Monday, July 21, 2008

Themes of Civlization part 1: Meaning and Truth

Part 1 of 1

(part 1 of 1)


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Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)

See The Ultimate Online Sartre resource: "have a coffee Break With Jean-Paul."

I have decided to flesh out several themes that are implicit in the piece I wrote in "Open Letter to John Loftus and the DC crowd."In doing so I will be speaking in a very general sense. Obviously I can't lay out the whole history of western civ. in a blog spot. I realize I will painting with a broad brush. But this an attempt to spell out the ideas that have always acted as undergirding for my belief system and spur me on to faith. I don't claim to be making pronouncements from on high. I don't claim that I could prove all my beliefs. Rather I shall attempt to spell out some of the basic reasons for my world view.

Perhaps the most important underlying theme of that essay is that of meaning and transcendent truth. Meaning in life plays a big role in the playing our of my youthful formation, because as a Sartian existentialist I bought into the line that "life is meaningless and absurd." it certainly seem meaningless to me when I was young. This was what the Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre was all about. I felt then and I still feel today that Sartre was entirely correct his assertion that his philosophy was the logical consequence of not God. If there is no God Sartre was basically right about life and meaning. Existentialism had its hay day in the 50's. It burst on the scene after the war, the late 40's the major thinkers were turning to social ills, as the country tried to get back to civilian life. Hollywood began making "film noir" movies, and socially poiniant films like "the Best Years of Our Lives." Films that either dealth with the dark side of human nature, or tried to expose social ills. In that context existentialism suddenly took center stage in cultural world and the world of letters, because it was seen as the way to put France back in the center as the culture leader it had been before Nazi occupation. Sartre had fought in the underground, escaped from a Pris ion camp by just walking out and acting confident like he was supposed to be doing it!

Existentialism hit its stride in the 50's when many thinkers became famous for it, such as Gabriel Marcel with Christian existentialism, Niebuhr bothers (Reinhold and H. Richard) and Paul Tillich with existentially based theologies. Albert Camus hit his stride in that decade. In art Jackson Pollock represented existentialist themes, and in film Ingmar Bergmann. By the 60s existentialism has become a cultural icon. The philosophy became fuzzy in people's minds. As with "Postmodernism" the exactly meaning of the term was replaced with an image. People who didn't know what to call a painting or a film that seemed "edgy" or confusing called it "existential." The term conjured up images of people wearing berets and sipping espresso at a side walk cafe on the left bank and smoking Galloir cigarettes and saying things like "It is all absurd!" In the 90's this image worked its ay into beer commercials. The clown of life and the slogan "why ask why" were parodies of this "existential" feeling. "why do you sit on the beach with the sad clown of life? why ask why?" That image and the feeling it evoked lent a je ne c'est qua to our adolescent rebellion and our lonley youthful strivings. My brother and our best friend Lantz saw the Bergmann film "Smiles of a Summer Night." The talk of "the yellow pavilion" in that film gave them the idea of speaking of Lantz's garage as "the yellow pavilion," (because it has just been painted yellow). We did not want to be in Dallas, we wanted to be in Paris or New York, so we forged our own Texas version of existentialist image, sipping coffee in Ihop and smoking camel filters dipped in paragaric and saying "It's all so absurd!" Texas Rednecks in ear shot would say "whut are them bo-ahs talk'n about?" as we unabashedly and loudly discussed the metrical patterns of Keats, Marcuse, Joyce, Descartes, and of course Sartre. Once my brother and friend were were working on an atheist critique of the bible, with a bible present. A redneck who didn't know up from down thought they were Christian fundametalists making apologetic notes and he came over to them and shouted, baning on the table, "a couple bible thumping bad ass boys!" I said to my brother when he told about this "why didn't you tell him what you were doing?" He said "I don't want that guy on my side!"

One of my favorite scenes in Woody Alan's filmAnnie Hall is a parody of this general image that existentialism had been stuck with by the 70's. Woody is in an art museum. A woman is gazing before a famous painting by Jackson Pollock. She says "can't you just feel the anxt, the deep respire, the black abyss of meaningless and nothingness." Long pause in which Woody contemplates what was said. He then says "what are you doing tonight?" The woman replys "committing suicide, at 12:00 midnight!" Wood says, "what are doing at 11:45?"

Despite this romanticism, existentialism was a cogent philosophy, well thought out and based upon an older tradition that stretches back to the middle ages.

Sartre explains his philosophy most cogently and non technically in his essay
"Existentialism is a Humanism." The essay was first published in 1956, the year of my birth. But its most available incarnation is in Walter Kauffmann's book Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre 1989l, however the original lecture was given in 1946. Sartre begins his discussion in defining existentialism as the belief that "being proceeds essence." This will have a profound bearing upon the concept of both meaning and truth because it is a direct attack upon age old theistic notions of the meaning of truth. The age old is say that essence proceeds being. In other words, first there is an idea in the mind of God, then God creates that idea in concrete existent form. This stems from the thinking of the scholastics and Thomas Aquinas. But there are other themes that might challenge this notion. Aquinas was an Aristotelian. In his day he was greatly despised for brining novelty into theology. Theology was supposed to be set in stone, the really true truth that you didn't mess with. Thus Augustine was the philosopher of the Church. He was a Platonist. Aristotle was the philosopher of the Arabs, they saved his ideas. Plato was the intellectual bedrock of the church, and all the language of the creeds, with its incidents and accidents, was shaped by Plato. To bring Aristotle into it, especially after he was identified with the Arabs, who were infidels, this was a scandal.

The roots of existentialism have long been seen as stretching back to Augustine, but more so to Aquinas. The major difference in Plato and Aristotle is what they do with the forms. Plato said the world we know is the reflection, like a reflection of an object in a pool of water. The reflection (the "real" world) participates in the forms thus has it's being. Augustine said the forms are in the mind of God. So the participation in the forms is that of a thought in a mind; like the idea of an art work in the mind of the artist, or of an object such as a piece of furniture in the mind of the artisan who makes it. Aristotle said "there is no form without essence." This means there is no world of the forms "out there," the forms themselves appear with and in the concrete examples of them. Thus there is no form of mud, there is mud right here and that mud contains the form of mud, there is no general universal ideal mud that it participates in.

The idea of the forms in the mind of God gave life meaning, it meant that it is an expression of what God had conceived for it in his mind. Now Aquinas obviously believed that God created the world. But taking Aristotle's view of no form without essence he left open the possibility for individual "particulars" (the things in the world, in the concrete examples) to be shaped by "incidents and accidents." These ideas already existed. The major aspect of Platonic thought that played upon the Christian notion of Trinity was the concept of "essence." This comes from the concept of substance (really the same ideas); the Greek term is hamosios. This means the aspect of something that makes it what it is. So the Platonic Augustinians are saying a thing is what it is because it is first held in the mind of God. But the Aristotelean scholastics were saying that the from, the substance that defines it is in the individual event not in some pre set concept. The third view was Nominalism that comes form the followers of Duns Scottus. They said "a rose is a rose is a rose." Meaning there is no special form that defines a thing, it's just what it is. Even though they were Christians too, they are the forerunners of modern reductionism. Well The particulars of this story get pretty complex. I have to skip over the rest to get tot he point. Suffice to say Sartre came into it and said "there is not only no form without essence but being proceeds essence."

This is a radical jump from the previous stage. I am not saying Sartre was the first to say that. But he took it and made it his own. The idea is that there is no pre set formula or concept for things in the world, they are just what they are becasue they just happen by accident and random chance. The upshot of all of this is humanity; what is humanity? Because the themes of the past said humanity is a creature of God, thus as humans we have a duty to God. Unfortunately time does not permit a exploration of this concept of "accident." Because the scholastic notion of accident is much like our modern random chance notion, and that's where it comes from. All of our modern concepts of cause and effect, occurrence (incident) and random "accident" have their origins in the scholastic notion of cause and effect. The modern world just cut off the bits that pertain to first cause and the other forms of causes and left sufficient cause as our modern notion of c/e. Thus c/e comes out of the concept of necessity and contingency.

Sartre just moves it over one. It's not that the essence is within the form, essence is following form. For humanity that means we first exist. We exist for no particular reason except the c/e reason that science uses to explain the random event that led to life on earth, and the it is up to us to us to make ourselves what we will. In other words we are free to become what we wish to become. This is a principle concept for Sartre, radical freedom. We are free, we are condemned to be free. This means we can't avoid making decisions, we can't rest upon being shaped by prior forces. Sartre would have none of the modern determinism stuff of chemical determinism. We are radically free, we have to choose what we will become. He re shapes the concept of essence. It first meant (substance, hamousios)the quality that defines what a thing is. Thus the substance of a horse is long nose, mane, tail, four legs with hoofs, and so forth. But for the scholastics it was like a special unseen quality that pervades things. For Plato there was a special realm somewhere beyond the world we know where the universal ideals exist (forms) and the particular instances of these things participate in these ideals in a way that is mediated through the spend el of necessity. But For Aquinas the substance was actual in the particular. For Sartre substance boils down to an abstract definition of what something is. This is very crucial. This must be understood, because it is up to us to decide for ourselves what we are, we determine our own essence. If I want to be brave, I want to be a brave man, I define brave formyself. "I am brave because I go to the store by myself." I am brave because I'm not worried about McCain winning. We set a value and we define if we live up to that value. Thus in a sense we are making truth for ourselves. We making meaning for ourselves.

Meaning is the whole point. For Sartre life is meaningless and absurd. This has a particular meaning. I am not doing justice to the complexity of Sartre's philosophy. He was a brilliant thinker, and his most technical philosophical treaties is hard to read and requires a real educational background in Philosophy. It is called Being and Nothingness. That book is widely known throughout the academy to have been a "ripoff" of Heidegger's Being and Time. Heidegger was Sartre's teacher. It is true that he was greatly influenced by his old professor. I see Being and Nothingness as an attempt to translate the ideas of Heidegger into French thinking, not as out and out theft. Sartre does ad his own original slant to the ideas. But the necessity of baptizing into French culture ideas of a German philosopher was a very real problem. So Sartre was doing a service to Heidegger not just stealing his work.

For Sartre "meaningless" means there is no pre set essence, there is no predetermined value or ideal or definition for life. We are free we are not shaped by any duty or obligation to God or any higher power. We just organisms and we are here. Then it is up to us to decide what our lives mean, what value there is int them, to define for ourselves the meaning we wish to put on it. The most crucial step, humanity becomes what it wishes to become. Humanity is that thing whatever it is. We are not creatures, we were not created, we are not creatures of God, we are creatures of ourselves because we crate for ourselves our own meaning. We create our own truth because truth, if defined as "that which is" is a function of essence. We shape our own essence by the force of our own being, then we are defining truth according to what we have become. That which we are is a function of that which we chose to be. This should all have real resonance with atheists. Even atheists of today who have no background in existentialism should find kinship with these ideas.

So I believe that Sartre has one of the best readings of meaning of life, if there is no God! If there is no God then there is Jean-Paul Sartre! But the problems in Sartre's views then become for me problems in being an atheist. They becomes reasons to assume the reverse of Sartre's view. Sartre was explicating the consequences philosophically of a world with no God, thus if these consequences prove to be false, that would be a reason to assume there is a God. Of course we can't think of it as proof. But I tend to think of it as a good reason to assume God in understanding what we should do about civilization.

There's one more step before I cover, self authentication. One determines one's own essence, that means we attach our own meaning to our lives by deciding upon our own values. When we do this in such a way as to act in freedom for ourselves to define ourselves, we make ourselves who we are, this Sartre calls "self authentication." It is in a sense the Sartian alternative to salvation. A Sartian existentalist doesn't die and go to heaven, he lives out his/her life on earth, enjoys it, and that is called self-authentication. Of course I'm leaving out a lot; good faith, bad faith, shinking under the gave of the other, neusia, the state that arises from realizing the meaninglessness and absurdity of it all. Also this is connected to anxiety, in existentialist terms "anxt." This is most important but I have no time to cover it. Now lest one think there is none of this in Christian existentialism, all of these moves are found in Keirkegaard in one form or another, and certainly in Gabriel Marcel.Of cousrse Kierkegaard lived over fifty years before Sartre was born, while Marcel was a big fan of Sartre's (even though he was a Christian and Sartre an atheist). Christian existentialism proceeds not from the move "being proceeds essence" but form the move that the point of life is find connection with our source and thus become "more ourselves," (Keirkegaard).

Time and space does not permit more. This is only a blog but I will do part 2 of 1 next time. In that essay I will show why all of this really can be reversed and indicates a fine justification for belief in God.

29 comments:

Reed_Rothchild said...

"Purpose" and "meaning" are constructs of conscious minds. Minds decide if something has meaning or lacks it. To me, NFL football is highly meaningful. To my girlfriend it isnt. Satre is incorrect in saying that without God life in meaningless. Completely and utterly wrong. It is also incorrect in thinkin that if there is a God, suddenly life is more meaningful. In what way? Life is no more or less meaningful without God -- unless you decide that it is as an individual. Meaning and purpose require a choice or judgement of a conscious mind. It requires a journey. Its not this solid thing "out there". "Oh, there is God! Life after death! Now it all makes sense". Well, no. In the event that God was proven beyond a shadow of doubt to exist, I would still have issue and questions and would not neccesarily feel any more of a sense of "purpose" or "meaning". To an extent, those words -- its just semantic bullshit.

Perhaps no God means meaninglessness to YOU. You can always attempt to find meaning and purpose elsewhere. Maybe YOU will genuinley seek and fail. Maybe not. There is no universal, tidy, answer to the questions of "meaning" and "purpose". Those things are not hard things. They are plastic.

People seem to think of "purpose" and "meaning" as THE ultimate reason for things. the finality. The thing that ties all the loose ends up. The end to the story. I do not see how "heaven" is an answer that shuts them up. If anything it brings up more questions. What then? Is the game up? Thats the end? Thats your "purpose"? Id rather perfer the game of cat and mouse to go on. To me, the moment IS the meaning. It all makes sense even when it doesnt. God or no God. I rather like living. Even when I am depressed or sad. Which is why I find "annihilation" just as hateful as eternal torture.

I know I chose only a portion of the point of your blog to comment on, but at least I am reading it.

Anonymous said...

Your ideas are retarded, please end your life.

J.L. Hinman said...

Your ideas are retarded, please end your life.

so far I've only talked about Sartres ideas.

I had a feeling you were stupid to understand them. that's why he's not popular as an atheist spokesman now. he came from an age when it took intelligence and education to understand atheist arguments.

J.L. Hinman said...
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J.L. Hinman said...
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J.L. Hinman said...

reed, wait for part 2. you are jumping the gun.

but every major thinker has Agreed with Sartre. I don't know of one who doesn't and plenty of others have observed the same thing. that's what Derrida was about. That's what Post modernism is about: that there is no meta narrative and therefore there is no truth or meaning.

J.L. Hinman said...

2 Timothy 3-4:5 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
[NIV at IBS] [International Bible Society] [NIV at Zondervan] [Zondervan]

2 Timothy 3
Godlessness in the Last Days
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
Paul's Charge to Timothy
10You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

5:28 PM

Kristen said...

Reed Rothchild said,

"Meaning and purpose are constructs of conscious minds. . . Meaning and purpose require a choice or judgment of a conscious mind. It requires a journey. It is not this solid thing 'out there'."

I'm afraid I have never, all my life, been able to wrap my mind around this concept. If "meaning" is only something come up with by our consciousness, which is supposed to be reduceable completely to brain function--chemicals and electrical connections-- in what sense is it meaning? What *is* meaning, used this way?

To me-- even from childhood, even before I ever heard of Satre or any other philosophy-- "meaning" and "purpose" meant something larger than myself. An empty universe, in which I am a creature existing only by random chance, whose death will change nothing in the universe, or even (in the long run) on earth-- there is no "meaning" or "purpose" there. There could be no meaning or purpose in the random generations of a mindless universe-- no matter how important I think I am to myself!

That is the way it has seemed to me all my life, and apparently that is the way it seemed to Sartre as well. The other idea-- that I as a random burst of electrical/chemical interactions could somehow generate something called "meaning," has never made any sense to me.

I'm sorry if it bothers anyone-- but to me, "meaning" that is not "ultimate" or somehow universal, is not "meaning" at all, but only a fantasy of our imaginations.

For the rest, I appreciate Joe's synopsis of historical philosophy and Sartre's contribution to it. I remember learning all this a long time ago-- but it was a long time ago.

Loren said...

Jean-Paul Sartre's viewpoint seems like being mad at God for refusing to exist:

"How dare you refuse to exist and deprive me of marching orders!!!"

However, there have been plenty of non-existentialist atheists past and present, plenty of atheists who don't mope around about how crushed and let down they feel about gods being absent or nonexistent.

Atheists like the Epicureans and Robert Ingersoll and Bertrand Russell and the "New Atheists", including notable atheist bloggers like PZ Myers and Ebonmuse.

And even if the Universe does have some Great Cosmic Purpose, one has to be willing to accept that it could be something other than what one might want it to be.

Like a Universe designed to tease and torment us as much as possible.

J.L. Hinman said...

There are many criticisms of Sartre. Look up what his "lady friend" Simone de Bovoir said about him. She was the major force behind feminism in France and a strong influence upon American feminists too.

But all the atheists you name can be similarly criticized. Russell's understanding of religion is childish. He got his ass kicked in debates with E.L.Mascal and Frederick Copleston because he really didn't understand the sophisticated side of the Christian ideas.

All atheists strike me as saying "I refuse to accept that I ma not my own god."

J.L. Hinman said...

Say Kristen, I enjoyed your comments, thanks.

J.L. Hinman said...

PS to Loren. That last bit, that is not some dismissal of our comments. I appreciate your contribution. Don't be too hard on Sartre, remember,I'm just summarizing from memory and I don't have time to really do him justice.

I'm working largley from what remember from thirty years ago.

Reed_Rothchild said...

Kristen, the "random chemicals in the brain" stuff is a strawman of your contruction. I never mentioned any of that.

Human beings decide what "meaning" is. Simple as that. What is meaningful to one is not always the same for another.

I dont get this view of "purpose" or "meaning" as "the end", the finality, the thing "out there" that brings the story to a halt. I like open ended movies. not ones with tidy, cliche' hollywood endings.

The simplified arguement seems to be "God = measning" "No God = meaningless". I disagree. This is independant of EOG.

I think life is meaningful weather or not God exists.

I never understood the comsic fear people have. People have a sort of vuiew that is the opposite of clausterphobia. The bigger the space, the more meaningless we are. Why? You have friends HERE. there are trees and animals and orgasms and family and baseball and it is all HERE. And it all means something no matter how big the unviverse is! Scope has no relation to meaning in my mind. None at all.

I went to Chicago a few weeks ago. I didnt feel "less" of a person than I did back home just because the city is 5 times as big.

Does that not all come from a short of selfishness? People want there to be less so that they matter more. I think that is nonsense. Its all about consiousness. Its all in your brain and mind. Thats where everything is grasped. And it all means something. I think, therefore it is meaningful.

J.L. Hinman said...

Kristen, the "random chemicals in the brain" stuff is a strawman of your contruction. I never mentioned any of that.

I knew that

Human beings decide what "meaning" is. Simple as that. What is meaningful to one is not always the same for another.


beaging the question. We decide meanign UNLESS THERE IS A HIGHER POWER COMMUNICATING WITH US! supposes aliens tried to get in touch, will you argue that they can't possibly have any meaning in their statements because we deice what meaning is?

Humans don't make meaning meaningful, we either understand it or we don't. Of course we have to decide that we are understanding something, but we don't determine the content of communications to us.


I dont get this view of "purpose" or "meaning" as "the end", the finality, the thing "out there" that brings the story to a halt. I like open ended movies. not ones with tidy, cliche' hollywood endings.


It's not a temporal end but a teleological one.

The simplified arguement seems to be "God = measning" "No God = meaningless". I disagree. This is independent of EOG.


Meaning beyond the personal, the relative, the localized; you are wrong. what would make something meaningful other than your own personal taste?

I think life is meaningful weather or not God exists.


why? Aside from the personal an relative what makes it meaningful?

I never understood the comsic fear people have. People have a sort of vuiew that is the opposite of clausterphobia. The bigger the space, the more meaningless we are. Why?


How did fear get in here? CAn you not understand that your opinion is not divine? it's just you and if you are nothing but an accident, bread mold growing a cup cake in a dusmpter there nothing beyond you that makes any different. you die, splat you are gone, who cares?

you can't see the logic here?



You have friends HERE. there are trees and animals and orgasms and family and baseball and it is all HERE. And it all means something no matter how big the unviverse is! Scope has no relation to meaning in my mind. None at all.


Not really. it means something in a private sense. but so what. the bread mold in dumpster might have sentimental feelings about the cup cake it's on but so what? I don't' care.

why should I care about your sentiment. you don't car about my old days the coffee shop or the yellow garage or the Sartre that I read. you don't care how I felt reading that, it doesn't make one damn bit of difference to you.It's only meaningful to me and no one else. the things you find meaning in are just unimportant to me.


I went to Chicago a few weeks ago. I didnt feel "less" of a person than I did back home just because the city is 5 times as big.


that has nothing to do with it.

Does that not all come from a short of selfishness? People want there to be less so that they matter more.

you are the selfish one. can't you see that? you want your little feelings to e as important as God's will. you think you are more important than God!




I think that is nonsense. Its all about consiousness. Its all in your brain and mind. Thats where everything is grasped. And it all means something. I think, therefore it is meaningful.

so when people talk to you you just decide what you want them to be saying?

Reed_Rothchild said...

"beaging the question. We decide meanign UNLESS THERE IS A HIGHER POWER COMMUNICATING WITH US! supposes aliens tried to get in touch, will you argue that they can't possibly have any meaning in their statements because we deice what meaning is?"

You are confusing the deciphering of language with "higher" meaning. Two seperate things. Thats a nonsense comparison.


"Humans don't make meaning meaningful, we either understand it or we don't. Of course we have to decide that we are understanding something, but we don't determine the content of communications to us."

Whats "it"? What are you talking about.



"It's not a temporal end but a teleological one."

I get that. But I still feel that, there is this sense of finality to it. The journey is over.


"Meaning beyond the personal, the relative, the localized; you are wrong. what would make something meaningful other than your own personal taste?"


Nothing. It neednt not.


"why? Aside from the personal an relative what makes it meaningful?"

How does a man behind the curtain make it any different? You are appealing to magic. Stop jumping up and down and smashing things. Its simply the truth. you know the magician behind the curtain that makes all meaningful so we best get with your program. No. Sorry.


"How did fear get in here? CAn you not understand that your opinion is not divine?"

huh? I never said that was the case. You are projecting this Christian bullshit onto me. This "We are right and everybody else just wants to be selfish Gods themselves".

Thats fundy crap man.


"it's just you and if you are nothing but an accident, bread mold growing a cup cake in a dusmpter there nothing beyond you that makes any different. you die, splat you are gone, who cares?"

If there is a God why is it any different?

"you can't see the logic here?"

The "I know the hidden sky magician who makes everything meaningful get with my program or suiffer the consequenses"?

your not any different that the fundies man. here I was expecting something different. The only difference between you and the fundies is that you take some things less literal. Thats it.



"why should I care about your sentiment."

You dont have to. You may or may not. I dont care for your simplistic magic sky man Jesus bullcrap either.


"you don't car about my old days the coffee shop or the yellow garage or the Sartre that I read. you don't care how I felt reading that, it doesn't make one damn bit of difference to you.It's only meaningful to me and no one else. the things you find meaning in are just unimportant to me."

They sound wonderful. People often tell me stories that I find meaning in. sometimes not. it depends.



"you are the selfish one. can't you see that? you want your little feelings to e as important as God's will. you think you are more important than God!"

I dont believe in any God. This is more fundy projection putrid crap. Thats all.


"so when people talk to you you just decide what you want them to be saying?"

No. You bring nothing new to the table. Im really dissapointed.

Loren said...

Metacrock, you comment:

But all the atheists you name can be similarly criticized. Russell's understanding of religion is childish. He got his ass kicked in debates with E.L.Mascal and Frederick Copleston because he really didn't understand the sophisticated side of the Christian ideas.

I've yet to find anything substantial about those debates.

And this response seems like a case of "The Courtier's Reply", that is, begging the question with claims of great sophistication rather than addressing the central issue of whether there is something to talk about.

All atheists strike me as saying "I refuse to accept that I ma not my own god."

That implies a cosmic-autocrat view of God, one that you have claimed elsewhere is an ignorant caricature.

In any case, that is a great misunderstanding of atheism -- many people become atheists because they conclude that all gods are fictional beings. Check out some deconversion testimonies some time.

J.L. Hinman said...

Reed rothchild

Metabeaging the question. We decide meanign UNLESS THERE IS A HIGHER POWER COMMUNICATING WITH US! supposes aliens tried to get in touch, will you argue that they can't possibly have any meaning in their statements because we deice what meaning is?"

You are confusing the deciphering of language with "higher" meaning. Two seperate things. Thats a nonsense comparison.


No I rather think you making that confused mistake. I'm clear that I'm talking about higher meaning which is not the same as understanding language. what the two have in common, however, is they can both be communicated. If you have communication going on its not a matter of just deciding whta it means for yourself apart from what the sender meant. You want to just assume there is no sender, a prori, no reason.


Meta"Humans don't make meaning meaningful, we either understand it or we don't. Of course we have to decide that we are understanding something, but we don't determine the content of communications to us."

Whats "it"? What are you talking about.

I am talkingn to you now. You are not in charging of deciding what I"m trying to say. So if higher meaning is God's "message" to us, we are not in charge of deciding what he is saying, we have to try and decipher it.

Of course here I'm using language as a metaphor because I'm not saying that higher meaning is as clear cut as language, I'm not talking about the Bible per se here.

although that might be one form the massage takes.




"It's not a temporal end but a teleological one."

I get that. But I still feel that, there is this sense of finality to it. The journey is over.


It is just begining


"Meaning beyond the personal, the relative, the localized; you are wrong. what would make something meaningful other than your own personal taste?"


Nothing. It neednt not.


Most people do. your denial of your need is in direct contradiction to hundreds of studies on religious experince which show that most people who have them are greatly enhanced by the heightened sense of purpose and meaning.


"why? Aside from the personal an relative what makes it meaningful?"

How does a man behind the curtain make it any different?

why do you have to deride it? why can't you face the logic honestly? why would the creator make the creation meaningful gee I don't know! gosh why would the inventor know more about his invention than someone who never saw it before, golly I can't figure the out!



You are appealing to magic. Stop jumping up and down and smashing things. Its simply the truth. you know the magician behind the curtain that makes all meaningful so we best get with your program. No. Sorry.


no sorry that's your little wish. you don't want big mean bully man God to replace your object of worshi, yourselfp. you want to be god for you. So you you rebel.

but that's not intellectual that's just being a small boy.

bringing into it your limitatinos and the limits on your understanding of religino to degrade it tot he level of how you see it because you don't understand the way I see it is not clever an not an argument. degrading it doesn't make it go away.

that's not honestly facing arguments.



"How did fear get in here? CAn you not understand that your opinion is not divine?"

huh? I never said that was the case. You are projecting this Christian bullshit onto me. This "We are right and everybody else just wants to be selfish Gods themselves".


right but you are not projecting your hatred dof "this bullshit" upno my view my view instead of trying o understand it are you?

of course you assume I'm a fundie and I'm talking about a big man on throne don't you? you think of God as a big man don't you?


Thats fundy crap man.


see! you don't even bother to read the back issues of the blog and see what I really think you just thsi little automatic reaction "Christian = fudnie = big man buly man I hate him aaaaaa
so you go off on it because you want understanding you want to hate the big mean bully man god. right? yes.

you assume knee jerk I must be a fundie. you don't know what liberal theology is do you. I bet you have never read a single page of real theologian in your life.



"it's just you and if you are nothing but an accident, bread mold growing a cup cake in a dusmpter there nothing beyond you that makes any different. you die, splat you are gone, who cares?"

If there is a God why is it any different?


becasue God didn't create you as a bred mold.He created you in his image, so you are valuable. even to the very foundation of reality you are valuable.

"you can't see the logic here?"

The "I know the hidden sky magician who makes everything meaningful get with my program or suiffer the consequenses"?


see there's another knee jerk reaction. what is my position on hell? do you know? you just alluded to it as though you know. do YOU? obviously not snice you think I believe in it.

why do you think I believe in hell? becasue you are doing the "Christian = fundie" thing because you are full of hate. you don't' to find a intelligent Christian who doesn't believe in hell you want me to be a stupid ass fudnie that you can kick around, that makes much more fun to ridicule.


your not any different that the fundies man. here I was expecting something different. The only difference between you and the fundies is that you take some things less literal. Thats it.

I rather think that's because you don't want to see any difference. you dont' want to htink you want to vent your hate.

anone witha ny kind brain should be able to the see the inventer knows more about the invention then eh one who did not make it.

anyone with any knid of brain should be able to understand that the invetner besows moer meaning upon the invention than the thing itself does.

the emprical studies bear it out. you can't answer that logic to so take people's minds off the fact that you have bee proven wrong you start the guilt by asscotion let's hate fudnies bit.

see I didn't lose the argument. he's really hatted fundie after all.

the consequences I' have described are purely existential. that is totally different than anything a fundie would say. A fudnie wouldn't' the cross the street to piss on existential consequences.

you can't answer the argument so you are trying to save face with guilt by assocition




"why should I care about your sentiment."

You dont have to. You may or may not. I dont care for your simplistic magic sky man Jesus bullcrap either.


I don't care for your simplistic refusal to think. the vast majority of great theires agree with me. the studies agree with me. this is just your little ignorant opinion.

your ass is kicked.



"you don't car about my old days the coffee shop or the yellow garage or the Sartre that I read. you don't care how I felt reading that, it doesn't make one damn bit of difference to you.It's only meaningful to me and no one else. the things you find meaning in are just unimportant to me."

They sound wonderful. People often tell me stories that I find meaning in. sometimes not. it depends.

you would not have been able to follow the discussion.

why in the motehr hell would anyone with half a brain ot be able to see why the transcendeatal signifier gives meaning.

Even Derrida says it! why the fuck did Derrida try so hard to show there no transcendetnal signifier? because he knew exactly what it means,it gives meaning.


"you are the selfish one. can't you see that? you want your little feelings to e as important as God's will. you think you are more important than God!"

I dont believe in any God. This is more fundy projection putrid crap. Thats all.


"so when people talk to you you just decide what you want them to be saying?"

No. You bring nothing new to the table. Im really dissapointed.

12:47 PM

J.L. Hinman said...

The transcendental Signifyer (TS) is the mark that gives meaning to all the marks that make sense of the world; the "zeit geist," the "urmind", the "overself", the "object of ultiamte concern", the "omega point", the "Atmon", the "one," the "Logos", "reason." all the major top ideas which bestow meaning upon the wrold are examples of the TS. People have always advanced such notions. (The word "G-O-D" is the Transcendental Signifyer, the thing those letters refurr to is the "transcendental signifyed")

1) All people have some notion the "big idea" which makes sense of everything else.

William James, Gilford lectures:

"Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common human feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects has been known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since. Abstract Beauty, for example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual being, of which the intellect is aware as of something additional to all the perishing beauties of the earth. "The true order of going," he says, in the often quoted passage in his 'Banquet,' "is to use the beauties of earth as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake of that other Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute Beauty, and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is." 2 In our last lecture we had a glimpse of the way in which a platonizing writer like Emerson may treat the abstract divineness of things, the moral structure of the universe, as a fact worthy of worship. In those various churches without a God which to-day are spreading through the world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar worship of the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an ultimate object."



2) All Metaphysical Constructs include a TS.

Metaphysics is not merely realms unseen, but the organization of reality under a single organizing principle (this definition comes form one reading of Heidegger). All systems and groupings of the world verge on the metaphysical. Derrida and Heidegger say that it is impossible tto do without metaphysics since even language itself is metaphysical. Everything ponts to the Transcendental Signifyer. ( see Heidegger, Parenadise, and Introduction to Metaphysics, and Derrida, Margins of Philosophy and almost any Derrida book).

3) Science has TS

William James--Gilford lectures:

"'Science' in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the 'Laws of Nature' as objective facts to be revered. ..."

Science is very Metaphysical. It assumes that the whole of relaity and be organized and studied under one central principle, that of naturalism.

"For essential reasons the unity of all that allows itself to be attempted today through the most diverse concepts of science and of writting, is in principle, more or less covertly, yet always, determined by a an historico-metaphysical epoch of which we merely glimpse the closure." [Derrida, The End of the Book and the Begining of Writting, trans. Gayatri Spivak 1967 in Contemporary Critical Theory, ed. Dan Latimer, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovonovitch, 1989, p.166]

MetaListon Scinece and religion
http://www.meta-list.org/ml/ml_frameset.asp
Stephen Hawking's


"In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time", physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for - a so-called "theory of everything" - then they will have seen into "the mind of God". Hawking is by no means the only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, for example, has made a link between God and a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be like looking into the face of God. But what kind of God are these physicists talking about?"

"Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests that in fact this is not much of a God at all. Weinberg notes that traditionally the word "God" has meant "an interested personality". But that is not what Hawking and Lederman mean. Their "god", he says, is really just "an abstract principle of order and harmony", a set of mathematical equations. Weinberg questions then why they use the word "god" at all. He makes the rather profound point that "if language is to be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of words, and 'god' historically has not meant the laws of nature." The question of just what is "God" has taxed theologians for thousands of years; what Weinberg reminds us is to be wary of glib definitions."




C. Attempts to Deconstruct TS lead to abyss of Meaninglessness, and back to TS.

1) Derridian Dectonstruction.

The French Post-structuralist Jaque Derrida seeks to explicate the end of Metaphysics which is the final project of Western philosphy. His tecnique of deconstruction aims at undermining any logos or first principle that would give ratinality to the universe by unseating the privilages of reason which undergird all such projects. Even logic itself is undermined.


Derrida:

"Are we obeying the principle of reason when we ask what grounds this principle [reason] which is itself a principle of grounding? We are not--which does not mean that we are disobeying it either. Are we dealing here with a circle or with an abyss? The circle would consist in seeking to account for reason by reason, to reason to the principle of reason, appealing to the principle to make it speak of itself at the very point where, according to Heidegger, the prinicple of reason says nothing about reason itself. The abyss, the hole, ..., the empty gorge would be the impossibility for a principle of grounding to ground itself...Are we to use reason to account for the principle of reason? Is the reason for reason rational?"

Derrida in Criticism and Culture, Robert Con Davis and Ronald Schlefflier, Longman 1991, 20.



Derrida's argument amounts to saying, "logic does not endorse itself." The point of the quotation above seems to be that logic is in a dilemma. If one tries to prove logic by its own terms, one is merely arguing in circle. But, if one does not do this, there is no foundation upon which one can base logic, because logic is the foundation.

[Quotes from Derrida from "The University in the Eyes of It's Pupils" Diactricits]

2) Into the abyss and back out to TS.

Many cirtics of Deconstruction have noted that if we take this principle seriously we would wind up unable to speak or think, even langauge requires an organizing principle which orders the world of our thought and speech (of course the basic thrust of Postmodern thought understands us to be trapped in, as Jameson said, "the prison house of language" unable to get at the real things of the world and their understanding because all we can really ever think thorugh is language). But in opening this abyss Derrida creates a safe bridge over it as well, although that is not his intention. He uses the principle of difference (which he spells as "differance" to indicate that meaning is both differing and diffurring) but difference becomes the organizing principle of a Derridian universe. IT not only explains how meaning is derrived from signifyers, not only does it tear down the mening of all hierachies, but it actually builds new ones because it becomes the foundation of value in valuing difference.

"The constant danger of deconstuction is that it falls into the same kinds of hierarchies that it tries to expose. Derrida himself is quite aware of this danger--and his response--which is really a rhetorical response...is to multipy the names under which deconstruction traffics..." [--Con Davis,Culture and Critique 178-179]

D. unavoidable nature of TS indicates God is a priori.

Either way, wheather we try building a reductionist notion of the universe or wheather we tear down the heirarchies of reason that implies a TS, we can never escape the TS. This inescapable nature of the transcendental signifyer points to the a priori nature of the God concept. That reality is ordered by a single prcinciple which gives meaning and rationality to all other principles is inescapable, but humanitie's multifourious attempts to understand that prinicple, and the frightening conclusion that the principle leads to a creator God is the logic inferense. All of the many signs which have been used to underatand this uber-sign imply an intelligent ordering rationality which makes sense of the universe, and therefore, logically must have created it in the first place.

1) Transcendental Signyer is unavoidable.

As has been pointed out above, there is no possibility of holding a rational view of the universe without an organizing principle, a "thing at the top." This indicates the ultiamte necessity of a TS. In other words, the fact that we cannot get away from the TS indicates that there must really be one.

2) God is the ultimate Transcendental Signifyer.

"Without God, who has been the ultimate Transcendent Signified, there is no central perspective, no objective truth of things, no real thing beyond language." [Nacy Murphy and James McClendon jr." Distinguishing Modern and Postmodern Theologies." Modern Theology, 5:3 April 1989, 211]

E. God is the ultimate unifying principle.

1) Coincidence of Oppossites.

Nicholas of Cuza's concept that God's infinity is a universal set subsuming all finite sets of oppossites. (See Westminster Dictinary of Christian Theology)

"The universe of Nicholas of Cusa is an expression or a development, though of course necessarily imperfect and inadequate, of God--imperfect and inadequate because it displays in the realm of multiplicity what in God is present in an indisaluable and intmate unity (complicatio) a unity which embraces not only the different but even the oppossite, qualities or determinations of being. In its turn every single thing in the universe represents it--the Universe-- and thus also God in its own particular manner; each in a manner different from that of all others, by contracting the wealth of the universe in accordence with its own unique individuality."[--Alexandre Koyre' From Closed World to The Infinite Universe, Baltimore: Johns Hoppkins University press, 1957, 8-9.]



Cuza's vision of a universe taken up metaphyiscally in God in an undifferentiated unity is grounded in the paradoxical nature of geomoetry. One example Cuza gives is of the dicotomy between straightness and curvelinarity. But if one was dealing with an infintie circle, from every point along the circle it would appear that the circle was a stairght line. Or another example; large and samll are opposites in a finite perspective, but in dealing with the infinitely large circle and the infinitely small one the center loses its special qualitie, both are at the same time both nowhere and everywhere, and thus equally meaningful and meaningless.This may not seem like a particularly Christian notion of God, but Paul Tillich remarks that Martin Luther embracced it," one of the most profound conceptions of God ever developed." Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought.

2) God as Being itself.

As being itself God is Metaphysically above the level of existing things in the universe and constitues all the potentiality and all actuality. This the nature of God is to order and to bring to concreseance potentialities. The signifyer 'G-o-d' universally signifies and therefore takes up into itself all concepts and principles of rationality.

3) All people seek TS, therefore, this reflects innate sense of God.

Not only do we seek it, we cannot avoid it. The alternative is a meaingless universe, and more than that, a universe without coherence to reality. Of course we have the rules of logic, and we have science to tell us facts, but those move toward the TS becasue they are both predicated upon organizing reality under a logos, a rationale.

F. Objections.

1) Deconstruction and Postmodernism.

The climate of opinon today is that all metaphysical structures are merely constructed heirarchies of meaning and we can simpley deconstruct them by reverse the terms, bringing out the contradictory elements in a text, or unbracketting that which is silenced by the text. But the move of Derrida to the metpahysical level form the linguistic level is totally unwarrented.The deconstruction of metphysical heirarchies is nothing more than arbitrary. Moreover, Derrida simpley makes his own TS through the concept of "differance" (he even spells it with an "a" to show that it is more than mere "difference" but incudes differing and deffering meaning. Yet this principle comes to define the universe, to set all values, to paly the untimate arbitration; in effect it has become its own TS.

2) We merely impose meaning upon a randum and cold universe.

We imposse meaning upon the universe as part of the brians inate pattern making ability, which is an evolutionary deposit allowing us to determine what to eat in the world and to recognize danger, remember where the good mushrooms are ect.and as cultural deposit owing to our need for security in a cold universe. Answer: While this is going to be the commonplace assumption in the current climate of opinon, and while it is no doubt true in general, even the "objective" "proven" "advocate of human knowlege" science must be nothing more than the imposition of a pattern of meaning upon nature to make us feel better in a cold universe. Of course the skeptic will break down the dichotomy between metaphyiscial meaning and "objective fact" about the workings of the universe. But sicence no less than religion transforms itself into metaphysical organization in dictating its materialist assumptions about ultimate reality. While it is true that we imposse patterns and read in meaning this in no way proves that there is nothing "out there" and the fact that it seems to be a natural inclination of humanity to find it implies that there is an innate sense of it laid upon our being as a divine program, to find the mark that gives meaning to all other marks.

3) This is an attempt to squre the circle.

Answer: This criticism has been made of the use of Nicholas of Cuza. Note, Cuza's argument does not mean that the squre and the circle change shapes, it is not saying that squreness is really roundness. It is saying that in infinity all disctinctions between binary opposition become meaningless. The shapes are the same, but from the view point of a finite observer in infinity the distinctions are meaningless.

J.L. Hinman said...

The idea that the transcendtal signider, God, the creator, the thing at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy gives some kind of over arching meaning to the world is the single most often repeated ideas in all of Western thought.

why do you suppose Plato thought the forms were important? The forms gave meaning to the particulars. do you not understand this?

was PLato a Christian fundi?

why do the postmodernsits say there's no meta narrative? Does that mean all modernists are Christian fundies?

that is such a cheap shot.

J.L. Hinman said...

Loren I guess I zapped your post by mistake. I thought I disapproved it but it hasn't shown up. If it came back to you rejected, that was an accident. please post again, I thought your comments were good I wanted to answer them.

Kristen said...

Reed-- I'd like to respond to this one point at at time:

Kristen, the "random chemicals in the brain" stuff is a strawman of your contruction. I never mentioned any of that.

No, you didn't-- but what I was talking about was the way understood atheists to view the human mind-- which is the way they said it was when I was 10, and the way many of them are still saying it is on Metacrock's forum. If you believe consciousness is more than just brain function, then we agree. But I was not responding just to you, but to the whole idea of what a materialist version of the universe looks like.

Human beings decide what "meaning" is. Simple as that. What is meaningful to one is not always the same for another.

Yes, the only kind of meaning humans can create is the subjective time-- that which is meaningful to one individual human, or even to a group-- but that's different from objective meaning-- meaning that would be there whether anyone believed it was meaningful or not.

I dont get this view of "purpose" or "meaning" as "the end", the finality, the thing "out there" that brings the story to a halt. I like open ended movies. not ones with tidy, cliche' hollywood endings.
I don't like tidy cliches either-- but I do like movies that have a resolution. Open-ended is ok, as long as there is some sense that something worth watching, something meaningful, has happened there on the other side of the camera. I dislike those movies made in the '60's where the message was, "all of this was meaningless. The last comfused character has died or wandered off, and now the credits are rolling. But all that happened here was just random junk." I remember movies like that. . .

The simplified arguement seems to be "God = measning" "No God = meaningless". I disagree. This is independant of EOG.

What is "EOG"? All I say is that I want some sense of meaning that's more than just my own, or even a collective, opinion. You say I can't have that-- fine. But you can't stop me wanting it, or believing I have found it.

I think life is meaningful weather or not God exists.

I'm glad you think so. I have never been able to think so. I'm not dissing your point of view; just explaining mine.

I never understood the comsic fear people have. People have a sort of vuiew that is the opposite of clausterphobia. The bigger the space, the more meaningless we are. Why? You have friends HERE. there are trees and animals and orgasms and family and baseball and it is all HERE. And it all means something no matter how big the unviverse is! Scope has no relation to meaning in my mind. None at all.

I went to Chicago a few weeks ago. I didnt feel "less" of a person than I did back home just because the city is 5 times as big.


Now you're reading into what I'm saying. I never said anything about size mattering. (grin) That's not what I'm talking about at all. I'm talking about objective vs. subjective. I'm talking about purposeful action vs. random movements. I know a human being can make purposeful actions, meaning the human means something by them-- but if the human him/herself is not a purposed thing, but is formed purely from random movements in a random universe, then the human's purpose can mean nothing to anyone but the human. If that's enough for you, that's fine, as I said. It's not enough for me.

Does that not all come from a short of selfishness? People want there to be less so that they matter more. I think that is nonsense. Its all about consiousness. Its all in your brain and mind. Thats where everything is grasped. And it all means something. I think, therefore it is meaningful.


You gotta be careful with making value judgments like "selfish" about the opinions of people you who differ from you. Now Joe has called your opinions selfish too, and you have responded in kind, and the whole thing is getting acrimonious. How could you possibly know whether I "want there to be less so [I'll] feel like more?" You've moved from making a misinterpretation about a Christian view of "meaning" (thinking it's about size), into interpreting our motives about why we think that way about size (which we don't). It's a false premise, leading to a false conclusion.

Again, the problem I have isn't that humans are small and their sense of meaning is local. The problem is that it's subjective, not objective.

I seem to have always wanted the objective, from the first time I began to make my first attempts at reason as a child. I can't seem to help it. That's all I can say.

Loren said...

My post got through.

And as to mystical experiences, they seem to me to be hallucinations, rather than perceptions of gods or spiritual forces or whatever. As Bertrand Russell once noted, if you eat too little, you see heaven, while if you drink too much, you see snakes.

Metacrock, you seem to be arguing that religious and mystical experiences are peceptions of the Metacrockian God. At least that's the impression I get when I try to interpret your discussions of religious and mystical experiences.

Bertrand Russell has a very interesting discussion of such experiences in his chapter "Mysticism" in his book "Religion and Science". He notes that different mystics have very different experiences; only Catholics experience the Virgin Mary, etc.

The similarities he thinks are rather limited:

* Real Reality is one, with separateness an illusion

* Real Reality is timeless, with time an illusion

* Real Reality is good, with evil an illusion

Implicit in these shared features is the contention that one has discovered a great truth, which could be an additional criterion.

I think that hallucinations caused by the right temporal lobe quieting down can explain at least some of these "perceptions". That part of the brain is involved with distinguishing self from nonself, and when it is inactive, then all reality seems like one big blob of jelly.

And since we all share brains with temporal lobes, we all share the ability to experience oneness, which may account for the widespread agreement on that.

I remember once discussing the epistemological problem of phantom limbs, which I think is relevant. One perceives the continued presence of an amputated limb, even though it is contrary to the conclusions assembled from the rest of our perceptions. And I think that mystical experiences can reasonably be compared to phantom limbs here.

Interestingly, some mystics have created metaphysical systems in which they claim that everything outside mystical experiences is as illusory as a phantom limb.

J.L. Hinman said...

My post got through.

And as to mystical experiences, they seem to me to be hallucinations, rather than perceptions of gods or spiritual forces or whatever.


there is a vast body of empirical science that studies mystical experince. It's well proven they not hallucinatinos. they are nothing pathological. people dont' just hallucinate for no reason, that's the result of a pathology. Pathologies don't make your life dramatically better across the board for a life time, and religious experince does. they cannot be hallucinations. Andrew Newberg, neurologist and major research on the God part of the brain says something real is actually happening they can tell by neurological data it's not hallucination.




As Bertrand Russell once noted, if you eat too little, you see heaven, while if you drink too much, you see snakes.


that's bull. he was wrong, he never read a study about it, and he never did a study he had no empirical data at all. that is a dismissal not an argument. he also lost the debate with Copelston.


Metacrock, you seem to be arguing that religious and mystical experiences are peceptions of the Metacrockian God. At least that's the impression I get when I try to interpret your discussions of religious and mystical experiences.


so? what does that mean?

Bertrand Russell has a very interesting discussion of such experiences in his chapter "Mysticism" in his book "Religion and Science". He notes that different mystics have very different experiences; only Catholics experience the Virgin Mary, etc.



NO NO NO, he not a good scholar. he had no scientific data to go by and he misread the literature that he did read.

studies show the same experince across all cultures and all times. there are differences in mystics that's what confused Russell, but they have the same characteristics over and over again.


The similarities he thinks are rather limited:

* Real Reality is one, with separateness an illusion

* Real Reality is timeless, with time an illusion

* Real Reality is good, with evil an illusion

Implicit in these shared features is the contention that one has discovered a great truth, which could be an additional criterion.

what basis do you have to make any kind of judgement on that? Obviously they have something or it wouldn't change their lives posvitely for a life time.

study after stduy dhows this, over 400 studides show it.

people who have these experinces are smarter, better educated, moer successful, more self actualized, have a greater sense of the future, more positive more hopeful, more grounded in a sense of meaning and purpose, more socially conscious less selfish more willing to give, unafraid of death, and have high rates of quitting drug addiction as a result of their experinces.

same result found over and over across the board, they score higher on self actualization than people who have not had such experinces.

I did quote an artical saying this, did not you not see it?


I think that hallucinations caused by the right temporal lobe quieting down can explain at least some of these "perceptions".

that is an amature judgement by a non expert looking for an excuse to ignroe the turth. that would not produce the vast and darmatic effects that religious experince preoduces.

the real expert, Newberg, says it is something real. he says it's unavoidable conclusion with out a doubt something real happens to them.




That part of the brain is involved with distinguishing self from nonself, and when it is inactive, then all reality seems like one big blob of jelly.


that is not an answer. that does not effect th argument one iota, it's like saying the music is in the piano, and the proof is when I tap on the strings they make a noise.just because you can expalin how the feelings are transmitted doesn't mean you've explained them away.

it's like saying magnets work because they have magnetism inside them.


And since we all share brains with temporal lobes, we all share the ability to experience oneness, which may account for the widespread agreement on that.


so why does that change your lie for the good for a lifetime? why does it show up in the form of love? why does show up in the form of positive things that make everyt hing better.

you are just missing the greatest thing ever in the world. it's better than sex, it is. you are missing what life is about. that's your problem. doesn't affect me. I'll go feel the presence of God and know my life counts for something.




I remember once discussing the epistemological problem of phantom limbs, which I think is relevant. One perceives the continued presence of an amputated limb, even though it is contrary to the conclusions assembled from the rest of our perceptions. And I think that mystical experiences can reasonably be compared to phantom limbs here.

that is absolutely absurd. you know absolutely nothing about it. you know nothing whatsoever about it. clearly you have absolutely zero material on the scientific study of these experinces. totally baseless. you have no data whatsoever.

Interestingly, some mystics have created metaphysical systems in which they claim that everything outside mystical experiences is as illusory as a phantom limb.


so you are arguing that because they have achieved a higher level of consciousness to the extent that ordinary consciousness seems wrong, they must be wrong? that's a unique way to look at it.

so that means the best proof for soemthing is no proof at all. Becasue you have a real good reason to believe something you must be wrong.

you need to read more of the material about this stuff.

J.L. Hinman said...

Read the book Why God wont Go away where Newberg says these expeirnces are real. they are proven to be real they are not hallucinations not at all. the neurology of it proves this.

here's the link to one of my pages that has a bunch of references to material on tis subject. it shows what the studies show about the positive effects.

http://www.doxa.ws/experience/mystical.html

Reed_Rothchild said...

Forgive me, I got into a pissing contest with the "changed" "born again" Metacrock. Yet this man does not show any outward signs of being any different than anyone else. No Christian does. But, you knowe, believe what they believe or be punished. Wise up people.

Life after death makes this current life meaningless. This is one way EOG (existance of God) makes life less meaningful.

J.L. Hinman said...

Forgive me, I got into a pissing contest with the "changed" "born again" Metacrock. Yet this man does not show any outward signs of being any different than anyone else. No Christian does.

that's becasue you do everything you can to try a person's patienence. I never said that having religious experince makes you perfect and you can't be pushed beyond human endurance. like a grea many little trool atheist fundies you think that you can just be as insutling as you want to be, and as dense, and as gualilng and no one is ever suppossed to mind.

you are a ridicule artist. you aren to a thinker, and you are not here to think. you are here to mock and vent your hatred at a group of people you don't understand because you are selfish. that's why you can't stand the idea of an ego greater than yours.

secondly, you don't know me. You haven no idea what I'm like. you pushed the buttons to the get response you wanted. you wanted to make me blow us. So I did. Mission accomplished. what a mature thinker you are!

Thirdly you have no idea what a bastard I was before. If this was back in my atheist days and we were in person, I'd beat the crap out of you. Na not really. I have never been a red neck. I couldn't fight when I was young. But if I ever come face to face with you, you better duck cause the spit wads are going to be flying! :-)



But, you knowe, believe what they believe or be punished. Wise up people.


You know that you don't have the slightest interest in thinking seriously about anything. you are here to ridicule becasue you are filled with hate and you don't know why. you just want to evoke a reaction that you can carp about.

Life after death makes this current life meaningless. This is one way EOG (existance of God) makes life less meaningful.


Your idea is that hell makes life meaningless? for you I guess it does. that's not logical. why would hell make life meaingless? It looks to me like if life is a test and the consequences are so grave then life is very very meaningful, it means you better shape up moron!

But the fact of the matter is I don't believe hell. if you had the brains to read my stuff you would see that. but of course your not here to seriously discuss anything so you didn't bother to find out what I believe.

J.L. Hinman said...

Yes Hermit. good point. it is entirely possible that we are talking about the same thing.It's possible I'm just saying God gives you more of it. you guys are saying "I don't want more of it." But we may be talking about the same desirable ends.

reed_rothchild for some odd reason decided higher meaning as I speak of it means hell. I have no idea why anyone would think that.

I think it's time we asked,

"what do you mean by 'mean?'"

Loren said...

Shouting "It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination!" is a very bad argument, as is your waving away the serious epistemological problem that Bertrand Russell, Mark Vuletic, and I have tried to consider.

And becoming happy by believing something in no way indicates its truth. You could become very happy by believing that none of your miseries are any of your fault, blaming many of them on various conspiracies, but would your happiness indicate your faultlessness?

J.L. Hinman said...

Shouting "It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination!" is a very bad argument, as is your waving away the serious epistemological problem that Bertrand Russell, Mark Vuletic, and I have tried to consider.


good old Burt and you! like you are up there with him right? the major philosopher! characterizing a position that is proven by hundreds of studies as "shouting" is stupid. just plain stupid. no major thinker would do that.

And becoming happy by believing something in no way indicates its truth.


trying to make it go away by characotirzing it in an idiotic and isulting fashion is not thought. it's not argument. it's not refutation, it's a childish game.

haven't you noticed atheists can't do anything but play childish games? you know jack fucking shit about epistemology!



You could become very happy by believing that none of your miseries are any of your fault, blaming many of them on various conspiracies, but would your happiness indicate your faultlessness?

3:42 AM


child, no one said anything about "getting happy." It's a scientific scale the M scale it cross cultural validation and hundreds of studies that verify it. no go take an undergrad social science research methods class and find out what those mean.