A thoughtful post

Via the “Incoming Links” section of my blog stats, I see there’s a post about Evangelical Realism up at thinktoomuch.net. Not only does he say nice things about the blog, he also takes a thoughtful look at how meaning and purpose can come from a God like Alethea, who is actually just a personification for Reality itself.

Recommended Reading.

 
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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Recommended Reading. 8 Comments »

8 Responses to “A thoughtful post”

  1. Hugo Says:

    Ah, the supernatural powers of personification. (Because human imagination and creativity and subjectivity provides something “beyond” pure naturalism. ;) )

  2. Deacon Duncan Says:

    What’s really fun is that my non-supernatural God performs much better in real-world tests than any of the supposedly supernatural ones do. :D

  3. Mark Says:

    Deacon,

    I suppose I’d like to comment on the premise of your “god” alethea. I could be wrong but the word alethea does not mean reality or real it means “truth”. So I guess the hair splitting begins (got go fast I’m balding).

    I realize this is or could be an enormous philosophical thread but I’ll just try to get to a concise point quickly.

    Reality and truth should not be confused the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably.

    On the human level; In a court of law, working as well as it can will, based on the reality of evidence and testimony, will occasionally continue to sentence the innocent and extricate the guilty. The truth lost in the “facts and evidence”

    On the physical level; Maybe you’ve heard of the “vomit comet”? A specially designed aircraft used to help astronauts experience zero gravity by flying as series of hyperbolic arcs. Reality for the occupants is that they ARE experiencing what appears to be zero gravity but only at a subjective level. And if you knew nothing beyond your environment inside that plane you might conclude that it was in fact zero gravity.

    The TRUTH of that subjective “reality” is they are more than before subject to gravity and are firmly and completely given to it, falling, inside a falling airplane. Their reality is re-aligned when reaching the bottom of the arc and they must face the truth.

    There are places where zero gravity exists, but that was not it.

    I guess what I want to say is reality can and is a derivative state. It can be derived from evidence, which can be misunderstood, testimony that could be a lie of self interest, experiences which are misinterpreted, or faith that can be misplaced. Underneath all of this, somewhere, is truth.

    Best Regards,
    Mark

  4. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I do not disagree that there are other, more subjective “truths” and/or “realities” out there. Alethea, however, is that very special kind of truth which is reality—the infallible standard against which all other truths/realities must be measured. You allude to this when you contrast the astronaut’s experience of zero gravity (the “reality” they perceived) against the actual truth of the fact (i.e. the reality which IS truth) that they were still subject to gravity’s pull.

    We derive our perception of reality from evidence, testimony, experience, etc, but our subjective perception is not the same as the thing we are perceiving.

    Our perceptions are subject to error. If we are wrong about reality, the error lies with us, not with reality. Reality, thus, is the standard of truth against which we must measure our perceptions. And in that sense (among others), Alethea is indeed divine.

    By the way, speaking of “Alethea,” I am not aware of a different Greek word for the concept we refer to as “reality.” If you know of one, I’d like to hear it.

  5. Mark Says:

    I must disagree that reality is the standard by which to judge truth and turn this on its head. Truth is the standard by which we must judge reality. Then we find ourselves as Pontius Pilate saying to Jesus “What is truth?” Alas reality still remains derivative. We can perceive differing realities but truth remains truth for all, whether or not or how we perceive it or believe it.

    As I thought about this I would suggest that the reality, being a derivative state might just, at the end of the day, be one more manifestation. The truth set free, if you will.
    But not all reality is in fact truth or at least a complete picture of it, merely an abstraction from it.

    You stated: “If we are wrong about reality, the error lies with us, not with reality.” Those riding the “vomit comet” did not have a wrong reality or perception of reality, they were in fact, in reality, experiencing zero g but that was not the truth, they were falling.

    Plato used both terms side-by-side, truth and reality or eimi (to be, to exist) as truth and alêtheia loosely as truth or truthfulness. The frequency of its use in the sense of “reality” is only about 4% and “truth” less than 1% of the time vs. eimi. The usage appears to be that alêthês is used to describe an agree-ablity to truth.

    Yet lexicographically they it might seem that there is not a distinction though Plato used them as though they may have meant different things to him:

    “When the mind’s eye rests on objects illuminated by truth and reality, it understands and comprehends them, and functions intelligently; but when it turns to the twilight world of change and decay, it can only form opinions, its vision is confused and its beliefs shifting, and it seems to lack intelligence.” (Plato, Republic)

    Anyway, sorry about hijacking this thread.

    Mark

  6. jim Says:

    Reality is derivative? I don’t think so. Reality is primary, and truth is simply a representational model of that reality. We form definitions, define parameters, and investigate in terms we’ve agreed upon. Nothing I say about the nature of the sun, accurate or not, changes the nature of the sun. But if the sun alters in some way, the truth about it necessarily changes to fit the facts.

  7. Deacon Duncan Says:

    Mark,

    It seems to me that you are using the word “truth” to represent the concept I refer to as “reality,” and using the word “reality” the way I would use the term “perception.” Reality exists outside of ourselves; perception happens within ourselves. “Reality” is that which is perceived, therefore it is the external reference to which our perceptions refer.

    Consider two people looking at an apple. If two people are looking at the same apple, how many apples are there in reality? I would say one, because reality provides the external referent that defines what it is that they are seeing. There may be two different perceptions of the apple, but in reality there is only one apple. If a third person comes up and looks at the same apple, no new, third apple springs into existence. In reality, there is only one apple.

    Truth, meanwhile, comes in many different types. Is it true that the best birthday cake is a german chocolate cake? It is for me. Is it true that Eragon was a bad book and an even worse movie? It’s true for me, and even if you disagree, the fact that it’s not true for you does not change the fact that it is true for me. These are personal, subjective truths, however—they do not correspond to a commonly-shared, external reality that makes the same truth apply equally to all, they just belong to a personal realm of subjective perceptions that is consistent within itself but that does not apply outside itself.

    My point, in speaking of Alethea as a god, is to focus on the truth which does correspond to the reality which exists outside of ourselves and independently of our perceptions of it. This is the reality that makes the rules for us, that we must learn to work with, and to perceive accurately. This is the reality that will reward or frustrate our endeavors, depending on whether we work with it or against it. And that’s why it’s important.

  8. Greg (not THAT Greg) Says:

    Good discussion going here.

    I just want to add this;

    Mark you stated

    Those riding the “vomit comet” did not have a wrong reality or perception of reality, they were in fact, in reality, experiencing zero g but that was not the truth, they were falling.

    I think it is fair to say when you are falling you are IN FACT experiencing zero g. Thats what zero g is. Einstein found that out on the elevator. The “truth” is you are experiencing zero g when you are falling. It just wont last forever.