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Radical Skepticism and Religious Experience

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
    OK, let's narrow this discussion down a little bit and think about the simulation argument. In analytic philosophy today, many people are taking this argument very seriously. You can listen to Nick Bostrom talking about it here on Philosophy Bites:

    philosophy bites: Nick Bostrom on the Simulation Argument

    It's very telling that you immediately reject and ridicule the simulation argument. The idea is so disturbing to you that you can't even consider it as a possibility. My own view is that it could be true but that it doesn't make any practical difference to my life anyway, and I think Bostrom and Chalmers would agree with me.
    I don't ridicule the simulation argument expicitly - I hold current analytic philosophy in equally low esteem. Most philosophers try to argue, using reason to know the world, but their philosophy is tainted with disbelief in their own reason. So, they end up with trying to use reason in proving the unreliability of reason, and I just find that an excercise in futility.

    And another point I also find equally strange about analytic philosophy is how socially unacceptable it is to discuss the unmoved mover - but you can get analytic philosophers to take any other idea seriously, no matter how metaphysically unbelievable. Why is that? There is no good answer to that.

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
      I don't ridicule the simulation argument expicitly - I hold current analytic philosophy in equally low esteem. Most philosophers try to argue, using reason to know the world, but their philosophy is tainted with disbelief in their own reason. So, they end up with trying to use reason in proving the unreliability of reason, and I just find that an excercise in futility.

      And another point I also find equally strange about analytic philosophy is how socially unacceptable it is to discuss the unmoved mover - but you can get analytic philosophers to take any other idea seriously, no matter how metaphysically unbelievable. Why is that? There is no good answer to that.
      Speaking of ignoring things, why is it that theologians and apologists never want to deal with the question, "Why would a perfect being want to create anything in the first place?"

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      • #48
        Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
        Speaking of ignoring things, why is it that theologians and apologists never want to deal with the question, "Why would a perfect being want to create anything in the first place?"
        Because perfection is impossible so there is no perfect being. It is the goal but it is unattainable. So to create is to strive towards perfection. Another word for this is evolution.

        Just my thoughts ... I'm no philosopher (nor am I a theologian/apologist - not many of them here, I suspect).
        Last edited by Kamarling; August 21st, 2013, 05:44 AM.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
          But basically, even though I can't as yet find a flawless refutation of your skepticism, its usefulness is just intuitively zero to me - kind of like the reaction that someone would get out of me when claiming that all the worlds brick walls are made of polka.

          It might be true but I just don't believe it and it occupies very little of my energy.
          I sort of agree about its uselessness. The multiverse hypothesis is a little related to the radical skepticism argument, in that as with radical skepticism there is no way the hypothesis of an infinite number of other isolated universes with varying properties can be tested by measurement. It is just a way to push the creator problem under the rug by explaining apparently anthropic fine tuning. Radical skepticism buries it by denying the ultimate validity of any knowledge.

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          • #50
            Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
            OK, let's narrow this discussion down a little bit and think about the simulation argument. In analytic philosophy today, many people are taking this argument very seriously. You can listen to Nick Bostrom talking about it here on Philosophy Bites:

            philosophy bites: Nick Bostrom on the Simulation Argument

            It's very telling that you immediately reject and ridicule the simulation argument. The idea is so disturbing to you that you can't even consider it as a possibility. My own view is that it could be true but that it doesn't make any practical difference to my life anyway, and I think Bostrom and Chalmers would agree with me.
            IIRC Chalmers definitely agrees with you though I can't recall where I saw his essay on the subject....I'll get back to you.

            Keeping in mind I've not read much NDE related stuff, I also agree that lots of NDEs telling us about God and the afterlife can't offer definitive proof. (Note I'm assuming the NDEs offer some verifiable information that increases our belief in accepting them as valid.)

            But taken at face value they'd at least offer a rational person some good reason think there's something more to the consciousness than the brain. I understand there's more evidence that, if accepted at face value, helps prove or at least suggests that this "more" is in fact an afterlife.

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            • #51
              Originally posted by Sciborg2 View Post
              IIRC Chalmers definitely agrees with you though I can't recall where I saw his essay on the subject....I'll get back to you.

              Keeping in mind I've not read much NDE related stuff, I also agree that lots of NDEs telling us about God and the afterlife can't offer definitive proof. (Note I'm assuming the NDEs offer some verifiable information that increases our belief in accepting them as valid.)

              But taken at face value they'd at least offer a rational person some good reason think there's something more to the consciousness than the brain. I understand there's more evidence that, if accepted at face value, helps prove or at least suggests that this "more" is in fact an afterlife.
              Yeah, there could be an afterlife, but if we're inside a computer simulation then the simulators could just stop the whole thing (this life and afterlife) whenever they feel like it. So even if it's true that there's an afterlife, that's not going to give anybody a feeling of security and peace if it's also true that we're inside a computer simulation.

              It seems to me that the main reason why people want there to be an afterlife is that they don't want to die. They want to know for sure that they will live forever. Consider the following: would anybody really be happy to find out that there is an afterlife but that it only lasts for another 100 years and then you're really gone for good? I doubt it. People want immortality, not just an afterlife.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                It seems to me that the main reason why people want there to be an afterlife is that they don't want to die.
                You are trying to explain something. But that "something" is just one of your assumptions. That is "people want there to be an afterlife".

                The existence or otherwise of an afterlife doesn't depend upon whether or not "people want" it to be so. In fact there are plenty of people who want just the opposite.

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                • #53
                  I don't want the sky to be green. Does that make my statement "The sky is blue." less credible?

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                  • #54
                    Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                    Speaking of ignoring things, why is it that theologians and apologists never want to deal with the question, "Why would a perfect being want to create anything in the first place?"
                    I am not an apologist nor a theologian - even though I think highly of some of them.

                    I do, however, know what a classical view of this problem is within theological circles:

                    God is not a being amonst other beings - he is being itself. That means that God is what sustains all contigent beings by the necessity of his own being.

                    So he is not a being within this world - he is the foundation or the fabric of this world.

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
                      I don't want the sky to be green. Does that make my statement "The sky is blue." less credible?
                      You're missing my point, though. People like Alex always go on about how life is meaningless unless there's an afterlife. However, it's not just any old afterlife they're talking about, since if they were to exist as a disembodied spirit for another hundred years after their 'death', and then really die once and for all, they wouldn't be satisfied with this at all. Deep down they agree with people like William Lane Craig that life is meaningless unless we live forever. As I've said before, I agree with Nagel that this is a terrible argument.
                      Last edited by Dom1978; August 23rd, 2013, 06:44 AM.

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Carl Jung View Post
                        I am not an apologist nor a theologian - even though I think highly of some of them.

                        I do, however, know what a classical view of this problem is within theological circles:

                        God is not a being amonst other beings - he is being itself. That means that God is what sustains all contigent beings by the necessity of his own being.

                        So he is not a being within this world - he is the foundation or the fabric of this world.
                        yep

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                          By the way, I do hope that there is an afterlife. I hope I continue to have experiences after I die. My point in this thread is just to say that I can't understand how these experiences, however amazing they may be, could ever get me any closer to knowing God, the meaning of life or the ultimate nature of reality.
                          Why not settle for a lesser goal - knowing (with a certain probability) that consciousness isn't a computation in the brain, and that there is a fair amount of evidence for a continuation after death.

                          You have to wean yourself from the craving for absolute certainty. It is really only religion that offers that sort of certainty to their followers, but then you end up with no confidence in them!

                          Science itself, does not contain proofs - only evidence that is more or less convincing. Only maths offers proofs.

                          David

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                            Yeah, there could be an afterlife, but if we're inside a computer simulation then the simulators could just stop the whole thing (this life and afterlife) whenever they feel like it.
                            Yes, but why would a computer simulation be aware of anything at all? Cutting a long philosophical argument to its core, a computer can't possible 'explain' feelings. Can a computer model of depression, actually feel depression? If anyone believed that, every computer run of such a program would need ethical approval!

                            David

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                            • #59
                              Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                              You're missing my point, though. People like Alex always go on about how life is meaningless unless there's an afterlife. However, it's not just any old afterlife they're talking about, since if they were to exist as a disembodied spirit for another hundred years after their 'death', and then really die once and for all, they wouldn't be satisfied with this at all. Deep down they agree with people like William Lane Craig that life is meaningless unless we live forever. As I've said before, I agree with Nagel that this is a terrible argument.
                              Stop saying I'm missing your point. I haven't. Is this the third time I answer your posts in this thread about Nagels argument?

                              First of, I don't know what William Lane Craig says about this - and I can't answer for other people.

                              Secondly, Nagel is a profound thinker so I doubt he thinks that people simply want eternity of any kind. That is simply not the Nagel I have read.
                              If he does then its nonsense and it would lower my opinion of him.

                              I think its much more likely that people find eternity a necessary but not sufficient cause for meaning.

                              For myself I think that if life is not eternal then I could find meaning in it by using up my life trying to fulfill some goal which is eternal in itself. But in our transient existence I don't know what those goals would be. That is probably the thing that makes me want eternity.

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                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Dom1978 View Post
                                You're missing my point, though. People like Alex always go on about how life is meaningless unless there's an afterlife.
                                I don't believe mortality without post-mortem survival is inherently meaningless, but I'm deeply concerned about the meaning atheist materialists put in its place. It either consists of de facto religious belief for which there is no support and an even more unlikely set of myths (reciprocal altruism, humanism and the like) or sociopathological despotic traits (atheist tyranny C20th style), or whimsy (materialism2, fantasy comics and gaming, ennui). I have yet to see a non-survival model for living that reflects the varied conditions of humanity as authentically as continued non-local consciousness.

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