Can Science Rule Out God?

Theology, Religious Studies, religion, god, faith and other topics of a spiritual nature.

Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 9th, 2020, 4:03 pm 

David -

Well, under our current science, yes, it pretty much can.


Pretty much?

Everything is matter or energy, two sides of the same coin, so "non-material source" makes no sense.


Absolutely, energy/matter.

Energy can't be created or destroyed so would you say therefore energy is the source? If everything is energy/matter there can only be one energy. And if it hasn't been created by anything then...
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby davidm on January 9th, 2020, 6:09 pm 

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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 9th, 2020, 8:00 pm 

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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 10th, 2020, 8:28 am 

My gut tells me that there is a God, but I see too many unanswered (unanswerable?) questions to feel sure about that. I know that there has always been something, and can't have ever been absolute nothingness... but what is the essence of that something? I used to believe that it was consciousness – which to me meant that everything is in essence consciousness, and my own mind is in some way or another just a limited region of the perfect infinite overall. But the physical monists have me confused now. Can consciousness pop into and then later entirely out of existence - being only an epiphenomenon for example? That doesn't sound right, but I'm shaky on it. If it can, then the something that continues infinitely is physical in essence. There probably isn't a God then, it's just us mere mortals.

As to the question of what might be able to either prove or disprove the existence of God, I guess scientific research might eventually. Or maybe more sophisticated computer simulations and mathematical proofs. That's why I think Alpert is right in wanting to prioritize funding for "advanced telescopes and other scientific instruments." Not sure why he singled out telescopes, though; I would think instruments essential to investigating the origins of life rather than the Universe might be more useful at this point in time.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 10th, 2020, 10:42 am 

Burbank -

I know that there has always been something, and can't have ever been absolute nothingness... but what is the essence of that something?


That's just it. There has always been this notion of something 'other' and only very foolish people pooh-pooh it.

When you say you know there's always been something rather than nothing, is that your own feeling or a scientific statement?

The God thing has always fascinated people and it's been pursued by the intellect in terms of logic, reason, philosophical discourse, and all the rest of it.

But the intellect will never discover it because it can only operate in its own area which is basically words. If one comes to think of it, that's all we've done, used words to try to fathom something way beyond anything the mind can conceive.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby davidm on January 10th, 2020, 1:53 pm 

Well, it’s hard to know how to respond to the last few posts. For example, Charon links to Kaku’s take on “god” — but again, it is Spinoza’s “god,” which, as we have seen from his own words, is not “intelligent” in a literal sense, has no will, no personality, and creates nothing at all — it merely manifests itself in the order of nature.

T. Burbank thinks Alpert is right, we should have more telescopes, instruments, etc., to discover “god” — yet totally ignores my logical rebuttal of these ideas I offered upthread. It’s as if I never wrote them! Also, Swartz’s modal logical rebuttal even of Spinoza’s “god” goes — ignored.

Socrat, of course, who started this thread, has ignored everybody — has not even had the courtesy to respond to a request that he define what he means by “god.”

If no one wants to actually discuss in a discussion board, what is the point of continuing … discussion?
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby TheVat on January 10th, 2020, 2:57 pm 

One reason I moved this to Religion was that it seemed that many posts were expressing the urge to explore feelings, or what the gut was saying, more than take on modal logic.

My gut is rather inarticulate and confines it's remarks to "do NOT eat any more legumes today" and "any more fried food and I will rain hell down upon you. "
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 10th, 2020, 3:16 pm 

David -

Socrat rarely replies. English isn't his first language and I think his posts probably serve more as discussion points. He probably ought to try a bit harder, though. It's also possible he simply doesn't feel equal to it.

Regards Kaku, I just thought it was somewhat ironic that someone who actually does think there's 'something else' should be used to justify the invention line. At least, I think that's what was happening. Sorry if I'm wrong on that.

T. Burbank thinks Alpert is right, we should have more telescopes, instruments, etc., to discover “god”


Well, quite, but, from reading Burbank's posts, I doubt if he'd take that line. I think he's got the right feeling about all this. That's certainly my impression.

If no one wants to actually discuss


Oh, I'll discuss. I'm quite good at this one! I've been at it for years. How do you want to approach it?
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 10th, 2020, 9:36 pm 

charon » January 11th, 2020, 12:42 am wrote:When you say you know there's always been something rather than nothing, is that your own feeling or a scientific statement?

I think we know that logically, don't we? Didn't Parmenides say it first? If there is something now, there has to have always been something. Something cannot have come into existence out of nothing. And by "nothing" I don't mean relative nothingness but of course absolute nothingness – a concept that is said to be impossible to grasp, but which I think we can know generally where it leads to when we start subtracting things from what there is. We can't of course talk about it correctly, because that is treating it as a something. But I think an inkling of what is meant comes through anyway, even if to try to talk about it is strictly speaking absurd. So… absolute nothingness means there are no stars, no planets, no dark matter or energy, no quarks, no elementary particles or forces, no electrical charge, no space, no mentality. Not even a vacuum "where" all of this stuff in reality does exist. And I would like to add that this will be the case for eternity, except that to say that would also be absurd because there is of course no time either.

I think logically we know that if there is something now there can't have "ever been" nothing. Because there would have been no reason/way for anything to come out of "that" nothing. I guess this must be an example of Kant's synthetic a priori knowledge.


TheVat » January 11th, 2020, 4:57 am wrote:My gut is rather inarticulate and confines it's remarks to "do NOT eat any more legumes today" and "any more fried food and I will rain hell down upon you. "

I knew I shouldn't have used that term...
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby socrat44 on January 10th, 2020, 10:52 pm 

[quote="davidm » January 10th, 2020, 1:53 pm"]
#
[quote="TheVat » January 10th, 2020, 2:57 pm"]
#
[quote="charon » January 10th, 2020, 3:16 pm"]

My opinion
If some intellect created material nature ( physical, chemical, biological )
then it / she / he somehow used physical and mathematical laws, formulas.
Therefore all debates about god (s) / religion without physical and mathematical
laws, formulas . . . are tautology.
The starting point is question: ''How did the universe begin?''
And this ''point'' is very big (enormous) and filled with many speculations.
My opinion that material nature began from zero vacuum: T=0K and
there are many theories and facts about the structure of T=0K
==========
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 11th, 2020, 4:59 am 

davidm » January 11th, 2020, 3:53 am wrote:... but again, it is Spinoza’s “god,” which, as we have seen from his own words, is not “intelligent” in a literal sense.

Have we truly seen that from his own words, David? His own words like "God is a thinking thing", who "can think an infinite number of things in infinite ways"? Because it seems reasonable to me to doubt that Spinoza is talking metaphorically here, as you claim that he is. Of course to discuss this more knowledgeably I would have to have read The Ethics from cover to cover, carefully. Which I haven't. Have you, by the way?

T. Burbank thinks Alpert is right, we should have more telescopes, instruments, etc., to discover “god” — yet totally ignores my logical rebuttal of these ideas I offered upthread.

Using better telescopes to "discover" God? Do you really think that's what I was saying?


It’s as if I never wrote them!

More like as if you did write them and we ended up disagreeing on the issue. Which seems perfectly fine, isn't it? Great minds don't have to agree on everything.


I actually don't have dog in this "there is/is not a God" debate. I know for sure that there is a T. Burbank; that's enough. I am interested in the nature and origins of the world around me, though, and so I'm all for increased funding of scientific research aimed at uncovering more about it. And if that has to be paid for by raising taxes on everyone richer than me, then so be it.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 11th, 2020, 11:11 am 

Burbank -

Sorry, you might have to be a bit patient with this.

My trouble is I don't know anything about nothing. As you say, there's the relative nothing - a thing, or what there is in its absence, which we call nothing, and some absolute nothingness which, presumably, is the absence of absolutely everything.

I suppose we ought to mean the absence of all things but I doubt if anyone knows what 'all things' are. So I'm a bit stuck when discussing nothing or nothingness.

The word 'thing' is interesting. It originally meant an assembly. The Icelandic word for their parliament is Althing, which I think is hilarious.

So perhaps we're reduced to consciousness - our consciousness. When we're unconscious we're not aware of anything, nor do we know we're not aware, which is completely useless. So I wouldn't start there, I'd start with what we do know.

We're conscious of things around us and also our own being. The body, our thoughts and feelings, and different states of consciousness. We could run through a whole list and still not include everything possible so, again, I don't know what to do with this.

Is our consciousness limited? I'd say it was. I'd say we're not aware of everything outwardly. In fact, our awareness probably doesn't extend beyond our immediate environment, like the room we're in and noises off.

Internally there's more to it. We might be aware of what's happening in the world second-hand in terms of knowledge but that too is very limited. Then there are all our thoughts... We could go through all that and it would still be a very partial, limited phenomenon in which we're enclosed. And everyone's enclosed in their own bubble.

So is there anything else? Can we break out of this limitation? And, if we did, would we be conscious of anything that might be there?

You see my problem, I hope!
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 11th, 2020, 11:18 am 

Socrat44 -

What is T=0K?

I think you mean a temperature of absolute zero. Does that exist?
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby TheVat on January 11th, 2020, 2:03 pm 

Only if there's no matter, since T is just average kinetic energy.

There is always an argument to be made, going back to Descartes Demon, for epistemological doubts on the part of finite humans. And science can hardly be saddled with the task of elimination of all epistemological doubt. It's certainly able, paired with technology, to extend the range of our senses and our ability to measure invisible fields and forces, but we have no innate understanding of how great the scope of such instrumental enhancement could be or what could be a property that cannot be measured. If you enhance the senses of a mole with billions of dollars of equipment would it then understand everything?
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 11th, 2020, 3:49 pm 

So I think socrat's opinion, then, is that everything material came from nothing. Okay, he belongs to that camp.

The trouble with opinions, of course, is that that's all they are.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby socrat44 on January 12th, 2020, 2:43 am 

charon » January 11th, 2020, 11:18 am wrote:
What is T=0K?
I think you mean a temperature of absolute zero. Does that exist?

The T=0K exists but its surface is hidden under different
vacuum's fluctuations like CMB (2,73K) radiation

TheVat » January 11th, 2020, 2:03 pm wrote:Only if there's no matter, . . .

1 - There's no chemical-matter in T=0K but
in the ''vacuum sea'' there are Dirac's
''negative virtual particles'' (-E=Mc^2)
Book:
''Stephen Hawking'' By Michael White and John Gribbin.
''Although we are used to thinking of empty space as containing
nothing at all, and therefore having zero energy, the quantum
rules say that there is some uncertainty about this. Perhaps each
tiny bit of the vacuum actually contains rather a lot of energy.
If the vacuum contained enough energy, it could convert this
into particles, in line with E-Mc^2. ''
/ Pages 147-148 /
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 12th, 2020, 5:01 am 

So even a vacuum is not completely empty. I think we knew that. Science has been saying for long time that there's no such thing as literally nothing.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby socrat44 on January 12th, 2020, 6:06 am 

charon » January 12th, 2020, 5:01 am wrote:So even a vacuum is not completely empty.
I think we knew that.
Science has been saying for long time that there's no such thing as literally nothing.

Yeah,
“‎In modern physics, there is no such thing as “nothing.”
Even in a perfect vacuum, pairs of virtual particles are constantly
being created and destroyed. The existence of these particles
is no mathematical fiction. Though they cannot be directly observed,
the effects they create are quite real. The assumption that they exist
leads to predictions that have been confirmed by experiment to
a high degree of accuracy.”
/ Richard Morris /
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 12th, 2020, 10:53 am 

Charon –

I'm not sure if I understand all of what you are saying. Absolute nothingness would exclude consciousness, too. It excludes "all things," even though as you say we don't know what all things (going even beyond Iceland's politicians) are.

Hard to wrap a head around it – the concept of absolute nothingness. But of course there is no such "state" anyway. The fact that there is anything existing at all precludes it. We know that there has to have always been and always will be something.

But my question is – has there always been consciousness? I used to think that there has to have been, but I'm not so sure anymore. It depends on what the nature of consciousness is. Is it merely an epiphenomenon of physical interactions among neurons in the brain? I doubt that, but am not confident that I can rule it out completely.

But if we suppose that there has always been (and so always will be) consciousness, that seems to have some strange implications. First, it would seem to mean that there was consciousness even before the origin of organic life on Earth. Second, it would seem to mean that even if/when all life on Earth goes extinct, consciousness will continue to exist.

Pretty hard to conceive of these things, they sound flat out insane. But I don't think the simple fact that they sound insane is enough to prove that consciousness is just an emergent property of the brain. It could mean instead that we need a new understanding of what consciousness is….

(Just spitballing here; don't quote me on any of this stuff, I haven't thought it through much and I'm probably overlooking some important facts that change everything).

I'd start with what we do know....

In fact, our awareness probably doesn't extend beyond our immediate environment, like the room we're in and noises off.

Internally there's more to it. We might be aware of what's happening in the world second-hand in terms of knowledge but that too is very limited.

But strictly speaking, if you want to start with what we absolutely know, for 100 percent certain… then our awareness really doesn't extend beyond our own perceptions, which we can only assume to be telling us of an actually existing immediate environment. I like the way Hume put it:

"We never really advance a step beyond ourselves, nor can conceive any kind of existence but those perceptions, which have appear'd in that narrow… universe of [our] imagination."


Are we all enclosed in our own bubbles? I guess it could be something like that. "Monads," maybe. If there is a "we" (because strictly speaking even that is something that no individual is able to be absolutely certain of; we all just assume that other people are conscious beings essentially the same as we are).

You ask "Can we break out of this limitation?" by which I guess you mean move beyond our own individual bubbles. Well, assuming that we are all in fact in such bubbles, then I hope we are bridging the gaps between them to a certain extent already, whenever we communicate honestly to each other.

But I don't know what it would mean if I were to break out through the membrane of my bubble to direct contact with whatever might be beyond it. Is that what happens when we die? And is dying the only way to do that? Anyway, it would presumably be the permanent end of life as I have known it until now. Not sure I really want that yet, but ultimately I do….

Just a couple of really abstract thoughts on how things sometimes seem to me from my limited perspective. Not sure what they're worth, if anything.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 12th, 2020, 1:08 pm 

Burbank -

I'm not sure if I understand all of what you are saying.


Actually, that's a very good start :-)

the concept of absolute nothingness.


That's why I don't want to deal with it. We can only deal with things we can talk about. There may be absolute nothingness but it's speculative.

But my question is – has there always been consciousness? I used to think that there has to have been, but I'm not so sure anymore. It depends on what the nature of consciousness is. Is it merely an epiphenomenon of physical interactions among neurons in the brain? I doubt that, but am not confident that I can rule it out completely.


Yes, was there ever a beginning to consciousness?

First, what do we mean by consciousness? 'To be conscious of' means to know and be aware, both. It's not just a sensory awareness - a burglar alarm can do that - it also means knowing what one's aware of. It's the knowing bit that's interesting.

If we were unconscious, as after an operation, and then begin to wake up, the first thing is recognition right? We'd begin to be aware, not just of a room but that we were in a room. Then the realisation that we'd just had an operation... and so on.

All that is consciousness. And, after we'd fully woken up, we'd be happily back to 'me' with all its memories, outward recognitions, knowledge, comprehension, etc, etc, with a big smile.

And then we ask 'What is consciousness?' as though it were some strange external phenomenon :-)

So consciousness objectifies itself and wants to understand itself. Why? Why is it a mystery to itself?

But if we suppose that there has always been (and so always will be) consciousness, that seems to have some strange implications. First, it would seem to mean that there was consciousness even before the origin of organic life on Earth. Second, it would seem to mean that even if/when all life on Earth goes extinct, consciousness will continue to exist.

Pretty hard to conceive of these things, they sound flat out insane.


Not at all. There may be no beginning to consciousness. But I think we have to be clear what we mean. Are there a lot of distinct, separate consciousnesses or just consciousness as a whole? Our consciousness is only what we know at any time. It's constantly changing, being updated by experience, new discoveries - but it may be just a case of plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

We can go round and round, everything changing, individually and en masse, but isn't it just the same phenomenon all the time? Our knowledge may change but it's still knowledge. The content of our thoughts may change but it's still just thought.

And all that is the world, isn't it? The history of man is the history of this changing consciousness. And it goes round and round eternally yet stays the same...

So is there an end to this movement? Can the restless seas become calm and stop?

That, I'm quite sure, is what we're all searching for, because then we discover what is not of the world, call it by any name we like.

Are we all enclosed in our own bubbles?


We are, and will be, unless there's a going beyond of that state.

But I don't know what it would mean if I were to break out through the membrane of my bubble to direct contact with whatever might be beyond it. Is that what happens when we die?


That's it, we don't know, which is why any speculation by consciousness of what lies beyond itself is futile. So it may exactly mean death - death of the bubble which is 'me'.

But that 'me' may not be a fixed thing, it may only exist in its identification with various things, like 'my job, my money, my car, my wife'. It may have no life of its own at all. In other words, it may just be an invented psychological phenomenon. Try saying 'the job, the car, the money, the wife' and see what happens :-)

Anyway, it would presumably be the permanent end of life as I have known it until now. Not sure I really want that yet, but ultimately I do….


The death of 'me' doesn't mean physical death, it just means the end of consciousness as we know it. But, apart from outward recognition, the right use of knowledge, and so on, what else is there?

All our problems are contained in this consciousness. Our consciousness is all our hopes, fears and dreams. All our struggles, sorrows and joys are there. Everything we know as living is the activity of ourselves as an acting agency.

When there's no agency there's not a blank, there's something entirely different. But we have to discover what that is, not be told. It may be beyond description. And beyond that there may be an ultimate truth, call it what one will.

Not sure what they're worth, if anything.


They mean everything. Not many people give enough time to these things.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 14th, 2020, 7:29 am 

Charon –

A couple of thoughts in response:

There may be absolute nothingness but it's speculative.

But I think it's important to see that there cannot possibly be, or ever have been, absolute nothingness… because if there had been, then there would still be absolute nothingness (that sentence doesn't really work, of course). I don't think a person can know very many things with total certainty – "I think therefore I am," and certain logical truths like "A cannot both equal and not equal B." And so when we do find something else that we can be totally sure of, we have to treasure it. It's knowledge we can trust, and build on without worrying that it may later fall to pieces beneath us. Kind of hard to understand how we can be so sure of this fact, though – that there has to have always been something. It doesn't seem to be a tautology, and it's not empirical. I guess it's just a self-evident truth. And of course there are people who say that we can't be sure that it's true.

First, what do we mean by consciousness? 'To be conscious of' means to know and be aware, both... It's the knowing bit that's interesting.

Yes, I agree – the knowing bit is the interesting part that makes the big difference.

If we were unconscious, as after an operation, and then begin to wake up, the first thing is recognition right? We'd begin to be aware… And then we ask 'What is consciousness?' as though it were some strange external phenomenon.

You obviously want to break consciousness down into its parts and stages, and analyze how it works, as precisely as you can. I guess my main interest is something else, so I'm not trying to be so exact when I use the term "consciousness" here. I'm just thinking about mental, non-material reality in contrast to physical, material reality. I really just want to indicate my conscious mind – the actual "me" (in contrast to my physical body, which seems sort of like a cheap rental vehicle that "me" is driving around in (although I love this clunky rust bucket all the same)).

So consciousness objectifies itself and wants to understand itself. Why? Why is it a mystery to itself?

Good questions. I guess the reason I want to understand myself is so that I can live in a way that fits my nature, rather than waste time and energy going against my nature as I so often have. Don't know why I'm a mystery to myself, though. Is it because I have to work my way through this experience with the limited ability to perceive only three dimensions instead of four?

Are there a lot of distinct, separate consciousnesses or just consciousness as a whole? Our consciousness is only what we know at any time. It's constantly changing, being updated by experience, new discoveries - but it may be just a case of plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

I'm not sure if you mean here within oneself, or in the universe as a whole. If it's the former, then yes I am perpetually changing – in detail, for sure, if not in essence. And I think there are distinct, separate parts of consciousness also. Ego state theory provides a model for looking at this that has been really helpful to me.

We are, and will be [enclosed in our own bubbles], unless there's a going beyond of that state.

Of course "bubble" is a metaphor here, since we're talking about a conscious mind and that doesn't have physical dimensions. We're just talking about the fact that my conscious mind is somehow separated from other peoples' conscious minds (and from consciousness overall if there is such a thing, which is presumably where a God could come into the discussion).

But that 'me' may not be a fixed thing, it may only exist in its identification with various things, like 'my job, my money, my car, my wife'. It may have no life of its own at all. In other words, it may just be an invented psychological phenomenon.

But isn't there also a fixed entity in the background, which is identifying the different "me"s with these various things?

When there's no agency there's not a blank, there's something entirely different. But we have to discover what that is, not be told. It may be beyond description.

Well, there could be a blank. I don't think that there will be, but I don't know how to be sure that there won't. But if there is not a blank, then you're right - we don't seem to have any way of knowing about what that would mean from here. Maybe what "we" are dissolves back into the mass consciousness. Maybe the Hindus have it right and we get reincarnated in some way... and there is agency again. Maybe this is just Level 1 of some kind of cosmic video game, and when we reach Level 2 even the poor kids get to drive Lamborghinis….
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 14th, 2020, 2:54 pm 

Burbank -

Absolute nothingness


The word nothing means exactly that: no thing. It's in every dictionary. If everything is energy/matter then is there 'pure' energy, i.e. energy without form?

But science doesn't know what energy is... :-)

You obviously want to break consciousness down into its parts and stages, and analyze how it works, as precisely as you can.


Not really, I was just trying to demonstrate how it arises. It's basically recognition. Recognition is from knowledge and memory, which means we can only experience things we've known before. Therefore nothing in consciousness is new. That's why, for something new to be, one has to be in a state of unknowing.

I'm not trying to be so exact when I use the term "consciousness" here. I'm just thinking about mental, non-material reality in contrast to physical, material reality.


But our mentality is very material. Someone who thinks a lot is materialistic. Anything the brain does is physical, material. It's a physical/material organ. Data storage and retrieval, like that of a computer, is a material process. We can imagine the non-material but that's also a material process!

I really just want to indicate my conscious mind – the actual "me" (in contrast to my physical body, which seems sort of like a cheap rental vehicle that "me" is driving around in (although I love this clunky rust bucket all the same)).


Yes, that's what we're talking about. The 'me' is material. Although we might not care for that idea :-)

Don't know why I'm a mystery to myself, though. Is it because I have to work my way through this experience with the limited ability to perceive only three dimensions instead of four?


No, it's because we find ourselves very hard to understand. We can't step outside ourselves to observe, we're both the observer and the thing observed. The observer of consciousness is part of consciousness. He is that - that's the difficulty.

I'm not sure if you mean here within oneself, or in the universe as a whole. If it's the former, then yes I am perpetually changing – in detail, for sure, if not in essence. And I think there are distinct, separate parts of consciousness also.


I mean in terms of human consciousness. Are we all separate entities or are we all in a general consciousness? We THINK we're separate and distinct because one person's experience, language and background may be dissimilar to another's, but is that so? Actually there's just consciousness, which is what we are. The superficial differences don't make us outside or beyond the consciousness which is us. We're all in it together.

Of course "bubble" is a metaphor here, since we're talking about a conscious mind and that doesn't have physical dimensions. We're just talking about the fact that my conscious mind is somehow separated from other peoples' conscious minds (and from consciousness overall if there is such a thing, which is presumably where a God could come into the discussion).


As above. Yes, 'bubble' is just a metaphor, of course, but it does seem as though each one lives in their own world. But actually we're all connected and related. After all, we all think, we all feel. It's the same process. Separation and distinction is an illusion although there are differences on a simple level.

As for God, that's the point. If God is inside and part of this consciousness then it isn't God, to put it simply. It's an idea we have. The odd thing is that we then worship that idea, which means we're worshipping ourselves. Crazy, really, although I suppose to the believer it's very real.

This, again, is why we have to go outside or beyond this consciousness to find the unknown. Which brings up the interesting dilemma. If we are this consciousness, which we are, how are we to get outside it and find out what there is? We can't. So truth or the unknown is non-discoverable by the one who is conscious.... but there is something there just the same. There's your mystery.

But isn't there also a fixed entity in the background, which is identifying the different "me"s with these various things?


Nope, the identifier is the process of identification. It's a thought process and thoughts come and go. If all thought disappeared entirely would the thinker still exist?

Well, there could be a blank. I don't think that there will be, but I don't know how to be sure that there won't. But if there is not a blank, then you're right - we don't seem to have any way of knowing about what that would mean from here. Maybe what "we" are dissolves back into the mass consciousness


We're back to your reluctance to die. But dying in this sense isn't the death of the body, it's to let everything you know go. Don't speculate on what there might be, do it and see. Just for a moment will do.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby socrat44 on January 16th, 2020, 5:39 am 

charon » January 9th, 2020, 4:03 pm wrote:David -

Well, under our current science, yes, it pretty much can.


Pretty much?

Everything is matter or energy, two sides of the same coin, so "non-material source" makes no sense.


Absolutely, energy/matter.

Energy can't be created or destroyed so would you say therefore energy is the source? If everything is energy/matter there can only be one energy. And if it hasn't been created by anything then...


Classical / Newtonian physics - matter and energy two different stuff.
(describes macro - world)
Quantum physics - mass and energy '' two sides of the same coin ''
((describes micro - world)
===
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby T. Burbank on January 16th, 2020, 6:36 am 

Charon -

If everything is energy/matter then is there 'pure' energy, i.e. energy without form?

At the risk of running this train off the track, let me ask what you think a single electrical charge is. If we have two electrical charges – one positive, one negative – then we can have matter, and its Janus-faced twin energy. But what is the nature of a single, isolated electrical charge itself? I don't think we can say that "everything" is energy/matter; an electrical charge would seem to be something else, although of course necessary to the existence of energy/matter.

Recognition is from knowledge and memory, which means we can only experience things we've known before. Therefore nothing in consciousness is new. That's why, for something new to be, one has to be in a state of unknowing.

Okay, I see what you're getting at. That's interesting. I might object that I learn new things all the time, it's easy. But I think you would say that such things are just variations on already learned patterns, and you're talking about something "truly new." I wonder about that sometimes – is there something else here right in front of me, staring me in the face, and I just don't know how to perceive it?

But our mentality is very material. Someone who thinks a lot is materialistic. Anything the brain does is physical, material. It's a physical/material organ. Data storage and retrieval, like that of a computer, is a material process. We can imagine the non-material but that's also a material process!

I'm talking about qualia for example. Of course thinking involves a physical process in the brain – neurons communicating to other neurons chemically and/or electrically – and the entities involved can ultimately be broken down into molecules, and then even more basically into quarks and electrons. But the thoughts that arise in this process are not physical. I imagine the smile on my wife's face when I give her her birthday present, and that happy smile of hers that I picture in my imagination is not made up of quarks and electrons. Neither is my awareness of the meaning of this sentence, or yours presumably….

The 'me' is material. Although we might not care for that idea.

I don't think of the "me" as material, in the sense of its being made up of elementary physical particles, having a physical location, and being subject to physical forces (my brain is ruled by gravity, but I don't see how my mind is). I don't think the image of people walking around with lightbulbs turned on inside their heads is an accurate way of representing the separation of their individual consciousnesses, or of what happens to their minds when their bodies are moving through physical space.

We THINK we're separate and distinct because one person's experience, language and background may be dissimilar to another's, but is that so? Actually there's just consciousness, which is what we are. The superficial differences don't make us outside or beyond the consciousness which is us. We're all in it together.

… it does seem as though each one lives in their own world. But actually we're all connected and related. After all, we all think, we all feel. It's the same process. Separation and distinction is an illusion although there are differences on a simple level.

If you can be certain of all this, then you are far more advanced than I am. As I noted a couple of posts ago, I am unable to know with 100% certainty that there even are other conscious minds beside my own. I only assume that there are, for reasons such as lifetime learned habit, inference based on the fact that we all have similar bodies that behave similarly, the fact that believing in other minds seems to "work," etc. As far as I am aware, I have never had direct awareness of another person's mind. I've also never read a philosopher who claims to have such awareness, although some do feel justified in their certainty of other minds.

If we are this consciousness, which we are, how are we to get outside it and find out what there is? We can't. So truth or the unknown is non-discoverable by the one who is conscious.... but there is something there just the same. There's your mystery.

I don't know that "there is something there." If you know from your own experience that this is absolutely true, then you are at a higher level than me. And I'm all ears (well… "all eyes" in this medium).
But isn't there also a fixed entity in the background, which is identifying the different "me"s with these various things?

Nope, the identifier is the process of identification. It's a thought process and thoughts come and go. If all thought disappeared entirely would the thinker still exist?

Philosophers like Kant and Husserl talk of there being a "transcendental ego" – hovering timelessly in the background, aware of but aloof from all the thinking of the working level ego. It has seemed to me that they are correct and there is such an entity, but I know I could be mistaken. You are obviously denying that.

We're back to your reluctance to die. But dying in this sense isn't the death of the body, it's to let everything you know go. Don't speculate on what there might be, do it and see. Just for a moment will do.

Well, I have no idea how to do that. Sometimes I do the exercise of trying to not form any thoughts in my mind, and seem to be able to do that for a few seconds or so. No idea how to let everything that I know go, though. How do you do that – for just a moment? And what do you experience when you do?
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby davidm on January 16th, 2020, 10:40 am 

T. Burbank » January 16th, 2020, 4:36 am wrote:At the risk of running this train off the track, let me ask what you think a single electrical charge is.


It is a well-understood physical property of matter.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 16th, 2020, 11:50 am 

Burbank -

I don't think we can say that "everything" is energy/matter


This has been discussed a great deal. Photons, for example, are said not to be material. Also electricity. But, on the whole, most agree that all these things are still energy.

I might object that I learn new things all the time, it's easy


Yes, you're accumulating knowledge, and from that skill.

is there something else here right in front of me, staring me in the face, and I just don't know how to perceive it?


Basically, yes :-)

the thoughts that arise in this process are not physical. I imagine the smile on my wife's face when I give her her birthday present, and that happy smile of hers that I picture in my imagination is not made up of quarks and electrons. Neither is my awareness of the meaning of this sentence, or yours presumably….


All thoughts are 'physical' in the sense they originate in the brain. It's a bio-something-or-other process. If the brain gets damaged the thoughts go funny. As in dementia, for example.

Smiling is a muscular reaction to feelings of pleasure, which is a physical sensation.

Meaning, I agree, is more subtle. But it's still thought. Is there meaning without thought? Meaning implies language, words, sensations, and so on. Obviously it's not grossly physical, like a leg or an arm, but it's nevertheless a psychological process taking place in the brain. It's still within the realm of consciousness.

I don't think of the "me" as material


I know, we don't like that idea. But the 'me' is a thought process and thought is definitely material. If all thought ceases, where are you then? Is there a 'you' at all? There is physically, the body is still there, but there's no sense of self.

I am unable to know with 100% certainty that there even are other conscious minds beside my own


Of course there are, we're communicating now! I am not you, you're not me, yet we can communicate through language and meaning. Our consciousness is shared because we're human.

we all have similar bodies that behave similarly


That's just it, our bodies work the same. Don't our minds also work the same? If you've seen those documentaries about jungle tribes, aren't they just like us? They smile, work, have relationships, just like you and me.

As far as I am aware, I have never had direct awareness of another person's mind


If you're very close to someone and have a certain sensitivity - and we don't need much - don't you pick up on their moods and their thoughts? Twins, for example, are notoriously 'psychic' or in tune with each other.

Funny story - I met two twins once and I said, jokingly, are you psychic with each other? They both responded together - except one said yes and the other said no. It was quite amusing :-)

I don't know that "there is something there."


Perhaps not, although it's more common than one may think, it doesn't make the headlines. But Einstein had it, we know that. Maybe the woman down the road does too, although we'd never know.

Philosophers like Kant and Husserl talk of there being a "transcendental ego" – hovering timelessly in the background, aware of but aloof from all the thinking of the working level ego. It has seemed to me that they are correct and there is such an entity, but I know I could be mistaken. You are obviously denying that.


Forget their theories, they're irrelevant. What matters is that we understand it, not someone else.

I do deny it, but I'm no authority to be quoted. I deny it because, if one examines it, which we can all do, the idea falls apart.

Well, I have no idea how to do that. Sometimes I do the exercise of trying to not form any thoughts in my mind, and seem to be able to do that for a few seconds or so. No idea how to let everything that I know go, though. How do you do that – for just a moment? And what do you experience when you do?


First, there's nothing permanent. This isn't just a quote from Buddhism, it's a simple fact of life. Nothing lasts forever, everything changes. There's life and death, the seasons change, we ourselves are transient and impermanent.

Our problem is that we find it very hard to accept, We want permanency, we want our relationships and pleasures to last indefinitely. And, if we realise nothing around us lasts, we invent a god who is changeless, permanent, absolute, and all that.

But everything changes, it's so.

I can't tell you how to die, there's no formula for it. Put it the other way, we have no trouble holding on. We cling to everything we know, we resist change. When something radically changes, or someone dies, we're shattered, our world comes to an end, the world we've carefully cultivated and invested in.

But anything can happen - war, disease, accident, business failure, anything. And it does, it's there all around us. So, if one understands this, one stops clinging to anything.

It doesn't mean one becomes detached and aloof, or cold and uncaring, quite the contrary. Clinging implies fear, a fear of losing the things we're attached to - people, money, possessions, beliefs, whatever it is. So clinging is fear and fear makes living a nightmare.

So the end of clinging is the end of fear. Some things are necessary, one needs some money and perhaps relationships, and the obvious things like food and shelter, but there's no holding on.

After all, when we die we are forced to let go, there's no arguing with it. A person who has lived their life holding on to everything is going to find that very hard. But the person who understands that lets go easily, without fear.

But we needn't wait till we're at death's door, that would be absurd. We can live that way now. That means great affection, love, warmth, understanding. When one has that there's a great freedom. That's the beauty of it.

So don't ask 'How am I to die?', find out if you're frightened of losing something and ask why. What makes you cling? Is it fear or loneliness? Is it the desire for things to continue as they are at any price?

Death is only a problem is one refuses to let go, that's all. But the person who won't let go is a self-created prisoner and he suffers the consequences of that. But one can quite easily live without all that. If things change, and they always will, then they change. Too bad!

If one understands this factually, in real life, not as some kind of intellectual conclusion, then living is a joyous thing, not a nightmare. Either we live in bondage to ourselves or we don't, it can never be partial.

So one has to examine this carefully, investigate oneself and one's own life. No one is going to do it for us, we're alone in this crazy world.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby TheVat on January 16th, 2020, 2:01 pm 

I tend to see qualia as indicative that there is an inner and outer perspective on neural states, rather than something that is immaterial. "Red" is what, say, "occipital C-fiber firing in response to 650 nm EMF impinging on the retina" is like when processed internally in a neural network. The fact that we could not ever describe "red" to someone who had spent their life in a black-and-white room (like Frank Jackson's "Mary") only means that "red" is the aspect of the perceptive event that is experienced internally. It's a holistic summation of retinal activity and responsive neural circuits firing in a certain synchrony.

It's sort of like "wetness." Looking at a few H20 molecules, there is no "wetness" there, but we don't conclude that wetness is some sort of supernatural immaterial phenomenon. Wetness is simply how a perceiving being built on a macro scale experiences dihydrogen oxide molecules in large numbers, within a certain range of temperatures and pressures.

And then there's consciousness. Like wetness, it's a category of experience that delivers a holistic summation of neural circuits activated in certain ways. It's only mystical because many people have agreed to say that this category of experience is somehow more fundamental than others, and qualitatively different.

And I can understand that. If we had all selected "purposeful" as the most fundamental aspect of experience, then we would believe that our house thermostats were simple manifestations of life. Intuitively, we recognize that that's a mistake and that "purposeful" is not the heart of existence. If we had chosen "hungry" as most fundamental, then we would view house furnaces as simple manifestations of life, as they gobble up natural gas. Again, easy to reject that. So we go for the "what it is like" aspect to be purposeful, or hungry, or seeing red, or smelling a flower. We for for that internal summation of experience that we seem to have and that home heating systems do not.

And there is no way that science could ever rule out some sort of Ultimate Experiencer of What It Is - that's plainly beyond its purview. All science can do is make fairly concrete statements of low probability, e.g. "it is improbable that there is some hidden neural network that permeates all matter/energy in the cosmos, based on what is known of how matter/energy and its fields interact with each other, and what is known about how information is processed in any network." But there are strange things out there, so of course we can't rule out such a cosmic network or an exotic physics that would enable it to work.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 16th, 2020, 7:05 pm 

Quite, there are many things which are impossible to convey to others if they don't know about them. 'Red' is a very good example.

there is no way that science could ever rule out some sort of Ultimate Experiencer of What It Is - that's plainly beyond its purview


Are you referring to the thread's title about God? God wouldn't be an experiencer so science might well rule it out :-)

Actually, I'm not at all sure that 'God', in the sense of something as an origin, is beyond the purview of physics. Ultimately, it would come to that, wouldn't it? Not as an old man on a cloud, but as some kind of timeless origin of everything that exists.

I'd say that was definitely in the realm of physics if it were possible for physics to understand.
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby socrat44 on January 16th, 2020, 10:38 pm 

charon » January 16th, 2020, 7:05 pm wrote:Actually, I'm not at all sure that 'God', in the sense of something as an origin,
is beyond the purview of physics. Ultimately, it would come to that, wouldn't it?
Not as an old man on a cloud, but as some kind of timeless origin of everything that exists.

I'd say that was definitely in the realm of physics
if it were possible for physics to understand.

Nothingness of Space Could Illuminate the Theory of Everything
Could the vacuum contain dark energy, gravity particles, and frictionless gears?
By Tim Folg
''When the next revolution rocks physics, chances are it will be
about nothing—the vacuum, that endless infinite void. ''

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sc ... everything
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Re: Can Science Rule Out God?

Postby charon on January 17th, 2020, 1:57 pm 

But the subject is 'God' as in your thread title. Your post doesn't address that.

An infinite void isn't the same as a possible origin. I know the latest fad is that everything 'came from nothing' but, as many people have pointed out, nothing is nothing and can't produce life.

Mind you, neither can some concept of 'God'. That's not an answer either, that's a superstition.
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