Saturday, July 24, 2010

Do Fundagelicals Possess 1 functioning Neuron?

One has to wonder, on beholding some of the tripe and rot that passes for intelligent discussion on fundagelical blogs- if they possess even one functioning neuron between them. They seem to have such limited conceptions of reality, that their febrile brains are unable to process, or more likely accept, atheist answers. Let’s look at some of the most recent rubbish posted on one blog and see how atheists respond.

Why is there something rather than nothing ? Atheism does not provide an adequate answer as to why anything exists when it is not necessary for anything at all to exist . Nonexistence of everything in the world is possible , yet the world does exist . Why ? If there is no cause for its existence , there is no reason why the world exists .

Of course, the fundie puts the shoe on the wrong metaphorical foot (Big surprise)! It’s not the atheist’s job to answer this question, because personally, he doesn’t give two hoots. The cosmos is as it is. The question in fact weighs infinitely heavier on the fundie because it paints him into an ontological corner regarding levels of perfection.

This is elementary reasoning at work: The God-Believer must admit ab initio that the state of Nothingness was more perfect than Being-Existence (with its wars, genocides, birth defects, psychoses etc). It was more consonant with Perfection, as there was no evil or deficiency in existence. These did not occur until creation. So why initiate a state more imperfect than the original one, when you had to KNOW (as an omniscient Being) that imperfection would ensue? The question literally SCREAMS for a THEIST'S answer!!

Further, if “nothing” be the simpler state, in which an infinite deity could still exist as “spirit” then why “create” a universe? Especially one which would be fraught with violence, despair, “sin” and all the rest. Also one which an ominiscient deity would have to know (IF it was judgmental) that it would have to condemn billions before he even created them.

There are only three possible answers here:

1) God deliberately chose the less perfect realm and creation because he wanted to see suffering- hence he is an Evil God.

2) God was imperfect and the creation of the cosmos as an imperfect system reflected the fact he was not omniscient(Socinian deity)

3) No God was responsible for incepting the cosmos, period (quantum bootstrapping and spontaneous inception)

The implication of (1) imputes that the act of creation itself was an act of violence against those created- who would not be able (for whatever reason, including where born) to live up to the deity's standards. (Which again, It had to know before all time, as a putatively "omniscient" being)

Thus, we would have to question on an a fortiori basis any deity that created the cosmos. It could not have good will at its core, since it would know its act would condemn billions it would have to know about before it even began.

The fundie is hoist on his own petard. For his own good he ought to let these sort of sleeping questions lie, as prying them open only exposes the impotence of his ontological position, not to mention his mind - in not realizing his intellectual peril!

What is the basis for morality ?Atheists can believe in morality , but they cannot JUSTIFY this belief . Why should anyone be good unless there is a Definer of goodness who holds people accountable ? It is one thing to say that hate , racism , genocide , and rape are wrong . But if there is no ultimate standard of morality ( i.e., God ) , then how can these things be wrong ? A moral prescription implies a Moral Prescriber .

Moral PRESCRIBER!!?? LOL! That's almost as good as Sarah Palin's "refudiation"! This is more childish reasoning that we have long become accustomed to. The childish fundie mind, like all childish minds, always requires superior “parental” figures or overseers because they can’t conceive of themselves acting with any measure of honor or respect, without some “definer of morality”, or “rules” or whatever. This, of course, treats ALL humans like uncontrollable brats or potential serial killers - who – unless a supervisor is watching, will act up or kill, rape, steal ...whatever. Well, WE atheists know WE won't do that, so maybe it is a good thing the fundies have their imaginary god to stay in their heads so they don't commit all the dastardly deeds of which they obviously believe themselves capable (unless God Daddy is onto them!)

The atheist’s view on morality is from anthropology, sociology, culture and history. It isn’t childish in demanding an outside supernatural “Daddy” or parent figure, since it recognizes morality and ethics arose naturally within human culture.

The latest research published in numerous places, discloses that human moral sentiments and the recognition of moral principles evolved naturally- primarily through the agency of natural selection. There were two main phases of this evolution: i) brain expansion, and ii) cultural-social expansion.

In (i), the normative human brain evolved over a period of about 1 million -1.5 million years from an organ of roughly 1000 cc volume and 0.9 kg mass, to an organ of roughly 1500 cc volume and 1.4 kg mass. The primary change entailed a massive growth of the neocortex in relation to the paleo-cortex or reptilian brain regions (such as the amygdala, limbic system) left over from earlier stages.

This evolutionary brain change marked the first potential for behavioral change in ancient-primitive humans. Whereas before, the primacy of reptilian needs, and drives was paramount, this became muted under the influence of the neocortex. The neocortex then became the center for the growth of human language and thought, including abstract thought. This abstract thought also incorporated notions of what was “right” and “wrong”.

This was possible because the emergence of full human consciousness via the neocortex made it possible to perceive that earlier reptilian – dictated behaviors, e.g. killing another tribe’s chief and seizing his mate, was not the thing to do. It effectively made the other tribe one’s own tribe’s enemy with costly results.As natural selection of the brain in the social context continued, more changes arrived.

This largely emerged via group selection acting on specific populations. Thus, if a tribal member took a chunk of meat from a child’s mouth he would be ostracized by the tribe, and shunned. Shame and guilt resulted. As this extended to many more behaviors….e.g. seizing a tribal companion’s wife and having sex with her, the sense of shame and guilt was reinforced…as was the capacity for tribal punishment.In no uncertain terms, then, it became known among tribes which behaviors were accepted and which were not.

No god intervened to do this or to set out tribal laws, humans did it themselves.Those tribal members who then conformed their behaviors to the tribe’s ideals then derived from their compliance a sense of feeling good, and a sentiment of righteousness or pride resulted. Those who flouted tribal customs or laws, conversely, earned only negative emotions engrained in deep shame or guilt. Often times, to remain as part of the tribe, they would have to suffer temporary banishment, or be shunned….no verbal or other interaction permitted.

In this way, human natural morality became established. Not by the force of divine fiat, or absolute edict, but by the evolutionary force of natural selection – operating first on the brain and then on human tribal interactions, given the appearance of new, larger brains.Now, since evolution has not ceased, but continues, then it follows that the brain phase and level of moral interaction we behold now is not the final or ultimate form. We can surmise that in 1 or 2 million years (as the late Carl Sagan theorized in his ‘Dragons of Eden’) all the remaining reptilian regions of the brain will disappear, or no longer have any pronounced effect on human moral decisions.This means that the human moral decisions (and by extension, laws) perceived with today’s human brain, cannot be the same as those perceived in the far future with a modified human brain.

It stands to reason, therefore, that human morality must EVOLVE with the brain, and not be fixed or final. If it cannot be fixed or final, it cannot be absolute…since to be so would imply that a specific morality or moral perception tied to THAT brain stage must remain applicable to all stages of evolution.Thus, cultural or social mores must also evolve – they can never be absolute or final. The laws or morals accepted by a given society today will not necessarily be those accepted 100,000 or 1 million years hence… because the brain’s basis for ascertaining them will have altered.

What is the basis for meaning ? Most atheists do believe life is meaningful and worth living . But how can it be if there is no purpose for life , nor destiny after this life ? Purpose implies a Purposer . But if there is no God , there is no objective or ultimate meaning . Yet most atheists live as if there were .

This puerile answer is almost laughable, but discloses – perhaps – a level of maturity and experience peculiar to its naivete. It also misrepresents the position and outlook of atheists, reducing them to analogs of the fundie. It is as if this fundie has never processed repeated arguments to show the validity of meaning for atheists.

The atheist, then, is mentally mature and adult enough to cut the apron strings with supernatural “mommy” or “daddy”. As atheist Dan Barker once aptly put it: “Instead of a purpose-driven life we have a LIFE-driven purpose”. So we don’t need any “purposer”. (ROTLF – that’s almost as hilarious as his earlier "definer" -along with Palin’s “refudiate”!)

The upshot here is that meaning, purpose and value are all humans words encompassing human ideas. They weren’t handed down as from Mt. Sinai, and they are not absolutes. Any one, any human, can create and live by his own decent value system or impart the meaning to his life he wants.

Meanwhile, we regard people who need external forces to command their purpose as morally and intellectually stunted children. Or, adults who never grew up – never really left Daddy and Mommy, but must have them around – at least as a supernatural parent figure.

Fortunately, as Victor Stenger has noted in his new book (The New Atheism) atheism is growing with its concept of a purposeless cosmos in the very group it needs to most: young people. Young people have more open and inquiring minds than their close minded parents, reared by their crusty, musty old KJVs. The youth want answers and they want their intellects respected in the process of getting the answers. In other words, they don’t want them just handed down from Papa as if from on high, even if papa claims to be a preacher.

Hopefully, within four or five generations of transition, the regressive concept of externally mandated, supernatural purpose - as from an outside moral force- will cease to exist.

What is the basis for truth ? Most atheists believe that atheism is true and theism is false . But to state that atheism is true implies that there is such a thing as objective truth . Most atheists do not believe that atheism is true only for them . But if atheism is true , there must be a basis for objective truth . Truth is a characteristic of a mind , and objective truth implies an objective Mind beyond our finite minds .

More squirrelly, confused gibberish. Objective truth, as I've noted before, is fashioned and forged by humans, not supernatural beings. We can arrive at objective truth through the scientific process, and science is a HUMAN enterprise. In addition, the pursuit of scientific objective truth is not contingent on atheism. No, atheism simply uses the latest scientific results and incorporates them into its materialist outlook.

The process works like this: You have data, and accessory information which leads to some initial result which tests a particular hypothesis- call it 'x'. You then acquire better data (perhaps because of refined instruments, techniques ) and are led to a modified (improved) result such that:

x (n+1) = x + P(x) where x(n +1)

denotes an improvement via iteration, with P(x) the process (acting on x) that allows it. Later, more refined data become available, such that:

x(n + 2) = x(n + 1) + P'(x + 1)

and so on, and so on and so forth.

Each x, x(n+1), x(n+2) etc. being a successive approximation to what the objective, genuine value should be. Religions - by contrast- simply impose their truth ab initio by fiat or decree. There is no attempt whatever to incorporate any approximation. Or to even acknowledge that 'truth' can't be accessed all at once. Rather, one must set rational truth aside and succumb to ‘faith”.

Obviously, from this, truth can't be simply a "characteristic of mind" since not all human minds will be sufficiently ordered and disciplined (like this fundie's) to pursue a rigorous truth process! Also, other minds may be mentally unstable, be unable to discern reality, or in some other way be compromised - so they can't pursue objective truth, or any truth on account of mental defects or limitations. Thus, Truth must arise from interaction between a healthy, inquiring brain and its environment. The truth then obtained will be the synergy effect resulting from the healthy, intelligent brain interacting with the environment and extracting information. that can be validated. To the extent the information holds up to scrutiny and tests, it can be regarded as objective truth.

It can't be "absolute truth" since I noted earlier, human brains are still evolving, they are still therefore imperfect and highly inefficient. Hence the results of interactions with human environments, or the cosmos, cannot be total or absolute.

What is the basis for reason ? Most atheists pride themselves on being rational . But why be rational if the universe is the result of irrational chance ? There is no reason to be reasonable in a random universe . Hence , the very thing in which atheists most pride themselves is NOT possible apart from God .

More naive piffle. When does it end? First, he doesn't grasp the nature of chance. Chance is never a 100% operative, dominant agent since it always works with some measure of determinism. For example, in quantum mechanics chance enters in terms of the observation actually made at the quantum level. But acausal determinism (as the wave function statistically unfolds) still dominates that "chance". Another example, Darwinian evolution, is not based totally on "randomn chance". This misconception arises because one input for natural selection is mutation, and it is largely governed by random chance. (I.e. Up to 60% or more of mutations may be caused by external factors such as cosmic rays interacting with DNA. But who can say when or at what frequency these interactions occur?) However, natural selection itself is anything but random. What natural selection does is to consolidate particular random mutations into a more stable, adaptive adjustment – governed by deterministic factors and inputs.

Further, whether the cosmos originated by random chance itself (as in quantum spontaneous inception) has nothing to do with how - tens of billlions of years later- human brains with the facility of reason evolved on one planet. We are talking about two entirely different conditions, and the earliest origin point doesn't necessarily impinge on the later evolutionary product. Indeed, it is the reasoning and analtical capacity of the brain which enabled it to process and hypothesize the quantum origin of the cosmos - using high level math.

Thus, the basis for reason is the equipment (brain region) evolved to be capable of doing so (neocortex, left hemisphere of the brain) and the training to use logic to do so. One without the other results in a sterile pursuit. In the same way, human brains evolved to reason, they didn't get it from some spernatural power any more than they got morality! This again, shows the childish parental-mode dependency of the primitive fundie brain. Its neurons can't conceive of anything that humans could have or achieve or do of themselves. There must always be a cosmic Daddy showing the way, or giving them....whateve.....reason, purpose, name it.

We call this the "Infantile school of thought" for good reason.

Unperturbed, he continues:

Lastly , what is the basis for beauty ? Atheists also marvel at a beautiful sunset and are awestruck by the starry heavens . They enjoy the beauty of nature as though it were meaningful . Yet if atheism is true , it is all accidental , not purposeful . Atheists enjoy natural beauty as though it were meant for them , and yet they believe no Designer exists to mean it for them .

WHY should we? The fact is that beauty (like meaning) can exist independently of inserting some external “designer” (which as I showed in an earlier blog, can’t even design perfect human DNA!) Apart from that, beauty is a relative term, just as subjective as what is considered “good” or “evil”. For example, I regard bearded dragons, pythons and tarantulas as beautiful animals. How many would agree with that? Not many, including this blustering fundie, I'’d wager. Beauty then can confer some form of intangible dimension to our lives but can’t be the sole goal or defining object of our lives.

Apart from that the mistake made by fundies when they say a probabilistic process can’t engender beauty is based on the argument from personal incredulity. In other words, the object of attention (maybe the solar system or a flower) appears so incredible to the person that he’s incredulous it could have arisen by any random process.

But the personal incredulity argument always breaks down in the same place. The argument can be parsed as follows:

1- This incredibly (beautiful, complex, stunning..etc) thing exists which even atheists agree to
2- Therefore, it couldn’t have evolved in random gradual steps over time.
3- Therefore a designer must have done it.

Of course, the last step is the breakdown point, since it asserts an outside influence based only on a negative argument, with no positive evidence.

By way of example, when I was in Alaska in 2005 with my wife, we were watching the sky one night when suddenly a bright red and green aurora unfolded. One person also watching (maybe a fundie) remarked how "wonderful" it was that a cosmic "Designer" could create such a spectacle. As if he couldn't process any other way. (Personal incredulity)

I had to inform him that it was the result of "accidental" energetic inputs of solar wind into the polar auroral oval after which the Earth's magnetic field shaped the inflow to the beautiful curtains of shimmering light we beheld.

Do we diminish it because it was of accidental origin? Of course not! We appreciate even more that such majestic beauty could emanate from random physical agents operating in concert in highly rarefied plasma systems.

and the finishing touch:

My friends , one can see how utterly ridiculous atheism is . And they accuse us Christians of being "delusional" ? Go figure , huh ?

Actually, the responses already given show how absolutely backward, childish and regressive fundagelicalism is.

The Infantile Model of Reality - since all its questions can be answered by merely inserting a big, invisible cosmic Daddy , bestow: reason, meaning, logic, morality, appreciation of beauty....even your brains, I guess.

Sad, how so many humans are willing to sell themselves short for invisible sky gods and phantasmagorias.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

"Sad, how so many humans are willing to sell themselves short for invisible sky gods and phantasmagorias"

Well, it's because too may people want others to do their thinking fcr them about the hard questions, or make their choices for them.

I thin the major difference between atheists-freethinkers and the orthodox religious is that the former are prepared to think for themselves and arrive at their own moral or existential conclusions.

The relgious are too much like children and need some authority figure or source to direct them. They lack the confidence to do it themselves.

It is sad.