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the asinine cretin

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Posts posted by the asinine cretin

  1. This is little more than special pleading, though.


    Extremely simplified, your basic point (and one inherent in the position of several others here) is that... "Yeah, those OTHER gods are silly nonsense with no merit, but MY version of god is different so your criticisms don't apply."


    No... Your version really is not any different and yes, the same criticisms apply for the same reason. It's that reason why many of us treat them all the same. They are equally made up personal preferences and wishes, even though the assigned attributes and characteristics may from person to person.


    No, that's not my basic point at all. I don't have a version of god. I'm saying that meaning and value are anthropological phenomena. They may or may not exist apart from human brains in some Platonic realm, or in a Divine Will, or whatever; but I doubt it. Psychology and neuroscience have a good bit to say about how we process the world and create meaning, coping mechanisms, value systems, and the like. I am only assuming that we are the source of meaning and value. If there were no sapient entities in the universe the discussion of existential meaning and values would be irrelevant.


    How we choose to live our lives us up to us; it isn't dictated from above. Nihilism is a choice, but it isn't necessary. If you accept that the meaning and the value doesn't extent beyond humanity into some cosmic eternity, or supernatural realm then you are agreeing with me. The contention is that Polednice asserts that the concept of meaning is invalid if it does not exist within a transcendent context. Only "absolute" or "ultimate" meaning and value matters. I disagree with this. I think these things are probably not real and that in fact the sense of those words that is concrete and legitimate is that which I've expressed. I suppose you could call it an immanent and humanistic understanding of meaning and value.


    Edit: typo

  2. Definitions are important, and I think an atheist adoption of "meaning" is self-deceptive. I don't think our lives have meaning because life is insignificant and trivial in the context of the entire universe. There will come a point when our entire species is extinct, and no action or achievement ever committed will matter. That is surely the definition of meaninglessness. My point, however, is that this doesn't preclude an enjoyable and fulfilling life, it just won't ever have any significance beyond our tiny humanity.


    All that means is that the legitimate concept of "meaning," as it pertains to our lives, is finite and contingent. There is nothing self-deceptive about this. In a cosmic and/or theistic sense, sure, there is no meaning from above; but there is meaning that we create, and very often it will die with us. In some cases it may carry on through many generations, but it is not eternal and transcendent. Yet it is still meaningful to us subjectively. That's all there is. You're assuming super duper theistic meaning is the only option.


    Look, of course our lives are insignificant from a cosmic perspective. But to each of us our lives, our consciousness, and so on, is the most important thing. We ground the meaning and the values. As individuals and in the structures of meaning and value that we create as conscious, sapient beings who care about meaning and value.

  3. Moontanman,



    I've only scratched the surface on these talks, but there is some amazing stuff here. Geoff Marcy, Jack Szostak, Roger Summons et al...


    NASA Astrobiology Institute: Seminars



    And if that's not enough, there's this.


    Astrobiology Science Conference 2012



    This last one is a bit off-topic, itpertains to exoplanet research, but I've got to mention it. They were nice enough to stream the presentations online and then pretty promptly put them up on this page. I will admit that a few of these presentations made me sleepy, but they were just too specialized and technical for me, given that I'm not a planetary scientist (although I wish I were!). In my defense I think most people would get tired after many hours of talks.


    Kepler Science Conference

  4. These were all vague synonyms, but I accept that you're not advancing a particular definition.



    Well, the sense of "meaning" that is often used denotes that a life has intrinsic value - that, somehow, there is an absolute goodness to something, that things aren't merely relative, that there is a transcendent essence and intentioned reason behind our existence.

    Okay, so, basically how I was interpreting you to begin with. Super duper, ontological, transcendent meaning.


    Even with a god, that idea is bogus, but I don't think atheists ought to be trying to adopt it by saying that we can create "meaning" ourselves. We can find life enjoyable, we can value things and we can help each other, but I don't think that's "meaning" or "purpose" as it's typically conceived.

    Meaning doesn't have to be absolute, transcendent, and the like to be legitimate. I don't agree with you on this. In a godless universe where meaning does not originate from a transcendent, personal creator, I think it's clear that meaning is something we choose and create, period. It may not be the kind of lofty, cosmic meaning that you're referring to, but you seem to agree that such a concept is specious at best. We can live meaningful, purposeful, significant lives, and find objective values, fulfillment, and even a kind of transcendence without appeals to the supernatural or the absolute. And why not? Because you're insisting that those terms cannot be taken out of a supernatural or Platonic context? Okay, if in your world the term "meaning" is restricted in that way, fine. You've defined it out of the picture. I haven't. And I'm not particularly interested in going around the merry-go-round with you ad nauseum.


    If all you're really trying to say is that theists and atheists have different understandings of "meaning" as it applies to our lives, that's obvious. Are theists the only thinkers to have pondered meaning, value, fulfillment, and the like? Hardly.

  5. I won't respond to the rest of your post because I don't know how much of it was parody and how much of it was you, and I'd rather engage only with your actual thoughts than with fictitious caricatures.



    With regards to the above, I've said that the idea of meaning is incoherent, so in order for me to state whether or not I think what you're describing is invalid, you'll have to tell me what you mean by "meaning".

    Meaning in a general and even open-ended sense. The finding of purpose, significance, value, a vista of reality greater than oneself, a grounding, personal contentment. I don't have specific or idiosyncratic definition in mind, just the most general term. I was more curious to know what you mean, since your statement about meaning is what is actually in question here. I haven't expressed a view. When you say meaning is an incoherent concept, what do you have in mind? And what do you think of the popular secularist wisdom that we make our own meanings? Without an explanation I find your invalidating of the concept of meaning to be meaningless.


    And I say in the most loving possible way that the correct turn of phrase is "a dog eat dog world". ;)

    Where were you in the '90s?


  6. believer gives credence to garnering morality from absurdly vicious scriptures

    It's hard to understand a religion from the outside. From the inside those absurdly vicious scriptures may contain the most beautiful ideas in the world, and the experience of that beauty may give it the weight of truth. Yes, perhaps in matters of religion and ultimate meaning, beauty itself is a criterion of truth. Perhaps this is truth that goes deeper than mere discursive reasoning and logic. It's surely of existential significance.

    The fact that the infinite creator of the universe -- compared to which we are nothing -- the fact that this all good and all powerful being took on our humanity in order to suffer and die for us. These are beautiful stories that are true because they open my heart to the hidden depths of reality and endow life with a vitality and luminescence. There is a joy in living, and a peace about the world, knowing that this story is true. The more sincerely you believe it, the better it feels. God loves us. God loves me. The people that I care about are in his hands; and no matter what happens, there is a better life ahead. Thank you, God.


    Cartoonish tales of God commanding terrible things in ancient times? That was the old dispensation; the old law. You're emphasizing it too much. It was a doggy dogg world. Revelation is pedagogical and that's where people were at back then. Our reading of those texts must be relativized in the face of the definitive revelation of God in Jesus Christ. If only you could experience the beauty and transformative power of the gospel you would understand. Perhaps God is speaking to your heart but it is your sins and pride that keep you from receiving his grace.


    Note: Lest anyone misunderstand my intent and reply as though I am preaching, this is a parody of sorts. And no ridicule or belittling is intended by any means. This is just something I like to do.


    But entertaining this for a moment, perhaps there is a privation without authentic love. Perhaps there is some truth to the sentiment that without knowing love persons cannot access their full humanity and really grasp what it means to be human. Religion often involves epic language and poetry; polyvalent narratives that contextualize the human condition in a universe that is ultimately personal, and good, and beautiful. In a way I think this kind of love presupposes an afterlife. Profound love compellingly declares the immortality of persons. It is beyond the wholly calculable and rational. It requires a surrender to love itself. To love is to know that being is ultimately good. Inexplicably good. This is the transcendent end of human life that cannot be revealed except in the childlike simplicity of an open heart.


    Is this not something like the level on which religion speaks to many people? I mean, judging from the prayers and songs? Although I've surely been overly saccharine. But in this context, you can take your "cold logic" and bogus "scientism" and stuff it. I know that Jesus Christ is God and that all that this implies is valid. This is a holistic truth that trumps any trivial, dissected "truths" you might appeal to. Faith is a living relationship. How dare you try to rob me of all this.


    Here's some more imaginary stuff: DBAG: Hey, this book debunks the bible so hard... XTIAN: "Look, if Christianity isn't true, I might as well kill myself." In other words, drop it. Yes, I have cognitive dissonance. Yes, I realize that the bible is full of contradictions. Yes, on some level I realize that my religion rests upon a big pile of special pleading and question begging. But if you pursue this, you'll wreck my life. My beliefs, my loves, my entire personality and life; these are deeply rooted in this religion. The disrespect in your words alone brings me a great deal of pain. I have no choice but to lash out in defense of my life and for the sake of my loved one's. This religion MUST be true, period.



    If you think my caricatures are highly exaggerated I will say that they're inspired by real events. For what it's worth. Just trying to make the point, which I'm sure everyone knows full well, that religion is often much more complicated than a reasoned discussion about some matter of fact.


    I suggested a resolution by rejecting the assumption that meaning is a coherent concept.

    I assume you mean transcendent meaning, supernatural meaning, and/or meaning of cosmic significance. This seems outside the scope of humanity, at least for the foreseeable future. But don't you think the cliche that we make our meaning has validity? As something emergent/dependent on human beings in the first place, we have the power to create meaning in the world. This doesn't suggest that it has existence outside of our minds and societies, necessarily, but it may be compelling in itself to many people. Anyway, could you elaborate on what you're saying here? I'm curious to understand your view. Thanks.

  7. Great links dude, i was gonna go slow and see how many people were really interested but you have blown me away! Lots more information on Abiogenesis than most people think. Every time some one claims that science has no clue as to how life got started i get my dander up. This idea that god did it is the only explanation of how life started is such a dead rotten strawman...


    I'm really looking forward to the next couple decades of research. Hopefully I survive long enough to learn something amazing. I do find it odd that it is not a much bigger field of research. I've read screeds against it by people who seem to think that only immediate practical applicability matters. Pure research and highly significant questions don't matter? But anyway. . .

  8. zapatos & assinine cretin - I love you both. I enjoy your posts. I think you are, each in your own way, fine human beings. Don't place me in a position where I feel obliged to take sides. Take a step back - try seeing the other's point of view for a few minutes. Do you see how it leads to an escalted round of insults? Might it be worth stepping back permanently? Pretty please.

    Acknowledged and agreed.

  9. Oh my gosh. I cannot believe I missed you calling me an asshole. And the reason you called me an asshole was based on what you assumed my motivation was. And you didn't even ask for clarification.


    I can only suggest in return that you perform a physically impossible sexual act upon yourself.


    Sorry to all for this off topic post.


    EDIT: (Removed knee-jerk snark and added the following) My intention in that post was not that strong. It was not assumed that you were being an asshole, but rather that if the worst interpretation of your intent was true, then you were being an asshole, hence your name in parentheses with a question mark. I will endeavor to be more considerate and all that. . .

  10. the asinine cretin,


    I have some guesses, on some different levels, but I just punched my alarm's snooze button for the last time, allowed, this morning and will have to go right to conclusion type stuff, with no supporting logic.

    We often associate with the "good" portions and disassociate with the bad.

    This does not mean we are not associated with both, nor that either is unreal.

    So it is better, in my mind, to associate with all of it, and do what you can to minimize the "evil" parts. Whether it be the silly stuff that others do, or the silly stuff you do yourself.


    And since there is a LARGE area of concern, that would have to be considered "outside" my pervue, and our pervue together, and the pervue of all of us put together...a little bit of shared reverence and uncertianty, is problably not inappropriate. That is, NOT silly.


    Regards, TAR2


    I still don't understand what you are saying. What are the good portions and what are the bad? What is the silly extraneous stuff, and how have you determined this? And then what is the reality of it that you were referring to before? This is a cryptic discussion and I feel like I'm required to fill in the blanks and guess at what you're really trying to say.


    Shared reverence and uncertainty toward what exactly? And what has this to do with what you were saying before?

  11. There is reason to think that within 30 light years of Earth there may be dozens, perhaps hundreds of terrestrial worlds, from 0.5 to 1.5 Earth radii, orbiting in the habitable zone about their star(s). Give it a couple more decades of progressive exoplanet research and we'll have plenty of target worlds, I think. Especially with more IR astronomy and studies of M-stars and their planetary systems.

    Also, it is possible to have a terrestrial world with a considerably larger mean radius, but lower bulk density, and comparable surface gravity. Point being, it's kind of neat to imagine an Earth-like planet with a great deal more land area. Maybe a large Earth-like world covered in only 50% water and with land area more than twice that of our Earth. It would be interesting to attempt seeding such a world with life, assuming it was found sterile. Perhaps one day it could be colonized. Of course I'm only fantasizing here, but the basic expectation of a fair supply of near-by Earth-like worlds (loosely defined) is sound.


    Hopefully we survive and have descendants capable of technological feats that would be to us as our feats might be to Homo neanderthalensis. I can't help but wonder what things will be like in the year 39,000 and beyond.

  12. The asinine cretin,


    Well, let's say that is bunk. I am not sure why religious people need to tack on all the silly stuff. It obscures the reality of it.

    What do you mean? What do you consider to be extraneous silly stuff and what is the reality of it?


    I remember working with a fellow who kept a small idol of Ganesha on his desk. He was constantly whispering and mumbling to this little figurine, presumably thinking that he was being heard and inexplicably aided throughout his day. Aren't things like prayer, supplication, and providence a major aspect of religious phenomena in general? How do you have these things without the extraordinary stories and beliefs that purportedly establish their validity? The Hail Mary makes little sense apart from the belief that a supernaturally exalted woman is somehow omniscient and capable of interceding on one's behalf and with potentially great effect. Are not rainmaking rituals accompanied by myths and extraordinary worldviews that make the behavior worthwhile? If you can believe that an invisible divine personality hears all and sees all, is it really a stretch to add on stories such as that chanting this deity's name will have magical effects? Is it not like ritual behaviors to appease forces of nature? So many prayers and hymns are the cries of the desperate and afflicted. Is it so silly to imagine that there are powerful beings who care to protect and provide? This seems natural. What reality of religion are you referring to?



    Thank you, tar.

  13. have you heard of potholer54?


    Yeah, I've watched some of his stuff. I'm subscribed to way too many channels on YT so I have a hard time keeping up. His recent drama with "Lord" Monckton via Anthony Watts was pretty amusing.



    P.S. I enjoyed this recent talk from the Santa Fe Institute. Kind of a metabolism first point of view.





    P.S. This one isn't technical, it's a TEDx talk, but it's pretty short and enjoyable.




    Bombs away. . .


    The following is a partial list of solid youtube vids on the subject from one of my private playlists.











    N. Mason: The Origin of Life



    Origin of Life: self-Assembly, polymerization and replication





    And yet those three Szostak lectures are likely my fave so I'll post the link again for completeness.


    Jack Szostak: The Origin of Cellular Life on Earth

  14. There's always Krishna consciousness.



    Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. . .


    By chanting the Maha Mantra with devotion one is expanding the blissful ocean of transcendental life; bringing mercy, soothing, and the white lotus of good fortune to all living entities in all the worlds. And lots of other amazing stuff.



    Karuna cheyvaan endu thaamasam Krishna. . .




    Why the delay in showing kindness, Lord Krishna?

    I worship your feet with my folded palms.


    Granting the desires of devotees who seek asylum in you.

    You rest in Guruvayoor, oh Lord, remover of all sorrows.


    Your chaste feet, lovingly caressed by the Lotus Maiden,

    Whether I serve them with reverence from near

    Or think of serving them from afar

    To you, Whose greatness fills the universe,

    This is a matter of indifference.


    I have learned from the Sages who have extolled your exploits

    That you, Hari, emerald like handsome Lord,

    Are the refuge for the teeming humanity

    Who live on the surf of the great ocean of suffering called life.


    I see you in my heart, handsome as Cupid,

    Your hair adorned with peacock feathers,

    Your glances, a mixture of compassion and smile

    Your chest showing Kousthabham and garlands of wild flowers

    Your ankles adorned with jingling golden anklets.


    Creator and protector of the worlds

    Lord Padmanabha, who resides in Guruvayoor,

    May it please you, without delay, with compassion,

    To remove my illnesses like rheumatism

    And bless me with health and prosperity.


    (Translation: P. P. Narayanswamy, source)

  15. I think living solely for my own well being is vapid, hollow, and worthless.

    I feel the same way. If this weren't so I don't think religion would quite have the attraction and power that it does. There is beauty to a life lived for others, or for a transcendent end. And I think there is something sad about a self-centered life.


    I enjoy this but it isn't rooted in the belief of any deities. For me it is my belief as a humanist.


    I hear ya. I'm still figuring things out, but I find profundity in many aspects of the natural world and of humanity. Amen.

  16. Deep experiences of prayer and meditation, comfort and strength from the presence of God, profound communion with humanity and the cosmos through the apprehension of the divine, and so on. A transcendent inner peace. A heart swollen with divine love in self-surrender and giving; a freedom and joy that few experience. Mystical union with God. The assurance of eternal life and of joining loved ones in the heart of God who is the source of all beauty and goodness. The writings of saints and mystics, or generally those of profound humanity and experience. Thinking of these things the above kinds of fulfillment seem more asinine than I am. No offense to anyone, just thinking about how powerful religion can be.


    [Edited to add something]



  17. The real shackle that you need to free yourself from is the idea religion crapped out that eternal absolutism grants extra meaning. It doesn't - that's vapid, hollow, and worthless. Having a despot or an arbiter in charge doesn't make our values Real or True, it adds no value whatsoever. We shouldn't even indulge in thoughts of meaning or no meaning, it's a completely bogus concept - just concern yourself with well-being, and for that to thrive, religion must die! :)


    You've reminded me of

    . Free shows rule. (
  18. Do you still want to discuss abiogenesis




    I am intensely interested in this and I have lots of information to share.


    I am also intensely interested in the origin of life. I'd be interested in book and/or paper recommendations; particularly recent sources that give a sense of the current state of things. Anything you've got would be welcome.

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