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I have abandoned God
Posted: 20 December 2009 03:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Occam - 17 December 2009 12:13 PM

WeeDie, your change may be premature.  While I recognize that there’s a great deal of the universe that I do not and cannot know or understand, I’m comfortable with living within that which I do know and understand.  Of course, I always try to learn more and expand my knowledge, however, recognizing that I’m a quite limited being, I am not concerned by any feeling of “emptiness”.  If this bothers you as much as you seem to indicate, you are probably not ready to give up your need for a metaphysical or a belief in a overseeing, all-knowing authority.

Occam

I could not have written a more eloquent and concise summary of my own views and where I stand with regard to my outlook on the universe I occupy.

However in sympathy with WeeDie, I would say that a sense of the unknown and of something beyond, and a discomfort with that sense is normal and is in my view human nature. We are built and have evolved as beings with a hard wired tendency to deduce patterns from randomness, agency behind random incidents. If you have not already read it, I highly recommend you read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - especially the chapter called “The origins of religion”.  I would also suggest you check out a recent article in the Los Angeles Times - “The Evolution of Religion” by Michael Shermer and Francisco Ayala.
I suggest that you are starting a journey away from ‘belief’ and your level of comfort will increase so that one day you too will be able to write what Occam has written but about yourself.

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Posted: 21 December 2009 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Things were as unknown to me before as they are now,
the difference between being a panentheist and a ignostic is minimal.
A feeling of solitude and a touch of sadness like when parting with a loved one.
I’m sure I can accustom to it.

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“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” -Voltaire
“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” - Thomas Paine
“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” - Carl Sagan
“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” - Baha’u'llah

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Posted: 21 December 2009 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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WeeDie - 21 December 2009 04:01 AM

Things were as unknown to me before as they are now,
the difference between being a panentheist and a ignostic is minimal.
A feeling of solitude and a touch of sadness like when parting with a loved one.
I’m sure I can accustom to it.

You got over Santa Claus—right?

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Posted: 21 December 2009 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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My notion of God and my notion of Santa Clause were not similar on any level.
I am still experiencing things I cannot explain, it’s just that I don’t find God a useful way to extrapolate the unknown onto. Especially not in this company who is rather ignorant of the notion.

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“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” -Voltaire
“It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” - Thomas Paine
“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” - Carl Sagan
“It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.” - Baha’u'llah

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Posted: 21 December 2009 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Occam - 19 December 2009 02:34 PM


Ray, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to think critically, to step back and examine your statements objectively as if they were from someone else. 

However, just as I feel sympathy when I see a physically handicapped person struggle to perform some action, I can’t help but feel the same when you write such stuff as the above. 

It has no basis in physical fact, and I see it as expressing the same kind of emotions and rationality that a small child does about Santa Claus. 

Read what you wrote, and ask yourself at each sentence.  What proof can I offer for this statement?  (and quoting a book isn’t even slightly akin to proof.)  “He has said so himself,” is particularly meaningless as Doug pointed out above.

Occam

 

 

You said that you can SEE a handicapped person struggling. Hence you can rightly conclude that he is unable to do this or that. This is critical thinking.

Now,

I am sorry to nitpick, but you have asked me to turn on my brain.


Have you seen me “struggling” to PERFORM something?

I have not even attempted to DO that which you have “seen” me do. I would say you have only imagined.

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Posted: 21 December 2009 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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WeeDie - 21 December 2009 04:21 AM

My notion of God and my notion of Santa Clause were not similar on any level.
I am still experiencing things I cannot explain, it’s just that I don’t find God a useful way to extrapolate the unknown onto. Especially not in this company who is rather ignorant of the notion.

Sorry about Santa Claus analogy.

Everyone experiences things they cannot explain.  And not everything needs an explanation.

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Posted: 21 December 2009 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Sorry, Ray.  How about if I change “see” to “recognize” since you wish to use literal definitions rather than the common metaphorical ones?

Yes Ray, from your writings I recognize that you either do not or cannot examine your owm statements critically.  As such, I felt sympathy for you.  However, since I enjoy critical thinking and feel it has enriched my life, I may not be justified in feeling it would help you.  As such, my sympathy may have been misplaced.  For all I know, you have actively rejected reason, logic and critical thinking in favor of acceptance of authority without question.

That is certainly your right, however, it makes it difficult for us to communicate meaningfully since we are doing so according to different rules.

Occam

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Posted: 24 December 2009 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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Occam - 20 December 2009 12:44 PM

WeeDie, meditation is a well documented procedure that often tends to achieve the same feelings as do drug or hypnosis induced hallucinations.  Each person experiencing this must interpret what has happened to him/her during that time.  One of the problems is that some, possibly of a more scientific bent, who have meditated successfully and have used mind-altering drugs see them as about the same and decide they are just a temporary reprogramming of the brain and are not metaphysical and have no special significance. 

I’m with WeeDie,

I think very special knowledge can be gained through meditiation with metaphysical significance. (think I’d better start meditating grin )

I think we can gain the intellectual knowledge but to know it in a sense beyond that is to remove illusions that although we may be aware are illusions are still there.

I think we sceptics can be rather dismissive of new age stuff, mysticism and buddhist philosophy which often focus on being here now, losing the illusion of the self, ending suffering.

I think althought there is lots of woo surrounding all this, there is more to it and have just listened to what I think is a great talk from who sounds to me like a very good western philosopher J. David Velleman (Doug may know a bit about him?)

Here is the talk http://www.amherstlecture.org/velleman2006/

Stephen

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Posted: 24 December 2009 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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StephenLawrence - 24 December 2009 03:44 PM

I think very special knowledge can be gained through meditiation with metaphysical significance. (think I’d better start meditating grin )

I think we can gain the intellectual knowledge but to know it in a sense beyond that is to remove illusions that although we may be aware are illusions are still there.

I think we sceptics can be rather dismissive of new age stuff, mysticism and buddhist philosophy which often focus on being here now, losing the illusion of the self, ending suffering.

I think althought there is lots of woo surrounding all this, there is more to it and have just listened to what I think is a great talk from who sounds to me like a very good western philosopher J. David Velleman (Doug may know a bit about him?)

I don’t. That said, one of the best books on personal identity is by Derek Parfit, which is pretty much a Buddhist treatment.

Re. your points about meditation. I don’t know what you mean by the expression “very special knowledge”. We can have knowledge of the Buddhist truths of non-self (that is, “anatta” or non-permanent-self), and ending certain sorts of suffering by ending the psychological clinging to other things (“tanha”) without doing any meditation whatsoever.

Further, we know that meditation is used in other, non Buddhist, traditions. Christian monks meditate. Jains meditate. Hindus meditate. And all of them believe in a permanent soul.

So meditation is neither necessary nor sufficient to understand those Buddhist truths. (Assuming they are truths, which I believe they are).

Now, as I’ve said before, I’ve done meditation in a Buddhist tradition and enjoyed it. I find it useful and pleasant, and I find that it does help calm the mind and help one to focus on the here-and-now. But it is not a technique for gaining knowledge; instead it is a technique for making certain minor changes in one’s personality.

I find that the problem with much of Buddhist philosophy, and with meditation in particular, is the woo that you mention alongside it. There is an enormous amount of oversell—e.g., the phrase “very special knowledge” as though this is some sort of secret knowledge that is only available to people who meditate, when in fact it is available to all, and not available to those who mediate in other traditions. Further, it is often accompanied by nonsense about reincarnation and karma, which are part and parcel of a Buddhist worldview. (They can be discarded by a naturalist Buddhist, but that is a new invention).

If the point, as you say, is to end suffering, we aren’t doing people any favors by oversell. And I am by no means convinced that that goal is achievable, anyhow.

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Posted: 24 December 2009 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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dougsmith - 24 December 2009 04:04 PM

Re. your points about meditation. I don’t know what you mean by the expression “very special knowledge”.

What I mean is what I go on to say, there is a difference between knowing what you are experiencing is an illusion and ceasing the experience of the illusion and experiencing things as they are.

I think that’s much more special than just having the consolation that you know something that leads to some suffering is an illusion and I think some people, after many years of dedicated practice, achieve this state.

By “seeing” things as they are I’m refering to time and the self.

I find that the problem with much of Buddhist philosophy, and with meditation in particular, is the woo that you mention alongside it

Yes, that’s why I loved the talk, it cuts out the woo and explains what this stuff is about, I certainly think it will help me to focus without the confusing surrounding woo.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 December 2009 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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StephenLawrence - 24 December 2009 04:21 PM

What I mean is what I go on to say, there is a difference between knowing what you are experiencing is an illusion and ceasing the experience of the illusion and experiencing things as they are.

Maybe, maybe not. It’s often hard to distinguish what one is really seeing, especially if it’s done in an atmosphere where a particular philosophical viewpoint is drummed into your head. That’s to say, the Buddhist may see no-self (anatta/anatman), the Hindu may see self (atman).

At any rate, this isn’t properly called “knowledge”, it’s called “perception”. You can know there is no self without perceiving it at all, which is what I was saying before. So if meditation gives you anything, it isn’t knowledge.

Knowledge is a particular attitude towards a particular sort of proposition, viz., a true one. I don’t really think that at its base meditation has anything to do with attitudes towards propositions.

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Posted: 24 December 2009 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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dougsmith - 24 December 2009 05:48 PM
StephenLawrence - 24 December 2009 04:21 PM

What I mean is what I go on to say, there is a difference between knowing what you are experiencing is an illusion and ceasing the experience of the illusion and experiencing things as they are.

Maybe, maybe not. It’s often hard to distinguish what one is really seeing, especially if it’s done in an atmosphere where a particular philosophical viewpoint is drummed into your head. That’s to say, the Buddhist may see no-self (anatta/anatman), the Hindu may see self (atman).

That’s where the talk comes in. The idea is that if one was to lose the illusion of the enduring self and just be a penduring self, the illusion of the flow of time would dissipate.

At any rate, this isn’t properly called “knowledge”, it’s called “perception”. You can know there is no self without perceiving it at all, which is what I was saying before. So if meditation gives you anything, it isn’t knowledge.

Ok, I could use language to better say what I mean if I was better at using language.

Stephen

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Posted: 24 December 2009 06:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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StephenLawrence - 24 December 2009 05:59 PM

That’s where the talk comes in. The idea is that if one was to lose the illusion of the enduring self and just be a penduring self, the illusion of the flow of time would dissipate.

Maybe. I mean, philosophy can do certain things very well, but what it can’t do well at all is predict empirical features of the world. And if the claim is that meditation has this particular effect, independent of the tradition in which one meditates, that is a very particular and indeed very strong empirical claim. I say let’s see someone do the experiment and run the results. I don’t care a whit about the theory behind it independent of the experimental evidence.

(NB: I believe that should read “perduring self” not “penduring”).

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Posted: 24 December 2009 06:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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dougsmith - 24 December 2009 06:22 PM
StephenLawrence - 24 December 2009 05:59 PM

That’s where the talk comes in. The idea is that if one was to lose the illusion of the enduring self and just be a penduring self, the illusion of the flow of time would dissipate.

Maybe. I mean, philosophy can do certain things very well, but what it can’t do well at all is predict empirical features of the world. And if the claim is that meditation has this particular effect, independent of the tradition in which one meditates, that is a very particular and indeed very strong empirical claim.

It’s not at all, he just thinks that some people have this experience after years of certain practices, as I do.

As it happens I think I’ve had a glimpse of it, lasted a few days some years ago.

(NB: I believe that should read “perduring self” not “penduring”).

Thank you. Now I can google it!

Stephen

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Posted: 24 December 2009 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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I think having two concepts of the self, perduring and enduring clears up something I’ve puzzled over.

When someone says we construct an illusionary self, what I want to ask is who is doing the constructing if the self is an illusion?

With these two concepts it seems I have the answer, the real perduring self constructs the illusion of the enduring self .

Stephen

[ Edited: 24 December 2009 06:44 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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