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Author Topic: Do You Believe In God?  (Read 6678 times)

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Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #300 on: July 13, 2014, 12:16:35 PM »
Hmmm, seems I misunderstood what determinism means. I was under the impression it meant that existence has a purpose, but a quick Google shows it's more about cause and effect. I really have to question the utility of such a philosophy, since the alternative to it is complete chaos, but I will retract my question.


Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #301 on: July 13, 2014, 12:52:08 PM »
Quote
To Laa, I'm not putting the questions onto a god, I'm putting them onto the soul.  I suspect it would simply be a matter of something beyond materialistic explanation or creating another fundamental force that can be called "will" that is unique to thinking beings (the way the electro-magnetic force is unique to charged particles).  But, the assumption you make is that all universes must follow the laws of this universe, which is obviously a terrible argument from a scientific perspective.  I mean, the movements of planets cannot be predicted by the movement of quanta, and vice versa.  So how can you predict how another universe (greater, smaller, or parallel) might act based on this universe?  I would think it obvious that you cannot.  But, I would agree, based on what we have observed, there is no god and there is no soul.  I would take it further and say there is no good or bad, right or wrong, life or death, that there is nothing aside from three/four fundamental forces and energy/matter.  I'm not saying do what you want, abandon all morality, I'm saying there is no want and that all choice is gone.  I'm saying that's very likely true.  But that even if it is true, I'd rather bury my head in the sand and pretend that I do have free will, even if I have no choice in believing as such.

Firstly: Putting the questions onto the soul doesn't make them go away, either. In fact, it just poses even more questions, and you'll be even further back than square one. Also, please don't go "god of the gaps" on me - or in this case, "soul of the gaps"... Heh.  ;D

Secondly: How the heck did you get an assumption out of my words? You're the one assuming all sorts of wacky stuff. Assumptions about the existence of a soul, assumptions about the existence of another universe - all I said was that their assumed potential existence ain't going to answer no questions.
I'm not going to say it ain't a logical possibility, but it doesn't take a lot for something to be logically possible. Did you know, that a Matrix-like scenario is beginning to seem highly likely due to the fact that we have similar technology to that of the Matrix beginning to sprout in our civilization? In other words, such a scenario is MORE likely than what you're saying, as it requires less assumptions. Think about that for a second.

Thirdly: I'm a nihilist. Morality is subjective. Although every race share a standard template for morals in their DNA, which would be the closest thing to an objective morality codex for our race.

Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #302 on: July 13, 2014, 01:08:37 PM »
I can't help but twitch a little whenever someone uses the word 'soul'. Clorinda, could you please explain what you mean when you use that word? I literally cannot understand what you mean unless you do.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 01:09:49 PM by Sabby »

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #303 on: July 13, 2014, 01:58:27 PM »
I agree with Sabby; the word "soul" is vague at best, so I too would like a clarified definition please :-)

As for the whole atoms and will thing, the simple fact of the matter is that individual atoms don't have wills because they don't have brains. They can't - so far as we're aware - think, feel or have any agency whatsoever. A collection of atoms doesn't necessarily have a will; does a table have a will? A chair? A door? Of course not. The difference between inorganic objects - and plants - and animals (including humans) is the brain. That's where consciousness comes from, and we can demonstrate that that's where our thoughts, feelings and desires come from. There are tests that we can run that show which parts of the brain are active under certain circumstances, and there is no reason whatsoever to think that a metaphysical supernatural essence is behind it when we have a perfectly sound natural explanation; brains are the source of will and mind, because quite simply the ones with no will to live or do what they could to pursue joy and avoid pain died off and the ones that did have a will to survive...survived. As I said, I'm not a neurobiologist so I can't answer these questions with precise answers, but I can say what I did above; we can demonstrate what parts of the brain are responsible for what, and just because you "can't see how" doesn't mean it can't. That sounds like a cross between the argument from ignorance and the argument from incredulity to me...and even if science doesn't have all the answers, that doesn't give people the licence to make things up.

You state that it you don't see how human consciousness can work without a soul. How do we go about testing for the presence of a soul? And if you don't - by your own admission - understand it, what reason do you have to reject the conclusion of the scientists who have dedicated their lives to answer the question of how the brain works and why it works the way it does? I'm no neurobiologist, since it's a complicated field, but I trust the conclusions of peer-reviewed experts who do know what they're talking about.

So...you have a hypothesis. How do we set about investigating whether you're right or not? I mean...how does the soul answer any of those questions? If you're suggesting that a soul is required for human thought and consciousness, then where is the evidence? How do you suggest we go about testing this hypothesis? Because without a way to prove the hypothesis wrong, the hypothesis itself is meaningless. Answering a mystery with another mystery doesn't solve anything. Where did the soul come from? What is it comprised of? How does it work? How can we detect it? What can we do to test it? Why does there have to be a soul rather than a complex system of chemical and electrical impulses, as current evidence overwhelmingly points to? Why can't there be chemical and electrical impulses that the brain interprets as words or pictures that we'll recognise? If there's an immortal soul, how come it doesn't come into this world already knowing how to speak and act?

The experts in the field seem to think that what you're rejecting is possible, and I would say that they are in a much better position to render a judgement on whether it's feasible or not than we are, haha.


Laa:

I disagree on morality. There is no morality "in our DNA." There are socially learned morals that better the society as a whole, but nothing inherently there in humans. However, morality is not subjective. There are always objectively bad choices, just like in any given game there will always be objectively bad moves. Morality is situational - the right and wrong choice depends on the situation - but that is not the same as subjective. If somebody thinks it's moral to rape and murder somebody who smiled at them on the street, then they are wrong. It doesn't matter what definition you put on morality; morality is simply the action that causes the most good and the least harm in any given situation, so there will always be objectively immoral choices. Situational morality? Yes. Subjective/relative morality? No.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 02:02:46 PM by Vergil Tanner »

Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #304 on: July 13, 2014, 02:48:19 PM »
Laa:

I disagree on morality. There is no morality "in our DNA." There are socially learned morals that better the society as a whole, but nothing inherently there in humans. However, morality is not subjective. There are always objectively bad choices, just like in any given game there will always be objectively bad moves. Morality is situational - the right and wrong choice depends on the situation - but that is not the same as subjective. If somebody thinks it's moral to rape and murder somebody who smiled at them on the street, then they are wrong. It doesn't matter what definition you put on morality; morality is simply the action that causes the most good and the least harm in any given situation, so there will always be objectively immoral choices. Situational morality? Yes. Subjective/relative morality? No.

Hehe, you put out a trap and fell for it in the same paragraph, eh? XD

"There are socially learned morals that better the society as a whole, but nothing inherently there in humans."

And just what standard is it that we better society by, eh? Ehhhh? *grins and stares*

Offline Clorinda

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #305 on: July 13, 2014, 02:51:16 PM »
I would define the soul as the font of reason and will within a human, that thing which allows for reason beyond instinct, allows for free thought, and allows for one to make decisions.

To Laa,  I didn't say that moving it to the soul fixes the issue, rather I was clarifying.  As to how I got into the idea of other universes was by interpreting what you meant here "For in a gods [sic] reality, all those questions would be need answering yet again."  If you are positing that a hypothetical god would have its own reality, why are you positing that such a reality would conform to the same physical laws as our own and that such questions would need answering?

Secondly, I'm not saying that my scenario is likely.  In fact, I stated just the opposite.  Why does its likelihood matter?  Besides, a "Matrix like" scenario is impossible - there is no way that human bodies could generate more energy than it would take to fuel them (unless you're feeding them and housing them so that they can administrate a power plant).  Now, if you mean that we are living in a computer/could some day live inside of a computer, that is all lovely, but it still does not address whence will comes.

Thirdly, I have no qualms with nihilism, but rather I'd contend that your nihilism does not go far enough.  There is no morality or gods, sure, but I would say there is no thought, no consciousness, nothing besides matter/energy (which are essentially the same) and the fundamental forces of physics.

Mr. Tanner, we cannot demonstrate that because of increased activity in the brain that that is where thoughts or will come from.  Think in this way, if I were to analyze the fight-or-flight response, I could look at the body.  I could see an increase in breathing, an increase in blood flow, changes in digestion, changes in the way muscles move, and hormonal releases.  So should I say that the fight or flight response comes from all of those places?  Of course not, it comes from epinephrine.  Measuring increased activity in the brain only tells us that there is increased activity in the brain, nothing more.

Further, your "evolutionary" description of will to survive seems that you would say that any living organism has will, since they all have a "will to survive."  Is that right?  Ah, but you say that plants don't have will because they don't have brains.  So, how is the "will to survive" at all germane to the topic?  Further, as anyone well versed in evolution will tell you, it is not the will to survive that propagates something, it is the will to breed prolifically and successfully - survival is tertiary, behind breeding and the breeding of one's progeny.

But I'm not making an argument that the brain doesn't work, the brain obviously does things.  I'm arguing that the brain cannot ex nihil do something, that the body can only react.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not denying that those reactions are not complex nor that they are currently a mystery to us, but rather I'd argue that there is nothing else that it can do.  I'm arguing that the brain, as we understand it (and as it likely is) is only a mechanism for complex reactions to stimuli (like a computer) but that (also like a computer) it cannot act or generate thought ex nihil.  So, if we only react to stimuli (admittedly in a complex manner) then by what metric do we have consciousness or thought?  What sort of reactions to stimuli are complex enough to be called thought?  Is a bacterium dissolving a chemical complex enough?  Is a plant bending towards the sun complex enough?  Is a sponge filtering food complex enough?  Is an ant harvesting leaves complex enough?  Is a wolf hunting complex enough?  Are all of those thought?  Are none of them?  Where and how does one draw the line?  That is what I'm positing, not that we are ignorant of how thought works, but that it is impossible to draw a line between a human and an animal and a fungus and a plant and a eukaryote and a bacterium because all are doing the same process - reacting to external and internal stimuli.  To call one thought and the other not seems arbitrary to me: even if one is vastly more complex, it is the ultimately the same thing.  If you would like to argue why it is not arbitrary, please, go ahead.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #306 on: July 13, 2014, 02:54:54 PM »
Regarding the question of how life could possibly come form a static, deterministic world:

If you take a simple, mechanical wrist watch and wind it up, the watch will literally tick with a strange, near-perfect precision. It's hands will slowly move around the face and the tips of the arrows will point to the numbers around the dial. To someone who knew absolutely nothing about wrist watches and human technology - let's say an alien in this case, the watch would appear to be alive and have a heartbeat like its own, and when it ran out of stored kinetic energy, it would appear to have died.

If our alien friend were to think about it, it might speculate that the watch had a "soul" or "mind" that gave it life - for a lack of any better explanation. If it took the watch apart, but was not smart enough to understand it's internal workings, it might wonder if the "mind" made the little cogs and gears turn, or if the cogs and gears somehow turned on their own and produced the "mind" in the process.




Offline Sabby

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #307 on: July 13, 2014, 02:59:03 PM »
I would define the soul as the font of reason and will within a human, that thing which allows for reason beyond instinct, allows for free thought, and allows for one to make decisions.

I'm sorry, but that just sounds like a bunch of mystical fluff words arranged in a random order. Logic, reason, thought, will, these are all things we have perfectly natural explanations for. Attributing them to a 'font' within our 'being' that does all the things our perfectly detectable and well studied brain already does for us just seems unnecessary.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #308 on: July 13, 2014, 03:05:54 PM »
"Mr. Tanner, we cannot demonstrate that because of increased activity in the brain that that is where thoughts or will come from.  Think in this way, if I were to analyze the fight-or-flight response, I could look at the body.  I could see an increase in breathing, an increase in blood flow, changes in digestion, changes in the way muscles move, and hormonal releases.  So should I say that the fight or flight response comes from all of those places?  Of course not, it comes from epinephrine.  Measuring increased activity in the brain only tells us that there is increased activity in the brain, nothing more."
Well, except for the fact that specific stimuli consistently provoke specific sections of the brain. And even if it's only a correlation, it's still more demonstrable than your definition of a soul. Also, fight or flight is a response that originates in the brain. The brain, in some capacity, controls everything within the body.

"So, how is the "will to survive" at all germane to the topic?"
Because plants and animals are different. Plants don't require a specific will because their reproductive system is vastly different to animals; they get their food from just sitting there rather than having to go out and get it with effort, and most plants pollinate with the aid of animals.

"it is not the will to survive that propagates something, it is the will to breed prolifically and successfully"
And without the will to survive, how would the animals get to the breeding point in the first place, hm?

"I'd argue that there is nothing else that it can do.  I'm arguing that the brain, as we understand it (and as it likely is) is only a mechanism for complex reactions to stimuli (like a computer) but that (also like a computer) it cannot act or generate thought ex nihil."
Except most, if not all, neurobiologists would disagree with you. The evidence we have available to us suggests exactly that; that the brain acts and controls and does not require the input of a "soul" to make it work. We have evidence that the brain works on its own...if you want to postulate that a soul is required, you need evidence, or at the very least a way to gather that evidence. So what methodology would you propose? You're making a lot of wild assertions that the brain can't do this that or the other, but without evidence, how can you say any of that with confidence?

"That is what I'm positing, not that we are ignorant of how thought works, but that it is impossible to draw a line between a human and an animal and a fungus and a plant and a eukaryote and a bacterium because all are doing the same process - reacting to external and internal stimuli."
On a very basic level, yes. Everything living thing reacts to stimuli. So? Why can't different things have different levels of complexity in their reactions? Why is a soul necessary, and how can we go about testing whether or not it exists?

"To call one thought and the other not seems arbitrary to me: even if one is vastly more complex, it is the ultimately the same thing.  If you would like to argue why it is not arbitrary, please, go ahead."
Because plants and animals are different. It really is that simple. Plants do what they do because the plants evolved to do it, and do not have a brain for conscious thought. Animals brains work differently; there are a number of subconscious processes - breathing, for example, or flinching away from pain that are purely instinctive and do not require cognitive thought - however more complex, planned actions - such as eating or walking - require conscious effort in the form of a desire to do such things. That is the difference. Instinct is something that requires no conscious effort and is automatic, and thought is the conscious effort and "will" to do something, and that inherently requires a brain.

But you haven't answered my questions.

You posit that we require a soul to work properly. What evidence do you have, and how do we test whether you are right or wrong? We have mountains of evidence that the brain works on its own, and it appears to me that all you have is an argument from incredulity...which isn't evidence, I'm afraid.


Additionally, I agree with Tainted and Sabby.

Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #309 on: July 13, 2014, 03:23:58 PM »
Quote
To Laa,  I didn't say that moving it to the soul fixes the issue, rather I was clarifying.  As to how I got into the idea of other universes was by interpreting what you meant here "For in a gods [sic] reality, all those questions would be need answering yet again."  If you are positing that a hypothetical god would have its own reality, why are you positing that such a reality would conform to the same physical laws as our own and that such questions would need answering?

Secondly, I'm not saying that my scenario is likely.  In fact, I stated just the opposite.  Why does its likelihood matter?  Besides, a "Matrix like" scenario is impossible - there is no way that human bodies could generate more energy than it would take to fuel them (unless you're feeding them and housing them so that they can administrate a power plant).  Now, if you mean that we are living in a computer/could some day live inside of a computer, that is all lovely, but it still does not address whence will comes.

Thirdly, I have no qualms with nihilism, but rather I'd contend that your nihilism does not go far enough.  There is no morality or gods, sure, but I would say there is no thought, no consciousness, nothing besides matter/energy (which are essentially the same) and the fundamental forces of physics.

1: I wasn't. I was speaking about; A: The basic philosophical truth the existence of a soul would include and B: The many questions as to how it solves philosophical issues in our world.

2: Simple. The less and more simple assumptions you have to make, the better the reason to believe a statement. That and Occam's razor.
And when I said 'matrix-like', I was referring to virtual reality, not the literal Matrix scenario. Also, whose making assumptions about other universes now? Maybe our real bodies can generate more energy than it would take to fuel them. Who knows?

Also, that last sentence didn't make sense to me. Literally. What were you trying to say?

3: There's good reason why I don't go further. Three foreign words: Cogito ergo sum. Try and contest that, and I won't take you seriously anymore. :P

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #310 on: July 13, 2014, 04:17:41 PM »
I don't think my position is any big secret: I'm a strong Bayesian rationalist; I work from evidence and probability. Which brings me to a question fundamental to the current discussion:

Clorinda, what evidence do you have that human action isn't deterministic? This seems to be a pretty major assumption to read in.

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #311 on: July 13, 2014, 05:01:35 PM »
I don't think my position is any big secret: I'm a strong Bayesian rationalist; I work from evidence and probability. Which brings me to a question fundamental to the current discussion:

Clorinda, what evidence do you have that human action isn't deterministic? This seems to be a pretty major assumption to read in.

That was my thought from skimming through this aspect of a debate, albeit somewhere different perspective.

If we remove the "soul" (or any other "supernatural" element that exists above the purely physical and governs things such as free will) that surely leaves us with a strictly deterministic view point on the universe? And that in turn has really significant implications for our views on morality.

On a side note, to something that has been mentioned, there is some evidence that morality does (or at least may) come from our genes. Timothy Bates has probably led the way on this with a study into twins being somewhat illuminating.

Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #312 on: July 13, 2014, 05:31:08 PM »
Determinism is, to the best of my knowledge, "the idea that everything is caused by prior conditions, making it impossible for anything else to happen." How do you get determinism necessarily from the lack of a soul? It seems like a very big leap. I don't believe in a soul, and I don't agree with that statement. Sure, prior conditions influence the decision, but there is always a choice. How do you get from no soul to determinism? Or am I wrong about the definition of determinism?

Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #313 on: July 13, 2014, 05:44:37 PM »
Determinism is about predictability. It basically means that you can precisely predict everything with the right knowledge and tools.

Also, just because I can predict your next move in chess, doesn't mean you didn't have a choice. It was just a predictable choice. See, free will can also be deterministic. :P

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #314 on: July 13, 2014, 05:53:24 PM »
Determinism is, to the best of my knowledge, "the idea that everything is caused by prior conditions, making it impossible for anything else to happen." How do you get determinism necessarily from the lack of a soul? It seems like a very big leap. I don't believe in a soul, and I don't agree with that statement. Sure, prior conditions influence the decision, but there is always a choice. How do you get from no soul to determinism? Or am I wrong about the definition of determinism?

I'm using "soul" as shorthand for some form of supernatural phenomena that works above (or at least with) the physical level in each person.
  • If we remove the "soul" we are left with merely the physical.
  • The physical is basically deterministic, which I'm not sure is a controversial position. At this point in time we may not know or understand all the conditions that apply to a situation but that is a lack of practical knowledge as opposed to a refutation of determinism. Scientific theories are determinism in practice; they seek to explain why something happened and tell us why it had to happen. When they can't explain why it had to happen the theory is either discarded or improved.
  • The brain is physical
  • What we view as "choices" are, if any supernatural element is removed, the result of brain activity.
  • Activity in the brain is stimulated by conditions, both internal and external
  • With perfect knowledge and understanding of all the conditions and how they impact on each other each "choice" becomes 100% predictable.
  • Thus a "choice" isn't really a choice; it's merely a reaction. If a brain is stimulated in a certain way by certain conditions it will only ever produce one response, in the same way that if you heat a liquid to its boiling point (taking account of all conditions) it will boil.
  • Thus determinism

Everything we know about the physical world is basically deterministic. Without some supernatural layer to apply above the physical when it comes to choices (and as I say, I use the "soul" as shorthand for that) it seems to me exceedingly hard to escape a deterministic view of the world and thus on the (lack of) free will.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #315 on: July 13, 2014, 05:56:26 PM »
How do you get from no soul to determinism? Or am I wrong about the definition of determinism?
I get from "our entire reality, as far as we can tell, is deterministic on the macro level" to "why are humans an exception?".

Determinism is about predictability. It basically means that you can precisely predict everything with the right knowledge and tools.

Also, just because I can predict your next move in chess, doesn't mean you didn't have a choice. It was just a predictable choice. See, free will can also be deterministic. :P
Would I, given identical inputs (including but not limited to my skill at chess, the board situation, my personality, what I know about you, and my general intelligence), ever make a different move? If not, is "choice" really a meaningful concept?

Offline consortium11

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #316 on: July 13, 2014, 05:58:42 PM »
Determinism is about predictability. It basically means that you can precisely predict everything with the right knowledge and tools.

Also, just because I can predict your next move in chess, doesn't mean you didn't have a choice. It was just a predictable choice. See, free will can also be deterministic. :P

Determinism would argue that the other player didn't have a choice, that instead as a result of conditions (i.e their knowledge of chess, their mood, their view on you as well as almost literally countless others) they could only ever make that move. They may believe they made a choice but even that is just a reaction to stimuli. The move itself was inevitable from the moment everything (and I do mean everything) began... it is a result of near countless conditions having all brought them to that point.


Online Vergil Tanner

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #317 on: July 13, 2014, 06:00:45 PM »
"The physical is basically deterministic,"

No, it isn't. You may be able to make active predictions, but there is always free will involved and there is always the chance that you do something unpredictable. See, I reject that premise and the whole thing breaks down. I don't see how no soul = determinism. So what if the brain reacts to stimuli? Every brain reacts differently, and whilst you can predict what the outcome will be, people reason through things differently, arrive at different conclusions and react differently. There is always a choice, and always the chance for something unexpected. You may be able to say "that would be a good move," looking at the chess board...but that doesn't mean that the player will think the same way, or that he will even notice it. Certain things are deterministic, it is true, but free will is not one of them. There is always a choice.

No soul =/= determinism. And even if it did - which I don't think it does - how does that prove a supernatural agent? It doesn't. So you (royal "you") are no closer to proving the supernatural, regardless of whether this world is deterministic or not.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #318 on: July 13, 2014, 06:05:55 PM »
Vergil, you appear to be arguing from "Our information is incomplete" to "Therefore, free will exists", but I'm not sure how these points logically connect. Sure, I can't predict perfectly how any given person will respond to everything - because I don't have perfect information. Say I had a perfect simulation of your brain - every neuron, every synapse, perfectly duplicated and functioning identically - and fed it input identical to what your real brain is getting. Would it react differently than you? If so, why?

EDIT: To clarify, since it appears this is getting muddied: I, at least, am not arguing for the existence of a soul. I am arguing for humans being subject to the same physics as everything else.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 06:08:20 PM by Ephiral »

Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #319 on: July 13, 2014, 06:08:34 PM »
@Ephiral: In a deterministic worldview, no, you wouldn't - that is, if even time, hormone levels, food levels, water levels, etc, would be the same. Unlikely, but possible.

In the end though, the choice itself is an input and an output.

@Consortium: There are different branches. If I hadn't stumbled upon this moments before you writing, I wouldn't have been able to link you this, so I consider myself lucky: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

EDIT: I should also clear something up: I am not yet a determinist. Quantum mechanics has left me wondering. :P
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 06:11:18 PM by laa »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #320 on: July 13, 2014, 06:17:54 PM »
@Ephiral: In a deterministic worldview, no, you wouldn't - that is, if even time, hormone levels, food levels, water levels, etc, would be the same. Unlikely, but possible.

Well, yes, this is obviously just a thought-experiment. But that is, essentially, my point: If an identical copy always acts identically, "soul" is an unnecessary concept. If it doesn't... well, then we need to explain this exception to physics as we know it, not assume it.

In the end though, the choice itself is an input and an output.
I agree with this, but am not sure what you're getting at here.

EDIT: I should also clear something up: I am not yet a determinist. Quantum mechanics has left me wondering. :P
I should note that the problems I have with the notion of "free will" are similar to the ones I have with Copenhagen. Major violations of physics-as-we've-seen-it need to be tested and explained, not read in as assumptions.

Offline laa

Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #321 on: July 13, 2014, 06:25:36 PM »
Well, yes, this is obviously just a thought-experiment. But that is, essentially, my point: If an identical copy always acts identically, "soul" is an unnecessary concept. If it doesn't... well, then we need to explain this exception to physics as we know it, not assume it.
I agree with this, but am not sure what you're getting at here.
I should note that the problems I have with the notion of "free will" are similar to the ones I have with Copenhagen. Major violations of physics-as-we've-seen-it need to be tested and explained, not read in as assumptions.

Here's what I'm getting at: "If not, is "choice" really a meaningful concept?"
So yeah. :P

Also, there are other intepretations than the Copenhagen one... I don't like that one myself. XD

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #322 on: July 13, 2014, 06:28:33 PM »
Consortium:
That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that everybody reasons in a different way, and values different things differently. But for the record, I agree with Laa on this one. The choice itself is an input and an output, influenced by various stimuli but not necessarily determined by it. I agree that humans are subject to the same physics as everything else - that's obvious - but I fail to see how that means that our actions are pre-determined. There is always a choice, and to answer your question, if you had an exact copy of my brain, then you could make probability calls as to my actions, but you wouldn't always be correct, since in some situations, decisions are literally 50/50; people can go either way, and it's a toss up between them. But you know what? Yeah, most of the time, your predictions would be correct. So what? That doesn't mean that the world is deterministic, it just means that you have an exact copy of my brain so can predict what I will do because you have an exact, perfect copy of my brain.

In some ways, I'm a compatibilist. Sometimes, actions may be pre-determined regardless of whether there's a choice, but other times, the decision was up in the air and was completely random. Take, for example, "Choose a number between 1 and 1000." Since it's random, the chances are that even your perfect model of my brain would choose a different number to me, since no reasoning goes into it whatsoever.

So....yeah. Whilst my thoughts are a bit disordered at the moment - long day, blech :-(  - I think I would consider myself a compatibilist to an extent. The world is not necessarily deterministic (that depends on the situation), but even if it was, that would not necessarily impinge on free will, since free will is just the ability to act on ones own desires and motivations free of independent interference or hindrance.

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #323 on: July 13, 2014, 06:30:56 PM »
No, it isn't. You may be able to make active predictions, but there is always free will involved and there is always the chance that you do something unpredictable. See, I reject that premise and the whole thing breaks down. I don't see how no soul = determinism. So what if the brain reacts to stimuli? Every brain reacts differently, and whilst you can predict what the outcome will be, people reason through things differently, arrive at different conclusions and react differently. There is always a choice, and always the chance for something unexpected. You may be able to say "that would be a good move," looking at the chess board...but that doesn't mean that the player will think the same way, or that he will even notice it. Certain things are deterministic, it is true, but free will is not one of them. There is always a choice.

I basically echo Ephiral's points above here... if we merely have the physical and in every other respect the physical is deterministic, then why is the brain not?

And if there is some level of "free will" or consciousness that exists beyond the physical then what makes that different to the "soul"?

No soul =/= determinism. And even if it did - which I don't think it does - how does that prove a supernatural agent? It doesn't. So you (royal "you") are no closer to proving the supernatural, regardless of whether this world is deterministic or not.

I'm not particularly arguing for a supernatural element to be involved, although I instinctively reach for one as opposed to a deterministic view. My point is more that if the "soul" is removed then it seems that all that can be left is determinism... and that in turn has a huge impact on our view of morality and everything that comes from it.

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Re: Do You Believe In God?
« Reply #324 on: July 13, 2014, 06:41:40 PM »
"if we merely have the physical and in every other respect the physical is deterministic, then why is the brain not?"
Except that's where I disagree; not everything physical is deterministic. Flipping a coin, for example. Rolling a dice. Beyond the obvious possible outcomes, that is completely random, and assuming the dice/coin is not weighted, no amount of information would give a more accurate prediction because the outcome itself is not dependent on anything other than pure chance.

"if there is some level of "free will" or consciousness that exists beyond the physical then what makes that different to the "soul"?
The definition, and the fact that "free will" is an abstract concept and "soul" as it is being used refers to something that actually exists in a way that directly influences physical things. There's a difference between an emotion, for example, like happiness - which is a stimulus that affects the input and output - and a metaphysical, supernatural soul that controls the body and somehow has access to cognitive thought and emotions. As I defined in my last post, free will is simply the ability to make choices that align with your own personal wants and needs - within reason, of course - without external interference or hindrance. So if I wanted to make myself a sandwich and there was nothing to stop me, that would be me exercising my free will to fulfil a want, namely, a bacon sandwich.

"although I instinctively reach for one as opposed to a deterministic view."
Why, though? What evidence would you have for such a conclusion? It might "feel nicer," but just because an explanation feels good doesn't make it true.

My point is more that if the "soul" is removed then it seems that all that can be left is determinism... and that in turn has a huge impact on our view of morality and everything that comes from it.
I disagree. Some things are deterministic and others aren't, and it's oversimplifying the extremely complex world we live in to paint everything with so broad a brush. And as for morality...well, why? Why would morality be worse in a world without a soul? Morality would remain the same, since the soul demonstrably doesn't have control over our body or cognitive functions since our brains demonstrably do that and morality seems to work just fine. We may not understand where morality comes from or how it's figured out yet, but that doesn't mean you get to insert your own more complex answer.

I repeat my earlier questions: Assuming a soul existed, how do we test it? Where did it come from? Without a brain, how does it think and reason? How does it have access to abstract concepts like love and happiness and hatred without a physical thing for them to come from? *shrug* replacing a mystery with a bigger mystery doesn't solve anything, and i have fundamental issues with your premise that without some sort of soul, everything becomes deterministic, which I hold is simply not true.