Thursday, May 26, 2011

Naturalism


Naturalism

Naturalism is the understanding that there is a single, natural world as shown by science, and that we are completely included in it.

Naturalism holds that everything we are and do is connected to the rest of the world and derived from conditions that precede us and surround us.

Each of us is an unfolding natural process, and every aspect of that process is caused, and is a cause itself.

So we are fully caused creatures, and seeing just how we are caused gives us power and control, while encouraging compassion and humility.

By understanding consciousness, choice, and even our highest capacities as materially based, naturalism re-enchants the physical world, allowing us to be at home in the universe.

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.

You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time.

They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.

Stars died so that you could be here today.


Lawrence Krauss
Naturalism shows our full connection to the world and others, it leads to an ethics of compassion, and it gives us far greater control over our circumstances.

Everything we are and do is completely connected to the rest of the world. Our bodies and minds are shaped in their entirety by conditions that precede us and surround us. Each of us is an unfolding, natural process, and every aspect of that process is caused, and is a cause itself.

We are therefore entirely at home in the physical universe.

Some might conclude from this that naturalism reduces human beings to mere mechanisms, mere automatons, but this doesn’t follow. What follows is that the physical universe has produced, in us, marvelously complex and adaptive organisms, with the capacity for self-reflection, wonder, suffering, and joy.

"we are a way for the universe to know itself"

Carl Sagan
Far from mechanizing humanity, naturalism re-enchants the physical world by showing how consciousness and choice don’t involve supernatural processes. They are natural processes, understandable by science. Amazingly enough, physical existence produces all these intricate phenomena quite nicely on its own.

Naturalism is premised on taking science as our way of knowing about the world, not tradition, intuition, sacred texts or pronouncements.

By illuminating the causal connections between phenomena, science inevitably unifies what it discovers into a single, natural, multifaceted whole.

If we take science seriously with regard to ourselves and our behavior, we are led to the conclusion that human beings are fully included in the natural world, and that we are completely physical creatures. More and more, biology and neuroscience show that the brain and body do everything that the soul was supposed to do. Even consciousness and our higher level capacities for rationality and choice are fully embodied, causal processes.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dragon


The Dragon In My Garage
by Carl Sagan

"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage"

Suppose I seriously make such an assertion to you.
Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself.

There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!"

"Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle -- but no dragon.

"Where's the dragon?" you ask.

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon."

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints.

"Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air."

Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

"Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless."

You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

"Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on.

I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work

Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?

If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists?

Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true.

Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder.

What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. The only thing you've really learned from my insistence that there's a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head.

You'd wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I've seriously underestimated human fallibility.

Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don't outright reject the notion that there's a fire-breathing dragon in my garage.

You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you're prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it's unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative -- merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of "not proved."

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you.

No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons -- to say nothing about invisible ones -- you must now acknowledge that there's something here, and that in a preliminary way it's consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it's not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you're pretty sure don't know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages -- but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we're disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic.

We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I'd rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren't myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they're never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon's fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist.

We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such "evidence" -- no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it -- is far from compelling.

Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Agnostic?


Agnosticism


Gnosticism is not a position for or against belief in God it is a position on knowing god.

People can be Agnostic Theists and Agnostic Atheists, but it is not an exclusive concept on its own.

Theism/Atheism is a position on the belief of gods existence
Gnosticism/Agnosticism is a position on knowing of gods existence
Most if not all Atheists are Agnostic Atheists (Myself included), And most if not all Theists are Gnostic Theists.

People who claim Agnosticism, often don't actually know what Agnosticism is. They think it is that they are positively open to religion, when what it really is, is the position that they don't know and that there is no way to know without evidence.

This sounds strangely like Atheism.


If someone tells you that they are Agnostic just say the following sentence:
"Okay, and what is your position on the belief in god?"
If they respond with:
"I already told you I am an Agnostic"
This means that they have no clue what they are, let alone what they are talking about.

Either you believe or you don't, either you know or you don't. There is no logical fence sitting position for one or the other. Either you believe and you say you know, or you believe and you say you don't know. (the latter is a false faith in religion by their own definition)

Either you do not believe and you know that there is no god, or you do not believe and you don't know if there is a god. (both are atheistic, but one is logically honest and the other really isn't) absence of any evidence means you can't know for certain.

So to contend that you don't believe in god and that you know for certain that god does not exist is an illogical assertion that cannot be proven.

Agnostics who define themselves separate from Theism/Atheism don't actually understand that the concepts are not mutally exclusive.

Just because they feel there is some possibility that Thor could exist if given evidence does not mean that they believe in Thor, and since agnostics can't actually be both agnostic and Monotheists or Polytheists due to the need to give possibility to all deities, and Theistic grouping are exclusive ideologies, logically all Agnostics are Atheists.

And all Theists are exclusively Gnostic's. Because they contend that only their god has a valid belief system. Agnostics are open to all deities, So it would be ignorant to claim to be an Agnostic Theist. Just as it is logically dishonest to claim to be a Gnostic Atheist.

To say that you are just an Agnostic/Gnostic on the question of belief in god is a completely ignorant postion based on a misconception or misunderstanding of the definiton of Agnosticism and its etymology.

(Note: Please do not take an illogical offence to being called ignorant. The connotation is not implicitly negative, it simply means without education/research/knowledge. Do not mistake ignorance for idiocy or stupidity, these are not synonymous with each other.)


Gnosticism deals with epistemological questions
Theism deals with theological questions


You may not know if God(s) exist(s),
But you can say whether you believe they do or not.


Friday, May 20, 2011

WhyHumanism



Humanism

What Is Humanism?
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—Humanism encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This statement is to present in clear and positive terms the principles Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. There is no dogmatic approach to humanism, nor is there a cookie cutter perfect example, but the philosophy outlined below is the expressed guidelines to being considered a "Humanist"

It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life's fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

Paraphrased From: American Humanist: Humanist Manifesto III
Source