Following the Sprit and Echolocation

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JohnW
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by JohnW »

malkie wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:20 am
I would say that we have absolutely no reason to assume or expect that any god or god-like personage belonging to any religion, LDS included, is benevolent towards us humans.
I don't think we can say that. I thought that was the three-pronged argument. We can certainly have a god who is benevolent or a race of alien overlords which is benevolent as long as they are relatively powerless to stop evil. The existence of evil doesn't preclude benevolence, just benevolence while at the same time having the capacity to stop evil. Of course, most people will say God, by definition, must have the power to stop evil in the world, but the God of Lds theology may not have that power, depending on how you define it. It isn't as simple as that, but I'll have to start another thread sometime on this topic, if people aren't already bored of the problem of evil here. It seems like it has come up quite a few times.
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by JohnW »

dastardly stem wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:22 pm
I suppose if I am the one convinced of untrue things I too would feel compelled to think my particular beliefs aren't among the crazy things people convince themselves of. No offense here, just thinking there's plenty of room to see it both ways.
No offense taken. I agree. There is plenty of room to see it both ways.
dastardly stem wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:22 pm
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the problem of evil. I recall thinking the LDS position is best suited to address the Euthyphro dilemma. I'm not so sure any more.
Yeah, I guess I'll have to start a new thread. Maybe sometime this weekend.
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

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dastardly stem wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:22 pm
JohnW wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 2:47 am
I think this paragraph sums up what I worry about on my bad days. I think I may have argued against your point harder before 2016. Now, I can't agree with you more that we as humans convince ourselves of silly things. I just worry you may be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. If humans are demonstrably capable of believing silly things, that doesn't necessarily mean every belief that appears silly to us, must be false. It would just be suspect.
I suppose the analogy of throwing out the baby with the bath water works for me. I was an LDS believer for a long time. I decided to embrace rationality and in so doing I lost all room for faith. But, it definitely works better for me, it seems. So I'm happy to have done it, as hard as it was. Worth it, as they say.
No critique from me on this point. I'm sure your decisions weren't made lightly. No one should be criticized for making a decision that improves their happiness and quality of life.
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by JohnW »

Physics Guy wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 8:52 pm
As a matter of fact our information does persist past death, as Carroll must know—it's an undergraduate point. Deterministic causality means that every detail of the present and past is always encoded, in a one-to-one way, in the future. Sufficiently advanced aliens could in principle reconstruct my personality, centuries in the future, by disentangling it from fantastically precise measurements of everything within a few light-centuries of Earth. They could probably get a close-enough representation of my life, in fact, from measuring in a much smaller volume of space.

What is preserved is only a record of my life, however, not my ongoing pattern having new experiences. Even if those curious aliens did reconstruct my whole life after my death, down to all the thoughts and feelings I ever had, the story that they reconstruct would still have ended at my death. Past that point, no new consciousness events in my brain would be recorded anywhere in this universe, because they never happened in this universe.

On the other hand, conceivably those quixotic aliens could then edit and process their data a bit more, in order to resolve the counterfactual historical question of what I would have gone on to do, and think, and feel, and see, and so on—if I had not died at that point. Working out what my experiences would have been, if I hadn't died like that, would itself be a kind of afterlife for me.

It's not clear that there would be a unique way of pushing me on past death like that. The aliens might have to make choices about exactly how I went on after death, and these choices might affect who exactly I actually was in this delayed afterlife. If the aliens distorted my soul when they continued my pattern like that, though, it might not be anything so new for me. Little random events have influenced me all my life, after all.

So aliens could in principle give me a simulated afterlife. Since consciousness is a matter of software, not hardware, the issue of simulation is moot. I would be living again after death, making new choices, having new experiences.

Perhaps there are some UFO cults somewhere that do hope for something like that. Most believers in life after death do not look to aliens for it. Instead they generally propose that it is something outside the universe—God or karma or whatever—that is keeping a copy of all our data, and will boot us up again in a whole new world (new to us, anyway).

The point about the aliens only shows that an informational soul can in principle have eternal life no matter what happens to whatever hardware hosts it in this world. Carroll's point is strong about disproving spirit as substance, and also about life not persisting naturally within this world after death, barring spectacular interventions by aliens. To suppose that this disproves life after death in most traditionally imagined forms is only begging the question, however. If there is a Heaven, it is not a zone of space just beyond Saturn's orbit (sorry, Dante), and "going to Heaven" is not a matter of ensuring that any "fine matter" drifts out to there.
Ok, these are the type of posts that make me like this community. I don't know how much I agree with it, but I love the way it made me think.
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by dastardly stem »

MG 2.0 wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 12:37 am
dastardly stem wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 12:34 am


Of course it’s a different world completely. No t-plates, no magma. No sun,completely different
Occam’s razor.

At least from what we actually can observe.

I guess you can always create anything out of a fantasy.

Or something from nothing.

Regards,
MG
This conversation feels extremely telling to me, mg. I figured imaging a blissful world of no evil was what heaven was imagined to be. That’s what I was taught. But you’ve challenged that imagined place as something that could never be. Or perhaps in your view god never really conquers or ends evil in heaven? In challenging any ability that one might have of imagining a world of no evil you have undercut religious belief.

And I’d still wonder what is good in religious belief in the end. If there is heaven and god desires only some achieve it, then religious belief/faithfulness is no more than a selfish pursuit. After all Mormonism and Christianity as a whole (on this point I except universalists) imagines torture and eternal pain for some. That is for silly sounding finite sins, people, given your beliefs, will get infinite condemnation from god. If so, then god is not good and I suppose heaven isn’t going to be a nice place. Maybe that is why you can’t imagine a heaven—a place without evil? Your imagined heaven epitomizes evil?
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by dastardly stem »

JohnW wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 6:18 am
dastardly stem wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:22 pm


I suppose the analogy of throwing out the baby with the bath water works for me. I was an LDS believer for a long time. I decided to embrace rationality and in so doing I lost all room for faith. But, it definitely works better for me, it seems. So I'm happy to have done it, as hard as it was. Worth it, as they say.
No critique from me on this point. I'm sure your decisions weren't made lightly. No one should be criticized for making a decision that improves their happiness and quality of life.
JohnW,I’m impressed with your honest approach here. It’s not often skeptics get validation on troubling issues on religion without tons of defensiveness or squirrely logic. I look forward to more from you. If you do find time this weekend, I’m looking forward to it.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by Physics Guy »

dastardly stem wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 12:27 am
Why would a clone of you after you are gone be you? And how does that amount to an afterlife? ...

For one the proposal of aliens is only a possibility and how would such recreations identify with us? Would such a recreation have your memories? If so how would you know?
The proposal of aliens is only a conceivable possibility meant to illustrate a point. It's kind of a thought experiment. How likely it is to really occur is beside the point, unless you're in a certain kind of UFO cult.

The hypothesis is that the aliens would make much more than a clone of me. A clone merely duplicates DNA. My clone would not even have my fingerprints—identical twins don't have identical fingerprints. Its brain would not be a copy of mine, because brain growth is affected by many epigenetic factors including life experience. My memories consist of certain patterns among my neurons—exactly what kind of patterns, nobody knows today, but this is the plausible and accepted assumption in neuroscience. So a clone with my DNA but with an even slightly different brain from mine would not have my memories, no.

The reconstruction of my brain history by the hypothetical aliens, however, would indeed include all of my memories, both conscious and unconscious, over all of my life. The reconstruction would even include mental experiences that I had early in life and forgot about later—the reconstruction would not when and how I forgot them. Whatever they made, or simulated, it would have all my memories. It would think it was me.

Would it really be me? I'm not actually sure if it would be. I don't see how it would be any less me, though, than the me of this morning is the me of last night. In between I was asleep; time passed but I have no memory of the interval. How do I know that I'm not just a new and different person now, who happens to have the same memories?

Does that question even make sense? Does "being the same person" actually only mean "having the same memories"? I don't think anyone knows at this point. Consciousness is an unsolved scientific problem. We don't know how it works. We don't even know what it is. If you want to write a scientific book about consciousness, Rule #1 is that you do not define consciousness, because if you do, then no matter how you define consciousness people will quickly show that your definition is idiotic in some way. You have to talk around this point. Since it's your subject, this can be kind of tricky. Rule #2 for scientific books about consciousness should probably just be, Don't write one until we learn more.

What I think we really have to abandon, though, is any idea that "being me" means "having my body". Mind is not a substance. It's not any set of atoms. All atoms of the same element are exactly identical, to the point where not even God can tell two of them apart, because they are mathematically identical, the way the two twos in four are identical. So there is nothing which can possibly mark my particular atoms as mine. And mind is not any other kind of substantial thing besides atoms, either. There is no "fine matter" from which our spirits can be composed. Minds can only be software, not hardware.
I’m not seeing how postulating an advanced civilization of aliens who, for some reason, recreates people from earth by disentangling with precise measurements of everything means our information persists after we die.
If you don't see how this can be true, then you may need to ask what "information" means. Have you ever used an encrypted volume on a hard drive? The information is preserved by encryption. The data is just rearranged, according to a definite rule, which allows you to decrypt it again, if you know the rule—and the key.

Conversely, this is what it means to preserve information: that the original form of the data can be recovered from the rearranged form, no matter what the data is. If there is a way to reconstruct the original values then the information has been preserved, by definition.

In the case of the universe, as opposed to a data volume, the present still determines the future, one-to-one. The future is different from the present, but it is only different in a specific, predetermined way. That's what natural law means. Nothing is random; the future only seems unpredictable to us because we don't know enough about the present. The passage of time is a kind of encryption that rearranges the information of the state of the world, while preserving it.

That's not some idiosyncratic view on my part. It's basic physics, though it's not normally taught until maybe junior year undergrad, because it's basic in the sense of being fundamental, but it's harder to get your head around than F = ma. And it's not always emphasised. In classical mechanics, though, time evolution is a continuous family of canonical transformations, acting in the phase space of all positions and momenta; in quantum mechanics, the transformations are instead unitary, acting in the Hilbert space of state vectors. Both unitary and canonical transformations are logically invertible: they preserve information, by definition. In advanced textbooks, these statements are set forth as the first axioms of physics. Continuous transformations are defined by generators; we call the generator of time evolution "energy".
What if fire is only the first of a million such things?
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by dastardly stem »

Physics Guy wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 7:09 am
The proposal of aliens is only a conceivable possibility meant to illustrate a point. It's kind of a thought experiment. How likely it is to really occur is beside the point, unless you're in a certain kind of UFO cult.

The hypothesis is that the aliens would make much more than a clone of me. A clone merely duplicates DNA. My clone would not even have my fingerprints—identical twins don't have identical fingerprints. Its brain would not be a copy of mine, because brain growth is affected by many epigenetic factors including life experience. My memories consist of certain patterns among my neurons—exactly what kind of patterns, nobody knows today, but this is the plausible and accepted assumption in neuroscience. So a clone with my DNA but with an even slightly different brain from mine would not have my memories, no.
yeah and don’t get me wrong it’s an interesting thought experiment. My initial comments wanted to push it a little. I said clone knowing you’re not saying clone I just don’t know what it’d be. I’m not so sure we could say it would really be you.
The reconstruction of my brain history by the hypothetical aliens, however, would indeed include all of my memories, both conscious and unconscious, over all of my life. The reconstruction would even include mental experiences that I had early in life and forgot about later—the reconstruction would not when and how I forgot them. Whatever they made, or simulated, it would have all my memories. It would think it was me.
But that’s what I’d question. How would memories carry over? We have to wonder what information atoms inside a dead inanimate brain carry. When death happens what information dies with them? How would we know aliens running the process and reconstituting the animation would carry with it a reanimating of the one who died? I’m too ignorant to get how this would work. What about a cremated body? Or an exploded one?

A young boy creatively makes a really cool looking robot with his legos. Everyone’s impressed including his parents and friends. He sets it up on his shelf ready for display to anyone he wishes to impress. His sister and he fights over something else. She feels hurt and knows the way to hurt him most would be to destroy the robot. She sneaks it away and takes it apart piece by piece and notes where the pieces go. She puts each piece in a box, which she wraps up as a gift and gives him. “RIP Robot” gets written on the outside and she presents it to the boy.

She hurt him alright. So upset he realizes he couldn’t recreate it exactly the same. He’s devastated by the loss of his robot. The sister feels ashamed after seeing his pain and having taken apart she decides to take the same pieces and reconstruct it for him without anyone knowing.

Is it the same robot? Does the boy feel as close to it as the initial one he created? I don’t know.
Would it really be me? I'm not actually sure if it would be. I don't see how it would be any less me, though, than the me of this morning is the me of last night. In between I was asleep; time passed but I have no memory of the interval. How do I know that I'm not just a new and different person now, who happens to have the same memories?
And that’s a fair point. We don’t really know, know. So I see it’s all possible.

Does that question even make sense? Does "being the same person" actually only mean "having the same memories"? I don't think anyone knows at this point. Consciousness is an unsolved scientific problem. We don't know how it works. We don't even know what it is. If you want to write a scientific book about consciousness, Rule #1 is that you do not define consciousness, because if you do, then no matter how you define consciousness people will quickly show that your definition is idiotic in some way. You have to talk around this point. Since it's your subject, this can be kind of tricky. Rule #2 for scientific books about consciousness should probably just be, Don't write one until we learn more.

What I think we really have to abandon, though, is any idea that "being me" means "having my body". Mind is not a substance. It's not any set of atoms. All atoms of the same element are exactly identical, to the point where not even God can tell two of them apart, because they are mathematically identical, the way the two twos in four are identical. So there is nothing which can possibly mark my particular atoms as mine. And mind is not any other kind of substantial thing besides atoms, either. There is no "fine matter" from which our spirits can be composed. Minds can only be software, not hardware.
If minds are nothing more than a particular arrangement of atoms charged such that they interact and cause exceedingly complex activity between neurons why is that activity software instead of hardware? Is the secret the substance, it’s arrangement and activity or is it something underwritten causing the activity which fires up the mind? I really don’t know and thus don’t know if it’s hardware or software.
I’m not seeing how postulating an advanced civilization of aliens who, for some reason, recreates people from earth by disentangling with precise measurements of everything means our information persists after we die.
If you don't see how this can be true, then you may need to ask what "information" means. Have you ever used an encrypted volume on a hard drive? The information is preserved by encryption. The data is just rearranged, according to a definite rule, which allows you to decrypt it again, if you know the rule—and the key.

Conversely, this is what it means to preserve information: that the original form of the data can be recovered from the rearranged form, no matter what the data is. If there is a way to reconstruct the original values then the information has been preserved, by definition.

In the case of the universe, as opposed to a data volume, the present still determines the future, one-to-one. The future is different from the present, but it is only different in a specific, predetermined way. That's what natural law means. Nothing is random; the future only seems unpredictable to us because we don't know enough about the present. The passage of time is a kind of encryption that rearranges the information of the state of the world, while preserving it.

That's not some idiosyncratic view on my part. It's basic physics, though it's not normally taught until maybe junior year undergrad, because it's basic in the sense of being fundamental, but it's harder to get your head around than F = ma. And it's not always emphasised. In classical mechanics, though, time evolution is a continuous family of canonical transformations, acting in the phase space of all positions and momenta; in quantum mechanics, the transformations are instead unitary, acting in the Hilbert space of state vectors. Both unitary and canonical transformations are logically invertible: they preserve information, by definition. In advanced textbooks, these statements are set forth as the first axioms of physics. Continuous transformations are defined by generators; we call the generator of time evolution "energy".
this remains quite interesting as a thought experiment. As I said don’t take my nay saying as disrespecting that. I’m taking it as a great challenge and will contemplate it more. I don’t know how time factors here. If in time aliens recreate someone, everything in the universe changes…nothings the same. Reanimated assembly of your parts doesn’t seem to be you. Your interests go from physics to being a chef (not that you can’t be both), depending on environment. While I also get this experiment is a challenge to does information end with death, I’m also wanting to point out that this confuses Carroll’s point a bit. His comments about life doesn’t continue after death isn’t challenging whether an individual can be reanimated physically cut is a challenge to a “living” spirit inside us that continues after our physical bodies die. He’s saying, no all of our physical parts remain where they always were, and we have nothing more to us. The info that is us found in us stays with our decomposing bodies.

Ah well, obviously I’m talking way over my head here, but interesting and that makes your contribution here all the more valuable. Thanks.
“Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.”
― Carl Sagan, Cosmos
malkie
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by malkie »

JohnW wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 6:03 am
malkie wrote:
Thu Sep 22, 2022 3:20 am
I would say that we have absolutely no reason to assume or expect that any god or god-like personage belonging to any religion, LDS included, is benevolent towards us humans.
I don't think we can say that. I thought that was the three-pronged argument. We can certainly have a god who is benevolent or a race of alien overlords which is benevolent as long as they are relatively powerless to stop evil. The existence of evil doesn't preclude benevolence, just benevolence while at the same time having the capacity to stop evil. Of course, most people will say God, by definition, must have the power to stop evil in the world, but the God of Lds theology may not have that power, depending on how you define it. It isn't as simple as that, but I'll have to start another thread sometime on this topic, if people aren't already bored of the problem of evil here. It seems like it has come up quite a few times.
John, I wasn't thinking of that trichotomy at all.

It was simply an observation that, for all we know, even the Mormon god, if he exists, is not necessarily a good person(age). I can easily imagine circumstances under which that god is actually not doing what is best for us, his children, although he has fooled us into thinking that he is.
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Re: Following the Sprit and Echolocation

Post by MG 2.0 »

dastardly stem wrote:
Fri Sep 23, 2022 6:24 am
I figured imaging a blissful world of no evil was what heaven was imagined to be.
But it doesn’t just happen. Heaven IS what you MAKE it.

And that (heaven) is not life as we know it on this planet.

Overcoming evil and opposition through conscious choices and agency brings humanity closer to that heaven.

It seems as though we are angels in the rough. 🙂

Regards,
MG
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