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IS NOTHING SACRED? 
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
I do not see "nothing" and "nothingness" as figures of speech. My thesis, as set out in my book, is that there is difference between them. In fact, it is the differentiation between Nothing and Nothingness that is essential in understanding the difference between Western monotheistic religions and Eastern faiths. It is not a matter of perceiving "nothing" differently, but of having different "nothings". The former need the first miracle: the universe created from Nothing (the absence of everything), while the latter move towards Nothingness (the absence of something/s). This can be seen reflected in the difference between Western ideas and philosophy and that of the East: the aim of self-fulfuiment vs. the urge towards the opposite (self-"emptyment").

Asking where Nothing (the absence of everything) is, is a non-question. Nothing simply isn't. Nothingness (the absence of something) exists. Absences can be tangible. But not the absence of everything, since that would include ourselves as well.

Ronald Green
"Nothing matters - a book about nothing" (iff-Books)



Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:03 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Still, above you've still offered both terms as mere figure of speech as I see the issue. The western creation of the universe from nothingness, once again, is a creation of the universe from a self existent eternal God. It isn't really a creation from "nothing" unless of course YHWH Elohim is in fact considered "nothing" in the mythology. But YHWH isn't considered "nothing", but rather "something" which is eternal and omnipresent. The creation of the universe from "nothing" is simply a figure of speech and doesn't even make any sense with respect to the creation accounts (Genesis I & II) of Judeo-Christianity. I wonder if you've considered this previously before the discussion?

Also, to turn to the east and the transcendent doctrines of backing yourself all the way out to "nothingness", once again we're very clearly dealing with a mere figure of speech. We're talking about trying to back out of thinking about matter, space, and time altogether. This is like asking in science "what came before the Big Bang?" Obviously something had to exist in order to then expand out into everything now. It's like the celestial waters and the floating egg myths. There is "something" which then gives rise to something else and so on, and so on. A literal void, or a literal "Nothingness" is a concept. It's a thought of the mind. It's "something" as opposed to being "nothing" or "nothingness". To suggest otherwise is very difficult. I was caught up in considering the idea of nothing = something many years ago and concluded that the assertion is entirely false.

....something = something else = something else = something else....


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Last edited by tat tvam asi on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Monotheistic religions do not consider that the universe was created from God, but that an existing God created the universe from nothing. It had to be from nothing, since if it were from something, then one would have to ask where that something came from. Creation from nothing is essential, as far as monotheistic religions are concerned.

I cannot agree that Nothing (the absence of everything) is something. If it were something, then it wouldn't be Nothing.

You seem to be mixing up language with the concept. The fact that we have to use words to describe Nothing, does not make the concept a "figure of speech". All it means is that we can't find any way to discuss it other than using language. The fact is that Nothing is impossible to grasp, since it is the absence of everything , including ourselves. We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present, which is why we cannot grasp the concept of Nothing (the absence of everything). We can, though, grasp the concept of Nothingness (the absence of something/s), since we would be around to understand that things are absent. That is the Nothingnessof Eastern faiths.

I suggest you read my recently-published book: "Nothing Matters - a book about nothing" (iff-Books)., in which I set out these thoughts.



Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:34 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
Monotheistic religions do not consider that the universe was created from God, but that an existing God created the universe from nothing. It had to be from nothing, since if it were from something, then one would have to ask where that something came from. Creation from nothing is essential, as far as monotheistic religions are concerned.

I'm stepping ahead of you with my assertions and perhaps that's where the problem lies.

For an existing God to speak "let there be..." the God has created soemthing out of itself. Many don't venture that deep into it, which is where the confusion about the creation of the universe from "nothing" arises in the first place:
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http://www.yhwh.com/wrongwithiwillbe.htm
The ancient notion that "God is the Potter, we are the clay" begs to have one question answered: Where did God get the clay from? The totality of the evidence, from nature, science and the Scriptures, is that God made the clay out of Himself!

The best illustration I can give is that of human imagination. As we think of something, say a green horse, we are focusing our imagination, through our brain cells, into the shape of a green horse. We are the same.....still human, still sitting in our room, and yet, a tiny part of us is now shaped into a green horse image.

The Scripture is clear that God said.....and there was. The universe is made out of His Will, just as we will our minds to imagine a green horse. In that way, then, God wills Himself to be whatever He wants.......The result is the stars, the sun, the moon, earth, rivers, you and me.

As "cosmic" or far-out as that might seem, it is also the best explanation as to what the Scripture means when it says (Acts 17:28) that "In God we live, move, and exist"(!)

A God that is omnipresent is necessarily the totality of mere existence. There is no place where this God is not present, whether that be a place of something or nothing if you will, and, in the greater view of things, nothing doesn't actually refer to complete and total nothing when all is said and done. The deeper you look into the claim the more you began to realize that the reference is always to "something", granted that "something" may be a reference to the unknown, but just because "something" is unknown at the present time doesn't make it literally "nothing."

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I cannot agree that Nothing (the absence of everything) is something. If it were something, then it wouldn't be Nothing.

That's the very point I'm making here. Whatever you tell me is "nothing", will always turn out to be "something" after all...

Quote:
You seem to be mixing up language with the concept. The fact that we have to use words to describe Nothing, does not make the concept a "figure of speech". All it means is that we can't find any way to discuss it other than using language. The fact is that Nothing is impossible to grasp, since it is the absence of everything , including ourselves. We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present, which is why we cannot grasp the concept of Nothing (the absence of everything). We can, though, grasp the concept of Nothingness (the absence of something/s), since we would be around to understand that things are absent. That is the Nothingnessof Eastern faiths.

I suggest you read my recently-published book: "Nothing Matters - a book about nothing" (iff-Books)., in which I set out these thoughts.


It sounds to me that your passing along ideas from the east and west that I've long since taken issue with and questioned greatly. I can imagine a universe without us, for starts. It's called imagining the standard model cosmology. :lol: I mean come on, you weren't serious were you? Maybe you were.

In anycase, the universe didn't have "us" for quite some time, obviously. We can grasp a universe without us quite well as a matter of fact. It was around long before we were born and will be around long after we die. We can also grasp a universe where there is only space and not matter. Just a black abyss with no visual point of reference to judge distance and location. No big deal so far. We can even imagine that the BB was nothing more than a black hole from elsewhere in the realm of existence which then burst out of a white hole causing all of the material universe to burst fourth from what would appear to be "nothing", but in reality was merely "something" going from one place to another. That's just modern theoretical physics and cosmology. We can imagine all sorts of "things", none of which ever trace back to any literal "nothing."

Something becomes something else over and over again:



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C) The Mythicist Position

D) YEC theory put to rest!


Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:51 pm
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
So, God was something before anything and turned nothing into everything. Kazaam! I'd like to see that.

It reminds me of this story, for which the moral is that no one is hopeless.

Everyone wanted someone to do something that no one was doing but anyone could do. However anyone would need help from someone, and everyone left it to no one. Everyone blamed someone because anyone could do better than no one.

I have long been convinced of my non-existence. My mother has a copper art on a bookcase in her bedroom that I made when I was twelve with a lion and flowers and the words No one sleeps here.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
rongreen5 wrote:
Monotheistic religions do not consider that the universe was created from God, but that an existing God created the universe from nothing. It had to be from nothing, since if it were from something, then one would have to ask where that something came from. Creation from nothing is essential, as far as monotheistic religions are concerned.


Robert Tulip wrote:
So, God was something before anything and turned nothing into everything. Kazaam! I'd like to see that.


LMAO!!!

:lol:


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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Robert Tulip wrote:
Everyone wanted someone to do something that no one was doing but anyone could do. However anyone would need help from someone, and everyone left it to no one. Everyone blamed someone because anyone could do better than no one.


Love this!


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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Tat, however much you would have liked to see God create the world from nothing, you would not have been able to, since you were not part of nothing. If you had been around, there would not have been nothing from which God supposedly created the universe.

As for your interpretation of God creating the world from nothing, I'm afraid it doesn't work, since you would still have to account for God being around in the first place. If you wish to surmise an eternal God, that is fine. Belief is belief, and I don't argue with belief.

I think you missed the point about not being able to imagine a world without you. If you are not around, you can't see the world. You cannot, therefore, imagine a world where you aren't in existence, because in order to do that you need to be in existence. When you state that you can imagine the world without you, it is YOU that is doing the imagining. If you take yourself away, i.e. do not exist, you simply aren't around. In other words, you cannot know what it is like to be dead, just as you can't tell me what you remember a year before you were born.

As for grasping a world in which there is only space, that is not Nothing. It is not Nothing, since you are around to grasp it. When you disappear, there will be Nothing - but you won't be around to grasp it. That is the difference between Nothing and Nothingness, as I explained previously.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Quote:
You cannot, therefore, imagine a world where you aren't in existence, because in order to do that you need to be in existence.


Your existence does not need to be within the world you imagine.

Quote:
In other words, you cannot know what it is like to be dead, just as you can't tell me what you remember a year before you were born.


You can know what it's like to be dead. It depends on the connotation of "know" you're working with. Experiential knowledge is impossible, as you point out.


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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
"You can know what it's like to be dead. It depends on the connotation of "know" you're working with. Experiential knowledge is impossible, as you point out."

Interbane, if you think you know what it's like to be dead, then you are using "know" in a way that makes sense only to you. If you change language to make it mean what you want it to mean (as Alice says), then we cannot have a discussion about anything. The sentence "Green ideas sleep furiously" will mean something to you, but not to speakers of Eglish.

Ronald Green
"Nothing Matters - a book about nothing" (iff-Books



Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:06 am
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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?


Ron, of course it is possible to imagine a universe without human life - posthistoric trees. I think what you are saying is that imagination is a product of existence, so while we can imagine a future without humans, we cannot imagine that humans never existed. But I'm not sure what the point is here. It is a bit Cartesian - a thinking thing cannot imagine it is not real.

As George Harrison put it, perhaps in relation to the genesis of the song, It felt as if the elevator was on fire and we were going to hell. All this talk about nothing is rather trippy anyway. Apparently Peter Fonda knew what it is like to be dead.

I remain mystified by your distinction between nothing and nothingness. It looks like pure semantics.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:11 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Robert, I did not say that it is impossibkle to imagine a universe without human life. When you do that, it is YOU who is doing the imagining. What you can't do, though, is not be present to do the imagining. When you "see/imagine" that universe without humans, it's as if you are watching a scene; and I repeat, it is YOU who is watching that scene. Simply put, you cannot imagine anything when you don't exist.

Of course imagination is a product of existence. How does a non-existent person imagine anything? "A thinking thing" exists, right?

You state that you "remain mystified by your distinction between nothing and nothingness. It looks like pure semantics."

If you wish to understand what I mean, and why it is important, to distinnguish between Nothing and nothingness (as I have termed them), you will need to invest a few dollars in (or borrow) my book. I've explained the distinction a couple of times in this forum, but the space is obviously not sufficient to encapsulate a thesis that is developed in 248 pages (without index, etc) and is a result of 5 years research. I'm not saying that you will necessarily agree with it, but it would be good if you were aware of what you are disagreeing with. :)



Last edited by rongreen5 on Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:43 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Nothing Matters - that was Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody - nothing really matters to me.

Ron, you said "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present", and then you followed that up by saying "You cannot, therefore, imagine a world where you aren't in existence", and now the seemingly contrary statement "I did not say that it is impossibkle to imagine a universe without human life".

You seem, as far as I can tell, to be applying a novel concept of time here, whereby all moments exist in an eternal present. It reminds me of Castaneda's theory of the nagual, that we are surrounded by eternity. By some interpretations of that view, the past and future are present in the world. Heidegger explained the presence of the past as facticity, and the projection upon the nothingness of the future as existentiality.

The past no longer exists, and the future does not yet exist. In the past, humans were not present in the universe, and if we go extinct, humans will not be present in the future. Ergo, it most certainly is possible to imagine a world where humans do not exist and a universe in which we are not present, unless we redefine words to say the past and future are present.

Bob Dylan put it even better than Freddy Mercury, "for the present now will later be past". But then, I suppose nothing is eternal.

Difficult as it may be to imagine non-existence, it is also hard to imagine reading about nothing for 248 pages. I suppose there is worse - in the seventh circle of hell David Letterman talks about nothing for ever.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:37 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Robert, please read again what I said.

I repeat: "I did not say that it is impossible to imagine a universe without human life"." I then went on to explain that for you to imagine that, YOU have to present doing the imagining. What you cannot imagine is you not being in existence.

As for talking about nothing for ever, that would be no worse than talking about something for ever. But of course, talking about nothing is not the same as experiencing Nothing (the absence of everything), since that would be impossible.

I'm not at all sure how you impugn upon me that a belief in some eternal present. I certainly do not. But since you brought up the issue of time, I can say that the past does exist, but as a memory. The fact that the past is therefore unreliable is another matter. As for the future, I disagree with your view, as common as it is. The future is the only thing that IS real. Having a future means that we are alive. The future is what is always there for us to get to. AND PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT referring to knowing details about what will happen. I am speaking about the existence of a future.



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Post Re: IS NOTHING SACRED?
Ron, to repeat my quote of your statement again, you said "We cannot imagine a universe in which we are not present." That is silly. We can. We can imagine a universe of ten billion years ago before our solar system existed. That is a universe in which we are not present. We can imagine a universe of twenty billion years in the future when the sun has cooked the earth. Not present then either. Your idea that the future is real is fatalistic. The future is determined by free human choice. It is not real until the choices determining it are made. Unless you are convinced we are hurtling on an inevitable path to nothingness as a result of global warming?


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Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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