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Thread: Oh my God!

  1. #106
    Gloriam Imperator kged's Avatar
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    I think you've gone a bit far there Fungers - surely there is a distinct difference between a soul and an identity. As I was taught it, the soul is what survives us when we die, and goes to Heaven (or not). That's not synonymous with an identity in my book. Obviously I reject the notion of the soul entirely (what with there being absolutely no reason to believe any such thing exists) but I had to quibble with you there.

    I'd like to chuck in an old thought of mine at this point. Some while ago, while musing on the sort of biological/technological crossovers Mr Koo raises above, I began to wonder about the religious implications of al this. I was raised as a Catholic, and taught very early on - indeed, the first two Q&A's of the catechism:

    Who made you?
    God made me.

    Why did God make you?
    God made me to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

    But what if we reach a point where death is no longer mandatory? It'd be nice to imagine that those old SF cliches will come true, and we'll one day be able to either upload our minds into a mainframe when our bodies give up, or that medicine will advance so far that our bodies will live forever. At that point, what do we do about Heaven? If one is a believer but is suddenly faced with the option to avoid death, how many would have the courage to elect to die in order to meet their God and get their eternal reward? And what would God's view of all this be, if he is suddenly cut off from His supply of souls joining him every day? Would there be great wrath brought down upon the Earth?

    Be honest, religious folk - you get the choice to die and face Judgment at the hands of your God, or to live here on Earth forever but never see God in the face. What do you do?

    An entertaining afterthought - perhaps this is how the Christian rapture will come about. All the faithful will choose to die, so that the Earth is left populated only by atheists and agnostics. And Buddhists.

  2. #107
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kged View Post

    But what if we reach a point where death is no longer mandatory? It'd be nice to imagine that those old SF cliches will come true, and we'll one day be able to either upload our minds into a mainframe when our bodies give up, or that medicine will advance so far that our bodies will live forever. At that point, what do we do about Heaven? If one is a believer but is suddenly faced with the option to avoid death, how many would have the courage to elect to die in order to meet their God and get their eternal reward? And what would God's view of all this be, if he is suddenly cut off from His supply of souls joining him every day? Would there be great wrath brought down upon the Earth?

    Be honest, religious folk - you get the choice to die and face Judgment at the hands of your God, or to live here on Earth forever but never see God in the face. What do you do?
    First, religion's got that taken care of. The 2nd Coming will be here before we get so advanced.

    Second, I choose facing the judgment. If you've lived a good life and tried your hardest, you have nothing to fear. We make mistakes, but that's why Christ died for us.

  3. #108
    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Well, we're on the road to understanding how it works, at least.

    http://www.medindia.net/news/Is-Your...es-44795-1.htm

    Couple this with research into biological storage drives and processors for computers, and cybernetic implants (several types of which are already in use, albeit not widespead), and you've got a recipe for biological immortality with IA (machine assisted intelligence and memory).

    Admittedly, it's still pretty fantastical. But you have to admit, these discoveries are likely the kinds of things that will one day make biological life indefinitely sustainable. And if you give the guest on the Daily Show the benefit of the doubt, we're already at the point where recreating extinct life is not just possible, but probable -- and likely so within the next decade.

    All in all, pretty rad.

    As for the questions of identity, this is what I was driving at in either this or the other thread where RAD was proposing individual rights as paramount for a "valid" society. How we define "identity" is, in my opinion, the very same question as to how we define the "soul" -- just a different word for the same question. So I wonder why it is that something so nebulous and vague as "identity" and "individuality" is palatable to the atheist, but the "soul" is not. They are the same thing. Just choice terms for two different disciplines.
    There is some amazing analysis about the "mind" being a standing wavefront with set mathematical principles. Dan Simmons touched on it a bit in Hollow Man and I've seen a few articles that were surprising.


    While we're on the subject, do you folks figure religious institutions will trend downward significantly over the next 100 years or so? I say institutions not belief because I know that's not going anywhere.

  4. #109
    Quote Originally Posted by Seak View Post
    First, religion's got that taken care of. The 2nd Coming will be here before we get so advanced.

    Second, I choose facing the judgment. If you've lived a good life and tried your hardest, you have nothing to fear. We make mistakes, but that's why Christ died for us.
    We will be that advanced within about 40 years. Regenerative medicine is probably the most progressive science behind multiprocessing.

  5. #110
    GemQuest Moderator Gary Wassner's Avatar
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    Can atheists honestly believe in things like love? Must they deny all concepts that aren't objectively verifiable? We might have hit on something very interesting just now.

  6. #111
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kged View Post
    I think you've gone a bit far there Fungers - surely there is a distinct difference between a soul and an identity. As I was taught it, the soul is what survives us when we die, and goes to Heaven (or not). That's not synonymous with an identity in my book. Obviously I reject the notion of the soul entirely (what with there being absolutely no reason to believe any such thing exists) but I had to quibble with you there.
    I don't think so -- Let me explain:

    The principle question of identity, especially when we address the aforementioned queries related to statements about one's sense of identity ("I don't know who I am anymore"/"I'm not who I used to be"), actually has two levels.

    The first is the simple surface question: What am I like; What do I believe; How am I different than I used to be. These are questions relating to attributes and qualities that are distinct and both internal and external across time related to the central item in question, the I.

    That's what we call "identity" when we are talking psychology. This is "sense of self," but not "self."

    Philosophically, though, what is "I"? We get the classic Cartesian statement "I think therefore I am" which is, essentially, a statement of permanence of the central "I". "I" continues to exist through time, and can reflect on continuing existence, even though the attributes and qualities that are associated with "I" are variable.

    So the underlying question that is fundamental to identity is one of permanence, above all others. What "identity" is really looking for is the central thread of individual existence.

    We know, for example, that every seven years (approx), our bodies are completely unique in their elemental composition. That is -- we have entirely different atomic make-up every seven years. So, physically (in the physical science sense), the Cartesian statement of existence is incorrect. Perhaps more accurately: "I thought, therefore I was; I continue to think, therefore I continue to be; I will cease to think, therefore I will cease to be."

    There are other pseudo-scientific "discoveries" that lend weight to something else going on. There's the 28 Grams idea: that the body immediately loses 28 grams of mass upon physical death. Now, considering that electrons have mass and dissipate on death, that may be all there is to it (though this is a contentious "finding" anyway). Couple that with observation of a wave that travels across the brain at physical death (I believe its N300? -- interpreted as the soul "escaping"). Thus, there are observable phenomenon associated with "something else" being carried by us while we're alive that disappears upon death. In any case, none of these observations explain subjective continuity.

    "I" is therefore an entirely conceptual form, secondary to physical existence. There is almost definitely an as yet unclearly-defined physical process that explains continuity of experience at the strictly physical level (ie -- what allows new atoms to mimic/continue properties/functions of previous atoms), and we have some weak observations of whatever it is with wild speculation surrounding it. But there is not yet any satisfactory definition of "identity" outside of the strictly physical definition that you have a body, and it carries and conducts energy. Nothing has yet identified how the organic mechanism is "started up," nor how it appears to have subjective continuity throughout life.

    If we contrast the above to the theological "soul," we see that the question is effectively the same. "Soul" as a term is used synecdochically to mean person ("not a soul in sight"). In theological considerations, one is deemed to be "on the right path with God" by submitting to the inner voice of God. And to make it to the afterlife, "worth" is defined by attribution of that soul the same way we define identity in psychology (unless you're Calvinist) -- being right with God. "I just don't feel like myself" is a paired theological and psychological question, and both questions revolve around the central notion of permanence of self -- or, identity/soul.

    The principle notion, in both cases, is that the external attributional identity (character) is in step with the internal core identity (soul).

    The religious implication that the soul is everlasting is not really challenged by physical science at all if we approach the question in this way. We somehow acquire the energy that gives us life via our parents, and an unknown quality defines the subjective continuity that identifies us as unique individuals. Whatever we call the total energy (and whatever it's composed of) that dissipates from the physical body on death, the law of conservation of mass/energy dictates that that energy continues to exist. Apples is apples by any other name...

    In otherwords, science tells us that we do come from something else, that we continue to exist distinctly, and whatever it was that "powered" us moves on into the universe.

    So the idea of the soul is more or less scientifically sound (if we try to render it in physical terms and remove it from the realm of the supernatural). The atheist need not reject the "soul" at all -- it's entirely plausible even without God. From there, though, the question becomes a matter of faith. Does this have meaning/purpose, or only function?

    So that's my argument that "individuals" are predicated on a theologically sound argument -- it's not mutually exclusive to religion at all when contrasted in basic, accurate terms.

    Be honest, religious folk - you get the choice to die and face Judgment at the hands of your God, or to live here on Earth forever but never see God in the face. What do you do?
    I'm not religious, but accidental death could never be ruled out as an Act of God

    There's a statistic somewhere that argues the maximum life expectancy of an indefinite biological life form would be 132 years. The average person will be killed accidentally within that time, +/- a statistical derivation or two.

  7. #112
    >:|Angry Beaver|:< Fung Koo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seak View Post
    First, religion's got that taken care of. The 2nd Coming will be here before we get so advanced.

    Second, I choose facing the judgment. If you've lived a good life and tried your hardest, you have nothing to fear. We make mistakes, but that's why Christ died for us.
    Aye Seak, but to choose death is suicide. And suicide is a one-way ticket to H-E Double-Hockey-Sticks.

  8. #113
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    Ah, yes. The Singularity. If anyone's ever read The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil, you'll find that he states that at the current accelerating trends in genetics, nanotech, and robotics, we will achieve a Singularity within the next 25-40 years. After that, we will spread human intelligence throughout the galaxy so that within 200 plus years, all matter in the Universe will reflect human thought. The Rapture of the Nerds, and really the Rapture of a particular kind of atheist. How is this different than the eschatology of many religions, including Hinduism in this one? It isn't, but there are mathematics and statistics and the forceful evidence of past scientific achievement and current scientific advancement that makes me pause and not dismiss this as science fantasy. When the first President Bush proposed the Human Genome Project, it was felt that it would take about 100 years to fully decode our genome. That would have been true at the level of technology that existed in 1990. We finished the project within ten years because our tech had advanced so quickly. Amazing. I'm still trying to figure out how I should feel about the possibilty of the Singularity.

  9. #114
    and I like to party. Seak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fung Koo View Post
    Aye Seak, but to choose death is suicide. And suicide is a one-way ticket to H-E Double-Hockey-Sticks.
    What I mean, is that the final judgment isn't so bad if you know what you're getting into. I definitely want to live a full and complete life. Actually, I wouldn't mind being spared that last part where you're either too sick to do anything or forget everyone around you.

  10. #115
    Ranke Lidyek
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    Any act, that if taken by every member of society as a whole, damages society, is "wrong". Morality is common sense; a survival instinct. If everyone lies, then no one can trust one another. If everyone steals, it corrodes the fabric of brotherhood and society itself. This, to me, is the barometer. I think the concept of God (I'm a theistic agnostic because every time I open my eyes I see a purpose and a design) instills morality to some degree because it teaches us that there is something "greater" than ourselves and that we can be held accountable (even if this is untrue). However, I'm unconvinced that one needs a belief in God to be a moral human being. It might make that morality more difficult to cling to in difficult times, but I think a person who is a good person is a good person. It's character.

    I believe firmly in individual freedom (doesn't everyone...), but this concept is founded on the idea of personal responsibility--on the faith of the individual. Today's governments distrust the individual and are becoming "gods" of another sort, increasingly able to categorize and divvy up the populace. People look for all their problems to be magically taxed away, instead of looking toward themselves and their communities. Everyone jumps on religion as the great "evil", but Stalin (in a country that outlawed God--and instilled the State as a deity) was responsible for more deaths than all the major religions combined.

    And people who smirk over the belief in God have just as little proof as those who believe, in my mind. In this world, there are more things we DON'T see than those we do. So, the smug commentators like Bill Mauer (who I like at times) or George Carlin have an easy time poking holes in belief systems other than their own (because they aren't required to produce proof of THEIR beliefs). Empirical evidence simply does not exist. Science is observation and no one observed evolution or creation (adaptation, yes, but not on a macro scale, and not the birth or formation of this world or others). So, they laugh and feel superior. I think, as someone said before, the key is to live personally in one's beliefs and to share them only with others who ask. It seems to me that atheists lately have gone past that line, handing out blank pamphlets, whining and snearing at any sense of faith a person has. I wish more people were honest enough to admit that we simply don't know.

    To me, it takes more faith to believe in nothing, than something. Each look at the sea and a sunset testifies to more than some pointless accident, a collision or "bang". Now, laugh all you wish. I might be wrong, but it's my choice.

  11. #116
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Any act, that if taken by every member of society as a whole, damages society, is "wrong".
    What constitutes 'damage to society"?
    If everyone ingested LSD?
    If everyone ingested heroin?
    If everyone ingested marijuana?
    If everyone ingested cigarette smoke?
    If everyone ingested Beefeater martinis?
    If everyone ingested two glasses of Pinot Noir a day?
    If everyone ingested Guinness stout?
    If everyone ingested near beer?
    If everyone ingested soft drinks?

  12. #117
    Ranke Lidyek
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hereford Eye View Post
    What constitutes 'damage to society"?
    If everyone ingested LSD?
    If everyone ingested heroin?
    If everyone ingested marijuana?
    If everyone ingested cigarette smoke?
    If everyone ingested Beefeater martinis?
    If everyone ingested two glasses of Pinot Noir a day?
    If everyone ingested Guinness stout?
    If everyone ingested near beer?
    If everyone ingested soft drinks?
    Ah, how I love the easy ones. None of those as stated, but all if in excess. Thanks for the help.

  13. #118
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    Easy? What constitutes excess? Who decides? Everyone? On what basis do they make the decision and will they make it before, during, or after ingesting?

  14. #119
    Ranke Lidyek
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    If you can't figure that out, then why are we having an argument over a more difficult subject like morality?

    Smoke it if you got it, I suppose.

  15. #120
    Just Another Philistine Hereford Eye's Avatar
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    I can conjure up an answer that may or may not be what you have in mind. I always like to ask the person making the assertion what it is they have in mind lest I do them the discourtesy of misinterpreting their meaning.
    What I get at the moment is that all human beings are rational and capable of agreement of on a simple little matter like what is destructive to a society. Where I live there are many folks upset over the results of the last U.S. election. They are given to making statements such as "..it's alright; we have guns." They must see the election results as destructive to the society wherein they live whilst others, no doubt folk who voted for the president-elect, view it from another point of view. So, agreement on an assertion such as
    Quote Originally Posted by you
    Any act, that if taken by every member of society as a whole, damages society, is "wrong". Morality is common sense; a survival instinct."
    seems to me to be less than assured. Thus, I tender a few questions for clarification.
    Smoked cigarettes for most of my life but never did grass or the hard stuff on my list. You'll find me in the martini and Pinot Noir ingesters.

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