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The Top 10 Reasons I Don’t Believe in God Greta Christina

“Does God exist?” is a valid and relevant question. Here are my top reasons why the answer is a resounding, “No.”

 

From Alternet

They say it’s no big deal

(In response to someone that claimed that us compatibilists really mean that we don’t have free will when we agree with determinism, or more specifically, when we agree that the universe is spatial and temporal)

Yes, but that is what free will means, having a range of choices that we pick from. We can choose one or the other, not we can only pick one thing in principle.
That would mean that choosing is an illusion, that we don’t really have a choice of alternatives, no matter how viable they may appear, we are not even unconscious, but purely inanimate matter following the only course of events that it can.

That is what non-free will, incompatabilist, determinists say. When people talk about making decisions and choosing to do something, it means based on conscious evaluation of alternatives.

Making choices means, or at least very strongly implies, a conscious decision.
Not making choices is what non-free willism means, no matter how much you want to play semantics; it’s what people mean when they speak about human beings.

From wikipedia for ‘choice’:
Choice consists of the mental process of judging the merits of multiple options and selecting one of them. While a choice can be made between imagined options (“what would I do if …?”), often a choice is made between real options, and followed by the corresponding action. For example, a route for a journey is chosen based on the preference of arriving at a given destination as soon as possible. The preferred (and therefore chosen) route is then derived from information about how long each of the possible routes take. This can be done by a route planner. If the preference is more complex, such as involving the scenery of the route, cognition and feeling are more intertwined, and the choice is less easy to delegate to a computer program or assistant.

More complex examples (often decisions that affect what a person thinks or their core beliefs) include choosing a lifestyle, religious affiliation, or political position.

Most people regard having choices as a good thing, though a severely limited or artificially restricted choice can lead to discomfort with choosing and possibly, an unsatisfactory outcome. In contrast, unlimited choice may lead to confusion, regret of the alternatives not taken, and indifference in an unstructured existence; and the illusion that choosing an object or a course leads necessarily to control of that object or course can cause psychological problems.

Never having any choice is almost beyond sanity to contemplate. It is analogous to being 100% paralyzed and completely at the whim of outside forces. That is not even complete, because it still leaves you with freedom to think and intelligently express your wants and hopes.

You guys don’t have the slightest clue what it feels like to see and feel yourself as trapped without any power to change what happens to you or the direction of your life.

Altruism vs. selfishness

mikmik (in response to the question, “How do you know it’s not the selfish genes that are promoting altruism?”
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
Posted March 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

You’re question doesn’t make sense. Every adaptive trait any organism has, is encoded genetically.
Seems to me if genes are so selfish, they sacrifice themselves bravely by metamorphing into different genes which kills themselves 99% of the time, and even when a mutation is adaptive, the result is a slightly different molecule/gene, so it really isn’t preserved selfishly, is it?

In fact, every gene is altruistic in the deepest sense in that they offer themselves up so a new gene can carry on more successfully, which then offers itself up as a sacrifice in order to give yet a new combination of amino acids a chance at a more fruitful existence. It even clones itself as much as possible just so more of them can die in the noble pursuit of self sacrifice for a new gene yet again, to continue.

It seems to me that genes act altruistically and co-operatively at the group level, don’t you think? I mean, Dawkins gives only a very few examples of genes successfully inserting extra copies of itself into the genome in a selfish bid to proliferate. The vast majority of the time, the rogue ingrate gene extinguishes itself and every other gene in the co-operative group known as the genome.

I mean(my favoriye phrase!), isn’t this just a bit more futile than arguing whether or not we have free will?

Actually, I think an argument can easily be made that evolution is driven by co-operation and group cohesion. The rogue, selfish individual is poisonous to any genome, cell, organism, tribe, group, government, corporation, etc. Obviously, our survival as a species depends upon a much higher degree of support and understanding between groups and individuals inside of groups, for starvation and spread of disease and nuclear war and mass extinction events don’t bode well for any gene, anywhere, no matter how selfishly it tries to hog resources, ya think?

Sooner or later the group majority realizes that power is unequally distributed into the hands of the few ruthlessly selfish minority, and either revolts and wipes out the offenders, or achieves an even greater level of co-operation in order to peacefully assert altruistic behavior back into the dominant role in group dynamics.

It’s almost like altruism is the check and balance against selfishness, ain’t it?

Thus, a moral law.

I’m not the first to determine that we don’t exist: it’s all illusion, paradoxically speaking.

I pointed out a long time ago that if Steve insists that the sense of free-will is illusory, then our mind is an illusion.

There’s no “real” pain – pain is “merely” an illusion. Steve=
This is your assertion. Just what would you call “real” pain?

Real pain is something that exists outside of our perception, and people with leprosy would still feel it.

I`ve kept asking you, Steve, why do we have minds if what we think is just illusory. What would be the point.

Steve=Well it is not up to me to say: as long as people assert that humans have freedom of will, it will need to be said that we don’t.

Well, it is not up to me to say: as long as people assert that humans don`t have freedom of will, it will need to be said that we do.
– – –
See, that`s what it comes down to, Steve, it is a matter of opinion, and repeatedly telling us free-willists that we are wrong and that we, in fact, don`t have free will, means nothing. It is your opinion only. It is what you think, and what you think is an illusion, just like thinking we have free will is.
Thus: What Steve thinks is a fact is an illusion, and therefore, false.

Pain is a process of our consciousness, seeing a dog is a process of our conscious awareness, making decisions is a process of our consciousness, talking to each other is a process of our consciousness, eating is a process of our conscious awareness, everything we do as an individual is a process of our consciousness and incorporates our conscious awareness. They are one and the same.

But Steve would reductio ad absurdum us into atoms and photons bumping into other atoms and electrons. That is it. That is all, that is the complete and total explanation of what we are, because Steve says there is no possibility that evaluations and collections of datas are possible because there is only one event occurring at a time, and one thing does not have any meaning. And if one thing doesn`t have any meaning, then a collection of meaningless things has no meaning.

Am I correct so far, Steve? That is what determinism is, right Steve? That is why we don’t have free will, because particles and wave functions can only do one thing, and one thing has no meaning, it just causes the next one thing, isn’t that right, Steve?
How can one thing choose another thing, right Steve? It can’t, and you know it.

That is determinism. If you slice time intervals small enough, you get to just one thing at a time, and one thing existing for one planck time cannot know what is, or even if there is any other thing existing because they would be seperated spacially, but they cannot interact, they can’t even bump into each other, they cannot even exist because existence is defined by interaction, and if there is no interaction anywhere, nothing exists.
If you add up an infinite amount of non-existence, you still would have nothing that exists.

So really, Steve, time is just an illusion, there is no effing way for a particle to exist in one place without movement, without interaction to define its existance, and then be in another place for no reason, for how could it get there, it can’t move, and doesn’t exist to begin with?

Is there anythinf wrong with my reasoning here, Steve?

I deny that we exist, for we cannot; it is physically impossible.

That’s what you non-free willist determinists sound like to me, Steve.

More foolishness

What else is new

Steve

Posted March 5, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

Jay,

While we are basically deterministic entities, the concept of something like free will is a useful function.

Are you suggesting that we keep non-free willism a secret? It seems as if people might have a hard time using the concept of free will in light of the observation that it is only an illusion. This is like someone saying the concept of a god works great, look how much one can do with the concept of god with those who believe in the myth.

I don’t see any gain in pretending that free will exists.

  • mikmik

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Posted March 6, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    You don’t have any choice, Steve, notwithstanding your claims.
    I have never in my life, seen anyone speak and behave in a manner that they do not have free will, no matter how strongly they believe that.
    Furthermore, no one will ever be able to convince more than a very tiny percentage of the population that free-will is illusory, never.
    You don’t act like you don’t have free-will because you cannot act that way, Steve. And if you and Jerry, et al, don’t act any different than people always have, how do you expect to change anything, especially something so overwhelmingly counter-intuitive, in the masses of people that can’t. or won’t, even understand what it means? It is a fundamental survival instinct to inflict retribution, and even co-operation and trust are fundamentally based on the understanding that actions will not be deserving of counter-actions.
    You people can blab all you want about the social ramifications and justice system, but the fundamental sense of having free will is not surmountable, and people will always see it this way.
    As I’ve said before, I’ve battled narcotics and alcohol addiction my whole adult life, and even before that, I have never, intellectually, thought that we have free will. It’s only lately I’ve started thinking about it deeply. And even though I can attest to seemingly irresistible compulsions dominating my behavior, and even if we don’t exercise freer-will, or volition, 98% of the time, it is because it is easier, not because we have to.
    The fact of the matter is that we have a process that uses %20 – > %50 percent of our energy resources, and this process is part of the physical cause and effect reality we inhabit. This means that our thinking serves a powerfully necessary function for our survival and proliferation, so it not only serves a purpose, it is also a physical cause the has real world effects.
    Or are you saying that our awareness, and mind, has no repercussions to its existence?

    You are the ones that speak of ghosts.

This is getting easy!

I make this stuff up as I go along(this time, A Voice Of Reason), as necessary to explain my rapidly developing belief in a fundamental, scientifically supported morality:

mikelaing says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
February 25, 2012 at 12:45 am

yup, that guy they call a Jesus freak says:
“1st.) “MAKE a purpose for yourself.” If there is no God and meaning or value(except what each individual values), then if my neighbor down the street wanted to rape every child he sees and bomb every hospital he can (killing infants, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sick and elderly), he would not be morally wrong. He is giving meaning to his own existence by ending others. Since there is no God, there is nothing absolutely (objectively) wrong with rape and murder. You (and others) might say hes interfering with others lives and infringing on their rights (right to live and pursue their own meaning)and life, but that is presupposing that its wrong (absolutely) to infringe on others rights and life. If there is no God, there can be no absolute set of moral standards. So, there is no such thing as moral right and wrong (objectively).”

Sorry, I beg to differ. There is so an objective morality. Killing and bombing and senseless destruction is a violation of two fundamental principles behind survival of the individual: 1. By being part of human society, I necessarily have to contribute to the well being of that society, for I depend upon that society for my own security and prosperity as an organism that seeks to preserve and multiply it’s propagation of DNA. Any threat to that society is necessarily removed to conserve the integrity of its function, and by becoming a threat to others security and agreed upon right to participate in that society and therefore reap the rewards of increased safety and prosperity, I become a threat to my own short term and long term survivability.
The fundamental value, or morality, is that your own existence is valuable, and this is the one overriding principle behind evolution. It is innate.
That is quite enough in itself, but there is more: 2. The fundamental requirement for survival is a non-destructive relationship to the overall ecological environment in order to preserve viability of that environment, and any imbalance in the homeostasis of both the organism and of the ecological system is self correcting by design(innate function), thus a fundamental function and positive value for survivability on two levels of magnitude.
I give you 2 of many definitions for homeostasis that state;

a)
Homeostasis | Define Homeostasis at Dictionary.com
noun . 1. the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.

b).Homeostasis
Homeostasis: resistance to change … A person threatened by the environment (or informed of an approaching pleasure or danger) prepares for action.

This extraordinary property of the body has intrigued many physiologists. In 1865 Claude Bernard noticed, in his Introduction to Experimental Medicine. that the “constancy of the internal milieu was the essential condition to a free life.”

Actually, I am starting to discover that it is quite easy to posit fundamental and scientific reasons behind morality and development of ethics.

Keep in mind that the above is but a simplified application of fundamental ethics, for I haven’t even touched upon such things as empathy and evolutionary pressure to select for properties of co-operation that enable and facilitate the establishment of complex societies and co-operation between societies(eg tribes) which has become the most relevant selective pressure for survival, and propagation, of life and individual DNA.

Your thoughts, Dan? (LMAO Assuming my comment is deserving of any) ;]

Yeah, mike, whatever you say

From Pharyngula:

I believe there is a fundamental morality, or at least an objective one based on two truths: the universe exists, and our reality is defined by the principle of cause and effect.

I believe our values are extensions of fundamental reality. Physicals laws drive the creation of more complex systems; only existence has meaning; existence is preserved ie. matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed; complex structures are more meaningful; blah blah blah, I still have problems expressing a couple of others, but… I’ve considered that ‘spirituality’ is connection to fundamental meaning and understanding of reality, including empathy, and that when Christians say that man is created in god’s image, that means as a creator. Fundamentally, creation is moral, and destruction is immoral, and co-operation is imperative, and understanding truth is mandatory.
Thus, my allusion to Hamlet’s Soliloquy.

As usual, I’m sure this has been covered to death somewhere, but I’m unaware of any specific claims for a fundamental, scientific basis for morality. Intersubjective verification – science is the blueprints for the bridge which connects subjective experience to objective/shared reality which is spirituality in a nutshell; connection.

Guess I should add that relationships are the fundamental descriptiove qualities of existence and, in fact, in quantum mechanics, we can only conclude the existence of and define particles by their relationships to each other, that the relationship is what is real, and we now return full circle to cause and effect being our only parameters for understanding what is ‘there’, or, real.

Just because

Another discussion going on, this one at Camels with Hammers. I just like to record my blatherings because sometimes I surreptitiously say something I never expressed before’

<div><cite>mikmik</cite> <span>says:</span>        </div>

<div><a href=”http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/2012/02/21/examining-some-alleged-divine-attributes/#comment-253162″&gt;
February 22, 2012 at 11:02 am</a>        </div>

<p>What, in our environment, in all our understanding of local reality +/- several orders of magnitude, isn’t rational?</p>
<p>My point above is that anything that exists does so according to the local parameters, ie laws of physics/nature, from which it arises, and therefore, whatever the circumstances in that reality/universe, it makes sense. Existence/stability over time, or the analogue, operates according to that reality, therefore:that reality makes sense to inhabitants of that reality = rationality.</p>
<p>Because we exist and interact successfully (survive, and thrive), anything we understand as reality that allows us to more deeply interact successfully(increased understanding) is therefore the very meaning of the word ‘rational.’</p>
<p>We don’t have to estimate how much of the universe we understand, everything that we can possibly understand follows the cause/effect relationship, because of the local reality of unidirectional time.<br>
It is only at extreme levels;energy,size,time intervals, and complexity, that we begin to encounter events that we don’t understand.<br>
Even here, the methods of science, based on the consistent properties of space/time that constrain ALL AND EVERY event and interaction imaginable, are expected to ultimately lead to a coherent understanding of these most extreme circumstances. </p>
<p>Your “Maybe our universe is only 1% comprehensible! (A notion which may lead to paradoxes… which is precisely the sort of thing I’m talking about.)” is obtuse in the extreme, for our universe very, very, very well understood – to the point of successfully modelling and predicting events, with great precision, molecular and sub-atomic, and gravitational and cosmological, energies.<br>
Our understanding of the ‘laws’ of reality are 100% for almost 100% of time of existence of matter.</p>
<p>That is rationality. That is what we mean when we say that because we are part of reality, we understand and operate and exist according to conditions that dictate what reality is. </p>
<p>By existing and thriving and deeply understanding our place in, and interactions with, reality, we conclude that we are rational.</p>
<p>Whatever the conditions of some other part of the multiverse, whatever exists inside them does so by ‘making sense’ of those conditions. We cannot possibly guess anything about what is outside of our reality, because our reality – the laws of our universe’s physics, break down. Our reality, and therefore what ‘makes sense to us’ no longer applies ‘out there.’ Before ‘here’, our universe.</p>
<p><b>Therefore, it is principally meaningless to try and postulate possible scenarios and properties for some god or first cause, because those scenarios are meaningless outside of our universe in the first place.</b></p>
<p>Our morality comes from personal understandings of reality that allow us to thrive as individuals, and through empathy, understanding that others have the same values as us and applying those personal understandings(values) universally.</p>

Rationally Speaking podcast: The ‘isms’ Episode

More of my blathering, today, where else, but in a reply to a blog post!!

The fundamental behaviors are what science can deal with, but the fundamental nature – the why and how – may easily be unkowable. I completely agree with you, Hector M., and that knowing is subject to our ability to mentally configure the objective observations, and our subjective knowledge is severely constrained by our experience of living in a purely cause and effect, macroscopic, environment.

I now see myself as a subjective awareness, and my sensory input and movements as interfaces to objective reality. My reality exists solely in my head, and my understanding of what is going on is what is ‘real’. How well my thoughts and understandings, and abstract creating and planning, can only be tested against ‘objective’, or ‘outside of self’, reality subject to my subjective values being satisfied. I strongly believe that our understanding is fundamentally limited to the nature, or level of nature, of our local macroscopic physical ‘laws’ of nature that shaped us, and we can affect in reverse. We are a product of a fundamentally limited slice of the over-all nature of our universe.

I can’t remember, maybe it was von Neuman, who replied, when asked by one of his students Felix T. Smith, “I’m afraid I don’t understand the method of characteristics.” Yes, it was, and he replied, “Young man, in mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.” Now that I read John von Neumann’s quotations, math seems to be a beautiful analogy to our attempts and knowing reality.

We seem to be limited to Bayesion modelling and selection (Bayesian Classification and Regression with High Dimensional Features ) in order to approximated the behavior of reality, one that is almost entirely probabilistic in nature, and thus, our knowledge of objective reality can never be any greater than probabilistic. 

 

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