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All about sin. What is it, how does it work, what does it do—whatever your questions are

Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Auto Teacher » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:01 pm

> This is a fascinating comment, because "souls" have nothing to do with science. They are not detectable, study-able, especially with a control group, or subject to empirical evidence, cause-and-effect, etc. You're right that souls don't have anything to do with the scientific arena.

In that case, how can you know there is such a thing?
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:02 pm

It's an erroneous world view to think empirical detection by physical evidence, cause-and-effect, etc. is the only source of real knowledge, and that everything else that claims the status of knowledge is just superstition, irrationality, or nonsense. There are many important beliefs, secular as well as religious, that are justified and rational, but not scientific. I can certainly point to disciples such as history, math, sociology, anthropology, business management, archaeology, dietetics, psychology, and philosophy as ways we procure knowledge do not exclusively have to do with control groups, empirical reproducibility, and hard repeatable data. And what of jurisprudence, economics, and politics? Not only is science not all the knowledge there is, but it may not even be the most important knowledge.

Music is an excellent example that science cannot represent all the knowledge there is. While I can dissect music into pitch, amplitude, frequencies, acoustics, and volume, none of the those have anything to do with what Beethoven's 5th is really about.

As far as the soul, I would contend several things:

1. Evidence of our thoughts and emotions betrays that we are more than just material objects.

2. Our sense of self (and perception of self, not just in thought, but as an entity) gives evidence that we have a conception of an immaterial self.

3. Our perceptions of truth and falseness (necessary for scientific inquiry) betray a belief that among the random and chance happenings of evolution and naturalism, content (apart from natural phenomena that we can empirically experience) has arisen that we can trust to be reliably true. (The conditional probability that our cognitive faculties are reliable, given naturalism together with the proposition that we have come to be by way of evolution, is low.) The reliability of cognitive content gives evidence that something besides pure materialism is present in our beings.

While arguments about scientific materialism can sound compelling, they are ultimately inconclusive.

I would guess that even if scientists cloned a human being—another you—it would be different than you. It wouldn't have had your experiences, your memories, and therefore not your personality. It wouldn't really be you, even though it was you. But I think it's more than just experiences and memories. I think we each have an essence that is "me".

Ultimately, philosophy and science cannot explain a lot of things: consciousness being one. We, as humans, are aware that we are aware! The existence of a non-physical part of us, isn't just a Christian belief. It's a fundamental philosophical question. Quantum physics requires consciousness, and bears witness that scientific materialism is lacking in the full explanation of reality.

What makes rational sense is that humans have been endowed by God with souls that enable us to grasp and perceive truth, to know right from wrong, to have a sense of self, and to act freely in the world as autonomous agents. "How do I know there such a thing as a soul" is a result of reasoning more than scientific experimentation.

To me, I have an awareness that I have a mind that's separate from my body, but not separate at all. I have a soul that's even different from my body, and yet I am clearly one. Yet I can argue with myself, I can correct myself, and I can even reflect on myself. People even claim to have "out of body"experiences. (I haven't had any of those. I've just had some days when I've had "out of my mind" experiences...). Evidence in me is that I'm a plurality while at the same time being a singularity. I am more than just a mind, more than just a pretty face, more than just a body, more than just a soul, and yet, hey, it's just me. All of those are the one me. That's the way I look at it.

Here's an interesting article from Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bio ... e-says-yes
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Then Some » Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:35 pm

Fantastic write up, thanks for putting in the time to pull all that together for us.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Auto Teacher » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:24 pm

> It's an erroneous world view to think empirical detection by physical evidence, cause-and-effect, etc. is the only source of real knowledge, and that everything else that claims the status of knowledge is just superstition, irrationality, or nonsense

Of course it is. After all, there's also math and formal logic. Other than that, I'm now aware of any reliable epistemological methods.

. There are many important beliefs, secular as well as religious, that are justified and rational, but not scientific.

Are they knowledge?

> I can certainly point to disciples such as history, math, sociology, anthropology, business management, archaeology, dietetics, psychology, and philosophy as ways we procure knowledge do not exclusively have to do with control groups, empirical reproducibility, and hard repeatable data.

Actually, yes they do, to the extent that they are in any way reliable.

>what of jurisprudence, economics, and politics?

What of them?

> Music is an excellent example.

Music is an excellent example of an aesthetic experience. Is that what your beliefs are?

> Evidence of our thoughts and emotions betrays that we are more than just material objects.

No, they're not.

> Our sense of self (and perception of self, not just in thought, but as an entity) gives evidence that we have a conception of an immaterial self.

No, it's not.

> The reliability of cognitive content gives evidence that something besides pure materialism is present in our beings.

No, it doesn't. For one thing, our cognitive content is not very reliable.

Did you find my responses unsatisfying? Maybe that's because they're pure unsupported assertions. Please take note.

> I think it's more than just experiences and memories.

Yes, we know that you think that. Now can you defend your opinion?

> What makes rational sense is that humans have been endowed by God with souls

Actually, that makes no rational sense whatsoever.

> That's the way I look at it.

OK, now can you actually debate and defend that the way you look at it is correct? You know, here in a debate forum?
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:03 pm

It depends what you mean by "science". One meaning is that "science" is simply knowledge; the other meaning is that science is the study of the natural world. If the former, then history, math, theology, metaphysics, and philosophy are all "science". If the latter, then they are not.

If science means knowledge, then "we can only know things by scientific means" is just tautological. But if science means a particular type of knowledge procured in a particular way, then we need to stick to that meaning.

If we go with the former meaning (science is knowledge), then of course history, archaeology, psychology, etc., are all sciences, as are theology, philosophy and metaphysics. If we go with the latter meaning, they are not.

> Actually, yes they do, to the extent that they are in any way reliable.

For instance, history. First of all, it's not the study of the natural world, so it's not science. Secondly, science is concerned with reproducible phenomena that can be studied under control conditions and give confirmatory results. Observational science requires multiple repeatable examples of the phenomenon or specimen under consideration. But history is concerned with unique events in the past that cannot be repeated. There is no reproducibility or predictability in such matters. So also in many other fields, such as jurisprudence, economics, and politics, as I m mentioned. The legal system's approach to decision-making is very different from science's. So also economics. There is an absence of an opportunity for truly reproducible tests or observations, and the impossibility of isolating the different components of economic systems. Economics, therefore, is a discipline qualitatively different from science. Politics also is in complete contradiction of what scientists look for in nature. Instead of consistency and predictability as in science, we give mathematical values to public opinion and make probability prognoses.

> Evidence of our thoughts and emotions betrays that we are more than just material objects.

Rationalists such as Plato, Descartes, Spinoza et al. hold that many things can be known by reason alone and that sensory experiences were highly questionable. Empiricists, as I'm sure you know, say the opposite, that sense experience is the principal or unique source of our ideas. What seems obvious, though, is that our thoughts and feelings are distinguishable from our physical presence. I can be with someone else and use every empirical tool in my kit to make observations, but I cannot by such means know their mental state. Mental states, while interlocked with physical states, are distinct from them. Even in death, something is gone though the body obviously still lingers.

> Our sense of self (and perception of self, not just in thought, but as an entity) gives evidence that we have a conception of an immaterial self.

Several philosophers have argued the position that certain types of knowledge may be validated entirely by reason. Psychologists such as Erik Erikson also speak of a sense of self distinct from our physical bodies. Freud also spoke of the human psyche with its rational ego, its moral components, and a sense of self, both conscious and sub-conscious.

> Yes, we know that you think that. Now can you defend your opinion?

Geneticists who have been involved in cloning experiments verify that cloning a biological specimen will not guarantee an exact psychological replica of the original. We might well clone Abraham Lincoln, but with no assumption that we'd end up with the Abraham Lincoln we know from history.

> Actually, that makes no rational sense whatsoever.

Actually, what is most obvious to me is that you have offered no evidence of your own. I would be pleased to hear your opinion and a defense of it.
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby Auto Teacher » Mon Dec 08, 2014 4:14 pm

> That's why God didn't force anything,

You said they must choose to love him. If you must, then you don't have a choice. If I give you a choice between giving me your money and dying, is it a real choice?

> God made them, but he didn't make them to fail

Please read this sentence over to yourself, several times if necessary, and see if you can spot the contradiction.

> A poor baby born in Afghanistan today is in the same spiritual position...

Really? Stop and think about it. From the moment of birth, everyone around that baby proceeds on the assumption and makes it clear to that baby that her eternal salvation depends on NOT believing it, just as your parents assured you that your salvation depends on believing it. And you think you're in the same position?

But that's not my point. OK, let's believe your entire myth as if it were true. Let's imagine all that happened, really happened. Why would it affect a child being born NOW?
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Re: I'm having a hard time with original sin

Postby jimwalton » Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:32 am

> If you must, then you don't have a choice.

Oh brother. I take you to an ice cream store, where they have soft serve: vanilla, chocolate, or blended. I say, "Pick one. You can have whichever of the three you want." Your contention is that because I am forcing you to pick one, you don't really have a valid choice. That's pure out nonsense.

> If I give you a choice between giving me your money and dying, is it a real choice?

It depends if it's a whimsical choice, or the true options at hand. If it's the genuine options in the event, it is a real choice. If it's someone's power play, mockery, or threat, then not really. The story of Aron Ralston of "127 Hours" fame who in real life had to choose between cutting off his own arm with a penknife or to risk dying trapped is an example. "Well, is that a real choice?" you may scoff. Yeah, sometimes it is.

> God made them, but he didn't make them to fail

No contradiction unless you are inserting some presuppositions. If I make a piece of "flawless" cut crystal, it's susceptible to breakage, but I didn't make it to break. I made it to be beautiful, despite its inherent fragility.

> let's believe your entire myth as if it were true. Let's imagine all that happened, really happened. Why would it affect a child being born NOW?

Because humans are born in a state of separation from the life of God. They are spiritually dead, and all the goodness and religion in the world won't help them secure true life—life in union with God.


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