On time and space


The two together are the form of our understanding.
Things are in space and happen in time. Beyond time and space, that is, beyond phenomenon, we are blind.
Is it, therefore, rational to classify things outside of experience, if any, that is, out of the sphere of cause and effect as knowledge?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

72 thoughts on “On time and space

  1. ladysighs says:

    Is it rational to even ask? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Of course we can imagine, theorize, speculate, hypothesize and guess, but beyond that, evidence, and ultimately proof, is required.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Time and space exist. Time and space must have a beginning. Thus, a timeless, spaceless, limitless place must exist where invisible guys hang out creating visible shit. This is empirical evidence for the christian god and the bible. Thanks for believing, and please, get ready to burn forever in hell if you don’t.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. tildeb says:

    That’s why these claims remain claims and not ‘explanations’ as those who believe in pseudo-science think.

    Granting new terminology the status of nouns doesn’t turn the trick, either… by calling this supposed ‘beyond’ a ‘realm’ or ‘transcendental plane of existence’ or ‘the numinous’ or ‘heaven’ or ‘the afterlife’ and so on. The mistake so many people make is to assume that this is the place where some kind of Oogity Boogity! hangs out yet manages to cause effect in the here and now by some as yet unknown mechanism… and then speculate that this is an explanatory model that is both rational and reasonable.

    It’s neither; it’s simply a claim of speculation that provides a harbour for all kinds of batshit crazy assumption, assertion, and attribution – what we can safely call ’empty’ speculation because it is exempt from having to provide evidence adduced from reality. After all, the Great Beyond is, you know, beyond.

    Without any means to produce supporting links between claimed causes and selected effects, this explanatory model has no truth value beyond empty speculation. That’s why this ‘explanation’ produces no knowledge but is often presented as if ‘another kind of knowledge’. It’s not. the model remains identical to empty speculation. And that’s the typical word game one encounters when asking to be shown the compelling evidence.that supposedly is available to those who believe in the pseudo-scientific e claim.

    Claiming empty speculation is an equivalent explanatory knowledge-producing model – just of a different kind – to a method that does is what defines irrationality: (a: lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence, b: not governed by or according to reason.) It’s like saying a bicycle is another kind of fish and then claiming that this is rational by fiat.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. john zande says:

    You need to watch Interstellar, all the explanations are in that movie. Gravity and love permeate all dimensions.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. >>> “Is it, therefore, rational to classify things outside of experience, if any, that is, out of the sphere of cause and effect as knowledge?”

    We humans have two basic ways of obtaining knowledge: 1) through empirical means (observation and experimentation as used in the scientific method – a.k.a. experience), and 2) through rational means (logical constructs and abstractions such as mathematics). Obviously, empirical knowledge is entirely dependent on our existence and experience in space-time; however, such dependency is less clear concerning rational knowledge. Consider this simple equation:

    (a + b) = c

    We do not empirically know what the numerical values for a, b and c are, yet we can rationally conclude that:

    a = (c – b) and b = (c – a)

    This rationally-derived knowledge is an abstraction, not experience. Since we humans conceived of it within the confines of our existence in space-time, it still does appear to be dependent upon our existence. But, consider this question:

    If humans had never existed, would (a + b) = c?

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    • tildeb says:

      Manipulations within axiomatic systems are often brought forward as if examples of ‘another way of knowing’ when evidence from reality is absent. The problem is that the system itself is completely artificial and meaningless and produces no knowledge whatsoever on its own. What we are really doing is plugging into these comparative systems relative values based wholly on reality and then forgetting that there’s no such ‘thing’ as, say a ‘four’ independent of us assigning a real world meaning to the symbols. ‘Four’ is entirely representative of a quantity of real things – regardless of which real things we’re talking about – that are greater than a quantity of similar things we call ‘three’ and a quantity of similar things we call fewer than ‘five’. The term ‘quantity’ itself is a human construct that symbolically represents some number of real world things. Without plugging those ‘things’ into the meaning of the axiomatic system, we have nada. We certainly don’t have “rationally derived knowledge” as if independent from the meaning of symbols we apply that represent the real world. It’s a sleight of mind, a trick, to pretend the use of such a system is different from and independent of empiricism. There is only empiricism.

      As for the question if human never existed would (a+b) = c and the answer is the question is meaningless without humans to supply these symbols with meaning.

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      • As an empiricist, I must disagree. While knowledge obtained through empirical means is always preferable, its extent is limited. Beyond the current boundaries of science lays great unknowns where rational means are eminently preferable to other approaches (e.g. mysticism, mythology, and religion) towards understanding. Mathematics is a rational, logical means of understanding. So too is the atheist’s reasoning in determining the nonexistence of god(s). Also, your assertion that the absence of humans precludes knowledge based on logical abstracts (a + b = c) is strikingly anthropocentric. That we humans are the only species in the universe/cosmos capable of abstract reasoning is very difficult to believe.

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        • tildeb says:

          That’s not what I said. I said the symbolic representations are meaningless without someone providing that meaning. You mistake the abstract to be a thing unto itself – as if it had existence rather than only function – and it isn’t a thing. That’s why it cannot produce knowledge somehow qualitatively different from empiricism. It’s empiricism using a different system. The abstract has no properties so you cannot treat it as if it did. Because it is an abstraction that provides us with a function once we supply the meaning – meaning extracted wholly from reality – it cannot produce knowledge without that reality-based empirical input for its meaning. That’s the only way such abstractions gain function.

          I am addressing your point that you say we can rationally derive knowledge from abstraction alone, as if this were another ‘kind’ of knowledge producing method somehow separate from empiricism. It’s not. I’m pointing out that the abstraction itself is empty of any knowledge value until we – meaning the agency that is performing this abstract function – supply meaning. This meaning is wholly derived from reality and so we’re right back to relying on empiricism. Empiricism is the only way to gain knowledge about reality. The translation from empirical reality into symbolic representation using an axiomatic system then requires a second translation back into empirical reality to find out if our system function does aid us in gaining new insight into reality. That doesn’t make the abstraction and its use a different kind of knowledge from empiricism; it’s still empiricism using a route that requires more complex function than direct experience alone.

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          • I admire your strict adherence to empiricism, tildeb. As I said, I consider myself first and foremost an empiricist. But, I just can’t agree that rationalism and other logical forms cannot produce knowledge.

            In Arch’s analogy, no witness is necessary to know that sound is generated by a tree falling in a forest. This logical inference requires no empirical evidence that the event generated actual sound waves or that the event even occurred. Would a video/audio recording of the tree falling be preferable? Absolutely, but it isn’t necessary to know that it had.

            Likewise, mathematical proofs (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_proof) are a form of reasoning (i.e. deductive) distinguishable from other forms (i.e. inductive and empirical) to which theoretical physicist and mathematician Eugene Wigner described as adding to situational knowledge in ways that are either not possible otherwise or are so outside normal thought to be of little notice.

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        • Swarn Gill says:

          My guess is that what tildeb is getting at is that logical axioms still require some substances to uncover knowledge. If we say:

          All A are B
          All B are C
          Therefore all A are C.

          That’s great in of itself, and this would still be logical axiom with our without humanity, but it matters what A, B, and C are. If A were hats, B were cats, and C were rats, because empirically we would know that none of those statements are true, and the argument would be nonsense. So in a way both of you are right in my opinion, although I’m not sure what the common idea that wraps both of yours together is.

          And I agree that it is human conceit that thinks we are the only ones to derive such axioms, although arguably we are to do so formally in a way that others species are not, but it’s important I think to remember that language gives us a tool for expressing these ideas that other animals cannot, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t derived them. I would imagine that they would derive them however through experiential learning though. It seems your argument would also then ask the question “Do numbers exist without humans?” The answer of course that they do, but we need things to count for that to be true. I mean 5 exists, but it’s quite possible that 5 Gods don’t exist since we haven’t been able to count even one of them.

          My head is hurting so I’ll stop now. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • That is truly brilliant insight! Thanks for the moderating perspective, and I do appreciate the somewhat painful effort. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • tildeb says:

            Swarn, I want to explain why something you wrote is a root problem in understanding what knowledge is, something that leads most people, no matter how big brained they are, astray. All the time.

            You wrote It seems your argument would also then ask the question “Do numbers exist without humans?” The answer of course that they do, but we need things to count for that to be true. I mean 5 exists, but….

            To demonstrate why this is a misunderstanding that nibbles around the edges of what is the case can be summed up in one word: Galileo.

            Not very helpful, I know… hence the explanation. And that explanation is key to understanding why numbers – and all kinds of other metaphysical assertions – do not exist even though we can find a function for them. Also, we can know they don’t exist. Bear with me.

            Most people familiar with Galileo think his contribution had to do with telescopes and lenses and heliocentrism and the problems the explanatory model for his celestial observations presented the Church. Although this is all true, that wasn’t why he was the giant upon whose shoulders Newton later claimed to stand to see farther. He was the giant because he demonstrated why the metaphysical cornerstone of natural philosophy – physics – was wrong… and was so wrong that it had not only misled people for over 1800 years but continued to stop people from gaining knowledge about reality.

            What Galileo did was pull this cornerstone about natural philosophy out of physics entirely and the Church quite rightly realized the whole metaphysical structure of understanding reality – an understanding of ancient physics the Church relied upon for its justification – was under dire threat of utter collapse.

            What was the cornerstone? The clue is in the term ‘natural’ philosophy. Natures. This si the metaphysical assumption that is fatal to metaphysics being a source of knowledge about reality in whatever form it arises

            Predating Plato’s time, it was assumed that everything had natures. Of course natures had to be real, you see, and everyone knew this because everyone knew that motion requires agency. Without agency, we have no cause for motion, causes for action, causes for willful action and intention, and with no causes we have no motion, no action, no will, no intention, and so on.

            But we do have motion, and so on. Ergo, we have must have a First Mover, a Prime Mover, an agency that instills natures into things.

            Duh, right?

            A rock is held and then released. Because of its inherent nature – a nature of ‘heaviness’ – it will try to return to its origins (one of the fundamental elements called ‘earth’ form which it has been ‘made’… an element that is the source of the nature of ‘heaviness’). How very perspicacious, right? That is why a rock drops, you see, to rejoin its source. Because a smaller rock has a smaller nature of heaviness, it, too, will try to return home and so will travel there… just a tad more slowly. Less nature. you see. A feather, made up of different elements only part of which is heaviness, will be subject to different attractions as it returns home to the sky yet home to the earth, and so on. The eye sees because it is imbued with the nature of light. The sparkly bits in the sky move in concentric circles because a divine agency causes them to, and so on. Everything has a nature: the man provides the soul in the nature of semen and the woman the soil in the nature of an egg out of which a man or woman will then be animated. Makes perfect sense. And we can know of theses natures of different things by observation and the correct form of ‘reason’ that produces insight into reality.

            So, too, do numbers have a nature, and chairs. Everything, in fact. Plato goes on quite a while explaining about temporal shadowy natures we can see and the crowning glory of reasons that allows us to go beyond (the meta of the physics used here) the dull copies we encounter in the world but comprehend the ‘real’ natures of these things as the ideas and concepts they really are called forms by use only of reason! How wondrous!

            Aristotle devises an entire system of categories to help us figure out what possesses which natures – categories incorporated into modern science such as taxonomic ranks, and how to differentiate similar things. Big brained stuff.

            The whole logical system collapses on itself when we demonstrate that things don’t have natures! This is what Galileo did and this is why he was charged with heresy; he demonstrated that we had mistaken natures with properties, that all objects had properties subject in exactly the same way to something he called ‘forces’. Because it’s the same force on a big rock or little (or a sponge or a feather), all hit the ground at the same time unless affected by other forces.

            So how did Galileo come to this understanding that stuff didn’t possess natures? He allowed reality to arbitrate these claims in a hundred different experimental and emprical ways and the story is quite fascinating about him dropping different sized rocks from high places and seeing which ones landed first, about talking to people about their areas of expertise like hunters and figuring out models of why trajectories were what they were and not what was expected, climbing ships masts to see if the dropped objects traveled towards the stern as assumed, and so on. He realized that all objects were equivalent in that all were subject to the same forces. They didn’t have individual natures or the results would have been different. What he figured out was that all objects have properties.

            Properties have functions. Functions do not require agency but can yield motion. This understanding is the huge stumbling block many of us continue to hold… ideas like ‘free will’ and ‘morality’ somehow and magically being separate from the neurochemical functioning of a brain. .

            So why do we continue to believe that stuff without properties are still real? Well, there’s a reason for that.

            How does any of this relate to numbers, to the idea that axiomatic systems exist independent of those who use them? It’s the age old story of presuming function is synonymous with agency. It’s not. It’s synonymous with properties… properties that belong only to objects and not concepts.

            We can demonstrate this to ourselves.

            How much does a ‘4’ weigh? Where dos it reside? What are its properties that differentiate it from a ‘four’, from a IV, from a 0100, from a shi? Please note that all of these are representations, are symbols to which we attach a meaning. The most common is a specific quantity greater than three but fewer than five. But consider what quantity is meant by the number when used as a mole – a chemical quantity? The symbols we call ‘numbers’ are just that – symbolic representation of somethings that we then have to supply. In order for the axiomatic system we call ‘numbers’ to translate into describing reality, we have to also produce units. ‘Four’ what? There’s the meaning requirement. If we return to Bob’s (a+b)= c formula, we have to make sure that we keep a’s units the same as b’s units in order for c that has the same units to make any sense (1 apple plus 2 apples does not equal 3 bicycles: we can measure at our leisure if our units stay the same). This demonstrates the utter reliance on supplied meaning and coherence for the equation to have any applied knowledge value.

            That’s where out brains come into it.

            For example, our brains do not have access to the properties of other objects. Our brains have to rely on inputted sensory data, which it must interpret and create representational models that we then test against reality to navigate our environments. Our brains supply the meaning for these models… this bit represents a sharp corner that endangers our shins… this bit represents colour we use to contrast depth and fill in detail… this bit represents space and this bit represents time, and so on. Our brains are meaning-making biological machines. We apply meaning to this data (and that’s why we can be so easily fooled when we misinterpret the data… something con artists and businesses have relied on forever). So we presume that our eyes, for example, are what is required for the function of sight. (absolutely typical metaphysical thinking) This is factually wrong. It isn’t our eyes that see. Our brains ‘see’ and we can train other senses to activate the areas of the brain used to create 3D modeling we call ‘sight’. Most of us allow, for example, our eyes to be the primary receptors of visual data but we fall into the trap of incorrectly assuming the function of 3D modelling is therefor a property of the eyes – as if this modeling is what the eye was designed to do. It’s not. It transports data just like the skin or ears but of the photon kind rather than the tactile or sound kind used by others. Vision occurs in the brain and then we apply our modeling that uses this data from whatever source and then test it by maneuvering in our environments… hopefully, successfully. Unsuccessful modeling requires reworking the model (which is what metaphysics as a method requires but many are unwilling to admit its failure to model reality usually out of a misplaced sense of allegiance not to reality but some other factor).

            Because we model everything in the brain, we are susceptible to thinking that it is our models (because of successful functioning) that are reality and not a facsimile of it. We presume the meaning we attach to our models is independent of us and this leads us straight into believing metaphysics is real because it seems to be functional, that natures are real because it seems to be the case, that motion requires agency because it seems to make sense (no pun about empiricism intended). And so we come full circle. People believe in goddidit because it seems to look like an explanation.

            If what we’re talking about does not have independent properties we can know something about by application (but merely applied function when meaning is supplied) and we refuse reality any means to arbitrate our meaning-making application to see if it does indeed work – then we’re no longer talking about knowledge OF reality but severing it completely from our consideration. And when we allow the severing to occur in the name of whatever – religious belief, philosophical sophistication, metaphysical form, social justice, whatever – we are severing our claim from producing knowledge about reality itself. And when we do that, but continue to believe we are describing reality rather than our imported beliefs about it, we fool ourselves. That’s metaphysics in a nutshell. And it’s a load of crap no matter how exacting the logical form is followed, how deductively pure it seems. Don’t mistake form for function and don’t mistake function for properties. And something must have properties to be real, to be in existence.

            That’s how we know numbers aren’t real and don;t produce knowledge but are a handy dandy way to compare and contrast quantities of like objects that have properties we can know something about.

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          • Impressive. Most impressive.

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          • tildeb says:

            Well, impressively long, I’ll grant you.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Quite informative, too.

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          • Swarn Gill says:

            This is all great and wonderful, but I am not sure it has anything to do with what I said. I was actually supporting your point of view. That without empiricism numbers don’t have any meaning. They exist in a universe with things to count, regardless of whether we are doing the counting or not, but just like the logical axiom I presented it has no value unless applied to something we have an empirical way of measuring/observing. I also don’t think I said, nor do I believe that numbers have a nature. Perhaps exist was the wrong word, but I wasn’t trying to say that numbers by themselves have any meaning. Counting in of itself doesn’t reveal any knowledge unless you have something to count.

            Personally I think Galileo’s biggest world transforming idea was the pendulum which increased the accuracy of clocks greatly. But this other part of Galileo is something I didn’t know, and I agree is pretty major.

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          • tildeb says:

            Thank you for that, Swarn. The only aspect I was really commenting on was the idea of numbers having existence, and I wasn’t accusing you of speaking about natures but trying to point out how basic assumptions when not tested against reality can fool people – even very big brained people – for a very long time.

            I just again today met someone who brings up math as ‘another kind of knowing’ – which it is not unless we import real world meaning to the manipulations of these symbolic representations – and accusing me of scientism for suggesting that reality plays a rather central and necessary role in arbitrating claims made about it.

            According to many people, reality is not real but our beliefs about it – no matter how logical or batshit crazy they may be – are… if we allow them to be considered another ‘kind’ of knowledge. I’m not willing to grant any such allowance because claims made about reality need to arbitrated by reality to have any knowledge value descriptive of reality! I know that seems obvious, but it isn’t. At all.

            So when someone suggests concepts like numbers have existence – even of the imported kind – I tend to disagree but very often have to explain why or be labeled as a promoter of scientism.

            No offense intended.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            None taken. I agree with all that you said, and yes it was probably a poor wording choice to say that numbers exist, in of themselves, or in the same way an apple exists. I mean to compare numbers to the (a+b) = c expression and say that a number is in a way just like the a, b, or c in that the truth of it, is abstract unless there is something to observe to fit that abstraction.

            I find beauty in mathematics. In sanskrit poetry many trigonometric relationships were written down in poems before they even knew how to apply it. I think it’s possible that we can follow the logic of known mathematical axioms to new ones even if we don’t know how to apply it. I remember reading about one such axiom in that was rejected initially in the 30’s and brought back 50 years later because lo and behold it did have an application. Physicists seem to know that having the mathematical groundwork for the universe might work isn’t much good unless there is empirical evidence to support it…because it seems in the path the math has led them down the wrong road. It seems like math can be helpful to give us direction, but in the end empirical observations have to apply or we don’t discover anything new about how the universe works. It’s interesting subject, which I’ll admit I’m not well-versed.

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          • tildeb says:

            Absolutely. The Higgs boson is a perfect example.

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          • Swarn Gill says:

            I always think too this is how apologists fool themselves into believing their arguments are sound, because they do use quite a lot of logic usually those logical arguments are built on untestable or false premises. It’s amazing how much you can build on a faulty foundation. But I think it’s why it’s so hard to reason with such people because their belief in that foundation is so strong, and removing the foundation would cause everything else to fall apart, and their psyche just can’t handle it.

            I don’t know if you ever watched the movie Memento, but it’s a great movie for demonstrating the premise conclusion chain. We are shown 10 minute segments working backwards in time, and everything seems to piece together logically, until you get to the end. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it, but I highly recommend that movie for showing a “logical” house of cards.

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          • tildeb says:

            No. Haven’t seen it. Thanks for the suggestion.

            And I agree the bubble world created by using a method that disallows reality’s arbitration of its premises and conclusions is difficult to pop…. especially when using compelling evidence from reality. Reality has already been dismissed!

            This is the method used by all kinds of woo and denialism and conspiracy thinking. Reality is not allowed to arbitrate… yet all of us have to live with the real world effects of those billions of real people who utilize bubble thinking.

            The most common question I get after hammering away at some bubble thinking is, “Why do you care if I believe in… (gods, naturopathic remedies, dowsing, tarot cards, ghosts, a universal mind, homeopathy, spooks, AGW climate change denialism, demons, anti-vaxers, angels, the soul, global conspiracies, whatever)?” My answer is because by not criticizing the method that supposedly ‘informs’ these batshit crazy ideas is equivalent to offering support, is in fact agreeing to go along with the method’s guaranteed foolishness and falsehoods that hypothetically may not produce harm.

            Well, it does. In spades.

            Not speaking up, not criticizing the method that relegates reality to be just another kind of belief construct, is equivalent to going along with these pernicious real world effects as if they don’t necessarily impact real people in real life with real harm. And that’s the lie we’re asked to accept in the name of tolerance and respect and freedom. That, too, of course is also a lie that needs exposure.

            We’ve reached a tipping point as a species that requires us to action if we wish to have a hospitable planet for our grandchildren. Contrary beliefs are now equivalent to a deadly disease and the least we can do is point out why the danger to all of us is too great to ignore.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            If you like Chis Nolan movies, then you’ll definitely like this one. It is very unique.

            And I agree with you. It’s why I find it so hard to let an anti-vaxx statement, or an anti-global warming statement go. But knowing that I can’t do that has also had me try to research better ways to communicate effectively with those I disagree with. It’s hard though…it’s hard to keep your cool when something is so monumentally harmful. Anti-vaxx proponents literally cause an increase in deaths to children, and you just wonder how they can actually believe they think they are being caring towards children. And of course so many religious beliefs cause even greater harm to children, minorities, society in general that they absolutely must be opposed. Maybe in the end it’s impossible to really remove the foundation of those who are so terribly convinced of their truths, and even though we must present opposing arguments, maybe foundations are best eroded by making sure those that are still on the fence about it all have a chance to see alternative points of view. Perhaps such foundations so removed from reality are only eroded over time on a generational basis. The Trump phenomenon is good example of a large group of people who almost seem to support Trump more and more, the more ridiculous he becomes. They are clearly reacting on an emotional level and reasoned arguments don’t seem to have much impact, nor does emotionally charged abuse. lol I’m sure a large amount of these people can end up causing real harm in society and some of them already have. How do we reach them? How do we shrink their enlarged amygdala? It seems there is no quick solution.

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          • tildeb says:

            Yes, this often comes down to the tone argument, assuming that a gentler tone – one that doesn’t use any ‘trigger’ words or commit ‘microagressions’ – is somehow more effective than a contemptuous one.

            That may be the case, but it wasn’t in my own and it is not one I see online. People who change their minds seem more likely to do so in response to significant and sustained criticisms… again, this was true in my own case. Direct confrontation combined with either humour and/or contempt seem to be very effective over time. This time element is often ignored when a confrontation takes place and both sides seem to be further entrenched. But don;t be fooled by appearances. A successful criticism eats away at people in the expanse of their own consciousness, which is usually the case in reports I’ve read by Dennett concerning clergy adn many thousands of accounts I’ve read in places like Dawkin’s Convert’s Corner. Being challenged and held accountable seems to me to be the common denominator whereas I know of no such equivalency from friendly and polite and non-threatening interchanges.

            A Catholic friend of mine was shocked that I would make fun of the Eucharist, that anyone who actually believed bread and wine magically become flesh and blood by the mumbling of some Latin was being rather foolish….but to then consume these items as if they truly were flesh and blood was at the very least sanctified cannibalism… and what did that say about the character of the participants who had such difficulty separating symbolism from literalism?

            I think it was the loss of respect not for the batshit crazy belief but for failing to ever really think much about these beliefs she professed to hold that got the friend seriously questioning. If I had kept my gob shut, convinced doing so was the polite thing to do to be respectful for the friend, then I don;t think she’d have ever considered her beliefs in a new way. Why should she? Well, I provided the motivation… even though my tone was anything but polite and respectful.

            Other friends and family have morphed and mitigated their beliefs over time to incorporate my criticisms. Most have now left whatever faith communities they once belonged to, and most are much freer for it. I still have some that utilize batshit crazy woo but do so without advertisement knowing the disdain it will earn. That, too,is a victory for reason coming from shying away from impolite and rude tone.

            Rather than be attracted to pseudo-politicians like Trump and their non-platforms appealing to mass unrest, all of these friends and family members are far more critical and skeptical today of easy lies and tasty deceits they once would have gobbled up in support of their earlier beliefs.

            So I think the tone argument is usually the wrong one. I think contempt and disdain combined with strongly held and well-presented counter and critical explanations do far more lasting damage to the method of bubble thinking than politeness and kumbaya hand holding. But then, I’m an asshole, so what do I know?

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          • Swarn Gill says:

            I don’t doubt you and perhaps the real answer is that everyone responds slightly differently, and also a factor might be how much that person knows you and whether or not you are having a face to face discourse over the internet. I have an aunt who is Christian and was very much against gay marriage, and I would argue with her quite vehemently on the matter, figuring I was getting no where. Yet at some point after a couple of years, all on her own she made a post that she felt like gay marriage should be legalized for humanitarian reasons even though she still felt that it was a sin according to the Bible. I felt it was progress. I agree that often in the moment I can be more contrary but after I mull things over for awhile my position might shift. I think that is important to always speak out and oppose dangerous ideas and maybe it also matters that people here a consistent message from others, even if those messages are delivered in different ways. People may gravitate towards one mode of delivery over another, but at least they have choices as long the actual message being promoted is the same. Being passive to harmful ideas is certainly not the correct answer.

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          • makagutu says:

            Being passive to harmful ideas is not only harmful, but very dangerous as well.

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          • makagutu says:

            It’s good to be an asshole sometimes. You can pull all punches without fear

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          • Swarn Gill says:

            One of the questions I often ask theists is…if you removed the idea of God from the world, what observations would lead you to the conclusion that there was a God? Thus far I have gotten no response to that question. Removing the knowledge of the First Law of Thermodynamics would simply mean it would be re-discovered, but I do not think God could be discovered again so easily.

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      • makagutu says:

        I think we agree

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      There would have been no one around to reach that conclusion, but yes, I think it would.

      Rainbows present 7 colors visible to the human eye, but each of those come from light’s refraction through 7 different raindrops, 1 color from each drop, due to the observer’s precise angle in relation to the rain drop. If no observer existed (much like the falling tree in the forest, sound), the light would still be refracted.

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      • Excellent rationale and analogies.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb says:

        Nobody is saying light would stop refracting if people weren’t around. Yes, the universe contains life but that does not mean life is fundamental to the universe. The refraction of light is not an example of an axiomatic system that uses symbolic representation as R.A. Vella is suggesting with his (a+b) = c. The refraction of light is not an equivalent abstraction but a knowable property of light… knowable because of empiricism. That’s offering an example of the real world that empiricism can address and produce knowledge. (a+b) = c produces not one whit of knowledge… until someone somewhere inserts meaning into those symbolic representations and activates the functioning of the axiomatic system. That’s not another kind of knowledge. That’s empiricism translated into an axiomatic system, manipulated, and then reinterpreted back into empirical form before any knowledge is produced. Take away the empiricism and you take away any potential for knowledge using the axiomatic system. That’s why it isn’t a different kind of knowledge.

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      • makagutu says:

        Definitely, the light would still be refracted but without an observer, we wouldn’t know it was

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    • makagutu says:

      Good question.
      Since so far as we can tell, only humans can think in the abstract, would such a formulation be even possible?

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      • The anthropocentric assumption that humans alone are capable of abstract thought was first challenged by mathematical computations on the probability of intelligent extraterrestrial life such as the Drake equation (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation), and has more recently come into question from research into animal cognition (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_cognition) which has revealed what was previously considered as exclusively human cognitive behaviors in primates, dolphins, ravens, crows, and other species.

        We humans like to see ourselves as “superior” because it feeds our egos. But, the advancement of scientific knowledge is showing us otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “We humans like to see ourselves as “superior” because it feeds our egos. But, the advancement of scientific knowledge is showing us otherwise.” Unless, of course, you happen to be Ken Ham. Not much learning goes on between his ears.

          Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          Bob, I don’t doubt that there could be intelligent life elsewhere. That’s why I said as far as we know, we are the only intelligent life we know presently.
          On other non human animals, I agree other non human animals have cognitive abilities not thought of before, what I don’t know is if they are capable of abstract thought.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Look into it, you might be surprised.

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          • Many humans aren’t capable of it either, i.e. Ken Ham.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Mark Twain wrote in letters from the earth

            “Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal… In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

            Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh–not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.” 

            Liked by 4 people

  7. basenjibrian says:

    …(Humans) are unique in our capacity to construct realities at utter odds with reality. Dogs dream and dolphins imagine, but only humans are deluded. –Jacob Bacharach

    Liked by 1 person

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