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Meson (3/13)



  1. The kind of Determinism I am talking about is adequate determinism, which does not say that all microscopic events are predictable. Rather, adequate determinism is about things larger than mere particles. There is not much random about a cell or an animal composed of cells. This probably doesn't need to be pointed out, but I want to remind you that quantum indeterminacy, even if it did affect things on a macroscopic level, would still be beyond a person's control and therefore irrelevant to whether or not a person has free will. Freedom of choice should not be confused with unpredictability of "choice". (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism) Now, let us consider the ramifications of adequate determinism. If you believe in free will, this topic is not trying to debunk free will for you. It is an examination of how our way of looking at the world might change if we were to adopt the belief that free will is nonexistent. Be aware that I realize that everything you are about to read is highly unrealistic. This is about what I think we "ought to" do if free will is debunked. I have no expectation that society will adopt these attitudes or behaviors. Some things I say might anger you. Please don't react in anger, I am not trying to offend you. 1. The abolition of punishment for its own sake We would end up looking at crime in a completely different way. We would have to change our attitudes about sentencing and parole. Prison terms would end when rehabilitation was achieved. It would no longer be appropriate to treat prisoners with contempt unless we knew that doing so would aid in rehabilitation. Punitive humiliation or dehumanization would be simple cruelty if it did not serve a specific reconstructive purpose. It would be appropriate for us to change our attitudes about child abusers and sex offenders and other universally despised groups. The disciplining of children in our education system would need to see changes as well. All of this would have to be done in a way that would not encourage breaking rules and committing crimes. The use of shaming or other tactics might need to be kept as "necessary evils". 2. No more deserving No one would ever deserve anything. Find the noblest man or woman alive, and he or she is no more deserving of praise than a child rapist is. Perhaps this would lead to some kind of Harrison Bergeron type world, but an optimistic guess is that maybe everyone would become a little less callous to each other. Assuming free will does not exist, think of the terrible cruelty that comes with the attitude of an objectivist or someone with similar beliefs. If there is no choice, then there cannot be contempt for the poor of the world. It is only when you bring personal accountability into the equation that we can say "they just didn't try hard enough." This is not saying that raping someone would be equal to paying a poor family's mortgage. I am saying that the person doing the act could not be held up on a pedestal or thrown down to subhuman status for either one. The idea is that someone being praiseworthy for doing something is just a story like someone having a soul. It is a nice story, but nothing else. You believe charity is good because believing it is good is constructive. Good is only what reduces suffering and creates happiness. There is not some invisible force that gets on a person and makes him or her "evil". There are only actions and their consequences. It would still be necessary to praise certain actions to encourage them, but deep down we would know it was silliness and ego-stroking. What do you think? Do you have any thoughts, additions, criticisms, death threats, etc?
  2. I don't think we need to over-think this. I think that you should just ask yourself this: What problem did you solve for a person by bringing them into existence? There was no problem at all, and a little introspection will certainly reveal that parents have children to satisfy their own desires. Is it possible to suffer deprivation in a state of pre-birth? Certainly not. You are deprived by not existing, but there is no suffering because of it. Pleasure becomes obsolete when consciousness ceases. We speak of the wonders that life can bring us, but all of these things are worthless to a non-person. The only justification would be that a born person would experience great pleasure and very little suffering, but this is not the case ( http://www.csom.umn.edu/Assets/71516.pdf ). We cannot take a person's word for whether or not life is good, because our brains deceive us. ( https://en.wikipedia...i/Optimism_bias, https://en.wikipedia...Positivity_bias ) As far as I am concerned, there is no Heaven. I remember nothing from before I was born and I remember nothing from when I am in deep sleep. We can witness parts of the brain become damaged and see people lose parts of their cognitive abilities. Why would all of those parts of the brain, that can individually be destroyed, wait around in some metaphysical sense to rejoin after a person dies? We can physically change a person's personality by slapping them in the head with a pipe.
  3. I don't know if you mean "cease to reply" or "cease to reply until tomorrow." I will reply anyway, just because I agree that many of my posts have been sloppy and assumptive. I don't want to end the discussion with you thinking I am just pulling stuff from behind. We are both guilty of giving no sources and making statements without really backing them up. This was because I thought some of these things were self-evident, but I can see that it was wrong to think you would share my perception of the world. If you are letting me have the last word, at least let it be said that I backed up my arguments. I am not trying to "win" the argument, as they say. You seem to be under the impression that we are having some kind of conflict, but I am just discussing these things with you with curiosity. I have asked you questions about your beliefs because I don't automatically dismiss you as being wrong, and I'm interested in hearing your explanations. Let me show you that I am not an ideologue, by providing sources for many of my claims. This is not exhaustive of what I have said, but it is a start. Studies have shown that bullies are often bullied themselves: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/564923.stm However, this is not set in stone. We can see that someone who is both a bully and a victim is not exactly in the same boat with someone who is just a bully. In fact, pure bullies end up enjoying school quite a bit. As for bully victims who bully others, this goes back to my comment about the pecking order. As I said earlier about myself, getting crapped on never gave me an iota of sympathy for others. Anecdotal, I know, but we can observe that being victimized does not make people nicer. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/564923.stm http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/112/6/1231 Now, you mention the presidents and the Prime Ministers and all of that jazz. As I said, being intelligent is fine. It is only when you are lacking in reproductive fitness that intelligence becomes somewhat negligible. When you bring up someone like Bill Gates, that is not a realistic goal for anyone to strive for. There is a very limited amount of opportunities for becoming a billionaire, and besides nobody can become a billionaire just by having reproductive fitness alone. When we talk about billions of dollars, that is strictly something that must be done with the intellect. I am talking about everyday life, here. Most of us cannot hope to succeed as entrepreneurs. Most of us have to compete in the circus of capitalism, and it is not fair. Reproductive fitness, as I have said, plays a big role: Beauty plays a role: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/opinion/sunday/ugly-you-may-have-a-case.html?_r=2&hp& http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/19_2/19_2_2.pdf Tallness plays a role: http://www.jonathanrauch.com/jrauch_articles/height_discrimination_short_guys_finish_last/index.html And intelligence plays a role, which is equally unfair. Furthermore, the things that are likely to make you a victim of bullying are the same things that make you less attractive as an employee. As for the claim that the nerds will "inherit the Earth," the burden of proof is on you to show that. My position all along has been that there is no make good for being genetically inferior. Just because intelligence is not completely negligible does not mean that low reproductive fitness does not muddy your chances for success. You mention presidents, but a great deal of them were attractive, tall, intelligent and sociable. I doubt that many of our presidents have had low reproductive fitness, and none of them have likely had low intelligence. Lincoln comes to mind, but, like I said, super intelligence can make up for low reproductive fitness. That does not mean it would not have helped Lincoln to be sexy. Oh, and he was really tall so in a way he did possess a certain level of reproductive fitness. I have said that society is looking for workers instead of entrepreneurs and philosophers. I thought this was evident, but I will explain why I think this way. You must understand, entrepreneurs are not required for our society to function. The system will not suffer if it remains the same. Think about all of human history, those thousands of years. Almost everyone was a worker, and almost no one was an intellectual or an innovator. Liberals believe that progress is important, but why is it important? What will happen if there is no progress? We will run out of oil and billions will starve, but that is of no consequence in the long run. The industrial revolution brought on a state of artificiality within humanity that does not at all reflect its true nature. Progress is utterly unneeded for the survival or the human species. Philosophers and entrepreneurs are an anomaly, and they have jobs that the system and humanity can do without. If an entrepreneur invents something that serves the system, that is good. But the system does not suffer because that thing is not invented. The only philosophy that is worth anything to the system is the philosophy that tells men to pick up their shovels and start working. It is true that we are facing an energy crisis now, but the fault of that as well as the solution lies with entrepreneurs. It would not be an issue if progress had never happened to begin with. Society only wants thinkers so that they can make the system run smoothly, and in this way they are turning thinkers into workers anyway. I do believe many things, but I do not possess a belief system. I have been burned out from the inside now, and I do not have passion about much of anything. There are not a lot of subjective feelings inside of me that I would be able to stand up for with conviction. I only know that life is much less good to a person than most people will admit. I wish that I was exaggerating, but it doesn't look like it, especially when your consider all of you cognitive biases in favor of optimism. It bothers me that one calls an approach that does not assume the validity of life's goodness to be defeatist. How is it defeatism for me to look at a low down miserable wretch and say that it is not his fault? If anything, this is sympathy, not defeatism. In the same way, I do not blame a bully for going nowhere in life, as you do. Bullying can be a symptom of low reproductive fitness, after all. Source for optimism bias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism_bias https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positivity_bias I don't deny that I made statements with the appearance of absoluteness, although I really intended them to be general statements rather than absolutes. I think that if you read the entirety of my text, you might be able to understand where I was coming from. Oh well, I admit that it was sloppy of me. Any objections?
  4. I'll try and address your post systematically. First, let me elaborate about why I included the physical deprivation of others along with the social pain. I was only showing that the social harm that we cause to others, while not negligible, is far from the only harm. The reason that I think that bullies often have higher reproductive fitness than victims of bullying is because bullying is a habitual abuse of social, physical or mental power. A bully could very well also be a victim of bullying, but this only shows that public schools, prisons and work places have a pecking order. There are many causes for bullying, and I am not denying that some bullies have very low status. However, I am arguing against the popular platitude that most bullies are just losers themselves, because this is clearly not the case. Victims of bullying are often nonconformists, either in their deeds, opinions, appearances or phenotypes. Bullying is the human species's mechanism for strengthening the group as a whole, it is the way of identifying heretics. Intellectualism and open-mindedness are against our instincts, and they served no purpose throughout our evolutionary history. Group cohesion, however, made all the difference, and bullying can be carried out privately by an enforcer or it can be a social activity of mass ostracism. Society is not looking for entrepreneurs and philosophers, it is looking for workers. Simply being socially ideal is more important in our species than possessing thoughtfulness or intellect. I think that the statement is wishful thinking, to be honest. There are entrepreneurs, but those are the exceptions. There is nothing stopping the socialites from your high school from studying your favorite subject in college and then getting the job because they are more sociable and attractive. Sure, you could get it, but that doesn't mean there is any kind of karma that will cause you to get it. You might be a socialite, for all I know. I am just guessing from your earlier statement that you did not engage so much in the social arena as the other children. I don't know what your school was like, but for me there was an abundance of children in the socialite class (not bullies) who enjoyed optimum reproductive fitness and excelled in school. This goes to show that there really is no consolation for someone who possesses either one or the other (intelligence or social acceptable) since there are many people who possess both. This goes back to my statement about rampant inferiority, and we cannot honestly be call it anything else. Going back to the janitor, he could either be a janitor because he had low reproductive fitness or because he was lacking in intelligence. The best way to succeed in our society is to have both. Someone with both would have to just live in bad circumstances to end up becoming a janitor. This doesn't seem axiomatic to me at all. Perhaps you could elaborate. Everyone wants to compete in the social arena. It is the way you are wired. In nature, caring more about the meaning of life than group cohesion was suicide. When I say "normal" I am talking about the kind of development that would serve the survival of the species in a state of nature. It is certainly not normal for humans to learn compassion for people who are not part of the group. Compassion's usefulness runs out when you start being tolerant of people whose opinions differ from the group. I realize the homophobia comment was somewhat inappropriate, because tolerance in Western society has actually reached the point where it is a social more. In enclosed institutions, however, homophobia is still alive and well.
  5. I was just thinking along general lines. If you are curious, you might want to check out the work of psychologist Thomas Joiner relating relating to suicide. I am just saying that hurting people is inevitable. It is a pill that every utopianist and optimist should have to swallow. Just by existing, you are indirectly causing others to starve and be out of work. You, living in a first world country, are also causing damage to the environment and causing workers in the third world to be exploited. And we also factor in the aforementioned social pain. Everyone who thinks that the world needs more people should consider all of these things instead of just naively declaring that life is good. The problem is that this is your individual experience. In reality, bullies often possess high reproductive fitness and intelligence, and they will go on to become the leaders of our country in industry, business and academia. The same traits that make an individual vulnerable to bullying often mean that they do not possess the needed traits to succeed in the work force. Simply being ugly is enough to cause you to earn less over your lifetime. There is no fairness built into life, and there is no make good for the people who get crapped on. If you are succeeding in the face of adversity, you are doing it despite your adversity. As for the bullies who do not succeed, keep in mind that they are failing alongside many of the victims they traumatized for life. Some guy could be a wage slave because he was ugly and lost a job to an attractive person with lesser qualifications. This is how life works. The truth is that many intellectuals are only intellectuals because they could not compete in the social arena. I know that I would be a vacuous football worshiper if I had not spent years brooding in alienation. I would have died in the state of nature. I'm not going to tell myself a nice story about how I am a special ape and everyone else is flawed. I would have been among the bullies, homophobes and simpletons if I had developed normally, and I would have loved it. Even from my lowly position from the bottom rung, I still mocked others for their traits. No one in life is to blame. We are all fellow sufferers living within a woefully inadequate system.
  6. Unwittingly, yes. But I still believe that I am correct in saying that it pleases the strong. It is our obsession with a culture of life and equality that has made the accommodation of the weak necessary. If we did not accommodate the weak, it would cause mental turmoil and so we would be unhappy because of it. Because we do not help the weak for their own sake but for ours, the weak still often meet a grim fate. Who hasn't thought to themselves "well, somebody has to be a janitor!"? And even now, we underestimate the low quality of life that the impoverished suffer from. For "social" animals, we are spectacularly lacking in empathy. My point is that ultimately we let people suffer as long as we can tell ourselves that we have somehow washed our hands of their suffering. We do not care that people suffer, only that we do not feel guilty because of it. EDIT: It occurred to me that I could be pretty wrong about this. It is necessary to appease the proletariat because those are the backs that riches are built on. I suppose that, in a way, the weak do have leverage as one massive unit. But it is still that it pleases the strong, because they would rather give up some wealth than have their workers walk out on them. In situations where there is no leverage, no such thing happens. Unfortunate people are not saved the arduous labor and degradation of the working class. Their leverage only works as long as they prostitute themselves to more fortunate people. I think that suicide is usually an effort to end self awareness. Painful self awareness results from social pain. Without other people, our goals would be simplistic and pointless. Social pain is as intense as it is because (as I stated) it is your body's way of telling you that you are about to either get ostracized from the group (death in a state of nature) or that you do not have reproductive fitness (will not pass on genes). Clearly, your body serves the species first and you second. Suicidal ideation, in my opinion, is the realization that your existence does not serve you. Interesting, it only made me despair when I discovered this. I suppose that it is not the fact that we are so selfish that is horrible. Rather, what is so horrible is that we must hurt each other and deep down we really don't care. Just by existing, we must cause thousands of instances of social pain to others. I am sad, essentially because social pain is an unsolvable problem and it is serious, excruciating pain. Life's goodness is less than zero sum, because the suffering of an inferior individual is greater than the pleasure of a superior individual, and a satisfied desire is not as pleasurable as a deprivation is painful. I'd like to hear your take on this. Why does this insider knowledge give you solace?
  7. To be honest, I think that life is worth nothing even if you are educated. Knowledge, when it is pursued for its own sake, will almost always make you unhappy. We start out intellectually dead, as children. We believe that the world is basically good and that there are good things in store for us. As we grow older, we must admit that certain comforting stories are false, and this is as far as most people are willing to go. To the average person, life is a story that revolves around them: struggle and pain is meaningful, true love exists, there is such a thing as good and evil, good is bound to win, and deeds are worth some kind of abstract value even when done privately. To most people, these are the falsehoods that they refuse to stop believing in. It is not too painful to realize that these things are lies. We are not yet in existential horror territory. That comes later, when you realize that life is a giant competition and the starting lines have been set miles apart. Everyone sees everyone else only for their potential for being exploited. The weak are only assisted because it pleases the strong. It is obvious to any truly educated person that genetic inferiority is not only present, but rampant in the human species. The lottery of birth lays out a person's life for them, and then they are praised or blamed for the outcome. Every painful feeling is much more profound than every good feeling, and this is because our body must torture us to get us to have reproductive health. I suspect that a chief reason for suicide is that a person's body does not realize when a goal is unattainable and keeps torturing them anyway. We are slaves to the blind idiot god of evolution. To me, all of this is much worse than the existence of starving children in Africa. Existential horror is the realization that we are glorified wolves, fancying ourselves as being sophisticated. I envy the people who see the world in an optimistic way.
  8. Hah, don't flatter me! I will inflate like a balloon. It's hard for me to understand you, but are you talking about mediums and TV preachers who profit off of lies? If I am not misunderstanding this, you are saying that a belief in a personal God and the belief that a human is a white butterfly are similarly unbelievable. I think that there are a few important factors that distinguish the two: 1. Widespread belief in God is a social proof of the existence of God. If millions of people believe something silly, it is quite easy to do and requires no mental gymnastics as there is not too much cognitive dissonance. For the average believer, his beliefs are essentially unexamined. Oftentimes, the believer has many role models who also profess belief in religion. It is usually taught to a credulous child, and it is not in our nature to assume that our parents are teaching us lies. I live in the Bible belt, and it was inconceivable to me that someone might not believe in God. I was actually puzzled the first time I encountered an atheist. To me, the atheist was the guy who thought that someone was a butterfly. Someone who thinks that you are a butterfly will not find anyone who agrees with him, and so he will be made to consider whether he really is crazy. A religious person has millions of like minded people to fall back on for reassurance. We can excuse the people who wholeheartedly believe from being insane by knowing that they do not understand how to think critically. To many of them, it is just obvious that God exists. This is not because they are insane, but because they are bad logicians. I think that the important distinction of the social proof for Christianity keeps them away from being on the same level as someone who thinks everyone in their family has been replaced by a replica. If someone was afraid of a witch today, it would be much stupider than if they were afraid of a witch in medieval Europe. The social proofs are trusted as fact by most people. The appeal to popularity is what makes Christianity go from crazy to plausible (again, to a bad logician). If an educated scientist still believed in positive evidence for Yahweh's divinity, he would either be lying to himself to preserve comfort (still not insane) or he would be hallucinating (actually insane). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof 2. More importantly, God is an abstract concept, whereas someone being a butterfly is easily debunked. Religion focuses around a "God of the gaps" and so it is plausible to many uncritical thinkers and even some bright people. The belief that you are a butterfly is obviously foolish, because a naive child can see that you are not one without having to exert any brain power. Since it is not obvious to a completely uneducated person that a Big Bang may have started the universe instead of God, it is not on the same level. Someone mistaking you for a butterfly would mean that they were hallucinating. The average belief in God is a story that people are told and then proceed to tell themselves, and it is an intentional act whereas the butterfly scenario would necessarily be unintentional. I think that we cannot compare the two because you can easily fool your thoughts but you can't so easily fool your senses. If our brains were cold logic machines then it would indeed be insanity to believe in God, but our brains are actually begging to be fooled. It is normal for a person to believe nonsense, but it is abnormal for a person to see things that are not there.
  9. I was reading Bertrand Russel's "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" today. I love this part in particular: I like this "Sunday truth" phrase. It seems that you are right, Iggy. Christians do not trust their whole being to Yahweh. The power of God is a "Sunday truth" for most who profess to be Christians. They take antibiotics and provide for themselves, thanking God afterwards for some reason. By thanking God for their own actions, they are conveniently allowed to take any responsibility off of God. Even worse, most Christians refuse to follow the Great Commission by becoming missionaries and stick with bumper sticker evangelism. They only follow what commandments are convenient, and many of them are avowed capitalists which is a real head-scratcher if you have read up on the teachings of Christ. Of course, this shows that they are not too delusional. If they were truly delusional, they would be selling everything they owned and expecting God to pump out bonafide miracles. At a deep level, they understand that they cannot rely on God or Jesus to help them. It is a silent, tacit bit of knowledge that they dare not speak to themselves. God is great for the big stuff like a death in the family or going through rehab but he is just a pain in the ass when he wants you to tithe and love your enemies. I have read that a belief in God was man's way of rebelling against his repugnant human nature. Denial of the self and complete submission are man's way of telling nature "you can't control me!" Christians believe that the state of human nature is evil, and God is their answer. While many of them cannot believe this mentally, it is essential that they believe it emotionally, and emotions win more often than not. I actually think that there is an important truth buried beneath all the lunacy in Genesis: Knowledge does not make us happy. When we learn cold hard facts, we need to come up with squishy lies to unlearn the facts. We learn about death, deprivation and cruelty and so we need to make up something to explain those things away. This is actually a very impressive behavior coming from Humans. God was an ingenious piece of technology that acted as a powerful placebo for easing mental suffering and social unrest. Without a doubt, It was fear rather than curiosity that gave birth to religion. When we discount the assumption that knowledge is the most important thing to strive for, we ought to look at religion in awe of its ingenuity instead of with contempt. The belief in a benevolent wizard looks really dumb today, but I am asking you to imagine its conception thousands of years ago. I still don't think that religion is a noble lie that should continue to be told, though. I think that people should know the truth, and I guess that is what I have faith in.
  10. I think that you would not be "you" if you got taken apart and reassembled somewhere else. Is there really any way to tell if we are the same conscious beings that we were a year ago? I guess that is for another topic. We can't imagine not existing because nonexistence isn't a real thing, it's not that it is a unknown to us. If the consciousness survives death, that is one thing. But the questions of the topic are regarding nonexistence and there can be no speculation about what "nonexistence" is. Nonexistence is defined to mean something specific, so we can very well comprehend it, while not being able to imagine it. We are talking about the choice between conscious life or total unawareness.
  11. I think that the only way to truly "override our programming" would be to implement a very complex authoritarian system that basically ensured that you would be happy from day one. Since most people would rather have "the choice to suffer" as Huxley puts it, then I don't think our society is going anywhere very fast. You mention purpose, but there is some reason to suspect that the desire to feel purpose is merely a response that we have to suffering (http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/afps-prt030211.php). People are terrified by the idea of their lives not having purpose, and many of these same people will interpret the kinds of changes that would be needed for more overall happiness as taking the meaning out of life. That is not to suggest that well off people don't seek out purpose, either, but this is just the reaction of a "winner" at life who realizes that he is still going to die some day. What do you mean by this? I think that only the unthinking individual can escape pain by means of self-denial, meditation or positive thinking. I agree, although I can't conceive of a real world situation where more babies would equal more happiness. Maybe you are just throwing an example out there. Like I said earlier, I cannot prove that pain is bad. All I can use to measure these things is the human experience, and that is the only experience that matters when we are talking about highly abstract concepts like badness. The fact that no such thing as suffering really exists doesn't comfort a person who is suffering. Through consensus reality, we can confirm that there are common trends of feelings in humans and that the same feeling is painful or pleasurable for every different human. If a human has a less than graceful experience and is not humiliated, it does not mean that he does not feel pain from the feeling of humiliation. It only means that he was not humiliated in this instance. In my opinion, we do not need "private language" to talk about the broad experience that humanity has. The private experience of a person is only his unique take on a very ubiquitous experience that billions of other people are experiencing in a somewhat nuanced way. I agree, I was just responding to Greylorn who asked me to consider my decision if my conscious mind might survive my death and enter into another body. I don't think that that is likely to happen for the reasons that you gave.
  12. 1. I think that very few people actually address the question of life's worth at all, to be honest. People who kill themselves or decide to find the best in life often do not do so for philosophical reasons. Many who kill themselves are unthinking and only concerned with ending painful self awareness, and many who are optimistic believe in the pseduo philosophy of glass half full thinking. I do not want to be down on optimists, but I do think that they should justify being optimistic. If they are optimistic in spite of the world, then I can better understand their position. It is the people who claim that life is not so bad that truly annoy me. That is as bad as an angst-filled teen declaring that the world is terrible based on his short, privileged life. When I make judgements about humanity, I base my pessimism on the nature of existence, not the individual events that take place. 2. I am speaking as a human. I do not believe that such things as abstract values really exist. Earlier on in this topic, I said that I would not consider human existence bad if I were an immortal godlike being, because human existence is of no consequence to a human in the long run. From my point of view as a human, I can see that it is objectively true that suffering is a major part of life. I cannot prove that suffering is universally bad, but I can show that it is bad for us. We are the only known beings capable of making these subjective judgements about things, so things only really matter at all to us. In the reality that our brains make for us, pain is objectively bad. Since the nature of existence is to suffer, an inability for the consciousness to die would be a bad fate. My understanding is that many Buddhists regard Nirvana as being in a state of annihilation, so it seems that I am not the first to think of this. I could go for eons without being conscious again but it would seem like only a light nap before I came back to life. I said earlier that I would still wipe out sentience even if it would come back later, just because it would still spare billions of people suffering. I understand that I have no objective basis for choosing to do this and it would be my own personal decision when faced with ultimate futility. It would not be a permanent solution, but I would still do it. Now, I will answer concerning me as an individual only. If I knew that I myself was going to come back instantly, I would not even bother. If I was living a worse life than I am now I would go for it and hope for something better. As it stands now, however, I could very much come back worse off. Eons of unconsciousness pass in the blink of an eye, and suddenly I could be getting scourged five times a day by some drunkard father in Earth 2.0 after another big bang. I was being a little bit defensive because I thought that you thought I expected society to give me a free ride. Sorry if I came off in a snide way. This is one of the major things that I have against the so-called goodness of life. Competition and suffering are the parents of our species, and so we are damned to be their children forever. Our society has taken away some of the competition of life, but we can still clearly see how a disabled person loses almost every competitive part of life to someone who is not disabled. When before such a disabled person would have died by natural selection, now they are merely deprived of the rewards of being born with functional body parts. Perhaps art is man's great refuge, because it does not have the same level of competition that everything else has. I want to a find a way to affirm life, but I cannot ignore the reality of existence. I am not too happy, but I can remember a time when I was profoundly miserable. No matter how happy I ever become, I will never say that life is good out of respect for the miserable people. I think that we should come clean and admit that some people do not have a reason to celebrate life. With respect to the quadriplegic artist, who I am happy for, his happiness is not a piece of evidence that should convict every quadriplegic person of the inherent goodness of life. If you want to be really ugly, you can think of how he actually competitively defeated some other aspiring artists, some of them being quads themselves. Every opportunity is limited, and so one quad succeeding means that another now has less opportunity. And just to be clear, I am not disabled, I am just using that as an example.
  13. I think that there is a distinction between the kind of pessimism that is born from ignorance of the world or crushed idealism (the kind of teenage angst that older people sneer at contemptuously) and the kind of pessimism that is brought about by a sober analysis of human existence. As you said, I have experienced a lot of discouragement. I have been at such a low point that I greatly wished to be dead. I am sure that this must be obvious since cheery people generally don't come to the conclusion that life is bad. Some antinatalists believe that any suffering is unacceptable but I would say that a world in which suffering=pleasure is an acceptable world. This would still be a very mediocre place to live in but it would not be deplorable like current human existence is. I don't know if you are assuming you know my desires or just making an irrelevant statement. The issue here is that each other person does this when they decide to bring a baby to life. If you intentionally give birth, you are deciding that life is good. Why am I getting crap just for having a minority opinion? You seem to think that depriving someone of their future by killing them is selfish but creating a human is not selfish. Who are we doing a favor when we create a human? You cannot say that we are doing a favor to the baby because the baby does not exist to want to be alive. People have babies because they want them. The difference is that someone cannot be worse off for being dead, while someone will certainly be worse off for being alive. The absence of pleasure is rendered meaningless when it does not result in deprivation; a dead person cannot be deprived and is no worse off for being dead. In the end it cannot be said that it is good to bring a human to life so that they can experience pleasure, because there was no deprivation to satisfy in the first place. Don't say that I am selfish for not caring what the rest of the human race thinks unless you will concede that it is selfish to bring a human to life in the first place. And, as I have shown, my action does not result in suffering like giving birth does, so my action is the less detrimental of the two. My action results in exactly no suffering, because there are no people left to grieve and no one alive to be deprived of pleasure. Again, I'm not anymore of a judge than the people who decide that life is good. When you look at how every bad thing that ever happened to anyone (including suffering the death of a loved one) can be traced back to being born, my decision to end this pointless game doesn't seem so bad. I think you would have to justify not pressing the button if you had the opportunity to kill everyone. My action is purely good because it results in no suffering but it ends all kinds of suffering. Your decision not to press the button would mean that either you think the good in life outweighs the bad, or you think there is some magical abstract thing about living that makes it good on principle. If you only think that the good in life outweighs the bad in most cases, then you are being "selfish" because you are sacrificing the best interests of a small minority. My decision does not sacrifice anyone's best interests (at least not to the degree to which any suffering is caused), because they cannot be worse off for being dead. You are just as much of a "jurist" when you insist that you are not harming a child by bringing him or her to life. If that kid gets raped, it is on you by proxy because you knew the risks. You either naively decided that your child would definitely not get raped or you decided that the risk was worth taking. Yes, every time you have a child, you are playing roulette with someone who is not you. If that is not "selfish" I don't know what is. I don't want to offend anyone; I am not trying to make anyone feel bad for being a parent. I'm just trying to be as objective as I can, because sentimentality has a tendency to make people irrational.
  14. I noticed that this has been going on for a very long time, so I guess I'll throw my opinion out there. It might be similar to something that has already been said, but I am not going to read seventy pages of comments. Go to the bottom for TL;DR. Religion does not break a person, it satisfies several needs they have without actually having to provide anything. God is the ultimate placebo. God is the most efficient lie ever told to the human race. Without God, people need true reasons to be satisfied, and in many cases they will never find them without just making up their own secular superstitions. Theism is a simple and attractive world view that eases all of your worries and excuses the world for being a dreadful place. Reason has made our lives better, but in the process we have "broken" the human species. I use "break" here in the sense that you must break a wild animal before you can start to tame it. Religious people are humans in their natural state of willful ignorance. The human mind is a wild animal and you must break it. I think that, for those of us who are not intelligent to start with, reason cannot be taught to us past the barrier of our superstitious worldview. To give an example, I only turned away from religion after it became humiliating and degrading for me. I have never been the sharpest tool in the shed. If we are not intelligent and honest enough to break away on our own, we must be alienated from our religions to have the ability to break away from them. Christianity, at its most powerful, can be like a cult. If you have ever been in the grip of optimally-functioning Christianity, you will see that it is something akin to mind control. This is not even taking into account the hopelessness a young child has of getting to rationally reflect on the truth of the claims that a man walked on water and magically changed the properties of liquid before these claims become part of his or her developmental knowledge of history. It is not fair to call these people broken, because, in everyday life, they are functionally just like you or me but are having their needs satisfied by their imagination instead. They are highly-functioning delusional people. And let me add that belief in God does not have the monopoly on delusion. It becomes simply absurd to blame a person for being delusional when you consider a repressed society such as the Islamic world. I was able to become a skeptic and a rationalist because the United States is one of the most secular places in the world (despite what some might say). It is folly to place blame on a Saudi woman for not understanding that the dogma and customs that she must practice are nonsense. There is a great deal of determinism involved in shaping a human mind, and there is a point when you can no longer call a person stupid for being delusional, nor can you call them "broken". As I said, our minds want to be tricked. It is human nature to be delusional. I could be delusional right now and not even know it. We are social animals who, simply put, do not care about the truth. We care that the truth serves us. Even the dedicated scientist searches for truth because of the pleasure that it gives to him or her. In the end, we skeptics seek the truth because we can't stand not knowing. Even in looking for harsh reality, we are running from uncertainty. TL;DR: The human brain is such an exploitable and dishonest piece of equipment that it is unfair to call a delusional person "broken". It is characteristic of humans to be biased and narrow-minded.
  15. If the definition of omnipotence is "the ability to do anything" than it is just begging to be a paradox. Statements with absolutes are often unsound. If there is such a thing as an omnipotent being, it would be impossible for any entity to possess the ability to do "anything" because "anything" involves being more than omnipotent, which is illogical. For that matter, it is just impossible to be able to "do anything" period. I'm going to be the devil's advocate here (or God's advocate, ha ha). I do not think that omnipotence is usually thought of as "the ability to do anything." Does it really count if he cannot create something that he can't lift? If a god is omnipotent, shouldn't it logically be impossible for something to be more powerful than that god? Doesn't his inability to create a rock that he can't lift just attest to his omnipotence? Having an inability =/= the loss of omnipotence. In this case, the inability is an inability to fail. It becomes kind of dumb when we are saying a being is not supremely powerful because it cannot fail at being powerful. It is only in our vocabulary that we define it as a lack of power, when in reality it is an affirmation of power. Since the god cannot create a rock that it cannot move, all that that means is that it is not stronger than itself. So, to recap, it is only a paradox if the definition of omnipotence is "the ability to do anything." If it is merely "unlimited power" then that falls in line with not being able to make a rock that you cannot lift, because the inability has to do with unlimited power as opposed to a weakness. I think this is among the least of a religious person's worries when it comes to stuff that doesn't make sense.
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