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Carrier on Spirituality 
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Flann wrote:
I showed also previously how his scientific reasoning on fine tuning was abysmal, in cosmologist Luke Barnes critique.


This may be true, and Carrier is zealous in his attacks against Christianity. But that doesn't mean his position on fine-tuning is wrong. Have you read the dozens of other critiques posted by Barnes? Or other scientists who support the same position as Carrier, that Barnes recommends?

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/20 ... ig-part-1/
http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/

ant wrote:
Based from experience here on BT, i THINK neither Geo nor Interbane are strong on the entire mythicist issue, whereas Dexter has refrained from commenting on the issue at all.


There isn't enough information to sway me either way. The fact is, neither side has enough to confirm their position. There are apparent influences on Christianity from earlier sources, but that doesn't mean they are actual influences. On the opposite side, just because you can show ways in which a potentially influential source differs doesn't mean the source wasn't used but also recombined in a new way.


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Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:13 pm
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Flann 5 wrote:
I appreciate what you say about the mythicist question being worn out here,ant.
I'm just a bit tired of world renowned author and speaker Carrier, presenting his work as scholarship and am calling into question his standards of scholarship here. I think it's plain bias and bad scholarship in this area.


I think also that an extra dose of tolerance is needed when you experience strong atheists with little conscious awareness of their fallacious belief that it is the job of science to answer all questions man has.
Marcelo G in his book presents that excellent point. It isnt science's job to answer everything.
It is one of many exploratory tools constructed by fallible man to help explain or experience nature within his sensory and conceptual limitations.

We have a great need for order and law. Its important that we not feel at the mercy of a cold, chaotic, and indifferent cosmos. The need to feel the ground under our feet wont be taken from under us causes great existential anxiety. That is one and perhaps the primary reason why man looks for laws of nature he can call universal.

A dicey universe is what troubled Einstein the most.
But Einstein showed that we build on what we at one time thought was universal law when our understanding and observational abilities allow us too.
We are limited by our horizon. Exuberant extrapolation is always a precarious thing. Thats why real science does it with an abundance of caution.

It becomes a great disservice to the scientific endeavor when you over extend the capabilities of the scientific method and start making claims like Interbane's ( ie the evolutionary algorithm is a universal law)
Such nonsense presents mathematics and scientific methodology as a grand god-like Oracle that answers questions that never have been or can be empirically verified.
That is science and math turned into a crypto scientific religiosity.



Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:25 pm
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
I think the latest on dark matter is that it might not even be a new particle.
It might be gravity behaving differently on larger scales or an already discovered particle that is able to hold different masses simultaneously.

But Sean Carroll is not saying there is evidence for an infinite amount of universes or a megaverse of some kind.
Nor is the data pointing us in the direction of an infinite amount of universes.
Also, the data would need to verify the laws that govern each of the infinite amount of universes are different AND that our confirmatory mathematics are applicable in describing those laws.

Can you provide a link to a published work that posits the above with evidence?



Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:49 pm
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Interbane wrote:
Flann wrote:
I showed also previously how his scientific reasoning on fine tuning was abysmal, in cosmologist Luke Barnes critique.


This may be true, and Carrier is zealous in his attacks against Christianity. But that doesn't mean his position on fine-tuning is wrong. Have you read the dozens of other critiques posted by Barnes? Or other scientists who support the same position as Carrier, that Barnes recommends?

http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/20 ... ig-part-1/
http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/dtung/

ant wrote:
Based from experience here on BT, i THINK neither Geo nor Interbane are strong on the entire mythicist issue, whereas Dexter has refrained from commenting on the issue at all.


There isn't enough information to sway me either way. The fact is, neither side has enough to confirm their position. There are apparent influences on Christianity from earlier sources, but that doesn't mean they are actual influences. On the opposite side, just because you can show ways in which a potentially influential source differs doesn't mean the source wasn't used but also recombined in a new way.


Can you tell us all why you think there is an infinite amount of universes without conjuring up one of your hallowed apostles?



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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
ant wrote:
. . . It becomes a great disservice to the scientific endeavor when you over extend the capabilities of the scientific method and start making claims like Interbane's ( ie the evolutionary algorithm is a universal law)


I don't know exactly what Interbane said, but it seems very likely that evolution by natural selection is a universal law of sorts. Without direct evidence, (i.e. extraterrestrial life forms to examine), it's sheer speculation, of course, but if you encountered conditions like earth on another planet, just the right distance from its sun, etc, you would expect life to arise and evolutionary forces to shape the diversification of species just as it has on earth. The alternative is that there is some unknown key element on earth that gave rise to life here that is absent elsewhere in the entire universe. That's possible, but everything we've seen so far suggests that physics works pretty much the same everywhere. When we understand that all elements on earth also exist throughout the universe, you would expect that even if conditions on earth may be a relatively rare occurence, it seems very likely that in the billions and billions of star systems out there at least one other that could support life. And that such extraterrestrial life would almost certainly be governed by the same universal laws that affects life on earth.

Even the web site for the White House suggests that "odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life."

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/respon ... idence-yet


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
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I think also that an extra dose of tolerance is needed when you experience strong atheists with little conscious awareness of their fallacious belief that it is the job of science to answer all questions man has.


I think you're referring to Carrier here, since this is a thread with his name. You've made this mistake before. Carrier very explicitly states that it is not science that answers all questions, but a mixture of methods, all of which start with philosophy. Science is but one of those methods.

Quote:
It becomes a great disservice to the scientific endeavor when you over extend the capabilities of the scientific method and start making claims like Interbane's ( ie the evolutionary algorithm is a universal law


It was Robert that claimed evolution was a law. I said that the theory was a theory, but perhaps the mechanism could be considered a law. I made no claim. I'm not settled on whether or not Robert is right.

If you want to dig in deeper, there is support for the idea. Who are you to say they are wrong?

Graham Bell in "Selection: The Mechanisms of Evolution": "To explain means to identify a mechanism that causes evolution, and to demonstrate the consequences of its operation. These consequences are then the general laws of evolution, of which any given system or organism is a particular outcome."


Literature on the Patheos site reads much the same way:
Quote:
Though it is not usually phrased in these terms by biologists, it could be said that the “law of evolution” is that living things change over time. This is observable both in the fossil record and in the present day from one generation to the next.


http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightat ... z3DWTgHVRr

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Can you tell us all why you think there is an infinite amount of universes without conjuring up one of your hallowed apostles?


I think there could be, but it's a weak stance. If our universe appears fine-tuned, there is likely a reason. Perhaps life is simply robust, and would function even with very different laws. Or perhaps there isn't just the universe we see with it's laws, where it would be one of many, each of which with different laws. Or perhaps there is some powerful entity that created the universe specifically for humans to live here. I don't find the first and the last sensible. The middle one is still stretching it, but makes more sense than the other two.

Can you tell my why you think there is an infinite, all powerful agent in charge of the universe?


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Interbane wrote:
It was Robert that claimed evolution was a law. I said that the theory was a theory, but perhaps the mechanism could be considered a law. I made no claim. I'm not settled on whether or not Robert is right.


Richard Dawkins has commented to the effect that evolution by natural selection is such a compelling and elegant process that life could only exist through cumulative adaptation.

Natural selection is simply a logical result deduced from the premise of the existence of causality. If you accept the scientific axiom that laws of motion are universal, it flows quite logically and inexorably that life will evolve in accordance with the processes of matter in motion observed in evolutionary biology.

Evolution is like Euclidean proofs in geometry. If you accept the axioms such as that parallel lines do not meet, you can prove that the internal angles of a triangle add to a straight line. The axioms are not provable, but provide the foundation for reasoning. Similarly, if you accept that every effect has a cause, it should be possible to prove that living organisms will naturally evolve by cumulative adaptation to their niche. That is what is meant by calling evolution a universal law.

Imagining that life may exist without evolution is as absurd as claiming that effects may exist without causes.


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Uh, ill check again, but aside from Carrier's politics his entire thesis read like an ode to science
His entire multiverse discussion was as sketchy as you can get.
But Carrier is not a physicist. I realize that. A better discussion can be found in the book I just read - the island of knowledge.

I for one hope we are not alone in the universe. My guess is we arent. But given the vast distances and the apparent rarity of favorable conditions, it doesnt seem like we are going to know anytime soon. It is strictly conjecture.
Its near depressing if we are alone.

The issue of "fine tuning" is an entirely different matter. What we all can agree on is that the numerical values are astonishing. It may be that the values could not have been otherwise. It may be that the values are ours among many. But that does not make our existence in this universe any less spectacular and miraculous.

The analogy comparing the theory of evolution to Euclidian geometry proofs as laws is a poor one.
Drawling lines in infinite spaces to effectuate measurements is not the same as the complexities involved with the rise of life.
And our definition of "life" is continually pondered.



Last edited by ant on Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Tue Sep 16, 2014 10:18 pm
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
ant wrote:
The analogy comparing the theory of evolution to Euclidian geometry proofs as laws is a poor one.
Drawling lines in infinite spaces to effectuate measurements is not the same as the complexities involved with the rise of life.
And our definition of "life" is continually pondered.


Perhaps again ant you did not read very carefully here?

The analogy is between causation as a scientific axiom and parallel lines as a geometric axiom.

If we accept that material causality is universal, as per Newton's laws of motion regardless of relativistic factors, then the point arising from the neo-Darwinian synthesis is that the tendency of living structures to evolve flows as a logical result. So if you read a book such as The Selfish Gene, the effort is to explain why observed results (eg sex balance) emerge due to a strictly logical material causal process.


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
It seems to me there are many, varied and conflicting theories amongst cosmologists on the origin of the universe, and none can say definitively which is correct on current knowledge.
Having looked at Sean Carroll's article which Interbane linked I just want to make a couple of comments, being out of my depth here in terms of understanding the science.
Carroll seems to agree with Hawking that on the standard model this requires infinite density; quote; "The big bang itself-the hypothetical singular moment of infinite density."
I just wonder if Johnson seriously disagrees with Hawking and Carroll's definition here, as he appears to?
Hawking also suggests a self contained universe having no boundary or edge.We don't actually know this of course,and an expanding universe without a boundary or edge is a strange concept.Where or what is it expanding into?

Geo earlier asked what I thought absurd about Carrier's method and approach to history in the area of his mythicism. Carrier is postulating a theory of Jesus being an imagined spiritual celestial being, which Paul due to hallucination writes about in the new testament.
The review article I mentioned shows many problems with this theory and obvious contradictions to it in the new testament, and Paul's writings themselves.I'll give one example though many others could be cited.
From Hebrews,which Carrier appeals to; The writer speaking of Jesus ,says "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood,he himself likewise shared in the same,"
Carrier is saying, that Jesus was an imagined physically bodiless being, who Paul purportedly is saying, was crucified somewhere in outer space.
Aside from the many new testament passages that obviously contradict this idea, there is also the problem of secular historians such as Tacitus who speak of Christ being crucified under the Roman procurator Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.
How Tacitus could be referring to Pontius Pilate condemning Christ to crucifixion in outer space,boggles the mind, and I wonder what planet historian Carrier is on himself?
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus_on_Christ



Last edited by Flann 5 on Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Quote:
It seems to me there are many, varied and conflicting theories amongst cosmologists on the origin of the universe, and none can say definitively which is correct on current knowledge.


I don't think that we will have a winner anytime soon. Between gods(alien dreams?), universes, multiverses, big bounces, etc, cosmologists are mostly leaning towards multiverse style explanations.

Quote:
If we accept that material causality is universal, as per Newton's laws of motion regardless of relativistic factors, then the point arising from the neo-Darwinian synthesis is that the tendency of living structures to evolve flows as a logical result. So if you read a book such as The Selfish Gene, the effort is to explain why observed results (eg sex balance) emerge due to a strictly logical material causal process.


There are the mechanical laws that fall under the purview of the theory of evolution. One could even say there is a law of evolution, if you take the algorithm that engineers use in their software. The abstraction of that algorithm, as it applies to life, is what would count as a law. There are many other laws under the theory, starting with the 5 that Darwin proposed. I think a couple of those were shown not to be laws.

When you say there is a law of evolution Robert, what exactly are you referring to? It would have to be something that falls under the umbrella of the theory.

Quote:
Uh, ill check again, but aside from Carrier's politics his entire thesis read like an ode to science

You realize you harp endlessly against science, with only one comment in a hundred admitting it's benefits, right? Science really is a remarkable enterprise. Of course we shouldn't worship it, but an ode to science isn't such a bad thing, it is?

Quote:
How Tacitus could be referring to Pontius Pilate condemning Christ to crucifixion in outer space,boggles the mind, and I wonder what planet historian Carrier is on himself?

Wasn't Tacitus born 20 years after the supposed event?

Quote:
The review article I mentioned shows many problems with this theory and obvious contradictions to it in the new testament, and Paul's writings themselves.

If there are contradictions, it is not only one side that is possibly wrong. Why do you immediately assume the new testament is the truthful baseline? Couldn't it be the new testament that is wrong? If not, what do you use to justify your position?


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Quote:
If we accept that material causality is universal, as per Newton's laws of motion regardless of relativistic factors, then the point arising from the neo-Darwinian synthesis is that the tendency of living structures to evolve flows as a logical result. So if you read a book such as The Selfish Gene, the effort is to explain why observed results (eg sex balance) emerge due to a strictly logical material causal process.


It doesn't "logically" follow that given material causality and laws of motion, life as we know it also must follow universally and follow a Darwinian terrestrial process.
Presupposing Darwinian evolution would also apply to ALIEN life (define that, by the way) is exactly that - a presupposition.

A "logical material process" in other regimes that has not been verified by observation and experience (the final arbiter of the truthfulness of a proposition) does not become a LAW because you've accepted the truthfulness of axioms, which also are presupposed as being true.

You keep throwing around nice sounding poetic words (logical, axiom, synthesis) that actually might sound enthralling to you and others but have no real content here.

'The Selfish Gene is a damn book you can buy off a book rack in any airport lobby, Robert. It wasn't a published scientific study.

You're trying to pawn off a theory of everything, Robert - EVERYTHING that is life follows a darwinian process.

Isaiah Berlin referred to belief in "Oneness" which science to this day still pursues (theologians actually started looking for "Oneness" first) as an "Ionian Fallacy" declaring it to be meaningless: (my emphasis)

Quote:
A sentence of the form 'everything consists of..' or 'everything is.. or "nothing is..' unless it is empirical states nothing, since a proposition which cannot be significantly denied or DOUBTED can offer us no information


Marcelo sums Berlin up nicely here:

Quote:
authoritative all-encompassing statements which cannot be comparatively contrasted or measured carry no information: they are articles of faith, not reason.


By the way..,
Can you compare and contrast life on other planets with life here on earth, please?
I'd like for all of us to see the similarities along with the differences.

Are you going to tell me mathematics proves alien life follows Darwinian evolution?
Kurt Godel actually proved mathematically that mathematics contains the "seeds of its own limitations."
Any mathematical theorist can tell you there are countless theorems that were wrong and inapplicable to experience.
Our minds and their abstractions often do not accurately depict what the world "out there" is like.
And here you are trying to tell us what the entire universe is like "logically"



Last edited by ant on Wed Sep 17, 2014 10:53 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
ant wrote:
You're trying to pawn off a theory of everything, Robert - EVERYTHING that is life follows a darwinian process.


Isaiah wrote:
A sentence of the form 'everything consists of..' or 'everything is.. or "nothing is..' unless it is empirical states nothing


I'm pretty sure it's an empirical statement that all life as we know it has arisen from a darwinian process. There's nothing wrong with that statement, either in form or in content.

Quote:
Any mathematical theorist can tell you there are countless theorems that were wrong and inapplicable to experience.
Our minds and their abstractions often do not accurately depict what the world "out there" is like.
And here you are trying to tell us what the entire universe is like "logically"


The mathematical theorems which are inapplicable to experience are not the same as the ones that are applicable to experience. Stating the obvious, I know. The theorems regarding the mechanisms of evolution are applicable to experience, so aren't what Godel was referring to. The laws are abstractions of real functions, rather than abstractions of unreal things. This angle doesn't apply to what Robert is saying.

Like standard candles in astronomy, it isn't a giant leap of induction to assume the laws that apply locally also apply universally. If you argue they do not, then you're essentially arguing for chaotic inflation theory, which is a variant of multiverse theory. But if the laws do apply universally, I believe Robert is right that higher order mechanisms would logically follow. But I'd add the caveat that even if universal, there could be parallel laws that perform the same function through different mechanisms.

Again, I don't know if the laws would apply universally or not, but nothing you've said so far is a valid argument against the idea.


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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Interbane wrote:
If there are contradictions, it is not only one side that is possibly wrong. Why do you immediately assume the new testament is the truthful baseline? Couldn't it be the new testament that is wrong? If not, what do you use to justify your position?

Hi Interbane, My point is that Carrier is using biblical writings to present a particular theory.He has one view on the gospels and another on the writings of Paul in accordance with his theory. The problem is that even using his own restrictive framework of biblical writings they contradict the theory he claims to derive from it.
If pushed to it,I can show very easily how his thesis is absurd nonsense from his own framework.You have to remember that he is saying Jesus didn't exist at all historically.It's all based on hallucinations!
So he also has to explain away writings of Tacitus,Josephus and others like a good historian would!
The gospels clearly don't accord with his theory, so he makes them later fictional "histories" by persons unknown.
The gospels,Tacitus and others concur with the historic crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem.Carrier simply rejects whatever disagrees with his absurd theory.

Paul he surmises,while persecuting the Christians becomes psychologically conflicted and hallucinates and converts to an imaginary Jesus and Christianity. One wonders what these persecuted Christians believed? Did they also hallucinate an imaginary celestial being?The gospels and Acts which tell us about these people,he rejects.
Basically any part of the new testament he thinks clearly contradicts his theory he considers suspect.

While I concede that the whole question of dating and authorship of new testament books is debated by scholars,I think a better case can be made for the writings being early enough to be by people who would have lived during the period recorded,rather than later.
Carrier prefers later dating for the gospels in accordance with his theory.



Wed Sep 17, 2014 1:27 pm
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Post Re: Carrier on Spirituality
Quote:
So he also has to explain away writings of Tacitus,Josephus and others like a good historian would!
The gospels clearly don't accord with his theory, so he makes them later fictional "histories" by persons unknown.


The gospels, the writings of josephus, and the writings of tacitus are all traceable back at the earliest to decades after the supposed event. How this does not raise alarm flags with you is strange. No matter how powerful the reason you have(even if it passes logical muster), alarm bells must be ringing, and loudly.

Without even knowing what Carrier is proposing, I don't find it as incredulous as you do.

Quote:
Paul he surmises,while persecuting the Christians becomes psychologically conflicted and hallucinates and converts to an imaginary Jesus and Christianity.


I read a similar hypotheses about a decade ago by another historian. I'll have to look through my bookshelf. The case seemed strongly argued that Saul of Tarsus was hallucinating. Of course I'm no historian, so I don't have the understanding to critique the idea. But at face value there appears to be nothing wrong with it. I think it appears incredible to you, because you begin with the assumption that Christianity is true. You should discard that assumption, or replace it with the assumption that we simply don't know, and all we have to go by is proper method.

A good method, as an example, is tracing the lineage of a document back to the original author, the testimony of which is documented at the time of the event. The reasoning behind this criteria is quite strong, and we could discuss it if you wish. All I'm left with when I think of it are warning flags. There's something very fishy going on.


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