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'[OT:] The meaning of life, the universe and everyt'
2004\09\10@083529 by Russell McMahon

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As noted elsewhere - this is a renaming of the "Russian Forces" thread which
has morphed yet again into something totally unrelated.

I'LL TRY TO  BE MUCH BRIEFER THAN USUAL! ;-)

(Yeah, Right!).

RECALL: The basic postulate is a universe that arose spontaneously without a
creator. God is mainly mentioned here to emphasis that we are not dealing
with God in this postulate. (Note that this is not my own position - just a
working postulate)

Gerhard's recentish (day or two)  post on the Russian Forces (RF) thread was
excellent. It largely showed an understanding of the points I was making. It
differed on one major point due to a lack of clarity on my part. I actually
commented point by point and didn't send it - but here I'll just comment on
the misunderstanding.

> >> Well, duh... Are you after something else? Something has meaning to me
> >> because I decide so. Something has (or has not) meaning to you because
>>> you decide so.

> > I agree totally - that's the way it has to be in a completely God less
> > universe..

Gerhard said:
> Not only in a god-less universe. As long as you postulate god outside of
> the universe (that is, outside of any perception), god itself exists
> within the universe (you) only because you decide so. (The paradox...)

[This relates to "universe 4" - not the creatorless universe.]

Sorry. My fault. I didn't explain clearly enough what I meant by "God
outside of the universe". What I meant was that the God involved is not an
integral internal part of the universe but created it and is responsible and
"owns" all aspects of it. While such a God MAY remain separate from the
system he/she/it has made, he/she/it (lets use he - it's shorter) may also
choose to interact in a general or personal manner. It's his party and he'll
play if he wants to. If such a God chooses to interact personally then
nothing else within is god unless God chooses for it to be.

The point of postulating an external creating God is that ANYTHING that
arises within the system is just one more "natural" effect. Only the creator
has the implicit claim to ownership and establishment of "rules" of whatever
sort he desires.

The idea of an external creating God of course sounds like so much mumbo
jumbo to many. And that's reasonable to a point. Apparently it seems easier
to believe in
everything having occurred spontaneously out of nothing than having been
made by a creator :-). In fact Occam's razor (arguably) prefers the
creator. Which doesn't mean that a creator exists.

That'll do for now.



       Russell McMahon

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2004\09\10@092728 by Russell McMahon

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Let's see if I can "briefly" ;-) summarise what I have tried to say so far,
modified for clarity where possible by people's feedback. I think there is
substantial agreement on the first part of what I said. If I can state that
in a manner which doesn't excite controversy then we may be able to get to
the interesting parts about "value".

Postulate / basic assumption:    For the purposes of discussion, that the
universe just arose, essentially out of nothing as far as we can tell, with
no creator or God doing the creating. Let's call this "Godless universe" or
"GU" for convenience. This is universe 3.0 from my prior ramblings.

Aim:    To examine the existence of "value" or "meaning' in such a universe.

[[[Arcane hidden aim (TM): To show that everything is pointless and
valueless in such a universe. ]]]

Note:    "God" as a being that created this universe is not relevant to this
particular discussion as He is excluded by the basic postulate. However, if
it's useful the term "god' may be used for beings or Mack Trucks or other
entities that have arisen wholly within the universe by "natural" means.

NB:    "Proof" that something is pointless or valueless if God does not
exist God neither proves or disproves the existence of God. It also does not
demand that we fabricate one to make us feel comfortable - even though this
is what people may do.

_______________________

1.    All seem to agree that in a GU (Godless Universe) all morals,
standards, meaningfulness, concepts of right and wrong and similar are all
relative. Each person must necessarily establish their own standards.

2.    We seem to agree that personally held standards of morality etc may
not necessarily be willingly held. An individual may recognise (indeed must
recognise) that their standards are relative and personal but still be
unable to alter them. For example, I may feel that my internet activities
are improper - eg i may feel that frequenting the PICList is indecent and
depraved, and I may be upset by the time I spend reading list email. I may
also be addicted to doing so and not really want to change. This may give me
great feelings of guilt. I recognise that 'all I have to do" is to alter my
moral position re reading PICList emails BUT find myself able either to
change my moral feelings or stop reading list emails. I may note that other
people are entirely happy with their PIClist involvement, and I may
recognise that there is no valid reason for them to feel as i do BUT still
be unable to change.

3.    The basic foundations for standards of action are.

   - I can do it so I will.
   - I will/won't do this because that optimises my personal pleasure
       (or possibly satisfaction).

eg the consequences of speeding may exceed my perceived benefits.
I pay what tax I "must" because I feel a lot better in the long term than if
I don't do it (because of the consequences of not paying). Actions based on
"altruism" or perceived betterment of others which may not better me
directly physically are done "because I want to" and this constitutes making
me feel good as it meets the basic foundation of optimising my perceived
satisfaction.

4.    In a GU people may choose to adopt certain standards in order to
accomplish common good that suits them. eg they may form societies that have
laws that protect property, human life and individual 'freedoms". While
individuals may restrict their ability to do things that they may otherwise
be able to do, they recognise that this also protects them from people who
may do things that would displease them.

What say I stop there.
Does anyone DISAGREE that in a Godless Universe the above are reasonable
statements?


        Russell McMahon



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2004\09\10@142233 by James Newtons Massmind

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Russell McMahon pontificated:

<SNIP>
{Quote hidden}

Guess we need a 12 step program for some PICListers...

<SNIP>

{Quote hidden}

Works for me. GU means Godless Universe? How about /GU or nGU or GnU <GRIN>
Then is it CU (created Universe) or GDU (God Damned Universe).




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2004\09\10@144949 by Bob Axtell

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James Newtons Massmind wrote:

{Quote hidden}

James it is simply addicting, this PIC stuff.  WHY ELSE would I lose so
much time and money
fooling with these PICs?

I wish I could say no... but I can't.

--Bob
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2004\09\11@042630 by Russell McMahon

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At least one list member believes that moral absolutes do exist in a Godless
universe. They sent me this offlist so i won't identify them, but the
comments are worth passing on. There's nothing personal here so I imagine
this won't be a problem. (responses like this would be much better on list
if possible).

I had written:

>1.    All seem to agree that in a GU (Godless Universe) all morals,
>standards, meaningfulness, concepts of right and wrong and similar are all
>relative. Each person must necessarily establish their own standards.

"Anonymous respondent" :-)  replied:
___________________________________

        Sorry, I don't agree. At all. I don't believe in your
  christian/catholic god, and at the same time I KNOW there's an absolute
  moral code.

          Also, this issue is old (by historic standards). Perhaps a visit
to
  the library is in order ?

          You can try Spencer's Social Statics. You might interpret that
book
  as proving your point. (I don't)

          So, go ahead with your wrong premises if you wish. Starting off
from
  a mistake can logically get you anywhere...

______________________________________

I have asked them why they believe this personally as I would be genuiinely
interested in knowing. Reading what x or y person has written is not the
point - what gets out into people's herats and minds is of interest.

Note (again, again) that this is using the supposition that there is NO
CREATOR. Not just no Christian God but no God whatsoever external to the
universe. The universe "just happened" all by itself. (This of course is not
my personal position - just for the purposes of discussion, to match the
universe view that many have).


       RM



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2004\09\11@092318 by Gerhard Fiedler

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> Does anyone DISAGREE that in a Godless Universe the above are reasonable
> statements?

I disagree.

The disagreement is mainly in two areas. One is about the motivation, and
the other is the implied (by knowing your previous writings) assertion that
this is different if there is a God. (When I say "is", I mean that in the
sense of what you wrote in another message here: "what gets out into
people's hearts and minds is of interest", not in a theoretical
philosophical sense.)


> _______________________
>
> 1.    All seem to agree that in a GU (Godless Universe) all morals,
> standards, meaningfulness, concepts of right and wrong and similar are all
> relative. Each person must necessarily establish their own standards.

I agree. And I postulate that this holds true for a GU too ("God-created
Universe" :)

> 2.    We seem to agree that personally held standards of morality etc may
> not necessarily be willingly held. An individual may recognise (indeed must
> recognise) that their standards are relative and personal but still be
> unable to alter them.

I agree. And I postulate that this holds true for a GU too ("God-created
Universe" :)

> 3.    The basic foundations for standards of action are.
>
>     - I can do it so I will.
>     - I will/won't do this because that optimises my personal pleasure
>         (or possibly satisfaction).

Here I disagree. I'm not sure "pleasure" or "satisfaction" express
correctly what we are trying to "maximize" in our lives -- whatever
universe you are postulating. I'm not sure any word in any language can
capture that; if there are words or concepts, something like "paradise" or
similar would probably come closer. (Note that "paradise" as a concept has
nothing to do with any God.)

So my disagreement basically is that the "thing" we're ultimately after is
not quite that simple. Some describe it as being close to God, others
describe it as being filled with light, still others describe it as being
empty of everything. I guess there are no words, and it doesn't lend itself
easily to logical reasoning :)

This if there is something that "we" are after. Probably everybody is after
something else... Maybe we're all after something different, but all after
something in the same dimension outside of the three and a half of our
perception...

> 4.    In a GU people may choose to adopt certain standards in order to
> accomplish common good that suits them. eg they may form societies that have
> laws that protect property, human life and individual 'freedoms".

I agree. And I postulate that this holds true for a GU too ("God-created
Universe" :)
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2004\09\11@102851 by Gerhard Fiedler

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> Gerhard's recentish (day or two) post on the Russian Forces (RF) thread was
> excellent.

Thanks :)

{Quote hidden}

IMO this doesn't really matter. If I understand your definition of
"Universe" correctly, it's the realm of what we can perceive. Whether the
outside God decides to act within or not is beyond our ability to perceive.
Everything we perceive are realizations within the Universe, so we have no
means to distinguish by perception whether something is completely
contained within the Universe (and as such a "natural" thing) or whether it
has some parts of it outside (and as such would be a "Godly" thing).

This is not to say that I believe there is no outside creator; I'm just
trying to explain why I believe we can't really tell.

In the paradoxical way I mentioned before, it doesn't really matter either
-- and it does, at the same time. If the God-way is yours, and if it leads
you somewhere, it is as valid as any other (and the only valid one for you)
-- independently of the factual existence of a God, even though its
existence is the basics of that way. Paradox, but real... :)


> The idea of an external creating God of course sounds like so much mumbo
> jumbo to many.

Actually, in my Universe, there's no such thing as mumbo jumbo (other than
the one with shrimps :) -- until you're there, you don't know where the
target is, and how far it is away, so you have no way to tell whether
you're closer (room, time or otherwise) than any "mumbo jumbo" guy :)

> Apparently it seems easier to believe in everything having occurred
> spontaneously out of nothing than having been made by a creator :-). In
> fact Occam's razor (arguably) prefers the creator. Which doesn't mean
> that a creator exists.

Actually, really believing that is IMO as difficult as really believing in
a God and still live ones own life. I chose to believe it doesn't matter
but it does matter what I do and believe, and things are paradoxical
anyway.

Somehow I think that we don't have any difference at all, even though it
may seem so. It's all in the words -- and they don't capture everything.
(Even with such relatively clear-cut things as schematics you need a
drawing every now and then :)

Gerhard
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2004\09\11@162825 by Juan Garofalo

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Russell,


       I see you've fowarded the message I sent you, not to God but to the
list :)

       I think that most people are simply not interested in this stuff. I
don't feel altogether comfortable discussing this on list, because people
can/will rightly think that I'm wasting bandwith for way off topic subjects.


>Recall that this is a universe without ANY creating God that is postulated -
>the Christian God is not the only one that is excluded.

     Yes. I named the Christian God because is the one you most probably
have in mind as a basis for your absolute morals. But my postion is
consistently atheistic. (Or perhaps agnostic, in wich case you might win the
argument...)



>Can you summarise your non God-dependent basis for absolute morality?
>

       Yes, but perhaps you should first produce your proof for this :

>[Arcane hidden aim (TM): To show that everything is pointless and
>valueless in such a universe. ]

       Anyway, I think that the problem was better set up at the begining
of the thread. The key question is, IMO, this :

       There's a continuum from inorganic matter to thinking beings, right
? At some point, 'souls' enter into the picture. By 'soul' I refer to the
fact that you (and  I) are self-aware beings, possess identity, love and
hate things/other people, etc, etc. I could name that 'the mind' as well.

Three positions :

a)
       I obviously don't know *why* the mind exist. What's more, I consider
the existence of the mind  as a basic phenomenon wich can't be explained.
       Agnosticism ?

b)
       Your explanation is that souls (or the mind) are god-given (or
designed into the universe, wich is the same thing).

       Religious position. Created Universe.


c)
       Yet other people think that all phenomena can be explained from the
point of view of inorganic matter. Physics and Chemistry will explain the
'meaning' of consciusness.

       Atheism. Godless Universe.



       Now, you seem to think that there's a link between the way the mind
and morals are explained. You seem to think that if one chooses a position
to explain the existence of souls, one must hold that position all the way
and use it to explain morals as well.
Why you think that, it's not clear to me. How do you manage to prove it is
so, is not clear either.

       Why are living things alive ? I don't know. In your created
universe, that's part of the plan.

       Do living things try to stay alive ? Certainly. Why ? I don't know.
It's built in.

       But since living things try to stay alive, what's the most clever
way to do so ? My answer is : Morals.

       For animals, morals mean biological competition, or the law of the
jungle. For humans it means economic cooperation. So the my morals are
roughly those of your point #4.

>People may choose to adopt certain standards in order to
>accomplish common good that suits them. eg they may form societies that have
>laws that protect property, human life and individual 'freedoms

       Societies (and its matching morals) come in two flavours:  

       1)
       FORCED division of labour, or collectivism, or militarism. E. g.
nazis, communists, imperialism, inquisition, etc. Individuals are sacrificed
for the 'common good'(as understood by dictactors)

       2)
       VOLUNTARY division of labour, or individualism, or laissez-faire, or
roughly your point #4. Individuals work for themselves (private property and
inalienable rights).

       Now, I claim that individualism is the only morals that work *in the
long run*. Choosing collectivism leads to death. So individualism is the
only morals that are not self-denying. Take makes them absolute.

       We can start a whole new argument on the meaning of 'absolute' :)


Regards,
Juan.


































       
       




       


       










       















       
       







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2004\09\11@182213 by William Chops Westfield

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On Sep 11, 2004, at 6:23 AM, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

>> 1.    All seem to agree that in a GU (Godless Universe) all morals,
>> standards, meaningfulness, concepts of right and wrong and similar
>> are all
>> relative. Each person must necessarily establish their own standards.

I disagree.  This may hold true for an individual in isolation, but
that's
not how people (or animals) live.  Any group situation will result in
codes
of behavior that protect the group as well as individuals in the group,
that
are (more or less) obviously extensible outside the group.  The "golden
rule"
doesn't require a god; it's just common sense.

(OTOH, didn't someone define "ethics" as society-level desired
behavior, while
"morality" was strictly individually based?  As if you could make a
clean division.)

BillW

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2004\09\26@091419 by Russell McMahon

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Just when you thought it was safe to come out of wherever you've been ...
:-)
NBNBNB: Assumption here = Godless universe / GU.
It is assumed that there is no "being" external to the universe.
The universe "created itself" from nothing.
Mention of God here is only relevant for the purposes of noting that He is
presently assumed not to exist in this argument.

RM said:
>>> 1.    All ** seem to agree that in a GU (Godless Universe) all morals,
>>> standards, meaningfulness, concepts of right and wrong and similar are
>>> all relative. Each person must necessarily establish their own
>>> standards.

William Chops Westfield said

> I disagree.  This may hold true for an individual in isolation, but that's
> not how people (or animals) live.  Any group situation will result in
> codes of behavior that protect the group as well as individuals in the
> group, that  are (more or less) obviously extensible outside the group.

I agree that any group situation often MAY (but not necessarily always) be
as you say. That does not falsify my above assertion. The fact that many
find it convenient or even compelling to agree on a set of "values" does not
make them absolute. Maybe useful, maybe logical for typical human
situations. Maybe something that many groups would decide to enforce, with
force if necessary, but entirely situational. When the Hannibal Lecters, Son
of Sam's, Jack the Rippers,  Stalin / Mao / Hitler / Churchill* (surprised
to see him there?) / Napoleon / Pol Pot or others such decide that the group
values that have been held by many people and over long periods are
"inconvenient" then that does not make such enlightened people "wrong" by
any absolute standard that can be defended rigorously in a GU. Certainly,
many will say "that's wrong", "he's evil", "he has no right", "that's not
fair", etc BUT that's still an entirely relative assessment in a GU. Stalin
was arguably not insane in the sense that most psychiatrists would count as
insane. He was entirely insane by my standards, but my relative standards do
not count. If 10 million versions of me all agree the opinion may be more
enforceable, but it is no more true in an absolute sense. I doubt that
Saddam Hussein is insane by any normal standards. Nor any US President in
living memory (despite the assertions to the contrary by about 50% of the
country on any occasion :-) ). Our assessment that someone is a pathologicl
killer (eg Hussein) is liable to have more to do with our distaste of his
actions than of his mental stability, and even if the condition is caused by
brain chemistry, it does not make it morally absolute relative to our
position.

Some tribal groups value treachery as a high virtue in others. We may that
such a practice is backwards or unenlightened or whatever, but it
(apparently) works for them. / A reading of the loosely historically based
novel "Shogun" gives a probably reasonably accurate insight into the mind of
the Japanese several centuries ago. The balance between life-sacrificing
loyalty and treachery that would make machiavelli

> The "golden rule" doesn't require a god; it's just common sense.

Agree (in a GU).
No rule that we observe in a GU REQUIRES a God. It can't, as the basic
assumption is "GODLESS Universe". As we are assuming that there is no God in
this universe (regardless of whether this assumption is valid or not) and as
the "golden rule" does exist then necessarily it need not require a God :-).
HOWEVER in the absence of a God it is NOT a Rule. It is a suggestion. it has
no absolute basis to fall back on. It can't have in a GU.

Do note that the 'Golden Suggestion' (TM), which seems to arise within
religions, comes out differently depending which religion it comes from.
In Islam and others it is essentially "Do not do to others that which you
would not wish them to do to you". In Christianity alone (AFAIK) it comes
out "Do unto others that which you would wish them to do to you." IMHO, in a
GU the Christian version does not make sense. What a strange way to behave!
:-). It suggests that you should expend resource randomly doing good to any
you interact with. Such an activity will be pleasant enough for the
recipients, and will cause SOME benefit for the doer, but the cost is high.
The more normal form (Islam and others) makes far far more sense. Choosing
to not treat people badly is far less resource expensive, does not attract
the adverse attention of those around you, and may confer benefit if it
makes you more pleasant than people who do badly to others.  (She never had
a bad word to say about anyone. He never cheated me.  etc). You can then
conserve your resource to do good selectively to those who will advantage
you when you treat them well. This is consistent with the spirit of the
"group situation" that William suggested above.

JC's version may be good in a touchy feely sense but the cost would not be
worth the advantage it would gain you. Would it?



       Russell McMahon


* Churchill would have been held to be a war criminal had the Axis forces
won. He was responsible for the death of a significant number of people, no
doubt for reasons which he deemed adequate. History demonstrates that
winners and losers get treated differently.

** Apart from this objection one other strenuously asserted that absolute
standards could and did "self eventuate" and apply in a Godless universe.
This assertion is not addressed here.

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2004\09\26@120308 by Gerhard Fiedler

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> No rule that we observe in a GU REQUIRES a God. It can't, as the basic
> assumption is "GODLESS Universe". As we are assuming that there is no God in
> this universe (regardless of whether this assumption is valid or not) and as
> the "golden rule" does exist then necessarily it need not require a God :-).
> HOWEVER in the absence of a God it is NOT a Rule. It is a suggestion. it has
> no absolute basis to fall back on. It can't have in a GU.

This all applies equally to a situation where you assume a creator god
outside the universe. Word for word. Since the creator is outside, any
inside rule that you may come up with has been created by someone inside
the universe, and as such is just as individual and a "suggestion" only as
any rule in what you call a GU universe. In fact, there's no way you can
determine what's outside of the universe... other than by belief.


> In Islam and others it is essentially "Do not do to others that which you
> would not wish them to do to you". In Christianity alone (AFAIK) it comes
> out "Do unto others that which you would wish them to do to you."

None of the two makes any real sense. Both are a good starting point,
lacking anything else, but none of them works. If you want to do /me/ good,
you probably shouldn't take yourself as measure, you should take /me/ as
measure. This rule is the basis (well, one of them, or, if you like that
better, the excuse) for many of the atrocities Christians have done.

> IMHO, in a  GU the Christian version does not make sense.

It makes just as much sense as it makes in a universe with an outside
creator/god. Those rules are created mostly as attempts to either make a
mass of people rulable, or as attempts to get to what we vaguely call
happiness or fulfillment or enlightenment. Creator/god or none.

Gerhard
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2004\09\26@174331 by William Chops Westfield

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On Sep 26, 2004, at 6:11 AM, Russell McMahon wrote:

> If 10 million versions of me all agree the opinion may be more
>  enforceable, but it is no more true in an absolute sense.

Maybe.  But isn't that exactly what atheists means when they say "Man
created God in his own image"?  That vast numbers do in fact make
things "indistinguishable from (true in an absolute sense)"
>
> "Do unto others that which you would wish them to do to you." IMHO, in
> a GU the Christian version does not make sense. ... the cost is high.

But the cost isn't necessarily high.  For the vast majority of cases,
the cost is pretty low.  Arguably, "how I wish them to do to me" does
not involve major sacrifices to them; I don't want to be pushed from
in front of car if it means the pusher gets killed instead.  Maybe the
golden suggestion becomes complicated when you allow it to recurse...

There are many cases where the cost is near zero.  It does not cost
me anything to say 'thank you' when someone is helpful.  It is how
I would like to be treated.  And many people just don't bother...

BillW

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'[OT:] The meaning of life, the universe and everyt'
2004\10\10@075148 by Russell McMahon
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Summary:     Link to a good summary of Nietzsche's ideas. Implications for
our world.

   http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/

Note that while I think that Nietzsche's conclusions are largely valid,
GIVEN HIS BASIC ASSUMPTION, I do not share this assumption and I do not
agree with his conclusions. My point is that those who do share his
assumption (There is no God) need to rebut his argumentsif they wish to
claim that the vast majority of the framework that we build our world's
societies on have any validity at all.

__________________________________

This has some relationship to a part of the "religious rubbish" thread
except that it is not at all about religion which in any way involves God -
in fact quite the opposite. It could be said to be about religion which
specifically does NOT involved God. (Note to James: - don't mention or refer
to God :-) ).

For the purposes of this discussion the *assumption* is that there is no God
(whatever that may mean).

I have tried on and off in various related threads to obtain recognition of
the "facts" that, given the above position.

- Questions such as "what is the meaning of life" can have no meaning.

- Our concepts of good, evil, morality, worthiness, excellence, merit, and
similar have no 'value' - in fact 'value' itself is a meaningless concept.
Such concepts may be felt to be useful by individuals or groups of people
but they are an arbitrary convenience.

The norm, as I suggested at the start, is for the majority of people to
ignore these uncomfortable 'truths' while accepting the premise which makes
them necessary. They are so uncomfortable and so world transforming and so
life and joy destroying as to be ignored and avoided at all costs. This has
been the case here. While it was *almost* universally agreed that in such a
universe we all create our own relative morality, we failed to progress to
the logical conclusions. James repeatedly suggests that I (and a few billion
others) consequently create various gods because we are uncomfortable with
this result. This is certainly not what I am trying to convey.  My point is
that only the reality of one or more gods with certain characteristics is a
sufficent rebuttal to the realisation that all is meaningless, valueless and
pointless. This does not make any of the gods true - just points out that
one or more have to be for the usual supposition set to be valid.

But why should anyone believe me ? :-)

It's somewhat harder to reject out of hand the arguments of a capable and
internationally recognised philosopher. I've referred to Nietzsche on
various occasions. The following page gives a good overview of his beliefs
and arguments. Nietzsche goes to some length to address the reasons why God
does not exist. These are irrelevant here. Either God (as Nietzsche doesn't
conceive him) does or doesn't exist, and if he does no amount of explaining
willl unmake him. Just as no amount of explaining will create a God that
does not exist. None of that matters here - I am trying to address the
logical conclusion given Nietzsche's premise.

I refer to Nietzsche because he provides a clear and logical picture of what
reality is really like GIVEN HIS ASSUMPTION SET. I do not think he is
correct, but those who share his basic premise (God does not exist) must
logically share most of his other conclusions. Nietzsche's conclusions are
not generally (AFAIK) considered to have been rebutted by philosophers who
share his assumption set (or by others who accept his assumption set for the
purposes of the argument).

If anyone considers that his conclusions are invalid (given no God) and can
point to accepted arguments to this effect, I would be most interested.
Failing that, it may be past time to put my violin to bed :-)

   http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/nietzsche/


Have fun

           Russell McMahon





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2004\10\10@181018 by James Newtons Massmind

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Again, yes, I see that Nietzsche proves there can be no ABSOLUTE values
given his assumptions. I do not see, however, that is prevents RELATIVE
values. "With respect to X, there are Y values. There is no absolute and
there are no absolute values."

We have had this conversation and I have yet to hear why values can not be
relative?

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> {Original Message removed}

2004\10\11@144853 by Peter L. Peres

picon face

On Sun, 10 Oct 2004, James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> Again, yes, I see that Nietzsche proves there can be no ABSOLUTE values
> given his assumptions. I do not see, however, that is prevents RELATIVE
> values. "With respect to X, there are Y values. There is no absolute and
> there are no absolute values."
>
> We have had this conversation and I have yet to hear why values can not be
> relative?

For values to be relative there must exist some metrics by which they are
compared. But if you consult more than N persons (N>=3 usually works) then
they will not even agree on the metrics, let alone one the values. So how
can values be relative if you can't agree about what relative is ?

Peter
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2004\10\11@162532 by James Newtons Massmind

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I agree the problem is difficult, perhaps even difficult to the point of
practical impossibility but it is not inherently impossible.

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> {Original Message removed}

2004\10\12@092702 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
>> Again, yes, I see that Nietzsche proves there can be no ABSOLUTE values
>> given his assumptions. I do not see, however, that is prevents RELATIVE
>> values. "With respect to X, there are Y values. There is no absolute and
>> there are no absolute values."
>>
>> We have had this conversation and I have yet to hear why values can not be
>> relative?
>
> For values to be relative there must exist some metrics by which they are
> compared. But if you consult more than N persons (N>=3 usually works) then
> they will not even agree on the metrics, let alone one the values. So how
> can values be relative if you can't agree about what relative is ?

I think you are using a quite restricted meaning of "relative". "Relative"
means not only "comparable"; there is also the meaning "in relation to
something" -- which is the contrary of "absolute" (as in "viewed
independently of, not relative to anything"), and probably the more
appropriate in this context.

This meaning of "relative" does not at all require comparison; in fact,
items that are relative in this meaning are quite often not comparable by
their very ("relative") nature. And thus, values can be (and IMO are)
relative -- relative to the individual who adopts them; not /despite/, but
/because/ there is no way to compare them.

The problem with absolute values is that invariably somebody thinks he or
she has found those absolute values, and that now everybody else needs to
adopt those same values (since they are absolute), or else...


The fact that after quite a few millennia humanity has yet to agree on a
very basic set of values or rules of conduct (for example, among the most
frequently cited, "you shall not kill" is not commonly accepted, nor are
the circumstances when killing is permitted something many people could
agree upon) is a strong indication that we really cannot find absolute
values.

The other question is: if there in fact are absolute values, how do we
recognize them and distinguish them from "mere" relative (relative to our
own, personal mind) values? There's no way -- everything we think of has
been filtered by our own "relativeness", and even if not, we have no way to
tell whether something has or has not been.

So for somebody to claim that he or she has found /the/ absolute values --
meaning the values that are /it/ for everybody --, that somebody must be
pretty out of this world, in one sense or another. And again, we have no
way of telling in which way this somebody is out of this world... and thus
no way of telling whether the absolute values found are just something
delusional or actual, absolute truth.

Gerhard


rel-a-tive (rel'uh tiv)  n.
[...]
             adj.
                 5.  considered in relation to something else;
                      comparative: the relative merits of gas
                      and electric heating.
                 6.  existing or having its specific nature
                      only by relation to something else; not
                      absolute or independent: Happiness is
                      relative.
                 7.  having relation or connection.
                 8.  having reference; relevant; pertinent
                      (usu. fol. by to): the facts relative to
                      the case.
                 9.  correspondent; proportionate.
               10.  depending for significance upon something
                      else: " Better " is a relative term.
[...]
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2004\10\13@070327 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
>> Again, yes, I see that Nietzsche proves there can be no ABSOLUTE values
>> given his assumptions. I do not see, however, that is prevents RELATIVE
>> values. "With respect to X, there are Y values. There is no absolute and
>> there are no absolute values."

Here's someone's musings (no, not mine) on the general theme.
Somewhere between poetry, philosophy and scientific truth.

"The madman" is Nietzsche, who was also the originator of the "God is dead"
construct.

James will, probably, agree with it's general import, but then suggest that
people have to go round inventing gods to make up for reality - that we feel
the need to invent gods to avoid the truth the madman has revealed :-)


       RM

____________________________________________________

In the shadow of a madman. -- Don't we see what we've done? The madman was
right, and we didn't listen. God is dead, and we are his murderers. The
effects are among us, only we don't realise what we're seeing. Like the
light from a distant star, the effects hadn't had time to reach us yet. But
now, over a century later, it is upon us.
Dead? God is dead? How can that be?

Imagine that there were no planets, and you or I were floating in space,
infinitely black and devoid of anything. As far as the eye can see stretches
the stuff that rocks dream of. How would we know where we were, apart from
beside each other? Where is God now? And if he is dead, then where are we?

What is the point of a world where the most meaningful statement that exists
is, 'I am what I am'? What is the point when what 'I am' can be anything,
great or small, memorable or obsolete; after all, nobody asks a question
when the answer doesn't matter. (The only other statement might be, 'I am
not what you are', which only then leads to vanity or depression)

It is a sad world for the living when, no matter how far you run, it all
goes down to the grave. Somebody said that, as murderers of God, we make
ourselves gods to feel worthy of the task. But strive all you want, for your
arrogance won't keep you alive forever. But, on the other hand, philanthropy
won't help you any more than the most selfish of hedonism. Even those whom
you help will be swallowed up by the grave.

When the world fails, the sun ceases to shine and the universe grinds itself
into oblivion, what monuments to humanity will still remain standing?

Perhaps we aren't divine murderers, but rather we are guilty of the most
repulsive of suicides.



_____________________________



PS



Interestingly, and it of course proves nothing, Nietzsche went mad quite
suddenly very shortly after he had published a work that effectively
declared himself to be a god. He did not put it quite in those terms but he
was clearly positing himself specifically as one of the alternatives to the
God he had declared to be "dead". The title of the work ("Ecce Homo" =
"Behold the man") was an unmistakable allusion to another man who had made
similar claims.




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2004\10\14@162028 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
I was reading this over again and I must say it is very nicely written.
Clear and clean. I wish I could write that well.

It is, of course, entirely illogical; an argument for going crazy to avoid
the truth.

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> {Original Message removed}

2004\10\15@085044 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
> Interestingly, and it of course proves nothing, Nietzsche went mad quite
> suddenly very shortly after he had published a work that effectively
> declared himself to be a god.

We don't seem to be able to live very easily with the thought that there
might not be a "super human being" (humanoid, but superior in that respect)
that gives some form of human sense to everything we experience. Yet that
difficulty doesn't quite show that such a being actually exists :)

Gerhard
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2004\10\15@091043 by Howard Winter

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flavicon
picon face
Gerhard,

On Fri, 15 Oct 2004 09:50:39 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

> We don't seem to be able to live very easily with the thought that there
> might not be a "super human being" (humanoid, but superior in that respect)
> that gives some form of human sense to everything we experience.

Maybe as a race, but as an individual I have no problem with this whatsoever!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


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2004\10\15@095807 by cisco J. A. Ares

flavicon
face
Howard Winter wrote:

>Gerhard,
>
>On Fri, 15 Oct 2004 09:50:39 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
>  
>
>>We don't seem to be able to live very easily with the thought that there
>>might not be a "super human being" (humanoid, but superior in that respect)
>>that gives some form of human sense to everything we experience.
>>    
>>
>
>Maybe as a race, but as an individual I have no problem with this whatsoever!
>
>  
>

Even as a race, think as a manager and his subordinated workers - or do
you think he can manage all of our issues alone  ;-)

Francisco
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2004\10\21@100218 by Martin Klingensmith

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Reminiscent of "Thus spoke Zarathustra" - Nietzsche
-MK


{Quote hidden}

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