Saturday, August 27, 2016
Part #2: Ultimate Becoming, Divine Process
(Skip, if you are in a hurry.)
At birth (that of our species, and individually), we humans awoke into this cosmos and have been asking "Why?" ever since.
What makes this so difficult is that while many of our brilliant scientists can make fairly reliable observations of matter and energy, so many of them disagree on almost everything else.
It does appear that we humans can only make educated guesses about--Ultimate Reality, traditionally called "GOD."
But even the term causes untold arguments, harmful hostilities, and brutal slaughters. "GOD" is the most conudrummed of all semantic jungles.
Unfortunately, it is almost always a 'con' being 'drummed' into other people's consciousness by Muslims, Christians, Atheists, Hindus, and others.
Usually, one needs to spend hours of writing long complicated explanations of why what others think you mean by "GOD" isn't at all what you mean, nor for that matter is it anything like how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the general word.
God--"1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality"
So without further ado, I am, again, going to move toward using UR, and seldom mention the traditional empty-bucket term.
That way, hopefully, most readers won't be sent down millions of other rabbit holes
chasing after Alice and Humpty Dumpty;-(
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone,
"it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
This article will approach the issue/complexity/conundrum/philosophical WHY from our human 'bottom up' of practical daily living. (For those who want very abstract, more technical discussions, please Google that. There are thousands of such fine sites including http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/, https://philosophynow.org/, and http://plato.stanford.edu/.)
We all have presuppositions that we live with that shape our views and our choices and our actions. Millions of humans are unaware of their central presuppositions in a similar way that a fish wouldn't be aware that he exists in the ocean.
We get "thrown" into our society, culture, nation, family at birth and so grow up seeing the world, time, and reality through those particular glasses. Thankfully, millions of us get a good enough education that we learn to distance ourselves from thinking our own colored glasses are the only real view of reality.
SO HERE WE ARE AT THIS MOMENT!
SUBPOINT A: CHOICES
In order to function from moment to moment, each of us assumes that we can make choices, that we can alter our life, that we are responsible, that we can make a difference in the world, etc.
The only exception to this, of course, are the severely mentally ill--those who have no sense of individual self or who have catastrophic delusions.
In my view this is why determinism/fate/foreordination doesn't work in real life despite the fact that some brilliant thinkers claim that all humans are "puppets" and that "human choice" is an illusion.
But those very same thinkers don't actually put into practice their convinced view in their own lives. In fact, it would seem impossible to do so.
Rather, they mostly use their conclusion as a hammer to smash other worldviews that they disagree with.
For example, here is one very clear example:
Biologist Jerry Coyne states almost weekly on his website that no human has any choice. He agrees with neuroscientist Sam Harris that we have no more choice than the mass murderer in Texas whose brain tumor forced him to kill other people.
(Listen to Harris' interview with Jerry Coyne and to his podcast "Tumors All the Way Down.")
According to Coyne, we can't even choose what we want to eat for lunch. Even worse, he argues that every murderer and every rapist has no choice but to murder and rape because it was determined that they must.
Thus there is no moral responsibility, none at all--according to Coyne.
Yet Coyne repeatedly bans individuals on the Internet if they disagree with him or his views; or if (from his perspective) they choose to be "discourteous."
This makes no rational or scientific sense!
(Which is unusual for such a brilliant scientist.
In contrast, Coyne's book on evolution, Why Evolution Is True,
is a lucid, very rational explanation of biology and life!
Take a look at the contradiction.
Today, on his website, Coyne states this:
"But Penn neglects a serious problem when he says this: 'You’re not allowed to hate people for their ideas.' Now that’s just not right. Excuse me for Godwinning, but are we not allowed to hate Hitler, only his Nazism and anti-Semitism? Are we not allowed to hate Jihadi John, who cuts off people’s heads, but only the religious ideology that promoted that action? Are we not allowed to hate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whose “theology” has led to the deaths of thousands?"
"The fact is that people instantiate their ideas through their actions, and holding beliefs that can inspire bad acts is itself reprehensible."--Jerry Coyne
WAIT a minute. Coyne declares that no one can even choose what he would like to eat for lunch. And much worse declares that ALL murderers and rapists
aren't morally responsible for their murders and rapes!
YET now he states that people who hold ideas and actions and beliefs that he, Coyne, disagrees with are "reprehensible."
That doesn't compute!
How can anyone be "reprehensible" if they are "puppets" incapable of choice??!!
According to Coyne and other hard determinists' view of reality,
Nazis, Hitler, Jihadi John, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi don't have a choice, can't even move a finger,
let alone choose
what ideas they hold, what beliefs they choose, and what actions they take.
They are only dust in the cosmic wind determined by the laws of physics; always done to,
never able to choose contrary to what has been determined.
Of course, Coyne has already stated many times, too, that he himself has no choice about anything. Nothing!
So I suppose Coyne would now say that he doesn't have a choice but must "hate" others and must write this article.
But see what a confusing, contradictory, endless loop that gets us all into.
The word Coyne uses is "reprehensible" which means "very bad : deserving very strong criticism," but Coyne at the same time says that no human has any choice but to do what has been determined.
Then Coyne goes onto state, "But what about good people who adopt and act on those bad ideas? Don’t they become bad people?"
HUH? Coyne has already stated that murderers don't have any choice, none at all. Neither do civil people. So how in the world could a "good" person "adopt and act on those bad ideas"?
None of us can do 'nothin'.
Some determinists argue that while "human choice" is an illusion, it is yet practical to assume it in daily life.
But, again, notice that in their argument they have temporarily abandoned their determinism and instead now state that any one can choose to "assume" they have a choice, (which is really an illusion), because it is beneficial.
Despite all their brilliance, it seems determinists are wrong about determinism because none of them--none of us--can operate from moment to moment, living as a "puppet" or a "wet robot," not choosing.
Such a view automatically incapacitates my next moment because in order to be human I need to assume that I can choose!
SUBPOINT B: ETHICS
Many atheists and non-religious commentators think that religious people live in illusions. And there is a lot of truth to such a charge.
For instance, consider brilliant scholars like Richard Lyman Bushman, winner of the Bancroft Prize, author of the brilliant biography of Joseph Smith, the founder of Latter Day Saints (Mormon).
Bushman is a fine scholar, yet when it comes to analyzing the rampant adultery and promiscuity of Smith, Bushman clearly shades the facts, trying to exonerate Smith, because of his biases, his own faith in Mormonism.
But religious people can also be motivated by objective ethics, not only by illusions and irrational ideas. Many critics of religion fail to realize this.
Neil Carter, a former Christian, and now atheist blogger wrote on his website today, "Your approach to conversation with the devout must also take into account that they themselves are active participants in their religion, continually creating their own personal experience of the divine on a subconscious level, apart from their own awareness."
Evidently this was Neil's own experience and that of the Christians he knew, but I didn't ever experience God in such a way. I never experienced what countless Christian leaders said Christians did--a vivid sense of God's presence--so I thought there was something wrong with me.
In all my years as a Christian, I NEVER once received an answer to even one of my prayers. (These weren't minor prayers or self-centered prayers). But no answer ever came.
Spiritual leaders told me to wait.
I did for years.
I couldn't understand how other Christians were so dedicated to prayer.
And their claims of answers to their prayers appeared to be illusionary, at times very bogus.
So why did I stay with the sinking ship?
My chief reason for being a Christian was always ethical. I was dedicated to human rights, to the good, the true, the just, the equal, and the beautiful, and so on.
Many of those who opposed my faith and hope--
our professors who were secular, (many atheists), other students (at the University of Nebraska, Long Beach State) who were skeptics and anti-religious, and then later other non-Christians--
often supported and participated in unethical behavior.
So even though I found myself constantly doubting my religion, and totally opposed to other parts of it,
I didn't jump ship for a very long time, because of the ethics.
When it became clear that there was another way to be more ethical, one much better than Christianity, then I left.
Some very smart people assert that there are no real ethics, that we humans "construct" ethics, so slavery is really not wrong, but is advantageous to survival and so is correct, though that is only a subjective cultural, societal view. Back in the past, when most humans supported slavery, then slavery wasn't wrong.
This sounds like an atheistic version of how Neil is describing Christian illusion.
If one's ethics aren't grounded, based in, reality, then they would appear to be delusionary.
Besides, if humans have to "construct" ethics, then there is no basis for holding all humans to the same ethical standards. Then morality becomes whatever an society claims it is.
Some non-religious leaders including Bob Seidensticker and Hermant Mehta state that ethics are "programmed" into the human species, but this is clearly denied by nearly all biologists.
1.If there is no programmer, then no programs can be written.
2.Almost all biologists state that evolution has no goals, no purpose, no meaning.
Many of the non-religious biologists go even further and emphasize that homo sapiens aren't better than other species, but only a twig on the bush of natural selection.
3.And even if one decides to think that humans are more important than other species, there is no basis for deciding which traits of natural selection are better, are more ethical than others.
Millions of humans have chosen the very successful behaviors of deception, enslavement, abuse, and slaughter.
Some humans--a minority--have instead chosen honesty, equality, compassion, and non-violence.
If there are no true, real ethics, no actual "oughts" in the sense that philosophers of the past meant such as Immanuel Kant, then how can humans decide which actions are better and which are wrong?
If we humans must "construct" our own ethics, who is to say that it is wrong for parents to mutilate little girls (as over 80% of Muslim parents do in Egypt)?
Or that it is wrong for all women to be in subjection to their husbands and that women can't be leaders (as the vast majority of Muslims, many conservative Christians believe)?
Or that all humans are equal and have unalienable rights (as Enlightenment leaders and human rights organizations claim)?
The whole basis of the Enlightenment, the abolition of slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and so forth is that ethics are real and true, and need to be discovered and lived for by everyone.
Some atheists argue that survival is the only true value.
But if there are no true "oughts," then why do they make "survival" an exception?
For many who claim ethics are subjective preferences of human cultures and societies, not objectively real, contradictorily state that the human species "ought" to continue.
But why "ought" we humans to continue if there are no "oughts," none at all?
Besides, a quick glance back down history-way will show the innumerable horrors that the ethics of survival have led millions of humans to commit. Billions of humans have been abused, tortured, and slaughtered including millions of innocent civilians, including many children!
Fairly recently a number of human thinkers have justified the intentional slaughter of many infants, children, elderly, etc. to protect their country and their country's soldiers in the speculative future! This the view of millions of Americans, Palestinians, and others.
To be continued--
In the Light,
1 Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll