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Native Americans in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #76
I have a basically Darwinist attitude towards cultures, so "cultural genocide" is to me an offensive appropriation of a word whose true meaning should not be trivialized to such an extent. In reality, Western Europe exists as it does primarily because the Romans practiced as much "cultural genocide" as they could and I defy anyone to tell me the continent isn't better for it. I'm sure there's been a similar pattern in China, though, as a student in an American school, no one's taken the trouble to expose me to the relevant history.

Of course, an attitude such as mine is perilous because it ignores the actual fact, namely, that destroying a culture has yet to have been effectively and humanely done. I do think, though, that Western Europeans were not committing some horrible crime against humanity in taking the Native Americans' land. No one would raise an uproar today if developers displaced a hippie commune to build housing, particularly if it were low-income housing or some worthy project of that nature (and America was a social safety net for a lot of Europe's population - "Unemployed? Settle the frontier!").

What makes the Native Americans' situation so unethical was that the actual people comprising the culture were left out in the cold instead of having an open opportunity to join the culture which the environment appeared to be selecting. In any case, I refuse to see destroying a culture as a crime. If a culture can be destroyed, it shouldn't be around anyways, and whining about culture only distracts from real crimes against humanity, instead of their abstract ideals and customs.

With regards to the previous debate, I basically agree with SoT. The New Republic (a pretty liberal periodical, really) ran a great arcticle after 9/11, when the Bush administration was proposing allowing people to buy futures on various things like terrorist actions, etc, such that people could essentially bet on things like whether or when the terrorists would attack. Bush was, of course, massacred and immediately backed off. TNR, though, cited several studies, and the only ones which spring to mind were weight-guessing contests, but there were others, which showed the aggregate guesses of crowds with some interest in getting the right answer often yielded estimates very close to the truth. I feel like the collective wisdom of a populace with more or less identical interests will always trump bureacracy. Where the government needs to step in is where the interests of the powerful and the powerless diverge or, as SoT put it, in prisoner's-dilemma type situations where the most advantageous action for each person in each iteration of a situation will eventually lead to long-term disadvantage for all.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Native Americans in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #47
There was an article in The New Yorker about it a while back.
Read it here.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Native Americans in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #45
quote:
Originally written by The Worst Man Ever:

quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:

quote:
Originally written by too long, don't read, too many CRs:

... We need to understand why Asian kids from first generation immigrants are more likely to win highschool science prizes and transfer the essence of the magic potion. I just do not believe that these things are determined genetically. Maybe a special contest program would get American Indian kids motivated in some discipline that connects to their tradition.There should be plenty of potential sponsors who could buy publicity in this way.
As somebody mentioned in "president" thread, an important reason Asians and Jews do so well in school is strong family support. The parents force children to study hard. And since the culture places high value on education (at least for Jews, don't know about Asians), children are also more motivated themselves. Unfortunately, American schools don't force students to work hard, so if parents don't force them, and students themselves don't care, you end up with high school graduates who can't pass a basic literacy test.

Financial incentives would be good, but every carrot also needs a stick. For example, tying a part of welfare payments to how well kids do in school. (To discourage them from dropping out to get a job, or stay on welfare.) Of course this would work only if we actually fix the school system, pay teachers enough that not only those who couldn't get a better job would go into teaching, etc. And that's unlikely to happen.

I think punishing people for being on welfare is odd, but that's just me. If you need it, you need it.

And the reason Asian and Jewish kids do well in school isn't 'family support'. The Asian and Jewish kids that come here with money do quite well in school.

But then, you're talking (like any good, over-broadening American) about cases with strong exceptions.

Take the Jews. The western European Jews - the Germans especially - came to the country with a bit of money, a fair education, a good living standard, etc. We're talking some variant on middle class, no lower than lower middle class.

When America started getting exodoi from the Russian pogroms, on the other hand - the ones that made it here had next to nothing, were typically illiterate and superstitious, and generally had neither the means nor the inclination to learn the language.

Within the Jewish community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there was profound intranecine bigotry between the Western and Eastern Jews.

And the Russians and Poles and suchlike tend to remain poorer and worse-integrated than the Germans and the French and suchlike.

Take the Asians, for another example. The 'model minority'.

But that's because the 'model minority' had a decent standard of life.

The groups nobody talks about when you hear 'model minority' are the Vietnamese - the only large immigrant group to have come over for some reason besides middle-class advancement (refugees etc.) The Chinese and Japanese and whatnot tended to be literate, capable with large numbers, all that kind of thing. The Vietnamese? They had to learn that once they got here. And they had no money with which to do so.

Moral of the story? There's a cultural influence on education and assimilation. But by and large, the 'successful' minorities are the wealthy ones.

Your demography of the Chinese is just plain wrong. The bulk of the Chinese population in the Western United States comprises former railroad workers. The point still stands that some minorities are more "successful" than others, and it correlates with a strong family structure. Take hispanics, a group doing almost entirely blue-collar work, often barely functional in English, and as discriminated-against as any minority right now. Nonetheless, they are more often employed and thus more often fed than either blacks or native americans. A substantial Hispanic middle class has popped up literally out of nowhere near where I live in the past fifteen years, and they're almost all blue-collar, either tradesmen or owners of service establishments. Most strikingly, all of this is done with no help whatsoever from a government that doesn't even know they are in the country. It's no coincidence, I'll posit, that almost all of the Hispanics where I live belong to large extended families. There is simply no better social safety-net than living near fifteen to twenty people who can both tell you that education and a job are necessary and important, and can help you financially.

Governments have yet to develop a program that can effectively raise the social status of a minority, but groups like the Chinese and the Jews succeeded against the wishes of whites (the shift away from pure test-scores college admissions was in large part so that the Ivy Leagues could admit fewer Jews).

Government policy needs to address that aspect of Native American and Black communities, I believe, before it will actually succeed.

EDIT: Encouraging people on welfare to take up a trade may not be such a bad idea. It's certainly better than a simple "get a job, ya bum."

[ Wednesday, May 10, 2006 06:47: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
How would you deal with an acquainted killer? in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #27
Not to mention the flip side wherein war veterans regard a "nice, quiet life" as meaningless compared to the immediacy of war, a sort of feeling that one has already made one's greatest contribution to society and will never feel quite that alive again. I've gotten the impression that such an unhealthy opposite of PTSD is also fairly common among war veterans (although could quote no studies or anything).
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
If You Were President... in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #66
quote:
Originally written by Jumpin' Salmon:


quote:
PoD wrote this...:
If and when the majority of black people I know refer to themselves as African-Americans and to whites as Caucasians (I'd say vice versa, but the terms would then obviously be themselves offensive), then I will comply with that request. As it is, the standard monosyllables are preferable for both the keyboad and the tongue.

(Besides, political correctness is the biggest "what's that, we're racist? HEY LOOK OVER THERE!" pulled by whites in the 21st century)

Most people refer to themselves as "me" or "I", or in extreme cases "Dikiyoba." Most people also refer to their communities by stating the geographical place-name, or another commonly used variant (eg. Savin Hill, Piedmont, or Raleigh Hills).

I'm not sure I've ever heard anyone respond to any sort of interrogative with the statement "Well, I'm white you know." Maybe I just haven't been around as much as you. Maybe.

Not an interrogative, but people I know of all races venture a lot of opinions about both Caucasians and African descendendants, using the terminology "black" and "white." (Actually, the African-Americans I know from harsher circumstances primarily use a term you'd find far more offensive in self-reference and in the third person.)
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
If You Were President... in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #59
If and when the majority of black people I know refer to themselves as African-Americans and to whites as Caucasians (I'd say vice versa, but the terms would then obviously be themselves offensive), then I will comply with that request. As it is, the standard monosyllables are preferable for both the keyboad and the tongue.

(Besides, political correctness is the biggest "what's that, we're racist? HEY LOOK OVER THERE!" pulled by whites in the 21st century)

[ Thursday, May 04, 2006 20:47: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
If You Were President... in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #51
Well, to be fair, hiring someone at a small business is a big gamble. He/she'll be a large percentage of your workforce. So, taking risks isn't something small business owners want to do. A reasonable person wouldn't see a black person as a risk, but, let's face it - cornrows, tattoos, pants around the crotch, big jewelry, and a certain manner of speaking correlate with a lot of behaviors people don't want in an employee (whatever the person's race - it just so happens that a lot of black people around where I live fit that description). When all you get is a first impression, you just aren't going to hire someone meeting that description (well, I'm not). Hence, affirmative action.

You can't expect small business owners to give chances to the urban poor on their own.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
If You Were President... in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #46
Well, what I see as a good immediate solution is a more powerful regional government. As it is, municipal governments with very small tax bases (rich people live in suburbs) are mainly in charge of running problem school. A better approach would be an expansive "metro-area" government which could tax the area as a whole and funnel some of the affluent areas' money into inner-city schools. Of course, the result would probably just be white flight unless it was done everywhere. Money also won't help that much without kids and parents emotionally invested in education, though.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
If You Were President... in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #39
Zeviz, I used that argument you made about Asians against affirmative action for years on end. But, I've changed my mind about that recently. The pattern with traditionally overprivileged minorities like the Asians and the Jews is that they have an extremely strong family structure which both emphasizes education and provides children a support structure so that they can pursue it without working. Blacks, on the other hand, had their traditional family structure absolutely annihilated during slavery and have yet to resurrect the tradition; just look at the statistics about black single mothers.

Affirmative action in higher education, though, does nothing for the blacks it needs to be helping. It helps rich black girls from DC suburbs get into Columbia without taking any hard classes, but nothing for urban blacks. For it to be at all meaningful, it needs also to be income-based.

TM, it is entirely ludicrous to divest the black community of all responsibilty for its present problems. I agree that assuming the privileged races have no obligation to help them is also ludicrous, but American black culture is toxic and contemptible. There, I said it. Ever heard a rap song? Ever worked with urban black males for a long time? I did; I went into it with an open mind, but it was like it was their mission in life to live up to every negative stereotype. It's the sad truth that slavery did damage to the black community that only the black community can undo. White people can't make black fathers stick around, even if it was white people who destroyed that tradition.

(Let me say that I've met some counter-examples, but urban black culture is as bad as the stereotypes; more importantly, they were bad employees. This is just my personal experience; I'm sure there are white neighborhoods that produce just such malingerers. But, a lot of people hold wonderful, enlightened opinions about racial prejudice without any experience outside of their nice, diverse, but middle-class community. Let me tell you that you would be an idiot not to be afraid of the Ghetto. People there are cruel, and that's a fact.)

There's an interesting example of the dynamics of situations like that in Prince George's County, Maryland. It's one of the few substantial all-black upper-middle-class enclaves out there, and there relationship with the urban black community in their county is even worse than with most white suburbs.

Again, I am not a racist, that is just my experience.

Of course, let me emphasize that white people are much more to blame, and have a lot to do. But "it's all the white man's fault" is patently false, counterproductive, and one of the biggest excuses the black community makes for not changing itself, and the white community makes for it. I mean, look what happened to Bill Cosby.

Anyway, I'll just talk about urban planning, because that's the area where I have substantive knowledge to contribute. (And where I'd concentrate if I had any kind of executive power, to go back on topic). What I would do is apply affirmative action to housing, and ban any new development not featuring a minimum proportion of low-income housing. The best thing whites could do for poor blacks, and what they're least willing to do, the bastards, is share their space. If rich whites want to improve their neighborhood (and their public schools!), they're going to have to help poor blacks. Furthermore, living together may actually foster mutual respect, strikingly absent nowadays. I would also force mixed-use development; poor people actually might want to have work within walking distance. It goes without saying that mass transit is a must: tax the rich to get everyone where they need to go; don't let them buy their own private transportation.

[ Thursday, May 04, 2006 11:56: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
RPGs vs. "Computer Games" in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #9
Wait, maybe I'm just too young and haven't been part of the scene, but why disqualify games because they're primarily scripted and linear? The difference is simply between playing a well-defined role with a gaming experience tailored around that role and a somewhat more flexible, but also generic, system in which the player's "role" is primarily self-imposed. An RPG is simply a game that encourages identification with the player character, not necessarily one that gives the player total control over the PC. I've never even touched pen-and-paper, so I don't have much to add on the main topic.

I mostly just think FF7 deserves the name RPG, and tailor my definitions around that. :D

Everyone's right about "action-fantasy," too.

[ Wednesday, May 03, 2006 16:09: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
NBA Playoffs in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #5
quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

I like to think that I have a very strong stance on the NBA playoffs. My stance is thus:

Why do the playoffs have to interrupt MLB games? Seriously, I'm getting sick of being beaten to my dorm's TV by NBA fans.

No, why does the MLB have to be on and monopolize sportscenter? Once you've seen one MLB highlight reel, you've seen them all. Although I will agree that the NBA playoffs are stretched out over an obscene amount of time.

I love the NBA playoffs. Best basketball around (e ven if the NCAA tournament is a much better format, the basketball is just plain better at the pro level).

Wizards all the way, baby! (Until they lose.)

[ Wednesday, May 03, 2006 14:27: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Question 2: Imbalance of Wealth in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #85
The first step towards solving world poverty, in my opinion, would be a rigorous systems analysis of the entire Earth. It is essential to determine each person's needs, each person's productive potential (i.e. taking into account things like social situation, proximity of infrastructure, total education, and so one and so forth), and how the systems work which translate productive potential into goods and services (leaving aside the question of wealth entirely), how to meet each person's needs, and how to assign the excess production (assuming there is any) as incentives for those with rare skillsets to use them, rather than working at another, equally-compensated occupation.

Some suggestions I have on how to do this would be a push for de-globalization and greater locality of production, management, and distribution. Too much management work (and white-collar work in general) is concentrated in too small an area of the world. In an ideal situation, the ratio of white-collar to blue-collar workers in each area would be about the same. Regional specialization in commodities is not something we could seriously think about eliminating; but those managing an operation (and enjoying the benefits of doing so) should always be of the same community (to as narrow a definition of community as is possible) as those doing the grunt work. I, for one, would not be against a decrease in the global standard of living; so long as a drastically smaller proportion of the world's population has an unacceptable standard living.

Of course, the only way I see any of this as possible is by taking control of all the nuclear weapons on Earth and essentially reforming it at gunpoint, and then nuking any areas experiencing positive population growth (humans would discover a self-control they never knew they had). If history is any indication, the systems analysis and/or implementation would be fundamentally flawed and everything would end up much more messed up than before, but that's the danger of trying to solve a problem that is really composed of several much smaller problems.

With regards to problems here in America, I will be doing my best to fix them, since my chosen field of study is Urban Planning, not one of the several more lucrative ones open to me. I think the single greatest problem of 21st-century urban planning is how to revitalize without gentrifying; in other words, how to induce the middle class to occupy an area and spend their money there without displacing the people who would gain the most by their doing so.

I basically agree with Slarty's sentiment that much of what appears as selfishness is actually uncertainty. Being willing to sacrifice to eliminate world poverty is entirely different from being willing to sacrifice in order to do what some guy thinks might solve world poverty. After all, it's quite nice being affluent and comfortable, and if I'm going to sacrifice that, I've got to be damn sure that I'm not just lining the pockets of the corrupt or simply having absolutely no effect.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Another 3-D Editor Thread in Blades of Avernum Editor
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #2
Also make sure that you're not placing doors, windows etc. from a wallset that doesn't have them. That pisses it off.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Another 3-D Editor Thread in Blades of Avernum
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #2
Also make sure that you're not placing doors, windows etc. from a wallset that doesn't have them. That pisses it off.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts Discussion Cont'd in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #0
Mods: There were several threads to the discussion in the "Power Corrupts" thread (hee hee), and I don't think this was the one that got it locked. I decided I'd like to continue this one. With a mod's say-so, I wouldn't be averse to people quoting things other than the musical-taste flamewar and interpersonal tensions that got that thread locked that they would like to continue discussing in this thread. I will delete this if prompted to do so.

quote:
Originally written by TM:


quote:
Hell exists (or it doesn't, but you know what I mean) as a necessary consequence of free will.

(From my reading of the bible, free will exists under a Judeo-Christian theology - I know you disagree, but bear with that assumption for the sake of argument)
Okay, sure. I can go with that.

quote:
The Ecumenically-inclined Christian sects believe at least that virtuous members of other belief systems are free from damnation.
Except for the current papacy: Remember, it was Ratzinger who originally censored the works of Rahner.

quote:
"Accepting Jesus" and "loving God" don't have to mean anything more than following "love your neighbor as I have loved you," because Jesus himself said that if you are kind to your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, then you love him, and acceptance is rather a necessary component of love, don't you think?
Wow- nice use of logic. (Not being sarcastic here.)

quote:
As has been pointed out in this thread, it is by no means a universal Judeo-Christian belief that hell is torment; the only common belief is that hell is distance from God and lack of the joy derived from closeness to/unity with God.
Well, okay. Let's take this definition, then.

But let me make a proposition:

Let's take a random person. We'll call this person "Pat." Now, Pat's parents abused her/him in the worst ways possible, Pat had no friends in school, and s/he was unsuccessful for her/his entire life. These things happen, unfortunately.

Now certainly, Pat did not experience a life that was particularly condusive into making her/him a loving, caring person. And let's say that Pat had free will.

But. Let's say there is another individual whom we will call "Chris." Chris grew up in a genuine, caring and economically stable household, and was placed into a situation by birth that was much more condusive into making her/him a loving human being.

Now let's say that what is statistically bound to happen to both Pat and Chris respectively happens: Pat leads a loveless life and ends up being quite "far" from god, whereas Chris lives a wonderful live and ends up quite "close" to god. But this leads me to a proposition I made earlier:

What of these two individuals who led lives so oppressive that the odds of their both going against what is statistically bound to happen is so slim as to be a macrocosmic impossibility? Is Pat truly held to the same standards as Chris? Is Pat's eternal afterlife supposed to be that much worse than Chris' because of what Pat's parents did to her/him? How can an ultimately fair god not take into account how alienated Pat was when allowing her/him to be so far away from it?

The trouble you describe with this scenario is as a result of describing the love in a person's soul as the sum total of that person's positive sentiments and (more importantly) good intentions. In such a situation, Chris will undoubtedly feel more charitably towards humanity as a whole, but his positive feelings are basically in return for his good fortune in life. It is easy for the privileged white male to look kindly on and act charitably towards the rest of the human race; after all, a disproportionate amount of the race's labor goes towards his comfort. Someone's true love for humanity is seen through caring more for one's fellow humans than can be explained by mere gratitude (or despite suffering).

Jesus has many teachings which imply as much. One incident in particular comes to mind, when he praises a poor woman for giving what she had to the Church and denounces a rich man's contribution as inferior to the poor woman's, because hers was much more of what she could have given. I would interpret this story as being much more about the type of thing that I mentioned above than about an issue of monetary tithes to an institution. The beatitudes certainly imply that being born into adverse circumstance will not hurt anyone's afterlife, and Jesus had a habit of consorting with people not exactly from stable, loving households.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Question 1: Energy in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #46
It's not a direct solution, but superior urban planning could go a long way in helping to bring energy consumption down to sustainable leveals. A good deal of the United States' decadent energy consumption can be attributed to poor urban planning. Because the dominant pattern for American residential zoning is single-use and low-density, securing almost every basic necessity requires a car trip: groceries, school, other child-care, and home-improvement supplies are all a 5-10 minute drive (i.e. a 30-60 minute walk) from my house. With higher-density, mixed-use living, it would be easy to locate essential services within a 5-10 minute walk from residences. Such an arrangement has the added bonus of placing service workers, for whom affording a car is often a real hardship, within walking distance of jobs. A high-density arrangement also makes mass transit much more practicable, because true stations, rather than massive park-and-ride complexes, are a possibility.

A mining company is building a massive "walkable community" in Utah (unfortunately, I don't think they're providing for low-income housing); hopefully it'll turn out profitable for the developers so that we'll see more of those in America.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #144
TM:

Hell exists (or it doesn't, but you know what I mean) as a necessary consequence of free will.

(From my reading of the bible, free will exists under a Judeo-Christian theology - I know you disagree, but bear with that assumption for the sake of argument)

If humans have no choice but to experience supreme bliss post-mortem, then free will is an illusion, variation at the quantum level ultimately meaningless at the macroscopic scale of an eternal existence. As has been pointed out in this thread, it is by no means a universal Judeo-Christian belief that hell is torment; the only common belief is that hell is distance from God and lack of the joy derived from closeness to/unity with God. The Catholic concept of purgatory even implies that repentance is possible after death, which further implies that free will extends into the afterlife.

The Ecumenically-inclined Christian sects believe at least that virtuous members of other belief systems are free from damnation. "Accepting Jesus" and "loving God" don't have to mean anything more than following "love your neighbor as I have loved you," because Jesus himself said that if you are kind to your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, then you love him, and acceptance is rather a necessary component of love, don't you think?

Bible-belt protestants don't represent the concept of religion, and morally bankrupt philosophies held by bible-belt protestants don't extend to the very concept of religion.

quote:
Originally written by Thuryl:

Hey, guys, y'know, if you want to have a rational debate with someone, it might be better to do it with someone who is not by his own admission suffering from psychosis.

I'm just sayin'.

Who's that?

[ Tuesday, April 25, 2006 12:30: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #100
Damn. You caught me before I could edit away my ill-considered response. :P

EDIT: You know, this post really does not work when separated from the one before it by the page break. Oh, well, can't think of anything useful to say instead.

[ Sunday, April 23, 2006 17:38: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #98
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:


Moreover it is not easy to avoid adding entities in the big picture. There are many questions to which a theist will answer, "God", but to which many atheists answer, "Chance". Go all formal and rigorous at this point, and you find that the role played by "chance" in atheistic metaphysics is so much like that of "God" in the theistic structure, that it is hard to say why the Razor should only trim God.


Finally, Alec's quark analogy is an interesting one to me, because I think my belief in God is probably fairly similar in nature to my belief in quarks. I find the evidence for quarks compelling, but it is evidence that is hard to find and almost as hard to understand. Deep inelastic scattering of protons can't be done in the rec room, and demonstrating quark confinement is still an open problem in the theory of quantum chromodynamics. Quarks were undreamt of fifty years ago; no evidence for them had ever been imagined then, let alone found. Yet practically all the matter we see is (and was) made up of quarks (and virtual gluons, alas — there's the rub). The moral I draw is that finding evidence for real things can be very difficult.

From this I am inferring that you believe in God, am I right? You find the evidence for quarks compelling, and your belief in God is like unto your belief in God. Care to expand on what compelling evidence you find for God's existence? (I mean this not in an adversarial way, I'm genuinely curious about your views on the subject, being a physicist and all.)

Also,
quote:

"By definition, God is the greatest of all possible beings. A non-existent being is clearly less great than one which exists. Therefore God must exist." (Anselm of Canterbury, 11th century).

All Anselm has proven is that the greatest of all possible beings exists. He has shown only that there exists in the universe something which fits a given definition of great better than anything else in the universe. In an infinite universe in which every possibility exists, that object's characteristics are necessarily the highest possible conformity to the established definition of great. What it does not prove is that the object conforms completely to the definition - only that it does so to the highest degree possible.

(Probably not too original, and you'll have a ready answer, but this is the first time I've seen that.)

quote:
Originally written by Parody of Oneself:


I think Alec's point still stands. There is no faith that does not believe in a benign greater power. It may not be the only power or the greatest power, but it's always there.

The Aztecs may have been different, what with needing x number of sacrifices to keep the sun in the sky, but I won't pretend my knowledge goes any further than that. In the general case I'll say that a lot of primitive religions seem to have fickle higher powers who are not so much benign as able to be appeased (again, just a surface-level impression not taken from any specific knowledge).

The point stands, I guess, with regard to modern religion, probably due in large part to free-market forces acting on religions - who's going to join a religion in which the higher power actively has it in for humanity.

[ Sunday, April 23, 2006 17:35: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
A new low: in this thread, we hold a conversation using images in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #4
quote:
Originally written by The Worst Man Ever:

IMAGE(http://www.everettraymondkinstler.com/images/art/BushYaleClub_lg.jpg)
IMAGE(http://pandora.cii.wwu.edu/showcase2004/images_05/jn_pinto.gif)
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #64
quote:
Originally written by Mathman v. Qwerty:

Religion, and belief in life after death, are NOT the same thing... I know you know that, but one could very well imagine a belief system concerning life after death that does not involve god(s), demons, rituals that seem bizarre or outrageous to non-believers, or other typical trappings of religion. So the etiology doesn't really say anything about religion as a package.
That's a good point, and a hard one to answer.

The best I can come up with is that it requires quite a bit of mental gymnastics to extend one's concept of life beyond physical death. Evolution probably seized upon the first, not the most logical, mental inducement to pursue the Nash equilibrium. (It's also worth noting that observing death makes it pretty hard to believe that any life after death will be the same as life, so determining exactly what it is fell entirely upon the creative faculties of individual societies.)

Some sort of community expression is also essential. Each individual, in order to be more likely to "cooperate," must have evidence that its fellows share its beliefs. Rituals considered outlandish by non-believers are probably best, because they can't be mistaken for the routines of everyday life.

[ Saturday, April 22, 2006 07:49: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
Shock Trooper
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quote:
Originally written by Wonko The Sane:

quote:
Originally written by Mc 'mini' Thralni:

Well, that's what religion is, basically. Combine the problems, and blame them all together to one super-problem: God. Now try to find an explanation for god himself, and you're done.
This is basically why religion was started. People got upset when someone died. Therefore, to comfort themselves, they decided that that person went to Heaven. Later, some bright philosopher wondered how the entire race of humans came to exist. They decided that a powerful being created them. Then, some other bright philosopher decided to combine the beliefs, and write them down. There you have religion.

Simplistic and patronizing explanations are great for belittling people who believe something you don't, but please refrain. Take it as a certainty that someone much, much smarter than you is religious. (And someone much, much smarter than me is an atheist)

Anywho, you did bring up an interesting topic, namely, what social-scientific (i.e. not scientific as any physicist, chemist, or even biologist would define it) explanations can people come up with for the existence of religion?

Mine runs thusly:
Religion (specifically, belief in an afterlife, or reincarnation) is an evolutionary inducement to cooperation. Why religion to fill that role? Well, I take it as a given that there is some sort of rudimentary, sub-conscious game-theory decision tree algorithm in our brains. If each interaction between humans is modelled as a prisoner's dilemma (not too unreasonable, I hope), then it is most advantageous in any one case to "defect." Of course, over the long run (an infinite number of iterations) it is most advantageous for all the players to cooperate.

But, individual humans will play a decidedly finite number of iterations. Thus, the question of whether it is most advantageous to "defect" or to "cooperate" is open. Belief in an eternal afterlife extends the number of future iterations to infinity, and brings society closer to the Nash equilibrium than it otherwise would be.

(Of course, it has since been used as a means of "defecting;" I'm speaking in a general case about why it evolved)
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
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quote:
Originally written by Butt Paladin:


quote:
In that instance, God was able to influence events such that Joseph's brothers didn't accomplish their aim, but God could not stop them from taking actions with that aim in mind.
In this instance, that's not applicable. Are you saying that god purposefully chose Joseph for Israel to love far more than his other sons? In which case god is STILL having someone act considerably worse to get the job done.

I don't really understand what you're saying here.

quote:
Originally written by TM:


quote:
The implication, then, is that there is some core of free will that God cannot touch, and God must resort to other methods (like trickery, in the Joseph case) to get humans to accomplish God's aims.
"Trickery" still doesn't explain the behaviors of the brothers. God clearly had assigned them this behavior, and they do it. Regardless of the methods, whether they be subterfuge, psychology, etc., if god assigns you something to do and you do it without knowing but with certain accuracy, you have no free will. To argue otherwise is to have a narrow-minded vision of what "free will" actually means.


Looking at a more vernacular translation, I'll agree that, the way Joseph says it, his Brothers were God's pawns. Bear in mind, though, that direct quotations from any biblical character other than Yahweh/Jesus (ze)self are suspect, especially when the character is "reassuring," or "speaking kindly," as my translation puts it, and especially when the character doesn't, at that time, seem to be serving as a prophet of any kind. Heck, he may have been trying to persuade his brothers that they didn't act of their own free will to make them feel better. I feel like taking this passage as a disproof of free will when free will seems to be God's primary frustration throughout the Old Testament is making a mountain out of a molehill.

quote:
Originally written by Randomizer:

The other is that God is deliberately placing limitations on his power in order to achieve some result. We're part of an experiment to see if after enough time we're all dead from self destruction (that may happen soon if Iran gets the bomb) or evolve into something better that is closer to God but of lesser power.
That's what I take out of the bible, anyways, although the bible implies more of a desire to see something choose happiness as opposed to being created happy (rather than Mengele-like experimentation).

[ Friday, April 21, 2006 20:01: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Power Corrupts in General
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"Amusement" is an unfair exaggeration and you know it. The most important part of Job is that it makes a good exemplum. Acting in a "corrupt fashion" (debatable, since Job came out ahead - although that argument's moot if you consider that his wife and children were killed) to make a point is a little different from amusement.

I'd also like to point out that the Bible doesn't seem to hold God's power as absolute. I'd have to disagree with you on the Joseph passage; the bible claims that God's physical power is limitless, but it seems to be only physical. In that instance, God was able to influence events such that Joseph's brothers didn't accomplish their aim, but God could not stop them from taking actions with that aim in mind. It's a subtle distinction, and I don't know how well I'm making it, but God spends most of the Old Testament trying to coerce people into doing things with physical threats (10 plagues, Nineveh, Sodom & Gomorrah, etc.). The implication, then, is that there is some core of free will that God cannot touch, and God must resort to other methods (like trickery, in the Joseph case) to get humans to accomplish God's aims. The New Testament seems like God throwing up his hands and deciding not to use temporal inducements to get people to do what ze (gender-neutral pronoun) wants.

[ Friday, April 21, 2006 19:01: Message edited by: PoD person ]
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"Policing" ourselves? in General
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Yeah, it's time to lay off of Micael. The point has been made, let's chalk it up to a foot in the mouth and move on.

I think a better direction to take this discussion is a comparison between Hitler and Stalin, which showed up on TCoA. It's obvious that Hitler's intentions were scarier. But is he scarier than Stalin?

What is worse, someone so deranged that they want to commit genocide, but also deluded to the point of being self-destructive and incompetent, or someone coldly rational, for whom killing people is simply the means to most of his ends?
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00

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