Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Blog #70 - Scale of Doubt



O.k., so we talked about how philosopher Rene Descartes had some serious doubts about the world around him.  He had discovered that some of his tried and true scientific wisdom about the solar system just weren't accurate anymore, because of the invention of better telescopes and compiled scientific evidence that didn't back up a geocentric world.  These new discoveries forced Descartes to really re-examine his entire life, all of the things that he took for granted.

He doubted his senses.  He doubted whether or not we could tell the difference between the waking world and the dream world.  He even wondered / worried that an Evil Genius might spent all of its time manipulating Descartes' world so that even MATH is incorrect.  But this is where he eventually pared it all down to his thinking process - someone, namely me, is doubting all this stuff.  That someone must be thinking.  Therefore, if I am thinking, I must exist.  That axiom, I cannot doubt.
Image result for rene descartes

So we get to the root of epistomology - how do we know what we know?  Descartes tackled this through reason.  Locke, Hume, and Berkeley tackle this question through our experiences and senses.  For this blog, you can use either reason or senses or both to answer the question.

A few days ago, we took the Scale of Doubt quiz, and you were asked to say yes, no, or maybe to the 13 following questions:

1. Do you believe that a particular religious tradition holds accurate knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality and the purpose of human life?

Image result for higher power2. Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

3. Is there an identifiable force coursing through the universe, holding it together, or uniting all life-forms?

4. Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words?

5. Do you believe this being or force can think or speak?

6. Do you believe this being has a memory or can make plans?

7. Does this force sometimes take a human form?

8. Do you believe that the thinking part or animating force of human being continues to exist after the body has died?

9. Do you believe that any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here on earth?

10. Do you believe that feelings about things should be admitted as evidence in establishing reality?

11. Do you believe that love and inner feelings of morality suggest that there is a world beyond biology, social patterns, and accidents --- i.e., a realm of higher meaning (metaphysical world)?

12. Do you believe that the world is not completely knowable by science?

13. If someone were to say, "The universe is nothing but an accidental pile of stuff, jostling around with no rhyme or reason, and life on earth is but a tiny, utterly inconsequential speck of nothing, in a corner of space, existing in the blink of an eye never to be judged, noticed, or remembered", would you say, "Now that's going a bit too far, that's a bit wrongheaded"?

Image result for nihilism

So, what I would like you to do are two things: 
1. Pick one of the questions above and explain why you answered yes, no, or maybe.  Provide specific details and reasoning.
2. Then, take the same question and argue the OPPOSITE of what you just answered for part 1.  If you answered maybe, then pick a side (yes or no) and go with that.  You don't have to necessarily believe in what you're arguing, just try to do it persuasively.  Also use specific examples / details and reasoning.

Due Friday April 28 by the beginning of class.  
300 words minimum total. 




22 comments:

  1. Francesca ButtazzoniApril 26, 2017 at 2:05 PM


    Do you believe that any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here on earth?
    Yes, I believe in life after death. My religion, christianity, and my faith in it, allow me to hope and anticipate for my rebirth. Jesus told us there is salvation, and it is for that exact reason he died for us. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be let into the kingdom of God. I think that even if I didn't have my religion to explain life after death, I would still believe in that. What is the point of life? Why do we continue living when there is nothing after we are gone. I need to have hope that our short mortal lives have meaning and that there is more. I need to know that this isn't all we get, without that hope I feel there is no point in continuing to live, continuing on isn't living if there is nothing to look forward to.
    There is nothing after death. Science shows us that once we die, our hearts stop beating. then our organs shut dow and there isn't anything left. Science has helped us find ways to save people, and defy the natural parts of our body, we can stop a heart and start it up again with hours in-between. But science has yet to prove we have a soul. How can we believe in an after life when all we definitively know is that death is irreversible. Science has given us so much. We trust in it, its accuracy and consistence never fails us. Without the acknowledgement of scientific proof, I cant believe in life after death, a concept that requires unwavering faith in a concept I cant see or prove.

    -Francesca B

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  2. 7. The 7th question asks "Does this force sometimes take a human form?" to which I had a conflicting thought process to answer. I ultimately decided to answer no to this question due to prior beliefs. I believe that if God is a being of such high power and matters, why would God care to take human form and mettle in human affairs? Also, if God is to come down to earth in human form it in a way contradicts our free will. By an educated assumption God would only take a human form for an important matter to ensure that some sort of thing happens. In this thought process, we are given the illusion of free will and God would then decide an outcome for us. Likewise, human beings are just a small part of the universe and specks on earth in total. Why would the almighty creator care to be involved with us?Yet, I can also understand why some people would answer yes to this question. A popular piece of evidence to back this up would be stories from the September 11th Terrorist Attacks. One popular story that resonates with me is the story of Welles Crowther, or his nickname "The Man in the Red Bandanna". Welles had multiple opportunities to escape the blaze cause by the attack on the towers yet he went back up multiple times to rescue other people. How could someone give their life in such a way that they had the chance to live? Some say it was God who made Welles do what he did. God being the source of all righteousness made Welles do what was right, giving his life up in the process. Also, it could be argued God would take human form to help us because we are his creations and he cares that we reach our highest level of success. However, I still find it hard to agree with that thought process and have to stick to my roots.

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  3. 2. Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

    No, I wouldn't say that a consciously thinking being created the universe with the sort of mind that we possess. I also don’t think a God of any kind was responsible, given that there is no rational evidence to suggest that figure existed before the universe (or at all, really) in order to accomplish that task. We have limited evidence of what existed before the start of the universe, but science backs the idea of a Big Bang, which launched the existence of the planets and their movements and interactions. In addition, the discovery of the God particle, or a base universal particle further disputes the creation of the universe being anything but scientifically orchestrated. I simply cannot fathom a being in the sky creating the deeply chemically and biologically motivated interactions that brought about the universe, and I’m also able to find no explanation for why that being managed to exist before existence.

    On the other hand, there are too many things in this universe that are so perfectly oriented and placed that it seems impossible that there was not some higher plan in place. Take the moon for example. The Earth’s moon is perfectly placed so that it controls the tides. Any further away and it would never hold the tides captive. Any closer, it would imbalance the force of gravity of the two planets. Instead, it is absolutely and perfectly oriented. This type of natural perfection could easily be the work of a higher being. The science of the God particle doesn’t actually explain how the particle came to be; it merely explains what it did once it was in existence. It could be conceivable that a higher being that existed far prior and of its own accord is responsible for what came before, during, and after the universe’s creation, instead of just science explaining post-creation things.

    -Olivia Reeves

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  4. 2. Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

    My first answer to this question is no. I don’t feel that there is any way some being could’ve created our entire world out of nothing. There no scientific proof of a being (God or otherwise) purposely creating the universe. Since I have a hard time deciding if I believe in a god at all, this makes it hard to be open to the idea that some being decided to create the universe on purpose. Science backs up the Big Bang, one that seems much more reasonable to me than a random, all powerful being deciding out of nowhere that they want to create a universe that they may or may not have entire control over. Even if a being beyond our knowledge did make a conscious choice to make the universe, I would have a hard time believing it without any scientific or physical evidence to see for myself.

    On the other hand, I can see why people would believe that someone consciously made the universe with specific intentions. There are so many parts of life that happen too perfectly to be mere coincidences. They could be explained by science, but it is just as valid to suggest that some force beyond our comprehension set things up in the universe as they are. There are things that seem too complex to have just happened by mistake, places like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, they all seem too perfect and intricate to be coincidence. It would be one thing if there was only one of these types of coincidences, but with the frequency of these occurrences, it seems impossible that it’s just chance. Though there might be other explanations than a God of some sort creating the universe, for this side of the argument’s sake, it could be on explanation that an all-powerful being purposely created the universe.

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  5. 12. Do you believe that the world is not completely knowable by science?
    To this question this I answered "Yes". Although science has improved tremendously through the years and we have made countless discoveries about our world, our world is way to vast for science to cover each and every bit of it. For example, we have hardly explored a percentage of the depths of our world's oceans, and that is with modern technology! Also, we have no evidence to prove or disprove any form of a metaphysical world connected to our world, we do not not understand some parts of ourselves (mind, parts of sleep, the appendix, etc.), and we have not been able to explore the mass majority of Earth's core. This is just off the top of my head and this is stuff we know we need to learn more about, there is most likely stuff out there that we are completely clueless even exists! All of this being said, there is no possible way that our world is currently completley known by science and it is most likely that it isn't possible for our world to ever be completely knowable by science.

    If I were to argue for the opposite side, I would make sure to pose a few ideas. One being, science has advanced so much throughout the years, what's to say it won't advance to the level of "all knowing". One hundred years ago, practically nobody thought we would ever set foot on the moon, and look where we are now! Also, the world is not as big as it seems. If technology continues to improve, someday we may be able to explore the deepest depths and most mysterious corners of Earth. It is impossible to say that the world is not completely knowable by science, because we don't know the limits of science and technology itself.
    Honestly, I'd say both the arguments are very reasonable and it is fairly hard for me to choose a side! However, I still would lean towards my original argument, despite the reasoning of both, because I believe it is more likely and compelling.
    -Hank Peters-Wood

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  6. Question 3 stood out to me. I said no to literally all of these except question 11. This is a really difficult topic but I absolutely don't think anything is holding our universe together. I am a hard advocate for science and empirical reasoning. I think that we have proven this with science. We have things like the Big Bang theory (I don't entirely believe it but it's a start) , gravity and even the law of inertia. I think science is key in terms of everything. I think we should be more dependent on science than reason always. Today we are taught to do CER with basically anything we write about. Humans like evidence and proof. Question 12 which stated, “can everything be knowable by science" and this was the question I had trouble answering. I don't want to say that absolutely everything is knowable because I'm pretty skeptical and pessimistic and this is one of the topics that could not be proven by science. I don't think you could ever truly figure out how to see if there is a "being" that holds the universe together.

    Now to argue the opposite side (I am literally cringing as I write this, let's imagine there are quotes around this whole paragraph so it seems like it isn't me talking). I think that in terms of their being a "being" holding the universe could be possible. I am a believer in ghost (not saying god or whoever is a ghost) but I think me believing in ghost does put me on the spectrum of believing in the "metaphysical" world. I think there’s a possibility for everything to be true. If we were able to figure out that gravity is what holds things down then why can't we experiment to see if there is another being connecting everything in our universe. All of the planets aligning can't be all that coincidental. Even Ruby said in astronomy when they were learning about the solar eclipse, it can't be a coincidence.

    I feel like I just debated myself and I don't think I like it. I feel like I have a more well-rounded view of the situation and possibilities of the question.

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  7. Question 12:
    This is the only question that I responded yes to but not because of the existence (or lack thereof) of a God. I think that whether or not God exists, the world will never be knowable by science. This is the case both because of how vast the world is, but also how dynamic it is. We have explored less than five percent of the world’s oceans according to NOAA (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/exploration.html), and the exploration of the other 95% would take years, if we can even develop the technology that allows humans to explore and survive depths of up to 36,000 feet, and that is just in order to get a look at that part of the ocean, let alone the rest of the world. In my opinion, with the way things are going with climate change and nuclear weapons that we don’t have enough time to learn everything there is to know about the planet. I also think that we can never know the world because the planet itself is always changing. This change can occur either so quickly that we don’t understand (for example tusk-less elephants in Africa are becoming more and more common potentially due to poaching) what to do or so slowly that to the average observer, nothing is changing. Then of course there is the vastness of the change in nature. Not to mention climate change which is making a more noticeable change at a faster rate. Every second of every day, everything is changing. Our cells are dividing, natural selection is constantly working, and matter itself is rearranged. Nothing in nature remains unchanged for long. There is simply not enough man power on earth to assign to study each individual atom (or even any object) and watch for change. Even if we can predict what sort of change will occur, my interpretation of the prompt is what science can know (as in has quantifiable proof for) so observations and generalizations don’t meet the standard of “knowing”.

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  8. Does Prayer effectively solve our problems? Is there a force that responds to our thoughts and prayers?
    My answer: No. I argue from experience that praying doesn’t solve anything. As I said in one of the previous blog posts, I actually used to identity as Christian; not the kind to go to church or lead the family in saying grace, but I did believe that there was something greater than me that was watching over me. When I reached the age of twelve, however, that all started to change. I was unsatisfied with my body, practically had no friends and felt alone, was usually the target of intense bullying and harassment, and had nothing to hang my hat on. At that point in time I fell into a deep depression and was pseudo-suicidal. During those times I remained faithful, hoping for a change, but nothing ever did. I prayed and looked towards God- or anything for that matter- for help, but He did not answer. I eventually did receive help, but it wasn’t through some miracle. It was through the power of mankind. I had an intervention and removed a childish film from my eyes. I was now an agnostic and began to rebuild a new life for myself going into 8th grade. Through football I pulled my life from the gutter and found a brand-new world for myself. When I got to high school, I was able to thrive in the classroom because I could finally find a more suitable learning environment in Honors and AP classes. In hindsight, I realized that all of those accomplishments I’d made- joining the football team (something I never thought I’d ever do), being an honors student, finding a decent group of friends, being active in my community- those were all things that I did. I initiated those changes in my life. It was all because of my intervention from “angels” on earth, not some divine force from above.
    Opposite view: My mother has the antithetical view of mine. She does believe that prayer makes a difference or that there is a greater force watching over us. When my middle sister was born, she was very sick. I forget what the technical term is called, but she didn’t rotate as she was exiting the womb and thus her head was stuck in the womb as she was being delivered. She had a lack of oxygen and a blood disease. We were living in Massachusetts at the time, so when she was born in the hospital, she immediately had to be airlifted to Boston Children’s Hospital. She was put in intensive care, her condition was unstable, and there wasn’t a good chance that she was going to survive. If she did, she’d likely have lasting impacts like brain damage from the oxygen deprivation or other developmental deformities. My mother was losing her mind between being doped up on hormones and worrying about losing her child. Being a woman of faith, she called in a priest for an emergency baptism. My sister was soon baptized by the priest of the local parish. Amazingly enough, about half an hour afterwards, she started to stabilize. Her lungs were cleared of amniotic fluid and was soon able to breathe on her own without the aid of a machine or tubing. The doctors declared it to be a miracle, and my mother was convinced that it was the loving grace of some higher force- whether that be a god or some other entity- that saved her child that day; she has been grateful ever since.

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  9. In response to question 13:

    Part 1. On the scale of doubt quiz, I answered no, that it wasn’t going to far to say that “the universe is nothing but an accidental pile of stuff, jostling around with no rhyme or reason, and life on earth is but a tiny, utterly inconsequential speck of nothing, in a corner of space, existing in the blink of an eye never to be judged, noticed, or remembered.” While I am unspeakably glad that the world is as it is, because if it’s existence changed I wouldn’t be alive or writing this blog, I believe that a series of random events caused the world to exist the way it does today. In the grand scheme of things, we are tiny self-aware creatures on a watery rock floating in the perpetuity that is space. Because the universe is expanding and eventually the earth won’t be habitable anymore, eventually there probably won’t be anything left of any of us- or anyone/thing to appreciate anything that is left of us. Therefore, anything we do will eventually become irrelevant because there won’t be anyone to judge, notice, or remember us.

    Part 2. I would say, in response to question 13, "Now that's going a bit too far, that's a bit wrongheaded." Regardless of how the universe came about, be it by some higher power’s design or a string of haphazard events, it is going too far to say that life on earth is “never to be judged, noticed, or remembered” because it is being judged constantly. People on earth are aware of the consequences of their actions, and the actions of others, both in the present and the past. Around the world we have developed systems of law to judge the morality of people’s actions and administer subsequent punishment. We also remember history, people’s past actions, and see how it clearly affects our lives today. At the very least, life on earth is important to those who come after us, those who are sure to remember and judge our lives, who will make our short lives have meaning after we are gone.

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  10. For question number 13, I said yes to someone saying that our world is just a random occurrence in time is a bit too far. In my opinion, the Earth is too much in this goldilocks state to be a random occurrence. If the Earth was positioned slightly closer to the sun all of our water would evaporate and we would die. If we were a little farther there would not be enough sunlight to allow for photosynthesis on Earth and we would die as well. If our atmosphere was not made the way it is now, then too much UV rays would come through and kill us. There are just so many factors that are absolutely perfect for life on Earth for it to all be at random. I think the only way possible for this to all work perfectly in unison is if there was a higher power that created this world and the universe. I think it was that power that also allowed for the creation of a moon that is close enough to give a little light during the night time and to have a gravitational pull on the oceans to give the Earth its tides. Others would disagree with me and say that either God (or some sort of higher power) doesn’t exist and that mean there’s no one to make all of this happen that it is all random. Or they would say that there is a small chance that this perfect world could have been created seeing as we are only a tiny percentage of the universe. I agree with the statistical argument and that there could possibly be another planet just as perfect as Earth out there somewhere, but that does not mean that God was the creator as well. I think the basis for this argument circles around the question what created the Earth and the universe? I think the answer to that question is God, but others may say it is all random through the laws of science. Either way both side has their own points and will believe that their opinion is the right one.

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  11. #2: Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

    I do believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe. As a Christian I believe God created the universe and I will continue to stand by that belief. He took His time to create space, the Milky Way, the universe, and the people in it. He consciously changes it day to day to create the world He wants to see. There's no way everything has been put together with such knit-picky grace and precision that some higher being (God) could NOT have been at the root of it all. We talked about the placement of Earth from the Sun; if it was little bit closer or farther from the Sun--we wouldn't exist. That's not a “coincidence” or something that just came to be and we simply got lucky, that doesn't even make sense. Someone had to have taken the time to think things out precisely and strategically: God.


    On the flip side: Some may argue that there is no higher being that exists therefore it couldn't have “consciously made the universe”. They argue that they either don't believe in God or a god, also known as an atheist. Since these atheists have no belief in God, they find some other way to justify their reasoning. One way is by using science of course. The scientists argue that the Big Bang was the start or creation of the world, not some higher being. We all know the story of all the rubble in space coming together and strategically aligning themselves s through space. Then, on the topic of space, they say we aren't the only galaxy in all of space (something I actually do believe to be true). Therefore, there's most likely other “Earths” out there with people in their own separate civilization. We aren't the only ones, and this must mean that this world came to be by happenstance.

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  12. 2. Do you believe that some thinking being consciously made the universe?

    My first answer is no. I do not believe there is a supreme thinking being that made the universe, nor that the universe started for a specific metaphysical reason. I believe this primarily because the extremely complicated composition of the universe and of nature seem too great to be created by someone or something alone, and if that someone or something actually had the intelligence to think and create such thing, it is still not clear from where it comes from. By “it” I mean both the greater thinking being and the Universe. I am reluctant to accept that something greater than the whole universe decided to create it and watch it from outside. Furthermore, I am reluctant to accept that the universe was created especially for us, insignificant and pretty much self-destroying little beings in an extremely small speck of the universe, like many seem to preach.

    The arguments for the opposite answer to the questions would probably include the way the Earth is perfectly placed and paced and made to support life (I don’t dare saying “human life”). We know that if the Sun was bigger or smaller, if the Earth was farther away from it or closer to it, if our magnetic field was a little bit fainter, if our atmosphere was thinner, we would not be here to study all of this. This inevitably leads us to think of a supreme being architecting all of this. Also, an omnipotent god such as the one preached by Christians would certainly be able to design such complexity in the universe and make it so vast that we cannot escape until the day of the judgment comes. This theory makes sense, since we have been punished for the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, and we now wait for salvation in a world filled with evil.

    Freddy

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  13. wallie (late)

    I am going to answer question four, “Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words?” My personal believe is an atheist one, in which there is no overarching “god” that created the universe/is holding the universe together. I know this is a perfect answer for number two, but I really wanted to talk about prayer. When I was younger I used to believe in a god (following the jewish religion). As I got older, particularly eighth grade, I would pray every night for all of the bad things in my life to stop and to disappear. I never got any answer or sign or hint or action that showed me god was answering my prayers. So, with all of the heartbreak and unfair suffering and misery and just plain old unwelcomed, unneeded, completely intolerable pain, a switch turned on inside of me telling me that there could be no god. If there were so many horrible things happening and all of the horrible things that have happened in the past, how could a god just sit and watch everything happen and not respond to a person in their need of help. I know it’s kind of selfish, actually very selfish, that I stopped believing in god because none of my prayers were being answer and my life didn’t get any better, but the more I think about it the more it makes sense to me. We are all a bit selfish. Moving onto the counter argument, I have a very close friend who is extremely religious. She prays every night, goes the church for the WHOLE day every Sunday, and is taking a gap year to go on a five month christian mission trip. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and I completely support her and her religious beliefs, but I’m using this as an example for supporting prayer. My friend, as I said, prays every night. When I ask her why she looked into my eyes and said, “I want god to know that I am here, waiting for him to answer my prayers no matter how long it takes, because I know that god loves me but I am not the only person in the world who needs saving,” I was definitely taken aback, I mean here I was being selfish that god didn’t answer my prayers right away and here my friend is praying to god knowing that her prayers will be answered in time. I never really thought about praying that way, in the sense where prayers aren’t going to be answered right away because you’re not the only one praying for help, there are millions of other people in your same position.

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  14. I believe that an individual human being survives because of the impression that they leave. Each individual on the Earth will at some point make an impression on another human being, animal, etc; people are not without impact on those around them. A common consolation to those who have recently “lost” someone is that the person isn’t gone, that they will live on in the memories of those who knew them. Even the euphemism “lost” itself supports the concept of human preservation of those who are dead—humans convince themselves that whatever they “lost” isn’t gone and will never properly be gone. Through nostalgia and through memory, a personality can be preserved. One may argue that memory isn’t true survival; however, don’t we have imaginary interactions with those who are gone? How does one know that they aren’t real? Descartes argued that all we can be sure of is that we are thinking beings, so how can we be sure that we are even capable of creating the individual characteristics of other beings? How are we sure that simulated conversations aren’t real interactions? In the impression that humans make on the world, they survive death. Even those who have no friends or family influenced some stranger who maintained an impression of them.

    One might argue that humans do not survive because the impression someone maintains of them are not who they truly are. Every person is intricate and has qualities that are hidden from others; judging someone’s personality based on experiences with them will never be accurate. The “survival” of an impression that one got of a person isn’t truly a survival of that person, because the impression won’t encompass their personality. The perception someone gets of a person that they maintain in their mind creates a completely new individual and does not restore those that were lost.

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  15. In question 3, “Is there an identifiable force coursing through the universe, holding it together, or uniting all life-forms?, I have come to the conclusion from growing up baptist Christian that there is a God, an identifiable force, that holds the universe together and that started everything that has happened so far and that will happen in the future. I believe that God is in control of everything that happens and that everything happens for a reason. There was a song I used to sing in preschool and it went like “He’s got the whole world in his hands”. The idea that there is a God has been placed in my brain from a very young age.I feel as though the world is too complex for it to have happened and be happening without someone. The whole idea of perfect design really makes me apprehensive to think otherwise that all the world and the whole universe that we don't even know of yet is just there by itself because of some accident, like how could the earth just be a few inches away from being burned up without someone doing it on purpose. On the other hand maybe it was just an accident and we are all here by mistake and evolution and People came from monkeys. If people came from monkeys why do we still have monkeys? If there was actually some force that was holding the whole world together why wouldn't he/she/they want to take credit for it? There is science saying gravity and forces are what's holding the universe together so why can't people just accept it. Science is there for a reason. Honestly how can someone even try to disprove something that has been proven by actual test and has numbers to back it and try to say that something or someone they can't see is doing all the work.

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  16. Do you believe that any part of a human being survives death, elsewhere or here on earth?
    I believe that death is an illusion, and that it is only a permanent and real thing if we allow it to be. Death is just a concept based upon the accumulated human understanding of life. In many cultures and religions, people see death as just a transition to another world. Whether it is heaven, hell, or some other alternate universe, many people are convinced that our consciousness survives the bounds of our physical being. Ramakrishna created the idea of a limitless expanse of water. Above, below, right and left, there is water. In that water is placed a jar full of more water. There is water inside and outside the jar, and the “I” is the jar. But I, am dead already. When I think of who I am, I am thinking of my past self, my memories, and times that time have passed by. We are raised to believe that we are humans living in the universe, rather than the universe being manifested in human form, and returning to the universe. This cycle is what we call life, and the separate entity that we think we are is just our ego. In comparison to the universe, we as individuals are insignificant, but we are all still part of the greater whole. Since we view the body as life, we view life as temporary, when in reality; energy never dies, but continues in whatever form we take on. When a loved one dies, they live on in our hearts, memories, and our own DNA.
    Death is the final stage of life, and the final destination everybody will go. Our lives are full of opposites; good and bad, happy and sad, and life and death. Without the opposite of what we want to be, there would be nothing to remind us of why we want to get there. Every goal we have is motivated by the opposite, and if we are stuck in one place we will look to it to make it a goal to get there. No one wants to die, but if we never had death, nothing would make life worth living. We wouldn’t have a reason to “seize the day.” The body theory presents that personal identity persists over time because you remain in the same body from birth to death. Therefore, once you die, your persona; identity dies with you. Death is simply the moment when your atoms cease to hold together. After that, you are no more.

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  17. I am going to answer and argue against my answer for question number eight, which regards whether our soul or the part of us that thinks exists in one way or another after death. My answer for this is that the human thinking or animating force does not live after death. I can use my senses to support my answer for this, along with some other concepts we have talked about so far in this class. My answer is that the human soul or thinking part does not live after death since no one has ever lived to say that there is a form of life after death. If no one has ever lived to say it, and I have not yet seen for myself a soul thriving after the death of an individual, then I can say life after death does not exist since I have not yet seen anything regarding this occur for myself. Even though other people believe in this concept, I will use my senses and disagree with what other people are saying and argue that I don’t believe in life after death since I have not seen it for myself. This matches Locke’s version of empiricism, and on how humans are empty slates until we experience things in life for ourselves, resulting in us forming our own beliefs and ideas rather than someone else’s.

    If I were to argue against my answer, I would use Descartes rationalistic view, along with Aquinas’s Ontological Argument. The ontological argument that proves god’s existence states that if one can imagine god, then god has to exist. This can be paralleled to the fact that people would have not thought of the idea of an afterlife or a soul that lives after death in the first place, if it did not already exist. At this point, using reason an individual could see that proving the existence of god and the existence of living after death are tied together, as Descartes would see everything being tied together in the grand scheme of things.

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  18. In response to Number 4: Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words?

    I do not believe that prayer can be effective. I am a hard determinist, so everything is set in stone already, and no amount of prayer can change one’s fate. I also do not believe in a deity, or at least not one that listens to and grants prayers. One example would be standardized testing. Many students stress over this, all of whom have their own methods. Praying the night before a test literally could not help. The test booklets are already printed, so a divine intervention could not change the minds of the creators of the tests, as the answers are already set in stone. Praying to somehow learn more information seems absurd, as you are utilizing the time that you could be studying for the test, and you are instead praying. If you wanted information, you could review notes on factoring and rhetorical strategies. I also know people who pray the day before the test scores are released, which once again seems fruitless. The test has already been scored, there is no way that your answers could change. The score that you will get will be the answers that you filled in. Praying for a better score will not change that. However, prayer seems to be most utilized in more subjective crises, like failing health. Many people turn to prayer when diagnosed with diseases or have had their health fail drastically. When my Grandfather’s health took a significant turn for the worst, my family members prayed for his survival, yet I noticed some glaring inconsistencies. If God has the ability to cure the cancer or disease, then that means He also had the ability to cause these health problems. And if God is responsible for everything in the world, does that mean that he caused these health failures? The problem of evil circles back. The clearest counterargument to prayer is that, if it worked, why is there still evil in the world? If there are people who pray every day to end world hunger or to find a cure for cancer, why are there still hungry people? Logistically, there are seven billion people on earth. Assuming that, at least 60% of the population prays on occasion, this means that God would be overwhelmed with prayers. It seems unreasonable that God would be able to acknowledge every single prayer and respond to all of them.

    Prayer can still be effective, even if there are no tangible results. Prayer can cause ease of mind, and lower stress. The night before a test, a student might pray, to remind himself that he can make it through the test. In a time of crisis, a person might pray, just to know that their God is by their side the entire time. Prayer can also be used to justify an external locus of control. Some people do not feel that they have control over their life, and praying can assuage those fears. If you know that God is watching over you and helping you through your day-to-day life, then you can live your life with confidence and ease. Finally, God is omnipotent, so He could acknowledge and act upon all prayers all at the same time. His knowledge is so vast, it would be like walking and chewing gum to us, as His capabilities are extremely superior.
    Chance Stephenson

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  19. Kyle Beauregard

    1. Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words? My answer is yes, absolutely. For starters, it doesn’t really cost anything. Unless you pray to a god through ritual sacrifice, there’s absolutely no harm in a prayer. Whether it’s a quick plea to the universe before taking a test, or stopping by the Church after work on Tuesday, praying is simply a conversation from the mind and heart, offered free of charge. If it doesn’t work, no harm, no foul. And if it does, then we can take two routes. Firstly, the route in which God or some higher being exists. Maybe there is someone or something out there listening, wanting to help you. In that case, the situation speaks for itself; it works, and is therefore effective. Duh. The second path’s effectiveness comes from the psychological side of things, rather than the actual physical effects. Even if there is no God, the idea that someone might be out there, in your corner, can do loads for a person’s stress. Regardless of God’s existence, the belief in him might keep someone going, and that sounds plenty effective to me.

    2. No, prayer is totally ineffective. The idea of prayer comes from the belief in a God, and that loans itself to lack of responsibility and effort. Laziness, for lack of a gentler way to put it. Praying to God is like constantly asking for favors, expecting this higher being to take care of our problems for us. Then, it doesn’t even matter if he exists or not; those who pray will still be asking God to do them a solid, if they believe enough. And speaking of believing, that can be another issue. The importance of prayer can become so ingrained in a person or group of people that they’re willing to harm others for not following their view. Even if a Muslim in only doing their own variation of praying, they could be discriminated against by a Christian, simply because it isn’t the ‘right way’. In this, praying is more harmful than it seems.

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  20. Prayers can be effective and the source of that prayer would be God. I'm Genesis God's creation was made and then in Romans the Bible speaks of predestination. These scriptures go hand in hand with each other if why God is responsive of all our thoughts and words. He has to simply hold all power. I'm Christian and the story of Christianity says God predestined Mary to have Jesus so that he can die for our sins and be one of many man who would conform to the image of God's son (Jesus). First, if God predestined is why wouldn't he be responsive to put thoughts and words - seeming he knew the would be before they were. We also have testimonies and miracles that let us know that the prayers we've prayed to this someone are being answered. Many things happen in the midst of prayer including: healing of the blind, growing out of limbs, and restoration of body parts etc. Even as Jesus was on the cross he spoke with Jesus before he dies and soon after he did so he was being resurrected.

    Opposite side: A force can only be as big as the mind makes it. With this being said belief in such a being or force powers self which can cause the many testimonies and miracles we witness in churches (acting as a placebo in a way). Like in the movie Lucy she was able to open up more than 50% of her brain power and at that point she was able to change and alter not only herself but also things around her. The is stronger than we think and maybe, just maybe it's strong enough to put prayers, effective beings, and forces to rest allowing our brain to work at a higher capacity and be responsive to our own thoughts and words.

    Makaiya

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  21. In response to Number 4: Could prayer be in any way effective, that is, do you believe that such a being or force (as posited above in question 3) could ever be responsive to your thoughts and words?

    I do not believe that prayer can be effective. I am a hard determinist, so everything is set in stone already, and no amount of prayer can change one’s fate. I also do not believe in a deity, or at least not one that listens to and grants prayers. One example would be standardized testing. Many students stress over this, all of whom have their own methods. Praying the night before a test literally could not help. The test booklets are already printed, so a divine intervention could not change the minds of the creators of the tests, as the answers are already set in stone. Praying to somehow learn more information seems absurd, as you are utilizing the time that you could be studying for the test, and you are instead praying. If you wanted information, you could review notes on factoring and rhetorical strategies. I also know people who pray the day before the test scores are released, which once again seems fruitless. The test has already been scored, there is no way that your answers could change. The score that you will get will be the answers that you filled in. Praying for a better score will not change that. However, prayer seems to be most utilized in more subjective crises, like failing health. Many people turn to prayer when diagnosed with diseases or have had their health fail drastically. When my Grandfather’s health took a significant turn for the worst, my family members prayed for his survival, yet I noticed some glaring inconsistencies. If God has the ability to cure the cancer or disease, then that means He also had the ability to cause these health problems. And if God is responsible for everything in the world, does that mean that he caused these health failures? The problem of evil circles back. The clearest counterargument to prayer is that, if it worked, why is there still evil in the world? If there are people who pray every day to end world hunger or to find a cure for cancer, why are there still hungry people? Logistically, there are seven billion people on earth. Assuming that, at least 60% of the population prays on occasion, this means that God would be overwhelmed with prayers. It seems unreasonable that God would be able to acknowledge every single prayer and respond to all of them.

    Prayer can still be effective, even if there are no tangible results. Prayer can cause ease of mind, and lower stress. The night before a test, a student might pray, to remind himself that he can make it through the test. In a time of crisis, a person might pray, just to know that their God is by their side the entire time. Prayer can also be used to justify an external locus of control. Some people do not feel that they have control over their life, and praying can assuage those fears. If you know that God is watching over you and helping you through your day-to-day life, then you can live your life with confidence and ease. Finally, God is omnipotent, so He could acknowledge and act upon all prayers all at the same time. His knowledge is so vast, it would be like walking and chewing gum to us, as His capabilities are extremely superior.

    Chance Stephenson

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  22. Do you believe that a particular religious tradition holds accurate knowledge of the ultimate nature of reality and the purpose of human life?

        Yes, I do believe that a particular religious tradition holds accurate knowledge of these things. I am admittedly biased because it is my own religion, Christianity, but nonetheless I believe the truth about where we came from and the world around us lies within this religion. Though there are other religions that have similar beliefs and concepts that are similar to that of Christianity, this religion is the only one that does not idolize a person and their relationship with God, like Mary the Virgin or Muhammad, but instead focuses solely on the being that created the world, God. I believe in this because it gives us answers, it gives us hope that there is a reason we are here and that this life is not the end. It seems too simple that every precise thing on this planet, the way no human being is the same, the way we are a perfect distance from the sun so that we are not obliterated and are capable of supporting life, even our genetic makeup that allows us to survive on this planet.  

        To contradict my belief, there are many reasons to not agree with what I am saying. For one, my religion is very largely based off of faith, meaning one would have to do a lot of believing without set evidence or a clear answer. There is absolutely no proof that God exists and created us or that we will see him again after we pass and be judged for everything we do on this earth. Secondly, there are many religions out there, and to just choose one and say that it is the only correct one is pretty naive of someone to do. There are so many things you have to overlook for the convenience of believing everything in Christianity is true, and it is understandable that our human nature is to have answers set in stone.

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