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Postby Laika » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:25 pm

we are all randomly connected

I agree with you that everything is interconnected, and we could've understood how if we had more information and better tools to analyze data. (like "better" brains, or some cool AI, lol).

"Helping somebody because you expect them to be nice to you some time later" logic is ok to me. My point is that any logic in actual decision making that involves any kind of religious presumptions is bad.
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Postby -- Tobias -- » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:35 pm

kudayta wrote:That's a rather good essay on morality Toby, and it hints at a few things that I find fascinating.


Ahh, but the Prisoner's Dilemma and the like come with sets of assumptive conditions and relationships. For example, in the classic PD, the effect of the selection upon the personal relationship of the two prisoners is not considered. What if either prisoner values their personal relationship more than jail time? The model goes to shit, that's what. That's part of my point: rational solutions require assumptions that limit possibilities.
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Postby Ace Rimmer » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:37 pm

kudayta wrote:As for your question, I assume you want me to demonstrate that psychotropic drugs are effective at treating depression.

No, you claimed science is more effective. That's what I asked you to prove. ;P We are all already aware of drugs, social techniques, etc and know there is some value in them. :P

kudayta wrote:
Ace Rimmer wrote:That is, if you could prove that our existance (sic) is just a strange accident


Sorry for the second post here, but I can't let this statement go unchallenged. We can and have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that evolution by natural selection is the result of our existence. This does not mean that our existence is an accident. It's the very opposite of an accident. There's a reason for our existence, one that we understand very well. It's just that we don't need to invoke an intelligence behind that reason. For the same basic reason that we don't need to invoke a miniature artist quickly painting the screens inside our televisions. It's not an accident that televisions work.

Now, before you object that an intelligence designed the first televisions: The origin of life itself is something we don't fully understand (evolution by natural selection explains the origin of diversity of life, not the origin of life). There are several competing hypotheses, but it's possible we may never know the exact path that the first lifeforms took. If you wish to base your belief in the supernatural on missing data, that's fine, but it is just a God of the Gaps argument.

In that context, I suppose you can say human beings are not an 'accident' and are rather the product of a process. I also understand the distinction you're making between diviersity vs origin. However, in the context of (1) all human beings coming to the conclusion all religion is wrong, (2) there is no deity, and (3) we're all products of evolution, your points are irrelevant. The inevitable conclusion is the same; life has only superfical meaning because there is no intended/planned reason for our existance.

Wipe away all bias, all preconceived notions, everything else and convince 100% of humanity those three points are 100% true, provable facts, the results would not necessarily be 'good'. Extend humanity a couple of generations to where nobody remember religion/superstiion, the same would still be true; especially if we are indeed 'hard-wired' to search for deeper meaning.

Tobias wrote:<snip>

Excellent analagy, however I would like to point out that we don't live in a vacuum. Whether we like it or not, religion has played a role in shaping society for quite a long time and we can't really know how people in a competely religion-free society would act towards one another. Who's to say that boy in the analogy wasn't raised by decent people, who taught him to be friendly, because they were taught about the good Samaritan? (to be simple)

Additionaly, the root cause of your action was selfishness, you were actually trying to save your own skin.

Lastly, without religion, again a world free of it, who gets to decide right from wrong? It's all relative at that point really, and carried to it's logical conclusion, what's good and right = what helps me. Very few people would decide that "what's good for me is to do good for you, because that helps me too."
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Postby kudayta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:47 pm

-- Tobias -- wrote:
kudayta wrote:That's a rather good essay on morality Toby, and it hints at a few things that I find fascinating.


Ahh, but the Prisoner's Dilemma and the like come with sets of assumptive conditions and relationships. For example, in the classic PD, the effect of the selection upon the personal relationship of the two prisoners is not considered. What if either prisoner values their personal relationship more than jail time? The model goes to shit, that's what. That's part of my point: rational solutions require assumptions that limit possibilities.


Well yeah, emergent fields of study like game theory use models to simplify a situation so that we can see the underlying mathematics that govern the situation. As our knowledge increases, the mathematics become more complex and then we can discard the model (the scaffolding analogy). I mean, hell, even aeronautical engineers still use models in wind tunnels. But no one criticizes that practice because Have Blue couldn't seat a full sized human pilot. :)
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Postby Schubdüse » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:08 pm

Argh guys, stop it. I don't have time for this. :P
Dear Zoro, honestly, I didn't quite understand your post. My post was of course very simplified.
Short remarks:
- Science: Sure, it's full of dogmata, because that's the purpose of science. To find laws in order to create a dogma, better -> theory.
I know, a dogma is not a theory. But often scientists treat a theory like a dogma. Like myself. The reason is simple. Science is veeeeery complex (keyword: cell signal transduction).
It's hard to abandon a dogma/theory which worked for a very long time (classical mechanics versus quantum mechanics).
Good thing in science is: It will may take some time to overcome human stubbornness, but when an old theory isn't explaining all avaiable facts anymore it will be improved or discarded.
(It's the brain, which "thinks" and not the heart. Wave–particle duality. Other stars have planets, too. Ribozymes. Transposons)
So far science was able to reveal great parts of the truth of nature. (I know exactly, why Idarubicin is killing the cancer cells I'm cultivating. But I don't know what a "thought" is.) But still, many people prefer to believe in the book Genesis.

- Origin of life: @Kudi: Check Ribozymes. They also solve the chicken and egg problem.

- Purpose of life: That's simple. F*ck as much as you can = reproduction. Our body is build around our genitals. You don't believe me? Yeah, 1.3 billions of chinese people don't either.
(If you can stop to jerk off for one year, I will believe you. One condition: You must be between 12 and 30.)

- Purpose of all: Everybody is asking, why were are here. Did you ever asked, why "nothing" is NOT here?
I mean, why was "creation" favoured for "nothing"? Maybe it wasn't. Check theories for the "Multiversum".
Last edited by Schubdüse on Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby kudayta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:09 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:
kudayta wrote:As for your question, I assume you want me to demonstrate that psychotropic drugs are effective at treating depression.

No, you claimed science is more effective. That's what I asked you to prove. ;P We are all already aware of drugs, social techniques, etc and know there is some value in them. :P


You want me to prove that science is more effective than religion? Wow, that's a lot easier. The drugs, social techniques, etc are all products of science. Religion has produced none of that. Ergo, science wins.

Ace Rimmer wrote:In that context, I suppose you can say human beings are not an 'accident' and are rather the product of a process. I also understand the distinction you're making between diviersity vs origin. However, in the context of (1) all human beings coming to the conclusion all religion is wrong, (2) there is no deity, and (3) we're all products of evolution, your points are irrelevant. The inevitable conclusion is the same; life has only superfical meaning because there is no intended/planned reason for our existance.

Wipe away all bias, all preconceived notions, everything else and convince 100% of humanity those three points are 100% true, provable facts, the results would not necessarily be 'good'. Extend humanity a couple of generations to where nobody remember religion/superstiion, the same would still be true; especially if we are indeed 'hard-wired' to search for deeper meaning.


I would contest that an atheist's life has but superficial meaning. Speaking as an atheist, I find a rather profound sense of meaning in the pursuit of knowledge, especially knowing that I only have a few decades in which to gather up as much as possible to pass on down the generations. Now it could be the case that I, and my fellow modern atheists are aberrations relative to the thundering herd of humanity. In which case, a deeper understanding of psychology and sociology is needed before we can implement our dastardly plan of eliminating the scourge of religion from the planet once and for all. But to insist that life has no meaning unless some cosmic intelligence gives it to you is like saying that all sweaters are ugly because your grandmother makes ugly ones. It just doesn't hold up.

Ace Rimmer wrote:Excellent analagy, however I would like to point out that we don't live in a vacuum. Whether we like it or not, religion has played a role in shaping society for quite a long time and we can't really know how people in a competely religion-free society would act towards one another. Who's to say that boy in the analogy wasn't raised by decent people, who taught him to be friendly, because they were taught about the good Samaritan? (to be simple)

Additionaly, the root cause of your action was selfishness, you were actually trying to save your own skin.

Lastly, without religion, again a world free of it, who gets to decide right from wrong? It's all relative at that point really, and carried to it's logical conclusion, what's good and right = what helps me. Very few people would decide that "what's good for me is to do good for you, because that helps me too."


Well, secular morality has been around for centuries. You should read up on Kant, Rand, Kurtz, Dennett and many others, since insisting that without a diety morality becomes relative is simply not correct. In many cases, morality is relative to context. But there is an objective standard. I personally hold to humanism, as I think the axiom "whatever improves the quality and/or quantity of life" is the best way to go about devising tactics.

I also take issue with the notion that very few people would decide that the best course of action is what improves their situation only. Just as religion has shaped our culture, biology has as well. And our biological history is a lot longer than the Church's. Humans are social animals, we instinctively protect the tribe from outside danger. A rather ironic example of this occurred in 1987 when the theocrats in Louisiana passed a bill requiring creationism be taught in public schools. And the plaintiffs screwed up the oral arguments, so much so that it was looking really bad for the proponents of science. So 72 Nobel laureates got together and submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court to save the day. Now these 72 guys (along with a few state academies of science and various other organizations) are really competitive people. That's how it is in the world of research science. But they circled the wagons when an outside threat approached, and they set aside their professional differences and worked together for a common cause.

In any case, Schub is right. We're pretty far off topic here. :)

Ace, I do enjoy talking with you about these sort of topics. Feel free to email me if you wish to continue. kudayta@gmail.com
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Postby kudayta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:14 pm

Schubdüse wrote:- Origin of life: @Kudi: Check Ribozymes. They also solve the chicken and egg problem.


Well. Ribozymes are catalysts. They are, in their own right, a rather complex structure which require an explanation of their origin. I'm not sure how they relate to any particular abiogenic hypothesis. As for the chicken and the egg problem, that was solved a long time ago. Eggs come first. Fish and reptiles both lay eggs, and both fish and reptiles were here before birds.

Sorry, I originally wrote about ribosomes.
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Postby Schubdüse » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:30 pm

kudayta wrote:
Schubdüse wrote:- Origin of life: @Kudi: Check Ribozymes. They also solve the chicken and egg problem.


Well. Ribosomes catalyze protein translation. They are, in their own right, a rather complex structure which require an explanation of their origin. I'm not sure how they relate to any particular abiogenic hypothesis. As for the chicken and the egg problem, that was solved a long time ago. Eggs come first. Fish and reptiles both lay eggs, and both fish and reptiles were here before birds.


There is a misunderstanding here:
RIBOZYMES not ribosomes! Ribozymes can have the capacity to contain information (because it's RNA) and to have a catalytic function. Which was first on earth DNA or proteins? (DNA codes for proteins, but proteins catalyse DNA! Tada, chicken-egg-poblem.) Ribozymes solves this problem. First there was the RNA-world, which evolved into the DNA-world. (Discovery of Ribozymes was worth a Nobel prize.)
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Postby kudayta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:32 pm

Schubdüse wrote:
kudayta wrote:
Schubdüse wrote:- Origin of life: @Kudi: Check Ribozymes. They also solve the chicken and egg problem.


Well. Ribosomes catalyze protein translation. They are, in their own right, a rather complex structure which require an explanation of their origin. I'm not sure how they relate to any particular abiogenic hypothesis. As for the chicken and the egg problem, that was solved a long time ago. Eggs come first. Fish and reptiles both lay eggs, and both fish and reptiles were here before birds.


There is a misunderstanding here:
RIBOZYMES not ribosomes! Ribozymes can have the capacity to contain information (because it's RNA) and to have a catalytic function. Which was first on earth DNA or proteins? (DNA codes for proteins, but proteins catalyse DNA! Tada, chicken-egg-poblem.) Ribozymes solves this problem. First there was the RNA-world, which evolved into the DNA-world. (Discovery of Ribozymes was worth a Nobel prize.)


Oh, you're referring to the RNA World hypothesis. Yes, that's a very good model that's received very serious attention from researchers. I'm not qualified to critique it however, as my specialty was evolutionary biology and game theory and not microbiology or biochemistry. Nonetheless my initial objection remains unchanged. Ribozymes are complex structures that could not have happened by chance. Some sort of process resulted in their existence. That process remains a mystery.
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Postby Ace Rimmer » Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:53 pm

kudayta wrote:You want me to prove that science is more effective than religion? Wow, that's a lot easier. The drugs, social techniques, etc are all products of science. Religion has produced none of that. Ergo, science wins.

That's not proof, that's your opinion. :P

kudayta wrote:I would contest that an atheist's life has but superficial meaning. Speaking as an atheist, I find a rather profound sense of meaning in the pursuit of knowledge, especially knowing that I only have a few decades in which to gather up as much as possible to pass on down the generations.

What about when the world ends on December 21, 2012 and everything you ever did your entire life was for nothing? :P

(NOTE: I don't think the world will end in 2012, the mayan calander mess is just that, a big stinking pile)

kudayta wrote:But to insist that life has no meaning unless some cosmic intelligence gives it to you is like saying that all sweaters are ugly because your grandmother makes ugly ones. It just doesn't hold up.

I never said life has no meaning without religion. I am saying there's no deep fullfillment, for many people, without it.

kudayta wrote:Well, secular morality has been around for centuries. You should read up on Kant, Rand, Kurtz, Dennett and many others, since insisting that without a diety morality becomes relative is simply not correct. In many cases, morality is relative to context. But there is an objective standard. I personally hold to humanism, as I think the axiom "whatever improves the quality and/or quantity of life" is the best way to go about devising tactics.

I also take issue with the notion that very few people would decide that the best course of action is what improves their situation only. Just as religion has shaped our culture, biology has as well. And our biological history is a lot longer than the Church's. Humans are social animals, we instinctively protect the tribe from outside danger. A rather ironic example of this occurred in 1987 when the theocrats in Louisiana passed a bill requiring creationism be taught in public schools. And the plaintiffs screwed up the oral arguments, so much so that it was looking really bad for the proponents of science. So 72 Nobel laureates got together and submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court to save the day. Now these 72 guys (along with a few state academies of science and various other organizations) are really competitive people. That's how it is in the world of research science. But they circled the wagons when an outside threat approached, and they set aside their professional differences and worked together for a common cause.

I wonder, is secular morality an oxymoron? Let me attempt to be more clear:

1. Humanity wakes up tomorrow, all religion is proven undeniably false.
2. All places of worship are abandoned or converted for secular use around the globe.
3. All nations unite as they throw off the shackles of geographic belief systems and religious based morals.
4. Eutopia ensues as humanity pauses to consider the ramifications (i.e. all wars end, at least temporarily)

If then, the best course of action, relative to our species, is providing the best of everything for humanity, where do you draw the line? Who gets to decide what 'best' is? Who gets to decide how we create 'best'.

This opens up a whole area which we might consider 'evil' now. For a large portion of society, life would begin to have no value (i.e., the life of others). We can see this tendency already. For example: Two Wisconsin boys, 13, charged with brutal hatchet slaying of great-grandmother to get change to buy pizza You have have a very difficult time conving more and more of society, as time went on, that taking the more 'noble' route is best.

kudayta wrote:Ace, I do enjoy talking with you about these sort of topics. Feel free to email me if you wish to continue. kudayta@gmail.com

Sorry, I'm too lazy to follow up via email. :P Besides, plenty of other topics, which don't get derailed, turn in to garbage very quickly. :wink: I think we're safe, even from the future Defcon mod, whomever that might be. 8)
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Postby tllotpfkamvpe » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:18 pm

My understanding of the chicken and the egg problem is that the chicken came out of an egg, but it wasn't a chickens egg.
For example a crocodile laid an egg, but that had a mutation and what came out of the egg was a chicken.
So what came first? It's pointless, the chicken and the egg are the same thing, and now we have a crocodile to think about.

I suppose in the end the chicken and the egg both end up in the omelette :mrgreen:
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Postby Ace Rimmer » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:20 pm

tllotpfkamvpe wrote:I suppose in the end the chicken and the egg both end up in the omelette :mrgreen:

:P :P :P :P :P

*adds cheese, a dash of salt, eats*
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Postby -- Tobias -- » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:22 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote: Who's to say that boy in the analogy wasn't raised by decent people ...

LOL. I forget to tell you the rest of the story! It was his dog that placed the mess where he targeted (during lunch time). [Assumptions = bad]

Ace Rimmer wrote: the root cause of your action was selfishness ...


I prefer "enlightened self-interest." But you are focusing on the self-interest part, where I am trying to stress the enlightened part. While I was perhaps lucky enough to realize a particular connection in that instance, my more general point is that no matter how much data we have, and no matter how powerful our processing capabilities, we would be quite arrogant to believe we have ever captured all the relevant data or have made no false or incomplete assumptions to rationally "manage" morality.

Ace Rimmer wrote:who gets to decide right from wrong? ... Very few people would decide that "what's good for me is to do good for you, because that helps me too."


Well, Hume might say that we innately already know what's right and wrong: we have a sense of how we would feel if acted upon similarly.

kudayta wrote:I find a rather profound sense of meaning in the pursuit of knowledge ...

Really. I never could get my head around that whole Garden of Eden story anyway. What's so bad about sex? And what could possibly be wrong with the Tree of Knowledge? btw, I'm still looking for seedlings of a shade-loving variety of the TOK for my backyard.
Last edited by -- Tobias -- on Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Schubdüse » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:24 pm

kudayta wrote:Ribozymes are complex structures that could not have happened by chance. Some sort of process resulted in their existence. That process remains a mystery.

Hmm, I'm not sure about that. Ribozymes are not that complex. Maybe their precursors can be even explained by a self-assembly process.
I think, I have read a chemisty paper or an article about artificial ribozymes, which were very easily created by natural reaction starters (uv-light, flashes, you know the story.)
But I won't start an argument here until I have found this article.
And of course you are right, the origin of life remains to be uncovered. (I don't like words like mystery or wonder in the context of science. For instance, there is no wonder of life.) :P
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Postby kudayta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:28 pm

Ace Rimmer wrote:That's not proof, that's your opinion. :P


Ok, so the totality of scientific progress since The Enlightenment can't be used as evidence. :) That still leaves us with an epistemological argument: Science utilizes an exact method, with error correction built in, to arrive at solutions. Religion does not use any sort of method for arriving at solutions, and often clings to bad solutions for millenia.

Ace Rimmer wrote:I never said life has no meaning without religion. I am saying there's no deep fullfillment, for many people, without it.


That many people are unable to find deep fulfillment from life absent their preferred deity is a weakness of religion, not a strength. We know that the natural world exists, we don't know that the supernatural does. If your ego is dependent upon an unproven concept, it's probably time to re-evaluate your value system.

Ace Rimmer wrote:I wonder, is secular morality an oxymoron? Let me attempt to be more clear:

1. Humanity wakes up tomorrow, all religion is proven undeniably false.
2. All places of worship are abandoned or converted for secular use around the globe.
3. All nations unite as they throw off the shackles of geographic belief systems and religious based morals.
4. Eutopia ensues as humanity pauses to consider the ramifications (i.e. all wars end, at least temporarily)

If then, the best course of action, relative to our species, is providing the best of everything for humanity, where do you draw the line? Who gets to decide what 'best' is? Who gets to decide how we create 'best'.


Well to be clear, religion is not the only driving force in human intraspecies conflict. Resources, political and economical system differences, natural tendencies towards aggression, and even honest mistakes can lead to war. The problem that secular guys like me have with religion is that it's fantastically unnecessary to kill over.

As for who gets to decide what best is? We do. Same as anything else. Does democracy determine morality? No, of course not. To paraphrase Churchill, democracy is the worst moral decision engine. Except when you compare it to all the others. Are we going to make mistakes? Yep. Species ending ones? Probably not. Humanity is a pretty tough species. We've bounced back from some pretty bleak situations in our 200,000 year history, and most of those were before we invented gunpowder.

Ace Rimmer wrote:This opens up a whole area which we might consider 'evil' now. For a large portion of society, life would begin to have no value (i.e., the life of others). We can see this tendency already. For example: Two Wisconsin boys, 13, charged with brutal hatchet slaying of great-grandmother to get change to buy pizza You have have a very difficult time conving more and more of society, as time went on, that taking the more 'noble' route is best.


What do you have in mind that would be allowed under secular morality, but currently disallowed? Marijuana use? Euthanasia? Soylent Green?

Your example here is flawed. These kids didn't murder in the name of atheism or secular humanism or even in the name of religion. These kids are sociopaths, apparently. They don't need Jesus in their life, they need to be confined and isolated from society. The ideal time to isolate them would have been before the murder, of course, but our science can't quite predict violent criminal behavior just yet.

Ace Rimmer wrote:Sorry, I'm too lazy to follow up via email. :P Besides, plenty of other topics, which don't get derailed, turn in to garbage very quickly. :wink: I think we're safe, even from the future Defcon mod, whomever that might be. 8)


Yeah, cool with me.

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