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Pinker endorses Deus Project 
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Post Pinker endorses Deus Project
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Mon Jul 14, 2003 3:24 pm


Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
Without being premature, I want to issue a reserved and uncommited, "WOOHOO, CONTROVERSY!! BRING FORTH THE GORE AND GALLANTRY!"

I hope Pinker's theories are such that we can rip each other to shreds in understanding them. Then again, I expect to be disappointed, which I guess is a compliment to Pinker either way that you look at it.




Mon Jul 14, 2003 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
Carl Sagan and Steven Pinker endorse the modern Deist movement? Bizzaar!

I don't think they were claiming to be deists, just happy to see this movement as a positive alternative to the rest of the religions out there. I am quite certain Sagan was an atheist, and Pinker's writings give no hint of deist leanings.

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Thu Jul 17, 2003 8:00 pm
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
i'm only on chapter 7 of Blank Slate, however I would not have suspected that Pinker believes in GOD! I hope that Meme is correct and Pinker is looking at Deus Project as a lesser of evils!




Mon Jul 21, 2003 11:09 am
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
Perhaps we will have the opportunity to ask Pinker ourselves. I have a feeling Pinker is an atheist, but we shall see. Deism is a respectable position in that it makes no attempt to create doctrines and tenets by which we should live our lives, and claim they are the word of God. Deists simply consider the cosmos too grand to exist without the hand of an intelligent creator. They don't try to define this creator. As far as theists go...they are the most rational in my opinion.

Chris

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Tue Jul 22, 2003 1:48 pm
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
I think that this is probably the case. Perhaps the most effective means of rendering the maladies of religion impotent is not through direct opposition, but through internal subversion. This is an interesting thought and raises the question: What is the best way to internally subvert and subsequently ineffectualize religious institutions?

I have suggested in the past that postmodernism is uniquely suited for this end, although it introduces dangers of its own. Deism seems to be another viable alternative. Any other thoughts or ideas?




Tue Jul 22, 2003 2:39 pm


Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
This is precisely what we are trying to do.
The "theology" of deism is all postmodernism - the battle we are waging is against certainty itself, proclaiming that we can substitute a benign "faith of the heart" or faith in humankind and the possibilities we have for improving the world we live in and working towards a better future. Where does "uncertainty" come in? Here is the logic - in the Deist worldview, God created the universe and the laws that govern it, it has evolved to its current state by following laws, and has fortunately produced us humans with our intelligence and free will and ability to love and be loved, with nothing but the laws of nature (not even God itself) holding us back from doing anything we want - for better or worse. We haven't got everything figured out, there is no Bible or other book that offers up answers to everything, and it is this uncertainty that drives us, even the uncertainty about God itself, trying to understand it and its intentions, that is the exact opposite of traditional faith yet can replace it so well. Uncertainty at the core of a religion is a fundamental frameshift, a seismic event, and it is the key I believe to making religion safe - certainty closes minds and opens the door to hatred, uncertainty keeps us questioning, keeps us wondering, keeps us alive and gives us respect for every individual among mankind, for no one knows the Truth, no one has a direct connection to God, each of us holds a piece of the puzzle, as each of us has a unique mind, a mind that is the culmination of eons of evolution and wondrous physical principles that themselves act in an uncertain manner at the subatomic level. The only tool we have to create our future is our own minds, the only tool we have to see and understand the universe is our own minds, and there are so many out there, each with a unique perspective, each of them seeking happiness, to love and be loved - this line is the making of the religion of the future, the first religion of its kind, a religion built in accord with human nature, not against it.

Edited by: udcdeist at: 8/8/03 11:25 pm



Sun Jul 27, 2003 2:18 pm
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
My problem with deism is - why do we need God in the middle of our understanding of the Universe? The proposal of a god as the instigator of creation is a highly anthropocentric argument. If you look at the evidence dispassionately it is absurd to propose a complex sentient being as a creator because of the problem of infinite regression.

We can still have a world view based on compassion, human rights, human dignity and respect for each other whether or not we put a god in the middle of it.




Tue Jul 29, 2003 3:21 am
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
Peter

I completely agree. God is the answer for people who lack the integrity, intellect, and energy to seek real answers. Why answer one mystery with an even more mysterious answer? This is hardly logical. If anyone can find something on the Internet which states Pinker's views I would love to read it.

Chris

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Tue Jul 29, 2003 10:10 am
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
CHRIS

I Understand that Pinker's position is that he is from a Jewish background but that he has renounced his faith - which suggests that he is an atheist.

Towards the end of The Blank Slate he attacks postmodernism and I know that he rejects postmodernistic relativism in that he certainly believes that there are things that we can know about the world.

(Dawkins has a powerful demolition of postmodernism in "A Devil's Chaplain")

Edited by: PeterDF at: 7/29/03 11:58 am



Tue Jul 29, 2003 10:57 am
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Post Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
Some of us talked about this in the chatroom on Thursday. On page 223 Pinker says, "And they cannot learn evolution until they unlearn their intuitive engineering, which attributes design to the intentions of a designer." It seems that such a statement shows that Pinker doesn't believe in a God.




Tue Jul 29, 2003 2:26 pm
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Post Re: (OT) Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
I agree that it would be a good thing to steer people away from the more "defined" religions and it may indeed be that this is why Pinker and Wilson have endorsed it. (I can't speak for Dawkins but I don't think you would get his endorsement - unless that was a pig I just saw flying past my window.)

Achieving the goal of the Deism Project might not be a bad thing although I agree that the very vagueness of the message might be a problem.

However I think that the Deism Project has nothing to offer anyone who has a rigorous, rationalistic approach to metaphysics i.e. a true freethinker, bright or humanist; and I'll explain why. Take this quote from an earlier post:

Quote:
I think the fact that there is no answer to "why" for the universe... ...implies that the answer (and there must be an answer to such a fundamental question)


This makes perfect sense and on the surface it seems undeniable that there must be an answer to such a fundamental question. But the essence of Udcdeist's argument is that the answer is IMPORTANT. The problem with his argument is that importance only makes sense in the context of human experience. We can only gauge importance with the subjective or emotional aspects of our minds. Science seems to imply that the universe operates to a set of mechanistic rules. In this view importance can have no meaning. We might infer that it is important that a spark plug fires in order for the mechanistic system of a car engine to work, but that implies that it is important that the car gets us from A to B: a subjective judgement. We might equally infer that it was important for fish to modify their swim bladders into lungs so that they could begin the conquest of the land. But that argument is fallacious too, because there never was a plan to bring fish onto land. It is just that the simple contingent property that allowed those fish that happened to have swim bladders that performed more like lungs allowing them to stay out of the water longer survived and those that didn't perished. This all happened due to a purely mechanistic and unguided system.

No purely mechanistic system can have "importance" in the sense implied in the post. It certainly is important to "us", because we wouldn't be here otherwise, but the statement hinges on the assumption that there was importance and therefore a purpose to the iteration of existence. This might not be the case (and almost certainly wasn't unless you postulate the extraordinary prospect of the presence of a sentient mind before the "creation"). In this view there was no "why" for the Universe, it's inception was neither important nor unimportant it just was.




Sun Aug 10, 2003 5:00 am
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Post Re: (OT) Re: Pinker endorses Deus Project
I reviewed the endorsement of E.O. Wilson for the Deus Project. Not much there, other than a simple endorsement of the project as an alternative to the superstition of most organized religion.

I also checked the UDC website. My conjecture that it was essentially the religion espoused by Tom Paine in his Age of Reason was proved correct. I guess that moving back a couple of centuries to an age in which belief in a disembodied divinity as the creator of the universe and its laws is a step up from the gaggle of sects, religions, superstitions, and science fiction like scientology that now predominate. I personally think that subsuming the universe/s under the aegis of a deity (however defined: creator, the collective packet of physical law, a loving yet uninvolved and noncorporeal entity, etc.) merely adds a confusing variable to the quest for understanding. I will admit, though, that the blank slate of a non-specific deity might allow those who accept the central premise of the Deus Project to invest their rejection of superstition and organized religion with a degree of zeal and emotion not available from a strictly secular world-view.




Sun Aug 10, 2003 2:47 pm
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