Recent posts by HolyLasagna on Kongregate

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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

Bye everyone.

Wow, this is awesome. Nice job, guys! :D
(No, I am not being sarcastic)

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

I think MyTie is talking about Symposium, rather than Phaedrus, since he mentioned the concept of Platonic love. He could, of course, have read both of them and mixed their concepts.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

Oh, Janto, I’d like to add that it’s literally impossible for any information to survive a Big Crunch, since entropy goes to its maximum at that point.

I’m speaking about love in the sense of selfless love that one has for all of humanity, not just love within a genetic construct.

That love is a by-product of our inherent altruism towards other human beings, which is a result of our evolution. It is all natural.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

Just like two universe will inevitably have equal arrows of time, since there are only two possible configurations, and more than two universes. :P

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

(…) is of less interest to me than the one who created a universe suitable for life.

Well, that is a very interesting question. The thing is: I don’t see how we can choose between your god or any other hypothesis with something other than empirical evidence. Any of the philosophical attempts are useless, since we’d always have to explain who created the designer (in your case, who created the universe that gave rise to your god – he needs to have been created, simply claiming otherwise without any supportive argument is special pleading).

Science should eventually be able to answer the primordial question, but I don’t see how it could answer the one that concerns life, since that one supposes a ‘why’, and science doesn’t consider whys. For the moment.

Why do you claim that is supposes a why? Probably life exists for no reason at all. This would be the case in the multiverse scenario!

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

If God exists in nature then it must be imperfect.

That just makes him not be the most fine-tuned being conceivable. I would still argue that he is extremely fine-tuned: the dude can spawn universes at will and control their parameters. Why is he like that? His powers could be completely different. If he is not perfect by definition, all his powers are completely contingent. We would still have to ask what designed god, if having such fine-tuned properties were evidence of intelligent design.

IIRC this assumes parallel universes continuing alongside ours.

When physicists talk about multiple universes, they are talking about completely different universes, with different arrows of time, laws of physics, and events. I updated my previous post with some elucidations by some eminent physicists.

it’s a guess made to fit available data

Not really. It’s just like the existence of quarks and black holes: it has never been empirically observed, but it is an essential part of a model that has been empirically tested over and over again (and passed all those tests in flying colors). It is also falsifiable, since gravitational interaction with those universes could produce a detectable asymmetry in the cosmic background radiation in our universe.


I am perfectly okay with rational deism. What I’m arguing here is that the argument from fine-tuning is not rational, and thus cannot lead to rational deism. That’s because it is special pleading for god, and also an argument from ignorance, which is merely pointing to a gap in scientific knowledge. It proves nothing, and it’s not rational to accept a claim without evidence or proof. Anyone using this argument must do more than that and actually demonstrate that, beyond a reasonable doubt, science can never fill the gap with any naturalistic explanation. It’s not an impossible task – it is just the sort of extraordinary evidence you’d have to give to make such an extraordinary claim.
I think it is more rational say “I don’t know”, because it is preferable to not know than to have a belief which is most likely false.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

Aren’t there certain cosmological and biological constants that make life possible? The unique properties of water for example, that it’s the only chemical that floats when frozen, making it possible for life to exist below a frozen lake.

I addressed the fine-tuning of our universe in my original post, in the “On the Possibility of the Existence of Life” section. Valid objections to your argument are:

  • God would be the most fine-tuned being of all – if fine-tuning requires a designer, then God would be no exception;
  • The possibility of the existence of a multiverse (which is suggested by modern cosmology);
  • It is an argument from ignorance – the answer everybody should give is: I don’t know (except those hyper-intelligent cosmologists who are into something).

Some of the examples you give are not really examples of fine-tuning, so I’ll just address them below.

The composition of stars, that if they were a few orders of magnitude off, would all be red giants / blue dwarfs, which wouldn’t be possible to sustain life on an orbiting planet?

I don’t know what you mean, but red giants and blue dwarfs still have their own Goldilocks Zones where water is liquid, making life (as we know it) to be sustainable. They’re just at different distances than our Sun’s is.

The distance of our planet from the sun, if it were any closer, we’d resemble mercury, any further, and we’d freeze. Even with our solar system, we have Jupiter acting to shield us from meteor barrage, without it, we’d be hit by so many it’s unlikely life would survive?

There are over 4*10^22 stars just in the visible universe. It’s virtually impossible for no planets to randomly form in the Goldilocks Zone (which is not as small as some people make it out to be) of some of those stars. Do you have any idea of how excruciatingly large that number is!?

Even the fact that we have intelligence presupposes certain developments – the smallest possible sustainable fire is about 32 cm; if we were much larger or much smaller than our current average height, we’d be unable to make one, and without fire we would have no technology, no civilization.

Regardless of whether that is true, we have our height for evolutionary reasons – it was the optimal height for survival.


Here is a very interesting quote, by Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg: “Just as Darwin and Wallace explained how the wonderful adaption of living forms could arise without supernatural intervention, so the string landscape may explain how the constants of nature that we observe can take values suitable for life without being fine-tuned by a benevolent creator.
Eminent physicist Leonard Susskind proposed in his 2005 book, The Cosmic Landscape, that “string theory has some 10^500 possible solutions, each of which could correspond to a separate universe within the multi-verse”. This notion is supported by theoretical physicist Victor Stenger, who adds that “the simplest explanation for the anthropic coincidences is that our universe is part of a super-universe called the multiverse (…) we just happen to live in that universe suitable for evolving our form of life.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

I don’t think I “need” a creator.

What I meant was “What facts of nature makes you, MyTie, think that it is extremely likely that we have been designed by a superior mind?”.

When I see love, it doesn’t fit into evolutionary thinking.

Yes, it does. Extremely so, actually.
It is evolutionarily advantageous for two individuals who are genetically related to behave selflessly with each other, since it increases the likelihood of the genes “surviving” – that is, to stay in the gene pool. This is the origin of the many forms of altruism and companionship, including love.
You think love is beautiful precisely because it is evolutionarily advantageous to do so. Beauty is a human construct – we evolved to have feelings of altruism towards other humans and babies because it helped preserve our genes in the gene pool. The genes of those who didn’t faded out. Beauty is not a property of objects.

God is beyond our understanding.

Wow, that was the biggest cop-out I have ever seen. It barely makes any actual sense.
As a reply to this extremely non-sense “argument”, I can make a few claims:

  • Love is beyond our understanding. Thus, you can’t say it requires a creator.
  • A perfect, omnipotent being looks like art. This indicates a creator.
 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

I find it a very very difficult thing to believe that we were incidental, and not created.

May I ask you why you think we need a creator? Because we are so complex? Wouldn’t that require God, who is goddamn perfect, to be designed as well? Who designed the designer? Adding a god to the equation solves nothing. It’s like trying to explain the origin of life with panspermia – it just pushes the question one step further.


On the Complexity of Life

We are not products of mere chance. Natural selection is not random at all! We know how it is possible for there to be humans and whales when there were only protozoa before, given enough time and resources – and we have amazing mountains of evidence to show that that is how it all happened: evolution, bitches! If there is life, there will be a selective pressure upon it, and complexity can easily arise. So a creator is unnecessary to explain complexity.


On the Existence of Life

Some people make the case that only a creator can explain life itself – this is an instance of the God of the Gaps argument. The thing is: we have some very good models of how life could have arisen from non-life (abiogenesis). A naturalistic explanation seems to be perfectly possible and plausible. We know that the building blocks of life – amino acids, nucleotides, ATP, and fatty acids – can arise naturally. It is very plausible that a random combination of those building blocks can produce a very simple self-replicating molecule.

Even if it is a rare event for such a molecule to form in a given planet, we have over 4*10^22 stars just in the visible universe (which might be infinite), and a huge chunk of those have multiple planets orbiting them. It seems to be inevitable that life will originate in multiple planets, given our current laws of physics – after that, complexity arises naturally from natural selection. So a creator is unnecessary to explain life.


On the Possibility of the Existence of Life

This creates the question of why our natural laws are such that the formation of life is possible. A good answer to that is given by modern cosmology: the possibility of the existence of multiple universes, each with their own different set of laws. Most of them do not have laws that allow life to form, but some of those do. Ours would be an example.

Maybe that is not the answer. We just don’t know – and “Goddidit!” is not a good answer to that question, for it creates another question and lacks supporting evidence. Claiming otherwise is special pleading for god.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Are there really things known as Soul & God & Ghost???

It takes an amount of belief either way.

Which is more extraordinary? Which presupposes a supernatural realm? Which is completely implausible, given the knowledge that humans have such humble evolutionary origins? Given the fact that brain damage can severely impair our ability to reason, which assumes that our conscience – the product of our brain – survives the death of that organ?

Believing in an afterlife requires incredible amounts of faith. Believing that that isn’t the case is much more rational.

 

Topic: Serious Discussion / The age to appear in porn is 18, but the average world age of consent is 16

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Topic: Serious Discussion / What's the last book you've read?

Guess what? I just picked up The Open Society and Its Enemies, by Karl Popper. Yep, I’m fucked.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

Is that your remark or someone you’re quoting?

It’s mine.

There is a quote by Michael Shermer, in the Introduction of his 1997 book, which states that “smart people believe weird things because they are good at defending what they arrived at by non-smart reasons”, or something of sorts. That’s also an interesting thought.

The last chapter of that book is dedicated to explaining in more detail (as in a few dozen pages long explanation) of why smart people believe weird things. I can explain it to you once I get there (I should be there by Friday night, since I started this book yesterday).

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

Twilight_Ninja’s post

Sorry. I lol’d at your words.


Here is a reply to Janto, who is the kind of guy who sends PMs to people he muted. Nice one, bud. :P

I would say that there is a common source for all those things (religiosity, obnoxious conservatism, mysticism, etc.): a specially faulty application of reason – that is, a lack of skeptical rigor in their thinking.
Which I find funny, because there are a lot of good scientists out there (e.g. Francis Collins, Georges Lemaître) who are also very pious. And they’re not the kind that actually know much about the “sophisticated” Christian apologetics, they just have blind faith. I wonder how the fuck does that work.
Did you know that belief in the paranormal is not uncommon among the members of Mensa society?
"

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

Make it an AX: Anthropic Global Warming is True. Topic could be what would be needed to reverse or stall it?

That’s a good one.


Time-travel debates require extensive knowledge about competing quantum mechanics interpretations and GR… care to explain how that debate would work out with the average SDer? :P

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

You said, “You can only have valid opinions if you are well-versed with the subject and the evidence.”

But then again…
“Many people can have a worthwhile debate about evolution, not because they are or are not officially trained in evolutionary biology (…)” – HolyLasagna

[N]ew scientific discoveries into the use of embryonic stem cells (or the advancement in the use of adult stem cells) shifts the ethical conversation.

SOME aspects of the ethical debate surrounding cloning would only be possible to debate about if the debaters knew the processes of cloning, of course (such as the risks of malformation, or something). They do not need to have a degree in that science, but merely to be acquainted with it.

just a brief, Google search shows me that the notion of “there is no creationist argument” is wrong.

There is a creationist argument in the same sense that there is no Big Foot argument. I just don’t consider it an argument, for it has no validity at all. It’s not like there’s two sides of the issue to be considered.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

2)

I gave the creationist example to explain my point of how science debates can quickly (and rightfully so) become science lectures, unless both parties involved are rational and well-versed in the theme. What’s the point of discussing global warming if the other guy doesn’t have the slightest clue of how scientists actually got to the conclusion that the Earth is warming mostly because of us? The only thing that can be done is show him the data and the scientific consensus. From that point on, we can discuss details that haven’t been sorted about by clear-cut evidence and the scientific community.

People only know their names because they made the material accessible to the general public.

That is the truth – but what is your point?

[T]here is plenty about science (…) that is debatable

That’s great! I was just making the point that science debates are usually lectures, because most of the time both parties are not acquainted enough with the subject to have a meaningful and worthwhile discussion. Some topics require less acquaintance, so even our average Joe at SD will most likely fulfill it (or at least be able to catch-up with just a few hours of reading). Those are the ones we can create topics about – it’s just that I did not manage to think of a single example. It’s nice that you did, you are right, and my point is not invalidated by it. =]

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

There a good deal of creationists who are well aware of the evidence for evolution; they just find the creationist argument more compelling.

There is no creationist argument – it is in absolute dissonance with all actual scientific evidence. If someone has read what all biologists are saying – and read about the evidence -, but still keeps talking about a so-called irreducible complexity, the Bombardier Beetle, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, then they are not in a mentally-sane state and cannot participate in a honest debate. It’s like talking to a Flat Earthist – do you think they have not heard about the evidence?

Perhaps I should have express myself better. I was setting the basic requirements for a worthwhile scientific debates – the participants should be both scientific literate AND rational persons.

it’s impact on people/living things and whether or not those negatives are worth the positives

That’s sociology of science. Which is not what I’m talking about, like I clearly stated.

So the only people who can have valid opinions on the ethics of cloning are those who have a degree in genetics?

No. I stated that someone does NOT need formal training in a subject to have a valid opinion on it. Not only that, as the ethics of cloning are NOT a matter of genetics. Science does not deal with ethics, you dimwit.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

You can only have valid opinions if you are well-versed with the subject and the evidence. Would you trust the opinion of a medic who does not, and has not, read any medical papers? Or the opinion of a boy who was only read Atlas Shrugged in his entire life?

Many people can have a worthwhile debate about evolution, not because they are or are not officially trained in evolutionary biology, but because they are well-versed with the evidence, the scientific consensus, and some on-going debates among the elite evolutionary biologists.

A creationists is certainly not well-versed with the evidence: this is the part where we teach him (the scientific illiterate) the facts – it’s not a debate, it’s a lecture. However, if someone has a reasonable level of acquaintance with the subject, we might as well discuss different possible mechanisms of natural selections and their weight on species-production, based on the evidence that is out there – which is not 100% conclusive, and there’s no major consensus, so it’s not a lecture, but a debate. This is the discussion that happens between people such as the late Stephen J. Gould and Richard Dawkins – though on a less-sophisticated level (for we are no biologists).

The same is true with political science (or anything else, except theology). It’s meaningless to discuss it with someone who knows jack shit about the world, the different philosophical systems, the dissimilar schools of economics, and so forth. The difference is that, in the softer sciences, there is hardly a consensus and 100% conclusive evidence – so debates rarely become lectures, and tend to stay as debates.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Do the Fine Arts make you a better person?

It is absurd because it is completely unreliable. “Forcing” someone to read some pages (i.e. they are not reading a full novel out of pleasure) and then trying to measure the ability to read people’s facial expression… the observer effect is gigantic on that one. However, if we truly want to know the answer to that question, we must do tests like this (tests that actually work).

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Do the Fine Arts make you a better person?

Answering to the OP: Maybe it does…

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Why Does No One Ever Discuss Science?

When it comes to discussing science… unless we are talking about the philosophy of science or sociology of science, I fail to see any scenario other than people teaching the scientific consensus to the scientific-illiterate. Why? Because most of us are not scientists, and even those who are have different fields of expertise. So you won’t see discussions about punctuated equilibrium vs. gradualism (actually an ongoing debate between real evolutionary biologists), but rather evolution vs. creationism (i.e. skeptics vs. stupids).

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / What's the last book you've read?

I’m having a blast reading Michael Shermer’s book: Why People Believe Weird Things.

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky.

Hated that one. :/

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / What's the best personality?

Skepticism (along with open-mindedness), kindness, and honesty.

 
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Topic: Serious Discussion / Social Justice & False-Symmetry

Feminists go along with it because they got equality decades ago and now want special treatment.

That is a bland generalization. Speaking from my experience, it is uncommon for a feminist to be so fanatical as to ask for unnecessary special treatment for women (that is, privileges). What happens is that, usually, feminists see women as being oppressed in society and having unequal opportunities, and thus in need of special policies to help them (such is the case with affirmative actions). The thing to discuss here is: what affirmative actions are needed, if needed at all? Not just by the government, but by the population in general (such as using more politically correct language).

Minorities get a higher chance of getting a job than somebody who is white

It’s really not that simple… – it is possible that affirmative actions exists for a good reason.