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miketabcdefg
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Latest Forum Posts
Topic: do you believe in God?
Posted: 20 May 2015 03:28

Strictly speaking, that does not limit our choices, it merely influences how succesful we are likely to be in the pursuit of them. Even though we realize the chance of succeeding is slim, we probably will choose to dodge that bullet. And many have decided to go flying, often delusional, their choice irrational, but still, their choice. Regardless of the probable outcome of a choice, we are free to make it.

True. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that we only have free will for the things we have evolved to have control over. With our burgeoning knowledge base and ability to understand the universe this is ever widening.

Topic: do you believe in God?
Posted: 20 May 2015 03:15

I would say, that depends on the limitations of its program. If that robot were able to learn, to expand its knowledge and with that, its program and the set of rules upon which it decides, there may come a point where you could speak of free choice.

Well many robots can do that but I'm not sure that'd be a prerequisite anyway. They are making decisions based on received inputs and their existing architecture/data structures. IMO it's the decision that's made that matters, not whether there are changes to the underlying architecture between decisions.

I think where we intuitively have problems with computers having free will is because we can see every single point of their decision making process and so we can't see any place for free will. Perhaps when they become so complex that it's impossible to do that, then we might afford them free will, or conversely when we can see every point in a decision making process for humans we will deny ourselves free will as a meaningful term.

Topic: Do You Consider Yourself To Be A Feminist?
Posted: 20 May 2015 03:00

Oops, just realised it was placed in 'Ask the gals'. The problem with having the latest posts pop up in the scroll for the unobservant like me to flagrantly respond to.

Quietly slinks out of the room.

Topic: Do You Consider Yourself To Be A Feminist?
Posted: 20 May 2015 02:37

My only problem with feminism is the word. I'd prefer egalitarian, with a focus on gender equality perhaps. But I'm a pedant like that. Should there also be masculinism for those few areas that are skewed the other way, or transgenderism or homosexualism. So again, for me gender equality in the midst of a wider focus on egalitarianism is enough but I can't deny there is empowerment in belonging to a cause and so perhaps the term feminism serves a purpose there, a purpose that for some has been met and they no longer need the word but certainly not for all, and, world wide, no where near a majority.

...Just looked up the terms. It seems masculinism does exist - for men's rights, sometimes masculism. Transgenderism exists for seeking rights for transgenders, but homosexualism simply describes the state of being homosexual (one website described it as the teachings and indoctrination of homosexuality - lol) It seems the terms aren't used enough to have solid meanings, but even so, the English language can be a daft thing sometimes.

Topic: Should kids in the untied states have to say the pledge of alligence in school
Posted: 19 May 2015 23:18

are you?

Clearly he's not frankie, he's Richard.

Topic: do you believe in God?
Posted: 19 May 2015 20:47

If science proves, that free will does not exist, I'll have to rethink my view on existence. But isn't that, what science is about?
And even without science proving anything, I am convinced free will is always limited. First of all by the society we live in and the rules on behavior mankind has accepted as standard, but also by the limits of what we know and what we can imagine.

And it's also limited by what we are capable of achieving. We might be able to avoid a lion, or a spear been thrown, but it's much harder to avoid a bullet, or conversely deciding to fly. And even on less obvious decisions. Our ability to choose to decide to not eat a packet of chips is very much altered by our prior history, brain and biochemical structure, and even the flora in our gut. And differentiating our free will from the environment is impossible to disentangle in another way. Hitler as a 3 your old could not have been classified as evil, gradually, collective decisions by himself and events unfolding around him led him to his unfortunate conclusions. Each of those decision he made were also influenced by events around him. eg. The first world war and the treaty of Versailles.

Whether we have free will is somewhat of a semantic argument about what free will is. In one respect it is a truism. Its something that every animal that can move has, unless they move entirely randomly (not something that exists even on the bacterial level as I understand). Bacteria will move towards higher concentrations of nutrients or light or whatever (and even remember where it was higher and return to those places). Those better at making decisions in the given environment are more likely to pass on genes. Where we attach an extra layer of importance is with awareness, as in, I am making the decision ... I, the aware self. Who knows, perhaps bacteria are aware, they do some pretty damn complicated things and there are protein structures that have the capability of storing information and I only assume you have awareness because you're similar to me. In any event, for us, the evidence from fMRI studies suggests that decisions are made subconsciously and later claimed by the conscious self. So are we, as our aware selves, claiming the free will or the whole of us, our subconscious as well, and if so how do we disentangle that from the environment to make the claim of making the decision. Some viruses are capable of altering the decisions we make to ensure they're more likely to be passed on, so ho would our free will fit into that.

Watch talks on free will by Dan Dennet and Sam Harris, they disagree but I tend to think they're both right depending on perspective and their both good food for thought.

Topic: Why is the universe so big?
Posted: 19 May 2015 17:59



I hope you read about Hooke as well :)

Yes. Hooke's contribution to science at the time was staggering, and some would say of an equal to newtons. Newton was mathematically Hooke's superior, and Hooke was the far better experimenter. Some say because the spent so much time experimenting he didn't develop individual ideas in enough detail, he was apparently an adept mathematician, but probably not to Newtons level. It's just a pity that he was outlived by Newton because with Newtons presidency of the Royal Society Hooke's level of contribution he seemed to be actively written out of history.

It's certainly a long bow to say that Newton is the smartest man that existed. Many people, even at the same time, were similarly brilliant mathematicians and it wouldn't have been long before someone else came up with a mathematical description of the inverse square law of gravitation because it was supposed that it acted in such a manner, but no one had worked out the details yet.


On the question, Why is the universe so big.... Why not.

It may well be a truism, for life of sufficient complexity to develop the laws of the universe, and the length of time needed to elapse, need to be such that the question 'Why is the universe so big?' can't be asked until the universe is so big.

Topic: do you believe in God?
Posted: 19 May 2015 17:33



Interesting. Just what are some of those conflicting things? I only ask because most everyone that states the bible says conflicting things is repeating that from someone else and have not actually read the bible themselves. Just curious.

I've read bits of it but it's hard to get through large swathes without being bored to tears, there's only so many begats one can handle. And after a few descriptions of ways to sacrifice, and reasons to do it, it starts to lose its entertainment value. But I've had a look at some contradictions brought to my attention by others and so have checked the references. Sometimes the contradictions are tenuous, because of the vague language so often used, other times it's clear. But to find contradictions you really need to do more than just read it. There's so much dross in there and it's organised so poorly that you need to be compiling lists as you go to do crosschecking later.



On the OP's question, I'd need a definition of belief first. At what point on the scale of my acceptance on the veracity of a claim does it become a belief. When I think it's 90% likely based on my reading of the evidence, 95%, 99%? If it's 100% then I believe in nothing.

It also depends on what someone means by god. A weak pantheist says that god is simply the universe and the interconnectedness of all things within it. I could go along with that as it's somewhat of a truism, provided they don't then draw the longer bow of giving us some special place within it, or special abilities to detect said interconnectedness. (Such a statement though adds nothing to our understanding of the universe, or meaning to our existence). Someone else might say they think god is a some special being that looks down on us from some as yet undetected dimension and meddles in our lives for good and or ill, constantly. Such a claim is a little more open to analysis and based on the evidence the claim seems highly unlikely.

I hate labels, but to give myself one... For the reasons above the terms Theist, Agnostic and Atheist are inadequate. (Atheism isn't really a position at all, defining yourself as the negative of something you don't believe exists seems illogical). I prefer the term Ignostic (or theological noncognitivist). I'm ignorant of the concept of god, it is to vague and changeable and thus has no meaning to me.

And so, when confronted with the question 'Do you believe in god?" I ask back "Define god."

Perhaps another response to the question: Do you believe in god? ... Null

Topic: Should kids in the untied states have to say the pledge of alligence in school
Posted: 19 May 2015 16:59

Being born anywhere is just a biological accident and I see no logic except primitive control in patriotism and all it's flag waving childishness. I can understand pride in some personal achievement or other...

Totally agree.

I deconstructed the pledge a while back, may as well post it again...

I saw this thread pop up in the recent posts banner. I was curious what the pledge was, coming from another country, one that has no requirement to pledge any allegiance. So here's the opinion of one outsider which means of course my weight in the matter is minimal. And you may seek to correct my interpretations.

The first line is a bit odd. Why pledge allegiance to a flag. It's a flag FFS, simply a way of showing what country a place or vessel or delegation or whatever represents. It has no agency. The republic does have agency so it makes a more sense to pledge allegiance there so I'd say get rid of the 'to the flag' bit.

The under god has no place in a secular state. If it's not a requirement to believe in god to be a citizen then it shouldn't be in there.

What does it mean for a country to be indivisible? In what way. In believe systems? - everyone has to believe the same thing, plainly that's not the case and not possible. In government? - everyone has to support the government regardless of what things they are doing you may disagree with - that's a bit totalitarian and against the ethos of the US I would have thought (well outwardly at least). In jurisdiction? - I guess by definition the US is a defined entity that is indivisible as a country, so that's a truism... but only if you ignore the vastly different laws governing each of the many states.

Justice for all is great. That basically just means that people should get treated equally and fairly under the law, though I'd suggest that it's an ideal that is not met reliably - but then it isn't in any country really. Liberty for all is a little more nuanced though, it's not as if you can do whatever you want where ever you want, without respect to others and the laws of the state.

What does pledging allegiance really mean or require? To simply abide by the nations laws? Wouldn't it be better to simply promise to abide by the law. Should I back my country up even if I think they're doing something that I strongly disagree with. Some mention it as a way of showing pride in your country, but I don't even know what that means. Here, in Australia, I love so many aspects of where I live. The natural beauty, the fact that as a country we tend to have a better quality of life than most, the character of the people. Although I love it I also understand that it's simply through happenstance that I was born here and if born somewhere else would have developed some similar feelings for that place (even if I wanted to get out because of problems within the state) so it's no reason for some silly swelling pride. On the last point, character of the people, one thing that irks me is this overt nationalism that has taken over the country over the last couple of decades, moving us seemingly more towards the US. This started in our bicentennial year it seems, and it's vacuousness and danger no better illustrated by the trashing of some beautiful places, or race riots that have occurred on the national celebration day. Unfortunately such pride is so often accompanied by belligerence and arrogance.

I find these sort of pledges and icons (such as flags) to be apparently profound on the surface but under analyses fall over. What has been termed a deepity by some. It's a great way to get people to not really think about things and to act as sheep.

I expect to be told to piss off, it's not your country, and perhaps fair call - but I hope I've flavoured the discussion with an outsiders view, stepping back and viewing from afar.

Topic: If aliens came to our planet...
Posted: 19 May 2015 16:53

I'd keep my distance. I'm not into anal, especially being the recipient, and we all know how much aliens love to probe our rear ends.

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