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Monday, December 7, 2009

Where Does the Soul Fit?

Abstract: The concepts of the "Soul" and "Free Will" are tightly coupled and are misunderstandings of emergent properties of complex biological systems due to fallacious causal oversimplifications and are, in effect, a phenomena analogous to a rainbow. In the case of a soul that is separate from the self it would be judged by God for actions it did not condone. In the case of the soul as the self, the soul is locked into the body every night during REM sleep and is catastrophically impaired by malfunctions of the body it resides in. While religions are divided on whether animals have souls and/or spirits, with or without them, animals have some of the same types of cognitive abilities as humans and they get along well within their biological limitations. The philosophical soulless zombie as the null hypothesis for souls fits with established knowledge better than the "soul" described in unauthenticated bronze age "divinely revealed" texts.

Dream Killer
The prosecution said that at 0349 the next morning, Mr Thomas made a 999 call, which was later played to the court, in which he said he had killed his wife because he had mistaken her for an intruder in a dream.
...
The court heard that tests commissioned by both the prosecution and the defence were carried out on Mr Thomas as he slept following his claims of a sleep disorder.


Both sleep experts agreed his behaviour was consistent with automatism, which meant at the time he killed his wife, his mind had no control over what his body was doing.



Scientific
American, "The Will to Power--Is Free Will All in Your Head?"

[Figure 1. I made the diagram on the right to go with the SciAm article as a visual aid. It is a simplified functional block diagram made to represent the complex system of processes that result in a movement. Click on the image to enlarge.]
The take-home lesson is that the brain has specific cortical circuits that, when triggered, are associated with sensations that arise in the course of wanting to initiate and then carry out a voluntary action. Once these circuits are delimited and their molecular and synaptic signatures identified, they constitute the neuronal correlates of consciousness for intention and agency. If these circuits are destroyed by a stroke or some other calamity, the patient might act without feeling that it is she who is willing the acting!
So, Who's Driving?
We think we are in control of our actions. We have intent and we act.
When we have intent and act we are considered responsible.

What is it We Have Intent About?
Where does that initial idea that we have intent about come from? Sometimes ideas come after careful deliberation, or a bit of consideration, and those are the ones we focus on but the majority of our ideas "just pop into our head" don't they?

Where do Our Dreams Come From?
The way dreams appear to us, the process is analogous to a loosely organized data retrieval and presentation, but whatever it is, it is automatic. It happens whether we want it to or not. And to ensure we are a captive audience, some areas of the brain are supposed to be deactivated to prohibit voluntary movement, but a disease called automatism (aka sleep walking) is caused by the areas remaining active. So, in effect, every time we go to sleep, our self is locked into our body until we awake.

Where Does Intention "Fit" in the Mental Process?
In Figure 1, intention seems to fit between "desire/need" and "decision".
However, the SciAm article above shows us that by manipulating brain tissue, "intention" can be bypassed and an action can be caused.  Additionally, an intention can be artificially generated and the rest of the mental process will continue as normal. The brain can be fooled about its own intentions, and it can be made to do things that it had no intention about.

But Who is Doing the Fooling?
If a person is not undergoing brain surgery, how could someone perform some act against their free will?
There are thought experiments in Philosophy of Mind and Epistemology that depend on being fooled by someone or being fooled by a demon. The Dream Killer seems to have been fooled by a demon, someone else, or by something inside his brain. The court is convinced it is a disorder, which means it must be a faulty biological process going on in his brain that he is unaware of. He dreamed he was attacking intruders, his voluntary movements were not paralyzed as they should be during sleep and he killed his wife instead.  The idea to fight the intruders was not based in reality, it just "popped into his head" and he carried it out like he was a Zombie, or an automaton. It was automatic. It happened whether he wanted it to or not, and the court found him not guilty.

Where Do "I" "Get" "My" Ideas?
Do they have minds of their own?
Are they given to me?
If they are given to me, who gives them to me, a homunculus?
Who could give them to the homunculus?
Are they auto-generated in my brain?
Are any of them caused by signals coming from areas within my brain or any of my other organs?

Humans are Only Aware of a Small Percentage of What is Going on in Their Body and Their Brain. 
The brain has many other automatic background process going on besides consciousness such as synchronizing and communicating with the organs, intuition, unconscious decision making, bias, prejudice, emotion, mood, too many to mention in fact. Like dreams, the way thoughts appear to us is analogous to a loosely organized data retrieval and presentation system, but whatever it is, it is automatic.  It happens whether we want it to or not even if "we" can guide the process and even if "we" can't explain how "we" are guiding the process.

The problem of controlling thoughts was recognized 2500 years ago and a solution was proposed by the Buddha using the then ancient method of Meditation.  Meditation is used as a way to gain more control of those "wild" thoughts "running" around in our head.  Typically, "we" are only partially in control. In economic terms, we feel as though we have a controlling interest, but just like in finance, a change in the context of circumstances will erode that interest.  Some of "us" with "mental disorders" don't have a controlling interest and can't effectively guide the process. There is something wrong either biologically or in HOW "we" GUIDE the PROCESS. Lately, Psychiatry and Psychology address these issues which have been traditionally been handled by Religious leaders, Shamans and such.

Was it Intentional?
Typically, historically and traditionally, society thinks that once an idea appears, and we take action then we are culpable, but there is a missing qualifier in that sentence. Was it an intended action? In Law, (in the "west" anyway [whatever that means]) there is a concept of "intent". If "intent" to commit a crime can be shown then the defendant is culpable. In other cases if negligence can be shown on the part of the defendant, then the defendant can be culpable to a lesser degree.

Naturally Occurring Process Deviance, aka Mistakes

[Figure 2. Click on the image to enlarge]
Well, why would we need a distinction like "intent" if it were not possible to carry out a harmful act against our will? Sure accidents happen, but accidents are usually thought of as "things that happen to us" which are out of our control. But mistakes related to how we perform (such as errors in judgement, decision making or physical "malfunctions") also happen. So in law, "intention" can be used as a defining criteria of culpability in cases such as accidental shootings.  But something that is not recognized, at least in my culture, is that the majority of the day, we do things that we don't intend.  Yet my culture insists that we are reasonably accountable for EVERYTHING that we do.  I don't know how many times a day I have to remind people that "We don't intend to make mistakes". Using terminology borrowed from complexity science, "mistakes" are naturally occurring deviance in processes. Figure 2 is an even more simplified functional block diagram encompassing Figure 1. It is a diagram of a complex system within a complex system. Living things are autonomous complex systems made up of complex systems of which every component has the potential to perform poorly or malfunction.

Nothing is Perfect, Neither is this Rough Method of Estimating Reliability In A System
All the elements in figure 1 and 2 are functioning less than perfectly to some degree.  This deviance from perfect performance accumulates throughout the system leading to less reliability.  While the math involved in assessing the reliability of a system is beyond the scope of this article, we can get a rough idea for the purpose of illustrating the interdependence of components if we assign a value of 10 to each element when it is working perfectly and a value of nine when it is working normally.  Not all the elements in Figure 1 should get a value, so without listing the elements, I have chosen 14 of them, which gives the cumulative value of a perfectly operating system in figure 1 of 140. But in our "virtual reality" each element is going to be operating at 90% so in normal operation we have 9 * 14 elements = 126. Now the reliability value of our normally operating system is 126. So at 126/140, the system as a whole is operating at 90% of perfection.

So How Tolerant is the System? How Well can it Resist a Catastrophic Failure?
If one of the elements stops working it gets a zero, then our operating value becomes 9 * 13 = 117. 117/140 is 83.5% so the value at which we reach a catastrophic failure is likely to be around 83.5%. So if the average value of all the elements reaches 83.5% of perfection, we can expect a catastrophic failure.  So now, in the case of a mistake, we can say that something or group of somethings in the process caused the system to go below 83.5% tolerance resulting in the accident or mistake.  [On the other hand, an accident or mistake can lead to a result that is not a catastrophic failure but is beneficial. This is known as "serendipity" or a "happy accident" and is one of the mechanisms underlying evolution.]


Reality is a web of systems within systems each an input and an output to something else.

How can One Justifiably be Held Absolutely Responsible for Anything?
How can the causes and effects of mistakes and accidents be differentiated from the causes and effects of intentional actions when they are interconnected causally?  How is it justified to hold one accountable after death for their actions on this earth when the actions were outcomes of a mesh of interconnected events some of which are out of ones control? Since actions are cumulative and a persons intentional actions and mistakes make up a network of causes and effects, no one is completely responsible for their actions and it is unjustifiable to be held accountable as the religions of the world propose.  Remediation, instead of punishment is the only rationally justifiable outcome for  "the afterlife". Hinduism comes close to this idea. But the idea that fits best with established knowledge is that the self ceases to exist when the body dies because its existence depends on the functional quality of the body.


I Don't Know How I Breathe, I Just Do
[Click on the image to enlarge]
I don't know how I raise my arm, I just do.
I breathe whether I want to or not.
I jump when I'm startled with no intent whatsoever.
I blink my eyes when something comes at them with no intent whatsoever.
I put my arms out in front of me when I fall with no thought whatsoever.
Maybe "intuition" plays a role. It seems like sometimes we can learn something, and then we have unconscious, instantaneous, automatic access to it.

But there are somethings we don't have to learn. A baby doesn't learn how to reach out, it just does.
When I want to lift my arm, it lifts, but who does the work in the background to get it to go up? Is there a little crane operator in my head working the controls taking orders from "me" when I want him to lift my arm?

"...And There's A Little Yellow Man In My Head." (The Kinks, "Destroyer")
No. Its a process that happens that I can't describe because I don't know anything about it, and once it gets started, the only way I can stop it is to "issue" the order to stop. I can't interrupt the electrochemical interactions that enable it. It SEEMS as though there is an intelligence outside our consciousness built into our bodies that takes care of operating the "controls" analogous to the crane operator. So does that "intelligence" have consciousness? Does it think about where the commands to reach out come from? Does it wonder why it has to manage the position of the hand and strength of grip so precisely? Does it wonder if there is some intelligence that is guiding it? It seems as though there are two intelligences at work here in addition to naturally occurring deviance (aka mistakes).

The Mind Body Problem
Rene Descartes wrote about this concept in his Passions of the Soul and The Description of the Human Body. Basically he said the body and the mind were distinct from each other, leading to the affirmation that when the body dies, the mind can continue just as some Theists says it does. This supports the Judeo-Christian concept of Justice, punishment and culpability. Fortunately over time, the justice system has recognized some exceptions to that rule and included the qualifier of "intent".  The Justice system realized that "dualism" was an oversimplification, it was a faulty model, it was a faulty analogy, it was ignoring disqualifying facts.

A Principle of High Reliability Organization is A Reluctance to Simplify Interpretations.
Oversimplification results in a model that is no longer analogous to the situation.  Trying to use a faulty analogy increases the likelihood of mistakes whether its in engineering or discussions. In my view, many philosophical problems suffer from oversimplifications and "The Mind Body Problem" is one of them.  There comes a time when one should just admit that they don't have enough information to make a decision, and set about looking for the missing information.  Free Will, Consciousness and Epistemology are some other philosophical problems that I think suffer from oversimplification. 

The Zombie Problem
The Philosophical Zombie is a concept used in thought experiments in the Philosophy of Mind.  Zombies are used in rejoinders to Physicalist and Behaviorist arguments that mental states such as consciousness, thoughts, beliefs, intent, etc are certain types of behavior. According to Physicalist arguments a human being with no consciousness that is indistinguishable from a human being with consciousness should not be possible. I think that the Zombie problem generally is a problem of a faulty analogy. It presumes to make claims in argumentation about consciousness when consciousness doesn't have any clear scope and definition, however, the concept of Zombies does seem to have some merit.  In some cases the body acts outside the scope of the self's free will, such as in the case of reflexive actions (the processes handled by the autonomous nervous system) and some aspects of thinking. Clearly the phenomena of Automatism supports the concept of "Zombies".

What We Know About Behavior from Brain Surgeries
Two areas of the brain have been identified that have a relationship to our behavior, perception, and memory.  [Refer back to Figure 1.] When manipulated by a surgeon, the posterior parietal cortex can cause a person to feel a desire and/or a need.  A higher degree of electrical stimulation can cause the ILLUSION of movement. The presupplementary motor area, when stimulated by a surgeon can cause a person to feel a desire or a need and cause an ACTUAL movement. Additionally we know that faulty brain matter will cause various degrees of reduced capability and involuntary movement such as seizures.  It seems that now we have a mechanism for getting the person to want or need to do something, to actually do something or believe they've done something. 

"Locked-in" Syndrome
Locked-in syndrome is similar to dreaming with respect to inhibition of voluntary movement.  When there is a malfunction somewhere in the brain, voluntary movement in the body (most of the time with the exception of the eyes) is inhibited. The consciousness becomes  a "prisoner" of the body.

Consciousness is tightly coupled to the body. When the interface between consciousness and the body fails, consciousness gets "locked in" and any "free will" previously enjoyed by that consciousness is inhibited.  It would be as if we removed the posterior parietal cortex and the presupplementary motor area cortex blocks in Figure 1 preventing the consciousness or soul from having access to them.  These patients are at risk of having life support removed if it cannot be determined that they are not brain dead.

Am I and My Soul the Same Thing?
We can see how the consciousness can be prevented from access to the body, but the soul?  How can the soul be prevented from doing anything? Can damage to brain tissue prevent the soul from having access to the body?  With regard to traditional religious understanding of the concept of the soul, that seems absurd, so my soul and I must be two different things. 

What Does the Soul Do; Inform about Morality?
Does the soul inform the consciousness? What sorts of things could it inform consciousness about?  Moral Questions? But a lot of moral questions fit nicely into economic game theory models, are quite rational and follow logical principles when all things are considered.  But supposedly humans get judged on their moral behavior during their time on the earth. Do they get judged by how well they follow economic game theory decisions? If a soul "informs" it must not make decisions for us, it must simply present options.  That's all well and good in a properly functioning biological system, but what purpose does a soul have in a "locked-in" person, or even a naturally aborted fetus for that matter? If I don't listen to my souls moral advice, does it pay the price for me in the afterlife? Since animals make decisions, do they have souls too? Some religions say they do, or at least have "spirits" but as far as I know, the terms "soul" and "spirit" are so ambiguous they are indistinguishable.

In the Case "Locked-in" People Doubt God, Is It Justified?
I wonder if someone "locked-in" ever has doubts about the existence of a loving caring God and if its justified? If a soul informs, how would it inform the consciousness and would it be compelling?  I am sure locked-in people obsess over "why" it happened and what the "meaning" and "purpose" is. If someone is locked-in, and the care-givers are allowed to remove life support, and the person is aware of it, if they have a soul, and if they happen to be exceedingly angry and desperate, are they responsible for any doubts they experience as they die?

Since We Know This Much About Human Behavior, Where Does the Soul or Free Will Fit In?
Where does the soul fit in a functional block diagram like Figure 1? Assuming that "we" and "our souls" are the same thing, It seems like the soul would fit where the blocks for the surgeon or seizure are or would be connected laterally so as to at least have some influence. If that's the case, since we can see how important a physiological interface between consciousness and the body is, then the souls function must be to present options and ideas by manipulating the biological material that makes up the brain. But its not justifiable to punish the soul for our actions unless it is responsible to some degree.

But then Where does Automatism (aka Sleep Walking) fit into that? 
It would mean that the "soul" or "we" do not have complete control over the body and therefore in some cases not responsible. But does the body have any sort of control over "us" or "our soul"? Why, yes it does. As we have seen it can be catastrophic in the case of locked-in patients, and to a lesser degree aggressive behavior has undeniable biological causes (monoamine oxidase A, MAOA gene). So if our consciousness can be manipulated by the body, and our soul is coupled to our consciousness then the soul can be culpable for UNINTENTIONAL acts and it would be crippled when the body dies, so that flies in the face of most religious texts. So, again, the soul must be independent of the Body.

The Concept of the Soul is Incoherent, not "A Mystery".
If it is absurd that the soul as the self is affected by the body, and if it is absurd that the soul is independent of the self yet gets punished for what the self does, then the concept of the soul is incoherent.  Refer to Figure 2. In reality what we have is is the appearance of two intelligences (the mind and the body) reacting to environment and chance events with religion claiming that based on the end result we will get a reward or be punished.  However, since we can see that the mind influences the body, and the body influences the mind, and environment affects them both, the appearance of two intelligences is an illusion in human perception caused by a misunderstanding of the complex system that makes up a human. "Dualism" is an illusion.

The Idea the People Continue to Exist After They Die Seems to be Hundreds of Thousands of Years Old.
There is evidence that at least two of the early human lineages (Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens) believed that people continued to exist after they died (Evolutionary Origins of Religions). There are paleolithic burial sites with flowers, the bodies placed in a fetal position and tools.  This recognition of other minds and speculation about what happens to them after they die can be shown to exist as early as 500,000 years ago. Obviously this is an idea that developed in the youth of our species, but as we can see, we are hard pressed to see where the soul fits into all this. Similarly we are hard pressed to find anything frightening in our childrens rooms when they ask us to look under the bed.  These undetectable "other minds" are a fundamental misconception caused by immaturity, lack of knowledge, inability to comprehend complexity and/or willful ignorance.

"Souls" are Poorly Defined, Weakly Supported, Weakly Justified, Weakly Persuasive and Weakly Relevant.
Stipulating for a moment that souls exist, they must be loosely coupled to consciousness and the body somehow. I say loosely coupled because it can be easily demonstrated that the body operates outside of consciousness but consciousness working outside the body cannot be so easily shown.  Like it or not, the facts supporting the claim for consciousness without a body are ambiguous, equivocal and few. So if we say that the support for "out of body" consciousness is weakly supported, then we can say it is weakly justified, and weakly justified arguments are only weakly persuasive, and therefore only weakly relevant. In fact, if we look at the history of belief in souls, we can see that people believe that animals and even rivers have "spirits" which should equate to souls.  How is the spirit of a river is relevant to anything?

Who's "Driving" Animals or Rivers?
Animism is the term for the belief that objects other than humans have spirits or souls.  But if souls are uniquely human, then animals must not have them. Yet we can see that they seem to get along fine within their capabilities without them.  They can reason according to logical principles and communicate in a rudimentary fashion and recognize human language to a small degree. If animals don't have souls, then that makes them analogous to the Soulless Zombie of Philosophy of the Mind.

The Soulless Zombie as a Null Hypothesis
If the claim is that souls operate outside of physical parameters and it does not manipulate the brain physically, then this type of claim desperately needs support outside of the realm of possibility, speculation and allegedly divinely revealed information to be taken seriously.  If Theist A claims the soul exists because its written about in their sacred texts, then Theist B of another religion is quite justified in not accepting Theist A's claim on the grounds that the authenticity and authority of Theist A's sacred text hasn't been established.

The fact that humans have inferred the existence of souls in humans, animals and the environment is irrefutable, as is the fact that humans have yet to agree on a the scope and definition of the soul or spirit even though "divinely revealed" texts depend on their existence. However, the soul cannot be detected, only inferred and indirectly perceived, that's what makes it so hard to define.  But if we were to say that the soul is a misunderstanding of a natural phenomena that emerges from complexity, then all of the above would make sense.  Usually things that can not be detected, measured or defined don't exist.  Since souls are imperceptible, we must all be soulless Zombies.

The Soul Like The Rainbow

The rainbow exists, of that there is no doubt. But the rainbow exists only as a perception of the complex interaction of sunlight and water droplets in the atmosphere.  When the physical components that it depends on go away, the rainbow goes away.  Under certain, reproducible conditions a rainbow "happens".  As we can see from the various examples above, animation in rivers, animals and humans "happens". It "happens" with or without a soul. And since no "divinely revealed" text has posited as compelling an explanation for a rainbow as science has given us, then the principle of emergence as the cause of the rainbow should be considered the leading hypothesis for "who's driving" our bodies as well.  Our bodies are driving themselves around, and our consciousness emerges from interaction of the various processes that enable that to happen.  The soul, like the rainbow is a misunderstanding of an emergent property of a complex system of components.
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56 comments:

drdave said...

One cannot put a rainbow in one's pocket. But it is real. While you cannot put a soul in your pocket, it appears that the soul is not real.

Harlan Quinn said...

just a thought,
the soul is an elaboration on the self by people who didn't have enough information to temper their speculation.

RichD said...

Hey HQ,
I haven't had a chance to get started on this, but I hope to real soon.

Harlan Quinn said...

about time you slacker. I'm getting lonely out here by myself!

RichD said...

I can see that

akakiwibear said...

HQ, way too much too digest. I will try and respond in more detail later, but for now:

Your case seems to hinge on Our bodies are driving themselves around, and our consciousness emerges from interaction of the various processes that enable that to happen.

This is a two part Plato model akin to the horse and rider analogy of body and soul.

More refined, the Pauline model supposes three elements; a body (the bio-mechanical bits), a soul (the biochemical neurological part) which seems analogous with our personality and the spirit which is our spiritual component.

On only one read of your thesis I saw nothing to challenge the Pauline model?

sala kahle - peace

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Akakiwibear,
I am happy to see you.
while you're digesting, maybe you'd like to define what you mean by "spirit", and suggest a place in one of the diagrams where we might place a block to represent it.

and then check out the link to the paper on St. Paul and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

RichD said...

So my question is where do you stand on a persons responsibility for their actions? Or do we have any responsibility at all?

RichD said...

Even in our own law system, or "western" law, we distiguish between muder and premeditated murder, for example. We seem to understand that someone can act in an instant of high emotion and murder someone even if that wastn't their initial intent. But someone can also plan out a murder and we see that as a much graver action. The first can still be murder and you go to jail though. Are we wrong to hold people accountable for these actions? Or do we need to say,it's not your fault, you have a faulty biological system, you have to be removed from society and examined to find out what is wrong with you, prescribe medication and turn them loose again?
I don't know if this is the wrong direction for the post, but it is at least part of it so I thought maybe we could start here. If this is off topic let me know and I will switch gears.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,
I also might need a little more info here," In other cases if negligence can be shown on the part of the defendant, then the defendant can be culpable to a lesser degree."
If you are negligent doesn't that basically mean you didn't intend to commit the act? If so then you are still culpable without intent.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
there is a podcast on "all in the mind" on this issue. I'll post a quirp about it and a link later and we can discuss this issue with some more data to chew on.

Or do we need to say,it's not your fault, you have a faulty biological system, you have to be removed from society and examined to find out what is wrong with you, prescribe medication and turn them loose again?

we need to ask critical questions, just like we do in problem solving.
- q: Whats the most important thing?
a: preventing this from happening again.

- q: Is it their fault?
a: who cares?

- under what conditions can we put this person back on the street with a reasonable degree of probability that they are aren't going to do it again?

If we look at it from a game theoretical perspective we can come closer to solving the problem. This is my experience in my life, and also watching the news and history, it play out pretty well.
for example,

when is the person going to benefit more from not doing the act than from doing it? When we can answer this question, and set up the conditions provide more benefit from not doing the actions, then we have solution to the problem.

If the person has a neurological disorder, like the famous brain tumor pedophile, then we know that when he has the tumor he will do typical pedophile things, when he doesn't he won't. after his surgery, the put him away for a couple of years because he did pedophile things at home and not work, thereby demonstrating some degree of inhibition and knowledge of right and wrong.

however, it does not follow that putting him in jail for two years is going to prevent him from becoming a pedophile again if the tumor comes back a third time. It does follow that removing the tumor is effective at preventing this behavior.

in the case that the tumor is not operaple and he has to stay a pedophile,
then go back to the first critical question
what is the most important thing.
then
how do we prevent this from happening again under these conditions?
if its put him away for life, then so be it,
and it doesn't matter if its his fault or not

Sometimes fault and culpability are irrelevant, with regard to how do we prevent it from happening again. I'd say, most of the time, its irrelevant.

Think about it at work. How many times to people do things you don't like, or are harmful because they are "bad people" or or "mean" or "evil"? most of the time they do it because they mistakenly think its the right thing to do (a greater good) or it benefits them somehow. In some respect, they are usually looking for how to improve things (even if just for themselves) and harm is a side effect.

Harlan Quinn said...

so now richd,
where does the soul fit?

RichD said...

I guess I'm still trying to figure out the scope of your post. Are we talking about those people with disorders that afect their decision making?

And actually I was just thinking, which does tend to lead to trouble ;), for the dream killer shouldn't this- "his mind had no control over what his body was doing."-actually be stated that his mind didn't inhibit his body's movement during sleep? His "mind" was controlling his body and it was acting out the movements in his dream instead of being inhibited from movement.

I am working on a comment about where the soul fits.

Harlan Quinn said...

hi richd,
Are we talking about those people with disorders that afect their decision making?
I'm talking about someone does something illegal.

even if its too many traffic violations. They do it for a reason. Whats the reason?
sure they are culpable by the law in most cases.

but why do they do it?

I don't think it has anything to do with good or bad, evil or angel, I just think its "economics" or brain or personality disorders, etc.

The dream killers consciousness was not driving his body, he was in "autopilot".

Do you think he should be put in prison?

I think it illustrates how much control our body has over our actions, and why we can't definitively judge a persons intent, because even the person has little control over what goes on in their brain.

Harlan Quinn said...

richd,
in a nutshell,
my position is that the mind is created by the brain. Since that is the case, there is no soul, and any type of reward and punishment system should discard the "soul, good and evil framework" and go in the direction of "mind created by brain, whats going on in there framework".

Obviously there is overlap in control but neither brain or body is 100% in control. Its a system that uses positive and negative feedback, some of that obviously regulated by the brain.

here's the link to the "all in the mind" blog and podcast.
Not exactly the same topic but similar.

RichD said...

Thanks for the link that was a really good discussion. And it was close enough for some good fodder to throw in here.

I guess fair is fair. So since I asked about your position, and you responded, I'll give mine. I do think we have a spirit/soul that is housed inside our body. My framework goes on our agency to choose our actions for ourselves, and we have consequences for our actions. That gives us positive/good consequences for good choices and negative/bad consequences for bad choices. That's about as nutshell as I can get it I think. So I don't think that the mind is the soul. I have always been taught that the body and the spirit together make the soul.

RichD said...

More to come, I am at work today so in down times I am trying to keep you from being lonely

akakiwibear said...

Mind if I intrude here with a bit of a brain dump.
RichD said I have always been taught that the body and the spirit together make the soul. ... in line with the Catholic view.

My preference is for Paul's view where he talks of body, soul & spirit (1 Thes 5).

Interestingly the RC does not agree with the Pauline model (or Plato's dichotomy for that matter) insisting that we are an en-fleshed soul i.e. the components cannot be separated. As yet I have not found this view very helpful. Paul’s trichotomy is generally associated with the evangelicals and perhaps more the charismatic churches.

I see there being two debates going on in this thread.
1) If we are only a bio-chemical/mechanical machine then we are as individuals blameless for any of our actions since they are effectively predetermined by all the elements of our genetics & environment.

As evolutionary organisms we will always seek to act in self interest (defined to include continuation of our genetic line). This is fundamentally an amoral code. Yet, perhaps it is wishful thinking, we hold people accountable (quite unreasonable really if they are not free to exercise choice) and ascribe to others qualities of morality.

As a society we therefore conduct ourselves totally at odds with the concept of us being a complex bio-chemical/mechanical machine devoid of freewill.

Perhaps, perversely one could argue that Christian forgiveness would be most easily given to those who are not responsible for their actions (all of us if we go with the atheist position) … but then if we are not responsible we do not need forgiveness.

2) If there is a soul/spirit where does it fit in. HQ challenges us with suggest a place in one of the diagrams where we might place a block to represent it. which is a bit like asking where on a drawing of a bicycle one would find the attachment point for the wings. HQ, your diagrams presuppose the non-existence of the soul.

But where does it fit into our makeup? That is a good question.

It seems to have little to do with personality or ability to carry out tasks (the functions of body & soul according to the Pauline model) as we would argue that a brain damaged person still has their soul/spirit intact.

It would appear from most theologies that it forms part of our communication/interaction with spirituality/God in general. If so, what would be the role of that interface?

Perhaps for me the key is around the question of freewill. Freewill and only freewill makes us accountable for our actions. We (well some do) aspire to a level of conduct that is beyond self interest (e.g. Maximillian Kolbe).

Could it be that through our lives here we enable our soul/spirit to appreciate the contra-evolutionary driven aspects of empathy, compassion etc. ?

Could it be that through the influence of spirituality/God on our spirit/soul our conscious self is guided (not directed) to make better moral decisions … to see things in a different light?

I confess that my personal theology is not complete on this question. So how can I believe in a soul/spirit that I do not fully understand?

… well without it Paul would not have experienced his conversion on the road to D. Paul’s fellow travellers would not have shared part of his experience. Ananias would not have been moved to meet with Paul. What HQ describes as Ananias and the laying on of hands could very well have given him the emotional jolt his brain needed to bring his sight into consciousness. would have to be accounted for a sheer coincidence.

Was that a neat segue back into Paul or what?

Sala kahle - peace

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi akakiwibear,
just a note to say I'll respond to this one after the one in "paul and tle".

RichD said...

Hi Kiwi,
Please feel free to jump in anytime. The more the merrier.

My preference is for Paul's view where he talks of body, soul & spirit (1 Thes 5).

OK, so could you define each of the three so we can get an idea of how the model works? That would be helpful.

Not to technical, but I will take my own medicine, so to speak by attempting to define them myself.

Body=Bio-chemical machine sounds good enough.
Spirit=made of an unknown to me matter that is not detectable by our current methods, especially since we have no idea what matter it is made of.
Soul=the somehow blended together spirit/body, or a collective blend of the two.

I will say I don't have a great understanding here and I may be totally wrong, and I might not have been to clear either. It's a start I guess. :)

akakiwibear said...

My understanding of the Pauline model - and I claim no expertise - is that he uses soul and spirit differently from what seems to be usual.

Your take on it seems about right. The soul encompasses the neurological bits which align with our personality.
Spirit is the immortal bit.

One should avoid the trap of supposing that because we can identify a body process that produces an effect we have in fact explained the event. For instance the considerable research on out of body experiences and TLE show that what are termed religious experiences (RE) can be simulated. Atheists tend to argue that this proves there is no spirit.

All the science has done is provided simulated REs. They have not addressed genuine REs other than to show where and bio-chemically how in the the brain they may manifest.

sala kahle -peace

RichD said...

HiddyHo HQ,
How can One Justifiably be Held Absolutely Responsible for Anything?

Scenario; You, as a person understand that it's a crime to steal. All of you systems involeved, working at 90%, fully understand that it is a crime even. You decide to go to your local store and steal something, even knowing that it is wrong. you continue to steal small things because you feel the store can just write it off as a loss and no harm is done. So in the afterlife, why would you not be held accountable for an action that you had full knowledge of being the wrong choice, but made no effort to follow?

Harlan Quinn said...

sorry if i'm not keeping, up I'm working on it right now.

Harlan Quinn said...

akakiwibear, sorry for any typos or lack of clarity, I"m rushing to keep up.
HQ challenges us with suggest a place in one of the diagrams where we might place a block to represent it. which is a bit like asking where on a drawing of a bicycle one would find the attachment point for the wings. HQ, your diagrams presuppose the non-existence of the soul.

I disagree,
this diagram is based on what I know through my research of how the brain works in relation to behavior. It is as accurate as I could make it. It should work just the same if there were a soul or not since it is made from documentented observation.
Thats the whole point of the exercise of trying to fit the soul in it. That is the scientific method. Describe what you know to see what you are missing, then make a best guess at where the missing pieces fit, and try to find them there.

Its what christians should be doing. Instead, it seems chrisitans would rather avoid it and dismiss out of hand any attempts to try.

would you agree that our soul or spirit is an emergent property of the interaction of our biological components? Is that what goes to hell?

I have shown, and there is no question that a portion of our free will is constrained by the physical properties of our brain. We only have access to information that exists in our brain already, and only have access via pathways that are working. We already know sometimes we don't have access to that information. "its on the tip of our tongues" or "we should have known that".


From your description, I can't see WHAT it is would go to hell, and why it should go to hell.



… well without it Paul would not have experienced his conversion on the road to D. Paul’s fellow travellers would not have shared part of his experience.



It seems as though your whole justification for the soul rides on acts being accurate, and being an accurate representation of pauls 2000 year old interpretation of what was going on with himself.

I've already pointed out to you that there are at least four points of deviance in the process of getting that scripture understood by you, which means that your understanding of it can never be 100% accurate. It can only be accurate to a degree. The state of "pauls conversion" does not accurately reflect the real world state of that event.
The question is how much does it represent the state of that real world event, and it depends wholly on how accurately the data was collected at the time.

Therefore, pauls interpretation of what was going on with himself was limited to knowledge or information he has access to, and that was all he had to go on. Just because he had an idea that it was possible to be visited by spirits, and that is how he described it, doesn't mean thats what happened.

I regularly get told I can turn a circuit off by VERY competent authorities, but I always tell them that just because the engineers said it was ready to be turned off doesn't mean it really is. We check it and usually I'm right. Peole make mistakes, no matter who they are. Preventing incidental harm is why we need to cross-check, cross-check, cross-check.
We have to VERIFY what the documentation says, EVEN THOUGH it comes from a trusted source that SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

you can't believe everything you read. it is an incumbent responsibility to cross-check anything that "makes a difference" to someone before a decision is made or an action is taken.

take it from the experience of an engineer that has the responsibility of keeping the communications of his community up and running.

Harlan Quinn said...

Richd, Akakiwibear, what is it that goes to hell and why is it justified?
your model doesn't seem to be consistent with any rational justification of any kind of eternal damnation.

Since we are bounded rationally, and you say our soul/spirit is a combination of components, including the body which as material and biological limitations that can't be or shouldn't be excluded from consideration, decrease the force of any justification to send us to eternal damnation.

How do you know that Athiests, because they make us such a small population are not mentally incompetent to believe in god?
Why couldn't it be that we have "silent" strokes that cut off the blood to the part of our brains that control that belief?

then just like mentally ill, we are not competent, and go to heaven anyway.

AT that point, the whole model of sprit/sould whatever is irrelevant.

you can only keep going back to scripture to try to make sense of this but obvservational data DISCONFIRMS IT.

Harlan Quinn said...

All the science has done is provided simulated REs. They have not addressed genuine REs other than to show where and bio-chemically how in the the brain they may manifest.
how can you tell the difference?
It may very well be thats all there is. you are comparing thier data to something you don't understand and calling it insufficient.

that my friend is bias pure and simple.

show me a place where people are using the scientific method to look for the soul or spirit, and where the research is taking them in another direction from neuroscience.

Harlan Quinn said...

most of the relief from suffering in the past 150 years comes from the work resulting from the scientific method.

It is the best method so far at minimizing suffering, and obtaining knowledge.

Harlan Quinn said...

So in the afterlife, why would you not be held accountable for an action that you had full knowledge of being the wrong choice, but made no effort to follow?
because people are cognitively bound by the physical properties of their brains, and knowing that "component failure" in a system cannot be excluded as a cause of poor performance.

What causes intent?
it can be manipulated by a surgeon. Therefore it can fail.
Judging someones intent presumes a perfect knowledge of the system.

To say that god does have perfect knowledge, and the system works perfectly, so the intention is flawed therefore punishment is justified presumes too much and is dependent, as akakiwibear pointed out, on scripture on whose accuracy is domonstrably questionable in principle and in verification.

look people that are determined to be harmful should be constrained but not because we judge their intentions, but because we assess the likelihood that they will "perform poorly" in the future.

If putting them in prison for two years will change their behavior, and we know that brains must and do change thier physical structure in order to think, then so be it.

But don't go saying that its any thing magical and moral, its just the brian rewiring itself to make itself more comfortable. Not to placate society.

RichD said...

because people are cognitively bound by the physical properties of their brains, and knowing that "component failure" in a system cannot be excluded as a cause of poor performance.

So your position is that any "poor performance" is always a component failure and for that reason we are never to be held accountable for our actions, only removed from being able to cause further harm until our brains rewire?

Because I realize that we can heve something going on in our brains that impedes us from functioning normally, but not every person is this way. In your article you gave a point of catastrophic failure. And it seems that we can only hope to be in the normal range and not perfect,and I would agree. So I was trying to address those people in that "normal" range that do act with apparent intent because they make plans and goals to fulfill and then carry them out. It's that person that I think should be held fully accountable for their actions.
You'll have to remember also that I don't believe in the heaven/hell model that Christians do. I think there is so much complexity in terms of ones salvation that heaven/hell doesn't come close to resolving it. I don't even like the saved not saved doctrine. Saved implies a past tense, which means it's done and your home free, unless you change later on in life which just means you were never really saved. Sorry I think I'm rambling.

What goes to on to be judged? Our spirit and body are separated at death, they are reunited through resurrection to be bound together forever. It is that resurrected body that lives forever and is ultimately judged for its life. I really doubt that the God would create us as imperfect people without accounting for our mistakes and choices and giving us a way to resolve both. His goal is to save us, not damn us. But for God to be perfect in every way, does he have to be 100% just and 100% merciful at the same time? Because anything less than 100% of either would be imperfect. Am I wronf here?

look people that are determined to be harmful should be constrained but not because we judge their intentions, but because we assess the likelihood that they will "perform poorly" in the future.

Or in other words hate the sin, love the sinner, it sounds the same to me just that yours was longer and more politically correct. ;)

RichD said...

oh Quinnster,(you gave me that one)

then just like mentally ill, we are not competent, and go to heaven anyway.

You must be careful of leaving the door open to me like this. There are days when my homunculus jumos right out of the back seat and takes over. I might unintentionally begin typing things knowing how incometent you might be.;)

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi rich,
I'm not accountable for anything I say from here down because my homunculus is driving.

So I was trying to address those people in that "normal" range that do act with apparent intent because they make plans and goals to fulfill and then carry them out. It's that person that I think should be held fully accountable for their actions.
so you know that "normal" people will commit murder, be terrorists, habitually steal from people, in other words, act "bad"? do normal people normally act bad?
and is it bad enough to be judged for eternity or whatever you think happens to normal people that act bad?
How bad are "normal" people?
Its been my experience that normally, normal people aren't "bad".

Our spirit and body are separated at death, they are reunited through resurrection to be bound together forever. It is that resurrected body that lives forever and is ultimately judged for its life.
wow, you sound as sure as a hindu with a completely different view yet as completely certain.
What do you have to go on? How are you so certain? Where do you come by that? and why don't hindus or jews talk like that?

RichD said...

Hi Quinnster,

I don't know anything but I think that it is possible for normal people to do bad things, and even make mistakes. Do you know that every single person that commits murder is NOT in the normal range you proposed? Every person who has ever commited murder or stole something or lied is in catasrophic failure of the system? No one could be functioning in the normal range and act badly? They all must be in or close to catastrophinc failure? I would be surprised if that is you position. I know lots of people I would consider in a normal range that make mistakes. I think I'm normal(up for debate) and I make mistakes. I make bad choices, not habitually but it can happen. You are also missing that people can be forgiven of their mistakes and bad choices, because lets be frank here we all make mistakes and make bad choices, so you don't have to spend eternity paying the price of your bad choices/mistakes.

What do you have to go on?

Scriptures, and not just the bible. Remember that's one reason Mormons are not considered Christian, we don't hold the bible as the only book of scripture and we believe that it has mistakes and problems.

How are you so certain?

Study and prayer have lead me to a conviction of this conviction.

and why don't hindus or jews talk like that?

The ones I know do talk like that about their own beliefs.

I am still curious to know your answer to this question: But for God to be perfect in every way, does he have to be 100% just and 100% merciful at the same time? Because anything less than 100% of either would be imperfect. Am I wrong here?

Harlan Quinn said...

HI richdster,
I don't know anything but I think that it is possible for normal people to do bad things, and even make mistakes.
agreed
But what do you mean by NORMAL and what do you mean by BAD? And where does intention fit in? we don't intend to make mistakes. We get judged on our intentions don't we, so mistakes really shouldn't be included in any talk of judging bad behavior.

Do you know that every single person that commits murder is NOT in the normal range you proposed?
it depends on what you mean by normal. In my definition of normal people, no normal people don't commit murder. In your world, do normal people commit murder? Normal people go poop, and sneeze, and it happens pretty regularly, making it something normal.
Murder is rare, it doesn't normally happen.
How many sneezes have you seen? How many murders have you seen?
this isn't scientific but I think you get the point.
It seems to me be to a strategy of theists is to exaggerate the degree of "bad" in the world in order to justify a god, and his judgment.

Every person who has ever commited murder or stole something or lied is in catasrophic failure of the system?
you've got several different degrees of BAD behavior mixed up in there mister. Lets not lump them together okay?
some are catastrophic failures of the system, some are not. It depends on the context. Is capital punishment murder? Is joy killing murder? Is shooting the enemey in wartime murder? Is lying to old people to get thier money catastrophic failure? Is lying to old people making them feel better about getting old catastrophic failure?
context, context, context,
we need to resist the urge to oversimplify, because if we do, we are going to wind up saying some crazy things.

Harlan Quinn said...

No one could be functioning in the normal range and act badly?
its not that simple, context, context, context. It seems to me that there is an inverse relationship to being normal and acting badly. The badder you are, the less normal you are. would you agree?

I know lots of people I would consider in a normal range that make mistakes. I think I'm normal(up for debate) and I make mistakes. I make bad choices, not habitually but it can happen.
we don't intend to make mistakes, yet we get judged on our intentions. two different things.

You are also missing that people can be forgiven of their mistakes and bad choices, because lets be frank here we all make mistakes and make bad choices, so you don't have to spend eternity paying the price of your bad choices/mistakes.
not if you don't believe in god do you? I'm going to spend eternity paying for my poor judgement arent' I?

Scriptures, and not just the bible. Remember that's one reason Mormons are not considered Christian, we don't hold the bible as the only book of scripture and we believe that it has mistakes and problems.
How do you know they weren't just made up? They sure seem like it to the majority of people. Most christians think hindu scripture is trash, most hindus think christian scripture is trash, neither of you have a strong enough case to convince the other. Its not that way with fire, cars, vaccinations, aspirin, etc. almost everyone accepts those without much question. Because they are believable, and justifiable, and you don't have to "open yourself" up and spend years waiting for the spirit or whatever.

Study and prayer have lead me to a conviction of this conviction.
you've reinforced your own beliefs just like the muslims and hindus and native americans do, congratulations.

and why don't hindus or jews talk like that? The ones I know do talk like that about their own beliefs.
but what your not saying is that THEY ARE WRONG. Come on Rich.

But for God to be perfect in every way, does he have to be 100% just and 100% merciful at the same time? Because anything less than 100% of either would be imperfect. Am I wrong here?
you are right, and you have just stumbled onto one of the aspects of incohernece in "perfect".
In gods justice, and "all things go for the greater good", their is profound inequity, that usually enjoyed by those people that say "all things go for the greater good".
Its easy to say that when your not the victim of fraud, theft, drunk driver killing your sister, all those out of the ordinary things that don't have the emotional impact day to day as daily study and prayer do.
One mans trash is another mans treasure, and one mans misfortune is another mans gain.
In a gods world, the victim is expected to be happy about being the victim because they are "a tool" for the greater good.
And the victim gets blamed by the righteous because "they probably were doing something they shouldn't be".

Evil is just a label, man, it doesn't really exist. It called reification.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,

But what do you mean by NORMAL and what do you mean by BAD?

I can't say I have a good definition but I was looking at your original post and where you were talking about the two and used those terms. I am trying to make sure I understand you so I can have an effective conversation.

I'll be able to get a little more specific in some areas now.

we don't intend to make mistakes. We get judged on our intentions don't we, so mistakes really shouldn't be included in any talk of judging bad behavior.

I agree we don't intend to make mistakes and that we get judged on our intentions. The only time I would think that mistakes would come into play for judging bad behavior is if the mistake is repeated. At some point you move from mistake to intentional. Once you understand that a behavior is bad or wrong or misguided(pick your poison) and you continue doing it, doesn't that bring intention into the equation?

Murder is rare, it doesn't normally happen.

Agreed, and I'm not even going to say that I know normal people commit murder. But just because it's rare and just because it normally doesn't happen doesn't exclude normal people by your definition from being able to commit murder.

It seems to me be to a strategy of theists is to exaggerate the degree of "bad" in the world in order to justify a god, and his judgment.

If I do this it is unintentional;)
But really though, I realize I am being general and I don't mean to put murder on the same page as lying, but I do believe they are both bad behaviors. I will try to be better at not oversymplifying.

we don't intend to make mistakes, yet we get judged on our intentions. two different things.

Ok they are different but it can be our intentions that make the difference between mistake and on purpose(intent). So I don't see a problem with judging intention because I see it a a difference maker.

not if you don't believe in god do you? I'm going to spend eternity paying for my poor judgement arent' I?

Well now that depends on who you talk to. I can't judge that. You seem like a smart person and well grounded with good intentions. Maybe you just haven't seen or heard that thing or things that will change your mind about God. In LDS theology every single person has to have the chance to accept or reject the gospel. We may be completely wrong and the hindus are right.

Harlan Quinn said...

"Once you understand that a behavior is bad or wrong or misguided(pick your poison) and you continue doing it, doesn't that bring intention into the equation?"
of course,

"Agreed, and I'm not even going to say that I know normal people commit murder. But just because it's rare and just because it normally doesn't happen doesn't exclude normal people by your definition from being able to commit murder."
what I'm arguing is that the definition of normal will include some harmful acts, but the harm is minimal. Lying because you're late for work, or don't want to go to lunch with certain people, or to gain some advantage.
But lying with the intent to harm is not something that normal people do. When they do it, the become outside the norm don't they?
the same with murder, when someone does it, the fall outside the norm.

to me its incoherent to say that sometimes normal people will commit murder, when murdering is not a characteristic you'd attribute to a normal person.

My definition of normal is probabilistic, it contains some potential for harmful behavior, but when the behavior falls outside the range of behaviors we would attribute to a normal person, at that point they have had a "breakdown" in the sytem, and that "breakdown" needs to be investigated to see if it can be fixed.

If something thinks that putting a tumor-created-pedophile in prison for two years will activate the emotioanl signalling he needs to control himself when he gets out let them put in the same neighborhood as thier kids, but I wouldn't let my kids any where near him until he gets the tumor out.

Likewise, if a preachers wife kills him with a shotgun, something has broken down in her. If your teen starts habitually taking drugs, something has broken down in him/her, yada, yada, yada.

Evil seems to be cumulative. At what point does someone "become evil"? When they reach the point that they are doing things with the intent to harm?
Normal people don't do things with the intent to harm do they?

Harlan Quinn said...

"So I don't see a problem with judging intention because I see it a a difference maker."
okay, but where did the intention come from? Look at the diagram, a doctor can INSTILL an intention in a person. It can be artificially created. It has a biological base. Looking for where that intention came from is what is important, not just saying they are evil and should spend five years in prison. Chances are thats not going to do squat.

Normally, unless i'm mistaken about this, people that go to prison get out and go back. They are not fixed. Call them evil if you want, but you might as well call a dog that bites every chance it gets evil too. Either the dog has a disease or its afraid. I know because my dog has a disease that makes him afraid of his own shadow, but he'll make you think he's going to tear your throat out. We give him shots every month, but to get him not to bark at a specific someone takes conditioning with time and treats and repetition.

"We may be completely wrong and the hindus are right."
if the hindus are right, you're screwed, but fortunately not as screwed as if the christians or muslims are right. And if the atheists are right, no one is screwed if they are not screwed on earth. Thats why we have to get over judging and labels and fix the causes to make the world a better place now, instead of throwing up our hands and saying "its evil and out of our control, all we can do is give it to god and hope for the best".

Richd, theists sometimes fallback, as you have, on the old, "I don't know if I'm right or not but..." and then talk about justifying the existence, and labeling, and consequences of evil people. If they don't know if they are right or not, they have no justification for judging, labeling or their plan for dealing with the consequences.

They don't know period, should admit it, and start rolling their sleeves up to learn about the "system" so they can fix it. In my opinion, religious people should be the scientists. Science should fundamentally confirm religious belief, but it actually does the opposite. When you know how something works, they mystery goes away, but at least you know where to begin to fix it.

If we don't treat "evil people" as "malfunctioning people", and treat the disease, instead of the symptoms, then "evil" is never going to be eradicated. As long as people see "evil" as an object, or a thing, instead of a cumulative category indicative of a failure in a system, then we're never going to understand it or be able to deal with it.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,
Normal people don't do things with the intent to harm do they?

You are probably right, but I just think that because someone does something that normally doesn't happen, doesn't have to put them with a system failure that makes them no longer normal. It may be rare, in fact I'm certain its rare, but not out of the question, in my mind.

It can be artificially created.

Yes it can but you seem to want to say that because it can be artificially created none of us can be held accuntable for actions.

Normally, unless i'm mistaken about this, people that go to prison get out and go back.

Our prison system is seriously flawed. I don't label people as evil, I think people do evil things, but there is no way I can tell if a person is evil or not.

And if the atheists are right, no one is screwed if they are not screwed on earth.

Based on my observations that doesn't leave many people not screwed. ;) You remember I linked you some time ago to the LDS ideas about after life and even you aren't as screwed from that perspective as Christians would have you believe.

theists sometimes fallback, as you have, on the old, "I don't know if I'm right or not but..."

Actually I didn't fall back on I don't know if I'm right or not, I stay with I am pretty convinced of being right but I'll leave open the idea that I am wrong, and that is the same thing I have heard John and several others say, don't remember if you have said it or not, repeatedly talking about it being a better position.

They don't know period
That depends on what you are talking about.

In my opinion, religious people should be the scientists.

Plenty are, but not everyone can be a scientist. I can do my best to learn about a broad range of things, which I think I do a decent job. But I don't agree that science always disonfirms religious beliefs. Take the LDS Word of Wisdom for example. Would you say that smoking, drinking, and drugs are not harmful to us? Even though science says that a glass of wine a day is good for you, some people can't stop at a glass, so the best defaalt is none and find that benefit from another souce. The tobacco industry had scientists on their side saying that smoking didn't cause cancer, according to an article I just read about a week ago. And even drugs that are helpful to us can have very harmful side effects. My daughter is a prime example of cough medicine gone wrong. Do I blame medical science? No. Do I think that cough medicine is evil? No. The doctor made his recommendation based on the best information he had available to him at the time and it turned out really bad. While science may not confirm the flood or miracles or the exsistance of God, it does confirm beliefs.

If we don't treat "evil people" as "malfunctioning people", and treat the disease, instead of the symptoms, then "evil" is never going to be eradicated. As long as people see "evil" as an object, or a thing, instead of a cumulative category indicative of a failure in a system, then we're never going to understand it or be able to deal with it.

I agree with you. Putting someone in prison might work as a reminder if they self correct, and that does happen sometimes. But if it doesn't we have to do more to help them. We put so much emphasis on the bad that we are forgetting that we also have good consequences for good actions and one of the best things for making alot of people happier and better is service. Also confirmed by science(I wish I could find the article I'm am remebering about this) and that is central to the life of Christ-Service.

I have more to say about the justice/mercy comment I made before but it will have to wait because I rambled on a little too long.

RichD said...

I almost forgot I also have a discover article you will be interested in but again I spent more time then I intended with the last post so I better get some work done first.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi richd, post the link, i'm intersted.
thanks

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
Yes it can but you seem to want to say that because it can be artificially created none of us can be held accountable for actions.
no, I'm sorry if I'm giving you that impression.
I'm saying that it is evident that we do not have 100% control of our actions. Therefore, the type of judgment that Christianity promotes cannot be morally justified. In a nutshell, we are only partially accountable for our actions. That is my position for the record.

whether you admit it or not, you and I and everyone DEPEND on a network of biological signaling going on in our brains. If your brain tells you to be afraid you will be.

Someone in my family has panic disorder. They become afraid when they "exceed their stress threshold". Just like a machine that exceeds its tolerance, they break down.
Periodically, I have to comfort them and talk them down. I have bi-polar people in my family. Their behavior is very erratic. One moment they intend harm with insults, one moment they don't and are remorseful.

Pregnant women are famous for cravings, so are addicts. There is a context of environmental stimulus that will INFLUENCE or IMPEDE your free will.

Your consciousness is at the mercy of the physiological infrastructure of your brain.

You remember I linked you some time ago to the LDS ideas about after life and even you aren't as screwed from that perspective as Christians would have you believe.
but how do you know that?
was there any two person integrity on the LDS scriptures? Why can't you accept the bible on the same grounds you accept LDS scriptures, or disregard LDS scriptures for the same criteria that you disregard the bible?

Where are the original texts? How convenient they went missing.

don't remember if you have said it or not, repeatedly talking about it being a better position.
my position is agnostic, and I behave as if there is no god in my speech and actions. That is why I qualify as an atheist.

If god would correspond with me as you are, I'm open to that. Its as open as I get. If Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu, Brama, Shiva or Mazda can't work with that, its an unfortunate circumstance.

Plenty are, but not everyone can be a scientist.
Then why aren't they all the same religion as you?
If you're right, surely the majority of them would agree with you. Instead, they are just as divided, and even less religious than the normal population. Someone said 40% believe in a god, fine, 60% don't and that 40% that do believe are atheists with respect to each other. Islamic scientists are atheistic with respect to christian, Hindu or what have you.

Harlan Quinn said...

Look at that block in the functional block diagram handling intent.
a surgeon or a seizure can influence at least two brain areas that influence desire, need, and consequently, intention.

lets look at some environmental stimuli that affect our desire and intentions.
- Most people get nauseous when they smell vomit
- Most people do not want to eat poop
- Most people do not want to eat raw meat
- Most people do not get addicted to alcohol
- Most animals including people do not get sexually attracted to a relative, its biological

- Some Asians are "allergic" to alcohol, so they don't have a choice in becoming alcohol addicted
- Most people don't have a choice whether they throw up in the presence of vomit or not
- Most people do not have a choice on whether poop is appetizing, and will get sick if they eat it
- Some people, like me, are disgusted by rare meat, and do not like the taste of blood.

- These are verifiable NEGATIVE INFLUENCES on our free will. If we do them anyway, we really have to have a extraordinary intent. So most people don't do those things that they are predispositioned against, and no one complains about it infringing on our "God Given Free Will". In fact, its justifiable because most of those things minimize harm.

Now lets look at the seven deadly sins. There are no biological inhibitors for those babies, in fact we seem to be wired to prefer them, so in effect, the game is rigged for us to do things that send us to hell but not to eat poop, or vomit.

To say that this situation supports Divine Judgment is just incoherent.

RichD said...

Hey HQ, link as promised
Here is the one I was thinking about. Zoning out being an important mental state.

But since you said this, "Now lets look at the seven deadly sins. There are no biological inhibitors for those babies," I thought this might be relevant. Particularly glutony which appears to have a biological inhibitor, being less sensative to dopamine's rewarding effects.

RichD said...

In a nutshell, we are only partially accountable for our actions.

That does clear it up thanks. That's pretty close to my understanding of accountability. I also think that we talk so much about acountable for bad things that we tend to forget that the whole picture includes being accountable for good things also and recieving rewards for good. That is also just. Usually God's justice is mentioned when Christians are talking how we are all doomed and deserve to burn in hell. Where is that same justice that says we do good things and should be rewarded for them? Is justice only one sided? I say nay.
But for God to be 100% just he would have to give a consequence for each action both good and bad, even missing one is less than 100%. So now I ask you, how can God show any mercy at all if he is required by his own perfect state to be 100% just?

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
So now I ask you, how can God show any mercy at all if he is required by his own perfect state to be 100% just?
that is a great question and I ache to see your answer to it.

My answer is "its a fallacy".
Gods have not been shown to exist, and neither has perfection.

God are like the higgs-boson (the god particle) or string theory its just an unproven hypothesis, no matter much it would explain if it were true.

Its like saying,

thomas: "If superman depends on a yellow sun for his superpowers, what happens to him when he's flying between solar systems"?

judas: "he'd die"

Paul: "no he wouldn't because he didn't!"

RichD said...

Hi HQ,

My answer to my own question is the atonement. I also say this knowing that you don't believe in God and knowing what you think about the atonement. That is something the atonement made possible, it gives God the ability to have justice completely fulfilled while allowing him to be merciful. If we repent of our sins, the justice has already been fulfilled by Christ so God can fully forgive the transgression without the need for added punishment. You don't have to use the atonement, free agency, but it is available for all. Without the atonement it is impossible to have a perfect God.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
I'm trying to understand your answer to your question, so below I've tried to "unpack" it for closer inspection.

would you mind correcting and filling in the missing pieces please?
=====
God shows mercy
and is 100% justice
because he is required by, or is a consequence of his perfect state

Gods perfect state depends on the atonement.

* The atonement is defined as _________________

* Mercy is defined as _________________

* The atonement is merciful because _____________

* The atonement is 100% Just because ____________

* Justice is defined as ____________________

if we repent of our sins
AND
the atonement has been done
There is no need for added punishment

* Normally there is a need for punishment because _________________

* Normally punishment for our sins is ___________________

* Our sins are described as _________________

* Repenting of our sins is not sufficient to fulfill the criteria for punishment because _________________

But the atonement is not necessary in all cases for example, Free Agency.

* Free Agency is defined as __________________.

* The atonement is not necessary in cases of Free Agency because ___________.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,

Yes I would be happy to unpack this for you. You might have to give me some time since today is busy right now, but that could change with any luck.

Harlan Quinn said...

take your time, your the only one at the bar.
while your thinking, i'm going to practice juggling.
no really,
i'm not kidding...

Harlan Quinn said...

Since this "unpacking" is outside the scope of the original article, would you mind if I take my "unpacking" comment and turn it into a post called "unpacking the atonement" or something and we continue it there?

RichD said...

Sure make a post about it. I will put the unpacking in my google docs so I can be ready to post it in the comments when you get it ready. Although you might already be ready to post it. Well either way that sounds good. Hope you had a good weekend.

RichD said...

I was yo yoing while you were juggling. I need my duncan though

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
welcome back!
I hope you had a great christmas!
I'll post the "unpacking" by wednesday.

RichD said...

Hi HQ,
Just in case I can't get back on here before the new year begins, I'll make sure you have this toast on your mind for the new year, it's been my favorite for several years now.

May the best of today be the worst of tommorrow!

With that said, I'll be working more on unpacking, and I do plan on beginning with that post on wednesday, but stranger things have happened. My work internet filter doesn't let me into google docs, wierd, but I can get to fantasy football on cbs sports which should filter out under games, like the other fantasy sports sites do. OK done rambling, take care.

Harlan Quinn said...

Hi Richd,
no problem. take your time, we have as long as we want.
I really do hope you have great holiday and new year.

I'll get the unpacking post up in the next few days, I've been busy with 'background processes'.

Try working with Google sites. It has the capability to work like a simple version of google docs. Just create a site, log in and create a page. It just takes a minute to get to the point where you're creating your document.

I used it like google docs for a while until I started playing with google docs spreadsheets and presentations.

alternately try looking for some other online document services. Microsoft Office has office live or some such thing.

I'm sure google docs and office live aren't the only games in town. I'd bet a soda on it.

*:o)

RichD said...

Its just wierd to find what things get filtered and what doesn't. When all else fails I save it as a draft in an email then I can copy paste back to the comments. I'll find something that works. I did have a good holiday thanks, I hope you did too.

 

served since Nov. 13, 2009