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REPLY #63b TO
"RELIGION"



Boldfaced statements are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.

Italicized/emphasized comments
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.

My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text and are prefaced by my initials (MB).

This is the last of a two-part reply which contains a number of short comments on various things that were mentioned in numerous previous replies.
References from previous replies are Blockquoted in a smaller typesize.

(R) Matthew 7:7-8 says "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." If you truly want to know if God exists, seek after Him and He will reveal Himself to you.


(R) I *did* do this. And I recieved no answer from god. If you are going to doubt my sincerity in trying to find god, I don't know what level of sincerity you could compare it to. I did seek god with all of my heart, even crying at times and feeling very distressed and emotional, I did not find him.
(MB) This is the counter to the Experiential argument for the existence of God. That argument states that religious experiences (such as being "born again") are good evidence that God exists. The counter states that failure to have such experiences (even when they are desired) is good evidence for the non-existence of God. Also, the Experiential argument fails to demonstrate why a religious experience provides evidence for any particular God rather than just for any generic version of God.



(R) Explain why an atom's electrons never exist except at specific energy levels which are integer multiples of Planck's constant not even instantaneously to jump from level to level. It's almost as if the electron disappears, actually ceases to exist at one level, while simultaneously materializing at the exactly the same instant of time at the new level. Do they pass through a quantum tunnel, outside the dimensions of this universe? Who knows?
(MB) Quantum tunneling does not mean that the particle leaves the universe in any way. It is the term for what happens when the electron moves from one quantum energy state to another. For electrons, we interpret that movement as the electron changing shells. Since energy states are not continuous, the electron jumps or "tunnels" directly from one quantum state to another without passing through anything in between. Indeed, there is nothing "in between" for it to pass through! Now, you wanna try that bit about explaining the supposed existence of souls again?



(R) This is one of the many refutations of Zeno's arrow. It is known that both distance and time (and shell energy levels!) have discreet (quantum) units. Zeno's arrow is refuted because there is a discreet distance (I forget exactly but I think it is somewhere along the order of 10e-35 or some other very small number). Does a person moving just "cease to exist" from one point, and reappear at another point 10e-35m away? No, because there is no "distance" for that person to cease to exist in.
(MB) Which, of course, in the context of the original argument, is why Achilles can, indeed, overtake the tortoise. Time and distance are not infinitely divisible.


(R) There's an interesting short story (Asimov's I think, though when it comes to fiction guessing Asimov is like guessing Shakespeare when it comes to English lit.).
(MB) *Grin* Asimov once stated that he was not a student of his own works. He said, "If I was to take a test on Asimov, I would probably fail".


(R) Two people use a time machine that one of them invented. They happen to fall "between" an instant and slowly suffocate to death, because they have no air supply other than that which they borught with them. What actually would have happened is that they shifted through time, somehow, less than an instant. They then resumed going through time, but since nothing in their native time-frame could shift a fraction of an instant to meet up with them, they were stuck by themselves.
(MB) An interesting concept, to be sure. If such "fractions of instants" actually existed, one could use basic mathematics to prove that existence was impossible since there would be an infinite number of such fractional instants in the same way that there are an infinite number of fractional values between any two other given numbers. Lucky for us that time and space are quantized, eh?



(R) You probably already know this, but thinking about the absolute smallest length ~1e-35 (I think I forgot the negatives in my original email, oops!) and the absolute smallest unit of time ~1e-43, I realized why light speed is the theoretical limit. The ratio of the two values is ~1e8, which is light speed. I had never really thought of this before and thought it was neat. Going faster than light would *have* to involve some space-time warping.
(MB) The underlying inevitability is part of the reason why Einstein's theories have such force.


(R) Incidentally, you mentioned in one of your responses that it is impossible to go back in time. There are currently a few theories going around that might make it possible to go back in time. One involves wormholes, another super-fast cosmic strings rushing by each other, and another involves compressing a subject super-fast and hard.
(MB) I think that those theories involving "going back in time" only when measured by an observer who remains at the initial point of departure. For the traveler himself, the arrow of time would always continue to point in the same direction.


(R) One last question. Do you think that society has a right to criminalize suicide attampts?
(MB) Society has a "right" to criminalize anything it wants to criminalize, since moral issues of "right" and "wrong" are little more than the majority opinion of the members of that society. If society decides that suicide is "wrong", then it will criminalize it. While I don't approve of suicide and certainly don't believe that it solves anything for the person who is contemplating it, I think that criminalizing suicide attempts is silly. Consider that it's the only "crime" where the perpetrator can't be punished if he succeeds!



(R) Also, either a person who fails to commit suicide will be very unhappy, in which case punishing them would be redundant, or they'll be happy they didn't succeed, but punishing them will cause them enough despair that they will try it again. (Yes there are more possibilities, but these must be seriously considered.)
(MB) 'Nuff said...


(R) Additionally, I noticed your IQ on the paranormal page, ever tried getting into one of the extreme high-IQ societies? You probably qualify for MEGA.
(MB) As far as I know, I qualify for membership in any and all of these societies. But, not being much of a club-joiner, I'm satisfied with the knowledge that I would qualify if I ever had the desire to join any of them. In a way, it's similar to my non-desire to obtain an "official" college degree. My lack of an arbitrary sheepskin does not detract from my base of knowledge and experience.



(R) 1. Its place in darwinian evolution
(MB) I'm not sure that it *has* a place. The only evolutionary effect possible would be if compassion caused more people to live longer (or shorter) and produce more (or less) offspring. I doubt that such a connection could be reliably made.



(R) Before the domestication of horses, cars, etc... People, and indeed most animals, tend to stay near their own group (tribe, whatever...). This group is going to be closely related (for the most part) therefore sharing a lot of genetic code. Being compassionate, and helping those survive and reproduce who are close to you genetically, will invariably help promote your shared genetic code. This increase of fitness of a shared gentic code (one that will contain genes, or perhaps it is the culture that encourages compassion, in which case the compassion towards others who share the same cultural values would increase the fitness of the culture and its views as a whole.) will lead to the compassion genes becoming dominate in the species.
(MB) I think that the rise of compassion is a side-effect of selection for increased self-preservation abilities and is, therefore, not the driving force. Consider that early (and, for that matter, modern) tribal cooperation was necessary because of the need to overcome harsh living conditions in order to ensure the survival of the tribe.


(R) Or, societally, the compassionate society (Christianity) will become dominate.
(MB) Did Christianity rise to its level of adherence because it was compassionate or because it had a more active missionary and proselytizing tradition than competing religions during its rise?


(R) It also helps that being compassionate does not preclude being war-like, or hostile, or willing to rigorously defend oneself from those outside of your particular gene-pool or society.
(MB) Just what the Bible preaches, eh? *cough*


(R) This compassion/war-like behavior could account for the expansion of genes to the general population, or of memes such as christianity, islam, ghandhi's views (though his views weren't, in any way, warlike. There was definite oppression from the outside (which there was for the early Christians & Muslims now that I think about it) which would lead to those within that society to group even more closely together, and help each other out even more.), etc....
(MB) I agree with the effect, but I don't think that compassion was the major cause. Simple self-preservation instincts would lead to cooperation with one's fellows to ensure the group's survival whether or not compassion was involved.



(R) Negatory. Fiction is "made up" and never presented as fact. Authors are completely up front in saying their fictional works do not portray real events, persons, places, or things in an historically accurate fashion, simply by classifying their works as fictional.


(R) Doesn't this guy recall "War of the World's" which was meant to be completely fictitious, but was, unfortunately, misconstrued as nonfictional by millions of people.
(MB) In fact, during and after the broadcast, there were people on rooftops with binoculars who were calling down "reports on alien activity" to people on the streets below.


(R) If it wasn't for the ability of the fictional nature of this story to be told via radio, people would still believe it had happened today.
(MB) Reportedly, it took a while to convince people that nothing really happened. But, the power and believability of the story mixed with the credulity of the average person led to the famous incident.


(R) The original author would have told it to a few, who would have spread it to others, until it would be impossible for the author to correct the misperception that it was true. Many biblical stories were originally tales created by Hebrew story tellers and holy men. At the time they were known to be just fictitous stories with good morals behind them. Later people, beyond the original authors ability to correct, began spouting them as literal truth and historic account.
    Based on historical accounts by some early historians, this is exactly what happened. Some people were even convinced that earthquakes and similar phenomenon had occured in their very cities, when they themselves knew it had not happened.

(MB) It just proves that what people *want* is more important to them than what they *have*.



(R) For evidence of this see: Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire (and some of the other essays) at http://www.columbia.edu/~rcc20/ft.html.
(MB) This is good stuff -- as is much of the other stuff available at this site. Highly recommended reading!



If one wants to believe in the Great Green Arkleseizure, that's his business and more power to him.
(R) No one believes such a thing, because it is fictional. I challenge you to find a single person who actually believes in the Great Green Arkleseizure, or any other of the fictional (note I said fictional) paraphernalia you have used in an attempt to denigrate a belief in God.
(MB) And, if I did find such a person, how would your argument change? How can you be so sure that no such person exists?



(R) After reading the fiction of Mickey Zucher Reichert (The Renshai Books) which have as their pantheon a very close approximation to the nordic faith, I, for a short time of maybe half an hour, actually believed in the existence of this pantheon, and Odin the AllFather, enough so to "pray/talk" to them. I have also firmly believed, for great lengths of time, that I was in fact God. In the future i would invent biological immortality, omnipotence (or a good enough approximation thereof). I would then have to travel outside of our universe and create the universe. This is of course when i was much younger. But it has been shown all over the world that people can firmly believe in something, just because they genuinely believe it to be true, and then go out and convert others to their cause. For a very famous example look at Mahhamed (the original one), or even that Smith guy who founded the Mormon faith.



(R) Just an estimate, based on personal experience. It could very well be high. At least I made one, instead of just saying, "All atheists do this", or "Every atheist thinks that," the way you always say of religious believers.
(MB) Uh-huh. So, making a wild and purely speculative guess is justification for an expressed personal opinion about atheism?



(R) If he said "Every atheist doesn't believe in God." such a statement would be as factual as almost anything you have made about Christians.
(MB) That should go without saying. Unfortunately, the respondent's referenced comments about atheists concerned two unsupportable notions. To wit, that "atheists are immoral" and that "atheists are rebelling against a strict religious upbringing".



(R) Religion, as opposed to rabbits, is something that goes on within the confines of the human mind. The human mind is as yet relatively unchartered territory. Within it, the laws of physics are void. (You couldn't conceive of six-foot tall Harvey otherwise, right?)


(R) Ummmm. Wouldn't a bullet, propelled through the human brain via inertia, mess up the human mind??? The laws of physics DO affect the human mind. (Without them we couldn't see, and therefore wouldn't develop any views based on site, for example.)
(MB) While you are unquestionably correct, I think that the previous respondent was attempting to refer to the psychological definition of "mind" rather than the physical brain itself.



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