[extropy-chat] Putting God to Rest

Samantha Atkins sjatkins at mac.com
Thu Apr 26 07:00:03 UTC 2007

Mike Dougherty wrote:
> On 4/24/07, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:
>> I believe Damien was pointing out the fact that one can conceive there
>> could be a higher order being than oneself and one always can conceive
>> of such a being is not an argument for God as usually conceived or even
>> for the actual existence of any such being.  The line of reasoning is
>> similar to an old argument for God as the highest order being far beyond
>> human conception.
> agreed.  if "as usually conceived" means the abrahamic god, then i
> believe I understand this point.  I also agree that there is no proof.
>  My position is that to discuss some concept such as "God" there needs
> to be a mutual understanding of the terms.  I am more inclined to
> start with, "Suppose there exists a sufficiently advanced state of
> being beyond which current human thinking is unable to conceive, label
> that God...."  and discuss from that point.  Any later proof is
> suspect due to the starting definition, but it does arbitrarily
> bootstrap the concept.  Although I think I have done a poor job
> establishing this point so far.
Labeling that "God" is precisely what would be illegitimate.  You would 
be talking about something quite other than what this culture means by 
such a term and something quite other than what most posters on this 
thread are talking about.   Besides just because a being is sufficiently 
more advanced than you or I would not mean it was in the least like what 
the local culture claims God is much less that it was usefully identical 
even for the purposes of discussion.
>>> The quote from me (above) was asking about defining a term or
>>> qualifying a label.
>> Which term, God?  God is already defined on rather non-defined by the
>> believers.  Some rarefied though experiment God is not God as generally
>> though of, worshipped, etc. in the culture.  So I don't see where such
>> an effort would gain much.
> I know "God" is so overloaded with meaning that it is different for
> each person, which I why I attempted the above declaration for point
> of reference.  I was originally asking what Extropians or
> Transhumanists would call a belief in a recursively defined higher
> order, such that upon realizing that state the next higher state is
> implicitly defined to be above the one just realized.
Onward!  Seriously, we don't think there is a cap on abilities of beings 
for some ways out.  But what does that have to do with how we hold 
religion especially the local varieties?

>> You say you want communication then you label some of the people here
>> "knee jerk atheist"?  That is inconsistent at best if not hypocritical.
> Yeah, that wasn't right.  Thanks for calling me on it so I can
> apologize.  I felt rebuked by what seemed a negative response to what
> I posted.  I was still defensive after a few hours, so the next time I
> checked the thread I responded emotionally.  I read your response a
> few hours ago and i've been thinking you are right.
Apology accepted.  Thanks.
>> Most Buddhist I know believe in considerable orders of higher beings and
>> engage in quite a bit of magical thinking including the assumption that
>> changing one's own consciousness can transform everything and the de
>> facto assumption that the important aspects of suffering are those
>> within one's control with training, i.e., one's attachments.  There is
>> considerable cognitive dissonance in simultaneously holding the self as
>> illusory and having reincarnation as an important supporting basis for
>> the general buddhist worldview.  Boddhisatva and enlightenment itself
>> not to mention becoming a Buddha are higher states.  There are claims
>> that a Buddha frees all beings of suffering on all planes and throughout
>> all time.   I don't see how this is substantially different from other
>> religious thinking.
> I don't remember if we're down on just "God" or all "religious
> thinking" - I know they're usually codependent, but there might be a
> distinction.  I'm 0 for 3 tonight, so I certainly don't want to
> propose any new ideas :)
People that hold to rationality are generally "down on" all magical 
thinking about how things are or work.

>>> But if this is suffering from a category mistake, then I don't want to
>>> be indoctrinated into accepting this wysiwyg existance is the most we
>>> can hope for.
>> Do you honestly think that any extropians hold such a bizarre formulation?\
> honestly no, that was more immature emotional backlash.  I think i'm over that.
> I do think the extropian phase space for ideas covers so much ground
> that being on opposite sides of "mainstream" thinking can present a
> huge challenge.  Maybe this is analogous to attempting to
> differentiate stars across the galactic center.

I don't know of anyone in this phase space who doesn't believe in the 
possibility of radical change in the human condition.   It is pretty 
much definitive that we believe there is a tremendous amount more to 
hope for than what we see around us today.   We vary in what we think it 
will requine, in what we think is likely to be the general state of 
things along the way and even what we think post-Singularity might bring 
and whether humans as we no them or as augmented have a place there.   
But I don't think we are so far apart as your metaphor seems to suggest.

- s
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