Okay – this is way to big – time for a cut:

Okay – I’m only going to quote

‘s stuff here and then add some of my own.

, as always, makes a number of good points but I don’t think levels any specific questions for me this time beyond “why am I now being more open to discussing this rather than just saying if you think different to me you’re an idior”. Well, he’s right – I’m sure I do that a lot – but in this case I’m trying to be less of an ass about it…

By the way – I hope this all counts against what people have said previously that I never write anything with a personal opinion on here… :-p


said :

> If I understand this correctly you are putting forward the argument here that since the Divine is unknowable on some level that we can in
> no investigate it. Is that a valid reading of what you have written?

Yes, that would be my point. I think we can easily discuss it but, using my terms, investigate it implies having tangable physical real-world phenomena that we can scrutinize.

> If so, I would like to put forward the argument that there are degrees of understanding and comprehension that can be achieved. In the
> same way that we can reach a certain level of understanding in Mathematics but cannot fully grasp infinity as we are finite beings – so too
> can we study and seek to comprehend the Divine through its manifestation in existence up to what our faculties and tools at our disposal
> are capable off.

Now, I think that this comes back to what I discussed in a previous post. I said – if there is/are a God(s)/Godess(es) but they don’t interfear in the physical world in a way we can measure then why worry about them? In a similar way I would say for this – if there are “supernatural” creatures that opperate in such a way that we cannot cognitively understand them then doesn’t that ammount to the same thing? We cannot comprehend what they do so, in essence, they could be doing anything and therefore their actions will be unknowable (and therefore meaningless) to us. Does that make sense?

> I would argue that there is no such thing as the “supernatural”

I’m glad we all agree. It is a very annoying and silly word. Like “evil” and even “truth” it’s pretty much just a shorthand for saying “I can’t be bothered to discuss this any further”.

> The aspect of the Divine that transcends existence

Okay, now I’m lost. Everything exists within nature (ie there is nothing “supernatural”) but some things “transcend existance”? I think I am lost in the semantics.

> is hard to describe and I have come across such terms that translate as “without end” and “no-thing” to describe what we have very little in
> the way of points of reference for.

Sorry, I simply don’t understand that.

> a discussion on this level is metaphysical speculation and mystical theories that I don’t believe that we can test as the laws of Space and
> Time do not apply.

To speak of something being outside the laws and space and time again makes the sort of being you are alluding to sounds very much like they are outside of nature.

> I’d put forward another argument to say that the Real World and everything in it is part of the Divine.

That could certainly be true – however since we can only investigate and comprehand the real world (at least while we are alive) then whether or not it is part of some “reality superstructure” literally has no useful meaning.

> The tools and techniques that we are using are evolving all the time but unless we can achieve states of mind where we can gain more
> insight and understanding of such things as infinity then we will always be constrained by our finite-ness.

Indeed – although I am personally extremely wary of “alternate mind states” as methods of investigating the physical world as they tend to be extremely subjective, hard to reproduce and pretty much impossible to tie into anything external to their own experiments.

Right, that was my reply to

‘s post – here’s my next bit.

What I’m going to talk about now is semantics.

and I have both previously talked about dogma, faith, reason and science and I’m going to try and have a go at thinking about what some of those terms mean – excuse me while I flounder in the dark… 🙂

I’m going to choose a fairly advance non-existentialist point of view and start by accepting that we all exist and have seperate minds that we use to observe and interact with a single shared objective reality.

Now, taking that as a given how do people decide that they are going to base their world-views around science, faith or a combination of the two? Everyone is exposed to a multitude of events and potential explanations in their lives – why do some people choose one system of explaining a certain set of observations while other people pick a different one?

I think it must simply come down to what makes the most sense for that invidual at that time. “From the information I have been given and from what I have thought up myself the concept that best describes this particular sub-set of events I have observed is…”.

So much of this will, obviously, depend on how they interprete what they see (given their current world view) and what external theories (memes) they have previously been exposed to.

calls the more esoteric of these theories (both theological and scientific) dogma – and I think he’s pretty much right to do so.

So, back to me – why do I choose to often say that faith is a “bad thing”. Well, in essence, it comes down to two things.

Firstly when a person accepts an explanation of a set of events as a matter of faith they are in future extremely reluctant to change their mind to accept that they could have been caused by something else. By using the word faith some, but by no means all, people effectively saying “you can never question my conclusion on this matter again”. Now, as someone whose world view is very much based around Occam’s Razor they idea that there are “off limits” subjects is something I find very irritating. To base your world view on something that you cannot discuss is to not have “reason”.

Secondly I favor science as a world view as it is built up incrementally from things that I can observe personally. I can personally perform experiments as guided in science books and that gives me a basis to believe (yes, I can’t think of a better word there) other peer-reviewed science texts are more likely to be true that books where there is nothing measurable and little consensus on what is “true”. The fact that the modern world has been built on such a pyramid of these experiments also helps me to believe that it is a good world view to base my judgement around.

Now, of course, we can never know for certain that the person who is hearing voices is definitly mentally ill and not hearing the voices of angels so it simple comes down to what is more likely from what we have been informed about and what we have seen with our own eyes.

Given how the breadth of the world covered by faith has contracted significantly over the past few hundered years (doors in the sky to let rain in, demonic possession, opposition to heliocenterism, etc) while, as I’ve said above, science has gone on leaps and bounds in explanations and predictions I know for certain which sounds more likely to me.

That said –

is very much correct about one thing. As you get to stuff like string theory and the more esoteric end of current science not only do the things that they are discussing more and more sound like faith rather than science but as they become less and less able to be measured in the physical world then – indeed – I would be as skeptical as the next person that they are making it all up…