Each of us makes assumptions which guide our life's choices, many of which we are unaware.
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Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most respected forms of productive debate. There are many unproductive methods. All of which should be avoided. Socratic method is a very old and respected means to quickly and definitively resolve difficult issues by adhering to rules of conversation which are carefully designed to keep the discussion on track and drive it toward rapid and unreserved conclusion. Conclusion is reached when after carefully selecting questions designed to spotlight an affirmation's error, no one involved in the conversation is any longer willing to dispute the rationality of the affirmation.
Wikipedia on Socratic Method
In this way, conclusion is forced upon those who remain in disagreement, but have no rational reason for their disagreement. One remaining in disagreement is forced to admit "I still disagree, but fail to provide a reason for my disagreement which others perceive as rational." The irrationality of his or her position becomes obvious to those involved in the conversation.
For this reason Socratic Method is very unpopular with politicians who often desire to remain uncommitted on some issues.
How do I comment in Socratic Method if I disagree?
Do not pose an alternate position or attempt to show that there is a better way to handle the issue. This is the error most make in debate. Nothing ever ends up resolved because both sides continue supporting their respective and opposing views and neither view is refuted. Neither party has any reason to concede. Neither party finds it intellectually embarrassing to continue supporting their original position.
First, make sure you disagree. An argument is not won with fancy words, but by discovering the winning side before choosing your position. Is your position winnable? If not, accept it and change your mind, otherwise Socratic Method will reveal your irrationality to others. Once you've answered that, list the assumptions upon which the affirmed statement rests, and which if shown to be false, make the affirmed statement's error obvious to others.
Restate that assumption in language and terminology which make the affirmation's reliance upon the assumption obvious and ask those affirming if they agree with the assumption.
If the assumption is specious, wait to point out the assumption's flaw in your second question after those affirming answer their agreement with the assumption. Post "Considering that you agree with that particular assumption, do you also agree with its obviously erroneous implication, thus.....?
If you have difficulty finding an erroneous assumption or an error of conclusion implied by assumptions made in the affirmation, double check that you still disagree. You may find, to your surprise that you agreed with the statement all along. You just didn't think about it carefully enough at first.
Three Intractable Questions
Eight Fundamental Assumptions
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God can not be proven.
We prove something with a series of logical conjectures which show that of which we attempt proof must be so by consequence of the laws of physics. Any God who is so constrained by the laws of physics as to be provable is no God.
God must be intelligent and benevolent.
Anything which is not constrained by the laws of physics must be benevolent and intelligent. If it were either not benevolent or unintelligent and random, then the likelihood of interaction with the universe in some way as to effect its annihilation increases over time. If God exists, He must be unprovable and benevolent and intelligent, otherwise we would not be here to consider the following questions.
The three intractable questions...
which science has not answered, not for lack of effort nor for lack of knowledge, but because, of these three questions science is inherently incapable.
Science is doing a better and better job of describing matter/energy, space/time and the rules which direct their interactions, but science is incapable of elucidating their origin, since the origin of the rules directing their interactions (the laws of physics) must be described with out referring back to the laws of physics which could not exist under the conditions of their origin. There origin is not limited to some temporal point. The laws of physics may have existed eternally, yet under the conditions of their origin whatever that is, they did not exist.) Any useful description of their origin is not possible, nor shall it ever be possible.
seems to become even more complicated when considering the multi-verse hypothesis, where universes each with distinct laws of physics are popping up new all the time. Well... time isn't really the right word, because we experience time as defined by the laws of physics in our universe. There is no requirement that other universes adopt the same definitions nor that the multi-verse from which universes arise has any definition for time. None the less the question is merely deferred to the rules that guide the multi-verses.
Not a single peer reviewed scientific paper has ever been published which proposes any plausible process by which prebiotic compounds could have spontaneously arraigned themselves into the first and simplest of self replicating molecular systems. We are trying hard and each attempt only reveals greater obstacles. If you doubt this statement, then simply produce a single peer reviewed paper which documents the details of a molecular process from prebiotic compounds to any self replicating molecular system which is also subject to reproductive selective pressure.
Self awareness and stream of consciousness are resolvable tasks and indistinguishable from those which computer science can theoretically reproduce given enough computing power, yet anyone who both understands the theoretical basis for artificial self awareness and stream of consciousness and who also experiences sentience claims their sentient experience can not be entirely explained thereby. Some aspects of sentience are not describable with any definitively unambiguous series of imperative statements; yet, the 1937 Church Turing thesis on resolvable tasks teaches us that all information products of any complex information system, such as the brain, must be resolvable tasks.
This contradiction does not arise as a result of the extreme complexity of bio-chemical processes in our brains; it arises because if sentience is entirely a product of bio-chemistry in our brains, then it must also be a resolvable task. Anyone knowledgeable in the matter who claims otherwise may not experience sentience. There is no imperative that all humans must be sentient, though no one can ever tell the difference in any way for anyone.
If a claim otherwise is valid, they claiming should also be able to produce a test for sentience which determines quantitatively if one human is sentient and not another or if humans are and animals are not. Failing that, the one claiming so misspoke.
Not only is there room for some unspecified and benevolent intelligence which is not constrained by the laws of physics, but there seems to be persuasive endorsements for such.
The historical figure Jesus of Nazareth dealt with many misconceptions about God and religion. People who claim atheism are no less likely to maintain irrational ideologies than theists of any religion. A recent peer reviewed scientific report identified those practicing some sects of Christianity as possessing some cognitive skills which others do not.
There are many reasons to believe that God chose to communicate with man and did so with preference. I have become persuaded that The Tanakh and the Septuagint, the Vulgate and the Authorized King James provide a superior account of the relationship between God and man and regarding the purpose of creation and of man.
One claiming there is no purpose and no transcendent reason to treat ones friends morally, must accept that his better course is to escape discovery while he cheats, lies and steals from his friends to procure the most potent mind altering compounds he can find and stone out until dead.
There is no satisfaction, no lasting contribution to society, no immortality in the memories of family and friends, no amount of money, no great sex which can possibly bring more pleasure and satisfaction than direct chemical stimulation of the pleasure centers of our brain. All of those other things satisfy merely because they indirectly stimulate our brain's pleasure center and do so only fleetingly. If this is truly the only reason we are moral, then give me another hit of what ever your smoking.
My eight fundamental assumptions.
There is no scientific proof of any of these statements. They must remain assumptions for with out the first three, all reason, all science and investigation and all knowledge is impossible. Science and all knowledge begins with these three. They are the same for everyone. No one is compelled to believe in these three, but someone who does not believe in all three, can not know anything and can not share what he thinks he might know with anyone else and can not even be sure of his own existence.
Everyone who wishes to learn about the world around him or believes that conversation with others can lead to learning new things must also believe these exact same first three assumptions. No substantive deviation is possible which provides for the possibility of sharing knowledge of the universe or other ideas or even theologies with an another.
The last four are my faith in a purpose for the first three. A fourth of some kind is necessary. If someone does not adopt more as I have, he is left with the default fourth, which he must accept as it is an inescapable implication of the first three.
1) Knowledge -- We can know things
Some things are knowable and some are not. For a few things, we can not even know if they are knowable, but we can definitively determine if some things are knowable and some other things are not knowable. If something is knowable, it does not follow that it is currently known. Many of the things which we can know are known, but some things which we can know remain still unknown.
This must be the first precept because with out it none of the others can be known.
2) Community -- We are not each alone
I am not alone. I am not the only existent one in whose thoughts and dreams the universe resides. There are others beside me who live and think and can know.
This must be the second because if I am alone, then knowing things is meaningless for I am already all there is. If anyone else exists other than myself, 2) must true.
3) Existence -- We exist and the things around us exist
The universe I see and in which I live is the same universe in which everyone lives. This is what the word universe means. The place in which all things exist. No matter how hard one believes that a brick wall into which he runs does not exist, his head will hurt just as hard.
Some believe that the universe only exists as a consequence of our thoughts, but such a belief also negates community, since every one else in the universe must also be merely a construct of my thoughts. If we know others exist, then we must share a common medium in which we can interact to learn of each other's existence. What ever that common medium is, it must be a universe of things which we can all share.
If others do not share the air into which one speaks, the others can't hear his words. Can't see him. Can't share the knowledge of his thoughts. If one assumes 2), then 3) is implied. If 2) is true, but 3) false, none can ever know anything about the others and each is forever alone living inside himself.
It could be that 3) is true and 2) false. A universe of things exist separate from me, but no others exist to share it. In which case I am not god but king... of nothing and of no one.
4) God -- Finite universe
This universe has a beginning and it will have an end. It is not eternal. There was something, unconstrained by the laws that come to govern the universe, when the universe was not. From that something arose the cause, meaning and purpose of the universe.
If one does not adopt this fourth, he can not escape the alternative fourth which is:
* * * * * 4) God -- The universe and god are the same
The universe itself is eternal, which is to say that time itself is a product of the laws of the universe such that there is no time when the universe did not exist. The universe is the beginning and the end. There was nothing before the universe and nothing after it ends. The universe is everything, everywhere and every time. The universe is everything which we ascribe to god. There is no other purpose, no other meaning.
Adoption of this 4th supposition has far reaching implications for those adhering.
If I and all others around me are merely purposeless and meaningless complex arraignments of molecules and I kill and eat meaningless arraignments of molecules for my culinary delights, only my reputation and therefore my ability to benefit from the work of others prevents me from taking from my friends as I please with out regard for their well being. If one truly subscribes to this supposition, and wishes to maintain consistent logical integrity, one must be willing to rob, cheat, steal and murder for his own advancement. So long as he can do so undetected by.
If you believe that you hold this supposition true, examine your own motives. Is the fear of discovery the only reason you shrink from such immorality? Review the third intractable question.
If you retreat to the specious safety of evolutionary selective forces acting on the human species over a period of tens or hundreds of thousands of years, selecting out brains which are hard wired for selfishness, then take a minute (or about three days) to disambiguate the subject and jot down the definitive imperatives which could describe such an evolutionary process, doing so in the manner I describe in The Election Process. You will probably find that you believe as I do instead, and just didn't realize it until you thought it through carefully.
5) Creation -- There is a God aside from the universe
That which was when the universe was not and which defines the boundaries of the finite universe is God who existed and created the universe to unfold in the way it did. Everything in the universe is constrained by the laws which God created to sustain and carry the universe. God is not constrained by those laws‚ He created them. As such, He may choose to intercede at any time or choose not to with out respect for the laws of physics.
Steven Hawking suggests that because the infinite density of the universe at the moment of the big bang bends space-time in such a way that time does not exist, the universe could have existed for a second or ten billion billion years or indeed an eternity in that state and there was no time in which a god could have existed to create the universe. Dr. Hawking is a brilliant man who brought into the world a brilliant insight regarding quantum nature of black holes, but he clearly has not thought this question through carefully.
Clearly any god who is constrained by quantum mechanics in that way or in any way is no god.
6) Transcendence -- There is biological behavior constrained by the laws of physics and, there is behavior not so constrained or, God is knowable and loving.
God who created us as part of the universe also chose us and loves us especially above all the universe. He created the universe for us and for our benefit. The nature of that benefit is the subject of theology. God governs His intercession of the universe according to His love for us. In this way and for this purpose, God chooses to reveal himself to us. This must be on faith, because any communication from god can not be tested because god is not constrained by the laws of physics.
The seventh is troublesome for many, because they can not find reason to accept one statement claiming to be from God over another. Why the Torah over the Sumerian creation account? I have very good reasons other than faith alone to accept the superiority of the Tanakh, Septuagint, Vulgate and the King James english. These are written in the four diplomatic languages of trade, science and commerce through out the time of civilized man. Semitic Hebrew, Koine Greek, Latin and now English. Scholars are now beginning to accept that the Semitic phonetic alphabet is that which had been referred to as Indo-European, the origin of the modern western language tree, including Greek, Latin and English.
This fact sets an uncomfortable distinction between the West, the far East and early American civilizations. Does the Creator of all things play favorites among His creation? The universe itself is built upon contrast. A wise parent is less interested in the distinctions between his children. He is far more interested instead in how his children learn to deal with those distinctions. If the Creator made each of us identical, what a boring world this would be. All mountains look the same, all food tastes the same, everyone has the same skill. In fact with out contrast, chemical reactions are not possible, stars would not shine, planets would not exist, biology would be impossible.
We fear distinction merely because we fear we will be on the losing end or because we feel compassion for others who may be as well. Distinction is not our enemy, but our friend. It is not distinction, but the ignorance and irresponsibility which arises when the absents of distinction prevents our emotional growth, that we should fear.
When one sibling's birthday arrives, which is the wiser parent? He who gives all his children the same gift as the birthday girl in order to prevent disappointment, resentment and jealousy? or He who gives the birthday girl her gift and teaches the others patients for their birthday and joy for the birthday girl's good fortune?
It is very important that this seventh also be a principle of faith alone.
7) Bible -- The Hebrew/Christian Bible is the superior account of God's intercession in the affairs of men
God chose to communicate with us through fellow men named Adam, Heber, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and a select few others. God caused written communications to be preserved in means by which their true intent can be accurately discerned with humble and honest investigation. But which same means provides no reassurance what so ever to anyone who does not hold this same precept.
Jesus is not counted here, because he wrote nothing. He only spoke and others wrote.
I can not provide any proof of any of these assumptions. I did not construct these such that they constitute seven. These are how they fall out of reason. There is an eighth which is the most important.
8) Jesus -- Jesus the man did not become God. He is God
Jesus was as we are. He is a son of man, but He is also the only begotten son of God. If one has seen Jesus, he has seen the Father. Jesus is God and was God before the beginning and shall remain God after the end.
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