Daniel Dennett on William Lane Craig and many other things

Daniel Dennett on the criterion of mindbogglingness in science and many other things

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people don't analyze happiness.

That may well be true.  But being happy might free people to think about the Big Questions. 

I would sure think a lot more if I wasn't so sick and my mind so blurry. 

Dennett makes an important point about overgeneralization. One of the most common mistakes in human thinking is to take the here and now as the pattern for everywhere and always. We all take our own experience for the norm, our behavior as the standard, our country as the model of good living. Our intuition of what is possible or likely to be true is very often wrong and has to be corrected by new data.

Yet this is what science is forced to do. No one can check that the second law of thermodynamics is valid in all circumstances or indeed that any law of physics obtains everywhere and always. We do make that assumption when no reason exists (so far) for thinking otherwise and change our view only when we run into a contradiction. And it is not a mistake to do that, but it must be done tentatively.

One of the most common mistakes in human thinking is to take the here and now as the pattern for everywhere and always.

So true, and in my experience a mistake made by those who find respite in:

  • an optimism that allows no pessimism,
  • a pessimism that allows no optimism, or
  • a dogma which by definition allows no doubt. 

Dennett makes an important point about overgeneralization.

I think Dennett was doing a bit of sloppy thinking himself when he said that an unchanging God can't answer prayers.  He said if God doesn't change, you're stuck with a deist God.

I think a Christian would say that God can be unchanging in the sense that its basic personality doesn't change - and still answer prayers.

But the god personality does change. In the Pentateuch god goes from a distinct J (Yahweh) then to E (Elohim) and on then to P and D. The reason for this is the viewpoint of the writer because of many different god types. The modern christian thinks of only one god, but this is not the case, and it was not always the case. Everything has been re-written again and again to where the modern apologist claims there is "only one god but he has many names." It's absurd! This is one of the biggest proofs that the bible was written by men and not some imaginary "devine being." It means there is no evidence. This is also why I am atheist today!

Oh, that is quite true.   

But aside from the historical evidence, it's theoretically possible for the personality to stay the same, yet the god's actions can be changed by prayer. 

Of course the petitioner hopes to change God's mind on the subject of his prayer—to obtain a miraculous cure for someone seriously ill, to have a soldier return from war. If not, then what is the point of prayer? The assumption is that God will not act in the desired manner without the prayer.

Yes but that doesn't mean the underlying personality changes.

You could have a computer program simulating God - like an advanced sort of Turing test :). 

The computer program would answer prayers - without the program itself changing. 

Yes, Luara, but them the computer program as god would appear to be nothing more than a wishbook answering prayers for the faithful.

That would not pass the "advanced Turing test" of simulating God :)


But a happy person, not mired in struggles, can look beyond that and start asking the Big Questions:  thinking about non-survival issues like the reason for anything to exist. 

In a 1955-56 undergraduate philosophy course, I concluded that people can reach life positions via contradictory experiences. Events regularly remind me of that conclusion. Editing your words:

But an unhappy person, mired in struggles, looks beyond that and asks Big Questions: thinking about survival issues like a reason to exist.

It was no secret that two women on my dad's side of the family, one his twin sister and the mother of five of my cousins, reached that point and ended their lives.

My almost reaching that point in 1958 made possible my escape from two authoritarianisms:

  • that of my occasionally-violent dad, an old-world, father-is god German, and
  • that of Roman Catholicism in Cincinnati's Irish-dominated Catholic schools.

I can say without exaggeration that my escape was both traumatic and the most rewarding part of my life. I became the subject of a newspaper article and a mean-spirited editorial cartoon, and known to Arizona's Congressional delegation. My kid brother later told me he was thinking about taking a position in the state with the company he worked for and I suggested that he change his last name.

It happened about a quarter century before the WWW became a reality but the Wikipedia article on the investigative reporter Don Bolles tells part of the story.

Our now-plutocratic federal government seems determined to end all investigative reporting, though in a less violent manner.

Hm-mm, I might write a memoir.



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