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Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
I don't think anyone is asking that a person accept what Plato or Aristotle says without question. It is enough to understand one of these thinkers (even when you understand that they're simply wrong).

Another figure who is highly regarded among philosophers is Thales. Thales famously postulated that everything is water. Turns out, everything is not water. But Thales' importance never hinged on his being right or wrong about the "waterness" of everything.

Here is a guy from humble beginnings who earned a fortune by investing in olive presses when he predicted an abundance of olives that year. He also predicted a solar eclipse. How did he do these things? Most likely by paying attention to patterns in nature. While the rest of Miletus was freaking out, thinking the gods had cursed them, Thales understood that the moon had passed in front of the sun. (It wasn't so obvious to the ancients that that's what an eclipse was... as a solar eclipse always happens during the new moon).

No writings from Thales have survived to modernity. All we know of him is via secondary sources. So why is Thales important? Because rather than trying to attribute the goings-on in nature to the gods, Thales proposed a theory for why natural objects behaved the way they do. After Thales died, other philosophers tried to propose better theories. Everything is not water, "everything is air" -- "everything is earth" -- (and my favorite) "everything is fire." Eventually the Greeks came to think everything was "water, earth, air, and fire."

YES. The damage system used in your favorite fantasy RPG was invented by Greek philosophers.

Wrong as they were, this IS the nub of understanding the world. "Things behave according to properties. Not the whims of the gods." It's hard for us moderners to recognize this, but the fact of "natural properties" is not included in the human mind from birth. It was hard won. Same thing with math. The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians used geometry for architecture and agriculture, but it was the Greeks who really concentrated on the theory of geometry. Not "geometry just to build this thing over here," but to essentially understand right triangles. Physics didn't fly out of Isaac Newton's ass. There is a line of succession: Galileo, Copernicus, you must include Ptolemy and Aristotle here, and even Thales belongs in this succession.

Some of us are only interested in "the latest and greatest" of this succession of knowledge. And that's understandable. After all, why pay attention to a bunch of historical "wrong shit"? But there is also value in following our knowledge back to its roots. Some of us, like Neo (and myself), are very interested in that project. Socrates is an explosive figure in the succession of knowledge (as far as philosophy goes), and in the aftermath of Socrates, arose two towering figures: Plato and Aristotle. Just like Thales, it doesn't matter that these figures were wrong about a ton of shit. They were pivotal in improving human knowledge. And someone interested in how to get from ignorance to knowledge generally (aka philosophers) is going to be profoundly interested in these insightful thinkers.

And, believe it or not, some of their knowledge has yet to be improved upon and still holds up today. But (as I said before) that isn't what makes them important thinkers.
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 21, 2021 at 7:43 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: I don't think anyone is asking that a person accept what Plato or Aristotle says without question. It is enough to understand one of these thinkers (even when you understand that they're simply wrong).

Another figure who is highly regarded among philosophers is Thales. Thales famously postulated that everything is water. Turns out, everything is not water. But Thales' importance never hinged on his being right or wrong about the "waterness" of everything.

Here is a guy from humble beginnings who earned a fortune by investing in olive presses when he predicted an abundance of olives that year. He also predicted a solar eclipse. How did he do these things? Most likely by paying attention to patterns in nature. While the rest of Miletus was freaking out, thinking the gods had cursed them, Thales understood that the moon had passed in front of the sun. (It wasn't so obvious to the ancients that that's what an eclipse was... as a solar eclipse always happens during the new moon).

No writings from Thales have survived to modernity. All we know of him is via secondary sources. So why is Thales important? Because rather than trying to attribute the goings-on in nature to the gods, Thales proposed a theory for why natural objects behaved the way they do. After Thales died, other philosophers tried to propose better theories. Everything is not water, "everything is air" -- "everything is earth" -- (and my favorite) "everything is fire." Eventually the Greeks came to think everything was "water, earth, air, and fire."

YES. The damage system used in your favorite fantasy RPG was invented by Greek philosophers.

Wrong as they were, this IS the nub of understanding the world. "Things behave according to properties. Not the whims of the gods." It's hard for us moderners to recognize this, but the fact of "natural properties" is not included in the human mind from birth. It was hard won. Same thing with math. The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians used geometry for architecture and agriculture, but it was the Greeks who really concentrated on the theory of geometry. Not "geometry just to build this thing over here," but to essentially understand right triangles. Physics didn't fly out of Isaac Newton's ass. There is a line of succession: Galileo, Copernicus, you must include Ptolemy and Aristotle here, and even Thales belongs in this succession.

Some of us are only interested in "the latest and greatest" of this succession of knowledge. And that's understandable. After all, why pay attention to a bunch of historical "wrong shit"? But there is also value in following our knowledge back to its roots. Some of us, like Neo (and myself), are very interested in that project. Socrates is an explosive figure in the succession of knowledge (as far as philosophy goes), and in the aftermath of Socrates, arose two towering figures: Plato and Aristotle. Just like Thales, it doesn't matter that these figures were wrong about a ton of shit. They were pivotal in improving human knowledge. And someone interested in how to get from ignorance to knowledge generally (aka philosophers) is going to be profoundly interested in these insightful thinkers.

And, believe it or not, some of their knowledge has yet to be improved upon and still holds up today. But (as I said before) that isn't what makes them important thinkers.
 Fascinating post, thanks.

For some reason, Hypatia of Alexandria popped into my head. A Greek  She lived in 5th century Alexandria and was a mathematician and astronomer, she seems to have been humanist /atheist (?) .For example, she questioned the wisdom of the day of the weird orbits our solar system's planets had to adopt to explain  a geocentric system.  She was murdered in 415 by a christian mob at the urging of the bishop of  Alexandria. Her crime, apart from being an educated Greek female was that she looked for natural rather than divine causes and was simply anti superstition.  

 There's a pretty good movie about her called 'Agora" with Rachel Weis. Also several  thin books , I have "Hypatia, Her Life And Times" by Faith Justice who seems to have some training as an historian. There's also a novel which isn't very good. The last one I found is in Polish.


((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((9))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Some quotes attributed to Hypatia:

“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fancies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in after years relieved of them. In fact, men will fight for a superstition quite as quickly as for a living truth — often more so, since a superstition is so intangible you cannot get at it to refute it, but truth is a point of view, and so is changeable.”

― Hypathia of Alexandria


“All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.”

― [b]Hypatia of Alexandria
[/b]


[b]“To rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world, is just as base as to use force... Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all.”

― [b]Hypatia
[/b]
[/b]
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 21, 2021 at 3:41 pm)polymath257 Wrote: As for the pre-modern scholars. They were the ones who shoulders we now stand upon. Their observations, mistakes, advances, and errors were those of people from their time. They were often brilliantly wrong. They deserve respect because they advanced our understanding, not because they had the final say.
This!
Cetero censeo religionem delendam esse
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 20, 2021 at 12:52 pm)Klorophyll Wrote: God is generally presented as a first cause. If the theist manages to establish the existence of God as a first cause, it's moronic to ask "who created God?" after that. There is no special pleading in this case.

That is some Olympian level mental gymnastics right there.

To use special pleading, to explain why your argument is not special pleading.

You'd believe if you just opened your heart" is a terrible argument for religion. It's basically saying, "If you bias yourself enough, you can convince yourself that this is true." If religion were true, people wouldn't need faith to believe it -- it would be supported by good evidence.
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 20, 2021 at 12:52 pm)Klorophyll Wrote:
(October 18, 2021 at 5:55 pm)Fake Messiah Wrote: And the claim that God created the universe but not being allowed to ask who created God is Special pleading.

God is generally presented as a first cause. If the theist manages to establish the existence of God as a first cause, it's moronic to ask "who created God?" after that. There is no special pleading in this case.

OK then. god is first cause.

That means the christian god is the right god and allah must therefore be a false god. Or Zeus. Or FSM, pasta be upon him. May we all be touched by his noodly appendage.
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 22, 2021 at 11:13 pm)Abaddon_ire Wrote:
(October 20, 2021 at 12:52 pm)Klorophyll Wrote: God is generally presented as a first cause. If the theist manages to establish the existence of God as a first cause, it's moronic to ask "who created God?" after that. There is no special pleading in this case.

OK then. god is first cause.

That means the christian god is the right god and allah must therefore be a false god. Or Zeus. Or FSM, pasta be upon him. May we all be touched by his noodly appendage.

Little evidence exists for the FSM beyond the feelings of cynics. The ISM (Invisible Sock Monster) has millions of anecdotal accounts; I, myself, have experienced its Invisible static cling, as far too many of my bootees have gone missing over the years to be explained by mere chance alone.
And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him...And Peter turned unto the people that followed him and said: Ye shall now see a great and marvellous wonder. And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed. (The Acts of Peter, 9)
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 21, 2021 at 7:43 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: Wrong as they were, this IS the nub of understanding the world. "Things behave according to properties. Not the whims of the gods." It's hard for us moderners to recognize this, but the fact of "natural properties" is not included in the human mind from birth. It was hard won. Same thing with math. The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians used geometry for architecture and agriculture, but it was the Greeks who really concentrated on the theory of geometry. Not "geometry just to build this thing over here," but to essentially understand right triangles. Physics didn't fly out of Isaac Newton's ass. There is a line of succession: Galileo, Copernicus, you must include Ptolemy and Aristotle here, and even Thales belongs in this succession.

All too often, those who worked in the Middle Ages or in the Islamic lands are forgotten in this history. There was a LONG history of attempts to modify/understand Aristotle's ideas to explain, for example, the flight of an arrow. Eventually, that lead to the idea of inertia, which was fundamental to Galileo and Newton/

But, there is a question. How much of this history should a physicist know to be able to do physics? How much do the actual conclusions of the Oxford calculators impact the ideas we have today in physics?

And the frank answer is "not much". While they were absolutely essential to *getting to where we are*, their ideas and techniques have been supplanted and NONE of modern physics (anything past Newton) replies on their analyses. That is very different than the impact of Newton on the *current* ideas in physics.

So, Aristotle and Ptolemy, as well as Thomas Badwardine, are *historically* important, their ideas are NOT important for how modern physics actually approaches problems. Literally nothing in their analysis of physics remains in anything required in a modern physics class. But the ideas of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, and others *are* relevant to our current understanding. These people were right in ways that previous thinkers were wrong.

So, yes, I agree, these lessons were hard fought. The insights of many people were required for us to get where we are today. They should be honored and studied for their *historical contributions*. But their ideas, outside of learning the history, can be safely ignored if all you want to do is understand physics.

Quote:Some of us are only interested in "the latest and greatest" of this succession of knowledge. And that's understandable. After all, why pay attention to a bunch of historical "wrong shit"? But there is also value in following our knowledge back to its roots. Some of us, like Neo (and myself), are very interested in that project. Socrates is an explosive figure in the succession of knowledge (as far as philosophy goes), and in the aftermath of Socrates, arose two towering figures: Plato and Aristotle. Just like Thales, it doesn't matter that these figures were wrong about a ton of shit. They were pivotal in improving human knowledge. And someone interested in how to get from ignorance to knowledge generally (aka philosophers) is going to be profoundly interested in these insightful thinkers.

And, believe it or not, some of their knowledge has yet to be improved upon and still holds up today. But (as I said before) that isn't what makes them important thinkers.

And I agree. I am very interested in the history of ideas. How did we get to the understanding we have today? That is a very interesting question to me. And to understand the progression of ideas can be a useful caution to taking our current ideas too seriously. But the *conclusions* of these thinkers is often, even usually *wrong*. And unless you want to investigate the history, their views can be safely ignored and should certainly NOT be part of the current debate about how things work.

I also think that *very* few of the ideas of Aristotle have stood up to the studies of the past 2000 years. Again, he was crucial to getting us on the right track, but his conclusions are almost universally wrong. He was a product of his time, with many of the biases and ignorance of that time. That is NOT saying he was not important historically.

But his ideas are NOT important for any modern analysis, I think.
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
Geocetricism sill survives in the arena of planetariums; I suppose that it makes the software easier to code.
And without delay Peter went quickly out of the synagogue (assembly) and went unto the house of Marcellus, where Simon lodged: and much people followed him...And Peter turned unto the people that followed him and said: Ye shall now see a great and marvellous wonder. And Peter seeing a great dog bound with a strong chain, went to him and loosed him, and when he was loosed the dog received a man's voice and said unto Peter: What dost thou bid me to do, thou servant of the unspeakable and living God? Peter said unto him: Go in and say unto Simon in the midst of his company: Peter saith unto thee, Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And immediately the dog ran and entered in, and rushed into the midst of them that were with Simon, and lifted up his forefeet and in a loud voice said: Thou Simon, Peter the servant of Christ who standeth at the door saith unto thee: Come forth abroad, for thy sake am I come to Rome, thou most wicked one and deceiver of simple souls. And when Simon heard it, and beheld the incredible sight, he lost the words wherewith he was deceiving them that stood by, and all of them were amazed. (The Acts of Peter, 9)
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
(October 23, 2021 at 7:16 am)Jehanne Wrote:
(October 22, 2021 at 11:13 pm)Abaddon_ire Wrote: OK then. god is first cause.

That means the christian god is the right god and allah must therefore be a false god. Or Zeus. Or FSM, pasta be upon him. May we all be touched by his noodly appendage.

Little evidence exists for the FSM beyond the feelings of cynics.  The ISM (Invisible Sock Monster) has millions of anecdotal accounts; I, myself, have experienced its Invisible static cling, as far too many of my bootees have gone missing over the years to be explained by mere chance alone.

How dare you deny the truth of Flying Spaghetti Monster?   Have you not seen young children eat spaghetti?
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RE: Atheism and the existence of peanut butter
The physics classes I had in the early 90's spent a little time on the history. Tycho Brahe stands out in my memory.

He has been described as "the first competent mind in modern astronomy to feel ardently the passion for exact empirical facts". Most of his observations were more accurate than the best available observations at the time.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. The availability of books and then computers and now the internet has made learning nearly any subject possible by anyone around the world. And this information is difficult if not impossible to remove.

In the past, a rare book could be destroyed and all that it contained, lost for all time. But now in this digital age, it would nearly be impossible to destroy modern books in physics, math, astronomy.

This is also a double edge sword. We gain all of the good ideas but we are also stuck with religious texts as well that often impede educational progress.
Insanity - Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result
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