Erik Bates | January 4, 2005
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Kris Weberg | January 4, 2005
No.

Anna Gregoline | January 4, 2005
Oh no, religion. Here we go.

I would say cautiously that I'm a spiritual person, but not a religious person. I took one of those online tests awhile ago and it said I'm a Neo Pagan. I'm not really into any earth motherish stuff though.

Basically, I believe in energies that we cannot and never will explain.

A pledge to paganism I found really embodies the principles I want to live by:

(link)

Jackie Mason | January 4, 2005
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Erik Bates | January 4, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | January 4, 2005
If the answer is no, what else is there to say though, you know?

Erik Bates | January 4, 2005
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Kris Weberg | January 5, 2005
Mainly, I don't because of the so-called "problem of evil," especially given...well...much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Robert Phillips | January 5, 2005
The "problem of evil" is only relevant when referring to an interventional God. Virtually every early religion including early Christianity assumed that God was both good and evil. Me I'm a non-interventionist conservative Unitarian Universalist. Think of God as the "Great Observer". We need something to collapse the wave functions.

Scott Horowitz | January 5, 2005
Do I consider myself "spiritual"? Probably. Do I follow all the halakahs (laws) of Judaism? most definitely not. The way I look at religion is that each person has to celebrate/observe their faith in a way that suits them. For example, I love shelfish. Shelfish is not kosher. Having faith in g0d is more important than sacrificing what you enjoy/love for g0d. I don't go to synagogue regularly, but when I do, I do actually go through the prayers and do what I gots to do.

Jackie Mason | January 5, 2005
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Scott Horowitz | January 5, 2005
Here are the standards to be a kosher animal: For a mamal, the animal must chew it's own cudd and have split hooves. For fish, it must be scaled. Even if it is a kosher animal, it must be slaughtered in a humane way (seeing that written just seems funny) with rabbinical supervision. You cannot eat milk and meat at the same sitting. If you have meat, you must wait anywhere from 4 to 8 hours before having dairy (depends on your tradition). If you have dairy, you can wait anywhere from 1 minute to 3 hours ( some believe that drinking a glass of water is sufficient to cleanse your pallet). Dishes must be seperate for dairy and meat as well. Any other questions?

Jackie Mason | January 5, 2005
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Kris Weberg | January 5, 2005
Jackie, read Exodus and Leviticus. Books of the Old Testament. Also, Acts, wherein Luke recounts a dream in which Jesus allegedly lifted the kosher requirements listed in the prior two books.

Kris Weberg | January 5, 2005
As to the problem of evil being irrelevant when there's not an interventionist God -- well, why would anyone care overmuch about the existence of a noninterventionist God?

Robert Phillips | January 6, 2005
Just because God may be non-interverntionist does not mean there is not a Heaven or a Hell. It also says nothing about afterlife or objective morality. All non-intervention really means is that God does not take action to stop evil or to create good. My thought about God would be that things were simply put in motion and then observed.

Anna Gregoline | January 6, 2005
Hmmm, an omniescent father figure that sits back and watches his creation run amok yet wants us to praise him...

That same old story.

I don't know, I just feel like a lot of traditional notions of god don't really work for me. I don't really feel like things are that SENSIBLE, really. It seems too much of a human creation to me. I feel more things about the energy of life and the earth - what is life, really? There's a force, a spark that goes out when something dies. I believe in that, a sort of non-thinking spirit. I certainly don't think that there is any sort of mind that exists after you die.

Amy Austin | January 6, 2005
Well, that's a pretty bleak outlook...

Kris Weberg | January 6, 2005
A non-interventinist God could not claim to be good and comprehensible at once, therefore worship would be effectively impossible. This is still "problem of evil," actually -- you basically have to hedge on the omnipotence of God, or the prefect goodness of God to get around it. God's non-interventionism despite being good and all-powerful IS the problem of evil.

Erik Bates | January 6, 2005
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Anna Gregoline | January 6, 2005
Amy, why do you think that's bleak? And please be respectful on here, these are my beliefs we're talking about. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my statements. I tried to clarify that they are my personal thoughts.

Honestly, I don't think it's bleak, or morbid, or anything. In fact, it makes me even more grateful for the life I have and drives me to enjoy as much as I can before my time is up. I can't imagine that there is any kind of consciousness after death - if someone is unconcsious, close to death, they don't know that they are - sleep is often this way too. I can't imagine that when death happens, we have anything left, as all brain activity ceases to function. There is no energy to keep things going. I believe that when we die, our energy joins back up into the mass energy of the world, where old life goes and new life is created. In some ways (and I don't mean to trivialize what I think, but this is the closest idea) I think of it like the force from Star Wars (I am NOT a Star Wars freak, however). Something that surrounds us, moves through us. Lots of connections. I feel like sometimes we are influenced by this too - bad energies, good ones...we are sometimes nudged in different directions by "intuition," etc. And I believe some people are more naturally in tune with this than others.

I hope I explained that well, it's hard to explain these things!

Jackie Mason | January 6, 2005
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Scott Horowitz | January 6, 2005
I never saw it. It just looked dumb. I really don't find Adam Goldberg to be funny. I wouldn't find it offensive. I mean, I like Adam Sandler's Hanukkah songs. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

Denise Sawicki | January 6, 2005
Late answer to the original question: I'm a total atheist. I never was encouraged to go to church or pray or anything so I never had any reason to question my non-belief. But I have a lot of respect for people who can have faith... and I love a lot of religious-themed music...

Jackie Mason | January 6, 2005
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Denise Sawicki | January 6, 2005
Yeah I almost wish I would have been sent to church just to eliminate one of the many things that made me not fit in with every other kid. : ) Plus there have been times (not now) when having some residual faith in something might have been a useful thing as a deterrent to wanting to throw myself out a 10th story window.

Unitarian doesn't sound so bad from what I've heard, I imagine that is where I would go if I ever decided to go anywhere...

Amy Austin | January 6, 2005
Amy, why do you think that's bleak? And please be respectful on here, these are my beliefs we're talking about. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my statements. I tried to clarify that they are my personal thoughts.

I'm well aware that these are personal beliefs and thoughts being discussed here, Anna -- which is why I've been a bit tight-lipped on touchy subjects... especially around you. There's no way that you'd ever let anyone forget that fact, and I don't really appreciate your up-front admonishment to "be respectful" -- as it doesn't sound very nice or inviting of the mutual respect that I think I have already demonstrated time & again with everyone else here. ( And *PLEASE* don't start carrying on again about how I'm "always attacking" you -- this isn't an attack... merely a request that if you truly want me to discourse with you on this or any other subject, then please refrain from this type of prefacing statement, because truthfully, it comes across to me as a bit snide and condescending.)

More importantly, it makes it much harder for me to answer the original question, since I can't seem to formulate an answer without "typing on eggshells", if you catch my drift -- I spend a lot more time & agony thinking about how what I say is going to come across to *you*... moreso than anyone else here -- and finding my "Anna voice" is rather painstaking.

I can try to address the actual topic again later, when I'm not feeling so edgy... but for right now, let me just say that I wasn't trying to be critical of you -- I was actually just quite surprised by your last comment, based on the things you had already written earlier, and I guess I didn't have the energy (and *really* don't now) to elaborate. Believe it or not, I'm of the opinion that our basic thoughts on the matter are more similar than not... up until that last comment. And that wasn't a declaration of war or anything... just a surprised comment. Having said that, I'll try to answer your question again later... if you're truly interested and not just trying to "politely" entertain "the [perceived] opposition".

Anna Gregoline | January 6, 2005
Wow, you couldn't be more defensive! Amy, relax, I'm not out to get you. I only asked that you be respectful - calling my outlook "bleak" isn't really very nice, is it?

I'm afraid I don't know what last comment you're referring to. Energies?

Amy Austin | January 6, 2005
I'm referring to the comment I called "bleak" -- and finding it an un-nice thing to say is really just a matter of opinion, isn't it? I find it ("bleak") to be a rather neutral word choice... I didn't say "stupid" or "ridiculous" or "absurd" or anything like that, now did I?

And as far as my being defensive goes -- I will admit that I am naturally moreso that anyone else I know... but your "be respectful" statement seems to me to be pretty anticipatory of something other than polite disagreement. Don't worry -- I don't think that you're "out to get" me... I just find you exhausting to exchange with in this forum. And I know that I'm not alone on that.

Amy Austin | January 6, 2005
And I need to leave/stop commenting now, before this *does* get out of hand... as I'm not feeling too good about the direction this is taking. Don't take it personally, Anna -- just take it as a bad mood/day, okay?

Anna Gregoline | January 7, 2005
Sorry if I took your comment worse than I should have - it seemed a rather blunt comment on my personal belief system.

I think it's exhausting too when someone jumps down my throat and assumes what I'm going to say next as you did in your response post. I'm sorry you had a bad day. Please don't take it out on me. My "be respectful" comment was specifically to avoid this same tiresome exchange with you.

Can we get back to talking about beliefs, everyone? I'm very interested in this discussion.

Amy Austin | January 7, 2005
I didn't have/wasn't having a bad day or taking it out on you -- I just told you to read it that way in an attempt to unfoul my mood... which was fine until I got on here and read your comment. "Tiresome" is the right word for it, and you don't command someone's respect by telling them to "be respectful".

I think we're both pretty guilty of taking things worse than we should... and for that, I do apologize, Anna -- for instance, your last statement sounds awfully dismissive to me and only adds to my impression of your need to have the last word. I also apologize for my pre-emptive remarks... the very same complaint I had made to you -- that was unfair of me and only irritated you further... rightly so. So go ahead and say whatever else you need to, and I will be just as happy as you and everyone else to "get back to talking about beliefs" now.

Anna Gregoline | January 7, 2005
Uh, ok - you just said you had a bad mood/day which is why I said that? Confusing.

I'm sorry you took offense to "please be respectful," I didn't know how else to ask it. I felt taken aback at your comment, since I honestly approached this subject delicately. I realize no one can read tone over the internet, and while I accept that you didn't mean to offend, my response to the "bleak" comment didn't seem to merit such vitrol. I tried to be polite, honestly.

I don't need to have the last word. I just don't want to have this discussion any more! It's boring! Fighting is boring!

One more thing that I like about my energy perceptions of god/the world/whathaveu, is that it works with ideas of shared consciousness - if there are past souls/energies/ideas/thoughts floating around out there, we are all drawing from it as live beings - and it lends credence to a few sort of paranormal things I like, such as precognition and premonitions and weird "feelings" people get. I know none of this stuff can be proved, and I think it never will be. Part of the mystery and fun for me!

Amy Austin | January 7, 2005
Well, you are mistaken... the word is "vitriol" -- this is the second time that you've said it to me -- and I think your use of it is a bit extreme... there was/is none. And I'm sorry that you were confused about the fact that I was politely offering a way out of being confrontational by calling it something other than a personality clash. I do, however, own up to this as a minor overreaction... one that has been nagging at me a bit for the last few hours and that I do feel a need to apologize for once again. I am embarassed by my sensitivity/emotion at times, and I can admit -- mostly in retrospect -- when I've gone a bit overboard. Furthermore, I don't believe you about having the last word... if it's so boring, then why do you still have more to say on it???

But please... don't think that I am trying to keep on "fighting" -- I really am not. I LIKE what you've shared on this subject so far, and I do recognize how difficult it is to try to just "sum it all up" on the topic of theology/theosophy/religion, which is why I haven't really exerted myself to do so and have mostly just observed instead. Erik knew when he started this thread that he might just be starting some shit, but so far, everyone seems to have comfortably waded into the discussion, and the cordiality is impressive. My comment was not meant to be "blunt" or judgmental or indicting... only a dipping of the proverbial toes into the discussion that might perhaps (and did) elicit further commentary/clarification from you on the matter. But your request looked to me as though you were preparing for the rest of an attack that was not forthcoming -- polite, yes, but nonetheless on the offense... just as my response in turn became. For the last time, my apolgies... and I can appreciate the rest of what you are saying.

Kris Weberg | January 7, 2005
First rule of discussion/argument is this, or should be: don't mistake anyone's ideas for their person, nor your own ideas for your own person.

Anna Gregoline | January 7, 2005
"Furthermore, I don't believe you about having the last word... if it's so boring, then why do you still have more to say on it???"

Because I was responding to you. Accusing me of things like this is once again not a way to make others feel comfortable, as you were talking about above.

"But your request looked to me as though you were preparing for the rest of an attack that was not forthcoming"

What's ironic is that the attack WAS forthcoming, so I guess I was right to be prepared for it. It's a catch-22. If you didn't have an attack prepared, just say you felt I was mistaken and move on, instead of attacking after all (when, especially, you say you felt I was polite - I don't think your response was particularly polite) But thank you for apologizing. I appreciate it.

I am now bowing out of this discussion (and no, not because I want to have the last word!) but because I hate that this fight is still going on (yes, perhaps "boring" isn't the word, but TEDIOUS sure is!) and I want to hear what others have to say regarding religion/spirituality.

Erik Bates | January 7, 2005
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Amy Austin | January 7, 2005
Well, I can certainly think of a few ways to re-phrase that sentence if it will make you happy, Erik... ;>

Anna Gregoline | January 7, 2005
I don't think anyone on here would say anything like "if you don't love Jesus you're going to hell." I think we're a little more balanced than that! I hope, anyway.

Erik - You said, "How can there be hundreds of years where you couldn't throw a rock without hitting someone who had experienced some sort of miracle or intervention from God, then we go through 2000 years where we just have to believe he's there?"

I totally agree - it seems strange that God seems to be silent these days - I remember some comedian or show or something talking about that, saying, what if God is still speaking through people, but they are what we consider to be the crazies? That there's some guy on the street shouting God's will and we're ignoring him? I don't believe that, but it's cute to think about. =)

I was raised Catholic. I often think I could have been a more traditionally spiritual person if I was raised in a more relaxed church environment - I've been to other people's churches of other denominations, and the relaxed atmosphere was awesome - the paster walking amonst the crowd, conversing. Every session different! I wish I could have gone to, what is it, Southern Baptist? Where everyone dances and sings. To me, that is what celebrating life and god should be about - fun! Catholic church is so solemn.

Amy Austin | January 7, 2005
It's called "charismatic" -- and it's usually "Episcopal" or "Orthodox"... not "Southern Baptist" -- although many predominantly black (and Baptist) churches in the South are also "charismatic" in style. But it isn't a Black thing or a Baptist thing.

Anna Gregoline | January 7, 2005
Weird, I've never heard the charismatic label, but it certainly is!

Jackie Mason | January 7, 2005
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Jackie Mason | January 7, 2005
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Scott Hardie | January 14, 2005
I will not call myself a 100% atheist... I will not call myself a 100% atheist...

I am an atheist, but I grapple with the questions as much as anybody. I wish the answers were easier. Take the origin of the universe: If you listen to atheists, the universe came from the Big Bang. But how would the matter of the Big Bang have come into existence without a God to create it, argue the believers? The atheists counter by asking where God came from, a question that the believers say cannot be answered. That's the thing about God, that if there are things that we as human beings cannot understand, then surely He must be able to answer them, and He designed us without the capacity to understand them, so we need not know. And I agree, it has no bearing on my life where matter originated. But if believers are comfortable not knowing where God came from (or simply figuring that He always was), then why is it so hard for them to accept the Big Bang theory on the grounds that "matter had to come from somewhere"?

I like to trust science. Though my lifespan is short, I have studied millenia of human history, and I can see that the rate of scientific discovery is accelerating exponentially. Things that were once "unknowable" have been demonstrated scientifically, such as Earth's position in the galaxy, and where human consciousness resides in the body. I won't live to see it, but it seems to me that if you extend the timeline far enough forward, science must eventually explain things that seem unknowable now, such as what happens to our consciousness after we die. That's why I support scientific research into the paranormal: Hey, in all honesty it's pretty unlikely that ghosts are real and not merely imagined, but how can we know for certain without studying the phenomenon? I once saw an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode on the subject of spontaneous human combustion, and the expert, who himself was uncharacteristically skeptical for that show, asked why we don't study the phenomenon on the rare occasions when it is said to occur. If it's not real, then what do we stand to lose except a negligible amount of resources and time, both of which would only be given by scientists voluntarily working on the project? We would stand to gain valuable knowledge whether it was proven real or not, so the study would be worthwhile either way. (I still remember the scientists who proved that the Loch Ness monster does not exist, and the scientists who proved that the old woman wasn't Anastasia after all. At least the book is closed on those two, you know?)

So after the episode, I went online to the wonderful Skeptic's Dictionary (link) and looked it up. The explanation there has since been lengthened with some actual scientific details, but at the time (circa 2000), it was brief and dismissive. The author said that the alleged phenomenon should be ignored because no one had ever witnessed it and no one had ever survived it. But if the author had done more research, he would have known that spontaneous human combustion has been both witnessed and survived. Right there he could have expanded his understanding of the phenomenon, and that's not even proving that it's real, that's just based on eyewitness accounts. What more could we learn if we devoted some actual resources to studying it? At the very least, we could close the book and know that it's not real, instead of supposing.

(As an aside for FIN players: My interest in the "SHC" phenomenon has grown since that episode, and when the game started, that was the first thing I wanted to throw at the group. It took a while to find the right time to introduce it, but I finally found an opportunity. If it seems like the burning strangers on the train were meaningless random encounters, they weren't; that was foreshadowing for an upcoming adventure that is dear to my heart as the very first one I had planned for the game. Anyway, go back to your fake-arguing, it's more interesting.)

Anna Gregoline | January 14, 2005
"and the scientists who proved that the old woman wasn't Anastasia after all"

What is this in reference to, I'm dumb.

I could say more about what you said but right now I'm too contemplative myself.

Scott Hardie | January 14, 2005
Didn't you ever heard of that old woman, Anna Anderson, who claimed to be the long-lost Russian princess Anastasia? ("That Anesthesia chick!" she was called in "Titanic.") The real princess's body was never recovered from the family's mass grave after the Russian Revolution, and this Russian-American immigrant claimed to be her starting in the 1920s, right up to her death in 1984. (link) A lot of people believed her, and this increased after her death. But, oops! In 1994, DNA testing proved that she could not possibly have been the princess. It was a hoax. What I find a little funny and a little sad is that some people still take her at her word, after there is cold, hard, scientific proof that she made it up (or falsely imagined it to be true).

Anna Gregoline | January 14, 2005
Oh dear, no I never heard of that. Thanks.

Steve Dunn | January 14, 2005
Pretty much total atheist, but open to the existence of higher beings that would appear to humans as gods.

Erik Bates | January 14, 2005
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Jackie Mason | January 14, 2005
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Amy Austin | January 14, 2005
Amen, brother & sister... ;>D

Kris Weberg | January 14, 2005
Hey, found an article at the quite fun Straight Dope site about spontaneous human combustion:

(link)

Warning: kinda gory, as you might expect given the subject matter.

Scott Hardie | January 15, 2005
Heh, cool. That's one of the articles I used when preparing FIN. Now I'm even more eager to get that adventure back underway. :-)

Amy Austin | February 1, 2005
(link)

An excerpt (be forewarned, it is long... but worth the read, I think):

What follows is a major challenge for your imagination. Are you ready?

Imagine that there is no Universe and it is YOU who considers designing it. You are intelligent, but you have no "physical body". There are no atoms...

How could you have come to existence? How did you become intelligent? Somehow you must have developed an ability to create, store and process information in the tiny fluctuations and perturbations that occurred from time to time in the Nothingness. It took a long time, perhaps billions of trillions of our years, and many trials and errors before you could sustain certain forms of these perturbations and play with them.

In the process of play, you have gradually developed your intelligence, imagination, the ability to think and draw conclusions. There was nothing else to do. You have figured out that becoming more intelligent was far more pleasant than remaining stupid and primitive. Every time you chose not to think for too long - your intellect and imagination regressed and some of your "memory" got erased. Hence, you established a motive to evolve and continuously develop your intellect.

Eventually, after a long time of playing with information, thinking, imagining, trial and error - you have established yourself and become exceptionally intelligent. You have developed an ability to imagine and design anything, even things that had never existed. Using your exceptional intellect and imagination, that you have learned to encode in the tiny perturbations of the Nothingness, you could predict results of your actions and consequences of your designs.

What could be your REASONS for imagining and designing the material Universe? Expanding the range of conscious sensations? Having something interesting to do?

In the Beginning, it took a considerable intellectual effort just to maintain your intellect and memory. How about designing and creating something that would sustain itself, at least for some time?

You imagine an "electron". You imagine its natural oscillations to be so intense that their natural decay would take ten billion trillions years (1022 years). It appeals to you that during this time you will be able to use the @100 Gigabytes of storage capacity in each electron.

You realise that creating such "electrons" requires quite an intense perturbation of the Nothingness. It actually requires an immense explosion to take place. It requires a truly Big Bang. You have tried many small "bangs" in the past in an effort to sustain yourself, but their results were short lived. You consider designing an explosion far bigger than ever before.

You realise that a well designed explosion with precisely defined initial conditions offers some interesting possibilities. A great variety of relatively stable natural "forms" of oscillation can be generated, not only electrons. You realise that these "elementary" forms of oscillation, although well separated in the frequency domain, can be combined in "space" to create relatively stable "atoms" from which more complex structures can be made, including intelligent and autonomous Living Organisms.

A possibility of existence of intelligent and autonomously functioning Individual Intellects appeals to you a lot. You envisage that some of them may choose to develop their Intellect as much as you did. You like an idea of intelligent company.

You decide to create favourable conditions for their Intellects to develop. You plan to arrange for them to have access to some of the gigantic "electro-photonic" memory that you are just imagining. With enough facilities, autonomous Individual Intellects will have the potential to develop their Intellect far quicker than you did. Consequences of the Big Bang become quite appealing.

There is only one problem. The Big Bang can actually destroy your own Intellect, which is your only asset. After all, the Big Bang will be a gigantic perturbation, far greater than the delicate fluctuations that you currently use to maintain your memory and consciousness in the Nothingness. How can you protect your Intellect?

An obvious solution to protect your Intellect from the Big Bang is to make a large number of "backup copies". The most elegant solution would be to encode your Intellect in the "initial conditions" of the Big Bang, so that every "electron", every "photon" and every other "elementary natural oscillation" that would appear as a result of the Big Bang would contain a blueprint of yourself to begin with.

Although each electron can contain unique data, it seems logical to encode the most important, essential "code" of your Intellect in each and every electron as a common part. After all, you are planning to have plenty of "free memory" and maintain the option to consciously control every aspect of your Universe rather than allowing it to become "runaway machinery" out of control and without purpose. You want to be able to design Laws for the behaviour of your Universe and modify them locally or temporarily if necessary.

The other necessity that arises from the need to protect yourself seems to be encoding your intellect and memory so that they both become "jam proof". Direct amplitude or frequency modulation encoding is clearly not suitable, because they are too easily disturbed. The discrete phase-encoding spread among many natural forms of oscillation over a wide frequency range (spectrum) seems a very attractive possibility, not only because it is robust to disturbances but also because it enables you to achieve a very high density of information storage.

Discrete encoding will also protect your intellect and memory from pollution and interference after the Big Bang. In particular, it will protect your consciousness from primitive and disruptive actions of other autonomous Individual Intellects. You prefer to be able to choose to communicate with them when they become sufficiently evolved to understand you and your Design.

You realise that the Universal discrete phase encoding will also allow every Individual Intellect in the Universe to have the total Freedom of Thought that you enjoy so much. Sharing your "electro-photonic memory" and "letting Life Live autonomously" becomes quite feasible... It could be fun...

Since you start from the beginning, you can design the Entire System to be as optimal as you can only imagine. Of course you have your preferences. There are certain thoughts, feelings and conscious sensations that you like. There are also other thoughts and feelings that you don’t enjoy at all. Can you identify them?

You realise that the key criterion of a good Design should be it’s ability to self-correct, so you won’t need to disrupt yourself by having to fix mistakes. This is especially important, because you plan to allow other Individual Intellects to have complete autonomy. Of course you will try to inspire them to advance themselves, but what if they choose to mess up your Design and continue to broadcast clutter across the Universe?

You definitely don’t like the idea of having to decide whether or not to terminate anyone’s conscious existence. How about providing Individual Intellects with tools and toys of self-destruction?

How about arranging "pre-schools" for groups of these Individual Intellects on some specially designed, distant and well isolated "planets" so that they can learn to coexist with one another, as well as some part of your Design (the ecosystem) before they can reach you? This seems a very good idea, because if such Individual Intellects refuse to evolve or refuse to coexist or refuse to recognise key features and the Purpose of your Design - they will eventually cause their own extinction. It's not that you want them to. You just don’t enjoy having to deal with idiots who refuse to think. You prefer for them to deal with themselves. You prefer them to choose by their Free Will whether to evolve or vanish.

You really like the possibility of intelligent company. Since you want everyone to evolve as quickly as possible, you want to "give" them everything they could possibly need in such a process. To your utter amazement, you discover that the most important things about Conscious Existence are also those that actually cannot be "given".

No matter how much you desire the other Individuals in your future Universe to be intelligent, you cannot "give" anyone else any of your Intellect. Every autonomous Individual has to become smart entirely on its own - exactly like you did - by making conscious choices, experiencing their consequences and drawing conclusions. Development of Intellect is a result of an individual effort.

You cannot "give" anyone any Imagination. Every individual needs to develop it on its own. You also cannot Understand anything for anyone. Every individual needs to achieve understanding on its own. You cannot experience, express or even establish a need for subtle and blissful feelings such as Love for anyone else. Every individual needs to learn it all on its own...

You wish every Individual in your future Universe aimed for all those things that cannot be "given". These are the same things that cannot be taken away...

You conclude, that the only true assistance that you can actually provide for other Individuals to evolve is an "environment" for learning, an environment for making choices and experiencing their consequences.

Since the development of Intellect and the associated abilities is strictly an individual effort, the total Autonomy of Thought for every Individual in your future Universe becomes extremely important. You decide to give it a priority.

You decide that in your Universe - every Individual will have a totally unrestricted Freedom of Thought and unlimited potential to develop Intellect. Most definitely - you do not want puppets. For this reason, you plan to do everything you can to ensure that every Individual Consciousness is "jam proof" and can be programmed only with the consent of a given individual.

You decide to allocate generous memory resources to each Individual Intellect - about 4 billion trillion (4e21) electrons, each having about 100 Gigabytes of storage capacity. You plan to allocate each individual with the unique code to access its private memory space. There should be no "duplicate Individual Intellects" in your Universe.

You realise that you can greatly accelerate the intellectual development of every individual if you "pre-fill" its allocated memory with some useful data. You can even supply an easy to execute "software library". Specifically, this private "library" can contain an algorithm that can control the development of a "physical body" from the simplest combination of atoms. Of course, the tiniest fragment of such a "physical body" would then contain the "unique code" allocated to each individual.

A well designed library of easy to execute "functions" will free each individual from having to control trivial things such as metabolic processes, generation of energy, immune system, self repairs of the body etc... especially at the initial stage of their evolution. When they evolve, they should be able to control every process in every cell of their body using their own intellect. Eventually, they should be able to modify your "software library" according to their own preferences. The only tool that they will ever need to accomplish such "genetic" modifications will be their own consciousness. Isn't it obvious that such evolved individuals will choose to make their bodies more beautiful and functional?

You realise that the consequence of a strict "privacy" of Individual Consciousness will make every individual experience isolation and loneliness at every stage of evolution. You conclude that experiencing and understanding "loneliness" is essential not only to evolve intellectually, but also to understand You and Your motives for imagining and initiating the Universe...

You realise that you would really enjoy being understood. Will anyone in your future Universe evolve enough to understand you? Since every Individual will have the total Freedom of Thought, there is actually no guarantee that anyone will even aim to understand you. You could simply be ignored or worse, totally misunderstood and even misrepresented... How would it feel?

You decide to maximize the probability of Individuals in your future Universe choosing to acknowledge and admire your Intellect by their Free Will. You imagine Nature - SO beautiful, SO fascinating, SO majestic and magnificent, SO intelligently functioning, that anyone with any trace of intelligence and sensitivity simply wouldn’t be able not to admire its Design.

You envisage the existence of a magnificently designed Material Reality and Life as a way of revealing your Intellect to any intelligent observer, without interfering with its autonomy and the Freedom of Choice3.

How many Individuals will notice and appreciate it? One in a trillion? You don’t know - they will have the total Freedom of Thought. It is entirely up to them what they choose to Think and do. You are not interested in interfering with their Autonomy. After all, it is Autonomy that is the essence of Conscious Existence isn’t it?

In your Design you aim for the Best of the Best. Thanks to Autonomy - the Best of the Best can simply choose themselves... They can choose to develop their intellect and continue to apply it to advance themselves further.

In contrast, those unwilling to achieve enough coherence in their thinking will not be able to sustain their consciousness and will eventually cease to exist...

You like the idea of the Self-Perfecting Universe inhabited by the Best of the Best... Aiming to design anything else just doesn’t make sense... Aiming to design anything else would be an insult to your Intellect...

Kris Weberg | February 1, 2005
But doesn't the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, all the way down to the likes of Levinas and demonstrate that human consciousness only comes into itself through the encounter with a ebing of like consciousness? Consciousness in-itself is only capable of negation, and the negation of nothingness -- itself, its own non-identity -- is, for Heidegger, the creation of human reality that is only confirmed for consciousness by the encounter with the Other.

If you want to talk Descartes, by the way, this arguably happens "between the lines" in the description of the cogito.

Anna Gregoline | February 1, 2005
I don't even understand that - it's supposed to be that God started out intelligent, yet it talks about it like he's growing up, growing stronger, getting BORED and THEN creating the universe?

Kris Weberg | February 1, 2005
Basically, it's an account that ducks the argument that an omnipotent, perfectly good entirely sufficient being is...well, entirely sufficient, such that the creation would be an excess beyond the good and thus not of it, not good in itself as God is.

Anna Gregoline | February 1, 2005
What?

Yeah, I don't get it.

Kris Weberg | February 1, 2005
Okay. God is all that is good. And God, being perfect, is pretty much all that needs to exist. Good and perfect, in this sense, are the same thing -- it's good because it's absolutely necessary, and it's absolutely necessary because it's good.

Anything esle is not absolutely necessary, not perfect, and therefore isn't good.

So either you argue that God created something that accidentally wasn't necessary/good, and therefore that God isn't perfect; or that God deliberately created something that wasn't good/absoluely necessary, and as such God isn't perfectly good.

A God that creates the universe really can't have much to do with most ideas of God.

Anna Gregoline | February 2, 2005
I thought about this on the way home (away from evil work) and I think I get it now. Most of the Christian religions though assume that God created a world that isn't perfect, though, right?

Pretty weird stuff!

Kris Weberg | February 2, 2005
Yep, and most of them have major theological problems in explaining the existence of evil.

Anna Gregoline | February 2, 2005
Not from what I was taught (not that this is what I believe, there is a distinction) - that evil must exist so that we have a chance to choose good...of course, there is also a healthy dose of Adam and Eve and the ruination of man, but whatever...

Kris Weberg | February 2, 2005
right, but that onloy applies if there's already a "we." and the argument to God's sufficiency is an argument that there's no supportable reason for God to create us to start with.

The idea that evil was necessary once humans were created actually supports the sufficiency argument against God's Creation.

Anna Gregoline | February 2, 2005
Eh. The whole thing makes my head hurt, you know? Especially since I don't really agree with the views.


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