It’s everything Facebook should be…
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It’s everything Facebook should be…
I find labels often misleading, simply because people try to define a word in the manner in which it pertains to them. This is a bit of egocentrism, I think. Agnostics, for example, will generally say that atheists “believe no god exists.” Atheists think of agnostics as “not reaching a conclusion,” I think this too is a bit absurd. I would venture to say that most atheists are philosophically agnostic while most agnostics are practically atheistic. The reason for this is that these two terms are not mutually exclusive as many have supposed. While I concede the agnostic point that any ultimate claim regarding god(s) is unknowable, I would also claim that everyone claiming such entities do exist is quite probably wrong. Practically speaking, however, atheism is the default position when left with the shrinking gaps for a potential deity to hide in, and none have, as yet, turned up. Concluding “well, we can never know” is missing the point entirely.
It used to be said that we would never be able to know what someone else was thinking. Thanks to recent advances in neuroimaging, we’re getting pretty close to this, going so far as to recognize patters for thoughts of actions, movements, and behaviors before the (in these cases, monkeys) do them. Predictive models of human behaviors and analytics are being used to predict (by Google and Facebook) what items or advertisers you would be most interested in based upon a given searches and patterns and personal information; the one Google uses is actually quite good with a >80% accuracy rate–go on, search for something you are genuinely interested in buying and look at the ads. Facebook is also fairly decent with their ads, too (my girlfriend is also convinced they often know what she’s thinking).
Should one, therefor, remain agnostic about what someone else is thinking? Of course, this technology is not (nor will be in the foreseeable future) available in a pocket-sized scanner. Does this mean we can never know it? Absolutely not; it is certainly knowable. Every nook and cranny in which a god or gods may dwell (and make any bit of a difference in our lives) is similarly knowable, however difficult this may be. Either a supernatural being has or is influencing the physical universe or isn’t. Either way, we can, as Darth Vader once said “detect a disturbance in the force.” The “force” in this case, being a euphemism for everything that exists. Along the same line, if it isn’t influencing anything, who cares? This would mean a soul doesn’t influence our behavior, a god can’t give us anything special, and (most importantly) no supernatural thing can be blamed or given credit for anything that happens.
Fair warning, these are just my notes from The Divinity of Doubt and aren’t really meant for public consumption, but feel free to read and comment.
For…a medical tricorder?
Vincent Buliosi has a book out called “Divinity of doubt.” This will be a masochistic read for me, since, thus far, he has resorted to the first cause, and “no transitional forms,” and “personal incredulity” arguments. I just finished chapter 5, and thus far am thoroughly impressed by his ability to write about that which he doesn’t understand.
I will start with saying that I had to stop reading when I didn’t have a place to write notes. It is really that bad. He isn’t a bad writer, just thoroughly unfamiliar with science and technology, often starting with false premises relating to technology and not-even-wrong ideas about science and running with them.
Memory (computer and neurological)
Self awareness in animals
Animal cultural learning
The nature of domestic animals
The rate of evolution
And many others.
I will finish reading, I shall cover them in turn. Most of my readers will likely know more on some of these subjects than I do, so feel free to chime in.
Love, laughter, learning, being lazy
The illusion of a duality
With only a bit of chemistry
We see ourselves through other’s eyes
Pretending we are a mystery.
We see others and ascribe animalistic motives
From their actions to votives
No explanation illusive
But to see ourselves this way
Can only be retrospective
Unless we understand
That the movement of our hand
Is really just as grand
A feat of complex chemistry
As emotions which trigger the lacrimal gland
If only the children
Knew their sugar plum vision
Was simply a derision
Of molecules dancing
Into a Brownian collision
And the complex natures
Of the nervous systems’ features
Leads many ignorant preachers
To say “here lies God and free will”
Ignoring homology with other creatures
It is not in our emotions
That we find our devotions
But in the commotions
Between neurons and cells
Where we truly discover ourselves
“Our emotions are chemical”
Is not a means to belittle
But expresses the physical
Reality of the brain
Because it isn’t mystical
Note: written in haste and delirium after an alarm was set for midnight…