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God question

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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    Actually when it comes to philosphical matters I find it more rewarding to come to my own (usually malformed) conclusions than jump into a book and get those conclusions for free, but in the end I will probably succumb and read
    Nietzsche did not want disciples, and I am not one. But he did want friends, and I am one.

    Check out his explosive "The Antichrist" - it's dynamite.
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    (Original post by Sanctus)
    The concept of free will is, to my mind, a very naive and, at best, simplistic concept, one which totally disregards the existence of the natural subconscious. In essence, the existence of the subconscious mind not only makes things more complicated but actually makes the concept of free will illegitimate. For one to have free will – i.e. a will that is free – one cannot have a genetic nature. This is why, for example, Sartre was forced to reject the idea of ‘human nature’ in order to affirm his philosophy of free choice – if, as Sartre correctly says, we have a nature, how can the will be free from it?

    It really is simple common sense. All humans between the ages of 9 to 13 start puberty. Did they use their “free will” to “choose” puberty? Of course not – it’s genetically predetermined. In a similar fashion most – perhaps all – of our thoughts are not authored by our conscious selfs or wills but, rather, are the end product of a long chain of processes in the subconscious. Thoughts and feelings arise autonomously regardless of our will. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Try not to think. You will soon find thoughts coming to and fro totally independently of your will to not think.

    The concept of free will, as Nietzsche correctly noted, started in Christianity, in the fourth century by the Church Fathers, to justify the concept of eternal damnation. God, so they figured, cant hold man responsible for his acts unless he freely choose them, hence the dogma of free will.

    Pre-Christian Greek philosophers were at one in saying the will was not totally free. Buddhism, which has the deepest and clearest understanding of the mind out of all the religions of the world, teaches that the self or will was an illusion, that thoughts arise by themselves etc etc. By training the mind we can pacify it, dissolving the illusions and realising the true nature of the mind. Free will – the will at one with the whole body – therefore is what we can aim for, but not what we are born with.
    I would beg to differ, the idea of human nature is distinct from the idea of the mind. We may very well follow down a path of determinism for instinct (human nature) and bodily functions, however can we really apply this same idea of cause and effect to the mind? The mind is not something that we can apply physical factors into decicding which course of action 'it' will take.

    You also speak of the subconscious, you will find (I think) this is merely a theortical concept made up by psycologists to help explain things.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    Leaving aside the paradoxes of omnipotence (can an omnipotent god make a weight too heavy for it to lift? Whether it can or if it can't, it's not omnipotent)
    I fail to see a paradox....'A being whoses power is sufficient to lift anything not being able to lift a rock' - the proposition is a logical contradiction.

    For anyone that cares here is the part of my revision notes for this...
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    (Original post by blissy)
    To someone like me, that sounds really silly. I know people don't like hearing "evangelical" things, but I have really experienced some things in my time and God was the source. Please suspend your disbelief (not you personally Weejimmie, everyone), I don't understand completely how people can totally refute God in a similar way. I just don't want this to spiral into a digression about experiences/shrouds/miracles/what-have-you
    It is not refuting. God is a nonrefutable (and unprovable) hypothesis. I was- as we all were- asked what I thought, so i said it. If you will- can- suspend your belief, I will try to suspend my disbelief.
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    (Original post by corey)
    I would beg to differ, the idea of human nature is distinct from the idea of the mind. We may very well follow down a path of determinism for instinct (human nature) and bodily functions, however can we really apply this same idea of cause and effect to the mind? The mind is not something that we can apply physical factors into decicding which course of action 'it' will take.

    You also speak of the subconscious, you will find (I think) this is merely a theortical concept made up by psycologists to help explain things.
    Corey, your argument seems to be based, if I am not wrong, on a Cartesian paradigm. If one follows this paradigm then, yes, the body and mind are separate and so, hypothetical, the body can be programmed but the mind free. But, of course, we then have all those classical problems of Cartesian dualism, which we do not need to rehearse here.

    I neither hold to Cartesian dualism nor the reductionist approach that all is simple matter. For me, both mind and body affect each other.

    As for the issue of the subconscious, the only significant thinker to question the subconscious was Sartre. And Sartre, of course, was Cartesian.
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    (Original post by corey)
    I fail to see a paradox....'A being whoses power is sufficient to lift anything not being able to lift a rock' - the proposition is a logical contradiction.
    Precisely. Then so is omnipotence.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    Precisely.
    Are you saying God can do the logically impossible?
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    (Original post by Sanctus)
    Corey, your argument seems to be based, if I am not wrong, on a Cartesian paradigm. If one follows this paradigm then, yes, the body and mind are separate and so, hypothetical, the body can be programmed but the mind free. But, of course, we then have all those classical problems of Cartesian dualism, which we do not need to rehearse here.

    I neither hold to Cartesian dualism nor the reductionist approach that all is simple matter. For me, both mind and body affect each other.

    As for the issue of the subconscious, the only significant thinker to question the subconscious was Sartre. And Sartre, of course, was Cartesian.
    I do not claim that the mind could exist without the body for all evidence suggests it cannot. I am making the claim that they are distinct and we cannot apply such physicalist factors into a dicussion about free will onto the mind.
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    (Original post by corey)
    I would beg to differ, the idea of human nature is distinct from the idea of the mind. We may very well follow down a path of determinism for instinct (human nature) and bodily functions, however can we really apply this same idea of cause and effect to the mind? The mind is not something that we can apply physical factors into decicding which course of action 'it' will take.

    You also speak of the subconscious, you will find (I think) this is merely a theortical concept made up by psycologists to help explain things.
    In addition, the concept of the unconscious has been in philosophy for at least 400 years. The ancients, too, were aware that many of their actions were controlled by unseen forces - what they called "demons of lust" we can "genetic nature for reproduction"; what they called "the unseen world" or "heaven" where forces influence our lives we call "the collective unconscious".

    Even in the Bible there are references to what we today call the subconscious. Paul, for example, in Romans chapter 7 spoke of an unseen law within his flesh taking him captive against his will, forcing him to sin. Today we would simply say his subconscious drive for sex has flooded his consciousness.
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    (Original post by corey)
    I do not claim that the mind could exist without the body for all evidence suggests it cannot. I am making the claim that they are distinct and we cannot apply such physicalist factors into a dicussion about free will onto the mind.
    You are claiming they do not influence each other, that they are "distinct" which, to my mind, is nonsense. For example, the drive to reproduction is built into my DNA. Through various chemical processes that drive enters into the threshold of my consciousness. It's the same for food. I don't sit there and think "I shall be hungry" - the body sends messages into my conscious mind that "I am hungry".
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    I've just figured out who you are, welcome back.
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    (Original post by Sanctus)
    You are claiming they do not influence each other, that they are "distinct" which, to my mind, is nonsense. For example, the drive to reproduction is built into my DNA. Through various chemical processes that drive enters into the threshold of my consciousness. It's the same for food. I don't sit there and think "I shall be hungry" - the body sends messages into my conscious mind that "I am hungry".
    I have realised who you are also : good to have some more philosophical inclined people back! Anyway, before you crush me ...

    How can we apply the concepts of 'hunger' and 'desire' into a purely physical object...surely there must be something distinct..if you see what I mean?
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    (Original post by corey)
    I have realised who you are also : good to have some more philosophical inclined people back! Anyway, before you crush me ...

    How can we apply the concepts of 'hunger' and 'desire' into a purely physical object...surely there must be something distinct..if you see what I mean?
    I can see where you’re coming from. How can a planet feel pain, or a stone hunger? They cannot, but we humans can. We have consciousness, they do not. Does that mean consciousness is different from simple matter? Of course. The question is whether mind came from matter and is connected with it.

    I believe that the mind v matter dualism, with all its well-known problems, has resulted from a lack of empiricism. If we were to take humans and rocks as our only examples then, yes, it does seem that mind and matter are not connected – man and rocks are so different – mind may well be an extra substance, unconnected with matter.

    However, we must take other forms of life into consideration for a fuller picture – microbes, bacteria, plants, insects, mammals. These are the bridge between rocks and man. With this empirical data we can begin to see how conscious mind did evolve from non-conscious matter. When speaking of the mind we must remember that for billions of years mind has existed completely without consciousness – the conscious, aware mind is a relatively recent development in evolutionary terms, and is at a very infant stage. Look at our fellow mammals – their consciousness is far less evolved than ours. If they look in the mirror many of them are not conscious of their reflection. And humanity is till very much a creature of habit, completely unconscious of the drives that control it.

    So, the reality is that it’s not a simple case of mind v matter. There are many degrees and forms of matter, many degrees and forms of unconscious mind, and many degrees and forms of consciousness. And who knows what’s after consciousness? To hold to a human consciousness OR atoms as the two fundamental substances of the universe is a bit like formulating an image or concept of God in human terms – e.g. “God is just, angry, love, has a white beard” etc etc. In other words, it’s taking our present stage of evolution – just one species on a small planet at one point in time, in one star system in a galaxy with billions of them, in a universe with trillions of galaxies, in a multiverse with perhaps an infinite number of universes - and projecting it onto a eternal and infinite stage of the existence and saying “this is a core substance of the universe”.
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    (Original post by corey)
    Are you saying God can do the logically impossible?
    No. As far as I am concerned "god" is a vague hypothesis. Many people who assume this hypothesis is true also believe that "god" is omnipotent. Either the logical paradox contradicts this belief, or "god" is so omnipotent that it can do two mutually opposing things.
Updated: April 14, 2004
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