Thursday, August 21, 2008

The uncertain man

Humans are designed to be uncertain. It is a fundamental aspect of our nature (Knight, F.H. (1921) Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit. Boston, MA: Hart, Schaffner & Marx; Houghton Mifflin Company).

Without uncertainty a human being cannot identify a problem to be solved. Michael Ruse gives the example that a caveman sees two tigers walk into a cave and only one come out. He does not know(as he cannot see) if the second tiger is still in the cave, but the operation of his brain tells him that it would be best not to go into the cave (Ruse, (2006) Darwinism and its discontents. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press).

Uncertainty can take many forms in human decision making - but it is the essential ingredient to all decisions, for without uncertainty the decision would already have been made:-

A rational decision is where the uncertainty in a subject is responded to with justification.

So, I would like to pose an interesting question. Genesis 1:27 states, inter alia, "So, God created man in His own image". This is sometimes taken to mean in a likeness sense and sometimes in respect of the mind of man - the creative nature of our species. The implication of the latter interpretation does result in the problem of uncertainty, that is, are we uncertain beings because God is an uncertain being? If so, then God cannot be omniscient as such a state renders all uncertainty void. On the other hand, if God is omniscient then we are not created in his image. Although, this may prove little more than the fallability of biblical text.

In any event, the nature of uncertainty as a central and fundamental quality of human decision making leads us to a far greater problem than God's creation and this is, Gods justice. Biblical (Koranic, Egyptian, Nordic.....) religions have penalties for a failure to be absolutely certain about the existence of the proposed God(/s). How can we make a rational decision about something if our uncertainty in the proposed statement is removed? Clearly we cannot. In order to be a theist, a person must remove their initial uncertainty through an act of faith. Otherwise, the theist must admit that they could be wrong (ie, they have the initial state of uncertainty). Thus, by removing ones uncertainty about a subject - the decision that results is a fait accompli and certainly not rational.

So to any theists out there, think to yourself, could you be wrong?

Friday, August 8, 2008

This is why we can't allow theism to gain control of society ever again

Friday, August 1, 2008

Systemic Logic

Bob Spence said this - he is very smart ;)

Logic is a systematic description of the irreducible minimum relationships between propositions for a coherent, self-consistent reasoning process, discussion, discourse, whatever you want to call it, about the content of any set of propositions about reality.

It is the starting point for coherent discourse.

The rules of logic start from the 'assumption' that there exist sets of propositions, statements about reality that cannot all simultaneously be true, that describe distinguishable, different possible attributes, events, relationships between entities, ie that there is structure to reality, not just a blur of every everything posssible existing and happening at once and/or at pure

This is fundamental.

To insist that this somehow can only be the case if there is some grander entity within which such a structure can exist explains absolutely nothing, merely opening the way to the worst sort of infinite regress, requiring ever grander entities within which any given entity must exist, therefore such a proposal is essentially self-refuting.

Rather pursue the more fruitful chain of 'infinite' regress, where each complex proposition of logic, or the elaborations of logical reasoning, ie mathematics in all its forms, is shown to be derived from simpler, more fundamental theorems, till we arrive at the most elementary.

Analogous to following 'cause and effect' chains back, where any given 'effect' can be seen as being initiated by a set of one or more 'causes' whic may well be much more elementary and lesser that the effect triggered, so that the 'ultimate cause' need only be a set of infinitesimal 'twitches' in the fabric of reality.

As long as all the identifiable cause-effect links form, on average, a geometrically decreasing sequence in duration and energy, as we trace back, then even a theoretically infinite sequence will total to a finite duration and energy, a point that the Greek philosophers totally failed to get there minds around, as with Xeno's famous paradoxes, which are totally resolved by later mathematics, such as those dealing with infinite series and calculus.

So once you eliminate the assumption that 'cause' must always be greater than 'effect', most if not all traditional arguments for 'God' vanish in a puff of logic, as Douglas Adams once said. Just think of the final snowflake that triggers the avalanche...

'God' and all such ideas are part of a lesser, derivative reality, the world of speculative ideas which is totally dependent on our own minds, which in turn are parasitic on the world of nature.

Quote from Bob Spence on the BAMG message boards.

Is truth knowable - only if you assume it is ;).