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 Post subject: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:56 am 
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DISCLAIMER: The views expressed by me in this thread (or anywhere else, for that matter) are my own and do not reflect the views of this forum or its owner or any other related or affiliated entities, organizations, beings, corporations, organisms, aggregates, pluralities, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

OK, I can't contain my need to conspiracy theorize any longer... and I'm through with starting new threads on the old forums. So, this is my new home for all my crazy thoughts.

And I'm kicking it off in high style, featuring none other than the dung beetle!

Image

Now, I just stumbled across this article that shows that dung beetles can make straight-lines by navigating via light from the Milky Way. What freaks me out about this is:

a) the Egyptians held the dung beetle to be sacred:

Image

b) it is generally held that the influence of the stars is too faint to affect biological systems

Now, why did the Egyptians think that a beetle rolling around balls of shit is "sacred"?? That has always struck me as odd.

But the more important question to my mind is this: if the influence of the stars can be detected by a lowly dung-beetle, why is it automatically assumed that biological organisms (including humans) are unaffected by the stars?

At present, I'm "mentally experimenting" with the idea of aliens. Yes, aliens. However, I want to be clear on two things. 1) Aliens-as-a-threat-to-humanity is a statist meme meant to rationalize world government. 2) Aliens-as-secret-rulers-who-created-the-government-hierarchy is another statist meme meant to excuse the abuses of the State as well as reinforce the notion of the State as hyper-competent and backed by some kind of other-worldly power. For these reasons, I disavow the views (1) and (2) from any special consideration... if anything, they should be "de-considered" due to all the excess air-time they get among the CT-minded.

So, where am I going with it? Well, I like this guy so far:



Now, I'm sketchy on the Bigfoot thing... forget the fossils... where are the carcasses?? Shouldn't at least one of these things keel over of a heart-attack somewhere in the woods and be stumbled upon by a mountain-man or something??

But I really like this idea of aliens coming to earth and experimenting on terrestrial life-forms, say, 10,000 years ago. Have you ever looked at a human being? I mean, seriously, objectively, placed a human being next to any other terrestrial life-form - however closely related evolutionarily - and just visually compared them? There are so many bizarre aspects of human anatomy that are nearly "dysfunctional" compared to their counterparts in the rest of the animal kingdom. Pye compares primate and human feet... the differences could not be more obvious! But even look at faces. The human face is... alien. The aquiline features, the very flat face, etc. How did these things "just evolve" from our primate ancestors???

I can hear the clamoring already... "You're just positing central-planning to explain a phenomenon that you yourself have already admitted can be solved through decentralized, evolutionary processes - the evolution of biocomplexity." Yes but I'm not trying to say "evolution can't explain this", I'm saying that evolution could explain it ... but only on a longer time-scale. Human emergence is too rapid and the connections between humans and other primates are obviously jury-rigged. There's something not right in the whole picture of human origins.

Pye speculates that the frontal cortex is actually the part that the alien(s) inserted into primates. He believes that these Bigfoots/Yetis/"humanoids" are just as intelligent - if not more so - than us. The difference is that they have "terrestrial intelligence" where we have been vested with some kind of extra-terrestrial intelligence that has displaced some of our natural, terrestrial intelligence, and has made us more ... human... exhibiting behaviors like complex language, trade, division-of-labor, etc. - perhaps even music.

OK, now that I've put this hypothesis on the table it opens a bunch of cans of worms. I'll address each briefly.

a) How did they get here? - I don't know and I don't really care.

b) But wouldn't it require immense amounts of time (thus immense alien lifetimes)? - I actually doubt the speed-limit of light for reasons I've discussed elsewhere, so I think that travel within the Universe may not be as limited as we are told... it's just that you need immense amounts of energy if you intend to travel extremely fast. I have other theories that posit that features of the Universe that we suppose are coincidental are, in fact, telic and designed for the purposes of harvesting energy.

c) What do the ETs want? What is the purpose? - Applying a deductive approach, we can surmise a few, basic facts that must be true of aliens. First, alien lifetimes must be limited in duration, even if they are very large. Second, that "life-extension" given sufficient technology is possible and, thus, a primary motivation of an advanced organism would be to renew and extend its lifetime as much as possible... the "Stargate theory".

d) But isn't this a rejection of rationalism and experimental methods? If we can invent entities willy-nilly without evidence to explain this or that 'quirk' in science, aren't we back to the Dark Ages, scientific-wise? - No. In fact, the mainstreamers are by far more guilty on this point... positing unobserved (and unobservable) entities like Dark Matter, Dark Energy, black holes, worm holes, space-time bending/ripping, etc. The fact is that all of science is inferential and "invents entities" for which there can be no evidence in order to explain observations. Have you ever seen an atom? A quark? A magnetic field? If anything, the ability to invent useful devices (metaphors, images, illustrations, whatever-you-want-to-call-them) is a sign of scientific maturity... the capacity to use hypothetical inference without dogmatically attaching oneself to one's own imaginary inventions. I have more to say on this point re. consensus-science but will abridge myself here for now.

How did I end up here from dung beetles? Well, I don't know. It just freaks me out. Like, maybe the aliens put a regular terrestrial beetle in their lab and gave it biological "Milky Way goggles", or something.

Remember, They Live:

Image

Clayton -

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:51 am 
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The universe is filled with unknowns. I'm not really competent enough to assess the whole quantum theory debate, but I do consider myself agnostic as to the existence of aliens. It's certainly a distinct possibility, and for all we know, so is the possibility of their having visited our world.

Also, I think the reptilian theories are pretty damn interesting. They make for more compelling reading than the Bible or Qu'ran, that is for sure. It's taken to ridiculous extremities to explain special interests like the Rothschilds and various heads of government, but I think you can safely ignore that kind of thing.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:37 pm 
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Watched that video by the way Clayton. Awesome stuff. I think I might pick up his book at some point. Even if none of it is true, it has piqued my curiosity in the topic, and I enjoy good stories. Then again, it needs to be superimposed against the backdrop of what modern scientists present as alternative stories. I don't think they really have a clue when it comes to divulging our origins.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:35 pm 
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Jon Irenicus wrote:
I don't think they really have a clue when it comes to divulging our origins.


+1

It's not so much that I believe in Bigfoot as I don't find the standard narrative regarding human origins very persuasive. There is no doubt we are on the tree of life with all other terrestrial beings... but there are still a lot of problems in the standard account of human origins.

Clayton -

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 11:53 pm 
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The evidence continues to mount...

8-)

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:03 pm 
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I'm watching the video now but I'm not impressed so far. He hasn't made any argument so far that I haven't seen dealt with to my satisfaction by Richard Dawkins.

Clayton wrote:
Yes but I'm not trying to say "evolution can't explain this", I'm saying that evolution could explain it ... but only on a longer time-scale. Human emergence is too rapid and the connections between humans and other primates are obviously jury-rigged. There's something not right in the whole picture of human origins.

How long would evolution have needed to have had for you to not make this argument?


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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:54 pm 
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GrahamW wrote:
How long would evolution have needed to have had for you to not make this argument?


I honestly don't know. Let me just grant from the outset that Dawkinsian biology is far-and-away the champion of rationality. I'm merely exploring some less-rational alternatives because I do feel there are some pretty serious weaknesses in the standard narrative of human origins.

In other words, I'm not surprised you're not impressed with Pye... but I'm determined to keep scratching around anyway to see if I can poke a hole of some kind in the official theory. Probably my primary motivation here is the massive blind-spot of the mainstream astronomy, physics and cosmology community to plasma cosmology... how can they be so blind? If something that huge can be missed then perhaps there are some other, major oversights... such as in the biological origins of humanity. To reiterate: the default and most rational position is definitely Dawkinsian biology including its theory of human origins...

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:11 pm 
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Dawkins isn't the originator of the theory, he is just its most prominent exponent.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 2:26 pm 
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Jon Irenicus wrote:
Dawkins isn't the originator of the theory, he is just its most prominent exponent.


Of course. I'm using "Dawkinsian" synonymously with "today's evolutionary biology consensus" because Dawkins pretty much is that consensus.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:00 pm 
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Clayton wrote:
GrahamW wrote:
How long would evolution have needed to have had for you to not make this argument?


I honestly don't know.

You don't know how long evolution would have needed but you still reckon it needed longer than it had?

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Let me just grant from the outset that Dawkinsian biology is far-and-away the champion of rationality. I'm merely exploring some less-rational alternatives because I do feel there are some pretty serious weaknesses in the standard narrative of human origins.

Like what?

Quote:
In other words, I'm not surprised you're not impressed with Pye...

The start of the video was bad, the rest was worse. The whole thing seems to be an argument from ignorance. We don't have an explanation for how Stonehenge was built... therefore aliens?! (I guess he never saw this guy).

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but I'm determined to keep scratching around anyway to see if I can poke a hole of some kind in the official theory. Probably my primary motivation here is the massive blind-spot of the mainstream astronomy, physics and cosmology community to plasma cosmology... how can they be so blind?

Where have you written about this?


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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:41 pm 
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GrahamW wrote:
Clayton wrote:
GrahamW wrote:
How long would evolution have needed to have had for you to not make this argument?


I honestly don't know.

You don't know how long evolution would have needed but you still reckon it needed longer than it had?


The problems I see are primarily centered around the nature of cognition... it is true that many of the elements of mind are present in other animals but then there is "the hard question"... how does "dead matter" get conscious?? Are amoeba a 'tiny bit conscious', insects a little more, birds a little more than that, primates nearly as much as we are and we are the most (terrestrially speaking?) And if there isn't a continuum... if conscious awareness is a "switch", so to speak, then what inside the human brain (and the brains of any other consciously aware animals) are "the" criteria for conscious awareness... experiential awareness?

Again, I'm not even trying to skepticize the standard model... I think to all appearances it is definitely the best we have. But given how blind science has been on Plasma Cosmology, it leaves me wondering if there mightn't be undiscovered problems in this area... most scientists who work in areas related to consciousness have just godawful philosophical concepts regarding the nature of consciousness, the nature of physics, and so on.

In my opinion, professional scientists tend to make particularly bad philosopers... I think there's something about the "shortcut" nature of experiment that leads the average career experimentalist to adopt an excessively dismissive attitude about the value of deduction as well as innate knowledge. In the mind of the experimentalist, there is little or no need for abstract metaphysics... if you want to know the answer to a question, there's always a very simple solution: Try it and see what happens. The problem is that not every question can actually be put in a test-tube... in fact, all of the most important questions cannot be. I think this is part of the explanation for the embarrassing problems in modern cosmology, such as Dark Matter and so on.

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The start of the video was bad, the rest was worse. The whole thing seems to be an argument from ignorance. We don't have an explanation for how Stonehenge was built... therefore aliens?!


But he's the least bad I've been able to find so far!!



Quote:
(I guess he never saw this guy).


HAHA, yeah, I've seen that guy. Our forbears were much smarter than we give them credit for. The Enlightenment/modernity crap about how backwards and superstitious everyone was prior to 1800 is a bunch of nonsense.

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Where have you written about this?


Start here... there are more posts scattered in that and subsequent pages. I reserve the right to repudiate any moronic things I may have typed then and substitute new and more moronic things instead!!

Clayton -

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2013 8:15 pm 
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In regards to Plasma Cosmology, maybe at some time, Clayton, you could start a thread for that topic here, a la this thread and the Epicurianism thread. I greatly appreciate the material and sources you post and would hate to see that disappear in the dead Mises community.


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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 1:01 am 
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Phi est aureum wrote:
In regards to Plasma Cosmology, maybe at some time, Clayton, you could start a thread for that topic here, a la this thread and the Epicurianism thread. I greatly appreciate the material and sources you post and would hate to see that disappear in the dead Mises community.


Sure... I've saved off those threads onto my hard-drive for safekeeping. ;) So not to worry. But yeah, I'll try to find the time to review those threads and repost the "best-of" here.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 2:18 am 
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My thoughts on constructing a deductive harmonic progression theory. Has nothing to do with paranoid conspiracy theories... just another weird topic that caught my fancy, LOL.

Clayton -

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:43 am 
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Nature is more complex than we know... if you had asked all the top leading experts whether this was possible, they would have laughed. Laughing at what we do not know or do not understand is a thin veil for the fear born of ignorance.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:37 am 
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I love Pye’s work, and I always hear him out with interest. That being said, the only ‘hard’ evidence that could conceivably be provided would be a proper genetic test of human DNA. He must be able to point to a givens section of human DNA and challenge anyone to prove that it can be found anywhere else on earth, be it in a less evolved form. That he has found such segments he is fond of saying. Until such proof, his theories will always be dubious.

But even prior to such genetic proof, the Sitchin guys must explain quite a lot theoretically. The standard theory is that humanoid aliens mixed their DNA with that of apes on earth to create us. Now, what chances exist for two ecosystems separated by billions of years of evolution, to create life forms so exactly the same as to allow genetic mixing?

If we discover microbial life in Europa tomorrow, could we mix sections of our own DNA with theirs? Would they even have DNA? Has any such experiment been replicated on earth, say inserting bean genes into pigs, or other such unlikely pairs?

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:40 am 
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Further, regarding the alleged alien skulls. There seems to be a simple way of proving that these are not simply humans which have been head-bound in infancy: is their cranial volume noticeably higher? If not, that these folks have been head-bound. If yes, than there is something genetic about it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:28 pm 
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Merlin wrote:
But even prior to such genetic proof, the Sitchin guys must explain quite a lot theoretically. The standard theory is that humanoid aliens mixed their DNA with that of apes on earth to create us. Now, what chances exist for two ecosystems separated by billions of years of evolution, to create life forms so exactly the same as to allow genetic mixing?

If we discover microbial life in Europa tomorrow, could we mix sections of our own DNA with theirs? Would they even have DNA? Has any such experiment been replicated on earth, say inserting bean genes into pigs, or other such unlikely pairs?


These are good questions... but I think we're making hidden assumptions, such as that panspermia is false or that life itself does not regularly re-emerge on Earth de novo. A few years ago, prions led to the discovery that at least some genetic information can be passed "on the side", that is, not directly through the DNA itself. In other words, we know a lot less about living organisms - of which terrestrial life is our only sample - than scientists generally lead the public to believe.

As for gene-mixing, yes, it turns out that DNA is terrifyingly flexible... consider the spider-goat or fish-tomato.

So, I can conceive of three possibilities: a) that terrestrial life actually did not originate on Earth, b) that life is constantly emerging on Earth and elsewhere and that - for the same kind of reasons that crystals form on the basis of their chemistry - so life every tends to merge to a RNA/DNA/macroprotein structure, c) the aliens would naturally be very technologically advanced and could have synthesized the DNA in a laboratory from scratch (we do this) based on some translation process from their own "DNA" and then implanted this translation into apes.

Or not. LOL

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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2013 2:47 am 
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Some first thoughts on a theology. I have stated before:

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In the modern age of hyper-specialization of the sciences, it is not at all obvious that there should be anything that "connects it all together" but I will argue that there should be. Basically, science - natural philosophy - consists of rules describing the structure and unfolding of the physical world. Some of these rules are geometrical (as in the principle that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time), some of these rules are causal (as in the law of inertia which is deduced by thought-experimental extrapolation of real experiments) and some of them are merely correlational (as in the law of gravity* and a great deal of the other laws of physics that are, today, taken to be facts of reality on par with the geometrical or causal facts of physics).

In addition to these rules, modern science consists of a body of methods for uncovering the facts of relations between things. Rules and methods comprise "what is known", that is, that knowledge which has been distilled as far as it can be with the state-of-the-art techniques. But what rules and methods govern the discovery of the rules and methods for use in science? The answer is, necessarily, none. For if there were, these would then just become a part of the body of rules and methods we have already described. Hence - until human beings attain Absolute omniscience - there must reside in back of scientific knowledge (rules and methods knowledge, "left-brain knowledge" if you will) a permanent residue of human experience which is unsystematic, that is, mystical. I say "mystical" because it is a mystery. By definition, it's a mystery. It works, yet we have no idea how. That's the definition of a mystery.


At the time, I was investigating astrology as a connecting-tissue for human knowledge. I think that astrology can certainly play this role. More generally, it is now my view that what I refer to as original religion is what plays this role. Original religion is either folk religion or religion that has direct roots in folk religion. By "direct roots" I mean specifically to exclude the proselytic religions, the aggressive "convert or die" and "convert or burn in hell" religions. These religions do have some distant, long-lost roots in folk religion - mostly co-opted and stolen for non-religious purposes - but they are not themselves original religions. Instead, they are memes. They are self-replicating ideas that spread for the sake of spreading and no longer have a connection to human welfare or dignity. Original religion was the servant of man. But man serves the religious memes. In this respect, the Dawkinsian critique of religion is justified.

At this point, I have no plans to delve into an excavation of original religion. However, I have thoughts about what sort of theology might be an appropriate companion to original religious practice.

One of the terms that Mises uses from time to time is "the Absolute." By the Absolute, he means that entity which has absolute certainty in what it knows, that exists absolutely (not contingent upon laws, as physical objects are). This is very much like the omnimax God of the Scholastics - all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present.

I have given an argument above showing that mystical knowledge is an ineradicable category of human knowledge. In a similar fashion, we can derive an argument showing that the Absolute is an ineradicable category of human existence - if I ask "why is there existing?", any answer I give will itself depend on real entities. These real entities are either among the things which we first asked "why is there existing?", in which case, we are going in circles. Or, they are not among the things we first asked about, but which we now know are existing, thus, the problem has only been made more difficult. We must now ask why these additional entities are existing. Ad nauseum. This is actually a corollary of the ineradicable fact of mystical knowledge, since we can always reframe an ontological question in terms of knowledge... what we know exists and how we know it exists, etc.

Nevertheless, we are curious, so we will still ask: what can be said of the mystical? What can be said of the Absolute? The only possible answer is nothing and everything. For everything that is true and real must necessarily partake in the Absolute... after all, all knowledge is One, all existence is One. If there is more truth than we can know, if there exists more than we can manipulate and apprehend - and it would be foolhardy to assume otherwise - then everything that is true, is true of this Absolute. And everything that exists, exists as part of the Absolute.

Perhaps an illustration might help. Imagine we were Neanderthals instead of human beings. But we somehow began to advance out of the Stone Age and eventually developed Neanderthal science. Being less intelligent than the humans we wiped out eons ago, we are not able to do the kind of science that humans would have achieved. For example, humans would have discovered atoms and subatomic quarks, but we can only discover molecules and basic chemical reactions. Yet humans would have understood that molecules and basic chemical reactions partake in a deeper reality, hidden to Neanderthal science, a reality of atoms and subatomic quarks. Now, imagine that we are humans (which we are) and that we have in our distant evolutionary past wiped out a much more intelligent species, a species that is as much more intelligent than us, as we are than Neanderthals. What would the Science of these more intelligent beings have perceived? What reality below atoms and subatomic quarks, and so on, would their science have penetrated to? Ad nauseum.

So, here we see the first step of Jacob's ladder... the gnostic conception of a great chain of being extending out from the lowest inanimate objects up to human beings, and on to other, higher beings and "in the limit" to something we can only refer to as The Absolute or the Unknowable.

Which brings me to the first thing we can say about the Absolute: that it is unknowable. In fact, it is Unknowable not only to human beings, but to hypothetical super-advanced aliens or super-intelligent species that we wiped out long ago... because however intelligent these beings are, their intelligence is finite and they must come to this same conclusion regarding the limitations of their own knowledge. Thus, we can conclude something else about the Absolute: that it is knowable only to itself.

Having established these few elementary statements about the Absolute - something that just a few paragraphs ago seemed utterly hopeless - we see that a theology is not a complete waste of time. In fact, it is quite profitable precisely because it helps us reason about the limitations of our own power and knowledge.

But we really are at the limits - a quick observation will show this. Having asserted that the Absolute is unknowable by a part of itself (us and any other existing intelligent beings) and knowable only to itself, we have essentially asserted a paradox: the Absolute is knowable and unknowable. Paradoxes are everywhere here - in fact, I don't think we can correctly state anything about the Absolute that is not a paradox. It is us and not us. It is order and chaos. It acts and does not act. It is somewhere and nowhere. It is one and many. Etc. This pattern of paradox is present in many theological traditions, including those of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and many others. This suggests that we're thinking along the right lines because we're all arriving at the same dead-end no matter where we start.

Besides helping us reason about our own limitations, what good is such a theology? In another thread, I've spoken about ultimate ends... the Supreme Impulse (reproduction), survival, psychological satisfaction (ataraxia), etc. Can we connect our theology with our theory of virtue in a compelling way? I believe we can... through love.

What is love? That's a difficult question... so difficult, in fact, that it's harder than the toughest questions like ... what is true? or what is real? Alain de Botton gently chides philosophers for avoiding this question like the plague in his TV episode on Schopenhauer.

But to understand why love is such an important part of the world, I think we need to look at the "crime scenes" where the word Love keeps turning up. What kinds of things cause us to invoke this word? Romance. Sex. Marriage. Children. Family. Provision. Protection. Nurturing. Deep friendship. Charity. Sacrifice. Worship. Awe. There are others, but I've tried to list some of the big ones. Is there any pattern here, or is it completely random? I think it is not completely random and I think that these parts of our existence where the word "Love" is frequently invoked are top-heavy among our ultimate ends. These are all parts of human existence that are closely related to the Supreme Impulse, to survival, to safety and provision. All of these things take precedence over our own peace-of-mind... in short, they are more powerful than our own will. And how often do we see love characterized in precisely this way? Love is always something that can't be helped and can't be predicted. It strikes like lightning and it grips the soul.

But love is not magic. It did not arise in disconnection with the substance of what makes us human. In fact, love is a very practical thing. It is intimately woven into our need to survive and reproduce. Thus, we see that love is actually an essential part of the evolutionary principle. We can only understand human love because we are only human. But this does not mean that the principle itself does not transcend humans and affect all things. In fact, I am going to posit that love does, indeed, infuse all things because love is to life what energy is to the laws of physics... it is the motive-force of life itself. It's what makes life go... and this is true of all life, however non-obvious it may be.

Since it is true of all life, it must be true even of a hypothetical alien race or super-intelligent being. Any being that exists must be driven by love. Hence, we again see before us the first step of Jacob's ladder, leading up through the great chain of being to the Absolute. And now we know why the great religions agree: God is Love. The Absolute is love. And the opposite of love is not malevolence, it is exhaustion. Remember that we have said that love is the life-force, it is what makes life go. Its opposite, then, is not malevolence, but the exhaustion of life-force... that which brings death. And as we have seen that what can be correctly said of the Absolute is always in the form of a paradox, we see immediately that the Absolute is both love and exhaustion. Love is breathing in; breathing out is exhaustion. Both are necessary to life and the exhaustion of life itself is intimately connected to the birth of new life.

Thus we see that theology is not wholly impractical. It helps us reason about our own limitations, as well as it helps us connect with that which is indifferent to us... to embrace that which transcends our control and overrides our will.

Clayton -

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Let art, then, imitate nature; find what she desires, and follow as she directs. For in invention nature is never last, education never first; rather the beginnings of things arise from natural talent, and the ends are reached by discipline.


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 Post subject: Re: The Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Thread
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:04 am 
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Some thoughts on causality (again).

We experience the world as a sequence of states of affairs and we perceive between these states of affairs a relationship such that states of affairs that are nearer in time have a more intimate causal relationship than states of affairs that are farther in time. Taken to its limits, this leads to a conception of time as some kind of "flowing stream" extending forever into the past.

However, there is no direct way to conclude that time is "smooth" all the way down to the infinitesimal. Nor can we be certain that the causal relation is strictly well ordered so that time is strictly "serial". Instead, I will choose an alternative way of thinking about time in terms of causal relations.

The term I prefer to use is the "unfolding of events" - think of a flower growing. At each stage in its life, it is unfolding or revealing its purpose and plan. It begins as a seed, it sprouts into a seedling, grows a stalk and leaves, then a bud, then it begins to flower, then it becomes fertile and through some process it is fertilized by other flowers of its kind, then its flower withers and is cast away and then it goes to seed and eventually its stalk withers and, if it is an annual flower, it perishes completely.

While molecules, atoms and quarks are not flowers, nevertheless, they too unfold according to rules and patterns which we may perceive upon studying their behavior. We cannot actually say what these imperceptible entities look like beyond our ability to directly resolve their geometry (e.g. crystallography). At some point, their only relationship to our knowledge is causal, that is, devoid of any directly perceivable shape or form... they reduce ultimately to the ratio of measurement against measurement. The same is true of frequencies outside of visible, tactile and audible ranges, and so on. We relate to these aspects of reality only through the media of instrumentation and the science of such phenomena is only rightly understood as the attempt to perceive causal relationships between the readings of our instruments.

In its most schematic form, we have this relationship of unfolding events:

x -> x' -> x'' -> x''' -> ...

That is, event x leads to event x' which leads to event x'', and so on. But "leading to" is not itself nothing... that is, even though we think about "happening" as if it were not itself a thing, nevertheless, a world in which things are happening is clearly different than a world in which nothing happens, insomuch as such a world can even be held to be conceivable. That is, we have no reason to believe that it is possible to separate happening from existing since everything that we know to exist happens, and everything that happens exists. In my opinion, the binary separation between these two is a prejudice of our language in which verbs have a magically separate existence from nouns - a separation that is not justified by anything other than the apparent usefulness of such a separation to the demands of human communication.

Remember that it was to explain the laws of existing that we first thought of happening. But if happening is integrally tied to existing, then how is it that the laws of happening are determined? We understand that the laws of existing are determined by happening. But what determines the laws of happening?

To answer this, we may think of looking at the process of unfolding from the "top-down" as it were:

X = x -> x' -> x'' -> x''' -> ...
Y = y -> y' -> y'' -> y''' -> ...
Z = ...

This yields a new sequence:

X -> Y -> Z -> ...

In this way, we view these processes of unfolding as themselves part of some other process of unfolding. This gives rise to a "fractal" conception of causality, such that every unfolding history is itself an event in a larger unfolding history and perhaps each state of affairs is itself comprised of smaller unfolding histories.

To clarify my meaning, let's return to the flower. The flower is itself an unfolding process. Nevertheless, it is part of a much larger unfolding process: the process of biological evolution. It is a member of one generation of a lineage and it is an instance of just one lifeform among the innumerable lifeforms on the earth. Hence, we could say:

X = parent flower's unfolding history
Y = child flower's unfolding history
Z = grandchild flower's unfolding history

X -> Y -> Z -> ... = unfolding history of the flower-species' genetic line

But we can also go in the other direction - downward to the small. Each individual flower is comprised of cells and each of these cells has its own unfolding history within the larger unfolding of the flower itself. And the cell is comprised of macromolecules and these, in turn, are comprised of atoms, which are comprised of quarks, etc.

Then we simply tack on an "ad nauseum" in both the large and the small.

Thus, we see that we can eliminate the artificial distinction between happening and existing... both are two different sides of the same coin and it is merely how we choose to think about them. Does flowering exist or does it happen? It is both.

Clayton -

_________________
Let art, then, imitate nature; find what she desires, and follow as she directs. For in invention nature is never last, education never first; rather the beginnings of things arise from natural talent, and the ends are reached by discipline.


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