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Badocelot
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That last bit was a little unclear. Long's point is that since there is no way-thing-would-have-been thanks to indeterminacy, only a range of probabilities, all the will/soul has to do is cause one of those options to come true. So no extra physical forces are exerted. So there's no obstacle to a fully-physical understanding of the brain, just to a fully-physical understanding of the mind.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2012 on Atheists and Neuroscience at Paranormalia
Personally, I think neo-Aristotelian hylemorphic dualism makes the most sense. It's not a soul-of-the-gaps position, and it's compatible with both a fully-physical understanding of how the brain works and with the survival of consciousness after death. Basically, it's the position that the soul is a Form (or, as Rupert Sheldrake calls them, morphogenetic fields), and thus its actions on the body are formal causes, not efficient causes. Roderick T. Long (a non-dualist hylemorphist) has a good essay on free will ("Free Will and Future Contigents") in which he points out that our wills don't have to be ghostly forces playing billiards with our synapses, they just have to be able to cause one possible future neural state to obtain instead of another.
Toggle Commented May 29, 2012 on Atheists and Neuroscience at Paranormalia
I don't think there's an answer to the question "Why is there something rather than nothing?" but that's because the question presupposes an absurdity: that both were genuine possibilities. The problem is that for that to be the case, something would have had to have caused one or the other. So, for something and nothing to both be options, something would have had to have existed already. (There's a joke to the extent of something and nothing deciding to flip a coin.) So, in that sense it's not a real question. Of course, there remains the question of what the first thing is/was, and it seems to me that Krauss is implicitly arguing that the quantum relativistic fields were the first cause. I have a lot of problems with that position, but the big one is that he's selling it as a "something from nothing" argument. That's just confused, and it's further evidence of how desperate the self-appointed champions of reason are getting.
Toggle Commented May 14, 2012 on Something from Nothing at Paranormalia
Paul: I don't think having different definitions of 'heathen' is a big problem really. As far as I can see every version of major world religion seems to have a number of variants - often regarding the other variants as inauthentic. Last time I checked, atheism isn't a variant of polytheism. :-P But, of course, for that very reason, there won't be any real problem distinguishing heathens like Baggini from heathens like Halloran.
Toggle Commented Mar 27, 2012 on Baggini's Heathenism at Paranormalia
I was thinking recently about my own frustrations with "bishop-bashing" types, and my concerns are much like yours. Not their lack of belief, which is usually honest and reasonable, but (a) the false narratives of science[1] they have built-up and expect everyone else to accept on their word, and (b) the — I fear increasingly — illiberal spirit with which they approach those who profess or practice some form of religious belief. It's always refreshing to see atheists who reject (b). Hopefully more will start to see through (a), as well. That said, I do see one problem with the term "heathen": it's already being used by a small-but-increasingly-visible[2] minority who follow some variant of pre-Christian Northern European religion. [1] The narratives in which, for example, parapsychology is all bunkum, and religion isn't an incredibly varied and nuanced class of things. [2] For example, in 2009, Dan Halloran, a Theodist, was elected to New York City Council… as a Republican, no less.
Toggle Commented Mar 26, 2012 on Baggini's Heathenism at Paranormalia
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