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Tuesday, June 4, 2002 - 11:57amSanction this postReply
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This is a great article! As a former mystic, I understand how mystics think - I used to think that some transcend being gave my life meaning, by somehow doing its "will" and that it created the universe. My my, have I come a long way. That was some time ago, and I wanted to say that one of the greatest things our world view affords us is the means to live an amazing, great and fulfilling life.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2002 - 4:25pmSanction this postReply
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If religions and religious doctrine was based on what is known to be true about reality and life, it would cease to be religion and it would become a rational philosophy such as Objectivism.

Pianoman

Post 2

Tuesday, June 4, 2002 - 10:45pmSanction this postReply
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Cheers Ryan, this is the first thing I've written for a public forum (except for letters to editors that is) and it's good to get some positive feedback on my first outing.

The worst thing about being a mystic (in my case a brief period as a deluded christian when I was a teenager) was not the fact that it's a flawed philosophy with no basis in reality, but the fact that I had serious misgivings about some of the things I read and was told I had to believe, and I allowed those misgivings to be suppressed. I aided and abetted the degradation of my own mind. I mean, the virgin birth!? the bodily resurrection of a corpse!? etc etc. Come on!

Post 3

Wednesday, June 5, 2002 - 1:28amSanction this postReply
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Good first piece, Tony. It's always great to look up from the trees every once in awhile. I like the term "sanity check", myself. Too many people get distracted with arguing inconsequential details. Your article did a good job of pointing that out.

Looking forward to your next one.

Post 4

Thursday, June 6, 2002 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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Great piece!!!

My husband and I often joke about '42' and it is a joking answer to life's wonderful sense of mystery and our current understanding of it. It's enough for us most times. Of course, '42' has also evolved into a term of endearment between us -- 'I love you.' 'Why do you say that just now?' '42!'. *grin*

Of course, we each know the actual reasons, but sometimes love just can't be fully contained by the rational listing of admirable qualities, and for that, '42' is also a good answer. :)


If more people realized that life is something to embrace happily, EVERY DAY, what a wonderful place this would be!

There is so much wonder in our world, on so many levels from the natural to the man-made and they should be enjoyed. If ever you need a reminder about the special place our world is, spend some time with a toddler. They have a wonderful view on life and what it might offer!

Let the mystics argue about origins and all their supernatural beings. They are the ones missing the real value in life and you only really get this one chance at life -- I think we who embrace happiness and reason are getting the best bargain of all! :)

Joy :)

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Thursday, June 6, 2002 - 8:26pmSanction this postReply
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Nice article. There's a reason Rand thought cosmology ought to be ejected from metaphysics altogether. Philosophy can set a framework for physics, as in fact it must for all sciences, but specific conclusions about science can't generally be derived from philosophy.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002 - 10:08amSanction this postReply
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Dear Anton,

If you are interested in a scientific viewpoint, I'd suggest Stephen Wolfram's new book, "A New Science", about complexity and beauty and the processes life is built on. The odd thing is he may - it's a bit hard to tell - have come to the conclusion that the answer to the meaning of life is "110" or, just perhaps, "30". It's quite an intellectual journey.

Robert Speirs
Tallahassee, Florida

Post 7

Saturday, February 1, 2003 - 6:42amSanction this postReply
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Brilliant article

I was happy to read something so down-to-earth and I agree that we have to grab every moment of happiness. However, I think euphoric happiness only lasts for a few moments at a time.

Post 8

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 4:29amSanction this postReply
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It never ceases to amaze me how so few grasp that intelligence is merely the ability to see that the universe is cosmos - not the other way around [ of orderliness indicating intelligence ].

Post 9

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 10:39amSanction this postReply
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"The scientific evidence points towards a "big bang" at the beginning of time. Using the laws of physics scientists can wind back the universe's evolution 15 billion years to the "Planck time", an infinitesimal 5.4x10-44 seconds after the birth of existence, when the universe was extremely small, dense and hot."

Im just sayin'....

This is only true of the Big Bang Theory. There is at least one other competeing theory of the universe, based as much on cosomology and mathematical physics as Big Bang. There are bodies of evidence that this other theory, Hannes Alvfen's theory, may be even more correct. It should be known that this theory does not predict an infinitesimally small beginning univesere. This idea, in and of itself, is a bit mystical in that, "infinitesimally small" or even "extremely small" are absurd concepts when you try to fit the entirety of the Universe into a sungularity. Only mathematically does it make sense, just barely since you also end up having to reorder the Universe and use imaginary numbers.

Im just sayin'.



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Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 11:08amSanction this postReply
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It never ceases to amaze me how so little useful purpose there is for an atheist to write an article trying to pillory or light up non-atheists.
It is not necessary for full alignment of belief systems, there can be reasonable disagreement. What is not reasonable, nor useful, is for the religious or the non-religious to mount attacks on one another, whether they are of the adult talking about child style of this one, or flat out malevolence. Do not mistake me: there are many childish notions that remain in religion that need to be dispensed with.

Such a need to publicly validate and self-reinforce.

Both religion and non-religion have their virtues and their vices. The one vice certain individuals in each category share is a penchant for pissing all over the other.
There is nothing but dissociation and divisiveness in that, it doesn't contribute anything positive to the conflict between science and religion, which is responsible for a great deal of grief in this world. The real problems lie far beneath the level of discussing whether or not one agrees with the individual consciousness and core belief system of another; why our particular conclusion is the only right one, be it one argued from the position of reason, or spirit. Rarely have I even seen those discussions conducted with any dignity, or mutual respect. That in itself is a greater problem.  

(Edited by Rich Engle on 12/27, 11:09am)


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Post 11

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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"Such a need to publicly validate and self-reinforce."

So, Rich: What exactly is it you're doing?

Many reasonable people think superstition (religion) is a form of collective insanity. The whole point of this website is to actively promote objectivism (sanity). And to be a gathering place for sane people (objectivists).

Back at ya: :-)

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Post 12

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 2:59pmSanction this postReply
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One thing I'm not doing is attacking non-religionists to make myself feel better, that's sure as shit.

I'm sorry, but most of that kind of thing is just snotty, and superior. And even that doesn't matter. Objectivism teaches respect for the facts, right? Well, here's a fact: religious folks aren't going away by Objectivists moaning about their existence, or tapping their ruby slippers. It ain't gonna happen. So, rather than piss and moan about how irrational and wrong and possibly mentally addled they are, it might be a better idea to figure out ways to peacefully and productively deal with those of them who think likewise, of which there are many. There's an endless supply of dissociation, divisiveness, and prejudicial thinking in this world. It's cheap fare.


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Post 13

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 5:16pmSanction this postReply
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This is only true of the Big Bang Theory. There is at least one other competeing theory of the universe...
*sigh*

I would start up the ol' BB vs. others debate, but I'm just so very tired of it. There are tons of nonspecialist books explaining it without being dogmatic. Most of what is leveled against BB on the internet is based in ignorance. In fact, a common thread amongst attacks on mainstream physics is that they attack old physics when the problem has since been resolved. It's like attacking Darwin's formulation of evolution when the modern theory of evolution is highly refined and doesn't have the same problems.

Sarah

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Post 14

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 5:46pmSanction this postReply
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Rich,

At some point in your life based on your perceived self interest you decided adopt a philosophy of life based on what you WANTED to believe rather than what could be demonstrated by fact and reason. Somehow this belief continues to serve some function in your life that is in your self interest. Fine. Millions of people will love you for it.

"So, rather than piss and moan about how irrational and wrong and possibly mentally addled they are, it might be a better idea to figure out ways to peacefully and productively deal with those of them who think likewise, of which there are many."

I'm certain that most of the people I have dealt with in my life "peacefully and productively" have thoughts very similar to your own, I have had no trouble working with and liking, sometimes a lot, people of religious persuasions of all kinds. I don't agree with them about their beliefs, I simply cannot believe in anything that cannot be demonstrated by facts and reason. But I do not get in arguments about. But this is a forum for the discussion of ideas. An objectivists forum. I'm here because I agree with virtually all of the principles of objectivism. Here is the one place where if a "religionist" raises his head and criticizes someone for being an atheist, in fact acts quite superior about it, I'm likely to speak up.

"One thing I'm not doing is attacking non-religionists to make myself feel better, that's sure as shit."

I am absolutely certain that is exactly what you are doing.

"When you believe in things you don't understand, you'll suffer
Superstition ain't the way". --Stevie Wonder

You are right, I do feel superior.

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Post 15

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 6:00pmSanction this postReply
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Mike Erikson,

Sanctioned. An excellent post.

Rich, Do I feel superior? I'll have to say yes. But in this case we're not talking about talent or anything. I feel superior because I reject the arbitrary and mystical reasons of theists. Any theist can choose to acheive that superiority, simply by rejecting faith.

Ethan


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Post 16

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 8:18pmSanction this postReply
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Prejudice means to judge without reason - the problem here is that there is judging with much reason - and there is dislike of the judging...

Post 17

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - 8:21amSanction this postReply
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Sarah,

You just wrote:
I would start up the ol' BB vs. others debate, but I'm just so very tired of it. There are tons of nonspecialist books explaining it without being dogmatic. Most of what is leveled against BB on the internet is based in ignorance.
Are you talking about Barbara Branden when you say "BB"?

//;-)

Michael


Post 18

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - 9:01amSanction this postReply
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At some point in your life based on your perceived self interest you decided adopt a philosophy of life based on what you WANTED to believe rather than what could be demonstrated by fact and reason. Somehow this belief continues to serve some function in your life that is in your self interest. Fine. Millions of people will love you for it.
 
Um, no, Mike, that is not remotely how it went. Not even close. You are making an assumption without knowing anything about me. What you have based it on is your blanket definition of religion, and that simply does not fly. "Perceived self-interest"? You are somewhere between psychologizing and attempted mind-reading. The blanket definition of mysticism in Objectivism is so huge that it barely serves any focused purpose.

I have never found a use for the general self-image of "superior". It certainly does not support self-worth. Perhaps in efficacy: "My 2000 rating in chess makes me superior at winning chess games to those with a rating less than mine."

But a "superior" consciousness? Surely there are tiers of consciousness that can be achieved. And at the higher ones, I'm thinking the posture of "superior" does not exist.

None of this matters. What is my purpose here? Do I have a reason to be here? Yes. Objectivism practically raised me. A great deal of it is incorporated into how I live, and the successes I have achieved. I remain a friend of Objectivism, even though it is true that I have become Unitarian, and belong to a certain kind of pluralistic religious community. And, there was the significance of Nathaniel Branden's psychological writings, how they impacted my life for the better. I even got to do a bit of meaningful work for him. Is it really so odd that I am here?

I think there is a problem with some Objectivists, yes, I do. More importantly, I observe lost opportunities because of these problems, these attitudes. The energy that goes into diatribes about mainstream religious folks (I am excluding radical fundamentalist activists, for obvious reasons) is pointless. There are bigger fish to fry, and Objectivists are uniquely suited to fry them. But coming from a stance of superiority, of thinly-veiled contempt, it is no more possible than if a religious person has the same kind of stance.

It requires a great deal of self-honesty to explore such postures. In the case of one with an Objectivist background, there are some common answers that come up. I know this because I was there, and I see it repeated in others. Whether  I had become a Unitarian or not, these things were already in front of me. Observable behaviors both in myself, and in others.

And, it is much harder to integrate than it is to dissociate. There will always be Objectivists, and other "ists," (I am excluding fascists and other malevolent types in this writing)and people who have an individual religious consciousness of one kind or another.  Reasonable disagreement on core beliefs such as the nature of the universe, and how we are internally is acceptable, it is inevitable. The whole world is not going to someday adopt your philosophy lock stock and barrel- we all know that in all reasonable thought is not ever going to happen. That is why the greater issue is a relational one. This is the challenge for all philosophies and religions. The alternative is, quite simply, war.

 Respectfully,
rde

(Edited by Rich Engle on 12/28, 9:20am)


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Post 19

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 - 11:14amSanction this postReply
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Sarah:

I would start up the ol' BB vs. others debate, but I'm just so very tired of it. There are tons of nonspecialist books explaining it without being dogmatic. Most of what is leveled against BB on the internet is based in ignorance. In fact, a common thread amongst attacks on mainstream physics is that they attack old physics when the problem has since been resolved. It's like attacking Darwin's formulation of evolution when the modern theory of evolution is highly refined and doesn't have the same problems


I couldn't agree more! I find it curious that Objectivists so often defend crank theories, apparently thinking that their armchair philosophizing can tell us more about science than all those scientists who're really doing the hard work. Their error is that they think that their intuitive world view, which has been built during their lifetime in an essentially classical, Newtonian world, gives a deeper and more fundamental understanding of our world than the scientific method. Now the results of modern scientific research often don't agree well with this Newtonian intuition, and therefore those Objectivists are disturbed by things like the Big Bang, black holes and quantum mechanics, and are quick to embrace quack theories that promise to bring the world again into the classical realm in which they feel at home.

It probably started with Peikoff's Ominous Parallels, in which he suggested that the work of Gödel and Heisenberg was the result of bad philosophical premises, as if that would invalidate the scientific content of their theories. Though Rand must have sanctioned that text, she was careful enough not to make such statements herself. Probably she felt still a bit uneasy about it, even if she must have agreed, and found it safer to publish such statements by proxy.

Our everyday intuition may be very useful, but sometimes it can lead us astray, especially in the field of science. It's therefore be advisable to become a scientist first, before thinking of overthrowing current scientific consensus with the magical formula "A is A", which somehow doesn't seem to impress those pesky scientists very much.

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