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Truth and naturalism...

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posted on Mar, 14 2009 @ 10:54 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax

What is truth? It is a collection of facts that can be verified by observation and comparative experience. When we understand this, its value becomes very clear.


I'm reading...


We can use these truths, these facts, to understand how the world fits together and we fit into it. This helps us determine our interim objectives and pursue them. A short, snappy word that means 'pursuing one's interim objectives' is 'living'.


so truth helps us "live better"? What makes ones "interim objective" better than another? How is this determined?


I don't really see how an 'ultimate objective' is of any value in one's personal life.

For me.
1) It gives me great joy knowing that what I do will matter for all of eternity.
2) My existence does not become ultimatley meaningless without an ultimate purpose in my life.


Christians, Jews and Muslims believe the ultimate objective of any life is known only to God.

True, but as a chirstian I am assured that my life has ultimate value, because it can measured against an ultimate objective which is set by an ultimate objective maker.


Buddhists believe the ultimate objective of life is its cessation, which strikes me as a bit of a cop-out. In most other major faiths, such as Hinduism or Chinese religion, the question doesn't even arise.

The question of ultimate objective strikes me as essential.


Naturalists believe the ultimate object of life is its preservation and continuation, but don't regard this as a personal object, rather a universal one that all life pursues automatically, so there's not much point thinking about it.


1) thats why I have often specefied in my posts "to the individual".
2) The ultimate objective for a naturalist should be simple survival. Afterall, there is nothing greater out there to live for. Only what satisfies an individual in the here and now should matter. If thats the case, truth is irrelevent. It only comes as a means to an end for satisfaction.



I don't see why it should be. I know many people whose goal in life appears to be to create or build - artists, writers, musicians, architects. I know others whose goal in life appears to be self-sacrifice on others' behalf. Are these simply different ways to be happy, or are they different goals pursued by different people? What's the difference?

But you see. the end goal for all these people is personal fullfillment. It may be reached by helping others, but still the same goal for everyone.
If the goal is the same for everyone, what makes one persons means more noble than another?



Try living a lie and see how happy it makes you.


If your a naturalist, and your right...I'm living a lie right now. and I'll die quite happy because I'm convinced that something better is waiting on me.



Quite possibly. Personally, I consider the pursuit of happiness the ultimate foolishness. One is not made happy by pursuing happiness but by embracing life to the full. Obviously one's material wants would need to be taken care of first

How do you know what makes everyone happy? what makes you happy might be quite different than another. Either way "embracing life to the full" is only a means to the end goal of your personal happiness.


You ask some very pertinent questions. Indeed, it is often speculated that religious belief evolved because it conferred a reproductive advantage on the believers. This would be an excellent example of belief in the untrue promoting survival - and reproduction, of course.


It would be a good example, if you could trust the logic with which you use to make sense of the world.

Maybe real point of the thread is that personal happiness is the goal of all people. IF naturalism is true, what makes ones means to that end any "better" than anothers?




posted on Mar, 14 2009 @ 10:55 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
Three days and still no response to my post.

Having a bit of trouble, hulkbacker?


I've been out of town on a work related trip. sorry it took so long to reply. I appreciate you joining the thread.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 09:01 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin


lol, you can try to perceive an end-goal, but there isn't really.


I disagree.


I've tried to clearly explain it. Some things do not need to have utility to be valued. There is nothing but agents to perceive value.

You might imagine more than biological agents to perceive value. I don't. What one agent sees as worthless, another sees as valuable. Where one sees only value in how stuff can be used for some goal, some can see value in its very existence and nature.


I don't think this is logical. It amounts to, "truth has value just because I say it does".




Because seeding lies is in general an ugly pursuit?


who says?


Almost as if its an intuitive thing for me, isn't it?


It seems to me that you must borrow from a theists worldview in order to reach such conclusions. Theres no logical arguement for absolute moral value, or value of any trait from pure naturalism.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 09:06 PM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
I disagree.


Cool, do so.


I don't think this is logical. It amounts to, "truth has value just because I say it does".


Who said it was logical?

It's a personal assessment based on my own preferences.


who says?


I do?




It seems to me that you must borrow from a theists worldview in order to reach such conclusions. Theres no logical arguement for absolute moral value, or value of any trait from pure naturalism.


There's no such argument from theism either. Making stuff up isn't the basis of absolute 'truth' or morals.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 09:10 PM
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If one presumes an absolute moral objective, then morals have value in an absolute sense.

For example, if the endgoal of all creation is to glorify God. IT therefore gives us a standard by which to compare things. Whatever traits that will ultimatley lead to Gods glory are most desirable, because they have the most value.

From my personal perspective, whatever actions that will most glorify God through me are the most valuable.



posted on Mar, 15 2009 @ 09:13 PM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
If one presumes an absolute moral objective, then morals have value in an absolute sense.

For example, if the endgoal of all creation is to glorify God. IT therefore gives us a standard by which to compare things. Whatever traits that will ultimatley lead to Gods glory are most desirable, because they have the most value.

From my personal perspective, whatever actions that will most glorify God through me are the most valuable.


So it's just arbitrary.

It's no better than my personal preference. You just create an external standard which you internalise as your standard, lol.

[edit on 15-3-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 05:07 AM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
so truth helps us "live better"?

I didn't say that. I said it helps us live. Truth isn't a desideratum for life: it's a mandatory condition.


[Having an ultimate objective in my personal life:]

1) gives me great joy knowing that what I do will matter for all of eternity.

2) My existence does not become ultimatley meaningless without an ultimate purpose in my life.

Why do you fear your own insignificance so much? Why don't you just get over it?


As a chirstian I am assured that my life has ultimate value, because it can measured against an ultimate objective which is set by an ultimate objective maker.

Do you mean to say you believe that your God cannot achieve His objectives, whatever they are, without your help? That your God needs you? Because that, if you believe in God, is what it means to say your life has 'ultimate value'.



Originally posted by Astyanax
Naturalists believe the ultimate object of life is its preservation and continuation, but don't regard this as a personal object, rather a universal one that all life pursues automatically, so there's not much point thinking about it.

1) Thats why I have often specefied in my posts "to the individual".

But why should it matter to the individual? You've explained why it matters to you, but surely you don't expect everyone else in the world to share your peculiar horror at the fact of human insignificance. Some of us have grown out of that kind of thing.


2) The ultimate objective for a naturalist should be simple survival.

You keep saying this, but you don't seem to be able to explain why. Frankly, I don't believe you any more.


Afterall, there is nothing greater out there to live for.

Again, you keep saying this but you never explain why. Have you heard of a little thing called self-respect? Have you never felt a sense of duty towards others? Do you not prize the satisfaction that comes from doing a job well or surpassing one's own expectations of oneself?

Have you never felt natural affection for a child or someone else close to you, never wanted to protect and cherish them? Have you never felt the warmth of friendship, the pleasure of mutual grooming? Don't these instincts, hardwired into us, give us strong, satisfying motives for action? Do they not infuse meaning and value into our lives?

You seem to think that all atheists (or naturalists; I suspect the terms are equivalent to you) are selfish, venal, hedonistic, and devoid of ordinary human feeling. Don't you see this is only a stereotype you have created? Wilfully blinding yourself to the truth, you continue to insist, absurdly, that atheists and naturalists must be the way you say they are, not the way they really are, and that they must therefore live these hollow, hopeless, unloved, frenziedly self-gratifying lives. Well, we don't. You're wrong, and all you have to do is open your eyes and look around you to see it for yourself.


If the goal is the same for everyone, what makes one persons means more noble than another?

Our moral instincts, which are hardwired into us, make it possible for us to tell right from wrong and to judge the moral value of an action.


If your a naturalist, and your right...I'm living a lie right now. and I'll die quite happy because I'm convinced that something better is waiting on me.

Yes, but how happily will you live, with your desires forever at war with your conscience, your mind shackled by taboos and darkened by ignorance, your brain aflame with the artificial oppositions and hatreds that religion must promote in order to keep itself alive? How happily will you live with a poisoned outlook that says the world is an evil place and anticipates with righeous glee a great day of judgement when sinners shall perish in a lake of fire? How happily can you live with constant feelings of inadquacy, knowing that you cannot help falling short of the divine ideal you aspire to, that you must be forever a disappointment to your Creator? How comforting, hulkbacker, are the consolations of faith, really?

If you're so happy in your Christian convictions, what are you doing on ATS picking fights with unbelievers? Is your faith getting a bit wobbly then? Does it need to be tempered anew, hardened in the furnace of contention?


How do you know what makes everyone happy?

I have eyes and a brain in my head, and I use them to look at the world and learn from it directly, not through the distorting mirror of some primitive, hate-filled holy book.

[edit on 16/3/09 by Astyanax]



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 05:19 AM
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Originally posted by melatonin

Originally posted by hulkbacker
If one presumes an absolute moral objective, then morals have value in an absolute sense.

For example, if the endgoal of all creation is to glorify God. IT therefore gives us a standard by which to compare things. Whatever traits that will ultimatley lead to Gods glory are most desirable, because they have the most value.

From my personal perspective, whatever actions that will most glorify God through me are the most valuable.


So it's just arbitrary.

It's no better than my personal preference. You just create an external standard which you internalise as your standard, lol.

[edit on 15-3-2009 by melatonin]


Not from my worldview. God is the absolute standard, I didn't create Him.



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 12:47 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
I didn't say that. I said it helps us live. Truth isn't a desideratum for life: it's a mandatory condition.


I don't see how you can conclude that from a naturalists worldview.
Truth is for the most part is irrelevent to lifeforms without a mind.


Why do you fear your own insignificance so much? Why don't you just get over it?

I wouldn't say I fear my insignificance. In most contexts I prefer significance over insignificance.


Do you mean to say you believe that your God cannot achieve His objectives, whatever they are, without your help?

No. The fact that God chooses to use me as a means to his end gives me value.


That your God needs you?

No. that my God chooses to work thru me.


Because that, if you believe in God, is what it means to say your life has 'ultimate value'.

No. From my theism I can conclude that all things have a relative value because there is an actual objective in mind. With no objective or goal, there is no objective value for anything.



But why should it matter to the individual?

It doesn't have to matter to every individual. If your fine with being insignificant, thats your business. My point is that because in Naturalism there is no greater goal than personal fulfillment, then the value of the means by which that goal is attained can only be measured in its effectiveness in reaching that goal. Hence one set of morals or beliefs are no more valuable than another.


You've explained why it matters to you, but surely you don't expect everyone else in the world to share your peculiar horror at the fact of human insignificance.

No. I only point out the logical inconsistency of trying to endow value to something that is insignificant.


Some of us have grown out of that kind of thing.

I would describe it more along the lines of "regressed", as opposed to "grown". One distinction between human and subhuman is the propensity to ask "why?". The need to look for significance. Its this basic need that fuels inquiry and scientific thought.
But again you de personalize the subject. You freely admit that your life is insignificant, yet somehow..How you live your life IS significant?
This strikes me as inconsistent.
Thats similar to saying "this rock is insignificant...but it should have a smoother edge". If the rock as a whole is insignificant, then what attribute of the rock is significant? IF the rock serves no purpose to meeting an objective, then no detail of the rock is relevant.

[



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 12:59 PM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
Not from my worldview. God is the absolute standard, I didn't create Him.


Someone else did. Guessing from your posts - a group of goat-herders. Then you take that external example, and internalise it. It's just another arbitrary value.

And it's not much more than external motivation.


Originally posted by hulkbacker
I don't see how you can conclude that from a naturalists worldview.
Truth is for the most part is irrelevent to lifeforms without a mind.


Truth would just be an ideal congruence between an internal and external representation of the world.

Such things are entirely relevant to other lifeforms.

[edit on 16-3-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 01:07 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax


2) The ultimate objective for a naturalist should be simple survival.

You keep saying this, but you don't seem to be able to explain why. Frankly, I don't believe you any more.




Afterall, there is nothing greater out there to live for.

Again, you keep saying this but you never explain why.

Its the logical conclusion of the premise. If there is no absolute objective standard, then happiness and fulfillment are relative to the person. They have equal claim to pursue that through whatever means they may find it. Whether it be helping others, or sharing a relationship, or exterminating a race of people.


Have you heard of a little thing called self-respect? Have you never felt a sense of duty towards others? Do you not prize the satisfaction that comes from doing a job well or surpassing one's own expectations of oneself?


Sure. all of these things fulfil me. They are the means to the end of a persons personal satisfaction. But these things have no value to an individual unless they serve to satisfy that individual.


Have you never felt natural affection for a child or someone else close to you, never wanted to protect and cherish them? Have you never felt the warmth of friendship, the pleasure of mutual grooming?


Again. All of these are the means to the end of personal satisfaction/fulfillment.


Don't these instincts, hardwired into us, give us strong, satisfying motives for action?


Absolutley so.


Do they not infuse meaning and value into our lives?


I thought you were just earlier saying that humans are insignificant? If we are insignifant to some greater objective, then all that remains is what makes us personally fulfilled. So yes, the things you describe in the sentences above have value to us personally because they they are a means to the end of our personaly happiness.
The point I am trying to make in this thread, is that as a naturalist... thats all there is to live for. That being said, how can person (A) claim the means to meeting thier end is any more noble or superior to the means person (B) uses? Each is seeking the same end (thier own personaly fulfillment). Therefore the value of the means can only be determined by the effectivness in reaching the goal.
So.. back to my OP. Can truth be MORE VALUABLE than a lie?
Would you rather live a happy and fulfilled life but believe a lie? OR know the truth and live a miserable and unfulfilled existence?



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 01:29 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
[

You seem to think that all atheists (or naturalists; I suspect the terms are equivalent to you)


not at all. but in the many contexts they are complimentary.


...are selfish, venal, hedonistic, and devoid of ordinary human feeling. Don't you see this is only a stereotype you have created?


I have created no such sterotype. I expect many atheist to act in a way that would bring them the most fulfillment. Much like any theist. I'm sure plenty of athiest get fulfillment out of self sacrafice.


Wilfully blinding yourself to the truth, you continue to insist, absurdly, that atheists and naturalists must be the way you say they are,


I see you have missed the entire point of the thread. I only point out the logical insonsistency of promoting one "means" above another "means" if each "means" is equally effective in reaching the goal.


not the way they really are, and that they must therefore live these hollow, hopeless, unloved, frenziedly self-gratifying lives. Well, we don't. You're wrong, and all you have to do is open your eyes and look around you to see it for yourself.

read above. look back at my OP. I make no such assumptions.



Our moral instincts, which are hardwired into us, make it possible for us to tell right from wrong and to judge the moral value of an action.

If we are insignificant as you suggest earlier, how do we endow value to our actions.



Yes, but how happily will you live,

Very satisfied. I get great comfort knowing that this is not all there is. It provides me with motivation to live "better" knowing I will reap what is sown.

with your desires forever at war with your conscience,

ITs something I will only have to put up with temporarily.


your mind shackled by taboos and darkened by ignorance

I don't think this applies to me. sure I'm ignorant of some things just as anyone else is. But I'd hardly say my mind is shackled.


your brain aflame with the artificial oppositions and hatreds that religion must promote in order to keep itself alive?

such as...never mind. it would only derail the discussion.


How happily will you live with a poisoned outlook that says the world is an evil place and anticipates with righteous glee a great day of judgement when sinners shall perish in a lake of fire?

My happiness is established in Gods glorification. Of course I can see why anyone who doesn't submit to Gods righteous reign would want to supress and reject this reality. Who in there right mind would want to gain the whole world at expense of thier eternal soul?


How happily can you live with constant feelings of inadquacy, knowing that you cannot help falling short of the divine ideal you aspire to, that you must be forever a disappointment to your Creator?

But thats the GOOD NEWS! Thanks to Jesus Christ, I am justified before God.



How comforting, hulkbacker, are the consolations of faith, really?

Much more preferable to the belief that all is insignificant. That what I do, one way or the other really doesn't matter. That when my eyes are closing at deaths door, I will reflect to know that the battles fought, the lifes saved, the people I loved, all amount to nothing.


If you're so happy in your Christian convictions, what are you doing on ATS picking fights with unbelievers? Is your faith getting a bit wobbly then? Does it need to be tempered anew, hardened in the furnace of contention?


Why are you on ATS? In the end it won't matter. If you convinced me and every other chrisitian on the planet of the "truth" of atheistic naturalism, what did you actually accomplish? nothing significant, thats for sure....



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 01:35 PM
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Originally posted by Astyanax
[

How do you know what makes everyone happy?


I have eyes and a brain in my head, and I use them to look at the world and learn from it directly, not through the distorting mirror of some primitive, hate-filled holy book.

[edit on 16/3/09 by Astyanax]


BAck to my OP then.

1) why is being able to learn "truth" by looking at the world and learning from it directly,

Better than

learning through the distorting mirror of some primitive, hate-filled book?

we're all insignificant anyway. Maybe I get more personal satisfaction out of my "primitive hate filled book" than you get from your interpertation of reality? who really wins?


2)How can you trust your logic? what makes you sure that your mind is developed in such a way as to grasp the universe rationally?



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin

Originally posted by hulkbacker
Not from my worldview. God is the absolute standard, I didn't create Him.


Someone else did. Guessing from your posts - a group of goat-herders. Then you take that external example, and internalise it. It's just another arbitrary value.

And it's not much more than external motivation.



I see you are unwilling to look at the world from the perspective of anothe world view.
We all come to the table with certian presumptions. The task at hand is to examine these presumptions and follow them to thier logical conclusion.

IF naturalism is true. no trait has absolute value.
If naturalism is true, we can't trust logic because it may not exist.

IF a divine intelligent creator exists, a value can be determined compared to His objectives.
IF a divine intelligent creator exists, we have reason to believe that we would be designed in such a fashion as to comprehend his truths.




Truth would just be an ideal congruence between an internal and external representation of the world.

Such things are entirely relevant to other lifeforms.

[edit on 16-3-2009 by melatonin]


It is not necessary for survival. In fact, depending on context, it may impede survival. Survival is entirely relevant to other lifeforms. Truth, only as a means to that end, but not a necessity.



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 02:22 PM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
IF naturalism is true. no trait has absolute value.
If naturalism is true, we can't trust logic because it may not exist.


lol, logic is just a formal mechanism for reasoning. They teach it in universities. It's a bit like maths.


IF a divine intelligent creator exists, a value can be determined compared to His objectives.
IF a divine intelligent creator exists, we have reason to believe that we would be designed in such a fashion as to comprehend his truths.


And the values would be just as arbitrary. It would be just imagining another agent using their own perspective to determine value and truth.

For example, slavery, genocide, and killing babies can be justified and suddenly become moral. It's just as arbitrary and whimsical. Indeed, some dude's might just rewrite the book, and suddenly coveting wives is fine and dandy.


It is not necessary for survival.


In some instances it is.

Indeed, on the whole, the ability to only form a true representation of the real-world would be more effective than the ability to form only a false one. And having 75% of a true representation is better than only 25%. The effects of science clearly show that - we live longer than ever before and can cure dreadful illnesses that devastated communities and people. Happiness, well that's relative.


In fact, depending on context, it may impede survival. Survival is entirely relevant to other lifeforms. Truth, only as a means to that end, but not a necessity.


Yes, it would be as a means to an end for other organisms - an adequate representation of the real-world aids survival. It also is for us, but we also have the ability for aesthetics. I'm not sure a sheep can do the same.

[edit on 16-3-2009 by melatonin]



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 10:28 PM
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reply to post by melatonin
 


if naturalism is true, you can't honestly trust logic.

if naturalism is true, life wouldn't require truth to survive. any number of stimilus based on false perceptions could still lead to the results needed for survival.

Desire + conditions = action. If a man hates being kissed. And everytime a man sees a raging bear charging him, that man assumes the bear will try to kiss him. The mans hate for being kissed will lead him to the actions needed to avoid the bear. A false belief combined with the right combination of conditions could lead to acts that insure survival. Truth is not a necessary ingredient. A similar analogy could be applied to all cause/effect processes within lifeforms.
Now, it could certianly be argued that its more likley that truth is a major ingredient in survival. But survival and growth are possible without truth. And from the viewpoint of the naturalists I've read on this board, we have no need to argue for the likleyhood of something, but only the possibility of something. IF there is infinite opportunity, then all possibilites will eventual come about. IF survival without the proper understanding of truth is a possibilty, how do we know that we don't currently exemplify this process?
We can't know that. As a naturalist, one can't assume this process didn't take place. The best you can do is just choose to believe that it didn't.
But in all honesty, you have no real reason to believe that what you can observe and discover about our surroundings, and the conclusions that you draw from those processes are in any way accurate.

I can here the responses now, "but, but, but.... of all the ways the universe could have worked out, whats the odds that it would have worked out that life could survive and thrive based on misperception of reality???"

Nope. that arguement can't fly according to your worldview. Why? because the odds are the same for that outcome as they are for ANY OTHER outcome.
Naturalism eliminates any reason for faith in logic and reasoning. Either we can trust logic and reason BECAUSE there is an actual force behind the cosmos that insures that to be the case. OR, we can't trust logic and reasoning at all because there is no reason to assume our universe developed that way.



posted on Mar, 16 2009 @ 10:30 PM
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Originally posted by melatonin
And the values would be just as arbitrary. It would be just imagining another agent using their own perspective to determine value and truth.

For example, slavery, genocide, and killing babies can be justified and suddenly become moral. It's just as arbitrary and whimsical. Indeed, some dude's might just rewrite the book, and suddenly coveting wives is fine and dandy.


not if there is actually a God that sets a moral objective. If he is the ultimate force and answers to nothing higer, his decrees are not arbitrary.



posted on Mar, 17 2009 @ 04:25 AM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker

Originally posted by Astyanax
Truth isn't a desideratum for life: it's a mandatory condition.

I don't see how you can conclude that from a naturalists worldview.
Truth is for the most part is irrelevent to lifeforms without a mind.

A medusa is a very primitive aquatic organism. It has no brain. Yet it displays a wide range of obviously controlled swimming behaviour. It tends to swim towards the light and away from the dark. It normally swims in random patterns at variable speeds, but when in the presence of prey its swimming becomes steady and follows a looping path.

So the medusa, despite its lack of a brain, is obviously capable of making quite complex decisions about swimming. How so? Because its behaviour is dictated by factors in its environment. It's programmed to prefer light because the most hospitable environment for it is shallow water - deep water contains less food. Likewise, it's programmed to start swimming a search pattern as soon as it knows prey is present, because that's the best way to catch dinner. These decisions about swimming are life and death to the medusa.

It's easy to see how truth and falsehood play a part in a medusa's life, even though it is a mindless thing. If I switch on the right kind of lamp on the seabed, I can make the medusa think deep water is really shallow water and lure it into the depths where it will die of starvation. In effect, I can kill a medusa by lying to it.

This example - I could have chosen a million others - demonstrates how critical truth and falsehood are, even to creatures that lack a mind. You did not understand melatonin when he said


Originally posted by melatonin
Truth would just be an ideal congruence between an internal and external representation of the world. Such things are entirely relevant to other lifeforms.

This is what he meant.


Originally posted by hulkbacker
The fact that God chooses to use me as a means to his end gives me value.

Pardon me for disillusioning you, but it does not. Is the life of one army private more valuable than another's just because the first private was ordered by his NCO to perform some mission or other? Not if any other private would have done just as well. Sarge may have picked Sad Sack for that vital K.P. detail, but Sad Sack remains the nondescript piece of cannon-fodder he was to begin with. Likewise, to your god, your life has no more value than the next life. Before God, all humans must be equally worthy - or worthless.


My point is that because in Naturalism there is no greater goal than personal fulfillment...

You keep on saying this, even though it has been explained to you several times now that it isn't true. Naturalism is not a teleological worldview; naturalists don't see the universe as existing for a purpose, so they don't see why life has to have a purpose either, apart from the obvious one, which nature takes care of without any help from us. You seem to think having a goal is some essential condition for life. Well, it isn't.


One distinction between human and subhuman is the propensity to ask "why?". The need to look for significance. Its this basic need that fuels inquiry and scientific thought.

No, this is just a mysticised interpretation of a human instinct, curiosity. It is not significance we look for - we just want to know how stuff works so that we can make use of it.


You freely admit that your life is insignificant, yet somehow.. How you live your life IS significant? This strikes me as inconsistent.

My life is insignifcant in relation to the universe, to human history and even, for that matter, to other members of the society I live in, apart from a few friends and relatives who care for me personally.

Yet my life is of immense, compelling significance to me, because it is my life, the only life I have, and I need to live it to the full. Where's the inconsistency in that?


If the rock as a whole is insignificant, then what attribute of the rock is significant? If the rock serves no purpose to meeting an objective, then no detail of the rock is relevant.

To the objective, perhaps; but it may yet be of immense significance to the rock.

I'm afraid you've swum out beyond your depth, lad - a medusa, lured by our treacherous light. My advice to you now is to swim for shallower waters.



posted on Mar, 17 2009 @ 05:04 AM
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Originally posted by hulkbacker
The point I am trying to make in this thread, is that as a naturalist... thats all there is to live for. That being said, how can person (A) claim the means to meeting thier end is any more noble or superior to the means person (B) uses? Each is seeking the same end (thier own personaly fulfillment). Therefore the value of the means can only be determined by the effectivness in reaching the goal.

So... back to my OP. Can truth be MORE VALUABLE than a lie? Would you rather live a happy and fulfilled life but believe a lie? OR know the truth and live a miserable and unfulfilled existence?

It's okay. You don't have to explain again. It's not that hard to grasp. It's just that you're wrong, your premises are false and your logic is confused, so going back to the beginning and repeating yourself all over again isn't really going to help.

Naturalists have the same things to live for that other people do. Among these things, as I mentioned before, are


Originally posted by Astyanax
self-respect... a sense of duty towards others... natural affection... the warmth of friendship...

and, of course, a whole host of other motivations of this kind. They may be insignificant from a cosmic perspective, they may have no meaning whatsoever in the final reckoning, but what does that matter? The final cosmic reckoning is not my reckoning and neither is it yours. Our final reckoning comes at the end of our lives, when we come to face death and find ourselves either quiet in mind or filled with fear and regret. And in your final reckoning and mine, such things must be accounted very important indeed.


These things have no value to an individual unless they serve to satisfy that individual.

But the fact is, these things satisfy most individuals. It is only an unhappy few - psychopaths, the autistic - who do not experience and enjoy them. It is our natural heritage as human beings to feel these things and be fulfilled by them. For human beings as a whole, they have value. Indeed, that is what we call them: 'values'.

How much value they have to each of us is something we, as individuals, decide for ourselves. The societies in which we live also apply their own standards of value, which we may accept or differ from. Judgements of value vary from person to person but they are none the less legitimate for that. Still, remember that if you judge something as superior to or more noble than something else, that is always your own personal judgement. There is no absolute standard of superiority or inferiority against which to judge.

So: is the truth more valuable than a lie? For a medusa or any other mindless creature, the answer is definitely - yes, it is. It is the answer Nature forces on us. It is only in certain, very exceptional circumstances that a lie might be considered superior to the truth; funnily enough, these exceptions only apply to sentient beings. Nature, unmediated by consciousness, values truth above all else.

[edit on 17/3/09 by Astyanax]



posted on Mar, 17 2009 @ 07:35 AM
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Originally posted by Astyanax]
A medusa is a very primitive aquatic organism. It has no brain. Yet it displays a wide range of obviously controlled swimming behaviour.
... These decisions about swimming are life and death to the medusa.

It's easy to see how truth and falsehood play a part in a medusa's life, even though it is a mindless thing. ...
This example -- demonstrates how critical truth and falsehood are, even to creatures that lack a mind.

I left out some of your detail so that I have more space to respond.
t
The point is already addressed and refuted. survival insuring actions can be due to false beliefs. Truth is not necessary. if survival is possible without truth, as a naturalist one can't be certian we have surivived with the ability to percieve truth.


Originally posted by hulkbacker
Pardon me for disillusioning you, but it does not. Is the life of one army private more valuable than another's just because the first private was ordered by his NCO to perform some mission or other? Not if any other private would have done just as well. Sarge may have picked Sad Sack for that vital K.P. detail, but Sad Sack remains the nondescript piece of cannon-fodder he was to begin with. Likewise, to your god, your life has no more value than the next life. Before God, all humans must be equally worthy - or worthless.

ah, but which private is actually of value? the one that performed the mission.
Also, the bolded part makes a difference. with a God, worth and value can be determined relative to the ultimate objective. Without one, the same is not true. God gives my life (and how its lived) ultimate value.
Your example does little to counter that point.


My point is that because in Naturalism there is no greater goal than personal fulfillment...

You keep on saying this, even though it has been explained to you several times now that it isn't true.

The problem here is that you actually agree with me on this point, but either don't realize it OR don't want to follow those implicatons to thier conclusion.
Why do you do anything that you do? why does anyone do anything that they do? (lets exclude determinism for the moment).
Becuase for WHATEVER reason, the things they choose to do bring them greater personal fulfillment than other things.
You've provided some examples of what I might call noble endeavors, but that doesn't change the fact that the only reason a person might undertake such an endeavor is because they find it personally satisfying. You have used the same terminology in your descriptions.


Naturalism is not a teleological worldview; naturalists don't see the universe as existing for a purpose, so they don't see why life has to have a purpose either, apart from the obvious one, which nature takes care of without any help from us. You seem to think having a goal is some essential condition for life. Well, it isn't.


I'm sorry I confused you. I don't think having a goal is essential for life. I think that in order for value to be applied, some goal must be in mind.




My life is insignifcant in relation to the universe, to human history and even, for that matter, to other members of the society I live in, apart from a few friends and relatives who care for me personally.

Yet my life is of immense, compel


I never argued that your life is insignificant to you. or even that how you live your life should be insignificant to you. I say only that the logical conclusion of naturalism is that all standards are relative to the individual. No one individuals standards of behavior are any "better" in the ultimate sense than any other.
THEREFORE, what make knowing the truth any better than believing a lie, if believing a lie will lead to greater fulfillment?



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