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On the standard of observation...

#21Moorish_Idol(Topic Creator)Posted 2/27/2013 1:36:34 PM
kozlo100 posted...
The trick is that it's a question that is fundamentally unanswerable in this case. I guess sort of what I'm getting at is that we have a fundamentally unanswerable question who's answer would have no effect on anything if it were to be somehow found. I don't know why that question ought to be asked in the first place.

It may be impossible now to guess how we would use that knowledge, but I think it's unfair to presume it would never have a use. I could think of a few philosophical questions that would benefit from the knowledge (such as the mind-body problem), and who knows what other fields could do with it. At the same time, it could have no use at all but to fill that hole in our understanding.

That said, the "unanswerable" part is what my main post was addressing. It is unanswerable using our current standards of what an answer is (is it observable? predictable? etc.). This is why I was wondering if it's possible to have a second standard which we could use to answer questions which are unanswerable by our materialistic standard.
#22kozlo100Posted 2/27/2013 1:49:31 PM
Moorish_Idol posted...
It may be impossible now to guess how we would use that knowledge, but I think it's unfair to presume it would never have a use.


That it cannot have a use arises from the specific case GBA and I were discussing. For the knowledge to be useful, something must be different about our world with one answer than it would be with another. That implies an effect that can be observed as the result of an interaction. Or to put it the other way 'round, if there is no interaction then there can be no effect.

That said, the "unanswerable" part is what my main post was addressing. It is unanswerable using our current standards of what an answer is (is it observable? predictable? etc.). This is why I was wondering if it's possible to have a second standard which we could use to answer questions which are unanswerable by our materialistic standard.


My thinking is that it isn't possible. We are beings inescapably ensconced in a natural material world. How could we possibly gain knowledge about the existence of a thing that is, by definition, wholly unconnected to literally everything it is possible for us to perceive?

I might even go so far as to say that existence isn't even a property that can be meaningfully held in reference to a thing so unconnected from us. Think about what we're trying to say when claiming a deistic god exists. I'm not sure you can actually tease any meaning out of the concept.
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The problem, then, is that if subjective worlds are experienced too differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication. -- Philip K. Dick
#23ThuggernautzPosted 2/27/2013 1:52:58 PM(edited)
You could, but of what use would it be? What does it provide aside from endless, purely hypothetical speculation?

EDIT: Sorry, I was replying to Moorish's post.
#24GBALoserPosted 2/27/2013 3:32:05 PM
kozlo100 posted...
Passive interaction is an awkward phrase, I don't think it actually means anything, but I do think I understand what you're getting at. My brain just tripped over it such that I had to mention it.


Yeah, the right word wasn't coming to me, but you did get my intent: A Creator whose interaction comes from things set in motion prior to the formation of the universe.

If a deity exists that created the universe just so, and then did not interact with it ever again, then knowledge of that deity is important insofar as it is different and distinguishable from other possible causes of the creation event. I'd point out that this is still direct interaction with the natural, even though it is not repeated.

I'm thinking of it like an unobserved historical event. If such an event has no discernible impact such that we can deduce that it did happen, then again, I think we're safe assuming that it didn't. That assumption might be wrong, but it makes no difference if it is.


I was thinking as much. Regardless of how the universe began, it began and is functioning today.

I guess the part that causes me to pause in regards to a Creator is in what we perceive as direct interaction and to what degree. Again, probably beyond human capability to discern.

I might even go so far as to say that existence isn't even a property that can be meaningfully held in reference to a thing so unconnected from us. Think about what we're trying to say when claiming a deistic god exists. I'm not sure you can actually tease any meaning out of the concept.


It would definitely be some sort of existence beyond our capabilities to understand. A finite cannot properly express an infinite.

Moorish_Idol posted...

And people who do this end up looking for confirmation. Yeah, that's a problem. I may myself be guilty in doing that from time to time, although I think the biggest presupposition I make is that God does not interact with us, but ironically that is based on my perception of the natural world. But I guess this brings up another problem: in order to determine how we should observe the supernatural, we must first define what is supernatural, but that requires presumption.

I think some presuppositions are safe though. It is safe to say God would be supernatural, for example.


Yeah, I guess it is necessary to set limits through presupposition. Otherwise we'd be dealing with infinite possibilities. Of course those limits would be variable based on an individual level, as you have expressed yourself. What one would call "natural" based on their perceptions, others would call "supernatural" based on accepted perceptions.

Even that leads into paradoxical territory: Calling something "supernatural" -- as in being above natural understanding and interactions -- yet that something can still interact within natural confines.

This is why I was wondering if it's possible to have a second standard which we could use to answer questions which are unanswerable by our materialistic standard.


And that would be highly subjective as individuals have different degrees of perception. I don't think we'd be able to come up with universally-accepted method to do so. It's like how science and history are in separate fields. Both require physical evidence, but science is based on solid empirical data whereas history is based on interpretation of empirical data. So long as the numbers work in science, the data is valid. In history the data can be the same, but you get differing opinions.
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Every once in a while I realize the human race may be worth saving. Of course, then I come back here, but still, those are good moments. -Readyman
#25Hustle KongPosted 2/27/2013 3:36:43 PM(edited)
English is my third language, so I always welcome corrections. Actually, I think I have been using "in err" in error for many years now.... Phonetic error, if anything, because at least in America they pronounce both the same. But thanks, lol


I think I'd cry if I heard anyone here pronounce them the same. >.<

I'd never have guessed this wasn't your mother tongue. Good job on that!
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Shooting Game never die.
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#26Moorish_Idol(Topic Creator)Posted 2/27/2013 5:07:05 PM
kozlo100 posted...
That it cannot have a use arises from the specific case GBA and I were discussing. For the knowledge to be useful, something must be different about our world with one answer than it would be with another. That implies an effect that can be observed as the result of an interaction. Or to put it the other way 'round, if there is no interaction then there can be no effect.

I'd be willing to agree with that point. But at the same time, I recognize that despite not being able to think of use for the data right now, I don't entirely dismiss the potential usefulness of the data, even if it would be very far into the future or never come up at all.

My thinking is that it isn't possible. We are beings inescapably ensconced in a natural material world. How could we possibly gain knowledge about the existence of a thing that is, by definition, wholly unconnected to literally everything it is possible for us to perceive?

It may come close to being possible, but it would ultimately require people to be willing to not be 100% empirical in their worldview. I don't think that will settle well with a lot of individuals -- I think I would struggle with that too. People apply empiricism universally and if something is unable to be observed empirically then it is dismissed; but I'm proposing that if something can't be observed empirically, we develop another way to approach it. But I do understand what you say as far as it being impossible to perceive and therefore impossible to interpret.

If I'm talking in circles now, let me know. I want to make sure my initial point has made sense (even if you disagree with it).

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GBALoser posted...
Even that leads into paradoxical territory: Calling something "supernatural" -- as in being above natural understanding and interactions -- yet that something can still interact within natural confines.

If something is above nature, I don't see why it would paradoxical for it to interact with nature. In the same way, I feel that something purely natural could react with the supernatural in some way. Speaking personally, I find the mind to be an aspect of supernature, and that is a constant interaction.

Could you maybe explain more how it would be a paradox?

And that would be highly subjective as individuals have different degrees of perception. I don't think we'd be able to come up with universally-accepted method to do so. It's like how science and history are in separate fields. Both require physical evidence, but science is based on solid empirical data whereas history is based on interpretation of empirical data. So long as the numbers work in science, the data is valid. In history the data can be the same, but you get differing opinions.

This is true, and interestingly enough I think we're treading a line that is between the scientific and historical approaches you mention, since any observation of supernatural data will regardless have different interpretations by different people.

So yes, I see now that developing a standard of observation for the supernatural would rely on consistency of interpretation. That may be near impossible. :(

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Hustle Kong posted...
I think I'd cry if I heard anyone here pronounce them the same. >.<

I'd never have guessed this wasn't your mother tongue. Good job on that!


I may not be picking up on the nuances of how its pronounced, but both "err" and "error" sound like "air" to me when spoken by an American...

But anyway, thanks. :D
#27GBALoserPosted 2/27/2013 5:35:34 PM
Moorish_Idol posted...
If something is above nature, I don't see why it would paradoxical for it to interact with nature. In the same way, I feel that something purely natural could react with the supernatural in some way. Speaking personally, I find the mind to be an aspect of supernature, and that is a constant interaction.

Could you maybe explain more how it would be a paradox?


I think this shows difference in what we define as "supernatural." For me supernatural means anything that cannot be defined based on natural observation. Reflecting back on what kozlo and I were discussing, for something to have a natural aspect there must be some observable effect within the natural world. If God is beyond natural observation, yet can still interact directly with nature, we are presented with a paradox. Perhaps describing a Creator in this sense as supranatural would closer to the truth -- above and beyond the natural world.

Interestingly enough I think we're treading a line that is between the scientific and historical approaches you mention, since any observation of supernatural data will regardless have different interpretations by different people.


Absolutely!
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Every once in a while I realize the human race may be worth saving. Of course, then I come back here, but still, those are good moments. -Readyman
#28Moorish_Idol(Topic Creator)Posted 2/27/2013 7:21:42 PM
GBALoser posted...
Moorish_Idol posted...
If something is above nature, I don't see why it would paradoxical for it to interact with nature. In the same way, I feel that something purely natural could react with the supernatural in some way. Speaking personally, I find the mind to be an aspect of supernature, and that is a constant interaction.

Could you maybe explain more how it would be a paradox?


I think this shows difference in what we define as "supernatural." For me supernatural means anything that cannot be defined based on natural observation. Reflecting back on what kozlo and I were discussing, for something to have a natural aspect there must be some observable effect within the natural world. If God is beyond natural observation, yet can still interact directly with nature, we are presented with a paradox. Perhaps describing a Creator in this sense as supranatural would closer to the truth -- above and beyond the natural world.


Hmmm...

So if something is able to affect the natural world, would you say it has natural qualities by definition? Could something be both supernatural and natural simultaneously?

Are you ruling out the possibility that a supernatural force could affect the natural world despite our inability to observe it (this would be more of a limitation on us)?
#29squareandrarePosted 2/27/2013 8:30:16 PM(edited)
From: Moorish_Idol | #008
In what way does parsimony relate? I am a bit lost on that.


I meant that there's no reason to invoke the supernatural if there are adequate natural explanations, and there doesn't appear to be anything that requires a supernatural explanation (that's what I meant by "easily debunked").

From: kozlo100 | #020
The trick is that it's a question that is fundamentally unanswerable in this case. I guess sort of what I'm getting at is that we have a fundamentally unanswerable question who's answer would have no effect on anything if it were to be somehow found. I don't know why that question ought to be asked in the first place.


This is why I think the word "atheism" is only meaningful with respect to gods that interact in some way with humanity. Once you've decided that human beings are the natural product of unchanging physical laws, that there is no afterlife or mystical purpose to our existence, it really doesn't matter after that.

Edit: In fact, I kind of wish there were a particular word for a person that doesn't believe in an active god and, therefore, doesn't care to investigate or think about the matter any further. And don't say "nihilist."
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"Physics is not a religion. If it were, we'd have a much easier time raising money."
-- Leon Lederman
#30FingerpuppetPosted 2/27/2013 10:55:19 PM
why do we take our standard of observation for the natural world, and apply it to the supernatural? Why do we essentially refuse to believe in something which is inherently non-observable on the grounds that it is not observable?


The very definition of supernatural excludes itself from being able to be observed, thus being saved from the embarrassment of hearing, "I have no reason to listen to you." For the same reason you don't believe in the god known as "jeoferklwenrwlketujgokagnl", we do not address claims that are unable to be verified.

Why do you not believe in jeoferklwenrwlketujgokagnl? What do you think of jeoferklwenrwlketujgokagnl?

The best answer you can give me is, "I don't know what to think because you haven't told me what it is."

But then I tell you, "It's all powerful. Duh."

You ask, "How do you know?"

I respond, "Because jeoferklwenrwlketujgokagnl just is."

You reasonably reply, "I don't believe you, and nor will I allow you to waste more of my time."


tl;dr:

-It's not defined such that we can understand it
-It's not defined such that we can test it
-It's not defined to do anything

Therefore I ignore it.
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