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III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God" 
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 III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"

Please use this thread for discussing "What There Is" from "Sense and Goodness Without God."



Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:51 am
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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
In this Chapter, Carrier constructs an overview of the metaphysical naturalist worldview. He uses a boat metaphor to designate various areas where our knowledge comes from, and the ways in which that knowledge is justified. He then digs at the deepest question first - why does the universe exist?

He uses proper method to analyze two naturalistic theories as they compare to the idea of a god. One is Chaotic inflation theory, and the other is Lee Smolin's Cosmological Natural Selection. In both, the whole of existence is termed the "multiverse". The designator "universe" is used to describe a part of the multiverse that has same set of physical laws. Between different universes, the laws change.

I'm only partway in, I'll add more later.


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Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:34 pm
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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Here is the section breakdown including my thoughts on each. It's missing a few, so add them if you wish. What this chapter represents is an explanation of various tough spots in developing a worldview, that any worldview would have to resolve to be considered comprehensive. Each portion is examined using the rubric of proper method described in the previous chapter. If I don't comment, it's because I forgot any details of what was said. This is actually a majority of the book, and I've forgotten because it's such a close reflection of my own thoughts. Not to say I could explain these ideas as clearly.

Part of why I purchased the book was to see what he had to say regarding compatibilist free will. I post some thoughts below.

III.3.1. Plausibility and the God Hypothesis

Using proper method, the idea of a god is implausible. Too many post hoc assumptions are required.

III.3.3 Modern Multiverse Theory

Two versions of the multiverse theory are described, and Carrier explains why they are both more plausible than the idea of a god. That we only have two multiverse theories does not mean there couldn't be others.

III.3.6. Time and the Multiverse

I found this section dry, but I guess he thought it useful to include.

III.4.6. The Fatalist Fallacy vs. Improving Self and Society

Determinism does not equal fatalism. Compatibilist free will makes the most sense in understanding the mind, which is essentially deterministic. The compatibilist version of free will is a physicalist understanding of the mind, where the mind is an emergent phenomenon. It is termed compatibilist because the normal conceptual understanding of the relevant terms such as "choice" and "control" still designate the individual as a causal agent. Not the final causal agent, but the distinction cannot be had through examination. We cannot trace our decisions backwards through our heads to the input across our entire lives.

III.5.2. Matter-Energy

III.5.3. Physical Laws


III.5.5. Reductionism

I enjoyed this section. Without resorting to fallacy, Carrier shows that all branches of science can be reduced to other fields, all the way down to physics.

III.6.3. The Chinese Room

III.6.4.4. Qualia


I don't remember much of what was said here, likely because I agreed with it and have read a great deal about qualia from other philosophers.

III.6.8. Immortality and Life After Death

Relevant to a discussion that Flann and I recently had.

III.7. The Meaning of Life

III.8.1. Biogenesis


Rather than "abiogenesis". Carrier explains how the emergence of life as a consequence of the complexity of the universe is not only plausible, but nearly inevitable. Good section.

III.8.2. Evolution by Natural Selection

Overview of evolution, nothing new.

III.8.3. The Evolution of Mind

III.8.4. Memetic Evolution


In other words, cultural evolution. How ideas and information evolve.

III.9. The Nature of Reason

III.10. Reason as the Servant of Desire


This is much like the rider and the elephant, a book which was published after Carrier's. Perhaps this section was a seed for that book.

III.10.3. The Nature of Love

III.10.4. The Nature of Spirituality


He references Carl Sagan in this chapter, and explains how everyone, even atheists, have a spiritualist bend.


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Thanks, Interbane, for leading this discussion. You and Robert are doing an excellent job and it's much appreciated.


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
You're welcome. I don't think I'm the discussion leader. I bought the book to see what he had to say about free will. Then after starting it, I realized I have nearly the exact same worldview as he does, with some different understandings in definition(that I think I may have to revise). I wish I'd read this book years ago when it was first released(2005). I figured since this book expresses what I believe so accurately, I may as well use it as a lightning rod for ant and Flann. If you want to see what I believe, read this book. Not to say it's all encompassing, of course. Each and every sentence could be expanded upon. But it's a good reference.


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Quote; Richard Carrier. " For we can logically deduce the existence of innumerable universes from positing the singlest,simplest entity.A lawless singular point of space time with no properties other than the absence of all logically impossible states."end Quote.
Cosmologist Dr Luke Barnes in response to this asks; "By what criteria is that the simplest entity imaginable? If the point is lawless why does it evolve into something else? How does it evolve? What evolves? What defines the state space? If it is a singular point,how are there many space points? Why are they arranged in a smooth manifold? Why space time? What if space and time aren't fundamental?
It's not clear that a lawless physical state makes any sense. Even if it does,if it's lawless,why do we observe a law like universe? If one invokes the anthropic principle and supposes that life requires a law like environment,then you've got a problem,neatly explained by Paul Davies."
Barnes then quotes Davies, which you can find on his blog under;A fine tuned critique of Richard Carrier.
Presumably classical historian Carrier can answer these questions, or has faith in the answers given to them.It's worth remarking that this is the; What there IS section.
Well, he believes there IS a multiverse. Where IS it?
Carrier's journey in dispensing with God has followed a path of logic where the above quotation is the end of the road theoretically for him.
What exactly IS a simple fundamental chaos? What does IT consist of? What natural thing is IT?

Physicist George Ellis critiques the eternalist view of time which Carrier seems to hold, in a lecture titled; The Evolving Block Universe; A more realistic view of spacetime Geometry.This is on youtube if anyone is interested.

Here though is a brief ten minute video I found interesting and entertaining,titled; Who are you in a Deterministic,Materialist and Reductionist World? www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZsFTjW7mvs



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Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:43 pm
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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Interbane wrote:
You're welcome. I don't think I'm the discussion leader. I bought the book to see what he had to say about free will. Then after starting it, I realized I have nearly the exact same worldview as he does, with some different understandings in definition(that I think I may have to revise). I wish I'd read this book years ago when it was first released(2005). I figured since this book expresses what I believe so accurately, I may as well use it as a lightning rod for ant and Flann. If you want to see what I believe, read this book. Not to say it's all encompassing, of course. Each and every sentence could be expanded upon. But it's a good reference.



yeah,

Let's make sure we recognize Flann's contributions here.
It's easy to thank people that essentially agree with you 98% of the time.

An echo chamber is not really the most desirable place to hang your hat in.



Last edited by ant on Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
I am able to identify the demarcation between Carrier's philosophical worldview, and the science that he gives very broad and general coverage to.

I have also been able to identify the minor propaganda that he peppers throughout the book.
For instance, he nearly makes a boldface claim that what "distinguishes" a metaphysical naturalist/atheist from, I guess the rest of us, is their revery (my word) of science - which ultimately is the only system of thought that shapes a coherent and logical worldview.
Well, most of this is simply stupidity on Carrier's part. He is either intentionally claiming science strictly belongs to naturalists by rational default to create some superior distinction, or he's just a naive fool. I'm betting it's the former.
There are far too many examples of theist scientists and layman who enjoy science just as much as anyone else that would falsify any such claim.


Way in the beginning of the book when he seemed to be laying out a manifesto by trying to convince the reader that his contemplation of religion (narrowly defined) as a pre-pubescent was enough for him to shun God and educate himself.
Soon thereafter, he made a bombastic claim of some sort that it is incumbent upon people like him to "educate" the rest.
Again, this aligns perfectly with the arrogance of new atheism that is such a turn off in society.

I am glad Interbane suggested we read this book. I am enjoying it and (SURPRISE!) actually agree with some of what Carrier has said, generally speaking.

Interbane,

Thanks for taking the time to comment on my comments. You're a tough cookie.
I need to follow up on some of my past questions. Hopefully atheists with a similar worldview besides Interbane will chime in. This should be a great opportunity, given that Interbane has essentially handed you an outline for beliefs you may have not known you held, or could not express as cogently as Carrier.



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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Flann wrote:
Presumably classical historian Carrier can answer these questions, or has faith in the answers given to them.It's worth remarking that this is the; What there IS section.
Well, he believes there IS a multiverse. Where IS it?


If we are living in a multiverse, then it is all around us. Meaning, nothing changes. Our universe is still the same. We see the same stuff, the same laws apply, all the evidence still holds.

Regarding the conversation between Carrier and Barnes, I'm not equipped to comment. So I searched for third party commentary and found this: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularout ... ne-tuning/

I'm not sure what Carrier is after by applying Bayes statistics to the nature of the universe. He doesn't do this in the book, and quite frankly I think it's stupid. Well, maybe not stupid. Someone should attempt it. I think Barnes won the spat, and Carrier should retreat to what he proposed in his book rather than going after a "proof".

Flann wrote:
Here though is a brief ten minute video I found interesting and entertaining,titled; Who are you in a Deterministic,Materialist and Reductionist World? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZsFTjW7mvs


Ug! C'mon Flann. Analyze the video. If it made good points, I wouldn't say this, but the video truly was made by idiots for idiots, as the top comment suggests. There is a single argument in the video - the argument from incredulity. From start to... well, halfway through where I stopped watching. Yes, we know the idea seems incredible to many people. No, that is not a valid argument against the truth of determinism. /endrant


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Quote:
There are far too many examples of theist scientists and layman who enjoy science just as much as anyone else that would falsify any such claim.


I agree for the most part. Although I think that any theist that reveres science does not revere science as much as a belief in god. It makes all the difference. Although to play devil's advocate, we shouldn't revere anything to the point where we lose sight of our biases.

Quote:
Way in the beginning of the book when he seemed to be laying out a manifesto by trying to convince the reader that his contemplation of religion (narrowly defined) as a pre-pubescent was enough for him to shun God and educate himself.


I had a similar experience, so I can't help but defend Carrier here, even though I know it's polemic. He was reciting his life story, which I guess could be called propaganda. It contained no arguments, so can't be assessed for merit. But I do empathize with the experience.

Quote:
Soon thereafter, he made a bombastic claim of some sort that it is incumbent upon people like him to "educate" the rest.


Yep, Carrier is arrogant. Not that that means he's wrong. But he is arrogant.


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Hi Interbane, I think she acknowledges that it is the extreme reductionist version, in a follow up video. Still there is some truth in there I think. I'm not sure where she is coming except,it seems to be against dogmatic interpretations of things.I just stumbled upon it.

I thought the original video was extremely well made,visually great and grasped the ideas well, though,you clearly think the slant is one of incredulity.

I haven't started Carrier's take on determinism yet.I was still trying to get my head around the what there is, and what time is material. I'm still thinking about the time part.
I read the Patheos blog you provided on the Barne's vs Carrier contention.I give credit to the blogger for an honest and fair assessment of it.It was glaringly obvious Barnes was correct but at least he recognized that.

Thanks ant. I find the science difficult but interesting and enjoyable, and it's good to ask and look at the big stuff.



Last edited by Flann 5 on Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Flann 5 wrote:
Hi Interbane, I think she acknowledges that it is the extreme reductionist version, in a follow up video. Still there is some truth in there I think. I haven't started Carrier's take on determinism yet.I was still trying to get my head around the what there is, and what time is material. I'm still thinking about the time part.

Thanks ant. I find the science difficult but interesting and enjoyable, and it's good to ask and look at the big stuff.


I actually thought the section on Time was good. I've highlighted some of his comments that got my attention the most, particularly his God's eye view of time.
I recall now that I've already asked a couple of related questions.

If Carrier can have a God's eye view of time, why can't a God that perhaps is unfathomably beyond Carrier's neo cortex cognitive abilities? Anything can and perhaps will happen within eternity.
But its Carrier that attained the God's eye view before a God did :P
Again, Carrier's epistemic arrogance shinning brightly.



I gave in and purchased my first Kindle (paperwhite). :P
I love the quick search function.


The book didn't start off too well for me. I guess if you could relate, it did.
But I wanted to stick with it.



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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Flann wrote:
Still there is some truth in there I think.


Regarding the video. I actually didn't hear anything I disagreed with, except the implied incredulity. There were a few possible straw men, depending on your worldview, but the rest was solid. It may be true that you share the incredulity, but incredulity is not grounds for discerning truth.

Quote:
But its Carrier that attained the God's eye view before a God did


Of course we could never have a god's eye view. The implication of the mathematical model of time that Carrier was describing was that time is like a road. Just because we haven't been to the future yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But just because the future road exists, doesn't mean we're able to see it(thus attaining a god's eye view). I see no problem with this model, other than it's tough to overcome our perceptual limitations. Our perceptual limitations aren't grounds for discounting conclusions reached mathematically, as quantum mechanics demonstrates. There are a great many counterintuitive findings in quantum mechanics that are strongly supported.


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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Quote:
Of course we could never have a god's eye view. The implication of the mathematical model of time that Carrier was describing was that time is like a road. Just because we haven't been to the future yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But just because the future road exists, doesn't mean we're able to see it(thus attaining a god's eye view). I see no problem with this model, other than it's tough to overcome our perceptual limitations. Our perceptual limitations aren't grounds for discounting conclusions reached mathematically, as quantum mechanics demonstrates. There are a great many counterintuitive findings in quantum mechanics that are strongly supported.


I will come back to this.
I was being semi flippant



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Post Re: III. What There Is - "Sense and Goodness Without God"
Interbane wrote:

Quote:
The implication of the mathematical model of time that Carrier was describing was that time is like a road. Just because we haven't been to the future yet doesn't mean it doesn't exist. But just because the future road exists, doesn't mean we're able to see it(thus attaining a god's eye view). I see no problem with this model, other than it's tough to overcome our perceptual limitations.


Here is Carrier:

Quote:
With regard to the three dimensions of space, this is easy to grasp. But with time it gets harder, because consciousness is among those things that only (Carrier's emphasis) exists as an extension of matter and energy over a span of time.




If consciousness "only" exists as an extension of matter and energy, how is it that a mathematical model can "describe" (math is a language) a concept like eternity, which Carrier believes to be true of an eternal multiverse?
A construct like math, utilized to model the real world, would be limited to a description and measurement of the span of time it exists within. Do you agree or disagree?
Why would you assume anything beyond that as a reasonably accurate description of the dimension of time?

The objective truths of mathematics are a priori assumptions. And although mathematical models are reasonably accurate descriptions of observable phenomena, why should we extend a priori assumptions to validate mathematical descriptions of time? What evidence is there for that leap of rational faith?



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