Friday, December 31, 2010

It's a small World, but....

So, it's New Years Eve, many moons ago, and my Ma, Da, two sisters and I are 'bringing in the New Years' at midnight.

Ann was about 14, which would make me(Ian) 12 and our little sister Valerie about six years old.

Me and Ann were given some booze, for the first time ever, to toast the New Year in, and when the 'clock struck' everyone hugged and kissed and that and my Ma and Da started singing, "It's a guid New Year."

Here's the tune:-

And here's the lyrics:-

And this is what they sang:-

"It's a guid new year to 'e'en' an' a' ..An' mony may ye see, An' during a' the years to come, O happy may ye be... "

Then everyone noticed Valerie because she was crying really hard! When my mother had calmed her down enough to find out what the problem was, it turned out that Valerie was very unhappy to not be included in the song.

You see, she 'heard', "It's a guid New Year, to Ian and Ann.." and of course she thought that if someone was going to be writing a song for New Years, they really ought to have included her!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The coherent argument.

I've often heard the philosophical types come out with the 'coherent argument' thing. So I decided it was time to have a look at it. Should be simple enough, you'd think, right?

I look up 'coherent argument for God' and up pops a page telling me the ins and outs of why we have to take for granted the possibility that at least one God(if not 'at most') exists, right?

Well, it's not as simple as that. Google has many pages on this kind of thing but each one is either trying to get us to accept a specific argument as coherent or reject it as incoherent.

It gets worse. From here, There are two distinct types of coherentism. One refers to the coherence theory of truth. The other is belief in the coherence theory of justification—an epistemological theory opposing foundationalism and offering a solution to the regress argument. In this epistemological capacity, it is a theory about how belief can be justified.

Now every time I read, 'coherent argument' I'm going to be wondering which kind of coherence they are talking about, since this is usually meant to be a conversation stopper, as in, "We have a coherent argument.(Therefore, you can shut up now.)"

If they are refering to the second kind it seems, at least at first blush, that they're saying that their argument is good because that is what they believe, which seems a bit devious to me.

"One way of explaining the theory of justification is to say that a justified belief is one that we are "within our rights" in holding." This seems to be what the Christian philosophy dudes and dudettes ARE saying. I've noticed that the 'coherent argument' thing is usually preceded by 'epistemology'.

Are atheists so cowed by $50 words that they just 'shut up' when faced with this 'big sister' "'cos I say so." argument meaning, basically, "I have reason to believe in God because it is one of my beliefs."?

I'd like to hear from anyone at all on this, perhaps explaining, why what I just said is wrong, how it is wrong, and at least some kind of conversation 'unstopper' to this, "Well, it's my epistemological, coherent-argument-style beliefs that stump them atheists all the time.", because it seems to me that we are arguing AGAINST those exact beliefs in the first place, aren't we?

Is this the philosophical equivalent to, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"?, "coherent argument" being the, ".. that settles it!", part?

From here:-

we get this wonderful apology, "In this paper I do not seek to prove whether God exists or not, because I don't believe that's possible.", putting the onus on non-believers to cover all possible wordplay and perspective proving the incoherence of God as defined by theists themselves.

Seems that once the 'God genie' is out of the bottle, it's just too big to pop back in, no matter the historical, evolutionary, social, or whatnot reason for popping the cork in the first place.

"We were simply attempting to understand the sky and gain some control over it/find some way to appeal to it!"?

"Over-ruled! We have a coherent argument! There's a mysterious 'baby'(Jesus?) in that bathwater!"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sympathetic magic ramblings.

In this post I want to say that the religious are putting the cart before the horse, in a manner of speaking.

I'm thinking 'phenomenology' in a popular sense, if not the philosophical sense (shrug) inasmuchas we were all newborn babies at one point struggling to understand our world and how we relate to it. Seems to me that to study how it is that we get from there, knowing nothing, running on 'empty' as it were, to here, thinking in sentences, or at least composing thoughts into sentences.

Okay, so we maybe don't not know anything at all, but that's just part of it. How much can we be said to 'know' without the means to express it?

What I'm trying to say is that we must see things from a very personal perspective when we are very young. Simple things, like whether we are warm, or thirsty or unsure etc. obviously affected us much more than we are willing to let on now that we are older.

Guess I'm trying to get you to empathize with a baby, see it from a baby's point of view and see if we can agree that, at least for awhile, everything that happens, from the baby's perspective, is just different feelings of the baby, kind of 'directionless' 'stunned' wonder about what the heck is going on here.

At some point, the baby has to move on. Don't know about you but I still feel a little 'stunned' every now and then. Nevertheless, I suppose as the baby is developing it's sense of self and so on, it's going to be making some 'Custer decisions' about whether it enjoys the company of dad as much as mom's company, and so on. I'm gonna make a guess that the development of the sense of self is connected to the sense that there are others, and that some of those others are not familiar, and so on.

Still, not to belabor that point, but we certainly are born knowing how to be babies, having some sort of sense of what makes us feel good and what does not make us feel good.

More to my point here, I think that we grow up learning cause and effect rules for different scenarios. Drop a toy and it will fall down, throw a toy and someone might pay attention to you, kind of thing. I think that we are easily confused by cause and effect sometimes, because sometimes things are not quite as they seem.

An example relating to farmers might be that when a certain constellation is rising in the in the East, it might be time to harvest the crop. Playing the part of a wise man, I might say to a youngster, "I see Leo is rising in the East, the farmhands must be out in the fields gathering the the harvest. Why don't you go to the country and ask for a job?"

The youngster might be quite skeptical about this. What makes grandpa(or the shaman or whatever) so smart that he thinks the plants know when to be ripe by looking at the sky?

I'm sure that there are thousands of examples like this where cause and effect, when not really understood, can be understood in terms of sympathetic magic, or at least what 'signs' seem to portend what 'effects'.

Not being able to say, "The seasons are caused by the Earth revolving around the Sun, the North Pole being inclined towards it in the Summertime, on a tangent with the orbit at the Equinoxes and inclined away from it in the Wintertime.", doesn't mean that we cannot see the various constellations rising in the different seasons knowing the season from that, seemingly disparate information.

Seems to me that this is, very simply, the beginnings of the notion of sympathic magic, a hidden, or occult knowledge, which at times might have a connection like the night stars and the seasons and might just be a few coincidences together with a vivid imagination. Kind of, "We've noticed that there are significant patterns to the workings of the World therefore every pattern that I see is significant."

Seems to me that this is not too difficult to understand but that the religious rail against this, refusing to see it by means of definitions of words.

Try saying 'magic' to a Christian and he/she will automatically be affronted that you should 'accuse him/her' of 'believing in that'.

Their word for it is 'miracle', BUT, their definition of 'miracle' is 'wonder', so something as trivial as a cheque arriving in the mail when you 'need' it might be seen as something of a miracle, and is EXACTLY equal to sympathetic magic, but they are constrained to NOT equate the two in their minds.