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Philosophy of Religion and Intuitions
Posted: 11 June 2013 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Dom1978 - 11 June 2013 08:48 AM

...
The whole point of my post is that a really good Philosophy of Religion (i.e. one taking a broad perspective, informed by History and the social sciences) is something that everybody should study, but unfortunately Philosophy of Religion is now just a weird kind of logic-chopping ivory-tower scholasticism where people have neither the desire nor the expertise to discuss the really important questions about religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

I agree that the questions and the abstractions developed by the philosophers need to be reality-checked by bringing-in history of religions, social sciences, etc.  But it seems like you are arguing that philosophy of religion should rely on something more than logic for it’s answers.  That doesn’t sound right to me, but I’ll admit I’ve never taken a philosophy class.  Of course to some extent the questions and abstractions determine the answer.

[ Edited: 11 June 2013 10:05 AM by ufo-buff ]
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Posted: 11 June 2013 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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dougsmith - 11 June 2013 09:39 AM
Dom1978 - 11 June 2013 08:48 AM

Haha. So now Philosophy of Religion is just a “fringe subject”, whereas you used to say that it was extremely important and something everybody should study. I take it this is because you now realize that the subject is being taken over by Christian philosophers from places like BIOLA university. 

Sorry, I have no idea what you’re talking about. But please quote me correctly. What I said is “theistic philosophy of religion is a fringe subject”. In fact, philosophy of religion is rather fringe as well, but that is a separate issue.

And I don’t believe I ever said that “everybody should study philosophy of religion”. That would be an absurd claim. I do feel it is important within philosophy to clearly and carefully study contemporary issues such as religion. For one thing, this study will make clear the errors in a lot of religious and theistic arguments.

Neither have I heard that philosophy of religion is being “taken over” by folks from some university or other. Indeed, I have no idea what that would mean in the context of analytic philosophy. One only “takes over” a field by convincing others about the truth of a claim, and I very much doubt that Christian philosophers of religion are convincing anyone other than each other.

I’m not sure why you’re making this distinction between philosophy of religion and theistic philosophy of religion. As far as I know there is just one subject called philosophy of religion, and of course most philosophers of religion are religious people. This is not surprising, though, because religious people are far more likely than atheists to spend their whole lives doing philosophy of religion. 

Anyway, I have no problem with philosophy of religion being full of religious people. I just have a problem with it being full of “fundamentalist” religious people. This is what my post is all about. I am worried that fundamentalists are starting to swamp the subject, and most of these people have been inspired by Plantinga.

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Posted: 11 June 2013 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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ufo-buff - 11 June 2013 10:02 AM
Dom1978 - 11 June 2013 08:48 AM

...
The whole point of my post is that a really good Philosophy of Religion (i.e. one taking a broad perspective, informed by History and the social sciences) is something that everybody should study, but unfortunately Philosophy of Religion is now just a weird kind of logic-chopping ivory-tower scholasticism where people have neither the desire nor the expertise to discuss the really important questions about religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

I agree that the questions and the abstractions developed by the philosophers need to be reality-checked by bringing-in history of religions, social sciences, etc.  But it seems like you are arguing that philosophy of religion should rely on something more than logic for it’s answers.  That doesn’t sound right to me, but I’ll admit I’ve never taken a philosophy class.  Of course to some extent the questions and abstractions determine the answer.

OK, let’s take a look at one argument, so I can try to make my point.

Reformed epistemologists like Plantinga think that their religious beliefs are “innocent until proven guilty”, so it’s fine for them to go on believing so long as there are no “defeaters”. So, we can see how this works with the argument from religious pluralism. Consider the following scenario: 

  There’s a guy who grew up in a small town and he was raised with a form of fundamentalist Christianity. He is told that his religion is the truth, and that all other religions are invented by men (or by Satan). However, as he gets older, he starts to meet more and more people from other religions. He makes friends with Mormons, Catholics and Muslims, and he starts to read books about these other religions, books that weren’t written by fundamentalist Christians. He comes to discover that these other (false) religions are very similar to his own. They also have miracle stories and prayer, and they also have stories about how joining the religion can turn your life around and make you a better person. Indeed, many of the sacred texts, rituals and social institutions are very similar, and there are also similar tactics used to try to defend the religion and its sacred texts from critics.

So the question is, should this knowledge of other religions make the fundamentalist Christian more skeptical about his own religion? I think the answer is yes, but the reformed epistemologists don’t seem to think so.

On top of all this, the fundamentalist Christian can also see that sacred texts have an unfortunate tendency to contain mistakes and contradictions, and that these texts seem to be pretty much what you’d expect from the people writing at that time, with their worldview and their cultural assumptions. It’s not as if the sacred texts from his own religion have some special knowledge about the world that the people at that time couldn’t possibly have known. On the contrary, these sacred texts seem “human all too human” just like the texts from other religions.   

So, most atheists would say that these are very strong reasons to reject fundamentalist Christianity (or Islam or Judaism), but people like Plantinga just aren’t moved by them. It’s difficult to know what else you can say to these people. It looks like all the world’s religions have been created by human beings, and so it’s a really extraordinary claim to say that one of them is true and all the others are false. So the default position should be that they’re all man-made, and the fundamentalist needs to come up with some extraordinary evidence to show that one of them is true (e.g. scientific knowledge in the sacred texts that they couldn’t possibly have known at the time). So I do think that fundamentalism is irrational.

If extraterrestrials came to earth and looked at all the different religions around the world, they would assume that they had all been created by human societies for social, political and psychological reasons. The idea that in just one religion all the miracle stories are true would seem ridiculous. And this is why anthropology and sociology are so important here, and why fundamentalists keep a million miles away from them. They allow us to get closer to the perspective of those extraterrestrials!

[ Edited: 11 June 2013 06:28 PM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 11 June 2013 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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IMO, no philosophy is valid if founded on a false premise.

Theists believe that the Universe is a Divine creation and therefore everything else must be part of this divinity.

But if we substitute the word “inevitability” for ‘divinity”, the entire argument changes and a philosophy of causality can provide an objective POC (philosophy of creation).

Unfortunately, science has not yet been able to prove Inevitability and that is why Divinity continues to flourish. Give it a little more time and the mystery of creation will be solved by science and religious arguments become moot.

[ Edited: 11 June 2013 08:12 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 12 June 2013 05:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Dom1978 - 11 June 2013 05:59 PM

OK, let’s take a look at one argument, so I can try to make my point.

Reformed epistemologists like Plantinga think that their religious beliefs are “innocent until proven guilty”, so it’s fine for them to go on believing so long as there are no “defeaters”. So, we can see how this works with the argument from religious pluralism. Consider the following scenario: 

  There’s a guy who grew up in a small town and he was raised with a form of fundamentalist Christianity. He is told that his religion is the truth, and that all other religions are invented by men (or by Satan). However, as he gets older, he starts to meet more and more people from other religions. He makes friends with Mormons, Catholics and Muslims, and he starts to read books about these other religions, books that weren’t written by fundamentalist Christians. He comes to discover that these other (false) religions are very similar to his own. They also have miracle stories and prayer, and they also have stories about how joining the religion can turn your life around and make you a better person. Indeed, many of the sacred texts, rituals and social institutions are very similar, and there are also similar tactics used to try to defend the religion and its sacred texts from critics.

So the question is, should this knowledge of other religions make the fundamentalist Christian more skeptical about his own religion? I think the answer is yes, but the reformed epistemologists don’t seem to think so.

On top of all this, the fundamentalist Christian can also see that sacred texts have an unfortunate tendency to contain mistakes and contradictions, and that these texts seem to be pretty much what you’d expect from the people writing at that time, with their worldview and their cultural assumptions. It’s not as if the sacred texts from his own religion have some special knowledge about the world that the people at that time couldn’t possibly have known. On the contrary, these sacred texts seem “human all too human” just like the texts from other religions.   

So, most atheists would say that these are very strong reasons to reject fundamentalist Christianity (or Islam or Judaism), but people like Plantinga just aren’t moved by them. It’s difficult to know what else you can say to these people. It looks like all the world’s religions have been created by human beings, and so it’s a really extraordinary claim to say that one of them is true and all the others are false. So the default position should be that they’re all man-made, and the fundamentalist needs to come up with some extraordinary evidence to show that one of them is true (e.g. scientific knowledge in the sacred texts that they couldn’t possibly have known at the time). So I do think that fundamentalism is irrational.

If extraterrestrials came to earth and looked at all the different religions around the world, they would assume that they had all been created by human societies for social, political and psychological reasons. The idea that in just one religion all the miracle stories are true would seem ridiculous. And this is why anthropology and sociology are so important here, and why fundamentalists keep a million miles away from them. They allow us to get closer to the perspective of those extraterrestrials!

I guess my issue is POPOR (philosophy of philosophy or religion smile ).  It seems like the approach you describe above would be “against the rules” for a philosopher.  On the other hand, after reading the wiki on metaphilosophy I’m aware that there are different ideas about “the rules”.

It would be interesting to know if the aliens have religious beliefs.  Maybe religion is unavoidable.  It seems like our brains are wired to use certain abstractions.  Psychology and neurology will probably help us understand religion better than POR.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 06:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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ufo-buff - 12 June 2013 05:34 PM

...psychology and neurology will probably help us understand religion better than POR.

I agree, but, like you, my knowledge of philosophy is quite limited.  I am not aware of anything of practical value that philosophy has brought to the world, lately.

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Posted: 12 June 2013 08:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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ufo-buff - 12 June 2013 05:34 PM
Dom1978 - 11 June 2013 05:59 PM

OK, let’s take a look at one argument, so I can try to make my point.

Reformed epistemologists like Plantinga think that their religious beliefs are “innocent until proven guilty”, so it’s fine for them to go on believing so long as there are no “defeaters”. So, we can see how this works with the argument from religious pluralism. Consider the following scenario: 

  There’s a guy who grew up in a small town and he was raised with a form of fundamentalist Christianity. He is told that his religion is the truth, and that all other religions are invented by men (or by Satan). However, as he gets older, he starts to meet more and more people from other religions. He makes friends with Mormons, Catholics and Muslims, and he starts to read books about these other religions, books that weren’t written by fundamentalist Christians. He comes to discover that these other (false) religions are very similar to his own. They also have miracle stories and prayer, and they also have stories about how joining the religion can turn your life around and make you a better person. Indeed, many of the sacred texts, rituals and social institutions are very similar, and there are also similar tactics used to try to defend the religion and its sacred texts from critics.

So the question is, should this knowledge of other religions make the fundamentalist Christian more skeptical about his own religion? I think the answer is yes, but the reformed epistemologists don’t seem to think so.

On top of all this, the fundamentalist Christian can also see that sacred texts have an unfortunate tendency to contain mistakes and contradictions, and that these texts seem to be pretty much what you’d expect from the people writing at that time, with their worldview and their cultural assumptions. It’s not as if the sacred texts from his own religion have some special knowledge about the world that the people at that time couldn’t possibly have known. On the contrary, these sacred texts seem “human all too human” just like the texts from other religions.   

So, most atheists would say that these are very strong reasons to reject fundamentalist Christianity (or Islam or Judaism), but people like Plantinga just aren’t moved by them. It’s difficult to know what else you can say to these people. It looks like all the world’s religions have been created by human beings, and so it’s a really extraordinary claim to say that one of them is true and all the others are false. So the default position should be that they’re all man-made, and the fundamentalist needs to come up with some extraordinary evidence to show that one of them is true (e.g. scientific knowledge in the sacred texts that they couldn’t possibly have known at the time). So I do think that fundamentalism is irrational.

If extraterrestrials came to earth and looked at all the different religions around the world, they would assume that they had all been created by human societies for social, political and psychological reasons. The idea that in just one religion all the miracle stories are true would seem ridiculous. And this is why anthropology and sociology are so important here, and why fundamentalists keep a million miles away from them. They allow us to get closer to the perspective of those extraterrestrials!

I guess my issue is POPOR (philosophy of philosophy or religion :) ).  It seems like the approach you describe above would be “against the rules” for a philosopher.  On the other hand, after reading the wiki on metaphilosophy I’m aware that there are different ideas about “the rules”.

It would be interesting to know if the aliens have religious beliefs.  Maybe religion is unavoidable.  It seems like our brains are wired to use certain abstractions.  Psychology and neurology will probably help us understand religion better than POR.

Yeah, if the aliens had religious beliefs, then that really would complicate things.

I guess the point here is that we can’t give a simple knock-down argument against fundamentalism, and so fundamentalist philosophers will just go on picking holes in the arguments offered by atheists and finding problems with them, and they think this means they’re perfectly rational in continuing to be fundamentalists.

But the case against fundamentalism is extremely broad. It’s a kind of a cumulative case argument, drawing on insights from many different disciplines. The idea is that, given everything we know from the natural and social sciences, fundamentalism is extremely implausible.

The problem is that it’s really difficult to put this into a concise argument in a POR journal, and so Plantinga and the others will not be moved. It may be possible to construct a good argument of this sort using Bayesian probability or something, but I still think that fundamentalist philosophers would just end up saying that the data from the social sciences is not reliable because those guys are all hippies, socialists, liberals and feminists, and they all have it in for traditional Christian values.

[ Edited: 12 June 2013 08:18 PM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 15 June 2013 12:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Dom,

You seem to think that the Philosophy of Religion is useless because you may think that logical argument is circular and can win at every point of view. This isn’t the case. In fact, many people within a philosophical untenable position simply will not give platform for argumentation to sincere debate because of their particular weakness to compete argumentatively. A lot of religious apology aims for a lay audience of their own flocks to justify why they should not pay attention to the external arguments. But they usually do not waste effort on direct confrontation with their actual adversaries. Sometimes, even when they appear to do so, you usually discover that their opponents are merely friends who opt to take the opposing position and do not sincerely give it justice—it is just for show.

If you look around at various different forums, for example, notice that one like this one enables direct publication after one or two posts without censorship. This is reasonable to assure SPAMers are not plugging up the boards. But compare this to religious forums. You will discover that you have to be cautious of what you say because they warn you off the top that they will not tolerate anything against their philosophy and usually have a continuous censorship to assure this.

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Posted: 15 June 2013 06:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Mike Yohe - 11 June 2013 08:02 AM

Dom1978   Post #24
Sorry for using a word that most of main stream American’s uses and understand. Forgive me, I forgot that sites like this are off the beaten path and are not main stream. Please don’t get up set with the use of words that get to the point for the working man. I have been able to work with some top engineers and lawyers in America and they do not run around talking like they are on their high horse. I think I understand your point. And I can not help but think about the history of the Popes. I have read there are Popes that never believed in god. And one even said that the churches religion was the biggest fraud ever done on mankind. But none of them gave up the office.
You have organized education writing on these subjects, whole corporations (sort of to speak) of organized education, but where is organized religion?

You’re to young to been around in the fight of evolution vs. creation fifty years ago. Religion was organized in thought and power. And I will need your help in translating my thought. If you could, rewrite it in something that is acceptable today, I would appreciate it. The churches kicked the hell out of the atheist’s thinkers of the time. I mean they literally destroyed them in public view. The war looked like it would go on forever; new atheists would pick up the battle and keep fighting. The atheists need some extremely smart philosophers and to be organized to fight such an opposing force of thought. And that’s what you have today, the battle tanks and ships of the scientific facts ready to do battle. The superpower churches left the battle grounds and you now got a bunch of suicidal attacks from individual fundis. The superpower churches are still there, but instead of fighting the atheists they changed and are now involved in newer methods of total social control of the believer. And I feel that was a very smart move on their part. They brush off the atheist like its old stuff they don’t want to be bothered with.

The philosophers could publish a hundred books tomorrow and it would not hurt the churches one bit. What keeps controversy alive is the social rejects from the church way of control stepping over to the other side.

Back to the main subject, the philosophers. They have written everything that needs to be written. They are not going to get the fight from the super churches.  All they can do is try to move to higher levels of thought or dig into the past and analyze it.   

Lois in Post #25 has several very good points. And I agree.  I should make clear that when I said self-serving I was talking about the head of the snake. Like the popes and top preacher and why they do not get a job flipping burgers when they figure out their religious teachings are flawed.

Flipping hamburgers doesn’t pay nearly as well and offers far less prestige.

Lois

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Posted: 15 June 2013 06:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Write4U - 11 June 2013 08:10 PM

IMO, no philosophy is valid if founded on a false premise.

Theists believe that the Universe is a Divine creation and therefore everything else must be part of this divinity.

But if we substitute the word “inevitability” for ‘divinity”, the entire argument changes and a philosophy of causality can provide an objective POC (philosophy of creation).

Unfortunately, science has not yet been able to prove Inevitability and that is why Divinity continues to flourish. Give it a little more time and the mystery of creation will be solved by science and religious arguments become moot.

That’s already happened but religion flourishes anyway. It’s like a metastitizing tumor.  For many there is no cure. They will die of the disease even if a cure is found.

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Posted: 18 June 2013 12:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Lois - 15 June 2013 06:51 AM
Write4U - 11 June 2013 08:10 PM

IMO, no philosophy is valid if founded on a false premise.

Theists believe that the Universe is a Divine creation and therefore everything else must be part of this divinity.

But if we substitute the word “inevitability” for ‘divinity”, the entire argument changes and a philosophy of causality can provide an objective POC (philosophy of creation).

Unfortunately, science has not yet been able to prove Inevitability and that is why Divinity continues to flourish. Give it a little more time and the mystery of creation will be solved by science and religious arguments become moot.

That’s already happened but religion flourishes anyway. It’s like a metastitizing tumor.  For many there is no cure. They will die of the disease even if a cure is found.

I think one of the major reasons for this is that even scientific philosophy has not yet evolved to a completely rational mindset. We are still in an era of Empirical thinking that has abandoned logic as only a tool to be used after observation alone. Although I don’t propose abandoning empirical method, I think what is needed is an absolute necessity to have a logical explanation for causation that can demonstrate reality without an observer. At least, that is what I am going to attempt to do; it is my ultimate goal.

Contrary to many atheists, I understand the rationality for people’s reasons to continue believing and ‘get’ a lot of their logic for resistance.  While I feel confident why this world doesn’t necessitate any metaphysical causation or origins based on any particular religious authorities, I find that much of what other atheists believe can actually be contrary or contradictory to the same rationality that leads to religion. Also, there does seem to be common psychological motivators within thinkers that lead them to become a rational atheist (one who declares their position by reason).

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Posted: 18 June 2013 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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This is why I am enamored with David Bohm’s work.  The logic is founded on non-controversial physics and to me the narrative sounds perfectly reasonable. Even without the physics, I can understand his philosophy of the Implicate Order emerging from progressive states of energy.

The ‘Implicate Order’     

The implicate order is a term coined by David Bohm. It refers to what he considered to be, very likely a ‘force’, underlying the existence (materialization) of everything in the physical world.

http://www.insightcenter.net/where-psychology-meets-physics/the-implicate-order/

When Bohm’s resonant fields are arranged in a vibrational hierarchy they represent energy in successive states of manifestation from infinitely subtle to the gross physical reality.

Einstein was intrigued by Bohm’s work and they seemed to have had many discussions on the subject. Perhaps this might be the “somewhat different kind of religion” he spoke of.

[ Edited: 18 June 2013 03:27 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 18 June 2013 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Bohm’s core material has to do with ontological interpretations of quantum mechanics, which on its own has nothing to do with consciousness. He apparently went off the deep end with his later musings on consciousness; that material is completely fringe (indeed, virtually all of Bohm’s material is fringy, but that is particularly so), and should not be taken seriously. In fact it is not taken seriously by virtually anyone in the field, AFAIK. It’s basically the same sort of speculative nonsense as Linus Pauling with Vitamin C, except that at least Pauling was a very eminent chemist in his own right.

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Posted: 18 June 2013 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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dougsmith - 18 June 2013 04:27 AM

Bohm’s core material has to do with ontological interpretations of quantum mechanics, which on its own has nothing to do with consciousness. He apparently went off the deep end with his later musings on consciousness; that material is completely fringe (indeed, virtually all of Bohm’s material is fringy, but that is particularly so), and should not be taken seriously. In fact it is not taken seriously by virtually anyone in the field, AFAIK. It’s basically the same sort of speculative nonsense as Linus Pauling with Vitamin C, except that at least Pauling was a very eminent chemist in his own right.

I am not arguing your objections, but Bohm was an eminent physicist and I doubt if Einstein would have wasted his time with a quack scientist. Though his work is controversial, he is one of the few qualified physicists who walked where few dare go. It seems a little unfair to judge his work as fringy, when it is at the very fringe of physical science and tries to go the step beyond, which is what Scott was talking about.  I have not heard a better proposition than his Universal holomovement, which seems perfectly agreeable with string theory.

David Bohm’s contributions to science and philosophy are profound, and they have yet to be fully recognized and integrated on the grand scale that they deserve. This review attempts to summarize the fascinating contributions that emerged from Bohm’s passionate quest for truth and to outline their growing impact on other fields. In what follows, it is not necessary to have a background in physics, although a basic familiarity with science will be helpful. It goes almost without saying that a brief review such as this cannot begin to do justice to the depth, richness, and rigor of Bohm’s thinking. Nevertheless, the essence, beauty, and importance of Bohm’s ideas can be conveyed, which is the intent of this review

http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/science/david_bohm.htm#CONTENTS:

What I understand and believe to be infinitely more reasonable than the notion of a conscious motivated god.
As far as a consciousness is concerned, is that not what we are trying to get away from. Bohm proposed that instead of a conscious creator, reality is already implied by the potentials present in the various energy fields.
I find that a compelling argument;  if I have one hydrogen atom and two oxygen atom, the potential of combining these two elements is a water molecule.  IOW, water molecule was Implied by the presence of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, even before they became Explicate as water.

[ Edited: 18 June 2013 05:37 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 18 June 2013 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Write4U - 18 June 2013 04:54 AM

I am not arguing your objections, but Bohm was an eminent physicist and I doubt if Einstein would have wasted his time with a quack scientist. Though his work is controversial, he is one of the few qualified physicists who walked where few dare go. It seems a little unfair to judge his work as fringy, when it is at the very fringe of physical science and tries to go the step beyond, which is what Scott was talking about.  I have not heard a better proposition than his Universal holomovement, which seems perfectly agreeable with string theory.

You haven’t appreciated my point, Write. First, I never said that Bohm was a “quack scientist”. Indeed, I compared his quantum-woo material to Linus Pauling’s Vitamin-C quackery explicitly not because either of them was a “quack scientist” (indeed, Pauling was a Nobel Prize winner) but because both were traditional scientists with fringe ideas that tended to be adopted by laypeople with little knowledge of the state-of-the-art.

The reason Einstein liked Bohm’s (VERY early) approach to the interpretation of QM is that Bohm was a realist. Basically he presented a neo-Newtonian, fully deterministic picture of physical reality, one that fulfilled Einstein’s belief that “God does not play dice with the universe”. Nevertheless, “Bohm’s version of quantum mechanics was no more acceptable to Einstein than was Bohr’s.  Its very clarity and unambiguity brought into the open the non-locality of quantum mechanics, a feature that was vehemently opposed in Einstein’s last really influential paper”.. So to claim that Bohm was a great physicist by adopting Einstein’s mantle is completely misleading.

So in a nutshell Bohm presented a legitimate but fringy interpretation of QM, one which no or virtually no physicists today accept. Viz., see Question 12 HERE in one recent poll: zero percent of participants in one conference about the foundations of QM accepted his interpretation. In his later years he went completely off the deep end into quantum-wooishness that AFAIK is accepted by (if it’s possible) even fewer of the specialists in related fields. So, as far as consensus science goes, I think one would be as well off just accepting Cartesian dualism.

[ Edited: 18 June 2013 06:22 AM by dougsmith ]
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