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ishmael
11-10-2017, 11:44 AM
...at our current stage of evolution?

All the talk about belief in God got me thinking about the limits of the knowable. I think many who are staunch atheists are caught in images of God that our outdated. The great all powerful cosmic goof directly responsible for what happens. Sort of an uber Santa, making a list of who's naughty and nice, and meting out punishments and rewards. An image which is absurd. An absurdity in which I find I'm in complete agreement with my atheist friends.

Back to my question. We've made these incredible strides toward understanding how things work. We continue to make them, minute by minute it seems. But are there limits to the knowable? Are there some things that are simply outside the grasp of the rational mind? What do you see them as?

TomF
11-10-2017, 11:46 AM
I think that we're finite beings, hobbled by living our lives in a very few of the possible dimensions that physicists posit might exist. Lots of scope for the un-knowable, and permanently so.

Norman Bernstein
11-10-2017, 11:52 AM
Back to my question. We've made these incredible strides toward understanding how things work. We continue to make them, minute by minute it seems. But are there limits to the knowable? Are there some things that are simply outside the grasp of the rational mind? What do you see them as?

Yes, I believe there are indeed limits to what is knowable... despite the fact that we 'know' more and more as civilization advances.

The more critical question, IMHO, is whether one can be satisfied by accepting that there are things which are unknowable. I'm perfectly OK with not knowing things that civilization doesn't currently know... others are not.

I believe that faith exists, and has always existed, as a way of dealing with the unknowable... faith provides answers to the unknowable.. but only, for those for whom faith is a satisfactory substitute. Faith isn't knowledge... it's a way of dealing with lack of knowledge.

amish rob
11-10-2017, 11:54 AM
I donít know...

Peace,
Robert

TomF
11-10-2017, 11:56 AM
I don’t know...

Peace,
RobertWinner! We have a winner!

Tom Montgomery
11-10-2017, 11:58 AM
No, I do not think there are things that are unknowable. I do think there are an immeasurable number of things we do not presently know. I think that will always be so. I am OK with that.

If there is a god she loves mathematics.

Keith Wilson
11-10-2017, 11:59 AM
I don't know whether there are things that are 'inherently unknowable' or not. :d That's actually a serious answer. I really don't, nor do I know how I'd even figure out if something were inherently unknowable, or just something we don't know right now. However, I'm very sure that there's an enormous amount of stuff we don't know, and one of the standard ways we get into trouble is to think we know something we really don't.

stromborg
11-10-2017, 12:02 PM
I think many who are staunch atheists are caught in images of God that our outdated.

What makes you think the atheists are the ones with an outdated point of view? How many religions have there been over the span of humanity? Monotheism is a relative newcomer and is certainly not the only way of seeking a supernatural explanation for the world.

Is there an end to what we can know? I don't know and who cares? The point is to keep searching.

ERGR
11-10-2017, 12:05 PM
I have a suspicion that it's theoretically impossible for us to fully understand ourselves. I don' t have any idea how to prove it though. /Erik

paulf
11-10-2017, 12:06 PM
That's why I prefer to be Agnostic rather than Atheist, Like Rob, I just don't know.

For a being that lives less than 100 years in most cases wrapping your head around "eternity" is a tall order. You can say the word, grasp the definition, but truly understand is a big stretch.

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 12:30 PM
We can never know what is on the other side of the Background Cosmic Radiation or 46.5billion light years away.

paulf
11-10-2017, 12:35 PM
We can never know what is on the other side of the Background Cosmic Radiation or 46.5billion light years away.

In a way we are in a bubble, we can't punch out that far without seeing the back of our heads. But I'm sure there is something on the other side..and on the other side of that...and so on.

ron ll
11-10-2017, 12:36 PM
The only thing that is unknowable is "what is unknowable?".

ron ll
11-10-2017, 12:40 PM
I think many who are staunch atheists are caught in images of God that our outdated.

With all due respect Jack, that is condescending as hell.

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 12:43 PM
With all due respect Jack, that is condescending as hell.

It is also a tad silly. Atheists are certain that god does not exist, so to suggest that we have an image of nothing is daft.

Norman Bernstein
11-10-2017, 12:49 PM
That's why I prefer to be Agnostic rather than Atheist, Like Rob, I just don't know.

Exactly, Paul... I feel the same way. Atheists are no more capable of defending their beliefs, than religious folks... atheists profess faith, not knowledge.

Agnostics, conversely, are perfectly OK with saying 'I don't know', to the questions which don't have answers.

TomF
11-10-2017, 12:49 PM
I am well and legitimately convinced that sparkly unicorns don't exist. I would be wrong to conclude the same is true of zebras.

I don't think that is patronizing, but if all I'd ever been told that an equine could be came from stories of unicorns...

SKIP KILPATRICK
11-10-2017, 12:49 PM
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." -- Han Solo

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 12:51 PM
Exactly, Paul... I feel the same way. Atheists are no more capable of defending their beliefs, than religious folks... atheists profess faith, not knowledge.

Agnostics, conversely, are perfectly OK with saying 'I don't know', to the questions which don't have answers.

Atheism is not a belief. It is as much a belief as not collecting stamps is a hobby. I'll accept certainty if you like.

amish rob
11-10-2017, 12:52 PM
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." -- Han Solo

Seems an ancient weapon was good enough to do you in. Haha. :)

Peace,
Robert

SKIP KILPATRICK
11-10-2017, 12:53 PM
Seems an ancient weapon was good enough to do you in. Haha. :)

Peace,
Robert

Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field controls my destiny! It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

TomF
11-10-2017, 12:55 PM
These aren't the droids you're looking for.

ron ll
11-10-2017, 12:55 PM
Exactly, Paul... I feel the same way. Atheists are no more capable of defending their beliefs, than religious folks... atheists profess faith, not knowledge.

Agnostics, conversely, are perfectly OK with saying 'I don't know', to the questions which don't have answers.

Courts are fine with terms like, "Preponderance of evidence" and "Beyond a reasonable doubt". Do you "know" your name is Norman? Of course you do. Telling me that atheism is another faith like religion is BS.

Norman Bernstein
11-10-2017, 01:03 PM
Courts are fine with terms like, "Preponderance of evidence" and "Beyond a reasonable doubt". Do you "know" your name is Norman? Of course you do. Telling me that atheism is another faith like religion is BS.

I believe that idea wouldn't pass a logic smell test.

How?

'The absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence'

Absent evidence, the denial of the existence of God fails this simple test. Just because you haven't seen any evidence, doesn't mean that none exists, or might not be discovered or revealed.

L.W. Baxter
11-10-2017, 01:07 PM
We can never know what is on the other side of the Background Cosmic Radiation or 46.5billion light years away.

One interesting bit I gleaned from a Lawrence Krause lecture on YouTube is that, a few hundred billion years from now, intelligent life forms in our galaxy will be utterly unable to find evidence of the Big Bang or even an expanding universe. There will be nothing in the observable universe outside of the immediate galaxy. To them, the universe will appear to be finite and static.

The fact that we are able to observe any evidence of our universe's beginnings is an accident of our time of advent.

amish rob
11-10-2017, 01:09 PM
Kid, Iíve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. Iíve seen a lot of strange stuff, but Iíve never seen anything to make me believe thereís one all-powerful Force controlling everything. Thereís no mystical energy field controls my destiny! Itís all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Honestly, the entire Han Solo thing has made me lose a bunch of respect for Indiana Jones. Iím not big on people peeing backward.

He sure likes to slam the one big thing that made all the rest possible for him. And always has.

What kind of jerk is bummed he played Han Solo and calls him uninteresting?

Peace,
Robert

ron ll
11-10-2017, 01:10 PM
I believe that idea wouldn't pass a logic smell test.

How?

'The absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence'

Absent evidence, the denial of the existence of God fails this simple test. Just because you haven't seen any evidence, doesn't mean that none exists, or might not be discovered or revealed.

I am not a theist. Therefore I am..., what? :D

Flying Orca
11-10-2017, 01:21 PM
Of course there are things that are inherently unknowable, at least within our present science: the conditions on the "other side" of the singularity that we think constituted the origin of the universe, position and velocity information about subatomic particles that violates Pauli's exclusion principle, Nick's examples, etc.

As far as "images of" supernatural beings go, I'll consider your preferred "image" when you get all the other believers to agree with you, and present significant evidence that it exists. Otherwise, I'm going with "made-up nonsense".

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 01:24 PM
I believe that idea wouldn't pass a logic smell test.

How?

'The absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence'

Absent evidence, the denial of the existence of God fails this simple test. Just because you haven't seen any evidence, doesn't mean that none exists, or might not be discovered or revealed.

Apply Occam's Razor. There is no need for a god and the gaps for any god of the gaps are getting vanishingly small. Always remember the KISS principle.

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 01:27 PM
Honestly, the entire Han Solo thing has made me lose a bunch of respect for Indiana Jones. I’m not big on people peeing backward.

He sure likes to slam the one big thing that made all the rest possible for him. And always has.

What kind of jerk is bummed he played Han Solo and calls him uninteresting?

Peace,
Robert

Kenneth Williams was a brilliant comic actor. Which really ticked him off as he wanted to do Shakespeare.
I can see an actor being critical of a shallow role, no matter how lucrative.

amish rob
11-10-2017, 01:36 PM
Kenneth Williams was a brilliant comic actor. Which really ticked him off as he wanted to do Shakespeare.
I can see an actor being critical of a shallow role, no matter how lucrative.

Oh, it isnít the money I meant. No Han Solo, no Blade Runner.

And, really, Han Solo was pretty complex compared to some of his roles.

And, there are no small roles. With a bunch of friends still in the game, I canít see any actor poo-pooing ANY role. Itís gross and tactless.

If the role is so terrible, donít take it.

Peace,
Robert

ron ll
11-10-2017, 01:41 PM
http://www.top10hq.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/American-Graffiti-1973.jpg

Norman Bernstein
11-10-2017, 01:50 PM
I am not a theist. Therefore I am..., what? :D

Well, if you are absolutely certain that there is no God, then you are indeed an atheist.

If, on the other hand, you acknowledge that you have no proof that NO God exists, then you SHOULD be describing yourself as an agnostic.

Welcome to the club :)

Norman Bernstein
11-10-2017, 01:51 PM
Apply Occam's Razor. There is no need for a god and the gaps for any god of the gaps are getting vanishingly small. Always remember the KISS principle.

Occam's Razor is a generalization, and not a conclusion.

500 years ago, Occam's Razor said that the Earth was flat! :)

ron ll
11-10-2017, 01:52 PM
I'm pretty certain there is no god. Trust me. I'm the best atheist there is, believe me. :)

Gerarddm
11-10-2017, 01:53 PM
I have long held that humans simply lack the intellectual horsepower to grapple cogently with the deeper questions of life, except poetically.

birlinn
11-10-2017, 01:56 PM
I don't believe you can know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

paulf
11-10-2017, 01:56 PM
Apply Occam's Razor. There is no need for a god and the gaps for any god of the gaps are getting vanishingly small. Always remember the KISS principle.

Occam's wife used it on her legs...now it won't cut $hit!

skuthorp
11-10-2017, 02:03 PM
The op ed is self contradictory for a non-theist.

Then of course you actually have to care.

Peerie Maa
11-10-2017, 02:11 PM
Occam's Razor is a generalization, and not a conclusion.

500 years ago, Occam's Razor said that the Earth was flat! :)

It is neither a generalisation nor a conclusion, it is a thought process.

Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily Or "Keep It Simple Stupid".

Gib Etheridge
11-10-2017, 02:12 PM
Your question, Ish, reminds me of another, one we've all heard, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?".

For me the correct answer to both is "It doesn't matter".

WI-Tom
11-10-2017, 05:08 PM
500 years ago, Occam's Razor said that the Earth was flat! :)

Not to anyone who ever looked out over the water and saw the mast of a ship before seeing the hull.

Tom

Keith Wilson
11-10-2017, 05:12 PM
Occam's razor works with what you know at any one time. The results often change as you learn more.

WI-Tom
11-10-2017, 05:39 PM
Occam's razor works with what you know at any one time. The results often change as you learn more.

Which is why there is no ether in physics anymore.

Or is there?

Dark Matter's Rival: Ether Theory Challenges "Invisible Mass"
(https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/09/060908-dark-matter_2.html)
Tom

webishop14
11-10-2017, 11:08 PM
Much re-hashing of the old God debate again. Even some belittling of Occam's Razor (not the scooter). How about a mathematical proof that there are things that are unknowable: try taking Kurt Goedel's theorem around the block a few times. You'll soon find turtles all the way down.

George Jung
11-11-2017, 12:11 AM
One interesting bit I gleaned from a Lawrence Krause lecture on YouTube is that, a few hundred billion years from now, intelligent life forms in our galaxy will be utterly unable to find evidence of the Big Bang or even an expanding universe. There will be nothing in the observable universe outside of the immediate galaxy. To them, the universe will appear to be finite and static.

The fact that we are able to observe any evidence of our universe's beginnings is an accident of our time of advent.
Because? Rapid expansion? Whatís the Ďwhyí?

L.W. Baxter
11-11-2017, 12:31 AM
Because? Rapid expansion? What’s the ‘why’?

Because one feature of the universe is that the rate of expansion is increasing.

And at some point every galaxy will be so far apart that their relative speeds will exceed light speed and there will be no possibility of observations from one of another.

And then, of course, a few trillion years later, the lights go out, forever. Maybe. :D

George Jung
11-11-2017, 12:43 AM
Figgered; maybe explains the rush to send a colonizing ship on a one way trip. Closing window of opportunity?

L.W. Baxter
11-11-2017, 12:50 AM
Yes, well, if we don't do it in the next couple hundred billion years, we might as well forget about it.

Greg Nolan
11-11-2017, 01:42 AM
It seems to me that how you act, how you behave, how you live your life determines whether you are a theist or an atheist.

If the way you live your life is affected by your belief in a god, you are a theist.

If you live your life without regard to the existence of god, you are an atheist.

If you are “agnostic” and really rational, you would accept Pascal’s wager (Pensees, Section 233) even if you never heard of Pascal, and would live as though there is a god, and you would effectively be a theist.

If you say you are agnostic, but live as though there is no god (as do most “agnostics I know), you are not being very rational or reasonable, because you are effectively an atheist.

People put inaccurate labels on themselves all the time, for all sorts of reasons -- fashion, habit, peer pressure, political opportunism, etc. -- consider a “Christian” like Alabama’s Judge Roy, or most of the other self-professed “Christian” politicians in the news these days, who haven’t got a clue about what Christ taught.

In the abstract, anything is possible. It is “possible” that tomorrow the earth will just up and reverse its direction around the sun, although most of us know that such will not happen. But of course, an omnipotent god (possible, according to agnostics) might possibly make that happen. But really, you all know that it will not happen, and really, you all know that it cannot happen.

Yes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, except circumstantially. When there should be results from the presence or existence of some thing or person, it is circumstantially evident that the thing or person is absent or non-existent.

Circumstantially, we know that the earth will continue around the sun in the same direction it always has. Circumstantial evidence can be good evidence.

Pushed to the extremes, virtually anything is possible and virtually nothing is absolute. It’s why cross-examining lawyers like to ask “But isn’t it possible that . . . . But I, and most of us, do not live at the extremes, and those who live according to absolutes tend to be obnoxious bores. And it’s why most people know that the “possible” that might happen at the extreme does not necessarily negate certainty.

And so I know that there is no god -- and if someday I am proven wrong, then so be it. But in the meantime, there is no god.

LongJohn
11-11-2017, 03:14 AM
Atheism is not a belief. It is as much a belief as not collecting stamps is a hobby. I'll accept certainty if you like.

I disagree.

A theist believes that stamp collecting is a valuable and worthwhile pursuit and may believe that it provides benefits after death.
An agnostic doesn't see any particular value in collecting stamps, but acknowledges there is a possibility that it might actually be a worthwhile activity.
An atheist believes that stamp collecting is a complete waste of time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With regard to Jack's original question - for any individual human the vast majority of potential knowledge is completely and utterly unknowable. I would suggest that the most wise and intelligent person can only know or understand an infinitesimal portion of what is possible to know, even within their own immediate neighborhood. As a species, the potential knowledge increases substantially - to a vanishingly small fraction of a percent of what may be possible. Given time - evolutionary time - our species seems to be on a trajectory that might allow us to develop the data gathering and interpretation skills to understand a significant portion of what is potentially knowable. But the unknown is just that - there is no way to know if there are other unknowns.

Unfortunately, we humans have a tendency to think that we know and understand a lot more than what we do - as individuals, as cultures, as a species - and that hubris gets us in trouble time after time.

- John

pipefitter
11-11-2017, 05:01 AM
I pray for the people I know who have passed, just incase the honorable mention makes a difference, and I do so with utmost sincerity. I'm not arrogant enough to take chances with other peoples souls just for logic's sake. I'd even bet, if possible, that a good number of them, many who I barely knew, are surprised I recall the better details of their existence in which to put forth the effort repeatedly.

ishmael
11-11-2017, 06:02 AM
Hi Y'all,

Golly, I was called away from the 'puter after I posted this, and was pleasantly surprised to find all the interesting responses. Now isn't this more interesting that arguing guns and politics!?:)

To my atheist friends, may I inquire what your image of God is? If you don't believe in a thing doesn't it follow, linguistically anyway, that you hold an image of the object you don't believe exists? We think in image, and language is a tool for us to flesh out that thinking, eh?

More important, to me anyway, is that the mind produces image, and those images have tremendous influence on our motivations and actions. THE most important revelation in psychology of past one hundred years, was that humans are not always motivated by their conscious thinking - what they think they understand about themselves and the world. They are driven by images in layers of the mind not readily accessible to their awareness, to their egos. Perhaps you feel psychology is a pseudo-science, but you won't get very far with that!

The split between Freud and Jung, which some of you may be aware of, is a fascinating bifurcation of the path modern psychology has taken. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic, Freud theorized that everything we aren't aware of we once were aware of and had repressed it, whereas Jung theorized that we are born with innate structures which express themselves as images too, and that these structures also must be reconciled in order for the individual to move forward. Freud thought Jung was full of sh**, and it caused a lifelong rift in what had been and intimate and productive relationship. They never spoke again. Both well trained, highly intelligent, scientists who let their ideas get in the way.

I've digressed from the OP post. Let me just say that the innate structures Jung spoke of, and which I've delved into a bit, have a mysterious logic all their own. They are poetry, not prose. Yet, they are real. Perhaps that's why I couched my OP post as limits of the linear, rational mind? I don't know. Now, gotta go again. I'll touch back later.

It's a complex topic. Thanks all for your willingness to engage it.

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 06:11 AM
I disagree.

A theist believes that stamp collecting is a valuable and worthwhile pursuit and may believe that it provides benefits after death.
An agnostic doesn't see any particular value in collecting stamps, but acknowledges there is a possibility that it might actually be a worthwhile activity.
An atheist believes that stamp collecting is a complete waste of time.

- John

You miss the point of the comparison, and your attempt to tell me what I believe does not address Normans telling me what does or does not go on in my mind.

This atheist does not believe that religion is a complete waste of time, because I recognise that it fills a real need for those who have a faith.

Perhaps you should think about ALL of the words in context.

"Atheism is a belief system just as not collecting stamps is not a hobby."

Dave Hadfield
11-11-2017, 06:30 AM
"The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine." Arthur Clarke.

What he meant I think is that we are creatures from a water-cycle planet, with a yellow sun, and a certain gravity. Our senses have developed to suit that. And that colours the pattern of our imagination.

If we were beings who evolved within the energy flow between twin suns, the pattern of our imagination would be very different.

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 06:38 AM
"The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine." Arthur Clarke.

What he meant I think is that we are creatures from a water-cycle planet, with a yellow sun, and a certain gravity. Our senses have developed to suit that. And that colours the pattern of our imagination.

If we were beings who evolved within the energy flow between twin suns, the pattern of our imagination would be very different.

"It's life Jim, but not as we know it"

Would we even be able to work out that it was alive?
I suppose that we would have to look out for complex organisation and replication.

skuthorp
11-11-2017, 07:00 AM
Ishmael: "To my atheist friends, may I inquire what your image of God is?"

Are you talking of culturally specific images in art and iconography? Because other than that this atheist has no image of an entity I do not believe exists. And have no need of either for that matter.
Get with it Ish.

But I have to say that religion has had it's uses, it's inspired some glorious music for one. Probably puts it in the plus camp at present.

Norman Bernstein
11-11-2017, 09:06 AM
If you say you are agnostic, but live as though there is no god (as do most “agnostics I know), you are not being very rational or reasonable, because you are effectively an atheist.

I respectfully disagree.

First, what does it mean, to 'live one's life as though there is no God'? How do you live your life as if there IS a God?

I can only assume that you are referring to the principles of religions, per se.... for example, the proscriptions of the Ten Commandments, or Catholic dogma, or Muslim principles, etc. Religions instruct how one should live their lives... not all are the same, but there are certainly common threads. Charity, for example, is commended by all major monotheistic religions; in Judaism, it's called 'T'zadakah'...

...but one doesn't have to have a belief in God to be charitable.

What about secular humanists? Would an agnostic secular humanist be, by your definition, an atheist? He/she would be behaving in concert with the tenets of most major faiths... without acknowledging God in any meaningful way... and also, without making a judgment as to the existence of God.

I think the terms are being abused. An atheist believes there is no God... without evidence to support their position. An agnostic makes no judgment about the existence of God, but merely argues that he/she has no evidence to support either the existence, on non-existence, of God. Atheists participate in faith... Agnostics do not.

Todd D
11-11-2017, 09:11 AM
I think that some things are unknowable. However those things are in the area of human behavior. Why a person does something is unknowable since each person is different and does things for different reasons often unknown to that person.

However, when it comes to the physical/biological world I do not believe there is anything that cannot be known.

TomF
11-11-2017, 09:33 AM
I pray for the people I know who have passed, just incase the honorable mention makes a difference, and I do so with utmost sincerity. I'm not arrogant enough to take chances with other peoples souls just for logic's sake. I'd even bet, if possible, that a good number of them, many who I barely knew, are surprised I recall the better details of their existence in which to put forth the effort repeatedly.well said, pipes.

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 09:41 AM
I think the terms are being abused. An atheist believes there is no God... without evidence to support their position. An agnostic makes no judgment about the existence of God, but merely argues that he/she has no evidence to support either the existence, on non-existence, of God. Atheists participate in faith... Agnostics do not.

Still wrong, An atheist is certain that there is no god. Not believing in god is the same as not building models is not a hobby. Atheism is not a belief system.
Anyway, the definition of "Faith" is belief in the absence of evidence. So someone believing in any god has/needs no evidence for their belief.

Norman Bernstein
11-11-2017, 09:47 AM
I pray for the people I know who have passed, just incase the honorable mention makes a difference, and I do so with utmost sincerity. I'm not arrogant enough to take chances with other peoples souls just for logic's sake. I'd even bet, if possible, that a good number of them, many who I barely knew, are surprised I recall the better details of their existence in which to put forth the effort repeatedly.

I honor the dead, as well... and surprisingly (for a militant agnostic, at least), visit cemeteries fairly often. I even occasionally take the four hour drive down to NJ to visit the grave of my grandmother (gone nearly 50 years) and my grandfather (who died 15 years before I was even born). My mother, who passed away this past June, is buried just a few miles from my home, and I stop there occasionally.

I don't do it for the sake of the dead, though... I do it, for my own sake. I have no reason to believe in either the concept of Heaven, nor the notion that prayers for the dead do their souls any good (I don't recite the Mourner's Kaddish, for example).

The reason I do it is simple, and is based on something I read long ago:

"No one really dies, as long as there is anyone left alive who remembers them in life."

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 09:58 AM
The reason I do it is simple, and is based on something I read long ago:

"No one really dies, as long as there is anyone left alive who remembers them in life."

Just so. If you have not started, assemble a photo album and write up your memories of them, Use Ancestry.com or whatever as well.

Norman Bernstein
11-11-2017, 10:05 AM
Just so. If you have not started, assemble a photo album and write up your memories of them, Use Ancestry.com or whatever as well.

I'm way ahead of you.

I started researching the genealogy of the Bernsteins almost 20 years ago, and have traced 460 descendants of my great-great-great grandfather, Avram Bernstein, born in a small village southeast of Minsk (in current-day Belarus) in 1802. It is a diverse family, geographically spread all over the place, with concentrations in Boston, New Your, Montreal, Toronto, Portland ME, and other places.

As part of the project, I've collected stories and recollections from as many living relatives as I have been able to talk to. These stories give 'life' to the genealogy... it's not a mere collection of names, dates, and locations, but more of a history of the family, with all sorts of personal observations, biographical sketches, etc.

The sad part, however, is that I haven't been able to get any of the younger family relatives interested in the project.

ishmael
11-11-2017, 10:22 AM
I remember now one of the reasons I posted this thread. There was a prominent scientist of the 19th century, can't remember his name, who said, "Soon, science will have everything big figured out, and will then spend its time simply rearranging the details." Words to that effect. More than a bit of hubris, given that Einstein and others were just over the horizon.:)

I don't have much else to add at this point. Fascinating, the fleshing out of both atheism and agnosticism.

I'm still curious about everyone's images of God. That was one of Jung's main areas of research: the flow and development of our images of deity in art, religion, dream, and mythology, as markers of what was going on behind the scenes.

Carry on!

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 10:26 AM
I'm way ahead of you.

I started researching the genealogy of the Bernsteins almost 20 years ago, and have traced 460 descendants of my great-great-great grandfather, Avram Bernstein, born in a small village southeast of Minsk (in current-day Belarus) in 1802. It is a diverse family, geographically spread all over the place, with concentrations in Boston, New Your, Montreal, Toronto, Portland ME, and other places.

As part of the project, I've collected stories and recollections from as many living relatives as I have been able to talk to. These stories give 'life' to the genealogy... it's not a mere collection of names, dates, and locations, but more of a history of the family, with all sorts of personal observations, biographical sketches, etc.

The sad part, however, is that I haven't been able to get any of the younger family relatives interested in the project.

Some of them will come round as they mature. I started well late, and now that I have time will work on the harder distaff side.

Peerie Maa
11-11-2017, 10:35 AM
I'm still curious about everyone's images of God. That was one of Jung's main areas of research: the flow and development of our images of deity in art, religion, dream, and mythology, as markers of what was going on behind the scenes.

Carry on!

Yes, why do so many images of a Palestinian Jew who spent much of his time walking the roads have a northern European complexion?
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/G_tuAhA1lAY/hqdefault.jpg
Same question goes for the God of the three books
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Giovanni_Domenico_Tiepolo_-_God_the_Father_-_WGA22376.jpg

Flying Orca
11-11-2017, 11:15 AM
To my atheist friends, may I inquire what your image of God is? If you don't believe in a thing doesn't it follow, linguistically anyway, that you hold an image of the object you don't believe exists?

A definition, not an image. The definition "one of the thousands of powerful supernatural beings with inconsistently described characteristics that various people have imagined to exist" works for me.

stromborg
11-11-2017, 11:58 AM
This whole discussion has a rather western civilization/monotheistic bent. Ask a polytheist about their image of "god", or a pantheist and see what they say.

Keith Wilson
11-11-2017, 12:21 PM
To my atheist friends, may I inquire what your image of God is? If you don't believe in a thing doesn't it follow, linguistically anyway, that you hold an image of the object you don't believe exists? We think in image, and language is a tool for us to flesh out that thinking, eh?I'm not an atheist in the normal sense; I don't know anywhere near enough to say much about the reality of gods, but I'll give this a shot.

I have lots of images of God or gods, more than I really know what to do with. I have John Calvin's God, and John Wesley's and John Murray's and Jonathan Edwards', and they're not much alike. I have Jesus and Zeus and Ahura Mazda and Kwan Yin and Huitzilopochtli. I have the universally loving god that forgives all, I have he who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, I have the angry god holding sinners in his hand over the flaming pit of hell, I have the god that insists on being fed still-beating hearts hacked from the chests of sacrificial victims with obsidian knives so the universe will continue. I have the god that thinks giving a couple of bucks to the raggedy guy on the corner with a misspelled cardboard sign would be a good idea, the god that wants me to send $100 to the slick fellow on TV with a tacky suit and a microphone, the God that likes magnificent cathedrals built by starving peasants, and the god whose greatest saints starved themselves to death in order to take no life, not even for essential food.

I have gods that want me to renounce this world and its pleasures, gods who want me to embrace it, and those who say some middle way is the right one. I have gods who say that all people are equal in god's sight and that worldly differences are nonsense, and gods who say that that all people are born into divinely-ordained and inherently unequal varnas and jatis which determine irrevocably their lot and status in life, and that venturing outside your place will get you reincarnated as a tapeworm. My wildly varied and mutually-contradictory images of gods are limited only by the human imagination, which if not infinite, is pretty damn big.

So which of these should I believe in? Which should I laugh at, which avoid like the plague, which take seriously? If I were inclined to Pascal's wager, which of them should I bet on? Why?

ishmael
11-11-2017, 01:00 PM
Hi Keith,

The short answer: Learn about and listen to your night dreams. If you learn the language of your dreams, and give them their due, they will guide you as to what larger parts of the self need attention. It varies from person to person. I don't have time for a longer answer.

Best,

Jack

Keith Wilson
11-11-2017, 01:10 PM
Not for me, Jack. I see no reason that what goes on in my brain while I'm sleeping is any more reliable a guide to what's true that what goes on when I'm awake - less so, in fact. YMMV, as they say. ;) Besides, those were rhetorical questions. :d

Keith Wilson
11-11-2017, 02:29 PM
"I don't have time for a longer answer."
Thank you, Jesus...thank you, Lawd!:)You're a bad man, Glen. :D:D

Norman Bernstein
11-11-2017, 02:36 PM
I'm not an atheist in the normal sense; I don't know anywhere near enough to say much about the reality of gods, but I'll give this a shot.

I have lots of images of God or gods, more than I really know what to do with. I have John Calvin's God, and John Wesley's and John Murray's and Jonathan Edwards', and they're not much alike. I have Jesus and Zeus and Ahura Mazda and Kwan Yin and Huitzilopochtli. I have the universally loving god that forgives all, I have he who shall come to judge the quick and the dead, I have the angry god holding sinners in his hand over the flaming pit of hell, I have the god that insists on being fed still-beating hearts hacked from the chests of sacrificial victims with obsidian knives so the universe will continue. I have the god that thinks giving a couple of bucks to the raggedy guy on the corner with a misspelled cardboard sign would be a good idea, the god that wants me to send $100 to the slick fellow on TV with a tacky suit and a microphone, the God that likes magnificent cathedrals built by starving peasants, and the god whose greatest saints starved themselves to death in order to take no life, not even for essential food.

I have gods that want me to renounce this world and its pleasures, gods who want me to embrace it, and those who say some middle way is the right one. I have gods who say that all people are equal in god's sight and that worldly differences are nonsense, and gods who say that that all people are born into divinely-ordained and inherently unequal varnas and jatis which determine irrevocably their lot and status in life, and that venturing outside your place will get you reincarnated as a tapeworm. My wildly varied and mutually-contradictory images of gods are limited only by the human imagination, which if not infinite, is pretty damn big.

So which of these should I believe in? Which should I laugh at, which avoid like the plague, which take seriously? If I were inclined to Pascal's wager, which of them should I bet on? Why?

Outstanding answer, Keith... well done.

Of course, those of faith who question my agnosticism are thinking of only ONE God.... THEIR God, the God that sits at the head of THEIR religious beliefs. All those other Gods, to them, are 'obviously' false Gods....

I have no way to know. Isn't that the entire point of agnosticism?

skuthorp
11-11-2017, 02:40 PM
"This whole discussion has a rather western civilization/monotheistic bent."
Of course, what do you expect from a western civilization/monotheistic group and culture?

RFNK
11-11-2017, 03:01 PM
No, I do not think there are things that are unknowable. I do think there are an immeasurable number of things we do not presently know. I think that will always be so. I am OK with that.

If there is a god she loves mathematics.

I can't imagine that the universe and time aren't infinite. I agree that everything is knowable but, if there's such a thing as `ever', I think we'll never know much about what's out there. I do think that everything that exists will exist over and over, ad infinitum. Theologians seem to redefine `god' according to scientific progress. That might be a good thing, although I wonder if the enduring pursuit of God gets in the way of more rational and worthwhile endeavour. Ultimately though (if there's such a thing at all), I think infinity/nature will be found to deliver the answers. We just need to be patient :) I agree that no one can know that there is no god but I do believe no one has found him, her or it yet. A further problem is that there are so many definitions now of what a god is - even if found, I can't imagine there'd be much agreement on the findings. Perhaps I've just agreed that God is unknowable.

Rick

Keith Wilson
11-11-2017, 03:14 PM
Thanks, Norm. I was kind of pleased with it myself. I'm partway through a history of India, so had some more non-western examples. A lot of the Jain founders and 'saints' actually did stop eating and die from what looks to me like an overdose of religious asceticism.

To the original question: Does it matter? Should we care? Is there any significant difference between saying 'some things are unknowable, although we may be wrong about exactly which' and 'there are a lot of things we don't know'?

And I'd bet that what we can or can't imagine is likely not a very good guide to what's real. We're large-brained primates, with minds evolved to find food and avoid danger as hunter-gatherers on the African savannah. The fact that some complicated stuff is hard for us, or beyond our capacity altogether, is not much of a surprise.

BrianY
11-11-2017, 04:36 PM
The only things that are "inherently unknowable" are things that happened/happen before the beginning of or outside of this universe. Anything within the universe has the potential to be known. Whethere it is likely that we can know somethng or not is the problem.

re: atheism - the problem with this discussion is always about how one defines "God" . For example, I'm pretty darned sure that the god depicted in the Bible does not exist but if I change the definition of "God" to mean "all that exists" as Spinoza did then it would foolish for me to deny the existence of that "God" ( after all, existence exists, right?)

it it would be more useful to dispense with the word "God" because of all of the variations in meaning that the word encompasses and instead talk about the existence or non-existence of the "supernatural" - that is, things that exist "beyond nature" or things that are not bound by natural laws. I do not believe in the supernatural. Like Spinoza, I believe that everything that exists, exists within this universe and nothing that is outside of or separate from this universe can affect or interact with this universe. This precludes the existence of a Creator - a being that is necessarily separate from this universe - but does not deny the possibility of things that our current physics and science cannot explain.

webishop14
11-11-2017, 04:45 PM
Some folks might argue that everything that has ever existed (as we know it) exists right now. Past events are inaccessible simply by virtue of space -- to cross the space to where they are unleashes the time which separates us from them.

I agree that God (She) loves mathematics. Consider this: what we perceive as reality is simply an intellectual construct generated by our brains integrating electro-chemical impulses from our sensory organs and shaped by input (assumptions, fears and guesses) from our tribal elders. Since chemistry is simply physics with a filter, lets say we are simply a complex, perhaps a manifold, of a electromagnet fields. Can we know this? Can we even begin to understand that all we see is a complex electromagnetic field? Or can we say it is more than that?

LeeG
11-11-2017, 09:10 PM
"Do you believe there are things that are inherently unknowable..."

Things unknown.

Known unknowns,

Unknown unknowns.

Zippity Do da day.

Domesticated_Mr. Know It All
11-11-2017, 09:18 PM
Some people just can't roller skate.

Breakaway
11-11-2017, 11:58 PM
The mind of the opposite sex.

Kevin

LongJohn
11-12-2017, 03:38 AM
You miss the point of the comparison, and your attempt to tell me what I believe does not address Normans telling me what does or does not go on in my mind.

This atheist does not believe that religion is a complete waste of time, because I recognise that it fills a real need for those who have a faith.

Perhaps you should think about ALL of the words in context.

"Atheism is a belief system just as not collecting stamps is not a hobby."

Nick -

No attempt to tell you what you believe was stated or implied, and I regret that you took it that way. I simply found your stamp collecting analogy to be a useful trope to express my understanding of the concepts at hand.

I suspect that our personal beliefs are rather similar. I identify as agnostic (as I understand the word) since I see no evidence of a deity, but I am open to the possibility that convincing evidence may be forthcoming, but I also recognize that religion fills a real need for some - including most members of my extended family.

- John

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 05:56 AM
Nick -

No attempt to tell you what you believe was stated or implied, and I regret that you took it that way. I simply found your stamp collecting analogy to be a useful trope to express my understanding of the concepts at hand.

I suspect that our personal beliefs are rather similar. I identify as agnostic (as I understand the word) since I see no evidence of a deity, but I am open to the possibility that convincing evidence may be forthcoming, but I also recognize that religion fills a real need for some - including most members of my extended family.

- John

In context you post was following from a rebuttal of Normans post, which was telling me that I have a belief system. I am sorry that you got splattered by the same tar brush. :D

ishmael
11-12-2017, 05:57 AM
I've been alive 61 years. Half a life ago, I was offered a way into the larger mind I speak of under the guidance of a very wise man. I walked part way on that journey, then turned away and became wedded to the smaller mind - the waking life of ego awareness - again. As many of you know, I became a drunk for a lot of that time.

Now I'm sober, and a way into that larger mind has opened again. If I proselytize too strongly I apologize. But I know, yes KNOW, that if we are to turn the corner we now stand on it hinges on individuals coming to know themselves more fully. The corner we stand at is a nascent ability we now must own: the ability to utterly destroy ourselves and this beautiful, mysterious world we inhabit. The world hangs by the thinnest of threads. That thread is the human psyche. The responsibility is ours.

The wisdom to know the larger mind is available from much wiser teachers than I. There are many paths, and there is no correct way to approach it(though some are more fruitful than others), but approach it we must, one at a time. I encourage you, with all my heart and soul, to find your path. No one can walk it for you, but you aren't alone.

"When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."

Genesis 29:11-12

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 06:34 AM
The problem that I have with your latest posts Jack, is that if I dream, I don't remember them.

webishop14
11-12-2017, 10:37 AM
I suspect that many dreams result from our cerebral filing system making space for the creation of new memories. My take is that the important dreams are the ones we remember. I remember two dreams from 40 years ago, and they're just as meaningful and real today as they were then.

My take on gods is that any god who will "reach down" and cure 10 year-old Louis of his inoperable brain tumor or hold back the flood from a burst dam is nothing more than a child playing with his tinker toys. Anyone seeking such "signs" is really looking for the wrong god.

amish rob
11-12-2017, 10:41 AM
Some people just can't roller skate.

So? We are STILL people! :D

Peace,
Canít Blade, Either, But, Boy Can I Board

Chippie
11-12-2017, 11:36 AM
I don’t know...

Peace,
Robert

No need to blow your cover Robert all you need to do is ask Nick (Peerie Maa) he'll know. :D:D

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 12:19 PM
If the role is so terrible, donít take it.

Peace,
Robert

If only I knew then what I know now. ;)

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 12:21 PM
no need to blow your cover robert all you need to do is ask nick (peerie maa) he'll know. :d:d

Whyyy meeee? Whaddididotodeservedat?

amish rob
11-12-2017, 12:29 PM
If only I knew then what I know now. ;)
Aye.

Which is why Iíve no love for those who pee backward. Itís all well and fine to bad mouth a role, now, but you sure acepted it with aplomb, then. And sure cashed all the checks.

And bought a freaking airliner!

Better to say it wasnít the most fulfilling or challenging role, eh? Why bash the vehicle that gave you rise?

I have many friends in The Biz (one waiting to see if his sub plot/story line will survive the final cut in an upcoming feature), and any of them would give their teeth for a role that provided panache in The Biz and opened doors for other roles.

Besides, what kind of knob really thinks playing Han Solo wasnít cool? A knob, thatís who. No small roles, eh?

Peace,
Robert

amish rob
11-12-2017, 12:30 PM
Whyyy meeee? Whaddididotodeservedat?
I donít know...

Peace,
Robert

P.S. I really donít. I always have an easy time working out our miscommunications. Usually they occur because you donít speak or write proper AmerEnglishIcan. ;)

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 12:36 PM
I don’t know...

Peace,
Robert

P.S. I really don’t. I always have an easy time working out our miscommunications. Usually they occur because you don’t speak or write proper AmerEnglishIcan. ;)

Come back when you can spell words proper like. :D

amish rob
11-12-2017, 12:42 PM
Come back when you can spell words proper like. :D

Say, tea time? :d

Peace,
Robert

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 12:49 PM
Say, tea time? :d

Peace,
Robert

That would be tomorrow. It's nearly dinnertime here.

I'm cooking a cassoulet.

amish rob
11-12-2017, 12:52 PM
That would be tomorrow. It's nearly dinnertime here.

I'm cooking a cassoulet.

Haha. We donít even HAVE tea time. :)

I am preparing the soup and bread that will be our dinner.

Peace,
Robert

Peerie Maa
11-12-2017, 01:00 PM
Haha. We don’t even HAVE tea time. :)

I am preparing the soup and bread that will be our dinner.

Peace,
Robert

I don't drink tea myself, but I hear that most diners in the US have NO idea how to make the stuff. It's not surprising that you don't enjoy afternoon tea.

Keith Wilson
11-12-2017, 02:39 PM
I don't drink tea myself, but I hear that most diners in the US have NO idea how to make the stuff. It's not surprising that you don't enjoy afternoon tea.Quite right; they don't. I think tea for me is a genetic holdover from my british ancestors (Grand Keemun (https://www.teasource.com/products/grand-keemun-black-tea) with milk and fake sugar, thank you very much), and I generally don't even bother trying in an average restaurant.

Greg Nolan
11-12-2017, 09:03 PM
First, what does it mean, to 'live one's life as though there is no God'? How do you live your life as if there IS a God?

I can only assume that you are referring to the principles of religions, per se.... for example, the proscriptions of the Ten Commandments, or Catholic dogma, or Muslim principles, etc. Religions instruct how one should live their lives... not all are the same, but there are certainly common threads. Charity, for example, is commended by all major monotheistic religions; in Judaism, it's called 'T'zadakah'...

You are presumptuous, and your assumption is incorrect -- I assume nothing of the sort. Many people who believe in a god have no truck with a religion. A good many people, theists and atheists alike, lead moral, ethical, and charitable lives.

But those who are theists are generally motivated in part by their belief in god, and even if not directly motivated in their actions, their approach the world is shaped in some fashion by that belief.

[/QUOTE]What about secular humanists? Would an agnostic secular humanist be, by your definition, an atheist? [/QUOTE]
Well, secular humanists certainly aren't theists, even if, coincidentally, behaving in concert with the tenets of most major (or even minor -- why quibble) faiths. But if you are not motivated by a god, if a god does not affect your world view, philosophy, ethics, etc., then functionally that person is atheistic -- literally, away from god. It doesn't matter whether the person makes an active judgement about the existence of god -- the person is functioning without a god.

[/QUOTE]I think the terms are being abused.[/QUOTE] Agreed -- an example of that abuse follows:

[/QUOTE]An atheist believes there is no God... without evidence to support their position. . . . Atheists participate in faith... Agnostics do not.[/QUOTE]
As I noted above, there is ample circumstantial evidence to establish the non-existence of god, and as you have noted, there is no competent evidence of any kind to prove god's existence.

We know of the non-existence of a whole range of things based on circumstantial evidence -- Friday the 13th is not unduly unlucky; the position of the stars and planets at the time of one's birth do not shape our personality; Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do not exist (even though many of us once believed they did). Nonetheless, there are people who do order their lives, in part, on things that don't exist -- many people believe in astrology and other such superstitions.

So I know of the non-existence of god (or the non-divinity of actual persons, such as Jesus of Nazareth, to whom divinity is imputed) in the same way I know that there is no Santa Claus. It is possible to prove a negative -- we do it all the time.

And by the way -- one of the better bits of circumstantial evidence that there is no god is the fact that we generally know, often through some form of literature, how and when various gods were invented -- by men and women telling tales.

For example, the Judeo-Christian god was invented by an early Semitic tribe who first told the tales that became written down in the Torah and the Bible. Other Semitic tribes had other gods, such as the golden calf of Baal. And other Semitic peoples took some of the Judeo-Christian stories and characters and added to them, creating a different story, changing the name of their god to Allah, rather than Jehovah. The Christian part of the god was invented by a Jewish sect that Jesus, John the Baptist, Mary, Ann, Joachim and others belonged to.

The gods of the classical Greek and Roman worlds arose similarly -- tales told by early tribes that came to be written down.

The god of Mormonism was invented in western New York in the early 20th century by Joseph Smith.

And similarly, the dieties of the Eastern faiths -- Hinduism, Taoism, Janism, Buddhism, Confusionism -- were all invented by men and women telling tales.

As a boy, I was taught that man is made "in the image and likeness of god." But reality is the opposite -- god is made in the image and likeness of man.

Now, we sometimes find out that what we know is erroneous -- but acknowledging that fact does not make me agnostic. That we are sometimes wrong is a simple fact, and does not create any reality in the matter of our error. And of course, we do not know we are wrong until proven so -- and sometimes the proof is also wrong. But that gets into the whole area of epistemology, a whole 'nuther can of worms.

"God" is an intellectual/emotional construct of man. Other than that construct, there is no god.