that the abusers think it's right or okay to abuse children; they know right from wrong, and society assumes that they are capable of the choice to do either right or wrong, because not all abuse victims become abusers themselves.  There are child abusers who are also mentally imbalanced and therefore incapable of telling right from wrong, but those are exceptional cases.  We as a society do not automatically designate all child abusers as insane or mentally incompetent simply because they abused a child.  Mental incompetence=can't tell right from wrong.)

These are things we all agree on, I would guess?  If not, we can discuss them further, but it's a side issue in the argument I was presenting.  Unless anyone wants to claim that there are sane adults who do not know right from wrong.  I doubt anyone wants to claim that.

More to come.

I just want to address one more thing that I think I might have phrased too simply - and that's the whole impact of abuse.  First off, I'm not pulling something like the lady who defended Eric and Lyle Menendez, and saying that an abused child is 'destined' to repeat the cycle.  Far from it. 

Since we're talking about the moral compass, what better analogy is there than magnets?  Let's see if this makes sense or scrambles it still further.  There are two ways to make a magnet from a metal object.  One, you take something that's already a magnet, and swipe it repeatedly down the length of the object, orienting the individual atoms to a coherent alignment.  Two, and one that many people don't realize, is taking any piece of metal, and swiping it repeatedly down the length of the other metal object.  A fine example of this is a well-used sharpening steel.  It takes longer, but you get the same results eventually.

Now.  Back to parenting and morality.  The very first moral guides that a child has is what is seen in the home.  Good or bad.  This is the magnet swiping against the steel to magnetize it.  As the child moves out into the world, society also shows examples of 'right' and 'wrong'.  These are the other bits of metal swiping against the steel.  They are somewhat less effective individually, but still have an impact.  Sometimes, you even get an exceptional role model, who is a 'magnet' in their own right.

Back to my abuse example.  The child in this case has a bad start, and a fairly strong bad start, if nothing is done to provide guidance that meets with society's 'right' and 'wrong'.  This can be in the form of school discipline (what little is still allowed), legal discipline, 'peer discipline', or, yes, religious discipline.  Most people encounter at least a few of these pressures over their lives, and it has some amount of impact.  Luckily, in many situations, there's a general climate that certain things are 'wrong', even if the child has seen them in the home.  However, when you get into things like 'thug culture', 'prison chic', songs that talk about 'slappin' some hos', celebs getting in fisticuffs with their significant others with no real consequences - then you start getting those little swipes that reinforce the 'wrong' things.

None of it is totally insurmountable, it just depends on what 'swipes' are a constant presence to determine how hard a road it is in the end.

Offline Starlequin

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #142 on: August 16, 2012, 03:56:59 AM »
Heh, guess it's a good thing we're doing it here then; I've never had a mob on my side before, I don't think I'd know how to react! :P

I understand why you don't like my answer regarding ob vs sub; once again the failure of communication is mine. I thought I included the other part of my argument, but it was very late and I was juuust about to pass out so I apparently omitted it. I hope this will make it a little more clear (although I kind of doubt it, because it's kind of weird).

I believe that reality is completely objective -- when it's not being observed. Whether this is to say it is uniformly stable, unstable or completely nonexistent until it interacts with any level of perceptive intelligence, I don't think anyone can yet say. It's akin to the old "This sentence is in Spanish when you're not looking" joke; how do we know that unobserved portions of reality exist, if we have no way of detecting them? We know what goes on out in the solar system, out in the galaxy because we have ways of observing it, whether with satellite imagery or mathematic equations, but beyond that, who knows?

I think that, in a strange sense that we aren't yet capable of understanding, reality 'knows' when it's being observed. So when it's observed, it shifts into what we expect to see, what lines up with what we know about the laws of nature. When it's not observed...well, I don't know, because it's not being observed. I remember reading hypotheses that unobserved reality is just a great field of probabilities, and observation locks it down into a certainty that jives with the rest of what we know and expect. So in this way, reality is completely objective until it's observed, which then forces it to shift into subjectivity.

(To the people reading this: Yeah. I know. I just became the biggest crackpot in the thread. What can I say? I think reality is totally natural, but it's also really, really fucking weird.)

I can understand why the idea of complete uncertainty bothers you, Rick, but I can't really say I feel the same. At least, I don't think I can. ;D

But what are these practical, everyday problems that science can't help with? And what is wrong with leaving choice up to the individual? I'm not trying to be thick here, but I honestly don't understand what you mean here. Blame it on a sheltered upbringing and years of social isolation, I suppose; perhaps I just lack an understanding of the more subtle nuances of human behavior. (Actually, I'm almost certain that's exactly what it is, which means I'm probably far less qualified to be discussing these matters than readers may suspect, lol.)

I understand why you take these discussions seriously; I do too, but probably (almost certainly) not to your extent. Actually, I try not to take anything too seriously, although I do have a temper and a tendency to commit more of myself to something than I might intend.

You mention consequences in one of your points, and now I have to ask you what I probably should have opened this discussion with: If I don't believe in Jesus, will I be damned to Hell? And then of course, depending on your answer, that could open up whole new cans (hell, crates) of worms for us to wade through. You probably know the dilemmas I could mention, so I'll refrain pending your reply.

I'm not sure I see the logical inconsistency you're referring to in my point about forming a consensus of morality, but perhaps I can make it clearer. What I meant was, morality can be determined subjectively, and there are enough common elements involved that many if not most individuals (and communities) can agree on the general moral values which will best benefit them. To go back to my earlier analogy concerning the worth of gold, most people have a general idea that gold has great value, but may not know exactly how much value. So they may have certain amounts of gold, but not know the worth of their amounts until a ratio of weight to value is set. How that ratio is set is not important for now; it may be arbitrary, it could be through mathematical formulae, or what have you; the important thing is everyone has varying amounts of gold, and now they know the worth of their amounts relative to each other, and can now interact according to specific rules intended to maximize harmony / minimize strife. In the same way, everyone has at least some idea of their own morality, and due to evolution many of those ideas are at least somewhat similar, which allows us to form a collective (if somewhat arbitrary) moral landscape where everyone can recognize moral ideas they agree and disagree with. I hope that makes more sense for you.

I do agree that it's better to seek truth than accept delusion. However, I'm not sure the pursuit of truth should be worth a person's life, and when you post comments that give clear indication that if you can't live as a Christian, you'd rather be dead, it gives me a very solid impression that debating the foundations of your faith is akin to playing Russian roulette, in a game where you're taking far more chances than I am. If you provide evidence or otherwise manage to convince me that your faith is correct, my life could change; if I somehow provide evidence or otherwise manage to convince you that your faith is wrong, your life could end. That's why I say I don't want that kind of responsibility on my conscience.

But I will say this.
I realize that it's probably impossible to debunk faith in the concept of God via scientific arguments; when dealing with the supernatural, natural law is by necessity suspended and therefore unreliable. That's why my main argument is not scientific, but rather historical in nature. If you really want to hear it, I'll share it, but I think it would be wiser to wait until you provide the explanation of your beliefs. That way we'll be sure I won't waste your time with an argument that may not even apply.

Reading back over some of my previous posts, I realize I probably come off as sounding rather arrogant. Again, I'm sorry, but really, that's not a malfunction of poorly chosen language or flawed logic; I really am rather an arrogant bastard, or at least I can be, lol. I'm afraid I've spent so long studying these subjects and reading so many other arguments both for and against that I've allowed the egos of other writers to seep into my own words. If I've sounded haughty or superior, I deeply apologize; I try to keep at least a modicum of humility when I interact online, because the Internet is often where I tend to both express myself better, and express my better self, if that makes any sense.

I can assure you I won't stop looking into...well, pretty much anything and everything that catches my attention and holds my curiosity; I'm sure you'll do the same. Anyway.

Till ma�ana!

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #143 on: August 18, 2012, 07:55:51 AM »
Hemmings and Hawings; panhandling

Responses to Star and Oniya are comin' right up, soon as I finish cookin' 'em.  :)

If you're anybody other than Star and Oniya, say hello why doncha?, so's I know you're out there.  But don't if you don't want to, of course.  I'm grateful to have any readers any time; I'm also even more grateful when one speaks up about anything.  (And, as I've mentioned far too many times already, I'm convinced the "View Count" is total bullshit, for various reasons.)







Changing my mind yet again

I've mentioned several times in this blog that I want to summarize the core beliefs that constitute true Christianity, because many people seem to misunderstand what those beliefs are.  At first I thought I would write up a real organized explanation.  Then I realized how much work that would be.  So now I'm gonna do it in installments.

I don't know who would want to read my explanation of Christianity or why they would want to read it.  Same goes for everything else in this blog, so what the hell.  :)







True Christianity as I understand it, Part One:  A very simple way of looking at life that I think is pretty much dead-on accurate

If we are one of the fortunate ones, and rest assured there are many unfortunate ones, if we are one of the fortunate ones, we know the love of several people from the moment we are born.  The luckiest know the love of two parents.

We get older and mature into adults and discover that we want something that we don't have yet.  All of us do; the yearning is innate, in-born, and unavoidable.

We live our lives feeling that yearning and responding to it.  Our responses are either attempts to fill the yearning or numb it so that we don't feel it anymore, because yearning is painful and unpleasant.

In the "attempts to fill the yearning" category go the following:  everything we do to try to feel good or make ourselves happy.  Achieving financial security; accumulating wealth; developing our talents and then using them to benefit ourselves and other people.  Our relationships with loved ones are also attempts to fill the yearning, and those are the most telling and important, because they always fail to fill the yearning, eventually or at least at times.  The money and career stuff fails too, but it's the relationship stuff that we put the highest expectations upon and that therefore disappoints us more.

In the numbing-yearning group is all the stuff we do to escape reality:  substance use and abuse, and many forms of escapist entertainment.  These fail in the most obvious ways and usually far more often and faster than the money or career or relationship stuff.

Some of us look to religion, spirituality in other forms, or self-improvement to fill the yearning; I left that out above.  Fail, fail, fail.  :)

Why all the failing?  What is that yearning about, what's it for, how come it's so hard to fill, how come we all have it, how come we're driven to fill it if it's so damn hard to fill?

Because that yearning is nothing less than our desire to fulfill our very purpose in life.  We each have a purpose, and it's an important and specific and discoverable purpose.  Most of us misunderstand the yearning and therefore miss out on our purpose in life.  Most of us go to our graves that way, sad to say.

The yearning isn't any mystery, and all of us are given at least one opportunity to understand it correctly and fill it and thereby fulfill our purpose in life and achieve true happiness and wholeness.  Many of us get multiple opportunities, especially in the West.

Our purpose in life is to know God's love, to receive God's love.  Here is the most important thing that anyone finds out in life:  God loves me. 

Not "God loves you" -- although he does -- but God loves me.  Why is that distinction important?  Because each individual has to take care of himself or herself before he or she thinks about how anybody else is doing.  There are people who incorrectly believe that life is about helping others.  It's not. 

It's about letting yourself be helped.  It's about filling that one specific and all-important yearning that each and every one of us has:  to know and receive God's love.

Everything else is important:  helping others; money; career; relationships; self-improvement; even substance use and entertainment have their place, too.  But none of those things are anywhere near as important; relatively speaking, they're not important.  (If you look very carefully, you'll notice that I left religion and spirituality out of this list of everything that's important.  Those things are almost always mistakes, distractions.)

Believing Christianity in its true form is the one and only way to fill our basic yearning, to accomplish our purpose in life, to become happy and whole.  Believing Christianity in its true form is the only way anyone ever knows and receives God's love. 

"Really?  The only way?  What about -- ?  And -- ?" 

It's okay to ask those questions; for some of us, it's even important to ask those questions -- as long as those questions don't keep you from believing.  There are other questions that are also important, perhaps even more important to certain people, and that's okay.  But nothing, no question, is so important that it should stop anyone from believing Christianity.

Some of the questions have answers, and some don't.  If asking the questions is important for you, you shouldn't stop; you don't need to stop asking questions in order to believe.  If the questions keep you from believing, though, then they aren't worth it.  Nothing is worth that; no question is more important than believing.



P.S.  Isn't Christianity a religion?  Um, yes and no.  Might or might not explain that later; just ask if you're curious.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 08:17:53 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #144 on: August 18, 2012, 09:11:44 AM »
True Christianity, sez me, Part 2:  Standard provisions, conditions, and exclusions, in five parts

I can't stress this enough:  I am not a reliable spokesperson or trustworthy authority with regard to Christianity, or much of anything else, for that matter.  :)  There are people who are meant to help others understand Christianity, and I am not one of them by calling or profession.  If you want to know about Christianity, talk to one of those people, and do it in person if at all possible.

I will mislead you in some way.  I will try not to, but I will fail.  Count on it.

Caveat #2:  My multi-installment explanation of true Christianity is not going to be all that well-written.  Why is that?  See the first caveat, just above this one.  Also, I'm lazy. 

Should it be well-written?  Probably.  It's so effing important that not only should it be super-well-written, but frankly, I should not say anything to anybody about Christianity.  I'm not qualified and not good enough for that.

How come I'm doing it anyway?  Two reasons:  1) Christians are under orders to be open about their beliefs and not hide them; 2) Christianity is the best and most wonderful thing there is, so I want everyone to know all about it and enjoy its benefits as much as I do.

Which brings us to caveat the third:  I don't expect anyone reading my explanation of Christianity to believe any of it.  Why not?  Well, see the two caveats above.  Also, think about where this is being posted.  If that doesn't cover it, then look again at the caveats above.  Thanks. 

Caveat Four:  Please don't read a fucking word of this explanation or this blog unless you want to.  Stop reading any time you want to.  Don't imagine that I'm forcing you or pushing you to do anything, because I don't want to do those things.

Finally, if you end up believing a word I say about anything here, do it after you've given it as much thought as things this important ought to be given, and also, please take the advice up above about talking to a Christian minister (pastor, priest, or other Christian leader) in person.  It's important stuff, so treat it that way, please.



P.S.  Hm, what did I leave out.  I'm not very smart.  I'm not very nice.  I fuck up a lot.  I have a foul mouth.  I have a full-blown mental illness called depression.  I'm not a person whom any sensible person would admire or look up to.  I'm not very nice to myself.  My life is incredibly easy and pleasant; I'm spoiled silly; I waste my time a lot; I'm a bum.  Anything else?  Uh, skim the rest of the blog, it's full of embarrassing shit.  That's who's writing this explanation of Christianity.  Buyer beware!  ;)
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 09:23:44 AM by rick957 »

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #145 on: August 18, 2012, 10:42:43 AM »
(In case it isn't obvious, I'm taking my time with the Christianity explanation thing, so there will be other stuff in between it.  I take my time with lots of stuff, especially in this blog, because you know, I do this for fun.)







Politics:  Romney, WTF?

I listen to NPR a lot on my computer, and every so often, I listen to the Charlie Rose Show -- best show ever, IMO, yadda yadda -- so I hear about politics a lot.  I care about politics some.  I'm very poorly-informed about politics in general, though, especially compared to many people at Elliquiy.  Mostly that's my laziness, I guess, but I also have real skepticism about the value of becoming better informed; I'm not convinced that it's a worthwhile thing to do.  I may talk about that more sometime, why I wonder about that.

For now, I'm just trying to get my head around a news piece from yesterday.  Link to story.  So apparently, the Obama campaign made a public and formal offer to completely drop the whole topic of Romney's taxes, in exchange for Romney simply releasing a few more of his tax returns.

Talking about the topic of Romney's taxes is a big benefit for the Obama campaign because it shifts the media focus away from the country's unemployment numbers.  Anything that does that helps Obama.

Anything that keeps the focus on the unemployment issue helps Romney by hurting Obama.

In other words, the Obama camp just offered to give away something very valuable, and the Romney camp flatly and publicly turned them down.  What does that mean?

I'm not good at politics but I'm okay at logic.  Releasing Romney's returns would have a negative effect on his campaign that is larger than the positive benefit of having the entire Obama camp drop the subject entirely.

Also, the conflict of interest charge is incredibly obvious and irrefutable, isn't it?  Romney plans to eventually cut taxes for his entire tax bracket, so of course his own tax rate and tax details need to become public knowledge.  How is it not a legitimate topic for public scrutiny?

I'm not a Democrat or a Republican; I like certain ideas and certain public figures on both sides, and I don't like certain people on both sides.

How does Romney not come across as someone with something big to hide?  How can anyone want such a person to become President?

I would absolutely love for anyone who has nice things to say about Romney or about Republicans in general to help me understand their perspective better.







Democrats suck too, natch

In the interest of promoting bipartisanship, here's something I loathe about the Dems, for balance.  :)  The deficit is a real problem, right?  A huge national problem, an impending catastrophe of sorts?  That's what I hear.  I also hear that entitlement reform is a necessity in order to reduce the deficit.

From what little I know, neither the White House nor the Dems party have put forward a serious proposal for entitlement reform, while the Republicans have, in the Ryan plan.  The Dems have been super-critical of the Ryan plan but haven't put forward alternatives.  Why is that?

I suspect there are Democratic alternatives that some people besides me know about, but they aren't getting squat in publicity, and that in itself seems like an inexplicable problem to me, ain't it?  Makes the Dems look like cowards and election-year opportunists.

I'm also incredibly annoyed about how Ryan is constantly portrayed in the media as being extremely unusual and noteworthy for having any comprehensive and serious economic proposals.  Why don't all politicians with national influence and input have similar proposals?  Is this guy the only intelligent person in Washington?  Does he just work lots harder or something?  WTF.

I hesitate to say anything about politics in this blog because I'm sure anyone who might read what I say will know more about the subject than I do, and it will be obvious that I'm a know-nothing.  Yes, I'm a know-nothing, but I'm also interested in learning more -- well, I'm horrifically lazy, but I'm somewhat interested still -- so I'd love to hear what anyone has to say about this stuff.  I still keep half an eye on Elliquiy's P & R section because I like to hear real opinions about politics from ordinary people who aren't involved in politics or the media professionally.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #146 on: August 18, 2012, 01:30:45 PM »
To further guarantee that nobody could possibly read all these durn posts today, I'm gonna do yet another.  hehe







I just want to address one more thing that I think I might have phrased too simply - and that's the whole impact of abuse.  First off, I'm not pulling something like the lady who defended Eric and Lyle Menendez, and saying that an abused child is 'destined' to repeat the cycle.  Far from it. 

Since we're talking about the moral compass, what better analogy is there than magnets?  Let's see if this makes sense or scrambles it still further.  There are two ways to make a magnet from a metal object.  One, you take something that's already a magnet, and swipe it repeatedly down the length of the object, orienting the individual atoms to a coherent alignment.  Two, and one that many people don't realize, is taking any piece of metal, and swiping it repeatedly down the length of the other metal object.  A fine example of this is a well-used sharpening steel.  It takes longer, but you get the same results eventually.

Who knew?  So educational!  :)

Quote
Now.  Back to parenting and morality.  The very first moral guides that a child has is what is seen in the home.  Good or bad.  This is the magnet swiping against the steel to magnetize it.  As the child moves out into the world, society also shows examples of 'right' and 'wrong'.  These are the other bits of metal swiping against the steel.  They are somewhat less effective individually, but still have an impact.  Sometimes, you even get an exceptional role model, who is a 'magnet' in their own right.

Back to my abuse example.  The child in this case has a bad start, and a fairly strong bad start, if nothing is done to provide guidance that meets with society's 'right' and 'wrong'.  This can be in the form of school discipline (what little is still allowed), legal discipline, 'peer discipline', or, yes, religious discipline.  Most people encounter at least a few of these pressures over their lives, and it has some amount of impact.  Luckily, in many situations, there's a general climate that certain things are 'wrong', even if the child has seen them in the home.  However, when you get into things like 'thug culture', 'prison chic', songs that talk about 'slappin' some hos', celebs getting in fisticuffs with their significant others with no real consequences - then you start getting those little swipes that reinforce the 'wrong' things.

None of it is totally insurmountable, it just depends on what 'swipes' are a constant presence to determine how hard a road it is in the end.

Hm, I think we may be talking about somewhat different things here, Oniya.  It sounds like you're talking about the likelihood of people doing right things or wrong things; I was talking more about people simply knowing which is which, knowing right from wrong. 

I would agree that various external influences can encourage people to do wrong behavior or right behavior, but unless they are mentally out-of-sorts, adults should always know the one from the other.  Our legal system presumes as much and holds all normal adults accountable for any illegal things they do.  Children (especially the younger they are) and the mentally ill don't always know when they've done something wrong until they're told, so they can't be held accountable to the same degree as adults. 

With child abuse, I don't know, but I would guess that abusers who were themselves abused may have that taken into consideration with regard to maybe getting a lighter sentence, but it doesn't get them off the hook entirely, right?  Or do some states put certain child abusers into mental health facilities, as they would for the criminally insane?  I dunno.

But if I'm wrong ... wasn't my fault, I swear!  :)
« Last Edit: August 18, 2012, 01:37:09 PM by rick957 »

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Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #147 on: August 18, 2012, 02:04:59 PM »
No, I'm talking about the 'knowing' as well.  If you were raised in a household where everyone ate hamburgers with a knife and fork, and you never (important) saw anyone pick up a burger with their hands and chomp into it, you'd think it was the 'right' way to eat a hamburger.  You might even be confused the first time you went out among your friends and someone picked up a burger instead of cutting it with a knife and using a fork.  In your mind, you would 'know' that the way to eat a hamburger was with a knife and fork.  You would have spent a lot of time with the 'magnet', and only a little time with the 'metal'.

Now, we're talking the formative years here.  Birth through 5, a kid's pretty much got family to look at for examples, plus whatever media they're exposed to.  You start hitting playdates eventually, and then you start getting the 'metal swipes' of peers and peers' parents.  Even then, you can get subtle reinforcement of certain behaviors.  As Bill Engvall puts it: 

Quote
I was out in the front yard with my boy the other day and he was playing with his little friend, and he hit his friend and I went up to
him and I said "Hey, *thwap*, we don't hit."

You see the conflicting signals there?  Add in the whole 'actions speak louder than words', and that's a heck of a 'magnet swipe.'

School age, you get more and more of the 'metal swipes', but there's a good foundation of 'magnet swipes' already in place.  To turn someone around, you have to include enough of the opposite 'swipe' to not only draw the compass in the other direction, but to 'demagnetize' it from the original direction.  Possible?  Yes.  Easy?  Not really. 

And, of course, by the time you hit even young-adulthood, the person with the faulty compass has to want to change it, for a reason that means something to them.  I saw a news article today about a now-former-skinhead who described his turning point as when he saw his two-year-old using a racial epithet to describe a character on a children's show.  At first, he felt proud that his kid was taking after him.  Then he realized he didn't want his kid to take after him.  Then he wondered what was wrong with him as a role model, that he wouldn't want his kid to take after him.  That's what inspired him to ditch the skinhead philosophy and make a change.

Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #148 on: August 18, 2012, 03:07:10 PM »
Okay, my apologies for misunderstanding before; maybe your metaphor was too subtle and complicated for me to grasp.  :)  I kinda suck at science, y'know.

You've given me more to ponder; I shall do so and reply again later, when I'm fully sober and able to reply intellegentsly, which I canna do at the momennt.  ;)


Offline rick957Topic starter

Re: Rick's Blog. yeah wall o' text don't read it
« Reply #149 on: August 18, 2012, 03:15:39 PM »
@ Oniya

Waitaminute, just for clarification ... you're saying that when people do wrong things, they think that they're doing the right thing.  Is that right?

Are you saying that is usually or always the case, when anyone does anything wrong?  Or only in rare cases?

Do you think those people do or do not realize that other people consider what they're doing to be wrong?