8-31-13 3:50  •  Is Life Precious?

EllsBells: People always say, "Life is Precious!" Is it, really? What do you think?

There are vast craploads of matter in the universe, but only a very tiny amount of it - that we know of - has arranged itself into self-replicating patterns. Life is precious because it is so infinitesimally rare.

Life has emergent properties that make even complex chemical processes look like a Tinker Toy next to the Golden Gate Brige. Immune systems, sensory organs, reproductive strategies, and intelligence are all emergent systems many orders of magnitude greater than the sum of their parts. Life is precious because it is so utterly and unspeakably amazing.

Life exists in so many different shapes and forms bearing almost no resemblence to each other. Yet we all share the largest part of our genetic material. This one handful of tools can build a tree, a coral, a dinosaur, a dog and a human. Life is precious because it is shape-twistingly flexible.

Life has nearly been wiped out from this planet more than once in the past. The physical world is a harsh reality and the struggle for survival can be a brutal trial. But, life strives, and never yeilds. Life waits, life toils, and then life surges to fill every opportunity, every possible iota of space and every possible role in every environment. Life is precious because it can do anything to survive.

When we look at any other living being, we behold, not only a genetic sister to ourselves, but a piece of the system we exist in as much as we are. We are all partners in an elaborate and intricate dance of mutual dependence, and we recognize it. Life is precious to us because it serves the cause of life for us to find it so.

Most importantly, everything that lives today is here because what they were doing was working, for them and also for the vast system as a whole. Each piece of life that survives has filled some role that functioned, and was needed.

Life is precious because in a cold universe it is a beautiful thing to find something that works.

8-30-13 12:34  •  Asking for Proof

Mazzy: Can you proof that God does NOT exist? No!

Ha, gotcha. You are always asking for proof from people of their God existing.

This is just not correct and I am sorry you still don't get the gist of what I am saying. I am not concerned with "God's existence." I am not an atheist, remember?

I ask for evidence - not "proof", just any evidence - to support specific claims of knowledge, like "I know God exists" or "I know what God wants." When people claim special knowledge it's reasonable to ask them to back it up with evidence that it actually is knowldege, and not just something they made up or heard. I ask for evidence of action. When people claim "God did this," it's reasonable to ask how it can be confirmed to be the act of God and not just something that happened.

I certainly wouldn't expect anyone to just accept it. At least not in a debate forum.

Mazzy: When people tell you what their proof is you dispute it.

It's usually pretty weak stuff. I'm waiting for someone to offer up something substantial.

Mazzy: So of course this leads people to just stop trying...

When did they ever start? I ask for evidence that you "know" God exists and you say things like "My children. My very existence" and that's it. You don't have the energy to explain how children and existence makes you "know" God exists while other people with children and existence don't have this "knowing."

If that is what you consider to be supporting your claims, you can see why it seems like pretty weak stuff.

Mazzy: ...as there is no proof that will will result in you accepting it.

This is just flat out wrong and it just shows that you still do not understand my position. If someone offered up actual evidence instead of giving up, I would consider it, and if it was very solid, I would happily change my views to accept this better understanding of reality.

My only goal is to understand exactly what is real and what works and I will accept anything that can be shown to be these.

Mazzy: Why is it so difficult for any one who does not believe, regardless of if they have stated 'there is no God', to answer this question?

Are you talking about your original question? It is a nonsense question. I could just as easily ask you, "What proof do you believe to be true in proving that qerg does not exist?" What is your answer?

I don't have an answer to support a proposition that makes no sense and is nothing like what I am positing.

Mazzy:Every thing regarding God is somehow always turned around and made out to be more than needed.

Well, is God important, or not?

Mazzy:What you need is for God to appear before you. As silly as this may sound, I honestly believe that is the only way you will ever come to understand or accept.

Accept what?

Mazzy:Your intelligence, however, is not above those who hold a different belief than you...

And yet, I am supposed to just go along unquestioningly with your claims that you have this superior "knowing" that allows you to know things that other people don't know.

Mazzy:...or those who cannot seem to provide you with the key answers you seek.

What I seek is to demonstrate that those kinds of claims are unsupportable and people are providing plenty of evidence of this.

Mazzy:People try to answer you, time and again, in a different manner but nothing is ever going to give you what ever it is you are truly seeking.

Wrong, I am finding much of what I am seeking or I would not be doing it.

Mazzy:You have to give that to yourself to begin with and then perhaps people's explanations and such will make sense to you.

Sorry, I don't accept your claim that you have access to "understanding God" and I don't and the reason I don't is just because I refuse to. That is ridiculous.

Mazzy:That is because I know that God has created each and every one of us.

I have no reason to think that you "know" this. It seems to be something you are just saying.

Mazzy:Why do you not believe in God's existence?

I don't have any particular beliefs about any particular gods, either "for" or "against".

Mazzy:You claim to want to learn, but you have seemed to learn very little.

No, I have learned a lot about what doesn't work and some about what does work. That is very important.

Gretel: Proof? That's the trick, isn't it. For someone who doesn't believe, there is no proof. For someone who does, EVERYTHING is proof. It's a simple different mindset.

Gretel, thanks for bringing this up, because I think you are seeing into the heart of the disconnect.

The "mindset matters" assumption is part of what creates this problem. The mindset that produces "I know what God expects of me" is not verifiably more valid than the "I know God hates fags" mindset. There is no way to determine if either has any touch on actual reality at all.

Therefore, the only thing to do of you want to actually know things is look beyond the "mindsets" to examine the reality that would exist even if there were no minds, and find out what it is like. And, find out what can - and can't - be known about it.

From there, with evidence, people can start to make verifiable claims about "knowing" things.

Gretel: Not sure one that we can really get past, honestly.

It would be easy enough to get past it by acknowledging that the answers to many such questions are unknown. Even most theists are willing to do this. A few aren't.

Mazzy: It has indeed been interesting, even if my question has not actually been answered by any one. ;)

Since it's so much fun, why don't you try it? :-)

Do you "know" that Zeus, Apollo, Athena and Pegasus exist? If not, what proof do you believe to be true in proving that Zeus, Apollo, Athena and Pegasus do not exist?

Isa: Raver, you are a faker.

Pretty funny, but nope. What you see is what you get.

Isa: You engage believers in debate by questioning everything...

You may not be aware of this, but questioning is good.

Isa: ...and then in the end you say, "Well, I never said God doesn't exist."

That is true. I don't make declarations about "God." As far as I can tell, no human knows any facts about "God."

The problem is not a person who doesn't make declarations claiming to know things about God. The problem is people who do claim to know things about God when they clearly don't.

Isa: It seems to me, you are on a spiritual quest and you will find your answers if you put down your arrogant disbelief, listen, and show you want to learn.

Don't be silly. My spiritual quest is ongoing and extremely fruitful. However that is not the purpose of my questions in this discussion.

The purpose, as I have pointed out to you several times before, is not to try to get answers I don't know from you. I am not under the impression that you understand anything that I don't. Why would I be? Theists do not have answers. What they say cannot be distinguished from made up stuff. Some of it clearly is made up. There is no way to figure out which bits are made up and which aren't.

I haven't dismissed the possibility that it could happen, but in the meantime that's not the point.

Isa: "Prove it, " will get you no where.

Wrong. It got men to the moon and back. It invented the machine sitting in front of your face. It cures diseases, explains the history of the universe, shows us the map of our own creation. It does things. It works.

Even the Buddha told the people of Kalama to reject all teachings that they could not personally verify. As a spiritual practice, "Prove it" is a purifying flame which burns away the bullshit.

Isa: Do you want answers or do you just like to debate and try and piss people off?

Why do you suppose I came to a group called "Heated Debates"?

Isa: Guess what, I have YET to hear anyone dare say God FOR SURE does not exist. Why?

Because no human is in a position to make declarations about God. Why else?

Isa: Either decide to learn...

I learn in this discussion every day. Do you?

Isa: ...or leave it alone.

You wish.

Gretel: We need Raver! She annoys us, because she makes us really think about what we're saying.

Thank you, Gretel. Glad to help.

This discussion also gives me the great opportunity to think about what you are saying, and what I am saying. That is truly priceless, so for that I thank you all.

8-30-13 8:56  •  Dash of Socialism

Nikoli: Some people seem to want to move towards socialism. Why?

What we have isn't working. A dash of socialism would make it work better.

Nikoli:It might reinforce the overly-entitled attitude so many Americans seem to have, which is a huge source of our problems.

It doesn't do that in the other countries that are using it. They are not better than us. If they can do it so can we.

Nikoli: Do you believe for a moment socialism will take this notion that they "deserve" all this stuff away?

A bit of socialism creates a national feeling of cooperation and sharing. Canadians and Swedes and most of Western Europe are proud of their national tradition of thinking of others and working together.

A feeling of working together and sharing could certainly take the edge off the selfishness of the individual.

Nikoli: Or will it possibly make it worse?

Staying the same is making it worse. What kind of change do you recommend?

Nikoli:I say sure, help those who really need it with food and healthcare. But socialism in general, I say no.

I don't think anyone is proposing "socialism in general", anywhere. But a good balance of social needs versus individual needs seems to be an optimum solution. A little dash of socialism in the U.S. would help balance us out.

Nikoli: Ha! Those who desire Socialism should move to a country that is already a socialist country.

My hubby and I have seriously considered it. Not only does cut-throat American capitalism go against our moral structure of non-materialism and compassion for all, but it also doesn't seem to be working for huge numbers of people. We would like to try something different.

However, the American economic system is so screwed up, so disenfranchising, and so stacked against us, that even though my husband and I are both college-educated, hard-working, skilled technology professionals, we are not able to manage to get together the many, many thousands of dollars it would take to completely relocate. We can't even move just one country north to Canada. In other words, in spite of doing everything right within the system, we still cannot afford to escape it.

Luckily, this is the kind of country where people can change it to make it work better. Since we are stuck here, and since we are born Americans and patriotic at heart, we have decided to work within the system to try make it better, and to introduce ideas and systems which can be shown to work well in other places. This is what we have been doing for years.

I hope we are able to succeed in bringing change and improve lives for many millions of Americans. If you see this happening and you still don't like it, maybe you should utilize your entire life savings to move to a country that is more capitalist, like...uh... Hong Kong.

Nikoli:We have been moving toward socialism for the past hundred years and people seem to think that our country is moving in the wrong direction. So how is that more socialism is going to solve the problems of the day?

The moral arc of humanity through history bends towards more social cooperation. However it comes in fits and starts.

We arced in a seriously socialistic direction with the advent of the New Deal. This, plus the GI Bill, created the idealistic 1950's America we all love to get nostalgic about. However the last thirty years, since the rise of Reagan, we have been veering away from this, by jumping on the bandwagon for deregulation, hyper-profiteering and the glorification of greed. This has arced away from socialism and also dumped our country into the toilet.

A veer back in a more social direction, like many European nations have taken, will give us the same benefit it has given to them.

Nikoli:Aren't some european countries now heading towards capitalism, like France?

Everybody is entitled to make a mistake, even France. However I doubt they intend to abandon national health care, for example, in favor of an individual private insurance system.

Countries should be heading for a healthy balance of capitalism and socialism.

Nikoli:There are some who are quite happy with capitalism and materialism....

Sadly, this is true. However keeping materialstic people happy is not worth disenfranchising millions of people who can't get a decent life in the capitalist system. The few who like it aren't worth screwing everyone else for.

Nikoli:...and your socialistic ideals mean no more to us than our capitalistic ideals mean to you.

Not true. More socialism would make the country better for you as much as anyone. Statistically, you would live longer, have fewer diseases, have fewer surgical complications and faster recovery times, and your infants would be very much more likely to live past their first year, if, for example, we had national health care.

Nikoli:BUT, STILL.....WHY DO YOU THINK IT WORKS? Examples please--convince me!

Well, you could ask Danie and Ellie, our resident Canadians, how they like their system. Every Canadian I have met considers it a point of personal pride that Canada has the best health care system in the world.

The facts back it up too. Canadians are overall much healthier than Americans. They have longer lifespans and fewer sicknesses. They recover faster from injuries. They have a much lower infant mortality rate.

Sweden, with the most generous national healthcare system in the world, ranks tops in the world for citizens health.

They are also one of the most generous in terms of full public education. Not coincidentally, they have one of the best educated populaces in the world.

Providing citizens easy access to education and health care results in them being more educated and healthier.

Nikoli:You may be more concerned with the "greater good"...I will always be solely concerned with the good of me and mine.

I'm sorry to hear that. That seems kind of lonely. Most great wisdom traditions have mentioned loving thy neighbor, because it is a happier way to live.

And, it's also incorrect. Whether you want to admit it or not, the greater good includes you too.

Nikoli:It may not be what you want to hear, and you may not want to believe that many people think this way - but it is the truth. Unpleasant truth, perhaps, but true all the same.....

Unfortunately, keeping the unpleasant system in place for you is not fair to millions of others. You don't get to be selfish and unpleasant and care only about yourself at their expense. At least, not forever.

Nikoli:Moving towards a more socialist govt doesn't stop at healthcare! Why else would you like USA to be more socialist?

"Socialist" can mean anything. I have specific policy proposals and none of them would turn the USA "socialist" or make us any less "capitalist" than we are right now.

We already have "socialized" medicine, for our seniors. It should be available to everybody. Making Medicare available to all would not turn us "socialist."

We already have "socialized" public education, in pre-k - 12th grade. However this does not provide enough education for everyone in a complex technical society. Providing full public education to everybody, not just ages 4-18, would not make us "socialist."

Nikoli:Should the individual take any responsiblty for their health in any capacity? OR should the indvidual live like he/she wants and the govt is there to provide medically?

People in Canada have a partnership with their health professionals. They say it really works. The facts support their claims.

I don't think the fear you are trying to articulate here would materialize.

Nikoli:A solution would be to make healthcare capitalistic rather than the mess that it is.

No. Some things cannot be monetized. Health is one of them. People do not need to wrangle about what they can afford when they are injured, or worry about what is covered by their plan when they are deathly ill.

When people are hurting, and sick, what they need is to have every medical option available to them to ease their suffering and restore them to wellness. Doling out healing in expensive little dribs and drabs is cruel, and very inefficient.

Nikoli:I am not sure what "fear" you are referring to....you keep comparing us to Canada...but you haven't given any examples--explain why it is better?

Canadian Single-Payer Health Care Program Is Better than US

Canada's health system beats U.S. in cost and results

Canadian health care better and cheaper than U.S., says research

For example.

Nikoli:We can address our healthcare problems by--Lifting state lines/provide a tax credit to those that do not have the option of employee coverage/incentives for employees to offer coverage/more incentives for insurance companies to remain competitive/allow nurse practitioners to have more say for non-emergency doctor visits/clinics should be more widely available for those without insurance or those here illegally.

That is complicated. Simply curing people when they are sick and healing people when they are injured would be a lot easier.

Nikoli: If everyone claims they "care" so much, then why not give/do more to charity?

People do give/do more to charity. However obviously that isn't sufficient. It doesn't work to help some people and not help others. Selective helping leaves some people unhelped.

Nikoli: If you all "cared" as much as everyone wants to claim they do--why is it so important to get govt involved?

Because government is the system we have for working out things that effect everybody.

Nikoli: Were just sick of our money being taken away to help other people when we still need the money to help our own families!

If we had national health care you would not have to pay for insurance for any member of your family. That money you could keep. You would not have to pay for doctor's visits, labs, therapies. Everyone in your family would have all the healthcare they need to stay healthy.

Your taxes might slightly increase, but they would not increase as much as your insurance payments just went down, because 1) It would not be necessary to scrape huge amounts of money out of the system just for corporate profits, and 2) single payer health care systems are much more efficient and get better health care for the money.

You would have better health and more money in your pocket to help your own family. Plus people who now have nothing would also have better health. That would be good for them and you too. It's win-win.

Nikoli: Believe me it's a very nice thought....and you sell it so wondefully....but, it's not going to be like this.

It's nice that you think this, but unless you can back it up with some kind of evidence there is no reason to believe that your assessment means more than, say, the fact that it actually is like this, right now, generally the way I described, in Canada.

Nikoli: You think national healthcare is so great? What about France?

My MIL & SIL lived there for a short period so they gave me a little idea as to what can experience if they have a headache, for example. You can't simply go to your cabinet and get your excedrine bottle full of pills out and take two pills....you need to go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for 2 Excedrine pills. Yes, it's free...but it's on someone elses terms!

I wanted to verify this, so I contacted a friend of mine who lives in France. He said, that if you need free aspirin, you can get it from the pharmacy in packs of six. However he said that most people he knows just spend the buck to get a bottle of aspirin from the store, just like in America, and keep it at home in the medicine cabinet, just like in America.

I wouldn't mind continuing to buy my aspirin just like I always have if it meant that everyone could get open heart surgery when they need it.

Nikoli: What do you know? The New Deal did not create the idealistic 1950s. World War II did.

Both factors were present. The New Deal saved the country from implosion during the Depression. It allowed people to recover. Most agree that the GI Bill, which allowed large numbers of working class people to get an eduation for the first time, was the main factor in producing the vast expansion of the middle class.

Nikoli: The Depression economy shifted with the war, and that got it going again.

Not really. The wartime economy was nothing like ordinary free market capitalism. Munitions were manufactured with no monetary base at all - the materials were not bought and paid for, they were just supplied. Most food and staples of daily life were not bought and sold as commodities - they were severely rationed. Pricing structures were not determined by the market, they were fixed by the government. The wealthy were taxed up to 90% of their income. That cannot be considered anything like an economic recovery because ordinary economic supply and demand factors were thrown to the wind.

As soon as the war ended and the wartime price fixes were removed, the economy flattened and a severe recession began. The actual economic recovery resulting in actual growth did not begin until 1948, three years after the war was over. According to historian Howard Zinn, as the GIs began to graduate from college, a climate of education and entrepreneurship began to rise, and this was the major factor which contributed to the prosperity of the next two decades.

Nikoli: The solution lies with personal responsibility. Instead of frittering away your cash, saving it to prepare for these kinds of contingencies.

Do tell. What do you think I am "frittering away my cash" on?

Nikoli: Any investment analyst will tell you that you should have at least six months worth of expenses saved up.

This is not possible for many people. Average cost of living is way up. Average income is way down. The "surplus" for savings isn't there.

Nikoli: People want more stuff all the time. They are unwilling to settle for less than their neighbors.

Keeping up with the Joneses is not responsible for widespread poverty in this country or in this world.

Nikoli: Each month four million jobs are dissolved and created in the US.

That seems pretty stupid. Every month four million people are dumped into the economy to scramble for different jobs. What fun.

Nikoli: In Europe jobs are controlled, so new ones can't be created, though there is job security for those who have them.

Back this up. Where do you get the idea that new jobs cannot be created in Europe?

Nikoli:Productivity has dropped in many of these countries, which is why France in particular is trying to change.

"Productivity?" Boo hoo. Productivity growth at the expense of human happiness is a poor trade off.

Productivity has been up in the U.S. for the last decade, largely due to increased automation. However this had led only to massively increased profits for a very tiny few. It has not translated into gains for the worker. The average American has seen his quality of life decline in the face of "higher productivity."

Nikoli: Though everyone in France has healthcare, they are quickly reaching a point where they will not be able to make ends meet in paying for that health care.

Their healthcare is cheaper than ours, by a lot.
MANY advocates of a universal healthcare system in the United States look to Canada for their model. While the Canadian healthcare system has much to recommend it, there's another model that has been too long neglected. That is the healthcare system in France.

Although the French system faces many challenges, the World Health Organization rated it the best in the world in 2001 because of its universal coverage, responsive healthcare providers, patient and provider freedoms, and the health and longevity of the country's population. The United States ranked 37.

The French system is also not inexpensive. At $3,500 per capita it is one of the most costly in Europe, yet that is still far less than the $6,100 per person in the United States.


Arlene: While I have never proclaimed that the health care system isn't in need of reform, I will not throw my cap into the ring with someone whose agenda is socialism.

Who is the "someone" to whom are you referring?

Arlene:It is what you spend, not what you make that is the problem.

When people do not make enough to live on, that is the problem.

Arlene: People are interested in convenience and materialism, not thriftiness and savings.

"People?" Not you, though. And not me. Who?

Arlene: And finally, it is the creation of new jobs that create innovation and opportunity for people to improve themselves.

Jobs are not the only route to self-improvement. There is more to being an enriching society than just providing jobs. There is more to life than money.

Arlene: I can't see how restricting opportunities will reduce class warfare, do you?

Who is suggesting this?

Arlene:You claim that the people don't have enough to live on but I am not sure that is truly the case.

The minimum wage in this country is far below a living wage. People who can't make more than minimum wage are not making enough to live on. They are giving forty hours of their week to a job, just like anyone, but not earning a week's worth of room and board from their efforts.

Arlene:Isn't the whole point of your full on society to reduce class warfare?

Have you ever heard me use the term "class warfare"? What does that even mean?

Arlene:To make everyone equal?

No, this is ridiculous. Making everyone equal would be flattening the top. The only thing I am interested in is making the bottom slightly higher than it is now, and making the ability to reach higher available to everyone. How do you get "everyone equal" from this?

Making the minimum wage a living wage doesn't mean you are suddenly required to pay everyone the living wage and not a penny more. That is just silly. Offering education to everybody doesn't mean requiring that everyone get exactly the same degree. Offering food to people who don't have it doesn't mean that every single person has to get their food from the chow line. Offering a bed to people who don't have one doesn't mean requiring that everyone live in a dorm.

"Everyone equal" is a straw man. No one is proposing this.

Arlene:I am not sure that it is a straw man. In order to raise the bottom you will have to lower the top.

Why do you think so? We already have a minimum wage in this country. That is an example of an effort to raise the bottom. Do you seriously think that creating a minimum wage has lowered the top in this country? Are the wealthy people of the United States getting left behind? Are the wealthy in nations with no minimum wage getting way wealthier than our guys? Is that what you are worried about?

Arlene:"Things" cost money, where is this money going to come from?

The same place money always comes from, taxing the people of the country. The taxes that we are paying now could be used to fund housing and food instead of welfare and food stamps. The premiums that people are paying individually now for partial health coverage could be pooled to pay for full coverage for everyone, just like in Canada and other countries. It's a far more efficient use of money.

We could scrape maybe five percent out of the American military budget and get everybody in this country a college degree.

The money exists. We are already spending it. We can spend it better.

Arlene:Health care costs continue to rise, every country in Europe will be facing an increase in taxes and most of those taxes come from the top.

We don't need to keep making healthcare more and more profitable. That would help combat the rise in cost.

As for the "people at the top," show me how they are hurting and I will address their ills with compassion. Right now they seem to be doing okay.

Arlene: Also, a living wage will make all goods/services go up in price.

Not necessarily. The CEO could just get three Porches this year instead of six and that would probably cover it. :-)

Arlene: The minimum wage has helped push jobs overseas.

That is because other countries are cheating their people and corporations are taking advantage of it. People in other countries are not different from us. They deserve a living wage too.

Arlene: As it costs more to produce "things" it will in turn cost more to buy "things."

If the prices are being kept artificially low, by the workers getting ripped off, then that needs to be corrected. It is not the responsibility of the Wal-Mart clerks to go without health care or enough to eat for their children so that everyone else can get cheap plastic from China.

The prices of products need to reflect what it really costs to provide them. Right now we are externalizing most of the costs to the third world and to the lowest employees but it's a cheat. It's wrong.

Arlene: I have been against every bail out they have proposed.

The bailouts were not socialism, or social services, or anything to do with anything that works in a stable system. They were the frantic flailings of people who had no idea what was going on or what to do about it.

The economy was in complete free fall. All the numbers on all the balance sheets in all the banks were just meaningless figures with nothing to back them up. The "bailouts" were nothing but a smokescreen to try to keep the entire system from collapsing. It worked - but it had nothing to do with anything I am proposing.

Arlene: Go Capitalism! We all have equal opportunity to achieve or fail.

Wrong. People who do not have money are seriously disadvantaged. The poor do not have equal opportunity to achieve or fail with the middle class.

Arlene: If you chose, you could learn the game and make millions too.

Not everyone who tries to become wealthy is able to do so. If that was true there would be a lot more wealthy. I know many people who got an education, worked hard, did everything right, and still are struggling.

Arlene: But that doesn't mean I don't want to defend everyone's right to live the life they choose.

If their choices are taking advantage of others in the system it needs to be corrected.

Arlene: Your socialist plans have no chance. You can't get away from the way the market works.

The market it not a thing. It is a system we invented. We decide how it works. If it is working unfairly, we don't just say, well, too bad, that's the market. We change how we do it to make it work more fairly. It can be what we want.

Arlene: There are forces that do have negative impacts, but the real reason not everyone becomes wealthy is because not everyone makes good choices.

It it not possible for everyone to make good choices. It is not possible for everyone to become wealthy.

But who cares? It doesn't matter how easy it is for some people to become wealthy if they have the will and make all the right choices and don't have too many "forces that do have negative impacts."

The point is that for most people it's pretty hard. For some people it's really hard. For a few people it's too hard.

We don't have to make it that hard. We could make it a little easier for the people at the bottom. If they don't know how to have the will and make all the right choices and avoid negative impacts, we can teach them how to do it. What is the worst thing that could happen? They might start succeeding?

Arlene: I sort of knew you would come back and say it isn't possible for some people to make good choices. This seems to be a kind of battle cry for liberals.

Wrong. This is an extremely stupid interpretation of what I said. It is allowing you to play into a bias against "liberals" but it has nothing to do with what I am saying. I see you do not understand the first thing about my position.

So, allow me to clarify.

I said it is not possible for everyone to make good choices. I mean, it is not possible for everyone to always make good choices. Everybody, every single person, makes some bad choices in their life. Do you seriously think otherwise? You have made some bad choices in your life and so has every single other person.

Arlene: To me it implies that you think some people are better than others...

No, completely wrong. Everybody makes some bad choices in this life.

Arlene: ... that some people are born to be better...

Where the fuck are you getting this?

Arlene: ...some people have a knack at getting ahead and the rest of us need help.

This is so completely unlike anything I have ever said. Where is your brain? I said the knack of getting ahead can be learned and should be taught. I am saying that everybody needs help at times in this life. Do you seriously disagree with that?

Arlene:We aren't born with equal intelligence but that hasn't stopped the C students of the world from being successful. Should we give them a boost just because they aren't as smart? We aren't all born with equal strength but that hasn't stopped the average person from running a marathon. Should we allow them to go first because they aren't as fast?

This makes no sense at all. Feeding people who don't have food and teaching them to be self-sufficient has nothing to do with any of this.

Arlene: We might not be good at everything but there are plenty of things we are good at. Why not focus on those things instead of trying to level the playing field for those who aren't as good at something?

Almost everybody can learn to be self-supporting. Are you saying that we should not teach people how to be good at self-supporting because that is artificially leveling the playing field?

Arlene:I agree that we need to teach them how to make good choices but some people will continue to make bad choices and it will be no one's fault but their own.

That's true. Am I asking you to give them a medal? Some people are fuckups and always will be.

That's not most people. Most people will make better decisions when they learn to. Most people can learn to make choices at least good enough to feed themselves and keep a roof over their head. Some do very much better, good for them.

But kicking the fuckups out of the system doesn't help. They may not be learning but that doesn't mean we should just stop trying to teach them. We can keep trying. At least it would keep them off the streets.

Arlene: By saying that some people can't be successful you are dooming those people into believing they can't.

Again, completely wrong.

I am not telling any person that they cannot be successful. I keep trying to tell you, I think 99% of everybody can be successful enough if they are taught how to do it.

Having a backup plan for the1% of the failures isn't "dooming" anyone. It is helping them. It is giving them another chance.

What is wrong with that?

Arlene:Their reality is that they won't ever be able to make it.

Who is "they"? Everybody has some times when it's hard to make it. It may be no fault of their own. Maybe they were about to make it but had a sudden grave illness. Maybe they made it but their spouse gambled it away at the track. This kind of thing can happen to anybody, any person.

With help, you get over it, get another chance to make it - see?

Arlene: I'm making it. Do you think I am super human?

Certainly not.

Arlene: It takes real work to be successful in the world.

Sure. Are you saying we should not help each other with this work?

Arlene: Planned economies are not as successful as unplanned economies.

Where are you getting this? I have never suggested a "planned economy."

Arlene:I challenge you to prove to me that they are.

How convenient. You have challenged me to back up something that you invented me saying. However this is nothing like what I am actually saying.

I am not suggesting any new kind of "planning" for the economy. Social and education services that take care of everybody are only slightly different from what we are already doing. It has nothing to do with re-ordering supply and redistribution chains.

Arlene: I think what we really want is to be in a zoo.

Who is we? You?

Arlene: No freedom but complete security.

Complete security is impossible. Food security is easier, we should at least do that.

In fact, we're already doing it. We should do it a bit better.

Arlene: Creativity will be stifled as it is in any society where freedom ceases to exist. Sad really.

What is sad is how little you have understood what I said. Really.

What freedoms do you think I am suggesting we put an end to?

Arlene: If I am not understanding what you are saying it is a matter of you not clearly stating it, not a lack on my part in terms of my intelligence.

You are right and I apologize. However I don't think you understood my clarification either.

Arlene: You are attempting to use emotion words like compassion to get a response that makes me feel bad for people.

I am sorry you object to the use of the term "compassion" but it means what I am saying.

Arlene: I do not wish to create a society where I am no longer an individual.

No one is proposing this.

Arlene: Simply because you are not proposing it does not mean no one is.

I am not obliged to defend that position because it is not what I am proposing. If you want to argue against a society where you are no longer an individual, speak to someone who is proposing it.

Arlene: Perhaps you care to clarify a little bit more?

We don't have a society where you are no longer an individual right now. What I am proposing is a slight modification to our current system. It would not serve to constrain individuality any more than our system currently does.

Arlene:BTW, I object to the use of the term "compassion" by the left for the same reason I object to the use of the term "morality" by the right.

Well, I don't object to either term. I use terms as they seem appropriate to convey content.

But I never have tried to suggest that you, personally, are not compassionate. Of course you are. I am not saying that our system is not compassionate. It is. It sure beats the systems in some other places.

I am saying that our system could be a bit more compassionate, and it could be compassionate in a way that would work a lot better. Right now the system of "alms," while somewhat compassionate, is not really working.

Arlene:You are using the tactic here with regards to the term compassion.

No, I am not using the term as a tactic. I'm using it because it means what I have to say.

Arlene: The two words are used to evoke an emotional response and not a rational response and frankly I expect more out of you.

Social compassion and social morality are both pragmatic matters. They are about what works. That is an eminently rational concern.

Arlene:You are an intelligent and well-read woman who I am certain has better arguments than to use an ad hominem attack on me by implying I don't have compassion.

I feel I could have shown more compassion myself in this conversation, and I apologize, but I seriously have never tried to suggest or imply that you personally do not have compassion. I know that you do.

Arlene:You said, "If it is working unfairly, we don't just say, well, too bad, that's the market. We make it what we want." This statement reads to me a planned economy.

I wanted to come back to this because I have given it some further thought.

When I was talking about modifying the market to serve us, instead of just being a slave to however it "is," I was not talking about ending capitalism and instituting some kind of top-down centrally planned supply-and-redistribution schematic. Individually navigated capitalism - what we currently have - is usually pretty good for answering supply and demand issues and far more efficient than any kind of "planning".

But that doesn't mean we have to shrug at the inequities in the system. When people are being exploited we can require some reasonable constraint on their treatment - like having a minimum wage.

When certain types of businesses tilt the system in their own favor, we can require some constraint on their powermongering - like having anti-trust laws and rules about consolidation.

When certain types of businesses lend themselves to serious abuse - like, say, the financial markets, just to pull an example out of the air - we can require some reasonable oversight and regulation, to prevent them from gaming the system and destroying the entire global economy. At least, that is what we should have done.

None of that makes this a "planned economy," any more than having laws against theft and harm make this a "planned morality." We created rules and laws to make all of our interactions just, and "the market" is not exempt from our justice.

8-29-13 11:27  •  Is God infallible?

Bandicoot: I believe that the Bible was God inspired, but I don't for one minute believe that, even a message given by an infallible God, when written by fallible men, copied by fallible men, translated by fallible men, and interpreted by fallible men, is still the complete and literal truth.

Why do you think that God is infallible?

Bandicoot: Because he is.

How did you find out about this?

Bandicoot: You wouldn't understand. You have to be willing to consider that the message was given by an infallible God.

I might be willing to consider it if I knew why you think the God that gave the message is infallible. How do you come by the knowledge you have of this infallibility?

Bandicoot: It can't be explained. You are free to think differently. Some people just believe. And some don't.

You can't believe in something you have never heard of. I'm asking where the knowledge that God is infallible came from.

Bandicoot: I took something I was taught, studied and compared it to my personal experience and reflection, my personal relationship with Him, and came to believe that it was true.

Who taught you that God was infallible? What specific thing occurred in your personal experience which confirms that God is infallible?

Bandicoot: Church, the Bible, Christian history/theology...

Where in the Bible says that God is infallible? I did a search and the word "infallible" does not appear anywhere in the Bible, at least not in the New International Version.

Bandicoot: ...as well as study of the religions of the world "taught" me.

There are religions of the world which worship gods which are not infallible. For example, the ancient Greeks worshipped gods which were considered to have weaknesses and foibles. How does this inform your view?

Bandicoot: It doesn't matter. If you don't have the faith to believe, nothing any of us can do or say can make you believe.

Why do you think I am asking you to "make me believe"? That would be silly. I am just asking you about it. Do you feel you can only discuss these matters with people who already believe exactly as you?

Bandicoot: Well I guess the bible doesn't specifically say infallible, but it does lead you to believe that He is.

How so? Is there a specific passage?

Bandicoot: As for other world religions that claim gods are infallible, I'm not talking about the ancient Greek or Roman religions.

There are religions today which have gods which are not infallible, like Hinduism. Do you exclude that from your "world religion" study also? Why?

Bandicoot: The Bible does present God as a perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, God...

Are you sure this is what the Bible presents?

Bandicoot: Whether the word "infallible" is specifically in the Bible or not, that is what we believe Him to be...

Who is "we"?

Bandicoot: Bible-believing Christians. This is what the Bible leads us to believe, based on His perfectness.

You have said that the Bible itself is not infallible. It was written by fallible men, right? Perhaps the Bible is wrong in leading you to believe this.

Bandicoot: And no, I do not exclude Hinduism from my study.

You claimed that your study of world religions confirmed that God was infallible. However, some world religions do not portray gods as infallible. Are they wrong? How can you be sure?

Bandicoot: Oh, Raver. Of course I don't consider Hindus "wrong." We are all worshipping the same God.

I think the problem you and I have is that I don't think anyone has to be "wrong" for me to be "right".

Are you saying that God is infallible to you and fallible to Hindus and you are both right? Are you sure you are worshipping the same God?

Bandicoot: I believe right to be subjective.

How can it be? Do you think that God is a real thing which actually exists and has actual characteristics, or do you think it's a made up thing that you can assign your own characteristics to?

Bandicoot:What is "right" is subjective - its personal - what is "right" for you may not be "right" for me, but that doesn't make either of us "wrong".

Do you think a hard atheist, who believes that there is no God at all, is just as "right" as you? Or is the hard atheist wrong about the existence of God?

Bandicoot: That's my personal belief, and you are free to believe differently if you choose.

You don't have to keep repeating this. I was never under the impression that you didn't think I was free to believe differently.

Bandicoot: I say it because I believe that things like that don't matter.

I'm sorry to hear that. What people believe shapes how they act. How people act matters.

Bandicoot: In the end, whether you believe in God or not, what happens after we die happens, regardless of what your personal beliefs are. So what does it matter?

Are you seriously saying that it could only matter if it affected us after death? Is there no significance whatsoever to how it affects us now?

Bandicoot: You know why I believe it doesn't matter because you know I believe that all religious beliefs are merely interpretations on the different times and ways God has revealed Himself to people on the earth, and that all people worship the One God, and that I don't believe in Hell, and so on.

What is the point in believing one thing and not another (i.e., God is "infallible") if what you believe is of no significance whatsoever? Why have a belief if it is meaningless?

Bandicoot: We've discussed why I believe as I do and what has lead me to believe so.

Now this is very disingenuous. I asked you specifically why you believe God is infallible. You said the Bible says so but you won't name a specific passage that mentions it. You claim your study of world religions has taught you this, but you won't explain how, or clarify how world religions with fallible gods figure into all this. You claim your personal experience has confirmed that God is infallible but instead of explaining how so, you just claim that it's no use trying. And on top of it you claim that none of it "matters," anyway.

I still have no clue as to specifically what leads you to believe that God is infallible.

Bandicoot: Well, "meaningless" in the sense that we're not judged or "graded" on our beliefs when we die.

Why do you think that the only thing that matters is after we die? What about now?

Bandicoot: I'm not saying it doesn't matter, I'm saying it isn't relevant to what happens after this life.

I am not concerned in the slightest about what happens "after this life." I am saying that what people believe, and why, matters NOW. Get it?

Do you really think that what people believe right now does not matter? How are we to reconcile the fact that every person believes something different, and the beliefs are not compatible with each other? How are we to determine which beliefs have validity?

Bandicoot: I don't believe I should have to justify my beliefs to you or anyone, nor to prove them or support them.

Why bother believing things that you cannot justify, or don't like trying to support?

Bandicoot: My religion says that God is infallible. Just as Islam says that God is the most perfect, the infallible one, and so on.

Islam also says that infidels should be killed. That's us, by the way. Do you just pick the parts of religions that support your beliefs and reject the parts that don't?

Bandicoot: And I do believe it doesn't matter, in terms of whether it effects what happens after we die, what we believe.

Who cares? It affects what happens while we are still alive.

Bandicoot: I have said in other posts that there are only four possibilities when it comes to religion and faiths:

1 - everyone is wrong and there is no God/gods
2 - only one group of people are right and everyone else is wrong
3 - everyone is right and there is more than one God
4 - everyone is right and we are all worshiping the same God

Sorry, these are far from the only four possibilities. For example, if there are no gods, it would not mean that "everyone" is wrong. It would mean that people who did not think there were gods would be correct.

Bandicoot: Now, in order for anyone to be wrong, they would have to be delusional, because they are experiencing things that are not real, which, for me, rules out the first two possibilities.

As I mentioned the last time you dragged this out, it is possible that people are experiencing things and are simply incorrect about what they think the experience is.

And it is possible that at least some of them are delusional, because delusion is certainly something that happens.

Bandicoot: So honestly, no, it doesn't matter what you believe in this life...

Unless what you believe in this life is that people who believe differently should be killed, or that sick children should not be treated with medicine, or that people should not use birth control, or that religious beliefs should be taught in a science classroom, or a million other beliefs which cause serious problems. Then, what you believe in this life, and the fact that beliefs are completely unsupported, matters a lot.

Bandicoot: I just said it doesn't effect what happens after we die, that it doesn't matter in THAT sense.

I have never been concerned with that, why keep bringing it up?

Bandicoot: Whether our beliefs are correct is not something that we can absolutely determine...we can only have faith and believe one way or another.

Why do you think that it is important to "believe one way or the other"? If you are happy enough to admit that the truth of the matter cannot be determined, then why are people required to pick something and then throw their faith behind it? Why not just say, "I don't know"? What purpose is there in creating a false certainty where it is obvious that the answer is not known?

8-30-13 12:27  •  MY Truth

Tara: The Bible is the infallible Word of God! That's MY truth. and notice i said MY and not YOURS.

Truth, according to the dictionary, involves corresponding to fact or reality. How can something be true if it is not the same for everyone?

Aestas: Why can't "HER truth" be different from others? I encourage an independent search for truth, and I understand that this can lead to different conclusions.

I disagree that an actual independent search would lead to an independent conclusion. Thousands of people visit Niagra Falls every year. People start all different places, come there by many different routes, and yet all end up in the same place.

That is because Niagra Falls is actually a thing which you can actually reach.

That which cannot be verified or confirmed is mislabeled when referred to as "a truth". It doesn't fit the usage of "truth" as the word is defined. Such a conclusion would be more accurately referred to as "an opinion."

Aestas: But spiritually speaking, truth is subjective, and each person's subjective truth should be respected.

I can certainly respect a person's right to believe in anything they pick, but that doesn't mean that all beliefs are worthy of respect. Some are not.

Aestas: Why are you so hung up on the idea of an objective truth?

I am concerned that by misusing the term "truth" to mean "opinion", people are seriously undermining the understanding of what constitutes truth. People think "truth" can be just any old thing that someone happens to think. That is not what the word means.

Aestas: I think that what's important is not exactly what people believe, but the faith behind it. When used in a positive manner, faith can give people great strength to live according to desired principles such as peace or compassion.

Faith is not required in order to live according to desired principles such a peace and compassion.

Aestas: When used negatively, it can be very harmful, but that's another discussion.

Actually it's the same discussion. Faith isn't just its "good" side.

Aestas:Why do you drag the dictionary definition into this? People have lots of ideas that don't "conform to fact or reality." That may not fit your definition of truth, but it may very well fit theirs.

I would be happy to consider whatever alternate definition of truth they claim they are using. However completely disregarding the first definition in the dictionary is intellectually dishonest.

In any case, do you really think that Christian literalists think that their "truth" is just true for them? Or do they think that their "truth" is actually true for everyone, and that people who fail to accept Jesus as their personal savior are headed for the bad afterlife? Universalists excepted, when people say "my truth", they don't usually seem to mean, "my opinion," they usually mean "THE truth that I understand and you refuse to."

Aestas: What else are people supposed to do? What good is "I don't know"? If scientists were to simply throw up their hands in the air and declare, "We just don't know!" there would be no scientific understanding at all.

This is ridiculous. "I don't know" is a perfectly legitimate starting point, the beginning of wisdom. It sure beats, "I know" when in fact you don't. If you don't know, you can begin an investigation. It's when you think you do know that you don't bother.

Aestas: But at times was an aid to science for people to have declared at times that they "knew" things that were wrong; it gave a foundation on which to build more hypotheses, to test them, and to prove or disprove past "knowledge."

I see your point, and I agree this is true of science; however, I don't actually see this happening much in religion. How much in religion have people tested and proved or disproved?

Aestas: The dictionary is hardly the place to start for an important philosophical concept like truth. Awfully narrow, don't you think?

Not really. The purpose of the dictionary is to provide all of the valid definitions of words, as they are properly used. I don't think we can just pretend that they don't matter at all. The dictionary includes these definitions and not others for a reason. These definitions cannot just be declared null and void.

Aestas:Just because you think she's wrong doesn't make her a liar.

I have never once suggested that she was a liar. I think her contention is unsupported and may in fact be incorrect, but that is hardly equivalent to accusing her of intentional dishonesty.

I am questioning the actual truth of the statement, "The Bible is the infallible word of God."

Your suggestion that I consider her a liar is completely wrong and also completely beside the point.

Aestas:I'm not so restricted - I have lots of ways to determine truth, such as whether the belief fits in with what I know about the universe...

This is a wonderful criteria to use to evaluate beliefs, as far as it goes. It's my personal favorite.

But, how can you use what can be known about the universe to judge religious speculations? Like, whether Limbo exists or not, etc.? How can you possibly determine whether you have to believe that Jesus Christ is your personal savior in order to go to Heaven, or whether you have to unquestionably accept your social station to get a better incarnation next life? These ideas cannot be evaluated at all because nothing at all is known about "after death."

In fact, evaluating them honestly against what is known, they all seem extremely unlikely. It does not appear that there is anything about the personality which survives death. There does not appear to be any mechanism by which this can be accomplished. Basing ideas about "after death" on what can be known about the universe might mean just forgetting them.

Aestas:...whether it aids me in my search for meaning and understanding and truth, whether or not it helps me to be a better and more compassionate person, whether it is useful in moving toward productive goals, whether it can be evaluated in light of science and philosophy and how it holds up to the collective wisdom, whether or not it feels right to me, whether it's harmful to anyone else, etc.

It's nice to have beliefs that foster compassion and "feel right" but - with the exception of "evaluated in light of science" - these criteria are no guarantees that your belief corresponds to reality.

Aestas:Do you then believe in nothing at all (for example, physics, mathematics, your own consciousness)?

Not much.

There are some ideas in physics and mathematics that I can understand well enough to make an assessment as to their probable accuracy. I understand biology somewhat better and can make more assessments about the accuracy of these ideas. However I don't hold any of them on faith, and am happy to adjust any idea I have to correspond more closely with what is observable upon receiving new information.

I don't have to believe in my consciousness. It is manifest. I am.

Aestas: I maintain that your point of view on this is very narrow.

If you are seriously suggesting that we need to keep searching for a definition of truth until we find one that will allow the statement "The Bible is the infallible word of God" to be considered true, to me that seems like abandoning the spirit of the word for one letter.

As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support Tara's assertion that the Bible is the infallible word of God.

Aestas: Dictionary definition #6 says "sincere and honest." Tara's assertions are both sincere and honest, and therefore true, according to the dictionary.

A four year old can sincerely assert that Santa is real but that doesn't make Santa materialize as an actual object. A person can be sincere and honest and yet completely wrong. Here is the original assertion:

Tara: The Bible is the infallible Word of God! That's MY truth. and notice i said MY and not YOURS.

She seems to be claiming it's true for her and not others, so I asked, "How can something be true if it is not the same for everyone?"

Since this seems to have caused some confusion, let me clarify. I was not asking if the "of course I believe" part is true. It probably is. I was specifically referring to the "Bible as the infallible word of God" part.

I will absolutely grant that Tara's statement "i believe the Bible as the infallible word of God!" is sincere, honest and true. I'm sure she does believe that. However that was never what I was asking about in the first place. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Allow me to rephrase.

How can the statement, "The Bible is the infallible word of God!" be true if it is not true for everyone?

Tara can declare that it's only "true" for her, but she is not making a statement just about her. "The Bible is the infallible word of God" is a statement about reality, and things that, if true, would be true for everyone, like, God exists, He is infallible, it's possible to flawlessly capture God's word in a book, etc.

As far as that goes, Tara is in no better position to determine the truth of that part of her statement than any other person. What she "thinks" is not the issue. She could be as sincere and honest about it as the day is long but her faith doesn't make the Bible the actual infallible word of God if it isn't.

Aestas: How can someone declare an untruth and not be lying?

Easy. They can be wrong.

Aestas: Your dictionary says that two of the definitions for truth are honesty and sincerity. You didn't even attempt to defend this idea in light of the dictionary definition of truth which you provided, which is what I specifically asked you to do. So I'm going to assume that's because you can't.

This is silly. I specifically explained that Tara's personal sincerity is not sufficient to make claims of Biblical infallibility true, because that is a statement about reality that exists separately from her.

I could claim, "My husband is infallible!" I might believe this to be true. I might even argue that, because I love him so much and have so much confidence in him that I never find fault with anything he says, I literally make it true "for me" by accepting his every word as true.

Do you think that if I am completely sincere and honest it makes the statement "My husband is infallible" true?

Aestas: You said, "I don't have to believe in my consciousness. It is manifest. I am." So, now being "manifest" is proof enough? There are many who would argue that God is manifest.

There are experiences that are manifest. That doesn't mean they are experiences of God. They might not be. It is not known what they are experiences of. Maybe God. Maybe Satan. Maybe internal brain states. Unknown.

I have had many unusual and profound experiences. But I don't claim to know that they are any particular thing, like God. I have no basis for comparison to conclude definitively that something is God. It might not be.

Aestas: In fact, your answer here sounds an awful lot like Bandicoot's answer when you ask how she knows God is infallible. She says, it just is but that answer doesn't satisfy you.

There is a big difference between wondering if "God" is infallible and wondering if a person is real. They are of a completely different order of magnitude. I am not claiming to be an invisible magical entity.

Aestas: So can you substantiate this claim that "you are?"

You are reading my words. They were formed by some means. Somebody typed them and hit "Add Reply."

Even it these words were not typed by RaverLady, even if they were generated by computer, the mechanism of their creation exists and they could not be before you otherwise.

Aestas: Can you provide me any concrete evidence which can be scientifically measured and which pertains to you specifically?

I could provide copies of my fingerprints. There is physical evidence for my specific existence.

I suppose you could hypothesize that they were someone else's fingerprints and not mine, but whatever.


Does this do it? If you still don't think I am real, congratulations...you are far more skeptical than I ever could be! Though, I would sure like to hear your explanation for how this could possibly have come to be in my message if I am not real.

Aestas: Maybe "you" don't really exist. Can you know for certain that you're not a puppet of some sort?

Who cares? That would just push the "I" in "I am" back a step, into the consciousness of the puppeteer. Somebody said it.

Aestas: As you can see, the existence of a mechanism of creation for your words does not prove your consciousness.

It demonstrates that there is a consciousness involved at some level.

Aestas: I admit the art is compelling - but an advanced enough computer program might be able to pull it off.

Programmed by who? Someone.

But, for the sake of argument, I am willing to entertain the idea that there is no consciousness at all, not even mine or yours. Perhaps we just experience an illusion of consciousness, provided by our DNA to make us more adept at reproducing. Perhaps something even more bizarre and inexplicable is going on. In any case, I am not wedded to a faith belief in "consciousness." I am clearly manifest either way.

Aestas: The tooth fairy is true to a four-year-old.

The four year old is incorrect, no matter how true it is to him.

Aestas: But is there such a thing as subjective reality?

Possibly, but there is plenty of room for delusion there.

Aestas: Could Tara's statement be true in subjective reality while remaining incorrect or as least unprovable in objective reality?

Could it? How? That is what I was asking her, remember?

I'm pretty sure people experience subjective reality. The problem with believing in our own ideas about our "subjective reality" is that we can end up believing anything, including things that are in direct conflict with objective reality, or things that can harm others. Without comparing notes to objective reality, there's no form of quality control.

Aestas: Your claim that your husband is infallible could be true to you if you sincerely never found fault with him, ever. That wouldn't necessarily make it objectively true.

Exactly. That's why I would not be surprised if people questioned my claim.

Aestas: What if you said your husband was the most wonderful man in the world?

That would be a very different claim, back to strictly a matter of opinion. And, I do say that. :-)

If you can remember back a few pages, I said my only beef was people using the word "truth" when they really mean "opinion." There is nothing wrong with a subjective opinion and I never said there was. I still think that using the word "truth" for "opinion" is misapplying the word. At the very least, it's imprecise.

Aestas: If philosophers disagree about the exact nature of truth, then who is objectively correct?

Maybe none of us. We can only compare notes, check against objective reality, and decide amongst ourselves the best we can.

There actually are things that practically everyone agrees on. Even the most ardent skeptic has a hard time denying that objects in earth's gravity well fall at 32'/sec²-drag. I think this would qualify as "true" under even the most stringent definitions.

When there is nothing in a claim that is confirmable and verifiable for everyone, and for all we know it might be a complete misinterpretation or nothing more than delusion, I think "opinion" is the better word choice.

And in the face of the unconfirmable there is nothing wrong with "I don't know."

P.S. This has been an interesting exchange, thanks.

Aestas:I agree, thanks for debating with me!

8-28-13 1:22  •  Interlocking Viral Memes

FrogSense: Don't bother arguing with Christians that God is "immoral." That just plays into their fantasy. Instead, argue that the evil in the bible shows that it was written by humans to control humans. Who wants to be controlled?

(The following guest blogged by Jay)

I've argued both, and it makes little difference. They care no more about being brainwashed or controlled than they care about the immorality.

Basically their brains are broken and constrained by interlocking viral memes. Obedience to authority replaces reason and truth for testing facts. Outside ideas are persecution and temptation. Talking with others is just to convert them by any means. The carrot/stick motivators are lust for heaven and "secret powers" via prayer, and then fear of hell and temptation to anything different. Anything god does - and by extension anything they do as his servants - is wholly justified and moral by fiat.

In short, xtianity is an insane and insidiously evil cult, following an evil god while they pretend to be luv as a cover. Some of them are the benign-looking dormant cover, and some are the malignant insult to all carbon-based life...but its all part of the same social, emotional and intellectual disease which as a species we have yet to throw off. And it may yet kill us.

8-26-13 2:30  •  Paradoxical Subsequent Anthropogenesis

Mr. Resistor: Why not teach creation? We need to teach ALL theories.

I'm not sure we have time to teach ALL theories. Obviously, we can only teach some theories and not others.

So how do we choose which theories to teach? And, as long as we're just picking and choosing, I think we should definitely include my theory, which I have called Paradoxical Subsequent Anthropogenesis.

I was thinking one day about how perfectly set up the universe is to be a home for humans, almost like it was designed this way. I wondered who would design a custom universe for humans, and it seemed to me that only humans would. Who else could know how, or would even bother?

So, I theorized that far in the distant future, in a realm of enlightenment and technology we cannot possibly comprehend at our present stage of development, our own progeny will discover the secrets of time and energy and universe creation. When we reach the ultimate peak and end of this spacetime existence we will travel backwards through time all the way back to the beginning and start this universe ourselves, to our own specifications.

It's Anthropo-genesis, meaning human-started.

This theory is just as valid as Intelligent Design. Should it be taught in school along with evolution? Why or why not? Something to consider.

Read more in the Archives.