Peter’s Correspondence on the Actual Freedom List
with Correspondent No 37
PETER: Hi ,
A two part reply again …
RESPONDENT: Peter’s false ideas: 1) The ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘creationist’ cosmology. The facts: Some other factor must be established like for example that belief in God is a necessary part of the ‘big-bang’ theory.
PETER: If I said that the ‘big-bang’ theory is ‘Creationist’ cosmology (with a capital C) then I would be clearly making a statement that the belief in God is a necessary part of creationist cosmology, whereas I used the term creationist to mean that it was created – as in it had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being. Now for me a ‘miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event’ that is said to have created the universe at the very least requires it to be a metaphysical event in which, whilst one doesn’t necessarily have to believe in a creator God, at least one has to believe in miraculous thus-far-inexplicable forces.
RESPONDENT: Thank you for this – it goes miles towards explaining your use of the word ‘creationist’ – small ‘c.’
Here’s what ‘creationist’ means to me:
PETER: And yet I also said this in my post to No 60 –
thereby making it clear that I was not specifically talking about a cosmological theory – in this case relativistic cosmology – which specifically requires a creator God as you are apparently trying to make out I was when you said that my ideas were fallacious.
RESPONDENT: It wasn’t clear to me when you first wrote those words that you were ‘making it clear that I [you][were] was not specifically talking about a cosmological theory...... which specifically requires a creator God.’ Maybe you could point out which part of that passage clarifies it, because I don’t see it.
PETER: If you read the passage above again you will notice that I refer to the fact that cosmological theories ‘leave the door open’ to two possibilities (spiritual belief and religious belief) – not just the single specific possibility (religious belief in a creator God) you keep insisting on saying I was focusing upon.
RESPONDENT: There must be a simple way to put the misunderstanding – I don’t want to twist your words or ‘make out’ your words to mean something other than what they do or did. Apparently, my misunderstanding came from the fact that I didn’t understand what you mean/meant by ‘creationist.’ To me, and each one of the four definitions posted above, the word implies a creator – as far as I can tell, it’s a straightforward interpretation of the word. Whether or not you made it clear that you were not talking about a cosmology that implies a creator, for all I knew you could have been changing gears when you began using the word ‘creationist.’ Since you never explicitly said what you meant by that term, I understood it in what I thought was a straightforward meaning. Apparently, I misunderstood your meaning – but my understanding of the word ‘creationist’ has not changed.
PETER: I have acknowledged that it is now clear to me that using the word ‘creationist’ in connection with Big Bang cosmology is akin to waving a red flag to a bull. I am more than happy to not use the term again in relation to Big Bang cosmology as I see it as best to say that relativistic cosmology theorizes that there is an underling metaphysical reality to the physical universe. ‘An underling metaphysical reality’ is a more generic term, analogous with using the term ‘a God by whatever name’ when discussing religious and spiritual belief.
As an actualist I have far better things to do with my time than become embroiled in the age-old futile battle between materialists and spiritualists for the moral/ethical high-ground in having the sole answers to the ‘why are we here’ and ‘where did we come from’ questions.
RESPONDENT: Consider this... I think that the Mississippi River ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’ – yet I do not hold a ‘creationist’ view regarding the Mississipi River since I do not think it was laid out by a god. To me, and I could make the case that for most people, the word ‘creationist’ implies a ‘creator’ – and does not simply mean to imply a belief that something ‘came into being.’ I have never encoutered a distinction between ‘Creationist’ with a capital ‘C’ implying a ‘creator’ versus ‘creationist’ with a small ‘c’ meaning ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’ until now. I have also not encountered your explanation of the difference in your usage until now, so it seems likely that either a) your usage is faulty, or b) you may have wanted to explain your ‘extra-normal’ usage of the term ‘creationist’ prior to using the word?
PETER: Or you could, and only if you wanted to of course, broaden your options to consider an option c) –
RESPONDENT: I did indeed miss what you are calling your ‘clear references in my post that indicated that I [you][were] was not using the term ‘creationist’ in the specific religious sense.’ As I stated above, the reference you brought to my attention was not ‘clear’ at the time that is what you meant, nor is it clear now. I must have missed something, though I don’t know what.
PETER: As I said, I am only too happy to drop using the word creationist in relation to relativistic cosmology.
RESPONDENT: Also, I am not/was not claiming that you were using ‘creationist’ in the ‘religious sense’ – I misunderstood your usage – understandably so, I think.
PETER: It is apparent that confusion abounds. I understood that your whole claim that what I was saying was false was based on me using the word creationist in the religious sense –
In fact you have even defined what the term creationist means to you in this post –
I think you will agree that it is high time to move on from this point lest the waters get even murkier.
RESPONDENT: The facts: There are plenty of physicists who do not believe in God – and not agnostic – but are atheists – who also think the evidence (red-shift, 3K radiation, etc) for the big-bang is overwhelming. This demonstrates that there are plenty of physicists that are led to endorse the big-bang theory based upon the evidence (as they see it) rather than using belief in God as evidence.
PETER: You would probably be aware that I am on record as saying that Richard was the only thorough-going atheist on the planet, so we are going to get bogged down on this point straight away. Stephen Hawkins, a self-declared atheist when asked if he believed in God is on record as saying ‘I do not believe in a personal God’ – a somewhat equivocal statement, and Einstein is on record as saying ‘I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings’ and I can think of none of the major players in the formulation of the Big Bang theory who did not believe in some form of mysticism or did not have some type of spiritual or religious belief. I guess the only way one could establish that your fact is a fact is if one conducted in-depth interviews with each of the ‘plenty of physicists’ that you know to be atheists to determine whether they are thorough-going atheists, i.e. that they hold no metaphysical, mystical, spiritual or religious beliefs whatsoever.
RESPONDENT: The fact that you have gotten Stephen Hawking’s name wrong multiple occasions as ‘Stephen Hawkins’ makes me wonder whether you have difficulty typing or remembering his name – or whether you don’t really know much about what you are talking about (this is at least the third time on record you have spelled his name incorrectly as ‘Hawkins’).
PETER: By the same logic I could just as well say that someone who has misspelt the word ‘Mississippi’ as well as the word ‘encountered’ in the space of three sentences maybe doesn’t really know much about what he is talking about, but I am interested in having a sincere conversation about this topic and not in indulging in tit-for-tatting.
RESPONDENT: Nor am I interested in ‘tit-for-tatting.’ I simply mentioned it because Stephen Hawking is prominently highlighted on your website, and you are claiming to speak with some authority and expertise about his and other’s theories on the big-bang and relativity. It doesn’t appear to be a typo any longer when one of the main characters in your exposition is misspelled on multiple independent occasions in exactly the same way. To compare that with a typo misspelling the words ‘encountered’ and ‘Mississippi’ when the word ‘Mississippi’ was correctly spelled in the very same sentence is a stretch. Are you saying that your misspelling of Hawking’s name on multiple occasions in multiple conversations in exactly the same misspelling was merely a ‘typo?’ All I am saying is that at the very least, it makes one wonder.
PETER: If this is an example of not being interested in ‘tit-for-tatting’ then I would not want to get into an argument over principles with you.
PETER: Spelling was never my forté, which is why I rely on the spell checker in my word processor to correct my spelling for me. Although my credibility horse has apparently already bolted, I will add ‘Stephen Hawking’ to my auto-correct.
RESPONDENT: I am wondering why you say ‘my credibility horse has apparently bolted.’ What do you mean by that?
PETER: To put it plainly, you were speculating that I don’t really know much about what I am talking about, as in it has no credibility, because I have misspelt Steven Hawking’s name. And not only that you now go on to confirm that ‘it doesn’t appear to be a typo any longer’ – hence you dismiss the credibility of what I am saying for the lack of a ‘g’.
As I said, I would not want to get into an argument over principles with you – it could well go on for years.
RESPONDENT: Putting that aside: I can understand that you can ‘think of none of the major players in the formulation of the Big Bang theory who did not believe in some form of mysticism or did not have some type of spiritual or religious belief’ but it would indeed be a good idea to remain ignorant no longer about ‘major players’ that continue to ‘formulate’ and ‘buttress’ the scientific theory of the Big Bang.
PETER: Okay, but I did make the following point, which you seem to have ignored –
As such, when you claim that ‘it would indeed be a good idea (for me) to remain ignorant no longer’, on what basis you claim a superior knowledge of the beliefs or lack of beliefs of the major players – by what they have written (or not written) about their personal beliefs presumably? That’s also what I do initially but I also broaden my assessment to include what they are saying about the theoretical nature of the universe and of its supposed beginning. To ignore this evidence is to sidestep the main topic of this conversation.
RESPONDENT: I was specifically focusing on their non-belief in a creator or god. If you throw in the ‘metaphysical, mystical, spiritual’ beliefs they may hold – it may indeed be difficult or require ‘in-depth interviews’ with each person in question.
PETER: In fact over the course of this conversation, it was you who led me to yet other theoretical models of the universe that were less likely to be taken as implying the belief in a creator or god and more readily seen as advocating that there is an underlying metaphysical reality to the physical universe. In other words, I am not throwing in ‘metaphysical, mystical, spiritual’ beliefs, rather it is that many relativistic cosmologists are proposing model universes that are more in accord with metaphysical, mystical and spiritual beliefs than mono-theist beliefs.
RESPONDENT: Also, you may have a different definition of a ‘thorough-going atheist’ than I do since you (I think) have claimed that at one point you realized that Richard was the ‘only atheist’ on the planet. I simply take the word ‘atheist’ to mean a person who does not believe in a god of any kind.
PETER: Most people use the word atheist to mean that they do not believe in the Christian God … thereby leaving the door open to all sorts of pantheistic, spiritual, mystical and metaphysical beliefs. You have been around on this mailing list long enough to know what an actualist means by the term a ‘thorough-going atheist’ – if not, then I suggest you read what is on offer again as you may be kidding yourself as to both the scope and the intent of actualism.
RESPONDENT: I find it best to keep one’s criteria fairly simple.
PETER: I would hardly call keeping to your own personal definition of what is a thorough-going atheist simple. If you want to water down the definition of a ‘thorough-going atheist’ to ‘atheist’, meaning someone who doesn’t believe in the Christian God, then that is your business but it sure ain’t an actualist’s definition.
RESPONDENT: You don’t have to conduct in-depth interviews for traces of belief in metaphysics to determine whether someone is an atheist – or worry about what they might want to believe on Sundays. It is easily discoverable by reading their writings for example that Hawking, Kurtz, Asimov, Stenger, Grunbaum, and Weinberg are all atheists.
PETER: I take this to mean that you have read sufficient of their writings to know that none of them believe in the Christian God. That’s fair enough, but do you see that you are again attempting to restrict the discussion to theist belief, whereas I have been trying all along to steer the discussion into a consideration of the broader aspect of relativistic cosmological theories.
RESPONDENT: I’m aware that God occupies the thoughts of Stephen Hawking – but as you yourself say – he is a ‘self-declared atheist’ and his theories are specifically designed to eliminate the need for a God from big bang comsmology –
PETER: I agree with you because Stephen Hawking is on record as saying ‘I not believe in a personal God’ so he would hardly specifically design a theory that gave credence to a personal God.
The more I have read about the history of relativistic cosmology, and most particularly in the last 50 years, it has been a progression of inventions of model universes each specifically designed to more and more distance big bang cosmology from any claims that a Divine or supernatural force was involved in the alleged beginning of the universe. This continual invention of yet more models seems to have much more to do with the age-old battle between the secular mathematical philosophers and the spiritual metaphysical philosophers for the intellectual, ontological and cosmological high ground than it has to do with anything remotely resembling authentic scientific enquiry. But more on that later in the post.
RESPONDENT: ... personally, I don’t see his fetishism for talking about the ‘mind of God’ as supporting pantheistic belief – rather, it has to do with demolishing the need for a god in the big-bang theory.
PETER: Are you saying that when someone talks about wanting to know the ‘mind of God’, he is doing so in order to demolish the need for a God in his theories?
RESPONDENT: Not ‘someone’ – no. I am referring specifically to Stephen Hawking in this case – I am not generalizing one bit.
PETER: Given that you object to my turn of phrase, I will rephrase it for you –
PETER: Personally I find the difference between the term ‘mind of God’ and the word ‘God’ to be somewhat moot but presumably there is a difference between the two in the minds of philosophers and theoretical physicists.
RESPONDENT: In Hawking’s case – the phrase is used somewhat ‘tongue in cheek’ – it is not to be taken literally. I also have to wonder whether it might have something to do with a willingness to be ambiguous as to exploit the public’s fascination with the divine in order to increase sales. In order to make physics interesting, it is common practice [I am not saying it’s sensible] to blur the lines between science and religion in order to increase the hype accompanying one’s writing. It might be comparable to a phrase like ‘ghost in the machine.’
PETER: Ah. So when I read the writings of Stephen Hawking and come up with the phrase ‘the mind of God’ you tell me he is using the term in ‘tongue in cheek’ fashion or that he is using the term in a non-literal meaning. And yet you have just told me –
And yet you now tell me that I should not take the words of Stephen Hawking at face value. So much for a persons atheism being ‘easily discoverable by reading their writings’, hey.
You might have noticed that the same thing happens when people come to this mailing list and say that actualism is not new to history and make reference to some teacher or some teachings. When an actualist then points out that the teacher or teaching is talking about a God by whatever name or a Greater Reality by whatever name, we are told that we are being pedantic, or we are taking the words too literally, or we are twisting their words, or that we are being defensive or being aggressive or whatever. When someone passionately holds to a belief, the very passion with which they hold to it prevents the possibility of any sensible discussion about the facts of the matter.
PETER: But then again, from what I read, Stephen Hawking’s theories have already been superseded by yet more theories specifically designed to eliminate the need for a God from the big bang cosmology.
RESPONDENT: No doubt – Hawking is not the only atheist doing big bang cosmology.
PETER: And no doubt not the only ‘atheist’ who claims to not believe in ‘a personal God’ and yet talks about ‘the mind of God’.
RESPONDENT: Here’s another major player for you – Steven Weinberg – atheist, through and through who wrote the book ‘The First 3 Minutes’ all about big-bang cosmology.
PETER: From what I can glean, Steven Weinberg is affronted by the fact that the spiritualists and deists have clasped relativistic cosmology to their bosom, so much so that he is at the forefront of the efforts to design models of the universe which, whilst remaining faithful to the theories of big bang cosmology, attempt to avoid, deny or distance themselves from the big bang central proposition that all of the space, matter and time of the entire universe was created in a singular near-instantaneous event out of no-space, no-thing, and no-when.
RESPONDENT: Just why you say that something coming from nothing is ‘the big bang central proposition’ has got me beat. Who would you say is the authority on what is the ‘central proposition’ to the big-bang theory – even as many theorists don’t seem to have a need or use for what you are proposing is a ‘central proposition?’
PETER: I was simply looking at the original theory that embellished the then-merely-budding big bang theory and as I understand Edwin Hubble’s theory that the space in the universe was expanding, by extrapolation, led to a theory that at some point in the past all of the space and matter in the universe must have been infinitely dense, i.e. there was zero space. And I gather this is still the basis of most cosmological theories –
Which is not to say there haven’t been a slew of other theories that modify or even dispense with this central proposition – which in turn is why it seems to me inappropriate to call these ‘other theories’ big bang theories.
PETER: However, he [Steven Weinberg] stands on shaky ground in defending the facticity of relativistic cosmological theories, as this response to a question about the certainty of relativistic cosmology reveals –
RESPONDENT: I’m sure that he would not agree that his qualifications for uncertainty constitute ‘shaky ground.’
PETER: But this is not what he was asked and nor is it what he said in reply. When asked about certainty of relativistic cosmology it is clear from his words that he does not claim certainty – i.e. he did not claim any of the theories to be fact.
RESPONDENT: He is acknowledging that at best, the evidence suggests that a particular theory is correct – at the same time acknowledging that the theory could be wrong.
PETER: I recently watched a TV documentary on Stephen Hawking in which a theoretical physicists made the comment that Hawking has done a disservice to science by popularising relativistic cosmology because many people have been led to believe the theories to be fact.
But then again, that is clearly not what people want to hear because they do like to hang on to their fantasies.
PETER: I can see now why you objected to my use of the term creationist cosmology – there is a battle raging between the materialists and the spiritualists and anyone who uses the term ‘creationist’ to describe the theory that the universe was created out of nothing is apparently waving a red flag at a bull. What I find cute is that both materialists and spiritualists have a passionate investment in supporting big bang cosmology – one side claiming it to be science and the other claiming it as proof of spirituality – and neither group is prepared to abandon it for to do so would be to admit defeat in the battle.
I am well pleased to be an actualist.
As for Steven Weinberg’s self-declared atheism, it is apparent from the following quote that he is uncomfortable with his atheism –
From what he says he is yet another ‘atheist’ seeking the meaning of life ‘somewhere else’ but here in this place in space and ‘sometime else’ but now in this very moment of time
RESPONDENT: You are right that he is ‘uncomfortable’ with his atheism. He has explained some of his pessimistic statements as ‘nostalgic’ for a universe run by God.
PETER: And that uncomfortableness would explain why he is still trapped into looking to solve the mystery of the supposed underlying reality to the physical universe … rather than seek to intimately experience the sensuous magic of the physical universe, as any thorough-going atheist is free to do.
RESPONDENT: Just a few more atheist big-bang proponents are Isaac Asimov, Paul Kurtz, Victor Stenger, and Adolf Grunbaum.
PETER: I’ll pass on Isaac Asimov as it is obvious that a science fiction writer would be an avid supporter of relativistic cosmology.
RESPONDENT: Is it ‘obvious’ that a science fiction writer would be an avid supporter of relativistic cosmology? Asimov also wrote science books. What sort of reasoning are you using to conclude that it is obvious that Asimov would be a supporter of big bang cosmology merely based upon the fact that he also wrote science fiction?
PETER: Relativistic cosmology is science fiction – it is nothing other than a concocted conglomerate of theories based upon abstracted mathematical computations.
If a spacecraft disappears into a black hole or travels to a parallel universe via a worm hole, then fiction will become fact, if an alien spacecraft does crash land and someone can dent it’s fender with a hammer, then fiction will become fact, when Scottie does beam someone ‘up’, then fiction will become fact – until then the very down-to-earth question of why human beings insist on wasting this moment of being alive by feeling malicious or feeling sorrowful still remains the most pertinent question facing human beings today.
PETER: So will I start by commenting on Victor Stenger as he is the only theoretical physicist in the group.
RESPONDENT: Don’t forget Weinberg.
PETER: He was not in the ‘just a few more’ group and I did comment on Weinberg – the ‘uncomfortable atheist’.
PETER: Victor Stenger has written a book entitled ‘The Timeless Reality’ and this quote is from a summary he has published –
RESPONDENT: Keep in mind that there are (at least) two different kinds of ‘Platonists.’ There are spiritual Platonists – that have affinities with Plato’s spiritual philosophy. Secondly, there are mathematical ‘platonists’ – small ‘p’ – not my usage, I’m taking it from others who use the terms that way – that only think mathematical objects like sets are objectively existing things, eternal, etc. ‘platonism’ – with a small ‘p’ does not commit one to a belief in God.
PETER: Yep. The revered wisdom of the world is a tangled web of confusion, obscuration, duplicity and fantasy. It’s so good not be enthralled by it, or enmeshed within it, any more.
PETER: Stenger appears to be offering a cosmological model that has much in common with Buddhist philosophy – as I said, relativistic cosmology seems to be only digging itself an even bigger hole in its efforts to fashion a metaphysics that is somehow distinct from that of the mystics, spiritualists and deists.
As a footnote to Victor Stenger – you are probably aware that he is an avid campaigner against supernatural beliefs and I came across this article in the Skeptic magazine in which he talks about time reversibility – the basis of the theoretical model of the universe he presents in his book ‘Timeless Reality’.
I post this as an example of how far into fantasy those who support relativistic theory have to go in order that metaphysical theories are not seen for what they are. It appears that it is politically correct to be sceptical of the super-naturalness inherent in spirituality but it is politically incorrect to be sceptical about the super-naturalness inherent in relativistic cosmology.
PETER: I notice that you haven’t commented on the quote from the Victor Stenger article. Given that you have offered him as an expert in support of your case, I would like to know whether or not you regard what he is saying is credible? And the reason I am asking this is that I know by experience how easy it is to sweep issues under the carpet or turn a blind eye to an issue. I spent years doing this in my spiritual years but when I became an actualist I found that I had to make a deliberate effort each time again to stop sweeping issues under the carpet or turning a blind eye to them because I was no longer content with being a believer – I wanted to discover the facts of the matter.
PETER: Moving on to Paul Kurtz, a secular humanist. Secular humanists are, by their very training and conviction, ethically motivated to challenge religiosity and support science and, as such, many have misguidedly taken up the cause of supporting relativistic cosmology whilst simultaneously turning a blind eye to its mystical and spiritual roots.
RESPONDENT: I’m curious as to what point you are making about Paul Kurtz? You are aware that Kurtz is ultimately arguing against anything ‘supernatural’ or ‘paranormal’ – right?
PETER: Which only begs the question as to why he would be an avid supporter of relativistic cosmology? Could it be that he, like all of the other conditional atheists you mention, still believes (or remains open to believing) that there is an underlying reality to the physical universe or is it that he too would be ‘uncomfortable’ in letting go of that belief … let alone having to find a new job?
But again this is a side issue to the topic as Paul Kurtz is not a relativistic cosmologist, he is merely someone who by the nature of his profession, feels compelled to support science in its age-old battle with religion, even if this means turning a blind eye when science well and truly dabbles in metaphysical.
PETER: Adolf Grünbaum is a secular philosopher and secular philosophers are, by their very training and convictions, ethically motivated to challenge religiosity and support science and, as such, many have also misguidedly taken up the cause of supporting relativistic cosmology whilst simultaneously turning a blind eye to its mystical and spiritual roots.
I found the following quote to be of interest as it threw some light on the whole issue as to why it is so hard to get philosophers interested in discussing the facts of the matter –
From this I take it that it is pointless to ask either a philosopher or a physicist what was the cause of the miraculous thus-far-inexplicable event that is supposed to have brought all of the physical matter of universe into being. Apparently philosophy has its own inbuilt principles, aka logic, that serves to put ‘off-limits’ any sensible down-to-earth questioning of relativistic cosmology.
RESPONDENT: What makes you say that such questions are considered ‘off-limits’ by philosophers? It’s a mystery to me first why you conclude that Grunbaum considers such questions off limits –
PETER: Because he makes a generalized statement of principle, apparently applicable to all physicists and philosophers –
RESPONDENT: and secondly a mystery to me why you would then generalize that to be also true of philosophy in general.
PETER: Because he makes a generalized statement of principle, apparently applicable to all physicists and philosophers –
RESPONDENT: Also, considering that there is much thought given to exactly those questions by philosophers and physicists – I don’t understand why you would come to that conclusion.
PETER: Presumable physicists or philosophers are themselves free to think about such questions but, by some form of logic –
I presumed that you might know what sort of logic Adolf Grünbaum is using, but to me it is nothing but a clever principle designed to protect philosophical abstract thinking from the rigours and demands of common sense scrutiny. Questions of cause and effect are the very basis of the scientific method – questions as to the cause of disease have lead to cures, questions as to the cause of physical phenomena have lead to the harnessing of these physical energies and forces for the benefit of human beings and so on. Questions of cause and effect are vital to the actualism method – what caused me to feel angry right now, what caused me to say that to that person, what caused me to feel bored right now, what caused me to feel sad right now and so on.
To call a spade a spade – for anyone to claim exemption from being concerned with cause and effect is a sure sign they are off with the fairies.
PETER: Adolf Grünbaum goes on to attempt to philosophize-away the ‘universe was created out of nothing’ dilemma that haunts relativistic cosmology with the following argument –
I take it that such explanations mean something to philosophers … but to me they are nought but slight-of-hand denial.
RESPONDENT: Sure, it’s not a satisfying answer at all. But – it is an answer, which demonstrates that such questions are not ‘off-limits’ for Grunbaum.
PETER: I take it that in philosophical circles the point is to come up with an abstract answer to a question and because the answer is abstract it then poses an abstract question which then leads to an abstract answer which … means the whole philosophical game continues on ad infinitum – an endless game of intellectual ping-pong that men have indulged in for millennium. And the game is played out in so-called secular philosophy as well as spiritual philosophy.
No wonder I found the utter down-to-earthness and utter simplicity of actualism so appealing.
RESPONDENT: The facts: It is reasonable to note that beliefs (specifically belief in God) can influence theory, but that is far from establishing in each instance that it actually has.
PETER: But then again it would be sensible not to let this reasoning get in the way of allowing that beliefs have influenced theories in a particular specific instance.
PETER: If this is the summary of your statement of fact it appears you are using this reasoning to establish that beliefs have not influenced theory in this particular instance as a ‘fact’ – thereby proving ‘my idea’ to be false. From where I stand this reasoning is far from impartial – as far as I can ascertain you are establishing a rule of reasonableness and saying that what I am saying is false because it does not fit your rule.
RESPONDENT: It’s not that I am establishing a rule of reasonableness and ‘saying that what I am saying is false because it does not fit your [MY] rule’ –
PETER: And I was interested, of course, in the argument you were offering in this instance as a rebuttal of my ‘false idea’. I like it that you do not see it as being a hard and fast rule because it opens the door to the possibility of a clear-eyed seeing that relativistic cosmology is rife with metaphysical concepts, to acknowledging that it was heavily influenced by spiritual/mystical beliefs in its formative years and that it is now unwittingly being supported by secularists and materialists solely on the basis that they feel compelled to support ‘science’ and disparage religion.
RESPONDENT: As I see it now, it simply boils down to the fact that I misunderstood your usage of the word ‘creationist.’
PETER: And I freely admit to being a newcomer to this whole world of theoretical physics, abstract mathematics and philosophical thinking and thanks to your probings I am now much more aware of the need to be a bit more savvy in my choice of words. The way I have always approached such investigations is that I like to quickly cut through the peripheral argumentation and get to the crux of the matter – the facts of the matter.
This is precisely how Vineeto and I come to mutual agreement about any issue – we simply put our different views on the table and weed our way through the various options until we come to the facts of the matter – hence we never have any arguments, any issues that are not discussed, any topics that are off-limits, any secrets to hide, and so on. And I have found that I can have these same types of discussions with other people, if they are willing to take the same approach to discussion.
Of course what invariably happens is that one’s own dearly-held beliefs get in the way of coming to a clear-eyed seeing of the facts of the matter and one’s own feelings and emotions are so predominant that arguments soon arise, feelings are hurt, old resentments are regurgitated, one or the other withdraws in a huff, one or the other claims the moral high ground, a temporary compromise is begrudgingly reached, the issue is deemed to be off-limits by one side or the other and so on. T’is little wonder that peace and harmony between human beings is impossible whilst ‘I’ and my dearly held beliefs and precious feelings continue to rule the roost.
As you might have noticed I keep attempting to move this discussion from the typical ‘who’s right, who’s wrong’ battle that most discussions start and end with into trying to mutually conduct a clear-eyed examination of the facts of the matter.
RESPONDENT: ... rather the confusion originates in the fact that you have chosen your own way of using the word ‘creationist’ that doesn’t fit with common usage – without explaining first that this is what you have opted to do. Such an unexplained arbitrary decision cannot but produce disagreement when you are using such a critical word as ‘creationist’ with a non-standard usage.
PETER: I notice that you are still dwelling on this point despite the fact that I have pointed out that I did not use the word creationist in the specific sense you took it to mean and that I provided several quotes from my post to No 60 where I made it clear that I was using the word creationist in the small ‘c’ meaning.
I also said in my last post –
– to which you made no comment.
RESPONDENT: As it wasn’t clear to me that you were using ‘creationist’ as not implying a creator, it still strikes me that you are/were using a non-standard usage. I’m glad that you see that it would be silly to propose that all supporters of the Big Bang theory believe in a creator God – since this was the very notion I was saying was false – yet you opened yourself up to this (mis) interpretation.
PETER: As I said, I am trying to move the conversation on from where it started some 3 weeks ago to where it is now. Can we agree to agree to move on to have a discussion about the facts of the matter and leave all that t’is, t’isn’t stuff behind?
It will be one of the rare conversations on this list about this topic if you do agree because most correspondents come pre-primed to have a t’is, tisn’t battle, never intending to budge from their stance. Or they come merely to glean information to add to or clip-on to their own borrowed wisdom, or they come imagining they are going to sit at the feet of a Master, or they hang around solely to wave red flags at newcomers, or they come to preach and teach, or they feel compelled to demand that actualism be refashioned to suit their own personal whims, and so forth.
Sincere conversations may be rare but they are beginning to flourish as more and more people are gaining the courage to talk about what they have discovered about the human condition based on their own experiential investigations of their own psyche in action as distinct from regurgitating hackneyed wisdoms they have borrowed from others.
RESPONDENT: Again, keeping with your usage of ‘creationist’ – you are a ‘creationist’ about the Mississippi River, for example – as well as anything else that ‘had a beginning, it originated, it was produced, it came into being’.
PETER: I have no problem at all about that the Mississippi River came into being at some stage as there is a good deal of empirical evidence that the geology of the planet has undergone radical changes ever since the planet itself came into being an estimated 6 billion years ago by some accounts, but it is an absurdity to imagine that all of the physical matter and all of the space of the entire universe came into being due to a miraculous thus-far-inexplicable spontaneous event, as the theoretical relativistic cosmologists would have us believe.
RESPONDENT: The point I was making was that you would be considered a ‘creationist’ regarding the Mississippi River according to your definition of the word.
PETER: And it’s a point that you keep making … and if you keep making it I will keep responding. What I would do is rephrase my response using ‘had a beginning’ instead of ‘came into being’ and we could go another round. But then again, we could move on to get to the crux of the issue …
RESPONDENT: As it should be clear – ‘creationist’ does not mean to me what it means to you, so your representation of my ‘position’ is not correct. Put simply: ‘creationist’ cosmology normally entails a ‘creator.’ You have opted to change the meaning of the word without first informing us of that fact.
PETER: Okay that’s clear, your position now is –
And this is clearly the reason why theoretical physicists, together with secular philosophers, were compelled to design ever more models of the universe in a desperate attempt to refute all notions that there was a big bang event that happened in which all of the matter of the universe suddenly came into being out of nothing – in other words relativistic cosmology is involved in an ongoing process of denial and obscuration of its original hypothesis.
RESPONDENT: As what I said above was admittedly ambiguous – let me clarify what I meant. I meant that there very well may be those who claim the universe came ‘out-of-nothing’ – and many of those people may also believe in God – and since they believe in God, they would rightly be called ‘creationists.’
PETER: I would see Paul Davies as being in that category, so could we agree to clarify your statement even further by saying ‘there are those’ instead of ‘there very well may be ...’?
From experience, I found that it is essential to clarify outstanding issues not by maybes or could-bes but by agreeing to facts – this way the discussion can move forward by an incremental acknowledgement of fact until we get to the root of the matter. I do realize that this is not the type of thinking that theoreticians or philosophers use because apparently their aim is to keep all the options open so that the issue remains unresolved in order that the game can continue, whereas the type of thinking I propose is aimed at getting to the facts of the matter and thus to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
RESPONDENT: I find that normally when someone thinks that the universe ‘came out of nothing’ – that there is a high probability that they believe in a creator – but those who don’t think the universe ‘came out of nothing’ don’t necessarily need to resort to belief in a creator.
PETER: Agreed, I have no problems with that at all. You have made it clear on this list that you don’t believe in a creator God and nor do I, so could we both can agree that any cosmological theory that proposes or implies that the physical universe was created ‘out of nothing’ must also be a fantasy? I am only suggesting this as a way of moving the discussion on.
RESPONDENT: The facts: I know of no scientist who excludes God as part of their cosmology – who thinks the universe came ‘out of nothing.’
PETER: Which of course is not to say there aren’t any such scientists. I say this because you made the case for another point you raised on the basis that ‘there are plenty of physicists who …’
RESPONDENT: Right – people can have a variety of beliefs. My point is that people like Stephen Hawking and Steven Weinberg do not say that the universe ‘came out of nothing.’ Rather, they have theories about singularities, multiple expansions and crunches, etc – to offer.
PETER: I think you would probably agree that this is where it gets confusing because you are saying that Stephen Hawking who talks about ‘the mind of God’ is not a Creationist because he doesn’t say that the universe ‘came out of nothing’ and yet Paul Davies who also talks about the ‘Mind of God’ says –
RESPONDENT: I would venture a guess that Hawking’s ‘Mind of God’ is quite a different sort of usage than Mr. Davies’ ‘Mind of God.’ Again, my interpretation of Hawking’s usage is somewhat ‘tongue-in-cheek.’ I don’t get that impression from Davies at all.
PETER: I see that you have escaped confusion by speculating about what someone may or not mean when they use particular words. I always take the words of another at face value, unless and until I find evidence to the contrary. If I am able to I seek clarification if I see that clarification is needed. Now your point is that when Stephen Hawking uses the term ‘Mind of God’ he is using it non-literally, as in he is not envisaging that the universe came into being as a result of the creative intellectual power of a grey bearded old man sitting on a cloud, nor did he think up the physical forces and energies that are associated with the matter of the universe, as in –
Would you not agree that Stephen Hawking’s use of the term ‘Mind of God’ indicates that he sees intelligent design in the universe, not only in the matter of the physical universe but also in its supposed formation? To me his use of the term ‘Mind of God’ indicates that he thinks this supposed intelligent design is a unified design and as such the universe itself is the outcome of the creative thought of a creative thinker. Would you call this mathematical Platonism?
Now in the interest of moving the discussion forward – what do you think about mathematical Platonists? Is their view of the physical universe credible – is it fact or fiction? Do you think there is an ‘intelligent design’ that underpins the actuality of the physical universe? And if you think that there is ‘intelligent design’, does this same ‘intelligent design’ also underpin the evolutionary process of matter and animate matter on this planet?
Apparently Paul Kurtz thinks these are fair questions for a secular humanist to ask –
and for an aspiring actualist, these are questions that are ripe for finding answers to if one wants to get to the facts of the matter (or at the very least to get to the stage of establishing a prima facie case as to the facticity of the matter).
RESPONDENT: No 59, what do you think about Hawking’s and Davies’ usages of the phrase ‘Mind of God?’
PETER: If I can just pass on another hint about getting to the facts of the matter, I found that I had to do my own thinking for myself. To rely on others to do my thinking for me simply leaves me being a believer at best … or an agnostic at worst.
PETER: But then again these are old-hat theories by now I take it. Is the model of the universe that Victor Stenger talks about at the cutting edge or are other models gaining favour? Just curious.
RESPONDENT: I don’t really know what is currently gaining favour since I don’t work in the field. I suppose it’s up for grabs.
PETER: Yep. The theoreticians and philosophers have been searching for the mythical metaphysical underlying reality to the physical universe for millennia now and relativistic cosmology is but the latest of a plethora of cosmological theories. Having had a walk through their fantasy world recently, I am very well pleased to have abandoned the search for an underlying metaphysical reality and to have set off on the path to becoming actually free of the human condition in toto.
It’s a grand adventure of discovery.
PETER: Thus far you have pointed me to other physicists and philosophers who use various descriptions to explain what ‘our’ universe supposedly came out of –
As far as I can ascertain, the cosmologists’ attempts to make nothing sound like something appear only to be playing into the hands of the spiritualists.
RESPONDENT: I do agree that the big-bang theory plays into the hands of the spiritualists – since it is oh so easy to jump from it to spiritual belief. Even though the theory is easily supplemented by spiritual belief, it is by no means necessary to do so.
PETER: These quotes came from two supposedly-atheist relativistic cosmologists whom you recommended and yet they are hypothesizing about an underlying ‘true reality’ that is timeless or about the possibility of the existence of ‘other worlds’. As such it seems that it is just as easy to jump from ‘atheist’ relativistic cosmological theories to spiritual belief as it is from any of the other relativistic cosmological theories. If it was me, I would be starting to smell a rat by now.
I am reminded of a song from the 1970’s which had a chorus – ‘The things that your liable, to read in the Bible … ain’t necessarily so’
What you are apparently telling me is that no matter how spiritual the relativistic cosmological theories may read, they must be some semblance of truth in the relativistic cosmological theory because –
Have I left anything out? These appear to be the main arguments offered for believing that the physical universe is ephemeral, in that the physical universe was either ‘created’ at some point in time or that there is an ‘underlying reality’ to the physical universe that is timeless, spaceless and formless.
PETER: To give you a down-to-earth example we both can relate to – let’s take a computer mouse, and I presume you can see one in front of you as I can. Now what these scientists are telling me is that it is possible to instantaneously create matter such as this out of a ‘great energy’. In other words, an instant before there would be no matter and an instant after there would be matter. Hmmm….
But then again, if I remained open that this was possible, I would ask the theorists: did this supposed ‘great energy’ that all of the matter of the entire universe was created out of always exist – was it eternally existing prior to the coming into being of matter, or did some prior event cause this great energy to come into being? If so, what caused this ‘great energy’ to be created in the first place? Was this ‘great energy’ infinite or was it limited in size and scope in some way?
RESPONDENT: All good questions – and all questions that are being answered by cosmologists in a variety of ways – but peripheral to what is currently under discussion.
PETER: I take it that you are making a case for the facticity of relativistic cosmology, unless you are merely conducting an intellectual rebuttal of what I was saying to No 60 for the sake of making an intellectual rebuttal. Whatever your motive is in writing, I have appreciated your probings as it has spurred me to look a bit deeper into the world of relativistic cosmology and my investigations have served only to confirm my initial impressions.
RESPONDENT: Nowhere have I tried to make ‘a case for the facticity of relativistic cosmology.’ And my motive is not to be ‘merely conducting an intellectual rebuttal of what [you were] was saying to No 60 for the sake of making an intellectual rebuttal.’
PETER: The reason I was unclear about your motive in writing is that I posed some of the questions that I would ask about the cosmological theories and you replied that the cosmologists are answering these questions in a variety of ways and that the questions were peripheral to what is currently under discussion. I would have thought that these questions were very relevant to a discussion about the facticity of relativistic cosmology and they would be questions that I would like to make sense of – not leave it up to the theorists to concoct yet more theories in a vain attempt to plug up the holes they have left in their theories
RESPONDENT: Is there no middle ground for sincere inquiry? I would like to know, this is not about playing intellectual games for me.
PETER: This conversation did start with you making a rebuttal of several comments I made in a post to No 60 and you have since reaffirmed in your last post that this was where your focus remains –
I take it from your comment that your focus has now moved on to conducting a sincere enquiry, which I do appreciate.
As for a middle ground for sincere enquiry, I don’t have a middle ground because I am being nothing but upfront in that I have stated that relativistic cosmology is but the latest in a long line of cosmological fantasies. As you would know from freeing yourself of your belief in a Creator God, once you see a belief as being nothing but a belief, sincerity then prevents one from ever taking on the belief again.
RESPONDENT: First, I should say that Paul Davies is an excellent source for you to buttress your theories about the ‘big bang’ being ‘creationist’ cosmology – yet he is not such an excellent source for looking at what others are proposing about the ‘big-bang.’ I’m sure it was for good reason that Davies titled one of his books ‘God and the New Physics.’
PETER: As I have indicated before, the only reason I have quoted Paul Davies is that I happened to buy a book of his in the local second-hand bookshop when I first started to enquire into the latest cosmological theories and the only reason that I mentioned Paul Davies in my post to No 60 was that he made the claim that –
But I do take your point that in the ongoing battle that the secularists are waging in support of relativistic cosmology Paul Davies could well be seen as a defector to religiosity.
RESPONDENT: Yes, my point exactly.
PETER: So presumably you would be happy to dismiss Mr. Paul Davies’ scientific theories on the basis that it is tainted by religiosity? If so, would you be so bold as to dismiss Mr. Albert Einstein’s scientific theories on the basis that he believes in Spinoza’s God?
RESPONDENT: My point is that there are big-bang theorists without the mystical bent of Davies and to a lesser degree – that of Einstein.
PETER: Now you have piqued my interest. Are you saying there is a relativistic cosmology that is not based on Einstein’s theory of relativity?
RESPONDENT: No. Simply – there are scientists, big-bang theorists, that do not share Davies’ or Einstein’s ‘religiosity.’
PETER: Do you mean other than the ‘conditional atheists’ that you have offered to date?
RESPONDENT: Your insisting on making ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what ‘pre-existed’ the ‘big-bang’ may of course, be unfulfillable.
PETER: It’s definitely unfulfillable for the simple reason that relativistic cosmology is a theoretical cosmology based on model universes that have nothing to do with the actual physical universe of sensate experience.
RESPONDENT: Can you make ‘down-to-earth’ sense of what Pluto is made of?
PETER: Human beings have done a fair job with this planet, this planet’s moon, are currently making sense of what Mars is made of, and have had a spacecraft fly by Pluto for a preliminary making sense … if that’s what you mean.
RESPONDENT: I see that ‘down-to-earth’ is a phrase like ‘common sense’ that is open to misunderstanding. One person’s ‘common sense’ is another’s fantasy.
PETER: Did you come to this conclusion because of the answer I gave? Human beings can theorize and fantasize all they want, but at some point making sense happens due to the accumulation of experiential evidence.
Again, surely you have read enough of the Actual Freedom Trust website, and been on this mailing list long enough, to not be confused by the terms ‘down-to-earth’ and ‘common sense’ by now?
RESPONDENT: My point was simply that people have to be willing to think outside the box at times in order to make sense of new things and discoveries. I have no quarrel with ‘down-to-earth’ actually – I suppose I could have put it better by saying simply that sometimes we have to think outside the box – so to speak – in order to understand something new. I do understand though, that if one simply doesn’t have beliefs or ‘make assumptions’ that simple down-to-earth thinking is the best tool for the job.
PETER: The problem with trying to think ‘outside the box’ is that it is impossible to do so when one is ‘within the box’, to use your analogy. The only thing that worked for me was that I deliberately chose to think ‘outside of the whole box’, rather than try and think ‘outside little bits of the box’, while remaining within the box as a whole.
As I’ve said before, one of the first things that really made sense to me was Richard’s comment that ‘everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong’ – meaning that everyone has been looking for freedom from the human condition from within the human condition (or ‘within the box’, so to speak). What I did in the early days was to run with the thought that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong and by doing so I was deliberately training myself to think ‘outside the box’ all of the time – and even when I was not thinking outside the box, at least I was prepared to do so whenever I was faced with a dilemma when investigating beliefs.
I have never lost sight of this realization, so much so that it has served me well as it enabled me to think outside the box when investigating all of my own cherished beliefs as well as the core beliefs that would have humans believe that life is essentially a grim struggle for survival. And of course the other thing that continually thinking outside the box did was that it evoked the onset of PCEs wherein, because of ‘my’ temporary absence, clear thinking is free to happen of its own accord.
RESPONDENT: You may have to think out of the normal ‘down-to-earth’ ways you are accustomed to thinking.
PETER: Yep I can see that. My current voluntary immersion into the world of relativity is akin to my previous unwitting immersion into the spiritual world. In both worlds one is encouraged to abandon common sense and accept presumption as being fact. Both are closed-loop belief systems in that you are taught that what they are saying is the truth. I found by experience that the only way to free oneself from such beliefs is to dare to question everything and, most especially, the fundamental premise upon which they are founded.
RESPONDENT: I do agree with this statement – and if you haven’t noticed yet, am questioning both relativity and big-bang theory.
PETER: Yes, I have noticed a shift of focus in our discussions, albeit accompanied by a reluctance to abandon your original focus. And as you might now have noticed, what I am doing is encouraging you to broaden your focus even more into questioning not only relativity theory and big bang theory but to keep running with the thought that everyone has got it 180 degrees wrong and see what happens. The reason I am making the suggestion is that it worked for me and I know that it has worked for others.
RESPONDENT: I am not advocating big-bang cosmology – merely focussing on the fact that you often misrepresent it.
PETER: That’s becoming clearer to me now. No 60 essentially ran the same argument, he refuted any criticism of relativistic cosmology as being unfair and ill-informed whilst simultaneously declaring himself to be agnostic with regard to the nature and extent of the physical universe. It is beyond me how anyone can settle for being agnostic towards the universe – this world of people, things and events. The very challenge presented by Richard’s discovery is that anyone who so desires can make sense of the universe and can do so to the point of becoming actually free of the human condition. It is a challenge that I, for one, could not and cannot turn away from.
RESPONDENT: I’m curious as to what you would call a person who is sincerely inquiring into an issue – for example questioning both relativity and big-bang cosmology, as I am, yet isn’t yet completely convinced one way or the other? Such a person, it seems to me, is not ‘settling’ for being agnostic, since they would be (I am) inquiring into the facts of the matter.
PETER: Thus far, you are one of the few people on this mailing list who have been willing to have a prolonged conversation about a particular issue without spitting the dummy. As such I do appreciate your sincerity in enquiring into the facts of the matter.
PETER: As far as I can see no relativistic cosmologist has yet designed a big bang model universe that can explain the supposed instantaneous coming into being of all the matter of this physical universe without resorting to metaphysical explanations. Every culture throughout history has had its own cosmology, and its own cosmogony, such that there are thousands of explanations as to when, why and how the physical universe came into existence – i.e. what is the universe’s underlying reality – and as such it is highly unlikely that the currently fashionable cosmology will invent anything that hasn’t been thought of before. After all, human imagination is extremely limited as it is always anthropocentric and it is always bound by instinctual passions.
RESPONDENT: Do you think that Mr Stephen Hawking’s explanations resort to the metaphysical? I’m sure you don’t find what he says convincing, yet he does not resort to metaphysical/spiritual explanations. Of course, I am becoming increasingly aware of differing definitions of the word ‘metaphysical.’ On the one hand there is the spiritual kind, on the other the philosophical/theoretical kind. Hawking doesn’t use any metaphysical appeals in his theories of the spiritual kind – yet I’m sure you would say that he uses the philosophical/theoretical kind because the whole theory is built upon relativity and abstract mathematics.
PETER: What I do find baffling is that cosmological theories have always been metaphysical/spiritual theories ever since human beings looked up at the sky and wondered, and yet nowadays people tell me that the latest of these cosmological theories is not a spiritual/metaphysical theory because it is a philosophical/mathematical theory. Current day science is riddled with spiritual metaphysical theories masquerading as secular metaphysical theory, so much so that empirical scientific research now seems to be largely undertaken by those we call engineers and technicians.
PETER: If I can just summarize, the point you appear to be making is that my idea that ‘the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes the universe was ‘created out of nothing’’ is ‘false’ because it is a fact that there are also other theories that propose a series of ‘little bangettes’ as alternatives to the Big Bang theory. From where I stand, it would be misleading to call these subsequent theories ‘the big-bang’ theory. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can’t follow the logic of your refutation.
RESPONDENT: To say the ‘big-bang’ theory proposes that the universe was ‘created out of nothing’ is to say there is a necessary connection between the two ideas – but many mainstream big bang theorists do not say the universe was created ‘out of nothing’ – therefore the ‘big-bang’ theory does not necessarily claim that the universe was created ‘out of nothing.’ Do you follow now? <...>
PETER: I do follow, but from what I read of the efforts of relativistic cosmologists and philosophers to create yet more models that enable them to explain this ‘nothing’ in other terms – such as: it is a timeless, formless and spaceless void; it is the true reality, it neither was nor will be, it just is; there was no time in which nothing could be said to exist; it is a pre-existing embedding vacuum space, and so on – is doing nothing but digging an ever bigger hole for 20th century Western cosmology.
RESPONDENT: I do agree with the point that the supposed mechanics of the big-bang is nigh impossible to understand in ‘down-to-earth’ terms and that the shroud of mystery surrounding it plays into the hands of spiritualists, and possibly is ‘digging an ever bigger hole for 20th century Western cosmology.’
PETER: If this is what you think, then how do you now propose to further enquire into the facts of the matter regarding relativity and relativistic cosmology? Do you propose to keep questioning ‘inside the box’ by learning mathematics and applying philosophical thinking? Whilst these may appear to be loaded questions, they are the type of questions I would ask of myself whenever I found myself falling for the trap of blithely accepting a theory or a belief to be a fact.
RESPONDENT: These are some of the very reasons why I am attracted to actualism – it would be nice to have more satisfactory answers than what is being offered in mainstream cosmology – which is why I am quite willing to question those answers – yet at the same time, I am determined to sniff out falsehoods wherever I find them – which does not exclude actualist’s writings.
PETER: And I take it that your sincerity will ensure that you are equally determined to sniff out falsehoods in both the writings of materialists and spiritualists as you do with the writings of actualists.
PETER: In hindsight, t’would have made much more sense and would have been much more accurate if I had have said –
RESPONDENT: Now I’m not following your logic.
PETER: It’s not logic, it’s a clear-eyed description of the house of cards that is relativistic cosmology. This is how Richard put it recently –
I do realize that this pulls the rug out from under one of the core planks of modern theoretical science and that it also disenfranchises secular humanism from having its own naturalistic/ evolutionary cosmology – but then again t’is only a fantasy after all.
RESPONDENT: I do agree that the universe ‘coming out of nothing’ is an absurdity, but my point has been simply that there are a good number of big-bang theorists that do not take the ‘coming out of nothing’ as part of their theory.
PETER: Well, the two that you have offered theorize that the universe came out of a ‘quantum vacuum’ or a ‘true reality’ that is timeless, formless and spaceless. To me these are simply ‘nothing’, by another name.
RESPONDENT: Interesting reading – as it is an account of a personal odyssey. I would add though that both relativity and the ‘big-bang’ are not necessarily as ‘metaphysical’ as you make them out to be. They may both be wrong – but if so, they are wrong because the evidence doesn’t support them – not because they are ‘metaphysical’. Let me reiterate – I am not saying that there are not metaphysical theories associated with the big-bang and relativity by some scientists – I am saying that they are not NECESSARILY metaphysical.
PETER: I am not making a philosophical argument as to the rights or wrongs of Einsteinian relativity or Einsteinian cosmology. What I did was make a down-to-earth enquiry into the subjects and what I found was that both were predicated on there being an underlying non-material reality to the material universe, i.e. both are theoretical systems based on the theoretical interactions of hypothetical particles that have no material existence.
From what you say, you appear to be arguing the agnostic case as in because you can never prove the existence of God, nor disprove the existence of God, one must remain open to all possibilities.
RESPONDENT: Isn’t it possible that I am merely sincerely inquiring? Why does it appear to you that I am arguing the agnostic case? I have never stated that ‘one must remain open to all possibilities.’ Just because I don’t know the answer, doesn’t mean that I will never know the answer. It also doesn’t mean that one must remain open. If anything, one must ask questions – one must inquire. Put simply – I am inquiring, sincerely I think – in order to get answers, but I will not settle for sloppy thinking or falsehoods posing as fact.
PETER: Okay, I can put it more succinctly if you like and I’ll put it in the form of a question. Why do you remain open to Einsteinian relativity and Einsteinian cosmology being fact when both theories are predicated on there being an underlying non-material reality to the material universe in that both are theoretical systems based on the theoretical interactions of hypothetical particles that have no material existence?
It’s good to hear that you haven’t fallen for the dimwitticism that has it that questioning everything means being open to everything being possible, but that you are inquiring in order to get answers in order that you can make sense of life, the universe and what it is to be a human being, to pinch a Richard phrase. My whole journal was about my making sense of these matters, for I found that by making the effort to do so I was able to become free of both the feelings of resentment and of despair at ‘having to be here’ in the first place … which then meant I was free to be effectively happy and harmless.
PETER: You recently wrote to Richard querying the accuracy of something I have written –
RESPONDENT: I did look up the word in the actualist glossary and found a few noteworthy statements: ‘As this is being written, only a handful of people have managed to become free of the Human Condition ...’ As it has recently been established that the number is 1 – that hardly constitutes a ‘handful’. Respondent to Richard Re: ‘Spiritual’ 30.3.2004
PETER: It is quite clear that the statement, when taken at face value, is not correct but it is relevant to consider the timing and circumstances in which it was written.
When I became a practicing actualist, I found it useful to write down my understandings and realizations in a notebook as I found the very act of writing itself was a very practical way of ordering my thoughts and keeping my thinking on subject and on track. Very often I would do this last thing at night as a way of reviewing the events of the day, noting the emotional reactions I had to particular events and then taking a clear-eyed look at whatever aspect of the human condition that had caused me to feel aggravated or to feel unhappy.
After about a year of this intense process of ‘self’-investigation, I came to stage where I noticed that my life had changed so much that I was indeed virtually free of malice and sorrow, i.e. feeling excellent was my normal state. It struck me at the time that it would be useful to others if I wrote a journal that documented the steps I took in this process and the discoveries I had made about the nature of the human condition – so I purchased a computer and wrote my journal. After I had finished it, it then occurred to me that it would also be of use to others to write a glossary of terms used in actualism as many people who had read either my journal or Richard’s writings did so without bothering to understand the meaning of the words that were written, i.e. they skip-read looking for a feeling-understanding within the context of the human condition and their own particular conditioning rather than take on board the iconoclastic message that the actual words conveyed when taken at face value.
Writing the glossary proved much more difficult than writing my journal as it often involved writing about issues and topics that I had not necessarily tackled in my journal and a good deal of the writing remained unedited as can be seen from the piece you quoted. As I look back on it now, much of the writing reflects the difficulty I had in understanding many of the issues and much of it is very passionate in nature. The very business of exposing the human condition is not an intellectual exercise – it is a passionate, hands-on business and whilst I wanted this fact to be reflected in my journal this passion is also evident to me in the writings that form the glossary.
Much of my writing in the glossary reads as though it was written as the realization, or moments of clear thinking, were happening and some could have indeed even been written whilst I was having a PCE, which would explain the statement I made that you have queried – for when one is having a PCE, one is temporarily free of the human condition. Indeed it is my experience in being virtually free of the human condition that I am, in fact, free of most of the human condition for most of the time – which is not to deny that I will only be actually free of the human condition in toto when the singular event of self-immolation occurs.
This is exactly the reason I decided to start writing when I did – I had some hands-on experience to pass on about the actualism method and the nature of the human condition that was best written raw and first-hand rather than as a hindsight account. If you read my journal and some of my early correspondence you will also find many other statements I have made that you could also rightly dispute. At the time they were written I was full-on into investigating the human condition and the very process is a daring and passionate one and whilst I fully stand by my earlier writings in terms of substance, flavour and intent, they were not necessarily intended to stand close intellectual scrutiny.
At one stage I thought to go over my earlier writings and edit them for accuracy and terminology but I realized that in doing so I would inevitably loose some of the immediacy and spontaneity of an experiential account so I haven’t bothered. Thanks for pointing out the inaccuracy. I have changed the particular statement you pointed to, but I will leave my journal unedited for the reasons stated above.
RESPONDENT: I did look up the word in the actualist glossary and found a few noteworthy statements: [quote] ‘As this is being written, only a handful of people have managed to become free of the Human Condition ...’ [endquote]. As it has recently been established that the number is 1 – that hardly constitutes a ‘handful’. Respondent to Richard Re: ‘Spiritual’ 30.3.2004
PETER: It is quite clear that the statement, when taken at face value, is not correct but it is relevant to consider the timing and circumstances in which it was written. <snipped for length>
At one stage I thought to go over my earlier writings and edit them for accuracy and terminology but I realized that in doing so I would inevitably loose some of the immediacy and spontaneity of an experiential account so I haven’t bother. Thanks for pointing out the inaccuracy. I have changed the particular statement you pointed to, but I will leave my journal unedited for the reasons stated above.
RESPONDENT: It did occur to me at the time that the intent of the statement might have been to include those that are virtually free as well, yet that wasn’t clear at all in the statement – which is the reason I mentioned it. By the way, my recent conversation with Richard regarding ‘spiritual’ has cleared up much of the misunderstanding I have had regarding your statement that Richard is (was) the only atheist on the planet.
PETER: I would have never have guessed when I wrote my journal, or the glossary for that matter, that I would one day be involved in discussions about the intellectual/ philosophical correctness of particular words or phrases I used.
After I had written my journal I employed a professional proof reader to check it, principally because it was my first writing effort and Vineeto had offered to fund its printing as a paperback. Apart from the usual typos and grammatical errors the only query she had with regard to the accuracy of its comment was the following sentence –
As it turned out the reason why she queried what I wrote was that she also regarded herself as an atheist because she did not believe in the Christian God and yet she was the follower of Mohan Rajneesh, a recently dead Eastern God-man of the Jain tradition who taught pantheism as distinct from monotheism.
I didn’t alter the statement because the main point I was making, when taken in the sequence of what I previously said, was that Richard did not ‘disbelieve or deny the existence of God or gods’ but that he has the ongoing direct experience that no such things as Gods or gods exist outside of human beings’ impassioned imagination.
You will have noticed in our recent discussions I nowadays use the term ‘thorough-going atheist’, largely in order to avoid the bias that most Westerners apply in defining the word –
RESPONDENT: What I see now is that you have not only applied the word ‘spiritual’ to religious belief, but also to ‘being’ itself. In other words, to ‘be’ is to be ‘spiritual.’ Personally, I think that usage is ripe for misunderstanding.
With regard to my use of the word spiritual, the preceding entry in the glossary may throw some light on the subject, particularly as I did write the glossary sequentially.
RESPONDENT: From here, it would seem better to apply the word ‘spiritual’ to ‘spiritual’ belief as in religious belief and practice, etc. then possibly ‘metaphysical’ (or some other word?) could cover better what it means to simply be a ‘being.’
PETER: With the benefit of hindsight, much of my early writing could have been better but as the very act of writing was one of the means I found most effective in beginning to think clearly, it is inevitable that it has occasional flaws and that nowadays I could do better.
Nowadays, I simply don’t have the interest or inclination to re-editing my writing every time someone raises an intellectual or philosophical objection. My writing is experiential in that I write from the experience of being virtually free of malice and sorrow and from the direct understanding of what it is to be free of the human condition based on many pure consciousness experiences of the actual world. As such it will be of interest and use to others who want to know about the nuts and bolts of how to become free of the human condition themselves but one day it will be of only historical interest, as the next generations of actualists will write better, fresher and more concise accounts.
RESPONDENT: Of course, this is all new territory, so actualists are free to adapt or create whatever vocabulary they please.
PETER: We actualists are doing this for the first time – we don’t have any precedent to follow. And this is, after all, what makes the whole business so utterly thrilling.
PETER to No 60: You wrote commenting on something that I wrote to No 60 –
RESPONDENT No 60: Perhaps they ‘manage to deny’ it because they actually DON’T believe in such things?
PETER to No 60: In my case I don’t have any spiritual beliefs left due to my own intent to expose my spiritual beliefs but I do acknowledge that ‘I’ am a spirit-like being and will remain so until ‘self’-immolation occurs. Unless I am having a PCE, ‘I’ experience myself as being inside this body, looking out at the outside world through the body’s eyes, hearing through the ears, smelling smells through the nose and so on. There is no question of my not believing ‘I’ am a spirit being – sincere observation reveals that ‘I’ am a non-material entity.
RESPONDENT No 60: Yes, I can understand that you did this, and I can understand why. Given your background when you first became interested in actualism it makes sense. The problem, as I see it, is that the feeling of ‘being’ does not always go hand-in-hand with spiritual beliefs (as in belief in a separate spirit, or an immortal spirit, or a belief in a divinity, etc).
PETER to No 60: Perhaps you could provide an example where ‘the feeling of being does not always go hand-in hand with spiritual belief’ as I cannot think of a single example. The reason I ask is that I remember being quite shocked, after having spending years on the spiritual path, at how little I understood about spiritualism and what really lies at the core of all spiritual belief. Nowadays I see that very few people understand spiritualism because belief inevitably blinds one to the facts.
RESPONDENT: I wonder whether this is the root of why there is divergence on this issue. On the face of it Peter, the statement that you cannot think of a single example of where ‘the feeling of being doesn’t go hand-in hand with spiritual belief’ is simply an absurdity.
PETER: As you will have already noticed I have since responded to No 60, pointing out how the misunderstanding occurred.
RESPONDENT: An absurdity either because you refuse to look at the facts, or are ignorant of them, or because you are using words in some ill-defined way.
PETER: Or … there could well be another alternative, no? That it wasn’t ‘an absurdity’ at all – rather it was that you misunderstood what I was saying?
RESPONDENT: I will also say that I think it is for this reason why I haven’t yet attempted another response to the 3 Fallacies thread that I left off a while back.
At least it is now clear that it was because you think that I ‘refuse to look at the facts, or are ignorant of them, or because [I am] using words in some ill-defined way’. You will have noticed that they are familiar criticisms – you are in good company on this list.
RESPONDENT: I’m still processing what you said – but each time I think about the people I mentioned as atheists which you rephrased as ‘conditional’ atheists – it is at such a point that I begin to wonder whether you and I can have any productive conversation or dialogue on this topic at all.
PETER: It would obviously be impossible given your present predisposition towards me.
RESPONDENT: You say you cannot think of a single example where the ‘feeling’ of being is not also accompanied by spiritual beliefs.
PETER: And as I pointed out to No 60: meaning I cannot think of a single example where spiritual beliefs are not always accompanied by a feeling of being.
But for the sake of continuing the conversation, I understand that you are using the alternative meaning of the phrase – namely that it is possible for a person to have a feeling of being without having any spiritual beliefs.
RESPONDENT: Let’s see if I can help. 1) Me 2) No 60 3) AJ Ayer 4) Corliss Lamont 5) Stephen Weinberg 6) Paul Kurtz 7) Isaac Asimov 8) James Randi 9) Bertrand Russell 10) JL Mackie 11) Richard Dawkins. There are plenty more – these are just some that we may be mutually acquainted with in some form or another (and that I’ve read enough to be confident that they are non-spiritual (as in no spiritual beliefs) – which is why I started with this particular list.
Now, if you mean something like ‘the feeling of being always goes hand-in-hand with either spiritual belief OR not knowing for certain there is nothing spiritual in existence’ – then that is another matter entirely. Or possibly you would say that most of these people on the above list have ‘spiritual’ beliefs because most of them believe in the truth of relativity, the big bang, ‘self’ and other beliefs you might call ‘spiritual?’
PETER: You will have noticed that I made the following comment to No 60 –
In the case of the people you list above, I would ask how is it that you are ‘confident’ that they have no spiritual beliefs? Have they, for example, ever published any articles or written any books describing the process by which they have managed to free themselves from all spiritual beliefs? Have you sat down and conducted in-depth interviews with these people? You may recall that we have previously discussed this question of authenticity and verification in our conversation about atheists who believe that the physical universe is an ephemeral creation that has arisen out an underlying reality that is timeless, spaceless and formless –
And so we are back having the conversation you abandoned because you say I ‘refuse to look at the facts, or are ignorant of them, or because [I am] using words in some ill-defined way’. If you decide that you want to continue the discussion let me know, but whilst you consider your being confident (because you have read enough) that there are plenty of people who are non-spiritual (as in have no spiritual beliefs) makes it a fact then any further discussion on the matter will no doubt be unproductive.
PETER: I think it is an apt opportunity to more fully explain to you why I have said that the whole ongoing issue of the meanings of the words spiritual, atheist and materialist is a beat up.
Vineeto and I occasionally watch a television program devoted to exploring all things religious, spiritual and metaphysical and a recent show featured a debate between a priest and a spiritualist on one hand and a well-known avowed atheist and an academic secular humanist on the other. The to-ing and fro-ing went on with the priest and spiritualist holding the moral high-ground whilst the atheist and secular humanist presented reasoned arguments that spiritual belief was unnecessary, puerile and very often the cause of human conflict and animosity.
As the debate went on, the spiritualists eventually reverted to the fall-back position that spiritual belief is the only effective way to assuage feelings of sorrow and grief and they presented several heart-rendering examples of this. In a counter move the atheist immediately went into ‘life-without-God-is-jolly’ mode in order to prove that an atheist’s happiness is better than a spiritualist’s happiness-born-out-of-compassion. The presenter of the program, a spiritualist herself, then interjected, making the comment to the atheist ‘but I know that you get very depressed from time to time’ and immediately the wind went out of his sails. The debate continued on but in the end the telling point was that the spiritualists had an answer to emotional suffering (succour) and the atheists and secular humanists clearly didn’t.
The whole debate encapsulated the spiritualist vs. materialist debate – the spiritualists will always maintain the moral high-ground over the materialists because materialists have no solution to the feelings of sorrow that invariably afflict all human beings from time to time.
This is why I say that all of the discussions on this mailing list as to the meanings of the words such as spiritualist, atheist, materialist and so on are but a beat-up. Whichever side one chooses to sit on, or believes oneself to be on, or whether one sits in the middle or refuses to sit down, it is clear that neither the spiritualists nor the materialists have any workable solutions to bringing an end to human malice and sorrow. When you sit down and think about it, does not it strike you as being somewhat bizarre that all this running for cover, duck-shoving, side-stepping and re-labelling goes on on a mailing list that has been set up specifically in order to discuss a proven method of bringing an end to human malice and sorrow?
PETER: In response to your postscript –
RESPONDENT: P.S. Also, in light of the fact that Richard has recently acknowledged No 53’s denial of being a ‘spiritualist’ – and that his terming him a ‘spiritualist’ was at least possibly a misapprehension – does that acknowledgement help you think of a possible case where ‘the feeling of being does not always go hand-in hand with spiritual belief’?
PETER: If this is this post you are referring to, then it is clear that you have misinterpreted what Richard said –
If this is not the comment you are referring to, could you please provide the quote?
RESPONDENT: It is most interesting that even though actualists suggest taking their own words at ‘face value’ – that sometimes actualists do not do the same with non-actualists words, eh? (As in, Peter not acknowledging that No 60 is privy to the fact that he has no ‘spiritual beliefs’ and that No 60’s words are all that Peter has to go on – which results in the situation where No 60 says ‘I have no spiritual beliefs’ and Peter responds ‘Yes you do’ – which can only result in ‘No, I don’t.’ – ‘Yes, you do.’ – ‘No, I DON’T.’ – ‘Yes, you do.’ nonsense.)
PETER: It appears that you missed the piece that No 60 snipped out of his reply as in it you will see that I did indeed take No 60’s words at ‘face value’. And could you please provide the reference as to where No 60 says ‘I have no spiritual beliefs’ and I responded ‘Yes you do’ as I cannot find that any such conversation ever took place.
RESPONDENT to No 71: So, you see that Peter immediately admitted that his original rendition was ‘a bit sloppy’ thus, incorrect. It might be better to say that many spiritual teachings hold that we ‘originated’ as innocent beings, rather than ‘born’ as innocent beings. If it is put this way, then even the doctrine of original sin allows for a time where the human being was innocent, prior to the fairy tale Fall in the Garden of Eden.
PETER: … or in the case of those who believe in the notion of Karma, common sense would have it that there must be a pre-karmic state of innocence from which one had digressed by being born into this world in the first place. But then again, the teachings do refer to an ‘endless cycle’ of birth and rebirth which apparently negates a prior karma-free state … but then again this is at odds with the overall increase in the total number of supposedly karmicly-inflicted souls on the planet.
If nothing else, my sloppiness does seem to encourage a few people to think about such issues for themselves. Thanks for the suggestion – as some form of amendment does seem in order to clarify the issue, I’ll give it some more thought when I finish my current work commitments.
PETER: I have been somewhat reluctant to send this post off, but in the end I have decided to mainly because it includes an explanation as to why I have lately had no inclination whatsoever to post to the mailing list.
RESPONDENT: It appears that the difference in your current discussion boils down to 2 things:
1) No 60 never intended his comment about ‘omniscience’ to be taken literally – rather, it was intended as a hyperbole to illustrate in principle that since a human being doesn’t know everything, it follows that there are some things that he/she will not know. Vineeto appears to be taking the comment about ‘omniscience’ literally, thus the continued [*fruitless] discussion.
PETER: I am curious as to why you adjudge No 60’s conversation with Vineeto to be fruitless? Whilst it may well be fruitless to you, could not the conversation be fruitful to those who are conducting it? They are after all discussing an aspect of the human condition that is very pertinent to explore and make sense of – should one aspire to become free of the human condition.
As a further question, I would ask why you seem to attribute this ‘fruitlessness’ to Vineeto taking No 60’s comment about omniscience literally, as in what has actually been said, without exaggeration or distortion? How do you expect Vineeto to know No 60’s intent when No 60 did not make his intent clear?
I would be interested in your response as I assume your training in philosophy would mean that you are well acquainted with the nuances and rules of discussion, debate and argumentation. As a layman, it seems to me that if one wants to have a sincere discussion about matters, it would be essential to take what someone says literally, as in accurately, without exaggeration or distortion?
You might have noticed that I have not written to the mailing list for a good while now and quite frankly have no inclination to write at all. What baffles me is that by far the majority of conversations on this mailing list are of the head-banging ‘I want to be the alpha male’ type of confrontations, seconded only by the ‘I am on your side, you are on their side’ playground allegiances – neither of which I see as being at all conducive to conducting a sensible discussion about any matter, let alone the sensitive and close-to-the-bone discussions about the human condition that are sometimes undertaken on this mailing list.
RESPONDENT: * ‘Fruitless’ because Vineeto is addressing No 60’s comments literally when they were never intended literally, so the discussion continues at crossed purposes.
PETER: When you say that No 60’s comments were never intended literally, are you saying this because you know this to be so i.e. that you have clarified this matter in an off-list conversation with him, or are you simply making an assumption about another correspondent’s intention? If the latter is the case, why do you make this assumption and what motivated you to make your assumption a matter of public record?
I am curious because I no longer have the ability to imagine what your intent was in making the comments you have made in this post.
RESPONDENT: 2) There are multiple definitions and uses of the word ‘agnostic.’ Vineeto and Peter normally use it to mean ‘a person who claims something (essential to actualism) is impossible to know.’ It has another meaning as well – simply ‘not knowing.’ The second meaning doesn’t necessarily couple with the former. Try www.onelook.com and type the word into the various dictionaries available – some of them have one meaning listed – others have more than one.
Even Vineeto’s presented definition contains two meanings that can either go together or be pulled apart – as in the verbiage ‘Also....’
These 2 definitions can go hand in hand and together – or – they can be pulled apart as they often are.
PETER: I fail to see the point you are making as your comment makes no reference at all to the definition of agnosticism that No 60 provided, be it hyperbole or not.
As for your statement that I normally use the word agnostic to mean ‘a person who claims something (essential to actualism) is impossible to know’ – this is not so. I have, however, had occasion to talk to people who claim to be agnostics and define agnosticism to mean that it is impossible to know, let alone experience, that the universe is infinite and eternal, as in utterly peerless in its perfection. Note that they use the word ‘impossible’, not that they are ‘uncertain’ or ‘non-committal’ about the subject – they claim it is impossible.
Personally I find it fascinating that the word agnosticism was originally coined by a scientist in order to describe his stance with regard to religion –
And yet, only some 130 years later, the very the same word that was originally coined specifically to describe a person’s stance with regard to religion is now used by some people to describe their stance with regard to something that is utterly unreligious – actualism.
Given this very odd reversal of usage, it is little wonder that there is such confusion about the meaning of words agnostic and agnosticism. It seems that one can use the word to mean anything one wants to nowadays – including it to mean non-omniscient.
RESPONDENT No 82: The same could be said about your journal samples using MS Word /MS Reader format instead of the ubiquitous and portable PDF, or even plain HTML.
PETER to No 82: We did look into PDF format but the cost of buying the PDF-publishing program was prohibitive, whereas the MS Reader program is free, both to the publisher and to the reader. <snipped> Peter to No 82
RESPONDENT: Peter, you may find this website useful: http://www.pdf995.com/download.html
It installs as a printer driver – free of charge. If you prefer not to see their sponsor pages, then its $9.95. The Adobe Acrobat reader is also a free download.
PETER: If I can just expand on my answer to No 82 you might understand why I don’t find the link useful to me. What I could have also mentioned in my response was that I don’t find the PDF format appropriate for books per se as it seems to be a format more appropriate for technical literature, and I personally find it somewhat cumbersome even for that purpose. The reason for choosing an E-book format was in the part you snipped.
One of the inherent pleasures of doing something by oneself, or in co-operation with like minded colleagues, is that one gets to choose to do it in the manner and in the style of one’s own preference.
Peter’s & Richard’s Text ©The Actual Freedom Trust: 1997-. All Rights Reserved.