Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Discussion on the religious instinct

This is part of a discussion I had a while back with someone about why humanity seems to have a deeply set religious instinct…

If you take your own conscious experiences and compare it to inanimate matter, or the actions of a person and compare it to how inanimate objects behave, then it seems like there's not just one kind of thing out there - inanimate matter - there's possibly two fundamentally different kinds of things, because the former stuff seems so different to inanimate matter.

Because it seems like there are two fundamentally different things in existence, it becomes in some sense rational to suppose that inanimate matter comes from the other thing rather than the other thing comes from inanimate matter - possibly because they're so different and there's two options. Although I'm not exactly sure how this intuition about it being 'the other way around' happens.

Yeah, that's the rub, your intuition that it is the other way around. Why would you assume that to be the case when we can observe that matter exists regardless of whether or not it has the property of consciousness, but you do not observe the existence of consciousness without matter. Not to say that it is not a possibility, an immaterial self dependent consciousness but why assume it, since it leaves the question unanswered as to how does matter emerge from the immaterial?

Ah, so we observe that this 'other kind of stuff' - consciousness - seems to be dependent on matter, but matter doesn't seem to be dependent on consciousness, and matter seems to have come first, so you'd assume that matter comes first.

But there's still the issue of how consciousness/the subjective seems to be a fundamentally different kind of thing to matter, regardless of those two considerations. So, I guess, it's an easy thing to think of at least, for anyone, I mean, you just switch it around, matter=>mind becomes mind=>matter; it's very easy to do. So that helps it always be an option on the table, I believe, and maybe there being only two options gives it some additional reasonableness; I'm not sure how that works.

Two important issues are: as far as our observations go, matter seems to have come first, and, two, how can matter possibly emerge from an independent mind?

But they're not too powerful as objections, I believe. Our observations wouldn't include seeing mind come first if it did come first. And it's not like we ought to know how mind originates from matter because we're so smart, I mean, it also makes a lot of sense we wouldn't know how it does, or have any idea how, even if it was true.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 20, 2011

How is there free will in heaven?

Is there free will in heaven (or rather the new heavens and new earth)? How can the people in heaven be free if you know they will always do the right thing for an eternity?

Here is an answer I like to this question, that involves a certain view of evil.

In traditional Christian theology, evil is an absence of good like cold is the absence of heat. Evil is not an independent thing, but exists only because good exists and sometimes there is not much good in a situation. So evil is a lack of empathy, a result of a person not processing things morally.

For practical example of this, suppose someone wants people to treat them well, but they are really rude to staff at restaurants and other places. If someone could make them feel the pain they cause others for no reason, then this person would change their behaviour because they wouldn't want to be treated in this way. So their bad behaviour is actually the result of them not being consistent with their own principles in terms of how they want to be treated. In general terms, this shows how evil is not being truthful about how one's actions affect others in ways one's own self would not like (assuming someone endorses the Golden Rule, that is).

So if evil is something like this, then in heaven God has solved evil by making us completely truthful, through Jesus taking our sins (1 Pe 2:24). Because we are completely truthful, we can never choose to be evil because we will always be aware of how we would like to be (ideally) treated.

We will be unable to do evil in the sense that you, the reader, are unable to find it desirable to rob banks or murder people - that is, you are free to do it, but you can't do it because you can't be tempted by it. It's an inability to find something a good (or 'truthful') idea rather than any sort of physical inability.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 02, 2011

Can some beliefs be immoral to believe and what does that imply?

Are some beliefs immoral? Imagine someone who believes that certain people are sub-human. We would react to that person as having an immoral belief.

What about a dictator who believes that people who disagree with him are evildoers opposed to everything good, and that they are comparable to murderers who need to be put in prison?

So it seems that some beliefs can be immoral, and not just true/false.

If some beliefs are immoral, then this shows people have some control over what they believe. It indicates that people are not helplessly tossed here and there by their beliefs. Otherwise how can any belief be immoral? You can't criticise someone for something that they have no control over.

This does not show that people can choose to believe that the moon is made of green cheese, but I think it does show that there is something we can control about our beliefs.

Although it's possible that people can't choose to believe that the moon is made of green cheese because it goes against their self-interest completely. If someone decides that the moon is made of green cheese, then that person is choosing to let go of their sanity to some extent. It's a crazy belief. Maybe we can't choose to believe the moon is green cheese because of a strong desire not to get rid of our sanity?

It might be that we always have a desire for our beliefs to reflect reality and, although we can choose to a degree what we believe, we won't very willingly choose for our beliefs to be insane. So, because we want our beliefs to reflect reality, we won't exercise our power to believe the moon is cheese. But, in theory, we have quite a lot of power to affect what we believe, but this power is hidden, or protected, by our desire to be accurate in our beliefs.

Labels: ,