Metacrockfilter
July 19, 2005 2:03 PM   Subscribe

Metacrock is a Texan warrior-academic who's well-known as an apologist on many Christian and atheist forums. I've had hours of fun trying to rebut the modal ontological arguments he promotes. Lazy atheists who are used to arguing with more naive flavors of Christianity will soon find themselves overwhelmed by Metacrock's relentless logic and philosophical scholarship. However, he's the furthest thing from right-wing fundamentalism you can find among Christians and you might find yourself agreeing with his points much of the time or at least being surprised by them. (pardon the spelling, it's not his strong suit)
posted by fleetmouse (118 comments total)
 
*sniff* *sniff*

Fawning... link to personal website... suggesting he is right....

I smell self-link. Of course, I'm not good at this, and I'll let other people do the forensics.
_______
That being said, debating religion is pointless: Religion, by its very nature, is absurd; it is an offense to reason. It requires personal faith. God is not knowable or proveable (neither of which proves he doesn't exist). Either one believes, or one doesn't. Arguing over something which, at it essence, is unknowable doesn't seem like a smart use of time.
posted by dios at 2:16 PM on July 19, 2005


I'm not Metacrock, but I have gotten into it with him in some threads on Carm.

Debating religion is a blast! Depending on who you're debating (read: arguing) with, you might actually learn something new.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:22 PM on July 19, 2005


This argument is analytical, it proceeds from the basis in loigc to argue that the concept of God is such that if we understood the meaning of the terms we would have to conclude that God must exist.

Just like space aliens!
posted by delmoi at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2005


He strikes me as a fool and a sophist.
posted by Zetetics at 2:23 PM on July 19, 2005


from his profile: "I'm a Ph.D. Candidate and Teaching asssitant, History of Ideas, I'm a "born again" Chrisitian, formerally a communist and Sartrian existetntialist."

Is English maybe not his first language? I am having some difficulty parsing his arguments due to the poor spelling and frequent use of run-on sentences.

Also, I don't think anyone on the internet infidels board will be agreeing with him about much, let alone MetaFilter, which probably contains a higher percentage of atheists, making this FPP a troll which could end up being quite delightful to read.

God is not knowable or proveable (neither of which proves he doesn't exist). Either one believes, or one doesn't. Arguing over something which, at it essence, is unknowable doesn't seem like a smart use of time.

I agree with you, and while I myself am atheistic/agnostic, this fellow seems to be arguing issues of history etc as proof of God or at least proof of Christianity. A common evangelical Christian position, for example, is the argument from fulfilled prophesies. This conveniently obfuscates the debate for most people, leaving logic, philosophy, and some amount of common sense waiting in the dust wondering where the wagon went.
posted by tweak at 2:26 PM on July 19, 2005


I think reasoning out religion reached the apex of its absurdity in those crazy middle ages.

My main problem with the modal ontological argument is that it does not assign the traits that we assume God has. Plus I believe that if you want to really believe in an omnipotent God that created the rules of our universe and our dimension, proving something that exists outside our set out rules and logic is impossible. I always found it similar to saying, "there exists a group of lonely, beautiful virgins that control everything, exist outside of our concepts of time and the physical world -- prove me wrong." When you set the conditions low you can really prove anything. Which comes back to the point that God is basically unprovable.

And sweet Jesus, I'm a hurried typist but I took English Comp. 101:

"anticipating answer on eneity and consciousness, consciousness is not a primary quality of God. Other things are conscoiuss, that is not something quiquely estabishes God as God, logical necessity is such a thing."

Barely readable!
posted by geoff. at 2:28 PM on July 19, 2005


You have to see past the odd spelling and locution (I think he's dyslexic or otherwise learning-disabled) to get the points he's making. At first I too fell into the trap of dismissing him on the basis of his writing.

I mean, not that I agree with him - I'm still an atheist and think the arguments are flawed - but really understanding and rebutting him requires effort.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:29 PM on July 19, 2005


here's the actual proof:


1) God can be analytically concieved without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By defintion God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossilbe (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.


It begs the question: "Can impossible things be conceived"? I would say yes, that they can. In which case the very first step is lost, and the proof is clearly bogus.

But if we grant #1, #3 basically amounts to "God exists by definition" It doesn't tell you anything about god and in fact proves every single religion! Because the gods of all religions are conceivable, and therefore necessary and true.

Ah, but some gods claim exclusivity, no? In which case we have a paradox.

Weak.
posted by delmoi at 2:30 PM on July 19, 2005


God is not knowable or proveable (neither of which proves he doesn't exist). Either one believes, or one doesn't. Arguing over something which, at it essence, is unknowable doesn't seem like a smart use of time.

Maybe not, but you can certanly argue with people who think god is provable.

By the way, these people obviously had a much easier time of it when there was only one religion in the "world".
posted by delmoi at 2:33 PM on July 19, 2005


There's a poster on the Straight Dope Boards who also posits a similar modal ontological proof to prove God is necessary. He is more sincere and seems smarter than this guy. However, his conception of morality is very flexible. Being good is doing that which edifys, being bad is doing that which doesn't. So, if you like hedonism and practise it, you're being moral.
posted by Gyan at 2:38 PM on July 19, 2005


Meh. This is easily refuted using Proof by Assertion.
posted by Galvatron at 2:42 PM on July 19, 2005


So, if you like hedonism and practise it, you're being moral.

Amen.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:45 PM on July 19, 2005


delmoi: necessary and contingent in modal logic might not mean what you think they do. And of course you can conceive of something impossible, but can you analytically conceive it? Square circles are self-contradictory, but a non-contingent God is not.

I find myself in the utterly absurd position of defending something I disagree with - you're right to think it's wrong, but you're right for the wrong reasons!
posted by fleetmouse at 2:48 PM on July 19, 2005


Hmm. Now you are advancing his argument for him.

Bring in Heywood Mogroot!
posted by dios at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2005


Actually I was wondering if we could invoke bevets.
posted by fleetmouse at 2:53 PM on July 19, 2005


1) God can be analytically concieved without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By defintion God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossilbe (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.


I'm convinced.

That this guy has no idea what he's talking about.

Number 3, for example. By whose definition?

Or even number 1. Conceived without contradiction? WTF does that mean? That a fantasy can be whipped up without internal contradictions? Well, then, Santa Claus also exists.

I've got a question for the religionists: if science is so distasteful to you, why imitate it, and so badly at that?
posted by telstar at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2005


I recently heard someone jump out of a religious argument by saying "I don't know if God exists, and you don't either!"

Right, wrong or otherwise, I admire the succinctness.
posted by bz at 2:55 PM on July 19, 2005


Pshaw. He's a lightweight and a pseudo-intellectual. The FPP led me to think he was a professor (the usual meaning of "he's an academic"). Fat chance. He's just an ABD with delusions of grandeur. Fleetmouse, you are way too easily impressed.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:56 PM on July 19, 2005


"I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."
"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."
"Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly disappears in a puff of logic.
~HGttG


Somebody find that damn Babel fish already!
posted by maryh at 2:57 PM on July 19, 2005


No offense intended to ABDs, by the way. I was one myself once too. But this guy can't be serious. He writes *so* badly I can't believe he's in a decent grad program.

It's fairly common for ABDs to develop massive time-wasting obsessions (often requiring much thinking and writing, interestingly) when they can't deal with their dissertations. I smell that here.
posted by realcountrymusic at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2005


Why would an atheist want to argue with religionists? Isn't he secure in his unbelief? and aren't the religionists in their belief?
posted by clevershark at 3:10 PM on July 19, 2005


Speaking of atheism, i thought this LA-Times article was pretty interesting. A Time Of Doubt for Atheists.
posted by jba at 3:12 PM on July 19, 2005


I'm still laughing at "warrior-academic".
And what's up with this scam he links to?
posted by fleacircus at 3:15 PM on July 19, 2005


Ah, this is why I shouldn't read metafilter when I'm busy. I love this kind of stuff, not because I think it can be proved or disproved, but it provides an interesting exercise in logic and rhetoric. It's the "prove God Exists Game" and the better arguer wins. God, on the other hand, remains a mystery or a myth.

So:
1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.

What does it mean to conceive of something as analytical? What is the source of analyticity? And what is the something we are conceiving of?

The argument that God can be conceived analytically is trying to say that we can conceive of a statement of God's existence that is analytically true. But to do this we must define God a certain way - as necessary. It's little better than saying the definition of God contains necessity, so God necessarily exists. If it is true that we define God this way then the argument holds, but if we do not, the argument fails. The existence of God, then, depends on the dictionary. Therefore we should toss out our bibles and worship the OED, after all, the bible's in there as it is.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:16 PM on July 19, 2005


realcountrymusic, what's an ABD?
posted by nomis at 3:28 PM on July 19, 2005


Steps one and two aren't a problem. All they say is that god isn't impossible, not that god exists. That's fine. As has been pointed out, this applies to Santa Claus as well. Also fine. There's nothing wrong with an argument that says Santa Claus isn't actually impossible, however unlikely.

Steps three and four are where things break down.

By the definitions of modal logic, helpfully provided in fleetmouse's link:
Something is possible if it might be true (whether it is actually true or actually false), and, I would presume, impossible if it could not possibly be true.
Something is necessary if it could not possibly be false.
Something is contingent if it is not necessarily true, i.e., is possibly true, and possibly false. A contingent truth is one which is actually true, but which could have been otherwise.

So, he basically asserts, that, by definition, god is not contingent; in other words, that if you say "God exists", either you are right, and THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY, HOWEVER UNLIKELY, THAT YOU COULD BE WRONG, or you are wrong, and THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY, HOWEVER UNLIKELY, THAT YOU COULD BE RIGHT.

Ridiculous. Completely misunderstands the meaning of contingent. Declaring that something is not contingent does not make it so. Things are only not contingent if there is unshakeable proof of their existence or lack of it. The whole point of this exercise is that there is not such a proof for god. So why wouldn't god be contingent? And things fall apart at step 3.
posted by kyrademon at 3:30 PM on July 19, 2005


ABD means "all but dissertation."
posted by raysmj at 3:32 PM on July 19, 2005


God is logically necessary as a concept. That is the nature of the God-concept, that's the idea of God.

This is why I think philosophers--and even little children who show philosophical tendencies--should be locked up and separated from polite society. They really are a danger to others and to themselves.

Also, kyramedeon, I'd say the very first step is indeed the problem. God can't be analytically conceived without throwing out some very important concepts like Cause and Effect and Time. Really, Kant cleared this all up a long time ago. There can be no proof of God from the mere concept of 'necessary'--existence is a quality not a predicate.
posted by nixerman at 3:36 PM on July 19, 2005



1) Fartisticfartus can be analytically concieved without contradiction.
2) Therefore Fartisticfartus is not impossible.
3) By defintion Fartisticfartus cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore Fartisticfartus is either necessary or impossible.
5) Fartisticfartus is not impossilbe (from 2) therefore, Fartisticfartus is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.


ALL BOW DOWN BEFORE THE AWESOME GRACE AND GLORY OF FARTASTICFARTUS!!!
posted by bumpkin at 3:37 PM on July 19, 2005


The argument is a two-way street.

1. I can conceive of a Godless universe.
2. Therefore, a Godless universe is not impossible.
3. If God is necessary, then a Godless universe must be impossible.
4. Hence, God cannot be necessary.
5. Because God is (by definition) not contingent, God must be impossible.

So there's a contradiction. I propose that one of us is wrong about what we can conceive.
posted by Jefff at 3:40 PM on July 19, 2005


bumpkin, the bait and switch won't work, who's fartasticfartus???
posted by Gyan at 3:46 PM on July 19, 2005


I've got a question for the religionists: if science is so distasteful to you, why imitate it, and so badly at that?

This ain't science. Science is empirical, and limits itself (or ought to) to the contingent. Mathematics (at least pure math, and much of applied math to, actually) isn't science either.

This is logic and metaphysics. Nothing wrong with that, though, I, too, was under the impression that Kant did away with this argument. Not that I know the details, Kant always bored and confused the hell out of me, which is a shame since he was by all accounts a decidedly clever fellow.
posted by bumpkin at 3:49 PM on July 19, 2005


paradox is the thorn in the flesh of reason.
posted by quonsar at 3:50 PM on July 19, 2005


Seems like a nice enough guy, winning souls through the blogroll. But the "About Me" blurb...:

I'm a "born again" Chrisitian, formerally a communist and Sartrian existetntialist.

It's bizzarre to assert a "formeral" intellectual identity in the same way that you'd claim a former profession. Is he claiming that his Christianity is more earned because he's suffered through intellectual corruption?
posted by eatitlive at 3:52 PM on July 19, 2005


bumpkin, the bait and switch won't work, who's fartasticfartus???
posted by Gyan at 3:46 PM PST on July 19


Fartasticfartus is the Being who is not contingently knowable. His temper is short and his vengeance is malodorous.

Seriously, I shouldn't think that it will work, but it exposes the question "who or what is this God person/thing/concept that were supposedly talking about here?". All I've been told is that he/it is a person/thing/concept whose defining attribute is not being contingently knowable. Right, so is a triangle.

Does this argument prove the existence of a short-tempered bearded fellow who created the earth in seven days, wiped out most of humanity in a pique and then chilled the fuck out 4000 years later, announcing His mercy and forgiveness through the sacrifice of His son?

Really?

Or does the argument prove a lot less?
posted by bumpkin at 3:55 PM on July 19, 2005


This is why I think philosophers--and even little children who show philosophical tendencies--should be locked up and separated from polite society. They really are a danger to others and to themselves.

Word. It's not really philosophers, but people who know a little bit about philosophy that are dangerous. The first step is to realize the seperation between concept and object. We have concepts that do not correspond to any particular object. When we assume that every concept (to be a "true" concept) corresponds to a particular object we create philosophical problems (and worse perhaps, philosophy itself.)

When we "prove" something analytically what we are doing is showing how we use words and linguistic practices. In order to be analytic and statment has to be a tautology, and to be a tautology a statement is true independent of its content. An analytically true statement is true, but can say nothing about the world. To use an analytic statement to prove anything, much less God, is going to end up only proving certain words when defined certain ways have a certain relation to one other.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:58 PM on July 19, 2005


Wouldn't it be really strange if you actually proved or disproved the existence of God in this thread?
posted by eatitlive at 4:00 PM on July 19, 2005


clevershark: Why would an atheist want to argue with religionists? Isn't he secure in his unbelief? and aren't the religionists in their belief?

For many of the same reasons that theists want to argue with atheists:
1: The rare satisfaction of converting others to your point of view.
2: The belief that your view of the universe is the neatest thing since beer, and so you would be doing your fellow man a grave disservice by not sharing your belief with him.
3: Many people are full of piss and vinegar, and will argue about anything.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:03 PM on July 19, 2005


A transcendent concept can only be intuited, never fully grasped, by definition. We can point towards "infinity" and "pleroma" but the ontological status of such transcendent concepts can never be determined by logic. (At least, much smarter people than me still debate the matter.)

Surely Mr. God would fall into the same category.
posted by sonofsamiam at 4:03 PM on July 19, 2005


I take your point, nixerman, and pretty much agree, but since it's possible to conceive that, in our universe, cause and effect and time do not work the way they think they do, I figured I'd home in on the even more ludicrous point (i.e., there can be no doubt as to whether or not god exists because we say so!) Admittedly, throwing out concepts of time and space and cause and effect means you can conceive pretty much anything, so I always wondered why they get so huffy about the idea of square circles and depend on logical axioms when they're positing a universe where basically anything goes and nothing need have any grounding in reality.

I've always liked square circles, anyway.
posted by kyrademon at 4:09 PM on July 19, 2005


He strikes me as a fool and a sophist.

You may call me a sophist, but i'm no fool. And he is both.
posted by sophist at 4:15 PM on July 19, 2005


Anyway, as many have pointed out, it's easy to see the basic absurdity of the whole "not contingent by definition" argument anyhow.

Let us conceive of a being whose only defining characteristics are that it is not contingent and goes to random people's houses at night and eats their babies.

Run it through the argument.

Hide your babies!
posted by kyrademon at 4:20 PM on July 19, 2005


kyrademon : "throwing out concepts of time and space and cause and effect means you can conceive pretty much anything,"

But how? Imagination is a combinatorial process that uses our primitives. There are academic theologians who argue that God is not omniscient because that brings up problems. I can certainly mouth the words, "God knows everything", but how do I know whether that is self-contradictory? I don't know 'everything', so I don't know if one can know 'everything'. When someone says something might be possible, most of the time, what they really mean, is they can't see why it must be impossible. The Problem of Induction creates a vaccum that can be filled with a lot of "possibilities".

From another point of view, God need not be omnipotent or omniscient, just have power over us. This loosens the logical constraints, in that God need not be metaphysical, just that our conception of physicalism is wrong/inaccurate.
posted by Gyan at 4:22 PM on July 19, 2005


Gyan ... I must admit I'm missing your point. Sorry.
posted by kyrademon at 4:29 PM on July 19, 2005


kyrademon, nixerman, I don't think believing that there was a first cause and that time had a beginning necessarily "throws out" time and space and cause and effect.

Anyhoo, I think it makes sense to say that if God exists he can't be contingent - if an entity depends on particular circumstances he can't be God in a transcendent sense. He'd have to be bigger than that, above all that, beyond all that.

Where I think things fall apart is that word "if" - you're talking about a hypothetical being with hypothetical qualities - and you can just as easily say that if God doesn't exist then he must be either contingent or impossible. Being hypothetical in my mind argues strongly that he's contingent, to say the least. :D

If on the other hand you're saying upfront that God definitely exists and isn't contingent then you're begging the question and the argument is simply an elaborate tautology.

on preview - kyrademon, your baby eater, though appealing, is contingent because he depends upon cover of darkness and a supply of fresh babies.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:33 PM on July 19, 2005


MMMMMmmmmmmmmm....Fresh babies.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:34 PM on July 19, 2005


Throwing out concepts of time and space and cause and effect means you can't conceive pretty much anything.
posted by Gyan at 4:34 PM on July 19, 2005


HRG on Carm has written some fine posts on this topic.

Metacrock seems to respect him more than intellectual peons such as myself because he knows the terminology and can talk the talk.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:37 PM on July 19, 2005


Gyan - Ah. Well ... OK. I could make silly arguments against what you said, but I won't bother, because that really wasn't my point. I'll rephrase. "If someone throws out cause and effect and time and space and all that as a necessary prerequisite to their postulate, then I don't see why I should give a crap about what is said until they first explain to me why everyone is wrong about cause and effect and time and space and all that."

fleetmouse - It wasn't god's theoretical nature as a first cause that throws at cause and effect, etc. It's things like omnipotence; the ability to do supernatural miracles.

Also, that's not, according to the link you yourself provided, what contingent means in modal logic. It has nothing to do with whether or not its exist depends on outside circumstances like the fresh baby supply. Contingent simply means the possibility, however remote, that an assertion of truth or untruth might be incorrect - the "if" you quite accurately bring up as the problem.
posted by kyrademon at 4:46 PM on July 19, 2005


If we can't use english as a meta-language to discuss something as simple as set theory without stubbing our toes on paradoxes, then why we would presume to use english and logic to reason reliably about much larger questions?
posted by rdr at 4:48 PM on July 19, 2005


BTW fleacircus, AFAIK it's not a scam - he's fallen on rough times and genuinely needs help. He doesn't seem to be the sort who'd pull a scam.
posted by fleetmouse at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2005


I'm an agnostic. I believe in the awesome shoulder-shrugging power of the mighty "Idunno."

It's very liberating.
posted by jrossi4r at 4:49 PM on July 19, 2005


Can someone prove that logic exists as more than a system of thought that a certain number of people agree upon?
Just wonderin'
 
posted by spock at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2005


From Wikipedia:

In philosophy, an analytic statement, or analytic proposition, is one such that its truth can be determined (solely) through analysis of its meaning.

So, if I'm getting that right, we don't know if step 1 is true without knowing what god is defined as. If you define god as the thing that set "everything" going, and "everything" has a definite beginning, then yeah, god exists, and if "everything" has always been, and always will be, then god is impossible. All that still doesn't tell us anything useful about god, and doesn't give us a decent reason to sacrifice goats to it.

Metafilter's probably the worst place to talk about this though.
posted by fnerg at 5:01 PM on July 19, 2005


There's an old joke with an economist trumping a physicist and a priest in the performance of a technical miracle (opening a can of tunafish on a desert island with no tools). The physicist builds a catapult to dash the can against the rocks, but can't calculate the angle correctly. The priest prays for the can to open, but after a few hours it fails to work. Finally the economist says step aside, boys, and assume a can opener.

Arguing with someone this dumb and obsessively sure of himself is rather like arguing with the anti-vaccine types . It can be amusing, but eventually it will drive you nuts. Like the anti-vacs, this fellow appears to live in a sealed mental universe he's dignified by copping the name of a philosophical method, one that sounds better than "rationalization."
posted by realcountrymusic at 5:01 PM on July 19, 2005


Two atheist pilots run out of gas during a long flight. The plane starts to nosedive and they look at each other, terrified. One atheist says to the other "Well you live next to church - can't you remember one of their prayers?" The other atheist thinks for a moment then bows his head and begins:

"B9"
"O74"
"N37"
"BINGO!!!!!!!"

Sorry. I'm a lazy atheist.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:12 PM on July 19, 2005


kyrademon - what do ya mean? God is the cause, the miracle is the effect. Just because we can't analyze it with our puny human science doesn't mean anything.

About contingency - something that might or might not be true true is both contingent and dependent on circumstances. That I'm wasting a nice evening arguing about this is contingently true (it doesn't have to be true except for my own stupidity and internet addiction). That A = A is necessarily true, meaning it's a universal truth that is independent of particular circumstances. Being nocturnal and babyniverous are non-universal contingent qualities. Or at least that's what I understood from my discussion with Metacrock about the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

I dunno, maybe nocturnal baby eating is just the way He chooses to manifest Himself to the world - like the Christian god appeared as, but isn't necessarily, a Jewish carpenter.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:16 PM on July 19, 2005


Meh. Those tricks and arguments would only work on a lapsed atheist.
posted by clevershark at 5:17 PM on July 19, 2005


spock, it can't be "proven" but your reverse is nonsense. Can you imagine an entity with "cognition" whose thought processes did not obey logic? What would that even mean? Kant was wrong about a lot of things (good and evil, beauty, purpose) but on this, I think, he pretty much hit the mark. The very nature of (human) cognition prevents it from reasoning about a great many things. God, Paris Hilton, and a "non-logical cognition" are all included. Logic isn't a 'system of thought' we all got together and voted on, it's a fundamental property of our understanding of the world. This is not to say that the world is fundamentally logical. Rather, it's just that we can't imagine a world where Time and Cause/Effect, for example, don't 'exist'.

(Ironically, there's recently been much controversy over the ol' C/E but Time is still a pretty sure thing since the physicists need it so badly and they must be accomodated).

Analytic statements like "bachelors are unmarried", btw, are hugely important to mathematics. Without them calculus falls apart pretty quickly.

And yes, actually, others will inevitably bring up 'Language' and say these concepts are just deeply ingrained linguistic traditions or the some such. Blah blah blah...
posted by nixerman at 5:19 PM on July 19, 2005


nixerman: not to go to far out on the tangent, but:

a) there are some thought processes that aren’t necessarily logical: e.g.: when a Jazz musician decides what note to play next during an improvisation, there’s definitely cognition going on, but no “if A and B then C”.

b) even what we usually call “logic” is poorly defined. If I say “cars have engines, this is a car, therefore it has an engine”, what do I mean by “cars”, “this”, “engine”, “therefore” etc.? Each of these words presupposes a wealth of prior knowledge that is not explicitly spelt out in my “logic”, and whose definition would be infinitely recursive, but without which it would fall apart. Very few people think in formal systems, I believe.

Not to say that everything is illogical or anything, but what we humans call “logic” isn’t some abstract, mathematicall certitude, but rather a series of fairly useful rules of thumb.
posted by signal at 5:37 PM on July 19, 2005


I not a mathematician but my understanding is that there are many different logic systems.

Can you imagine an entity with "cognition" whose thought processes did not obey logic?

Humans?

You might be right that our thought processes have a logical basis but we certainly haven't proven that yet.

Analytic statements like "bachelors are unmarried", btw, are hugely important to mathematics. Without them calculus falls apart pretty quickly

Huh? What do you mean? I'm not being argumentative. I don't understand what you're getting at here. Calculus was around for a long time before a consistent explanation of why it worked was developed.

Rather, it's just that we can't imagine a world where Time and Cause/Effect, for example, don't 'exist'.

No need to imagine. It's a big world and there are many people whose concepts of time and cause and effect are so wildly different from mine that it would be silly to have their ideas share the same name.
posted by rdr at 5:48 PM on July 19, 2005


If god exists and man is created in his image, does that mean god has intestines? What does god eat? Does he pass gas or does he only eat special, non-gas inducing holy food? If god is a "He", doesn't that mean he has testicles and a penis? Does god get a hard-on?

The answers I have previously received to these questions have turned me off religion, possibly for good, but please go ahead and enlighten me anyway.
posted by spazzm at 5:52 PM on July 19, 2005


spazzm, the Mormons believe that God was once a man like us and that He lives on a swinging shagadelic planet called Kolob in the constellation of Cancer with his groovy wives.

In short, He's all man
posted by fleetmouse at 5:59 PM on July 19, 2005


3: Many people are full of piss and vinegar, and will argue about anything.

Oh yeah, Mr. Smartypants - but can you prove that?

I keed.
posted by spazzm at 6:08 PM on July 19, 2005


I'm amazed that no-one has pointed out the logical incosistency of an all-powerful, all-knowing and loving god in a world with suffering.
I'd do it myself, but I don't really care - agnosticism/atheims is great that way.
posted by spazzm at 6:12 PM on July 19, 2005


God gave us free will and we fell from grace in the garden of eden. That's why there is suffering in the world despite his goodness.

Pffft, this is easy. Even I could be a Christian apologist.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:17 PM on July 19, 2005


With the same peurile sophistry I could argue for the existence of Cthulhu and all the Elder Gods.

Few of these christian sophists seem capable of engaging with the concept of polytheism, or the notion of the demiurge.
posted by meehawl at 6:28 PM on July 19, 2005


fleetmouse:
Weak argument.
God could have put that tree anywhere he wanted(all-powerful), but he put it in the garden.
God knew that Eve would eat it (all-knowing), he even gave her the tools to do it with (free will).

This is akin to telling a toddler that he mustn't eat the candy in that jar over there, and then watching through a one-way mirror until such a time that he does eat the candy, whereupon you jump out and say "HAaa-HaH! I saw THAT! I banish you and all your decedents to eons of suffering and pain!"

What was the reason for creating the tree in the first place? And why did he let satan loiter around in the garden? Why create satan in the first place?

This whole "god" concept has more holes than a Vin Diesel movie plot.

On preview: What meehawl said - this is puerile sophistry.
posted by spazzm at 6:34 PM on July 19, 2005


> AFAIK it's not a scam

Scam or not, it's fine additional evidence of his capacity for self-serving rationalization.

If his brother is as mentally ill as he makes out, should he even *be* driving a car? Perhaps this is why his license was suspended?

And surely the bond on a $1500 bail is just $150? And a lien on your home is just that -- a lien. It doesn't actually cost you anything until you jump bail? Plus, I imagine that an unemployed person with serious psychiatric problems would be entitled to legal aid, even in Texas, so it's hard to see what he wants the money for -- other than to buy bandages, and they dont cost $5000 -- even if you do have to change them every day?

And why get a homeloan in August, and *then* sell the house? Why not just sell the house and pay off your debts, rather than borrowing more money?

Given his reasoning around his personal situation, it's hard to imagine why anyone would think that his reasoning around the existance of God is in some way superior
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:37 PM on July 19, 2005


The Garden of Eden story is allegorical. What it means is that knowledge of good and evil is impossible without free will - we weren't created as automatons incapable of fucking up, we were created as free intelligent beings capable of exploring our environment and evaluating things on our own.

God lets us fuck up for the same reason you have to let a toddler fall down when he tries to stand up on his own - otherwise he'll never learn to walk.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:43 PM on July 19, 2005


The Garden of Eden story is allegorical.

This isn't about the literal interpretation of Genesis - you were arguing that god is both all-knowing, all-powerful and loves you.

Don't try to change the subject, please.

God lets us fuck up for the same reason you have to let a toddler fall down when he tries to stand up on his own - otherwise he'll never learn to walk.

If the only thing causing suffering is free will, how about those who suffer trough the actions of others? Are you arguing that babies dying from starvation somehow "chose poorly"?
How can a god be loving, all-powerful and all-knowing let innocent babies die in war?
posted by spazzm at 6:52 PM on July 19, 2005


The Garden of Eden story is allegorical.

Oh really? Why don't you go and outline to these people all that that nampy-pamby postmodernist reader-as-author relational interfaith drivel that has got christianity into such a terrible muddle these days. What about classic lines from the WORD OF GOD such as:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God"

Matthew 5:18: "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Proverbs 30:5-6: "Every word of God is flawless"

Psalms 12:6: "the words of the LORD are flawless"
posted by meehawl at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2005


Free will means more than being able to make decisions. It means we live in a real and often dangerous world where bad things can happen. We don't live padded lives in holy egg cartons shielded from all harm. I'm sorry that babies sometimes die. The alternative is to turn the universe into a playpen-prison, which would be a far greater evil.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:05 PM on July 19, 2005


It means we live in a real and often dangerous world where bad things can happen.

Which brings the argument full circle - since god could easily (if he's all-powerful and all-knowing) prevent innocents from harm, why doesn't he? Why does god bring suffering to the innocents he allegedly loves?

We don't live padded lives in holy egg cartons shielded from all harm.

So we seem to have narrowed it down either "not all-powerful" or "not loving". Which one is it?

I'm sorry that babies sometimes die. The alternative is to turn the universe into a playpen-prison, which would be a far greater evil.

That's your opinion - if god is all-powerful he could easily change it so you would feel perfectly at home in a playpen-prison.

If a god that claims to be loving, all-powerful and all-knowing can't even protect innocent babies from horrific deaths, how much faith can we put in his other claims? If the purpose of the suffering is not to let us know right from wrong, then what is it?
posted by spazzm at 7:18 PM on July 19, 2005


That's your opinion - if god is all-powerful he could easily change it so you would feel perfectly at home in a playpen-prison.

Perhaps God is too loving to lobotomize us that way.

Maybe there's a greater good that you're not recognizing because you've hardened your heart to the word of God.

(I can't keep this up much longer - the cognitive dissonance is killing me!)
posted by fleetmouse at 7:32 PM on July 19, 2005


meehawl, there are believe it or not liberal Christians out there who aren't literalist inerrantist shitwads. Metacrock is one of them.

There are also out there atheists who aren't spiteful contrary Christian hating sourpusses. I'm one of them. (sometimes (I hope) )
posted by fleetmouse at 7:46 PM on July 19, 2005


"Perhaps God is too loving to lobotomize us that way."

But not loving enough to devise a post-lobotomy which doesn't feel like one.
posted by Gyan at 7:50 PM on July 19, 2005


spazzm proceeds from the assumptions that death is horrific and babies are innocent, and cannot see the monstrous blinding arrogance required for such assumptions. this amuses me.
posted by quonsar at 7:51 PM on July 19, 2005


But not loving enough to devise a post-lobotomy which doesn't feel like one.

If you were created without free will you wouldn't miss it or even have the capacity to miss it. But from where I'm standing I don't see how it'd be an improvement.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:59 PM on July 19, 2005


fleetmouse : "But from where I'm standing I don't see how it'd be an improvement."

What does 'improvement' mean? That word implies a hierarchy of the human condition, a hierarchy that exists, if it exists, because God made it so. Why? In the end, all religious apology comes down to "Because God wills it so. How, and why, we don't know.". All rationalizations and logical structures posited as theology are just a Rube Goldberg contraption that aims to pacify the post-Enlightenment mindset.
posted by Gyan at 8:19 PM on July 19, 2005


I used to think about that bit from Parmenides...

What is, is
What is not, is not

And the argument that proceeded from it that change is an illusion. Thankfully I've almost totally overcome the urge to argue about these sorts of things with strangers online.
posted by nanojath at 8:20 PM on July 19, 2005


What does 'improvement' mean? That word implies a hierarchy of the human condition, a hierarchy that exists, if it exists, because God made it so.

But I don't think lobotomy is an improvement from the point of view of atheism either.

Overall though I agree that it comes down to arbitrary divine fiat - and here's the thing, once you admit even for the sake of argument the existence of a supreme being, your opponent can weasel out of or rationalize just about anything on the grounds of magic or miracle or the ineffableness of His transcendent whifferpoofery.

That's why I find the ontological argument so fascinating - it's a shell game that attempts to bypass evidence and let the idea of God pull himself into existence by his bootstraps. And everything after that is a trifle for a supremely powerful being, even dismissing the most obvious contradictions with a wave of his mighty hand. Ever read God-man comics by Ruben Bolling?


posted by fleetmouse at 8:44 PM on July 19, 2005


Nice, delmoi - I still remember the day when we disproved the existence of the judeo-christian god in symbolic logic class =)

fleacircus - I'm still laughing at "warrior-academic".

Maybe he's got yellow-fever too; wrt scholar-warriors of ancient China/Chinese legend/mythos; although I guess the emphasis was on scholar, whereas the warrior part was more necessity than anything else...

And what's up with this scam he links to?
lol.

Iwillnotmakefunofhisappearance.Iwillnotmakefunofhisappearance.Iwillnotmakefunofhisappearance. Especially when there's so much more.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:44 PM on July 19, 2005


Ok, sorry, *last* time that I'll post this on the blue...


... and only because fleetmouse posted something, too.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 8:48 PM on July 19, 2005


Guy discovers sophistry, posts to metafilter.
posted by skallas at 9:34 PM on July 19, 2005


fleetmouse : "But I don't think lobotomy is an improvement from the point of view of atheism either. "

That is irrelevant to my point. If (JC) God exists, whatever hierarchy there is, is arbitrary divine fiat, so all "explanations" to the efect that we "need free will for" blahblahblah and "suffering exists because" blahblahblah are just Rube Goldberg rationalizations. I'm waiting to see a logical proof of God whose contrapositive is self-evidently absurd.
posted by Gyan at 9:38 PM on July 19, 2005


This Metacrock guy is a mess. He can't write for shit, he's a mediocre logician, and he's ugly as sin. I can find better philosophical apologetics at the local community college.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:15 PM on July 19, 2005


Man, I remember this argument. From when it was Descartes! Zing!

I agree with Kyrademon, re: conceptualization. He proves that it's possible to believe that God exists, not that God exists. But that just needs to be dressed in a little Locke (nothing in the mind that wasn't first in the senses) to prove that by conceiving of God, God is in the senses, ergo God exists.

More fundamentally, the flaw in his argument precedes his argument totally. God is impossible. God cannot be conceived in the mind.
First off, it's impossible to conceive of the infinite, just as it's impossible to conceive of a five-dimensional space. Even though one can be constructed that is logically consistent and mathematically manipuable, the actual conception of the object is impossible. Now, take that and expand it to an infinite number of dimensions. God can't be comprehended within a consciousness that requires space and time to function. (It's late and I'm tired, so this is probably sloppy).
So, in effect, God is the square circle. And that's why faith is required if one wants to posit the existence of God. And since faith is purely subjective, it's pretty worthless to argue that somehow God can be proven to someone else. The argument, Wittgenstein might say, comes down purely to sloppy grammar.


(And as for the statement that recently cause and effect have been controversial, I'd say that David Hume is hardly "recent.")
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 PM on July 19, 2005


Buh?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:47 PM on July 19, 2005


fleetmouse: in your discussion with spazzm, you mention the "free will" way out of the all-knowing, all-powerful and loving god in a world full of pain paradox.

I know that's the common Christian explanation, and that Christian rationalists have written at great length about it, but I think the even more fundamental point, from spazzm's angle, is this:

Free will and all-knowing, all-powerful are probably self-contradictory in some very important way. If God is in control, we don't have free will. If he is not in control, he is not all-powerful. It is very much a contradictory set of axioms. I'm not into this stuff, but I think this is why that "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People" guy posits a God that is not all-powerful, so that this inescapable logical trap can be avoided.

Indeed, I think any deeply rational Christian has to let one of the two axioms slip: either we don't have free will, or God is not all-powerful. No one wants to be an automata, so to my knowledge it is often the latter that goes.

(But that's the problem with the whole kit and caboodle, to me: if you need to start jettisoning axioms to get logical consistency, I'm not sure the enterprise is worth it at all... If He ain't all powerful, I'm not sure what the hell he is, if He is all-powerful, I'm sure I don't like him.)
posted by teece at 12:52 AM on July 20, 2005


Go back to the source of christian apologetics: Origen. One of the first to attempt to synthesize the newer Buddhist-Graeco notion of the ineffable "Logos" with the monotheistic Semitic idea of a vengeful father-deity. A very clever guy. Probably still to clever by half, since the Catholic Church never quite got around to awarding him "Father of the Church" status, mindful that all that thinking too hard on human nature and divine nature and such like led to Monophysitism and Docetism and kinds of dangerously inventive ideas springing up like wildfire.
posted by meehawl at 4:13 AM on July 20, 2005


... and then there was the psychiatrist who argued with his patients about the content of their hallucinations.
posted by snarfodox at 7:33 AM on July 20, 2005


teece, I don't see how free will is incompatible with knowledge of the future. I'm still making decisions for myself even if someone knows what I'm going to choose. Besides, magic stuff - so there (i.e., what snarfodox said).

meehawl, thank you for the link to origen, looks most interesting.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:31 AM on July 20, 2005


When I saw his picture, that was the end of the argument. Call me superficial if you must.
posted by fungible at 8:33 AM on July 20, 2005


When I saw what a twisted little homunculus Stephen Hawking is I knew his ideas had to be bullshit. How could a spazz-mong know anything about the origins of the universe?
posted by fleetmouse at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2005


Having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is not a choice; looking like a cross between Violet Beauregarde and a troll doll is.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2005


"What the hell are you getting so upset about?" Yossarian asked her bewilderedly in a tone of contrite amusement. "I thought you didn't believe in God."
"I don't," she sobbed, bursting violently into tears. "But the God I don't believe in is a good God, a just God, a merciful God. He's not the mean and stupid God you make Him out to be."
posted by OmieWise at 10:48 AM on July 20, 2005


Optimus Chyme writes "Having Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is not a choice; looking like a cross between Violet Beauregarde and a troll doll is."

heh heh.
posted by OmieWise at 10:49 AM on July 20, 2005


thank you for the link to origen, looks most interesting

Fleetmouse, you might want to also look up (if you haven't read his stuff already), the Egyptian Hellenistic Jewish apologist, Philo. Notable for attempting to harmonize Judaism with Platonism... not an easy task!

Then again, he did take part in a deputation to visit Caligula in 40 CE to attempt to defuse growing Graeco/Roman and Jewish tensions in Palestine and Egypt. I don't know which would have been more difficult - squaring Platonism and Judaism, or trying to get Caligula to grant concessions that would have defused the rising Jewish zealotism in the region.

Had Philo and his deputation succeeded, then it's possible that the Jewish Uprising might have been forestalled, the zealots reduced to political insignificance or accommodated into the Roman system without the annihilation of Jerusalem. Had Jerusalem not been destroyed, then I do not think that the Roman Christian Church would have been able to get the upper hand over the Jewish Christian Church. Christianity would have schismed into a minor Roman sect, as unimportant and unnoticed and ultimately assimilated as, say, the sect of the veneration of Apollonius of Tyana.

While in the eastern part of the Empire, Judaism might ultimately have reabsorbed most of Christianity (as, say, Hinduism did with Buddhism in India), with the Christianity outside of the Jewish sphere evolving as a more heavily Semitic, less Graeco-Roman salvation cult. Probably a more enduring version of the Ebionites or the Nazarenes.

In that scenario, however, the apologist Tertullian might have had nothing to write about. And this thread might not even exist, or perhaps be only slightly different, with us earnestly discussing the ineffability of Mithras.
posted by meehawl at 11:25 AM on July 20, 2005


meehawl, that's a front page post right there. Forgive me for not having a substantial response - it'll take me a while to read through all the links.

Optimus, Omie: believe it or not there's a tipping point where being a cynical hateful asshole actually becomes distasteful.
posted by fleetmouse at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2005


fleetmouse, foreknowledge is not the problem, it's all-power. It's incompatible with free will. God is not omnipotent or we don't have free will.
posted by teece at 11:50 AM on July 20, 2005


foreknowledge is not the problem, it's all-power. It's incompatible with free will. God is not omnipotent or we don't have free will.

You've said this a couple times now, but I don't follow your reasoning. Could you clarify what you find paradoxical about the co-existence of free will and omnipotence?
posted by Errant at 1:07 PM on July 20, 2005


teece, you can play a game of The Sims without fully exercising your omnipotence over them. They may forget to go to the bathroom and end up crying in pools of their own urine, but hey, that's free will for ya.
posted by Galvatron at 1:08 PM on July 20, 2005


fleetmouse : "I don't see how free will is incompatible with knowledge of the future. I'm still making decisions for myself even if someone knows what I'm going to choose."

If God knows I'll eat Chinese tonight, I've no choice but to eat Chinese. I can't choose otherwise because that would contradict God's knowledge. The point of free will is that starting with the exact pasts, different futures can be exercised. But if God has knowledge of the future, "Making decisions" becomes just a figure of speech then. In fact, here's a theologian linked at A&L to yesterday, who argues that God does not know the future because it doesn't exist.
posted by Gyan at 2:02 PM on July 20, 2005


Damn it fleetmouse, you owe me 5 minutes of my life back for wasting my time with this crap!
posted by illuminatus at 2:43 PM on July 20, 2005


Ah, Gyan is right, it's both omnipotence and foreknowledge together that make free will impossible.

Like I said, this isn't my thing. But I have bumped into the Christian philosophy that works really hard to try and (unsuccessfully) remove the paradox of an all-powerful, all-knowing God and men with free will. Even serious Christian philosophers are deeply troubled by the problem spazzm points out.

If he's completely in control and knows how it's all going to work out, the choice in free will is nothing like what we would normally call choice. Free will implies that there are choices that God has no control over in the universe -- either he has no idea they are coming, and no control over them (in which case he is not all-knowing and all-powerful), or he knows exactly what's coming and it's all part of his plan, in which case we have no choice. The latter is like saying that an actor reading a script has free will in his or her part. That's a pretty empty definition of free will.

Thus some theologians dump the all-powerful God property, to save free will.
posted by teece at 2:49 PM on July 20, 2005


(The traditional response to the contradiction between free will and omniscience is that God both simultaneously knows that you will eat Chinese and that you won't, as your causal tree branches...)
posted by klangklangston at 3:00 PM on July 20, 2005


klangklangston : "The traditional response to the contradiction between free will and omniscience is that God both simultaneously knows that you will eat Chinese and that you won't, as your causal tree branches"

The "traditional" response? More like Everett-inspired, which is fairly recent. But this also doesn't work. God would also know which branch I'll experience, since I certainly won't experience both simultaneously, eating Chinese and not eating Chinese.
posted by Gyan at 3:22 PM on July 20, 2005


The thing about free will is we can't be absolutely certain we have it even if there isn't an omniscient omnipotent God - how could you possibly know whether or not the universe is deterministic?

Ultimately we seem to exercise free will whether we actually do or do not - we don't have a choice in the matter. :D
posted by fleetmouse at 3:51 PM on July 20, 2005


fleetmouse: "The thing about free will is we can't be absolutely certain we have it even if there isn't an omniscient omnipotent God - how could you possibly know whether or not the universe is deterministic?"


This isn't about free will. This is about free will & the properties of the Christian deity & logical coherence.
posted by Gyan at 4:03 PM on July 20, 2005


God both simultaneously knows that you will eat Chinese and that you won't

Within the Christian belief system "free will" is obviously constrained and situational because there were certain moments within the mythic stories when humans were not allowed to exercise their "free will" but had to follow a specific path so that prophecy would be fulfilled and a ritual of atonement and blood sacrifice carried through.

The classic scenario is the death of God the Son.

Judas *had* to decide to betray Jesus. Jesus foresaw this, and knew it was so. Therefore Judas's free will was therefore eliminated.

Pilate *had* to decide to execute Jesus. Jesus foresaw this and knew it was so. Pilate's free will was therefore eliminated.

Peter *had* to decide to deny familiarity with Jesus three times. Jesus foresaw this and knew it was so. Peter's free will was therefore eliminated.

I could go on, but the notion of a "God" as described by the Christians is incompatible with the notion of "free will", except in terms of "The Sims" as described earlier. "Free will" is therefore not unbounded, but exists "on rails", as people used to like to use to refer to video game narratives that are artfully constructed to give the illusion of freedom of action while propelling the actors along a specific course.

If you accept that free will is therefore constrained at particular times by God or Gods, then you have to consider, for example, the nature of a decision to perform an evil act that results in a greater good. There is no easy way to reconcile this with the notion of a monotheistic, omnipotent God, unless you decide to embed the decisions within some meta-frame of unfolding prophecy.

If you decide instead to reject the notion of a meta-narrative, then you get Manichean Gnosticism, or a system of duality. From two Gods, it's an easy step up to several, and pretty soon you've got a pantheon.

Personally, I think the popularity of monotheism in human culture over the past few millenia reflects the tendency of the growing power of the State and shared modes of communication to enhance a tendency towards ideological centralisation. We've gone from each isolated kin house having its own family Gods, to isolated villages having their own kin Gods, through City Gods, Nation Gods, and now we are passing through a phase of Global Gods. The idea of Gods or God is an exchange of value concepts between individuals for personal or spiritual gain, and just as economies have grown and become vastly more standardised, centralised and efficient, so too has the exchange of religious ideas.

Eventually, of course, Cthulhu will win, for in his house in R'lyeh dear dead Cthulhu lies only dreaming.
posted by meehawl at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2005


You know, if you spell GOD backwards, you get DOG.
posted by horsewithnoname at 11:27 PM on July 20, 2005


If God is truly infinite, contained within God are both you eating Chinese and not eating Chinese. That's one of those problems with arguing for an infinite universe (which stopped happening in physics a few years back).
posted by klangklangston at 6:58 AM on July 21, 2005


our education system is modeled after german 1880's or so and theirs was designed to make good citizens not to educate, and we fail at both. but a good citizen is a bad name. a good citizen is a well a ephemeral thing.we need a lot and parents are the cuase and making too many restraining rules.such as why cant the cia carry out more disposal missions wherever they need to be carried out?why does the fbi remove their shoes before arresting some one in a mosque?
posted by xtiml at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2005


Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:18 PM on July 21, 2005


klangklangston : "If God is truly infinite, contained within God are both you eating Chinese and not eating Chinese."


All you are saying is that all possibilities happen, i.e. Everett-style, which is what I said above. Then there's no "decision" to make. At every point, everything that can happen, happens. Free will entails that I'll only experience one of those decisions but omniscience entails that God knows which one.
posted by Gyan at 1:50 PM on July 21, 2005


Gyan: There's still a decision to make. Put it this way: You can argue for an atheistic determinism. You can say that everything we do is part of an elaborate chain reaction of atoms, set up from the beginning of time. But that doesn't mean that your decision to have Chinese for dinner is less real, it just means that it's a subjective decision.
posted by klangklangston at 3:34 PM on July 21, 2005


klangklangston : "You can say that everything we do is part of an elaborate chain reaction of atoms, set up from the beginning of time. But that doesn't mean that your decision to have Chinese for dinner is less real, it just means that it's a subjective decision."

I covered this above, as well. In this case, "decision" is just a figure of speech. If the physical sequence is First A, Then B, then the statement: "Based on A, I decided B" is just a token way of expressing things. The "decision" and its recognition, is itself a physical reaction run according to physical laws.
posted by Gyan at 3:55 PM on July 21, 2005


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