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76  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask Nathan on: July 11, 2014, 07:30:13 am
Christ that's depressing.
77  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 11, 2014, 07:24:32 am
I get that you don't hold to the concept of absolutes, so on to the next question, or actually a pair of questions.

What is your definition of evil?

Must evil by definition be "ungood" or is it possible for an action to be simultaneously good and evil?

If I don't hold to the concept of absolutes on the question as to what is 'good', why would I hold a different position on what is 'evil?' (which I consider too strong a word anyway)

With regard to the second part of the question, evil is not necessarily that which is simply 'ungood'. Child abuse is evil in the sense it is an 'ungood' yes. However 'not abusing children' isn't a corresponding 'good' (even though in outcome it most definitely is) because it is not a position that is an exception to normalcy. Along side not killing the first person you meet when you wake up in the morning, not sexually abusing children is the default position of the supermajority of humans. They are 'neutral' as they are part of our inherent functioning (sociopaths aside) which is determined by our evolutionary inheritance as a social and intelligent animal. An 'evil' is a position that is by purpose of volition an 'intended negative' contrary to normalcy. Good is by purpose of volition an 'intended positive' contrary to normalcy (putting yourself in danger for someone else, with the normalcy being your own self preservation etc). That is an important differentiation unless you wish the default position of humanity to be one that is essentially 'good'. I wouldn't have a problem with that, but I am aware that one wouldn't heap plaudits on me for not killing the guy on the subway car next to me this morning or not deciding to steal from the shop across the road from the Subway station. They would not say I'm doing 'good'; I am doing what one would expect.

Did realizing you were gay contribute to your movement to atheism, or were you already an atheist when you discovered yourself?

I am 30. I've known I was attracted to boys like me (later men of course!) since I was at least 10. I wasn't able to get my head around the sexual response to men until I was 13/14 at which point I knew it was an exclusive attraction. At that time I was a Roman Catholic. I remained a Christian until I was 26. I have a history of posts on this forum attesting to that (and showing an ignorance towards non belief). However while trying to get to the heart of what god was (and abandoning Christianity privately) I understood it to be at first a pointless exercise and secondly as one very highly likely to be a pointless concept.
78  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Where your ancestors were from? on: July 10, 2014, 10:53:18 am
All Scottish. Small Irish contingent.
79  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask Nathan on: July 10, 2014, 06:56:09 am
How does being queer affect your religious outlook? Have you ever felt the need to question or subdue that part of yourself because of orthodoxy?
80  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 10, 2014, 05:32:53 am
I know you have a very strong affinity for the sun that you've described as spiritual or quasi-spiritual many times in the past. Do you have any particular observances or personal rituals that you like to do relating to this? You wished us a happy Solstice and mentioned that observance of pre-Christian holidays in post-Christian Scotland is on the rise--do you involve yourself with any of that, or perhaps do anything conceptually similar but more private?

I share that opinion with my husband; we both seem to have arrived at it independently which was suprising. I guess that it is a quasi-spiritual position but I am very much aware that there is no reciprocation because the sun is just the sun. Curiously of course, over esposure to it is a net defecit. I can understand elemental deification or a spirituality tied to the effect of the seasons and even be a bystander to various celebrations, but I can't subscribe to it.
81  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 10, 2014, 05:09:18 am
I note that your apparent definition of good, enlightened self-interest, is precisely the definition I would use for evil.  (Yes, pure capitalism is evil.)

I don't think it is fair to suggest that social and cultural arrangments arranged within the confines that evolution allow is strictly 'self-interest'. But you are correct in suggesting that the same definition can be used to define 'evil' because again, evil is something that is defined along similar line (various social views of murder for example)

'Good' is a physical concept. As I've argued before, metaphysics must be rooted in physics. There is nothing objectively 'real' about abstract philisophical concepts, certainly outside of the minds that infer them. Abstract concepts like ‘love’ are rooted in objects; physical things to show love to. Concepts such as ‘justice’ are bound to physical concepts like action, punishment and so on. These cannot be externally defined (and refined) by something external to the human experience, so who is it that defines them? We do.
82  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: 2014 Selfie Creepfest/Post a picture of yourself thread on: July 09, 2014, 05:18:16 pm
Scotland. Not so sunny.

83  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 05:00:47 pm
Do you think your current life activities and musings are sufficient to count as a "journey"?

A journey to where and to whose standard? Whatever journey I'm on, it's no longer my own anyway, once you start sharing your life with someone. And if the journey is what's important in terms of faith, then there's a lot of assholes sharing that road! If being on The Road is more important to god than what conclusions I reach without caring much about a set path, then I regret nothing.

I think I know you better than to believe you think good and evil are irrelevant.  Still, that does leave the definition of "what is good".  So let's start with that old, yet most important, chestnut.

        What is good?

I never inferred that at all.

So wait; everyone else gets 'what does your church do' and 'how do you worship' and I get 'what is good?' Cheesy To be frank, I think I've answered a lot of broad questions today. I've posted on 'good' before so I'm afraid I won't go into this again.

EDIT: It's in here somewhere;

 http://uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=184853.msg4002502#msg4002502
84  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 02:44:50 pm
Do you think your current life activities and musings are sufficient to count as a "journey"?

A journey to where and to whose standard? Whatever journey I'm on, it's no longer my own anyway, once you start sharing your life with someone. And if the journey is what's important in terms of faith, then there's a lot of assholes sharing that road! If being on The Road is more important to god than what conclusions I reach without caring much about a set path, then I regret nothing.
85  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 10:51:22 am
Is love spiritual or just some synapses in our brains working like an electric circuit board?

Can’t it be both? We are the ones who endow our responses and reactions with spiritual or artistic significance, even if there isn’t anything actually detachable from the physical realm. If you want to call it spiritual, even if we know the machinations and stimuli behind it, what’s the difference? For me the ‘spiritual’ side of love, as in life is the very fact that we ‘do’ it. The 'you' part of you, the part of you that loves is your brain. Your consciousness is what it is and is tailored to show love and affinity for other beings who are not our self because of our evolutionary inheritance as a mammal that like other mammals, makes social bonds. That is the key to our survival. The fact our experience of love is heightened and that we can write of it, sing about it and paint is what makes it ‘spiritual’.
86  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 09:33:34 am
My position is that evidentially I can see no reason to believe in the existence of a god as a point in itself, yet even if I was to assume a 'first cause', why should I invest any time in thinking about it?

Why should you not?  Now, I suspect your actual personal experience in thinking about it isn't quite as non-existent as you've portrayed it in this thread.  You just never found a "first cause" that you found personally satisfying.  Not that I think there needs to be a first cause, since that idea itself assumes a somewhat anthropomorphized Divine which experiences time in the same fashion as us humans, just on a vaster scale.

For the same reason you haven’t thought about it either. Strictly speaking, you have not looked at every single potential explanation for god or the godlike or lack thereof, evaluated them all and settled on the best or correct one. That’s an impossibility. Even amongst the dozen or so active Christians on the board you all have varied understandings of god. Settling on what you find ‘personally satisfying’ has led you to your current belief as much as my thoughts have led me to a different conclusion.

As I hinted at before, there is probably far less to be ‘lost’ (if the deity is capricious) in holding the  position I do (though it is not the reason that I hold it) If we assume that there is a god and that this god is in the Christian mould, then if a tendency towards non-belief is simply a neutral trait (as in it tends to be more resilient in some people more than others), then the person who does not believe in god because his faculties do not direct him to that path is not in error. However if non-belief is the surest way to damnation in whatever literal and metaphorical sense that may be, then if that assumption is correct then non-believers have been created simply to be damned. This is not a new philosophical problem by any means and I know that it is not necessarily a position that you yourself would hold. Contrary to this, if holding a position of belief is also neutral then this position wouldn’t necessarily curry additional favour with god. So what is the believer to do? The believer simply not bothering to seek out god (prayer, meditation, worship etc) is contrary to how they were ‘made’ (given that they have some sense of the spiritual and are receptive to it), and such inaction could be contrary to the will of god. However an over eagerness towards seeking god could lead the believer to believe things or do things also contrary to god. So the pursuit of god by the believer seems to be set with potential pitfalls despite the believers being endowed with the potential to ‘taste’ the divine. For the non-believer passivity towards god is also a neutral position. Should the non-believer seek knowledge of the world; of the empiric and measurable, then if these are also predefined by god then a non-believer who is observing the definable and measurable is on safer ground as opposed to the believer observing the ‘truth’ but one that is tantalisingly difficult to define.
87  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 08:30:25 am

You're right to point out that as humans we often create our own purpose or assign consciousness to non sentient processes, but I don't see how that's relevant here.


Well it sort of is relevant here. My position is that evidentially I can see no reason to believe in the existence of a god as a point in itself, yet even if I was to assume a 'first cause', why should I invest any time in thinking about it? It is not my fault that groups of people have taken it on themselves to declare that there is a god, it has revealed itself and it's plan for you is 'x'. That I believe is assigning consciousness to non sentient processes. There is no evidence to suggest that any 'creator' (of which it could be argued, the Sun is one) is consciously 'doing' anything.

I don't really want to draw this one out. If people's belief in Christianity can be discussed without demanding they show proof for it, I would prefer it people could discuss my own position without trying to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut Smiley

With respect to 'actors' I posted something which i'll re-post below. Just because you seem interested in my position on that.

EDIT: I'll post it to you.
88  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 08:05:04 am
In terms of cause look at it this way. Let’s take, 'why are you here?' Let’s go backwards, because the perspective is somewhat helpful here. You are here because your mother was impregnated by your father and they are here for the same reason having descended from the first families of homo sapiens who were a divergent species of Homo who diverged away from the same branch that the apes diverged away from that collapses into various branches of placental mammals that collapses into various of animal life, then life in general all the way back to the point at which organic molecules assembled back to the formation of organic molecules. With each step your consciousness, your ability to know yourself diminishes with each iteration right the way back to the point you have no consciousness and even further back until there are no organic compounds at all. All the compounds exist on a cooling ball that was once extremely hot and everything that coalesces to form it was once dispersed gasses and molecules cast off by an infant sun that formed from the ejected gas of a dead star that itself came from a star before it which came from interactions in the expanding universe that diminishes right back into the subatomic point which burst from the Big Bang.

With every step backwards, from your perspective your complexity diminishes, your consciousness diminishes and disappears entirely, your organic framework diminishes, the explosions and the great ‘building’ events in the universe diminishes. Everything ‘diminishes’ right back to Big Bang. The chain started at the Big Bang created ‘significance’ (i.e intelligent life that considers itself significant) from something insignificant (a super concentrated explosion). Yet people slot in ‘god’ before all this. Strictly speaking, something that can create the universe, time, physics, life and yet transcend all these is so complex that it looks like an iteration more likely to belong after us in the chain (which from my perspective, given than I consider man to have postulated the idea of a god in the first place, would be the case). ‘Nothingness’ at the very beginning, from this perspective, makes much more sense given what we know occurred later.
89  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 07:38:17 am
Trying to answer it as best I can because it is pretty wide.

First of all your statement its a question, it’s a question asked by the only beings that we are aware of that can ask questions.  I’ll return to that later. The question is also framed in such a way in suggesting that ‘nothing’ is another something that could be, which is not what ‘nothing’ defines. The only thing that can ‘be’ is ‘something’. So there cannot be ‘nothing’ because ‘nothing’ doesn’t exist independent of something. The question asks why is there something rather than nothing which is basically the same as asking why circles are round but squares aren’t. It also makes an assumption that ‘nothing’ is the default position in opposition to the ‘something’; which tends to be whatever god the person who asks the question subscribes to. It’s a bit like asking what came ‘before’ the Big Bang. Given that before is a time linked concept, you can’t apply it to the ‘time before time existed.’

We ask ‘why’ because we seek to know the reason behind an action. It’s part of our innate curiousity. The only being that can ‘reason’; that can initiate something on purpose and for a purpose is us. So ‘why’ is a human concept that doesn’t make sense without a mind to make the references.

If we want to run with it, then we have to take into consideration what I discussed before. All observable interactions in the universe are processes. They do what they do and are not aware why they are doing it or what they are doing it ‘for’. The only processes that can observe these other processes occurring and then determining, for our purpose whyhappen to be us, and we popped into existence very recently.  We are also a process, but we are a process that is self aware. You are here because it has been determined, by the sum of all that came before you, that you will be here. It rests on the understanding that the past is fixed and the present is the sum of history. The present, relatively speaking presents us with a bunch of cognitive organic processes on this planet that has the ability to observe the universe as it is and most curiously as it was. And so far? All we can observe are inorganic, non sentient processes.

It is highly likely therefore, that if are able to peek behind the Big Bang and see more, we won’t see Oz pulling levers or god watching you masturbate. We won’t see sentience. We will see another non organic process and the question (which is the wrong question to ask) will still be unanswered. There is no ‘teleology’ to the universe as it has no goal or direction beyond the constraints of both physics and entropy.

We are inferring reason because we can reason. We are inferring purpose, because we see structure in our lives. We infer intelligence, because we are intelligent. We perceive time as linear bounded by starts and finishes because we lead finite linear lives. If the universe is infinite, then there is always ‘something’ and there can never be nothing. If it actually has a ‘start’ then we should not rush to infer agents and actors in such processes and deify them.

The idea of a ‘god’ is not entirely implausable. The problem is that every single person who thinks of one tends to start dressing it up in human clothing by first assuming it is sentient and secondly assuming it shows concern for the chain of events it has set off, to the point at which is looses any significance.
90  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 06:38:36 am
Ok, I'll bite. In what respects are you spiritual?

I am ‘spiritual’ in the sense what fulfils me is materialistic and I make no apologies for it. What is fulfilling are sensations, people. The very fact that I am able to sense these things are entirely the result of the evolutionary journey that has equipped me to experience the environment around me. All matter that is organic and non-organic are by-products of the suns creation. And the sun provides everything. We are nothing until the matter that forms us coalesces though conception and pregnancy leading to the birth of a process, albeit a cognitive one with a sense of awareness as the result of energy bouncing though matter. It generates people capable of love, death, art, genocide and everything in between before the matter or the energy stops and the process of life ends. What remains of us is physically recycled by other organic processes. That is wonderful. It is wonderful that the moment I am born I am ‘invaded’ by billions of bacteria that coat every part of me and help regulate my body and some have the power to destroy it. We are subject to the collective actions of micro-organisms and the cycles of the sun. It is very easy to get carried away and I am deeply connected to the ancient elemental idea of worship (the sun, water, wind etc) but I am grounded enough to note that I do not need to personify or pay homage to them in order to appreciate their importance.

With respect to the metaphysical side of things, I have long been of the opinion that it need not matter. Humans have a variety of different facets to them that do not make them more or less human. There are many facets of humanity that we understand to be neutral. Being male is undoubtedly more advantageous in say, the workplace, or in politics, or in physical confrontation than being female. However there is no rightness or wrongness in being male or female. A male is no 'better' a human than a female for being born male. Skin colour does no better or worse, homosexual or heterosexual too (though you'd probably disagree with that). Being intellectual vs artistic is no better or worse and so on.

Why can’t belief and non-belief, empiricism v intuition, spirituality v materialism be considered along similar lines? If holding a belief or refusing to hold belief were neutral positions, then if it turns out there is a god, whether it's yours, someone else's, or one no one has thought of then this status quo benefits disproportionately the non-believer who has nothing to lose in his non-belief (if non-belief is naturally ‘ordained’ by the god as one of two possible outcomes of human development). However the believer is not only investing energy in a belief that in the end won’t curry additional favour with the creator, but may be actively believing something (and acting upon it) that is contrary to the will of the creator which may in turn be detrimental if that creator is capricious. That in part influences my own position; I feel that my position of non-belief is not detrimental to me, or more accurately is the least detrimental to me should a variety of different theological arguments turn out to be correct.


Why is there something rather than nothing?

That’s a vast question, so I don’t know on what basis you’re proposing it. Do you have a clear idea why there is something rather than nothing?
91  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Australia General Discussion on: July 09, 2014, 05:21:39 am
Do you want me to repost the post you got deleted or is the topic too sensitive for you to handle?

Two things.  First off, reposting deleted posts is a sure way to get infracted again, and often with more points than the first time.  Second of all, cool down.  As a general rule, people either argue with objectional posts, or they report them, but they seldom do both.

This.

I don't care about what's being discussed. It has nothing to do with this thread at all. If someone is indeed pretending to be someone they are not on a forum (and there are probably a sizeable number of people like that on here anyway) I don't care unless it's a sock or a troll.
92  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Ask afleitch on: July 09, 2014, 04:45:30 am
Because non-believers have positions too Cheesy

Seriously, I think most of you probably know where I stand on a lot of issues given my propensity to write small essays about the smallest things, but an equal number probably don't read them and resort to thinking I'm a walking reddit meme. I am 'spiritual' from a scientific, humanist and materialistic viewpoint which is often overlooked as a position that actually has meaning for people. You're welcome to ask me anything and I'll do my best to answer it.
93  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: So Michael's grandparents visited us in Scotland last week... on: July 08, 2014, 05:14:30 pm
I'm sorry you went through this, Andrew. That behavior is inexcusable. And although I don't think there's much use speculating about the extent to which they'd still be like this if they were less religious, I'm afraid I cannot but agree that it isn't exactly helping.

The problem was that they have gotten more religious, so this behaviour is what I think they expect of being 'more Christian'. That will always be a problem because the anti-gay message still carries capital. I can't abide 'Brand USA' Christianity (and shudder at it's exportation across the world forcing alien concerns over gays to the top of their agendas) for that reason. I don't mind because I'm used to it. Michael came out later in life and so the stark difference he faces is more biting. It also happened when he returned home in January.

I think without resorting to religion in recent years they probably would have still been assholes, if not to us then still to other people. And that's no improvement.
94  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: FIFA 2014 World Cup - Official Discussion Thread on: July 08, 2014, 03:40:04 pm
It was very sporting of the Germans to let that one go over the crossbar.
95  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: FIFA 2014 World Cup - Official Discussion Thread on: July 08, 2014, 03:29:44 pm
The entire German team can now do calf exercises for the next 60 minutes in front of their goal and fill out any paperwork they've forgotten to do.
96  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: FIFA 2014 World Cup - Official Discussion Thread on: July 08, 2014, 03:23:58 pm
Interesting Smiley
97  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games - Official Thread on: July 07, 2014, 04:48:40 pm
Bit of a fashion faux pas for the Scots though...

98  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games - Official Thread on: July 07, 2014, 04:41:28 pm
It all kicks off on July 23rd. So I've decided to start this thread for any pre, during and post games 'patter'

I have also managed to get tickets to the Opening Ceremony so I am quite excited Smiley

99  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: 2014 Selfie Creepfest/Post a picture of yourself thread on: July 07, 2014, 03:42:51 pm


London, sunny, no in-laws.
100  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Update for Everyone II - Less Boring, More Whoring on: July 07, 2014, 01:42:26 pm
I have secured a ticket to the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this month. Ya belter!
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