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View Diary: Is there a God? (With Poll) (279 comments)

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  •  You kept including the words (1+ / 0-)
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    "animals choose." That is where the disconnect is, I think. I do not believe they choose much of anything having to do with their evolved nature. That is why you can't really call the lion or the shark "evil" if he eats you. That's what lions and sharks do, because that is what they evolved in this planet's conditions to do. They are what they are.

    Nor can you call the earthquake or the flood or the tornado or the hurricane "evil" for killing everybody in its swath. It's just natural forces doing natural things. It is what it is, your family may have been terribly unlucky and lost the Darwinian Sweepstake on that, but meh. Everybody's gotta die of something when their time comes. Or even just if they're in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shit happens.

    The ONLY true "evil" in this world is hatched in the minds of human beings, and played out on the stage human beings inhabit. WE are or are not "evil." Not just because we get to define the terms and do all the wondering and philosophizing about it, but because we are the ones who do the deeds. BY CHOICE. We have a whole galaxy of 'free' (relative term) choices that the rest of nature doesn't have.

    BTW, last couple of times I asked God, I got answers. Real life tangible ones. I can't say that I have been 100% pleased with the answers I got, but there you go. Sometimes the answer is darned twisted and involves lots of pain and suffering, sometimes it's just "NO." No particular description here of the supernatural concept of 'god'.

    •  To set aside humans as being so different (2+ / 0-)
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      paradise50, Joieau

      from all other animals is a mistake, I think. Most of the characteristics we think of as uniquely human are found to varying degrees in other animals. It's convenient, and it makes our moral and legal systems simpler, to think of things this way, but I think the evidence doesn't support it.

      Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

      by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 19, 2013 at 10:21:15 AM PDT

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      •  I subscribe to the notion (0+ / 0-)

        (idea, theory, whatever) that consciousness is a fundamental element in the 'reality' we recognize as space-time. And that life is a dynamic concentration of said element (quality? quantity?), manifesting across a scale of awareness/participant in quantifiable fashion. Further, I strongly suspect that the entire notion of 'freedom' is also relative to scale of concentration. We humans are evolved physical life forms bound inextricably to this planet and its conditions over sum of history and the limitations that imposes. IOW, we aren't truly 'free' to be whatever we want, we have to deal with reality on strictly circumscribed terms.

        But we are relatively more 'free' to CHOOSE our actions and reactions than other forms of life on this planet. Yeah, that sounds a bit 'Crown Of Creation' like, but let's face it. We're the only ones asking the questions and looking for answers. That we know of. Here. We get to define the terms, and those are always going to be exclusive to ourselves. Border collies, whales and parrots might be surprisingly close when we look harder (as Rafiki would say), but we're writing up the papers and publishing the journals. They're not.

        Humans are orders of magnitude more complex, empathic (we don't tend to want to kill our obviously defective kin), and 'haunted' by mind-ghosts of various description than even our closest evolutionary kin. Part of our vastly hotwired processing capacities is a strong tendency toward (what we call) schizophrenia. Harboring an (or more) 'other' in our own heads. I do not get the sense that other neurological high-end animals on this planet suffer the same kind of weirdness. Or, the ones who do don't tend to survive long enough for it to become a universal trait. We are the only life form native to this planet that I know of or can imagine might exist that will lie to itself. Not just put on a pretense for the rest of the planet/species/potential mates, but tell ourselves elaborage self-justifying lies and behave as if we believe them wholeheartedly. It causes all sorts of nasty, down dirty evil-ness all around.

        It might be a quirk of evolution. It might be so suicidal in the end that it won't survive long. But that's where I see us right now. Religions are all about psychology, and cultural psychology is peculiar to the people who comprise the culture. The Christian religion (speaking to the subject of this diary) is the only religion I know of that invented its own equally powerful opposition at the same time it invented itself. It names the evil, as evil. And it is the "Father Of Lies."

        Psych-101, morphed through millennia. We do not evolve much at all that we notice on the physical level. We do evolve at breakneck speed culturally. And we always carry with us our suicidal/genocidal tendencies, and our basic insecurity of mind. Always strangers in a strange land, sojourners passing through. Very few of us ever really get beyond our genetic programming to where our moral, ethical and existential choices are actually made freely enough to count. The rest of the time we're just following habitual trajectory - sum of histories - and that can spread evil influence/deeds all around us as we pass through even when we try hard to not spread evil. Like the animals, in that we are what we are. We are the only ones, however, who 'know' good and evil, and put any effort into trying to do one or the other. By choice.

        •  Wow, there's a lot in that comment. (1+ / 0-)
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          I don't think I can fully respond to it, but I do have a fairly different view of this than you do, I think. Within certain parameters, we do have apparently more freedom than other animals. But I think this is largely an illusion, although a useful one. The fact that we have the ability to think and process things doesn't make us fundamentally different. There is likely some level of consciousness that animals have as well. I think it's more a difference of degree rather than a difference in kind. I don't think we are necessarily more free than an animal is. Are we more empathetic? Perhaps, but I don't really know. A lot of what we can see about ourselves is due to our reflective capability. Somehow, we see other humans as possessing the same capabilities, but not chimps or dolphins or birds. To some degree this is due to evidence, but it is probably also influenced by cultural traditions and prejudices.

          My views about our lack of free will have not necessarily been helpful to me. I mentioned in another comment about my depression. It also doesn't mesh well with political activism, and has been a factor in my lack of said activism. My parents and therapists have been frustrated by my attitude, and I've tried to believe in a sort of provisional free will, and not think so much about ideas that seem real but are not helpful.

          Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

          by AaronInSanDiego on Sun May 19, 2013 at 12:18:51 PM PDT

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          •  Ah. You explain that well. (1+ / 0-)
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            Don't know your background, but I grew up in a Calvinist tradition. They have a very strange, internally inconsistent worldview where not even God has any free will, our salvation is preordained from the beginning. Or not. Yet they can be real sticklers for imposing their prudish and hypocritical morality standards on other people - and to themselves - anyway. Not an effort to save anybody's immortal soul (including their own), just an uncomfortable social structure chock full of guilt for what they claim nobody can be held guilty for. Two equal and opposite spiritual forces forever at war for the measley souls of hapless humans, external to us and our physical wiring, and to which all we have the power to do is react. Never act (which would be seen as direct challenge). Weird, yet this is considered 'mainline' Protestant theology.

            Growing up with such cognitive dissonance built-in makes it fairly easy to escape when the time comes. Basic philosophy is: It [whatever "it" is] Doesn't Mean Shit To A Tree. Once you figure out you can never ever possibly in a million years do, say or think anything that might make any of them or their god/godlings happy, you're free to find happiness elsewhere by exercise of the choice hiding in plain sight.

            A twisted path, obviously. But it does quite often spur people toward more consistent and fulfilling ways of life through its very rejection. Serves a purpose in the overall scheme of things psychological.

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