Looking for some help critiquing my responses to a friend

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Looking for some help critiquing my responses to a friend

Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:47 pm

I'm going to copy and paste an email exchange into multiple posts here, so please bear with me...

Friend email 1:

I do not believe in the religious idea of a God personality, but more of a metaphysical idea of an all-encompassing universal Source (conscious "energy"). I think all religion misses the concept of our existence and I believe science misses the purpose of existence, but together, it paints a better picture of reality than either one alone.

I read in your profile that you're curious for truth. I don't claim I have truth, but I've written blogs trying to explain my beliefs of reality both in terms of science and religion that you might find an interesting point of view. In terms of science, I draw upon the fact that all matter is really just composed of energy and energy can never disappear or be destroyed, but only changes form. In terms of religion, I believe that our consciousness (mind/soul) is a portion of an infinite source of energy because I know I exist from the fact that I am conscious and I know that what I consider to be my individual body is composed of energy at the subatomic level. I do not attribute outward events such as miracles or acts or conditions to an external deity, but I do believe we as an individual and as a collective create reality through the manipulation of energy at an unconscious level (spiritually). When I use the term spiritual, it's not in the context of the religious idea that there is some separation between physical and non-physical. Rather, I use the term more as a description of having a certain frequency that is outside the perceptive capabilities of the body's senses (please see my blog entry titled We are spirit, we are energy for my explanation of this idea: http://simon-mlogs.blogspot.com/). There is a lot of scientific concepts that can be applied to spiritual principles, but the hurdle for acceptance is the idea that energy is conscious. My neuroscience background (I was a Cognitive Science major) teaches me that the mind is not an aspect of the physical brain because the brain's structure is too rigid to form differing thought patterns. The synaptic connections couldn't change fast enough to have creative thought at-will. If the brain was our mind, we would in fact be more like robots because the neuronal pathways would be relatively static (doesn't change quickly, if at all unless damaged) and could not sent thought patterns that differed from the last thought pattern. At an even deeper level, the brain functions as an input/output terminal. It itself cannot create input patterns as there is no mechanism for the creation of an electrical signal spontaneously while having order (a thought is not spontaneous, although you can have what *appears* to be spontaneous thought). You linked an article about why miracles cannot exist. But one thing that the argument lacks is the fact that we are limited by our perceptive abilities (our physical senses can only register specific ranges of sensory data). In other words, what you can't see doesn't mean something isn't there. I wouldn't define it as a miracle in the sense that it was something outside of our ability or control, but I wouldn't dismiss it as an illusion either as all experience is reality (people obviously experienced something), though the contents of that experience may be misinterpreted or colored by their belief system.

I do not believe the Christian theology is correctly interpreting the message of the bible (we do not need to be saved from damnation. Instead, the message of the Jesus, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mysticism, etc. is that the physical world is a temporary illusion relative to our immortal nature and we do not realize it because we are within that illusion using sensory organs that are specifically tailored towards this limited perspective, filtering out all other perceptions to experience life without bias) and that we exist for the purpose of education and that our bodies act as a regulator between thought and action (thought without the body would manifest itself as action instantly because a "thought" is just a concept/label we use for an energy pattern that became manifested, which we interpret as "thought").

Sorry if I'm blabbing on about my beliefs. I just believe agnostic/atheism is no different from religion because both assume limited possibilities rather than being open minded to unlimited possibilities. To say something can't be possible means you don't believe in change or new discovery, that you know everything now so you are sure that something isn't possible. Science exists because it helps us understand this reality we perceive, but it'll never understand things it cannot detect or perceive until they discover and understand it. The evidence of my belief is science: all matter is really just energy, whatever energy may be. If all matter is energy and I have consciousness, then energy is conscious because the only thing left of reality is my consciousness and energy. Until proven otherwise, they are one and the same. What I consider "God" is the infinite energy source, while the individual is a portion of that energy.
bollwerk
 
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:48 pm

My response 1:

For me, ultimately I want to know what is real and true. I've always been inquisitive and curious and I've found that the scientific method, along with logic and reason are the best tools we have for determining what is real.

Although I use the term "radical" in describing my atheism, it is more of a tongue-in-cheek use, in homage to Douglas Adams. I'm open to the possibility of the existence of a god, if sufficient evidence can be presented. As of yet, I've seen not a shred of evidence (in the scientific sense) for the existence of a god (or any "higher" power/consciousness/etc). Beyond that, all discussion about religious texts and beliefs is moot, if a god doesn't exist.

My first challenge is to your statement "I believe science misses the purpose of existence". Why does our existence need a purpose? Is it not possible that there is no purpose? To assume a purpose implies that there is a greater design, for which I can find no evidence to support.

I spent some time skimming over your blog posts, but there is a lot to read, so I haven't had the time to pore over them yet. However, I did read your post today about the existence of God and found what I believe is a major problem in your argument. Primarily it is that you redefine "God" to suit your argument. Sometimes you seem to be saying "God = everything" and other times "God = energy". When you do this, you essentially are just arguing semantics. Atheism is only a response to the assertions of the existence of a god as defined by theists (and deists, to a lesser degree). In other words, when you assert that God is either energy or everything (i.e. the universe), using the term God is no longer necessary (since it's just a synonym to you) and it makes the whole argument pointless (at least to me).

Your musings/posts/etc remind me a lot of Deepak Chopra. I don't know if this is a misunderstanding on my part, so I hope you'll forgive the comparison if it's not intentional. The main reason I see this similarity is because you both seem to take certain scientific ideas as a baseline and make extrapolations from them. Much of what you argue about neuroscience, energy and matter doesn't make much sense to me, but I'm not well versed on any of these subjects. But I do find it curious that you assert a few things in your recent blog post that imply that you understand science better than the experts in those fields (such as your comments about the big bang and science ignoring that "matter" is held together by energy). Maybe you have some evidence to back up those assertions. If so, I look forward to it. But I hope you will understand that I defer to experts in fields in which I'm not an expert myself.

Lastly, I think your statement about agnosticism/atheism being no different from religion might be based on incorrect definitions of those terms. To be clear, atheism is simply the lack of belief in a god. Nothing more. (A)gnosticism deals with the basis for such belief - in particular, knowledge. Agnostics believe that the knowledge of the existence of a god is impossible, whereas a Gnostic believes that it IS possible to know whether god exists or not. Therefore, one can be an Agnostic Atheist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist or Gnostic Theist. For more detail - http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php? ... ._agnostic

BTW, where do you get the idea that matter IS energy? I've never seen this anywhere in any scientific discussion.
Last edited by bollwerk on Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bollwerk
 
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:48 pm

Friend email 2:

First of all, I'll just say that in my belief, it makes no difference if you believe in anything I say or anything at all. It matters not because I believe what we know is limited and so our belief is based simply on that limited knowledge. This may sound like I'm saying I know more than you, but I assure you it is not my point. It is merely saying that each of our beliefs is only relevant in the sense that we live our lives based on that belief (belief creates your reality). Having said that, I'll get to answering your points.

Evidence for anything will always reside in your mind. If you believe god does not exist, then god does not exist. That is your proof. I say this because everything is a mental interpretation. What you see as being real is a symbol in your mind and that symbol has some meaning to you. What you believe will always be based on your interpretations and so what you see or don't see is how you interpret that information. So if you want proof, you will find proof. If you don't want proof, you will not find proof. Does that make sense? You will always find what you want to find. That is the nature of mind and reality. Again, belief creates your reality.

"Why does our existence need a purpose?" I assume you believe it does not have a purpose. Then I would ask what purpose does science have in existence? What purpose does love have in existence? The fact is these things exist and therefore they have purpose. It isn't that I am trying to put purpose to existence. Rather, it is the fact that we exist that is purposeful. If something had no purpose, it would not exist. The reason why I say that is because nothing would have action if it's action didn't do something or nothing would be noticed if it did not make itself noticeable. Does dirt have purpose? Or air? Or space? You say yes because its existence does something. Our existence has a purpose as well. The world does not revolve around our desires and wants. We are a part of the whole system and our existence has a purpose for the rest of existence beyond our egotistical view of the world. Give me an example of something without purpose and I will explain that what you deem as purposeless, it has purpose for others and therefore, there is purpose. I am saying purpose is not something I created or even that I am suggesting what that purpose is for everything, but rather the existence of something has created its own purpose. Like science, I just want to know. Purpose is one aspect of knowing, just as understanding is an aspect of knowing. Without purpose, there is no reason for its existence as it would not even be noticed. And therefore, it would not exist from the egotistical point of view.

How does one redefine "God" if no one can define "God" to begin with? "God" will always be an individual's concept. Hence the reason why proof, as some people desire it, will never exist because it is a personal concept. What I tried to do is define "God" so that we can have a discussion about proof using scientific terms. So in my blog, I described "God" as being energy. If you do not agree with that, then rather than argue that I'm changing the definition of "God", wouldn't it be more practical to argue what your concept of "God" is? To say "God" doesn't exist because I'm defining it different from your concept of "God" doesn't make sense. I never claimed I would prove your concept of "God". Hence the purpose of defining my concept of "God". If energy is everything physical, and I am saying God is energy, then God is also everything. A = B, B = C, A = C. The point of "God" isn't that it is a term, but that something describing a quality or character exists, that which is intelligent creator (again, not a personality). If you're saying intelligent creation cannot exist, then you're defining "God" as an intelligent creator. I'm saying energy is the creator and that it must have intelligence because it is able to overcome its own nature, to be static. Energy will always seek to be at equilibrium. And yet, we see existence of matter, which by Einstein's formula E=MC2, is energy. Matter is mass in space. Mass is energy divided by the square of the speed of light. The whole reason why the Cern super collider is working is to find the "God" particle, the Higgs Boson, which they want to prove as the dark matter, which is the mass that is "missing". This is why I said science is looking for matter, rather than understanding energy. Space exists because energy changed form into matter, which requires space, unlike energy.

I've never read any of Deepak's works, so I can't really say much about that. As far as implying I know better than scientific experts, that is not the case. I was saying that science is so focused on finding the components of matter that they seem to ignore that basic fact that matter is energy (I may be misinterpreting why they're looking for the Higgs Boson as matter), and they know nothing really about energy, yet. Quantum Mechanics is trying to understand, but not necessarily in terms of existence. At least that is my impression. I never suggested that I know more. I'm merely stating what is known in science to the best of my knowledge and if I'm wrong in understanding a certain scientific principle, then I need to be corrected. Having discussions with physicists on the subject of matter and reality, they do not argue that matter is not energy. There are many theories out there now that implies multiple dimension and possibilities beyond physical comprehension, so what I'm saying is not that far off from current theoretical physicist's ideas. But there are those scientists who are dogmatic about intelligence outside of the human form being inconceivable, just as there are religious people dogmatic about their beliefs of religion.

Whatever the different levels of belief may be and what they may be labeled as, is pretty irrelevant except to give your belief a name. For me, knowing if God exists or not is also irrelevant. God either does or does not exist and the only way anyone can prove it is if they can define it first. What is it that you consider God and do I have the same concept? If you, then no proof needed. If not, then until there is agreement on definition, then one cannot prove of its existence to the other. The bottom line is, we exist. Science tries to understand how the physical world operates. But as I mentioned in my blog, it will only understand that which is within the physical realm unless it looks beyond it. But science will not look beyond it because they do not accept anything outside that which is observable. So how does one proof something exists that doesn't exist? It is a dilemma, but one that is restricted by our strict and limited observations outside of mind (ie. our surroundings). Once you try to understand the mind, then all possibilities exist. Like I said, I studied cognitive science, which is the study of the thought process. I studied neuroscience, which is the physical structure of the brain, in order to understand how the mind works. It was clear to me during those courses that the brain is not the source of mind, no more than people's ideas that the heart is the source of love. Physical matter will never demonstrate non-physical attributes. Only non-physical concepts can demonstrate non-physical attributes. Where is the mind? What is it? If you can answer that, then you can answer if God exists. When you realize that what you perceive as being real is merely electrical signals to your brain, without the mind to give symbolic interpretations to those signals, you would not "know" what you are perceiving. You would only recognize that you receive an electrical signal.

Anyway, I am not trying to tell you what you need to believe. I gain no benefit and you do not lose any benefit from me "converting" you, assuming I come across that way. But from my perspective, again, any set belief of impossibilities, thesis', atheists or any other belief in a finite possibility, represent an egotistical view of the world as being one way only: that the truth has been found and no other truth exists outside of this. This has always been the case throughout man's history, when they do not understand something. It is either a mystery or it can't exist. How about it can exist and that we just don't understand how it can exist?
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:50 pm

My response 2:

Reading over your reply, I can't help but think we are, in a way, playing a game with different sets of rules, which makes it confusing and difficult to make any headway. When I use terms like evidence, proof and reality, I am trying my best to use those terms in the way that the majority of society, particularly scientists, define them.

For example, let's say I have a spoon in front of me. It should be common sense that this spoon exists whether or not I am there to perceive it. Evidence for the spoons existence is separate from my perception of it. In fact, if I were delusional, I might sincerely believe that the spoon is actually an elephant. This does not change the fact that the spoon is a spoon and we have many ways to verify it's existence from a scientific perspective. We can see it, touch it, perform experiments on it, etc...to verify it is actually a spoon. This is why I disagree with your assertion that proof/evidence will always reside in the mind. I argue that the proof/evidence is separate from our minds, although we can perceive that proof/evidence using our senses, which sends the data to our mind. In other words, I argue that reality is separate from our beliefs. Our beliefs may or may not be accurate about the reality around us. In fact, our mind is a very unreliable tool for determining what is real, for a number of reasons. This is one reason we need to rely on peer-review to be able to duplicate the results that scientists come up with during their work. In the same sense, I could be completely delusional about everything around me, but that does not invalidate what is actually real.

As for purpose, I think you may be confusing things a bit. You talk about humans having purposes for things around them, which is fine, but I was referring to a purpose for the existence of the universe itself (which would logically need to come from an intelligence outside the universe). I do not believe the universe itself has an inherent purpose, although we humans can, of course, give purpose to any number of things around us. i.e. To me, the purpose of a pizza is to "nourish" me and make me happy.

The definition of a God is ultimately up to the person asserting the existence of a God. Atheists do not assert the existence of any god. We simply are responding to the theists who assert that a God exists, whichever one it may be. I was only trying to make the point that you were using a different definition of God than what atheists are usually responding to. I've never seen any atheist claim that energy or the universe doesn't exist. Also, most atheists don't say that a God (in the theist/deist sense) cannot exist. Rather, they usually say that there isn't sufficient evidence to believe in one.

I would also argue that matter and energy are not the same. From my limited understanding of Einstein's famous formula, I was taught that the equation is used to determine how much energy is created from a certain amount of matter during a chemical reaction. In other words, the total amount of energy and matter in a closed system will always be the same, but you can convert one into the other by certain chemical reactions. It is worth noting that matter and mass are NOT equivalent terms. This is just from reading here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass%E2%80 ... quivalence - but I don't claim to be an expert. Most of it is way over my head. Current theories put the entire content of the universe at 72% dark energy, 23% dark matter and 4.6% atoms, according to wikipedia, which tells me that scientists consider matter and energy to be separate entities. In any case, it's all very interesting, but ultimately there is a lot we just don't yet understand, so I'm very wary of anyone who seems to claim scientists are either wrong or going in the wrong direction. Your statement "This is why I said science is looking for matter, rather than understanding energy" is an example of that, at least to me. I don't even really understand what that means, since science isn't a single entity and you don't provide links to any evidence that supports your assertion. =)

As for why they are searching for the Higgs Boson, I understand that it's just a matter of a theory (or various theories) proposing the existence of set of elementary particles, but only having found some of them and still looking for others. Some particles make up matter, while others carry force. Again though, the whole field is very complex and confusing to me, but it seems to me that the entire model of matter and energy is vastly more complex that either of us can hope to understand.

My limited research on how the mind and brain works has shown me that there is a direct correlation between damaging brain tissue and losing various mental faculties. This shows pretty compelling evidence that the mind is a product of the brain, although we clearly don't yet fully understand how it works. But the idea that the mind is a separate entity from the brain (or our body in general) doesn't have any scientific support that I can find. I found this during the course of my research, which you may find interesting - http://scholar.harvard.edu/pinker/files ... d_work.pdf
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:51 pm

Friend email 3:

You're probably feeling confused because maybe my words are not expressing my thoughts clearly.

If the mind is as unreliable as you say, then no scientific data or perception can be trusted because those things you consider standard was created by the same mind you call inaccurate. You will never have a basis for truth if the mind is inaccurate such that you cannot trust its interpretation. Now if someone's interpretation of something differs from yours or an accepted standard, why does that automatically mean the differing person is the one at fault? The world was flat to all but a few, and those few were the misfits, until the majority realized for themselves their own misinterpretation. In other words, what you believe to be accepted truth, is only because you have specific understanding or strongly held beliefs, but you cannot claim everyone has the same understanding such as the concept of scientifically accepted truths. It's only accepted until it is not, just as social norms are only norms until it is not. Just because you do not understand someone else's understanding, doesn't make them the delusional. In any case, if the mind is inaccurate, then even your understanding should be suspect because it is still your mind that perceives and interprets all data, both the physical environment and any instruments to measure with. As for reality vs. accepted reality, again, you believe what you see because everyone else sees the same thing. That doesn't mean it is reality. It simply means we all have the same instrument to measure what we perceive (the eyes, for example). But we all know the eyes are limited in its perceptive abilities. Hence the need for scientific instruments. But even then, you must interpret the information of the instruments and unlike the eyes, an instrument only displays what the creator wants to display. It is an interpretation of the instrument creator. BTW. This too is an example of the creative construction of the body, the purpose for the body's current condition is the same reason why scientific instruments are the way they are. It was designed that way. Why aren't non-living scientific instruments appearing by random chance through the billions of years, whether on this planet or in space or anywhere else for that matter? Or computers? Or even a knife? Why does all created things have specific qualities for life (sun, dirt, gravity, air, etc.) and not things like man-made goods, which is much simpler than living entities?

If you do not believe in a God, then of course you do not accept any purpose for your existence because you do not believe you were created, so explaining purpose from the point of view of creation was moot. So I chose to demonstrate that purpose exists even without your belief of a creator. Science is looking for purpose as well. Why does something have certain qualities? That is discovering purpose. But science does not look for purpose in creation as a whole, just as you are saying, because they cannot answer philosophical issues scientifically so they don't bother, not because there is no purpose. So to argue that purpose is not necessary for existence, then neither is purpose necessary for anything else. We don't need to understand anything, we don't need to enjoy anything, etc.. But you give purpose to something that was created, then why can't you yourself have a purpose, since you were created as well, whether randomly or intelligently? If there was no purpose for the pizza, then it wouldn't exist and you couldn't care enough to make it and it surely wouldn't just appear out of nowhere for you to enjoy or ignore. Even if it did randomly pop out of thin air, wouldn't you wonder "what is it and why is that there?" Choosing to believe there is no purpose is fine if you're fine with it. But you can't argue there is no purpose for existence as nothing would have meaning then and you just proved there is meaning to some things, at least, just as I was trying to prove there is meaning to things just by its existence.

Ok, so if you're saying a God of any description could exist, but you are not convinced yet, then what difference does definition make? What I was trying to do is say that what science calls energy, the religious call spirit. So if they can be described and characterized as equivalents, then spirit can be called energy and God is both, just using different terminology to explain the same phenomenon. You're not saying terminology makes proof impossible, are you?

If matter and mass are different, then where is mass within matter? Without matter, you have no mass. Without mass, you have no matter. What's the matter? :) Look at the periodic chart. It shows the components of matter. An atom is a nucleus and electrons. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom ) They are energy particles. Science doesn't know what energy particle is (I don't either). They only observe a charge to them. They don't understand how, but they just know it. These atomic particles has mass. That is why Einstein's formula works. The bonds that hold the atom together is the energy component. I believe the dark matter that science is looking for is the mass of the energy itself that bonds the particles since I believe even the charged particles are simply a form of energy, not simply the particles themselves, and they have mass. Because they cannot observe the electromagnetic force of the energy, they are searching for the missing mass as another particle.

I don't think arguing that my descriptions of science is suspect because you think I'm claiming more knowledge than the experts, is a reason to reject my point. That's like saying "I don't think the messenger is a messenger so I'll ignore the message". If what I am saying is wrong, then simply respond to it with counter arguments of fact to correct it and explain why my use of science is wrong. If you do not know what I'm saying, then it probably would be worthwhile to look into it. Who knows, there could be some information to help formulate your beliefs differently. That's the whole point of my argument. Without knowledge and understanding, you're creating a belief that may be incomplete, just as those who worshipped the Sun because they believed it was a god. Belief that a god does not exist is no different. Your argument is that having no belief is not having a belief. But if you think about it, belief that something isn't is not the same thing as not having a belief. You are claiming a belief, that god does not exist because no proof exists. That is a belief. Having no belief is saying "I don't have an opinion either way".

So, a damaged brain demonstrates a reduced mental facility. How does that prove the mind is the brain? If my computer's cpu was damaged, the computer wouldn't work, but my code is still intact. Nothing about my software was damaged. It will continue to operate logically, once the cpu is repaired. This is the same concept. The brain is a facilitator for input/output between the mind and the body. If that facilitator is damaged, there is reduced ability to communicate between the mind and the body, thus demonstrating reduced mental facility. I skimmed through that paper, but it is equating mind and brain, which is the typical belief. I am claiming they are separate and distinct, just as a computer CPU is only a facilitator of the software, which gives the CPU the appearance of intelligence. But I as the programmer created the software and gave it logical operation using the facilities of the CPU. The mind uses the brain's facilities to manipulate the body and its environment. It knows its environment because of the sensory inputs.

I'm trying to explain things using my limited scientific knowledge because I avoid using feeling and emotions as a reason for belief. I find that illogical as an argument. So the crux of my argument is that matter is composed of energy. If you don't believe it, ask any physicist. Chemical reactions does not describe matter. It only describes changing molecular structures, not atomic structures. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to whether one wants to find the truth, or they want to defend their truth, or they don't care. Like I said, it doesn't hurt me or you to believe one way or another. But it does affect your reality upon death. Not in terms of punishment, but in terms of what your experience will be like after the body. If I am right, and the mind is distinct from the body, then your mind will continue to operate and it will receive sensory data that is beyond the physical. You will experience whatever your mind interprets from that sensory data, no longer filtered by the 5 senses. This is what I believe, which is why I talk about it.
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:51 pm

My response 3:

I should have been more clear in explaining what I meant by the mind being unreliable. What I should have said was that each single person's mind is prone to bias and inaccuracies, which is why it is so important in science to have peer-review of research. Remember the cold fusion claim? There are many examples throughout the history of science where one person or group have had their claims shown to be erroneous in some way by the scientific community. But when multiple people or groups can come to the same conclusion independently, this increases our degree of certainty that something is real or true. I don't know how to make it any more clear than that. If you disagree with this, then you disagree with how science works as a whole. Until we know of a better tool that science for determining what is real and true, I will continue to rely on it.

Science as a whole can to erroneous conclusions, but it is always open to being wrong and changing it's conclusions based on new data, such as your flat earth example. Science isn't so much about proving things as it is about having a high degree of certainty. But the only way to show current conclusions to be wrong is through the scientific method. I see you making assertions about reality, the universe and the like, but I have yet to see any scientific evidence to support your assertions, unless I'm missing something.

I disagree with your assertion that science is looking for purpose, unless we are maybe using different definitions of "purpose". The role of science is to understand HOW the universe works and/or came to be. It is worth noting that science is based on a set of 3 basic assumptions:
(1) that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers;
(2) that this objective reality is governed by natural laws;
(3) that these laws can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.
If we do NOT all share the same objective reality, then science is pointless and any discussion about what is real is also pointless, since there would be no objective way to determine what is real.

You also seem to still be conflating personal meaning (for the universe or it's parts) with an overall "outside" meaning. Just because I give meaning to an object does not mean there is an overall "outside" meaning that is universal and beyond human meaning. But ultimately, this is outside the realm of science, since it isn't something you can test, per se. It's more of a logic question, which makes my brain hurt. So I won't spend any more time on it. =)

You assert that "what science calls energy, the religious call spirit". This makes absolutely no sense to me, but I'm not religious, so your assertion would have to be refuted by religious people. Some may agree and some may disagree, but I think it's inaccurate to make such a broad generalization about the beliefs of millions.

As for mass, matter, energy and all that ... You're asking me questions that are way beyond my level of expertise. All I can do is quote wikipedia on this sort of thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass-energy_equivalence - Read the paragraph just below the equation to see why matter and mass are not the same.

I believe you are also incorrect in your assertion about energy particles. We have, in fact, discovered and observed some (but not all) of them. Force (energy) is carried by Gluons, W&Z Bosons and Photons. On the other hand, matter is made up of Quarks and Leptons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_particle

As for my belief / non-belief in a God, I treat the various God claims the same way I treat fairies, leprechauns, unicorns, etc... Until I see scientific (testable, repeatable, falsifiable) evidence of their existence, I see no reason to believe they exist.

You are welcome to continue claiming that the mind and brain are separate, but unless you can show me some scientific evidence to support the claim, why should I believe you over the scientists who are experts in the field? You may want to read the paper in more detail, since it directly addresses the argument that the mind is "code" running on the brain (cpu).

Like you, I am searching for truth. I am relying on science, logic and reason, since those are the best tools we have for determining what is true and real. I am always open to new points of view and changing my mind about anything, but I require evidence (repeatable, testable, falsifiable) to be convinced.
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:52 pm

Friend email 4:

I get the feeling you're reading things into my words that I'm not saying. I understand your point regarding bias and inaccuracies. I described that as "interpretation". I do not disagree that there can be misinterpretation, but my point is that it alone is not cause for inaccuracy, but rather the lack of information, which you also agreed with by basically saying science is trying to find answers to questions. The more you know, the less inaccurate your interpretations.

I think the difference of point of view for purpose is that you're denying purpose from the point of view of the species, while I'm talking about purpose from a structural point of view in order to demonstrate that if something has purpose at a lower level, then there COULD be purpose at a higher level. To say purpose does not exist at a higher level, but it can at lower levels is illogical to me. Whenever there are exceptions to a rule, it is usually because of a lack of complete understanding. It has nothing to do with putting personal meaning to anything. In science, discovery means you find something new. In order to understand it, you must know not just how something works, but also why it is there in order to have context for the question of "how". It seems you are focused on only one aspect of scientific knowledge. Knowing how a blood cell works has no meaning if you did not discover it's purpose within the circulatory system. Read any science text and it'll put the knowledge in context, which answers the purpose for that understanding. As an example, in order to know how something has mass, you have to wonder why something has mass in the first place to even care about learning how. This isn't personal meaning as a philosophical point view. I'm not trying to ponder the grand scheme of why things are. This is trying to understand everything about what it is you want to know. You're arguing that existence has no meaning as a whole, but people can create purpose. I'm arguing purpose exists and that is why things are the way they are. You cannot convince me that blood just exists with no purpose. We know, through science, it's purpose, not just how it works. Early man knew nothing about why there was blood, let alone how it worked. Science discovered what blood is for (its purpose for existing), and thus sought to understand how it works.

If you were born 3000 years ago, you wouldn't know what the word "energy" means. But you will call it spirit. The point I'm saying is what science calls "energy" today can be described as "spirit" then and people still do. If you don't agree that they can be synonymous, that's your choice, even though they are both man-made terms. But neither the religious nor the scientific can explain spirit or energy, except to say that each camp believes they exist, they are integral to life, and that they do not disappear. It matters not what millions used to believe, if there is new knowledge. Arguing that millions accepting something makes it true is like saying "everyone knows that the earth is flat". If the religious want to believe that dinosaurs do not exist because it's not in the bible, that's their choice to ignore new discoveries and understandings.

Reread what I said about energy and matter. I never said mass is energy. I said matter is energy and that energy provides mass. "Mass–energy equivalence does not imply that mass may be "converted" to energy, but it allows for matter to be converted to energy. Through all such conversions, mass remains conserved, since it is a property of matter and any type of energy" The next sentence basically said what I said, that conservation of energy states that when matter is deconstructed, it returns to energy and that mass remains conserved because energy has mass. I understand your point, that there is no scientific proof that matter's components are energy. But I extrapolate this based on what I know of matter and energy, which I describe in the paragraph below.

Your argument that energy IS matter is not proven or accepted (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter, see last section Smaller Building Blocks?). Science knows matter is held together by energy, not that energy is matter. What you're talking about is charged particles, which has electrical properties, but is not considered energy by science (yet). It is a component of the building block of matter. But they too can be further divided. In order to understand what matter is made of, they continue to find each new smaller particle's components. And no matter how much smaller science looks into the sub atomic particles, they will detected what they consider a "particle" just as small as their instruments can detect. That is because of the infinite quality of electromagnetic frequency. Frequency goes to infinity. Gamma ray particles are at a specific frequency and they observed it. But then they went smaller and smaller and smaller. And as they continue, they'll just be looking higher and higher at the spectrum. If you take this further logically, you can understand why I am suggesting that matter does not exist, but only energy as the building blocks of matter. Energy has mass, as is stated in that wiki. So where does matter get its mass from? "matter was seen as made up of electrons, protons and neutrons interacting to form atoms. Today, we know that even protons and neutrons are not indivisible" Look at quantum mechanics. They do not have consensus that electrons are particles, but rather an observation that behaves like a particle because they think they observe it and as a wave (http://www.pbs.org/transistor/science/info/quantum.html). As I mentioned before, science need to determine if particles exist at all, which may happen when they know what energy is.

So the whole point is that physical existence does not exist. Rather it is the fundamental aspect of our perceptive senses of the body and the interpretation of the mind that creates reality. As you pointed out, the mind can misinterpret, but you ignored my point that if the mind can misinterpret, then your physical notion of reality can be wrong. This goes for the masses because we all have the same physiological structure. I'm trying to explain that if you understand matter is energy, then you will understand that everything is just energy at different frequencies and that what you describe as perception (sight, touch, smell, etc.) are all simply electrical signals to the brain. If you don't accept this, then just do some very rudimentary study of biology, physics and chemistry. You don't need scientific studies. It's already been done. But the hurdle will come, if you accept that there is only energy, when you must determine what is mind, then. This may answer if science can prove there is an overarching intelligent consciousness called "God".
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:53 pm

My response 4:

Perhaps I misunderstood your meaning of purpose. I completely agree that something like a red blood cell has a purpose. It's purpose is to deliver oxygen to tissues. But I don't automatically assume that every single object, down to the most elementary particle has a purpose. Maybe everything has a purpose. I simply don't know. But I have never seen any reason to believe that the purpose of anything comes from any sort of intelligence outside of our own. In other words, just because something has a purpose does not imply an outside entity or being gave it purpose. Perhaps you were not intending to mean that, but that is what I read into it. My apologies is that was not intended.

I don't see why it is illogical to think that purpose can exist at some levels, but not all. There is no rule I know of that governs purpose.

I contend that energy and spirit are not the same, given the modern definitions of these words. Spirit has a supernatural meaning. Energy does not. I see no evidence to believe that anything supernatural exists, whether it be the soul, or ghosts, or a god. It is possible that any or all of these may exist, but until I see scientific evidence showing their existence, it is not logical for me to believe they exist.

Your assertions regarding matter and energy seem to take what we know and make unfounded (and untestable) extrapolations beyond into pure speculation. I don't see how you can make such a giant (to me) leap without any evidence. To say that "physical existence does not exist" seems simply absurd nonsense to me, particularly without any evidence to support that assertion. I mean no offense. I just don't see how we can make any headway on this topic without any evidence.

I did not ignore your point about the mind being able to misinterpret. The point I made regarding this is that we need other, outside, objective (as far as is possible) sources to corroborate what we perceive as being real or true. This is what I was referring to when I spoke about science having a higher degree of certainty when you have more and more independent groups or people coming to the same conclusions independent of each other, based on the available evidence.

Even if you are correct in saying matter is energy, I don't see how this proves any existence of any overarching intelligent consciousness of any kind. There is absolutely no evidence that the consciousness of any living thing is connected to any other. All current evidence seems to lead us to believe each living thing's mind/brain/consciousness is like an island.
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:53 pm

Friend email 5:

We'll leave purpose alone as it stands. There's no point if you do not believe intelligent consciousness can exist outside of physical reality. Although I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for why random chance has never produced a complex mechanical object such as a watch. Instead, only very complex structures randomly happened by chance and not even a non-working watch, let alone a working one (as compared to living vs. non-living)! If you know anything about nuclear reactions, you'd understand how hard to believe matter from nothing could occur, as all atomic reactions require mass amounts of energy and very specific and accurate timing. For energy to gather as such is physically impossible, hence why theoretical physicists are now coming up with alternative explanations for the Big Bang such as String Theory, but even those do not explain why there is energy motion simply existing.

If something follows a pattern, then it is following some rules or laws. You may not know it, but it must be following some laws if there is a pattern in nature. This is a known fact, which is why we define things that follows a pattern strictly as laws of science. If something in nature has purpose, then there is a rule or law that it is following. You can see it in the difference between living and non-living organisms. The law of nature says living organisms consume in order to stay alive. Because of this, the purpose for specific aspects of creation exists, such as the food chain. Now there may be things with no further purpose, but evolution typically removed such qualities from existence. No purpose, no need.

Saying energy and spirit are not the same because they have different meanings doesn't make any sense. I can say Sun and God and people would understand that at one point in time, people believed they were one and the same. Today, they may not accept that, but to say one cannot associate a word to represent another is an invalid counter argument. Regarding scientific evidence, is there scientific evidence to explain all the universe's mysteries with 100% accuracy? If not, then can you really say it's illogical to believe in something, when there is no scientific evidence against it either? To claim something exists without evidence is no different from claiming something cannot exist without evidence. To say there is no evidence, therefore it is unlikely is making a claim without proof. If there is no evidence, then no claim can be made at all. You can believe it, but you can't argue your point is somehow more correct.

Regarding outside sources for corroboration, you're still not address the issue that mass acceptance is not a basis for fact. You can have the smartest people in the world together, and they may come to a consensus, but it still doesn't make something fact. It is simply an agreement of consensus. The world all followed some kind of religion before modern man. Now man no longer needs to believe in religion because they "understand" a little about nature. Since they don't really know much, can you really say science knows what is fact for you to have confidence that something cannot be fact, especially with no evidence for either argument? This is what makes atheism no different than theism, a claim of belief without proof acceptable by the other. The other fallacy is that only those who make a claim of existence has the burden of proof. That's a straw man argument for saying belief on the contrary needs no proof because no claim is made, except they are making a claim, that something cannot exist. I keep bringing this up because you're not seeing the point, but the whole "flat world" society issue was that people could not see beyond a certain point and so assumed nothing could exist. It wasn't until they discovered the truth did they realize the error of their conclusions.

"Also, if God is energy (as you describe), wouldn't that mean he/she/it came into existence when the universe did?"
If God is energy, and the law of thermodynamic states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, wouldn't that answer your question? If energy cannot be created or destroyed, then it simply exists. And since it is not physical, it doesn't need to be created. No can detect energy. They can only detect the effects of energy. To me, that describes one aspect of God, eternal and infinite.

There are evidence to the contrary, but you probably will choose not to accept it. There's been many documented cases on twins having telepathic sensitivities, people with ESP perceptions, etc. But because you do not experience it, you reject it, the same way any skeptic does and the basis for rejecting it is nearly always the argument of lack of scientific proof, as if science has tried it all and knows it all. Claiming something can't be possible because you do not trust the source is also an invalid argument as that is no proof of impossibility, just as the "commonly accepted" argument is no proof (once again, see "flat earth society").

Anyway, I would suggest you read some more about quantum mechanics and cognitive science. There's much that is unknown, but what little that is known, paints a pretty interesting picture of reality that was not the accepted belief even a few decades ago. The whole field of quantum mechanics came about because science discovered that what was known at the time to be an atomic particle was not really the basic material of matter, that they can be broken down even more. Anyone can see the conclusion from this. If what people thought was the end of the road, suddenly turned out to not be, then chances are there's no guarantee that their new conclusion is the end of the story either. It isn't my jumping to conclusions. I'm not claiming some law is incorrect. Without hypothesis, you wouldn't know what to research. It is simply a natural progress of science, to understand some, and to look for more.
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:54 pm

My response 5:

I give up. We clearly cannot agree on even the most basic rules or definitions.
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Postby bollwerk » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:54 pm

Anyone care to comment on what I could do better? Or where I went wrong?
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equivocation

Postby dobbie » Fri Jan 13, 2012 3:00 am

I see too many metaphysical claims in the arguments of “Friend email.â€
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there's a lot of miscommunication there

Postby dobbie » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:15 am

Friend email 3:
so if you're saying a God of any description could exist, but you are not convinced yet, then what difference does definition make?
Friend email 3 has got it backwards. The theist puts on the table a definition or view for the existence of a God. The skeptic examines it. That’s the name of the game. It’s a matter of definition and evidence to back it up with, that’s the name of the game and always has been. Logic alone isn’t enough; it must come with evidence, too.

What I was trying to do is say that what science calls energy, the religious call spirit.
Nuh-uh. That claim is just way too general and far out. Electricity, for example, isn’t a spirit even for the religious. However, often an unknown cause is a spirit for the religious. For example, if the religious don’t understand what makes lightning, they will likely claim that a god-spirit makes it.

You are claiming a belief, that god does not exist because no proof exists. That is a belief.
That’s true, the atheist believes a particular God doesn’t exist when there’s no proof yet. The atheist can always have some reservations, though, and have a change of mind if some kind of proof comes along. “Friend email 3â€
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Re: equivocation

Postby DjVortex » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:24 am

dobbie wrote:
science is so focused on finding the components of matter that they seem to ignore that basic fact that matter is energy (I may be misinterpreting why they're looking for the Higgs Boson as matter), and they know nothing really about energy, yet.
Well, if nobody knows nothing about it, nothing can be said, except to make speculations, such as about God and “consciousness energy.â€
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Re: equivocation

Postby bollwerk » Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:38 pm

I pointed my friend here and he is awaiting access approval. Meanwhile, I will post his new responses he emailed me.

DjVortex wrote:I find it both amusing and sad how so many theists (and other similar people) try to use science to argue for their belief system, without understanding that science at all. Extremely rarely do they have any kind of degree, or even personal experience, in that particular field of science, and they only have a vague understanding of the "popular science" version of said field (which is more often than not an extremely poor way of fully understanding it). Thus they will spout null statements like "science is so focused on finding the components of matter that they seem to ignore that basic fact that matter is energy" which is meaningless and nonsensical, and without even understanding the subject at all.


"This is a "counter-argument"? Instead of explaining, from their own knowledge of science why the argument is wrong or if they don't know, stay out of it, they just attack the person, as if they know something about that person. I hope this isn't the kind of position you hold to, whereby attacking the person is the only defense for your position."

DjVortex wrote:I like how so many of these people use the word "satisfactory". It's more honest than saying "science has no explanation for this" (the word "satisfactory" in between softens the statement, acknowledging that science does indeed offer explanations, just not any that would convince this person). What these people don't realize is that by using this expression they are indirectly implying that there are indeed explanations, but they personally don't find them "satisfactory". This personal opinion is very often colored by biases and personal beliefs, and they don't even realize that.

I have an extremely simple answer to why we don't expect a watch found on the beach to have appeared by itself: The watch is not self-replicating.

(Of course explaining that answer requires significantly more prose than I'm willing to write here now, but I think you all know that info anyways, so there's no need.)


"Wow. That's all I can say about the explanation. "not self-replicating" is the explanation for why random chance does not create a watch (whether on the beach or in the forest, or in the air). Hmm...Ok. So self-replicating things just came about by replicating itself into existence before it randomly existed at all. And a non-self-replicating thing can't exist randomly because it didn't replicate itself. Seriously?

As for the use of the term "satisfactory", the argument for atheism is that no evidence exists to "satisfactorily" prove the existence of a god. If the proof was not "satisfactory", then one does not believe that god exists. Perfectly makes sense to me. Unless he/she is saying that any evidence, whether satisfactory to that person or not, is good enough, then he/she should believe in a god by now. Otherwise, nothing will be acceptable as proof since that person cannot be satisfied."
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