Devin Tarr

Master's Student, California State University Chico
Chico, CA, United States

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Comments & conversations

150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Those are some great points! I think this will probably be one of my last responses. I must say, this conversation has started to become somewhat exhausting. It's like debating 12 people at once, with everyone putting forward different points, lol. On unembodied minds, I an indeed a substance-dualist. Unfortunately I haven't spent as much time investigating the philosophy behind it. I recall reading some persuasive works in the past that noted that intentionality, the awareness of ourselves, our personal identity existing through physical change in our brain, and free will are all reasons to believe the mind is an entity that uses the brain, but is its own entity nonetheless. If in fact the mind does have those properties, and is its own entity, that not all beings would require the physical substrata of a brain. But again, this is an area that I have not investigated in depth. I'm thankful you've brought this point up though as it's shown me an area I need to look into to see if the Kalam is in fact sound. Regarding the time issue, that is also an excellent point. I'm going to have to look into that one as well. The possibility of personhood in a timeless state does seem troubling to me. I'll look into those things, and if I find anything interesting, I'll let you know. To Carlin, I admit that science has not closed the door that our universe may be one of many. Though there's no evidence for the multi-verse, it's possible. What's important to note though is that in 2003, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem showed that even the mutliverse must have had an absolute beginning, which would show that a timeless cause produced a temporal effect. Finally, to both of you, thank you for your kindness and respect. Simon, in particular I see I need to look further into whether an unembodied and timeless mind is a coherent concept. Warmly and sincerely, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Harold, I didn't know you were a biochemist! I wish I had that kind of knowledge, though not badly enough to do the work that you've done on that area. I do have an honest question for you though. You said, "Everything there is to a living being are electrochemical reactions." Do you see no difference between the Mind and Brain then? Warmly, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Harald, thank you. Those are good questions. 1) 2) 3) I should be clearer in noting that reflecting on the origin of the universe I don't think requires one to believe in God. But seeing that the cause of the universe (which is all space, time, matter, and energy) requires the cause to spaceless, timeless, immaterial, unimaginably powerful, and personal, I believe we can at least be confident that a transcendent personal supernatural Creator exists. On morality, you note (I think correctly), that if there is no God, then morality is relative. The problem with that is I think we all know it's not true. I think all people have a moral intuition in our being that informs us that murder (killing innocents people) is wrong. Cultures may disagree about who is "innocent", but that principle remains constant. Though, I see no more reason why we should deny our moral sense is true than that we should deny our physical sense of the world is true. But please know, I'm not saying that one must believe in God, or be religious, to be moral. That is not what I'm saying. Rather, the claim is that if God exists, objective moral values exist (for everyone), but if there is no transcendent moral law, then there is no objective morality for anyone--believer or non-believer. On the point about people being held accountable once they die, I think the best evidence for that is to investigate the evidence for Jesus' resurrection. If God really raised Him from the dead, I think we can trust what He said. But if not, then we can dismiss it. I get the feeling though that people aren't enjoying this discussion very much anymore. If you still are, I'd love to talk more, but if not, I don't want to frustrate anyone. I'm just passionate about truth and big questions. Sincerely, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Colleen, I'm sorry I didn't get to your question earlier. I agree we should live in the here and now. I think existentialists have it right in that regard. What I don't see though, is that living for eternity is mutually exclusive to being fully engaged in the here and now. Indeed, it's because of the possibility that what we do in this life echoes for eternity, that what we do, and how we live, is more important than we can ever imagine. Hence I would never advocate someone retreat from life, but rather that people fully engage it. In regard to your question as to my purposes for this discussion, I actually wasn't trying to 'slip in the back door' as it were with a discussion on the existence of God. Rather, having watched Mr. Haidt's talk, it seemed odd that he would approach an inquiry on religious experiences from a standpoint of methodological naturalism. Considering his inquiry, it seemed logical to consider if perhaps there was any veridicality to people's claims. Please know I'm not trying to "preach" or "teach my beliefs." I just think we should reflect on our ontological and epistimological pre-suppositions. We may miss out on many truths about the world if, before we even start, we say some things are not possible.
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Colleen, I really am surprised. I'm not sure how you define "preaching", but if by it you mean pontificating on matters without listening to responses or engaging in interacting dialogue, I whole-heartedly agree with you. I have no desire to simply "preach at" people. If I've somehow given that impression, I sincerely apologize. My honest intent has been to discuss whether it's reasonable, or probable to believe that a supernatural creator exists. I view that as a philosophical question about ontology, not a religious faith claim. That's why I haven't been quoting the Bible or appealing to any special revelation. Rather I'm genuinely curious about how the universe came to be. I've reflected a lot on it, and to me there seem to be three alternatives: 1) The universe has always existed 2) The universe popped into being out, uncaused, out of nothing 3) Something caused the universe to exist. All of the scientific and philosophical evidence is against the first option. And the second option seems absolutely absurd. So in examining the third option, what could that cause possibly be? This is an honest question. In regard to being "surprised" by people's responses, I haven't been surprised by the questions people have raised. I've rather been surprised at the level of hostility I've encountered in simply raising this discussion. It appears that most people on TED have already made up their mind that it's not possible for God to exist, and even if He did, that it's not relevant. Both claims, in the absence of any evidence for them, seem to me quite brazen. I've tried hard to respond intelligently and faithfully to every question. But I can stop. I suppose my final question truly is, given that we know the universe began to exist, if you don't think a Creator is responsible, where did it come from? Best regards, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Gerald, I don't see the inference to design being any different between the machinery on mars and the fine-tuning of the universe. In fact, Oxford Physicist Roger Penrose (who collaborated with Stephen-Hawking to develop their famous singularity theorem which has become standard today), has shown that the odds of our solar system sponatenously coming into being through a random collision of particles is mere chicken feed compared to the odds of our universe being the way it is. In that sense then, if the machinery on mars legitimizes a reference to design, the fine-tuning of the universe does the same, except exponentially moreso. In regard to the last line, there are plenty of things that are non-spacial and timeless, for instance logic and numbers. Moreover, I'm not defining God merely in the negative. Indeed He has concrete properties. He's personal, all-powerful, morally perfect, and causally active. That's quite different from nothing. Best regards, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Gabo, Your comment shocked me. It appears you have very strong feelings about this topic if you're going to resort to 'ad hominem'. What surprised me even more is the +3 helpfulness your comment has received. We can go through your claims one at a time... 1) We have experience of things beginning to exist all the time. By "begin to exist", I mean a new state of affairs coming about. You and I for instance have not always existed. People begin to exist when their parents conceive them. If you don't believe life begins at conception, you might say they began to exist at birth. It's no matter. Moreover, you claim premise 1 is a fallacy of equivocation saying that what's true in the universe is not necessarily true of the universe, thus saying they're the same is equivocating unlike things. However premise 1 is not rooted in infering causality from the universe, but in the metaphysical principle that being does not come from non-being. To reject that is literally worse than magic, to say things can come into being from total non-being, uncaused, out of nothing. 2) Considering that the universe (if you want to expand it to the idea of a multiverse that's fine) includes ALL material reality, then the cause of matter cannot be material. To say a material thing brought matter into being would be a logical contradiction. Thus saying the universe's cause is immaterial is not a fallacy, but eminently logical. It's the converse that's fallacious. 3) You claim the inference to a personal cause is a non-sequitur (doesn't follow) because of issues with "time-bounded"ness. I'm not sure what your argument here is. Could you please clarify? 4) You personally attack those who propose this argument. That's not showing the argument to be false. That's just bad taste I'm sorry to say. 5) I gave logical reasons why I don't believe fairies exist. I haven't heard the same in regard to rebutting the kalam yet. Best regards, Devin
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Dear Harald, You should read Oxford physicist Roger Penrose's book, "The Road to Reality" where he shows over 50 constants and quantities in nature that had to be just the way they are for the universe to sustain life. There's nothing in nature that determines they have to be the way they are, in fact string theory predicts there are 10x500power possible universe configurations. Moreover he's calculated the odds of our universe being the way it is to be roughly 10x10(123power) which is an essentially incomprehensible number. Penrose, Roger. "The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe." (2007).
150344
Devin Tarr
Posted over 3 years ago
Why should presuppose that the cause of religious experience must be natural?
Lets be a little serious please. There are several reasons why fairies almost certainly did not cause the universe to exist. 1) fairies are spacial beings. 2) fairies exist in time. 3) given that fairies are spacial and exist in time, but one has never been observed, we are rational to assume they don't exist. 4) fairies have limited power. On such grounds then, a fairy in all probability did not cause the universe. God on the other hand has enormously different properties. He perfectly fits the profile to be the cause of the universe. Moreover, on the "where did God come from" question, two points need to be considered: 1) You don't need an explanation of an explanation in order for it to be best one. For example, if scientists found some crashed machinery on mars, unlike anything produced on earth, they would be reasonable to conclude that extra terrestrials likely caused it. With that said, they don't need to explain extra-terrestrials in order to explain the machinery. In fact, requiring such an explanation would lead to an infinite regress of explanations that wouldn't allow you to explain anything. 2) Things either exist contingently or necessarily. God, if He exists, is a necessarily existing being, meaning His non-existence is impossible. He has always existed. Otherwise He wouldn't be God. Note: lest you think this is merely special pleading for God, it's exactly the same thing atheists have always said about the universe. The trouble for them is that both philosophy and modern cosmology have shown such an assertion to be untenable, rendering the Theist's claim much more probable.