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Atheism Biological Immortality And Religion

Nov 15, 2004
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Thailand
Siri Kamala ji,


With that said, I see that you have been a member here for many years, and I guess I am just very curious to know why? Not knowing you at all, it seems to me sort of like...shopping for vitamins and other health supplements in the section of the store that has mostly bread and cereals, but clearly I simply don't have enough data to understand...so I am asking, and I hope it is not unduly intrusive of me to ask. Thank you!
:wave2:

I don’t know exactly, but I had joined another group before I knew about this one. What led me to that was a result of a comment by my wife that Sikhism is all about ‘understanding’, which made me curious. Up until that time I had put Sikhism in the basket of ‘blind believers’. Yes, I didn’t know anything about Sikhi and wasn’t taught anything except bits and pieces about its history.

At fifteen, after asking myself the question ‘who made God’ and got no answer, I rejected all religions till I was about thirty. At this time, it was when my younger brother was dying of brain cancer that I started to read some religion for the first time. There was Christianity as expressed by C.S. Lewis, Taoism, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, the Sufi poets, some Hinduism, but no Sikhism. I was also very much interested in the writings of Alan Watts and more so in J. Krishnamurti who I have good feelings for even today. Indeed after I had decided on Tibetan Buddhism and before I then finally settled on Theravada, I continued to read Krishnamurti with the impression that he was more Buddhist than most Buddhists today. Anyway, now I don’t read anything else.
So why am I here?

In the beginning it was one thing leading to another, and then for a long time I basically stopped visiting this and other Sikh lists. This time, it was at the beginning of this year, I was moved by the idea to encourage the understanding about Karma and to counter the influence by science which has its own ideas about cause and effect. I find the understanding of karma to be a necessity for anyone interested in growth in morality. And if someone is move by science in a way which leads him to reject karma, I consider this to lead to the opposite direction.

Now I await your response to other parts of my post. ;-)
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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Well one day, 20 years from now, well only have until forever to find out ;)
Hah!! The last 20+ years of research has not been able to figure out a way to stop or even slow down ageing in photoreceptors (when they age they die causing Age-related Macular Degeneration- an irreversible blinding condition), and you think in the next 20 years the they'll stop all the cells in the whole body from ageing and dying :rofl!!:

I'm crying as I'm laughing so hard :rofl!!:
 
Nov 15, 2010
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90
Hah!! The last 20+ years of research has not been able to figure out a way to stop or even slow down ageing in photoreceptors (when they age they die causing Age-related Macular Degeneration- an irreversible blinding condition), and you think in the next 20 years the they'll stop all the cells in the whole body from ageing and dying :rofl!!:

I'm crying as I'm laughing so hard :rofl!!:
You just wait until we're all cyborgs 20 years from now, missy. :blinkingkudi:

I would say, "Then we'll see who gets the last laugh," but as we'll all be immortal machines, I imagine that the laughter will just go on...and on...and on... :rofl!!:

(If you're curious you can read more about the Law of Accelerating Returns here and here -- fascinating stuff. You may want to take a few days to read that last one though -- my head started to hurt after the first few paragraphs... IMO, Kurzweil is this century's DaVinci... I'm smarter than the average bear, but even so a lot of his stuff just goes *whoosh* right over my head... :worship: )
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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You just wait until we're all cyborgs 20 years from now, missy. :blinkingkudi:

I would say, "Then we'll see who gets the last laugh," but as we'll all be immortal machines, I imagine that the laughter will just go on...and on...and on... :rofl!!:

(If you're curious you can read more about the Law of Accelerating Returns here and here -- fascinating stuff. You may want to take a few days to read that last one though -- my head started to hurt after the first few paragraphs... IMO, Kurzweil is this century's DaVinci... I'm smarter than the average bear, but even so a lot of his stuff just goes *whoosh* right over my head... :worship: )
I went to a genetics lecture about this very subject last week. That is purely a sensational headline. From one who has been recently playing with DNA in the lab, trust me the body is far too complicated for such things to occur in such a short timeframe. Theory often doesn't match up with practical experience as we don't yet fully understand the human body so often experience effects never predicted with new therapies or technologies! Things just don't go the way predicted
 
Nov 15, 2010
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90
What you say about how we don't fully understand the human body yet is so true. It makes me angry sometimes, how much speculative medicine is going on under the guise of "tried and true treatment." When my mother was diagnosed with a small, slow-growing breast cancer about 12 years ago, they did a lumpectomy and then radiation "therapy" as a just-in-case measure.

The radiation they zapped her with went to work all right. 9 years after that "therapy" it gave her a highly aggressive, always-terminal cancer that first attacked her breasts and THEN attacked her lungs and took her life within about 10 months. She probably would have lived longer if they had left the original cancer *in place* than she did after that radiation treatment. *******s... They can cite all the statistical averages they want and tell me till the cows come home that my mother was an outlier -- that her response to radiation was rare and unusual, etc. All I know is she was vibrant and alive and planning a trip to China having just returned from Turkey and Greece, and now she's gone.

(Thanks for letting me vent -- as you can tell it still hurts and makes me feel so angry...)

Setting aside the whole issue of timeframes, though, the proposition of self-aware artificial intelligence is a fascinating one, is it not? And somewhat frightening? What do you think of Kurzweil's work and his theories in general?
 

findingmyway

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Sorry to hear about your mum motherlylove
Medicine is a bunch of tough decisions as rarely are things clear cut unfortunately :confusedkudi:
I think nowadays rather than accelerating returns we are in a state of accelerating demise with the number of species becoming extinct due to human actions.

Don't now much about AI as it is beyond my area of experience. Having said that I have seen articles that say it is unlikely in the near future as computing a conscience, emotion, instincts etc, basically all the things that make us human is close to impossible with current methods. We can't even define those things in any real, biological or mathematical sense, let alone replicate them!!
 
Nov 15, 2010
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90
Sorry to hear about your mum motherlylove
Medicine is a bunch of tough decisions as rarely are things clear cut unfortunately :confusedkudi:
Thanks, Jasleen ji. :hug: I just wish they wouldn't use therapies that can turn out to be MORE harmful than no treatment at all for some patients.

Don't now much about AI as it is beyond my area of experience. Having said that I have seen articles that say it is unlikely in the near future as computing a conscience, emotion, instincts etc, basically all the things that make us human is close to impossible with current methods. We can't even define those things in any real, biological or mathematical sense, let alone replicate them!!
One of my favorite Sci-Fi authors, Frank Herbert, explored a lot of these issues in his book Destination: Void -- the man was visionary, I think. In the book, scientists on earth try again and again and again to create a spaceship that will be sentient without going rogue and trying to destroy itself, the humans on the ship, or the earth. Over and over again the ship's intelligence becomes self-aware and then goes absolutely mad, until one day... (and I don't want to say more because it would spoil it for anyone wanting to read it). A whole series of books came out of that -- The Jesus Incident, The Lazarus Effect...

This segment from the Wiki page on AI gives some thought-provoking predictions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_intelligence#Prediction
 

Caspian

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Mar 8, 2008
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From one who has been recently playing with DNA in the lab, trust me the body is far too complicated for such things to occur in such a short timeframe. Theory often doesn't match up with practical experience as we don't yet fully understand the human body so often experience effects never predicted with new therapies or technologies! Things just don't go the way predicted
DNA research is perhaps one of the greatest examples of scientists working at the rate of accelerating returns and living up to predictions. They had set fourth a goal to code the entire human genome within 7 years. After the first year, they had managed to code for 1 percent of that genome. And many detracters like (like findingmyway) scoffed at the possibility of coding the other 99 percent in 6 years. Yet by year two, they had further coded 2 more percent (total of 3 percent), by year 3 it was 4 percent more (total of 7 percent), by year 4 is was 8 percent more (total of 15 percent). By year 5, 16 percent more (total of 31 percent). By year 6 it was 32 percent more (total of 63 percent) and by year 7 they had accomplished they're goal.

Genetic research, along with research in artificial intelligence (my area of expertise in university) exhibits a clear cut exponential growth pattern. We will see radical changes in the very near future. The last 100 years has seen more change then in the entirity of human existance. It only makes sense then, to see more change in the next 20-50 years then in the last 100.

Either which way, when biological immortality comes in the near future. I hope you think of me :)

The human mind thinks and comprehends things in terms of linear growth. But often times, we work in terms of exponential growth. Ofcourse at one point, sooner or later, the growth levels off. But thats not predicted to happen anytime soon (and farther yet if we can unlock a reliable method of quantum computing). The only exception I can think of, with regards to the exponential growth of knowledge, is the decrease in knowledge during the christian dark ages. But even then, the arab world picked up alot of slack as well as other area's around the world (india, china).
 

Seeker9

Cleverness is not wisdom
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May 3, 2010
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This debate pretty much sums up why I think SPN is THE best forum on the web! Really enjoyed reading through the contributions, which have been made by people who are speaking from a position of actual knowledge....incidentally, if anyone can recommend a beginner's book on this stuff that doesn't require a genuis brain to read, please let me know!!

Having debated the scientific aspects of Caspian's original question, I wonder if we could now look at the Philosphical aspects? I attempted to answer that point in an earlier post and my view is that it isn't relevant...

What do others think??
 
Nov 15, 2010
79
90
Good morning, Caspian Ji.

You have not been completely straight with us have you? :55: :33: You claim to be an Atheist, but clearly your profile pic identifies you as a follower of FSM (may peace be upon his noodly appendage). Come clean -- it's okay as all faiths are welcome here! :blinkingkudi:

On a more serious note, have you read Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines? If so, I'd be interested to know what you think about that, and the potential for Moore's Law to hold steady as advances continue to be made in processing speed with things like diamonds, etc.

Beyond that, I've often wondered if God could be a manifestation of our collective unconscious (as Jung put it), where the whole is much, much greater than the sum of our parts...and maybe we will discover "God" when we hit the Singularity?

Does that exist as a possibility in the realm of your atheism?

One thing I've always puzzled over is the choice of atheism over agnosticism, when logic tells us that it's impossible to prove a negative (i.e. that there is no God). How does it look/feel from your perspective, for you personally?

Thanks! :happykudi:
 

Caspian

SPNer
Mar 8, 2008
234
154
You have not been completely straight with us have you? :55:
You claim to be an Atheist, but clearly your profile pic identifies you as a follower of FSM (may peace be upon his noodly appendage). Come clean -- it's okay as all faiths are welcome here! :blinkingkudi:
I know right :p I can feel the love. I guess it is time to come clean :p

On a more serious note, have you read Kurzweil's The Age of Spiritual Machines? If so, I'd be interested to know what you think about that, and the potential for Moore's Law to hold steady as advances continue to be made in processing speed with things like diamonds, etc.

Beyond that, I've often wondered if God could be a manifestation of our collective unconscious (as Jung put it), where the whole is much, much greater than the sum of our parts...and maybe we will discover "God" when we hit the Singularity
Technological_singularity
?

Does that exist as a possibility in the realm of your atheism?
I must admit, sometimes even I think ray kurzweil can be alil crazy. I wouldnt consider myself a futurist, however, ray does have a pretty good track record when it comes to these things.

And I have no problem with that conception of god. In that sense god is akin to something like the internet. Its omnipresent or all seeing (Youtube) omnicient or all knowing (Wikipedia) and omnipotent or all powerful (Google) :p lol

This concept of god has also been somewhat defined and parodied in the novel "God Debris" in which the narrator posits that an Omnipotent being was present prior to the big bang, it knew everything except what would happen if it were to die—hence the big bang. And whats happening now, is that that god is piecin itself together, albeit slowly, and they used the internet of an example of a god-like entity. One that is greater then the sum of its parts.

I dont consider this perspective on god to be remotley religious. And purely a philosophical "wouldnt it be cool if..." type concept. So I have no problem with it, atleast the internet is something we can observe and see.

One thing I've always puzzled over is the choice of atheism over agnosticism, when logic tells us that it's impossible to prove a negative (i.e. that there is no God). How does it look/feel from your perspective, for you personally?
Theres a thread I made here earlier this year (or last year) entitled "2+2=5" where i kinda deal with this issue in a conversation I had with a muslim peer.


EDIT!!!

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/interfaith-dialogues/29347-2-2-5-case-agnostic-atheism.html

Theres the link to the thread :p I would appreciate that you read that instead. I'm deleting my convulated explanation below :p as I feel i explained it more eloquently in my debate.

One small caveat though. My understanding of the sikh god was different back then, as I was raised by a sikh family that treated the sikh god in much the same way christians treat their god. It was a personal god. The sikhs on this site have a different point of view regarding the sikh god then the average sikh person does (in my opinion). But i still dont believe in their conceptualization of the sikh god either, for reasons explained in the thread, i believe it falls into the realm of "pointless gods" (which btw is a compliment, coming from me, a pointless god is a beutiful god in my opinion :p). And while the read is quite long, I hope u find it as engaging as the other people ive shown it to.


EDIT!!!!!



Essentially, I think you can prove certain kinds of gods dont exist because they violate some logical principles. For example, the free will paradox, in my opinion, completely eradicates the possibility of an abrahemic god.

Anyways, after having demonstrated the non-existance of specific gods (like allah and zeus). The question becomes "well how can you demonstrate the non-existance of a god-like entity in general?"

And in short—you cant. So your kinda right. Logically, you cannot prove a negative. But what you can do is limit ur options to one of 2, using logic.

God does exist, and his existance is utterly pointless.
or
God does not exist.

(I really done see much of a difference between these two positions, as detailed in my thread)

Believing in a pointless god (or a god like entity in general) is also as good as believing in no god. Even if this pointless god does exist, what is he going to do to the disbelievers? send them to the hell that cannot exist?

My main gripe is more so with religion (like we have been talkin about in the other thread, the need for 5 k's doesnt sit well from a logical/reasonable point of view?). If people believed in "pointless gods" I wouldnt really have a problem then.



I also appreciate the more simpler justification given by sam harris. He said the lable of "atheism" is totally inappropriate. You dont go around labling people A-fairists if they dont believe in fairies. Or A-bigfootists, if they dont believe in big foot.

I also like what Izaac Asimov had to say about the term "atheist." He said "I prefer the term humanist, because as opposed to describing what i dont believe in—it describes what i do believe in"
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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DNA research is perhaps one of the greatest examples of scientists working at the rate of accelerating returns and living up to predictions. They had set fourth a goal to code the entire human genome within 7 years. After the first year, they had managed to code for 1 percent of that genome. And many detracters like (like findingmyway) scoffed at the possibility of coding the other 99 percent in 6 years.
I don't appreciate people assuming they know how I think so don't do it in future. It reduces an intelligent discussion to one upmanship and ego building which is not conducive to a learning environment.

I actually was not surprised at the human genome being completed early. As the sequencing technology became much cheaper making the project possible, more labs were going to join in. Also people got better at the technique so it was logical that it would finish earlier than originally scheduled. It is one of the truly global projects where researchers worked together rather than competing for patents.

You cannot possibly use that as an example of biological immortality. Agreed that the field of genetics has come in leaps and bounds but there are still so many fundamental gaps in our knowledge, For example, we know the gene sequence but haven't got a clue what a lot of those genes do or how they cause disease! The more research is done the more questions are raised as we realise things are actually a lot more complicated than thought. Narrow questions are answered and for each study completed, 3 more are planned to answer the question from that one! For example, the lab I am learning from is involved in research in gene therapy as well as looking at dealing with ageing. With gene therapy, many different types stem cells have been looked at. Each time the researchers get super excited as they think they've cracked it then they discover that they missed factoring in some other effect into the equation that reduces the usefulness of the procedure. Therefore, a lot more work needs to be done as its more complicated than 1st thought. I have no doubt they will crack it so that gene therapy will be useful in a broader way than it is now but there is no quick fix.

Gene therapy can only deal in correcting disease. Even if it works, those cells age and die as normal or earlier than normal. Ageing is a whole different ball game as it is also due to environmental factors which cannot be completely eradicated so the triggers will always be there. Even using stem cells, the cell has a certain lifespan. It there is a major breakthrough I will be the 1st to celebrate as it will reduce the number of blind people I see in my clinics by almost 80%. However, its a lot more complicated than that. In addition to the environment you have to take into account other factors in the body such as other proteins, blood circulation, efficacy of adjacent cell types, increase in damage from other disease processes (the longer you live the more diseases are likely to affect you), mutations in the cells increase with time too and that is something that should not be stopped as it is a necessary part of evolution although it can also have undesirable side effects depending on what the mutation is. I won't get anymore technical but in essence we haven't even got close to stopping ageing changes in cells, let alone reversing it. We're not even sure if it would be desirable to stop ageing as some ageing effects actually have protective functions in the body! Theory and practice are often very different, hence the need for controlled clinical trials. There are too many factors involved and we can't even begin to influence them all as we don't even know what all of them are! When we do influence a factor, there are other effects which then need to be corrected and so on and so on!! You cannot possibly compare it to sequencing the order of bases in the DNA chain! Biological immortality on a cellular level in humans is not coming anytime soon....


Genetic research, along with research in artificial intelligence (my area of expertise in university) exhibits a clear cut exponential growth pattern. We will see radical changes in the very near future. The last 100 years has seen more change then in the entirity of human existance. It only makes sense then, to see more change in the next 20-50 years then in the last 100.
As I said above, learning more raises more questions rather than filling concrete gaps in knowledge as we realise things are more complicated than anticipated with genetics so the increase in genetic knowledge is not actually taking us any closer to biological immortality by any stretch of the imagination.


I also like what Izaac Asimov had to say about the term "atheist." He said "I prefer the term humanist, because as opposed to describing what i dont believe in—it describes what i do believe in"
Are you implying that people who believe in God are not interested in humanity?! I actually take offence at that notion as that is completely incorrect. What did your parents do to you to make you so anti-God? You've been asked before too but shied away from the question. I'm genuinely interested to try and understand where you are coming from?

The question becomes "well how can you demonstrate the non-existance of a god-like entity in general?"

And in short—you cant. So your kinda right. Logically, you cannot prove a negative.
Glad to see you admit that! LOGICALLY therefore atheists are an illogical lot claiming knowledge that you've admitted is impossible :blinkingkudi:
 

Caspian

SPNer
Mar 8, 2008
234
154
I actually take offence at that notion as that is completely incorrect. What did your parents do to you to make you so anti-God? You've been asked before too but shied away from the question. I'm genuinely interested to try and understand where you are coming from?
I didnt answer it because my parents didnt do anything? They never answered my questions as a kid though—thats what lead me to atheism. My parents were great, i take offence to you trying to blame them lol.

Glad to see you admit that! LOGICALLY therefore atheists are an illogical lot claiming knowledge that you've admitted is impossible

Deletion. Debate issues not individuals.
 

Ambarsaria

ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
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Dec 21, 2010
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Folks great dialog. I am new here and my inputs can be considered zero. I do have a suggestion.

It perhaps will be great if Caspian and all together make a bullet type list of ideas that surround this thread.

For example,


  • God
    • Exists and proof in first person experience/dialog
    • Does not exist in first person experience/dialog
  • Re-incarnation
    • Exists and proof in first person experience/dialog
    • Does not exist in first person experience/dialog
  • Immortality
    • Possible, consequences on God/no-God
    • Not possible, consequences on God/no-God
I am not expert but I believe I have fairly open and logical mind. My father used to say, you can spend all your life studying a single blade of grass. This is in the sixties, way before common person knowledge of DNA, genome projects, etc.

I do want us to have some rigor in our statements and for example the following from Caspian does not pass the logical rigor,
God does exist, and his existance is utterly pointless.
or
God does not exist.

When one makes such binary statements as a set representing the whole, these need to be rigorously complimentary and these are not. For example if I were to create a statement duple from these it will look like,

Ex 1:

  • God does exist, and his existance is utterly pointless

  • God does not exist, and his non-existance is utterly pointless
Ex 2:

  • God does exist, and his existance is utterly pointless

  • God does exist, and his existance is not-at all pointless
These variations come to be as multiple attributes are included in the statements namely,

  • existence/non-existence
  • utility/non-utility (pointless)
  • Utterly/little
I do believe the dialog otherwise will be stroking egos like "I know more than you do", "you are wrong I am right", "all I know is you are wrong", roflmundahug

Sat Sri Akal

PS: Just a teaser for Caspian ... Sat Sri Akal would be considered atheism compatible greeting or not!
 

Caspian

SPNer
Mar 8, 2008
234
154
(I still have to reply to two other threads on this board, but I've been swamped with mid-terms this week. So this post is just a random little tidbit of information).

But a search of "Biological Immortality" on google returns this thread on its 2nd page. And if you combine other terms with Biological Immortality such as "Religion" or "Novel" etc, it comes up on the first page. I find that interesting on more then one level but mostly because how little is written on the internet about the concept of biological immortality. Anyways, back to midterm :p
 

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