Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hindu Reincarnation

From guest blogger, Maham. 

The reincarnation believes of the Hindu religion entails that every being is given seven lifetimes, and each subsequent birth would be determined by how well or not the previous lifetime was spent. Such a view is less problematic in my eyes when the souls are simply made eternal and and continue living infinite lifetimes until whatever end determined by a deity is brought upon the universe. The selection of the number seven seems extremely arbitrary to me, and we are still left with the worry of where the soul came from before the first lifetime, and where it goes after the seventh one.

Additionally, this belief presupposes that all the living creatures in the world contain within them the same kind of soul. The raven on my balcony and the chicken in a yard all have human souls inside of them, or do we have animal souls inside of us? Perhaps it is simply a generic version of a soul. Does the chicken and raven remember that they are indeed a human soul? If they do, then human rights gain a whole other meaning in the world that we live in and so does the sentience they may be capable of. We would not be allowed to eat them or cause any inadvertent harm to them in favor of humans if they are just as sentient. If they are not aware of having a human soul inside of them, then how is it constituted as a punishment? It ceases being a punishment if one is not aware of it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Time and Being

From guest blogger, Shao.

What is the definition of timelessness? How can something be out of time? It seems that when we talk about God, we assume that God is out of time because God always has to exist and seems not under the influence of time. But Abrahamic religion seems to suggest that God was also in time. 

I think in order to determine if God is in time or outside of time, we need to understand what is time. Is time a matter? A property? Truly we understand the temporal relationship between things. Like I did my homework yesterday and I go to school today, and I will do certain things tomorrow. But when I really  think about time it seems that time is not a particular thing, although it influences everything in the physical world. 

The only way that we know that time exists, is that we developed a way to measure it. We look at clocks and recognize that time is moving forward, and such deduction is based on days and nights on earth. Also, we can see that things grow old and die or break and become something else and we deduce that there are temporal relationship between things. However, are we right about that? I mean first of all, if all matters are never created or destroyed, but simply become something else, then how can we say that because a creature is getting old, it is because of time? Or how can we say that because there are days and nights on earth, then we have experienced time? Could it be the case that time is simply the measure of change in the universe? In other words, we develop the concept of time because we observe changes, and we use time to measure the sequences of such changes. And besides that, there is actually no such thing as time. So for God, because he does not change at all, he is not measurable by time. 

Also, people may argue that we can certainly understand that there are past and present and future. And we cannot go back to ancient Greece because it was in the past. However, as we might also know that time is not absolute in the universe, that if things travel fast enough, as close to light speed, time becomes slower. Could there be a case that when an entity travels fast enough, maybe millions or billions time faster than light, then time becomes infinitely slow and eventually such entity is out of time? So a thousand years for such entity is less than a billionth of a second. And if this could be the case, time seems does not matter to such entity. Whether is future, or present or past, no matter how long the time is, it is shrink to the point that the variation of time just does not matter. If that is the case, then it seems that God could be such an entity. 

Overall, I think that maybe time is purely a delusion of human beings that we only understand it because we can see such representation from natural world without actually see what is "time". And if under the scope of universe or even beyond, time is not as absolute as we think it is on earth. And it might be the case that an entity arrives at a point that time just does not apply to it. 

Life After Death

From guest blogger, Maham. 

One worry I encountered after reading Davis’s paper on death ending it all is one I have frequently on the subject of an afterlife. I am not denying the weight of the philosophical arguments made against a life after death, however I am merely questioning how those of us who are alive can be so sure of a state we have never experienced.

If we were asked to describe the state of what we were or what was (or even wasn’t) before we were born, all accounts would be rejected on the basis that we simply can not know. We did not exist; science proves that better and above anyone else. And so we will cease to exist after dying as well and will never know of it just we did not know of the period before our birth. But how can alive and mortal beings truly and irrevocably know of states that we have yet to experience and know of no mortal being who has experienced such a thing that can be shared with us.

Isn’t much of the debate as to God’s existence inspired by a lack of empirical evidence for his existence and the fact that no one has truly experienced God. No mortal and alive being around
us at least. Why can the time after death not possibly be given the same treatment where we simply are ill equipped to empirically define something that it outside the grasp of mortal human beings, since the prerequisite for it is death and we can not speak beyond death.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Petitionary Prayer

From guest blogger, Maham.

What is used as an argument against the effectiveness of petitionary prayer is that God just isn’t listening to them, if he was then why aren’t all our prayers being answered? Such an argument is not too different from the one about there being less evil in the world. We seem to demand about acquiescence of God and from God, or we believe him to be either in effective or simply uninterested in mortal life and its woes.

We refuse to consider that God may be accepting prayers based on the balance of natural and moral evil that he must keep with the good in the world. Most prayer is against the existence of some kind of evil and the misery it causes, is it not? Thus the same arguments that apply and argue for the existence of evil would apply here as well. It is not that prayer is ineffective, God isn’t listening or a few unanswered prayers are a reason to reject the premise of prayer. We have to allow that sometimes many prayers will be rejected in lieu of a greater utilitarian good that God can view for the world but we simply cannot.

How Pascal Continues to Lead Us Wrong

From guest blogger, Maham. 

The largest worry we usually associate with Pascal’s wager is one of cynical faith. It seems unlikely and presumptuous to think God is simply playing a numbers game where he wants us all on a subscription list for the free reward associated with signing on. It is much more plausible that God instead is looking for genuine faith in his existence, and everything associated with it. This genuine faith then also calls in order to follow God’s set of doctrine and rules, to live life as he deems it fit for us, thus not ending the story at simply giving a stamp of agreement to his existence as Pascal would have us believe. In such a scenario, we’re much more likely to have lost even more than Pascal would predict. We lose the pleasure of living life through our own set of rules, and we also end up garnering God’s displeasure (if he ends up existing) for a false belief in him that buys us an eternity in hell.

These are worries commonly addressed in response to Pascal’s wager. What I want here is to draw attention to another moral worry that we, as responsible philosophers especially, should hold in high regard as well.

As philosophers and researchers, we have an epistemological responsibility towards fostering ideas, choices, knowledge and beliefs founded in reason, logic and the very least a justification based on truth. What Pascal is asking of us is to compromise our intellect, when he asks us to disregard a lack of evidence or genuine belief in lieu of pragmatic reasons for believing in God’s existence. How can we look ourselves in the eye and still call ourselves responsible philosophers and researchers if we abandon our believes simply on the basis of a wager that promises us a respite from suffering in hell IF god exists? I for one would find it very troubling to wager on my intellect and my identity as a epistemologically responsible philosopher.

God and Time

From guest blogger, Adam.

Would God lose his perfection if he was under the constraint of time? If God could not control time then it seems that God is not all powerful. However, if God is outside of time then he could not actively help humans, because to do so would require one to be within time. Some suggest that God has the ability to be both in and out of time at the same time? This is something that simply cannot be explained. I would argue that it would be more powerful of God if he were able to act in this universe and affect things within time. If God were not in time then he could not act or perceive humans in time which would make him less powerful. By being outside of time God would not be able to talk to Moses in the desert because time is passing during their conversation and if time passes, God could not be a part of it if he was not in time. Can God then travel throughout time? It seems that a metaphysical all powerful being would be able to move freely throughout time but I am unable to describe how this would be possible. If God were able to go to the past he would be able to change the future. If he were able to constantly change the future then it would be impossible for the future to exist. Paradoxes plague the arguments of time. It is difficult to describe what God would be able to do and even more difficult if not impossible to describe how God would be able to do it. One stance that may work is that of an absolutist that says God can do anything even the logically inconsistent. If one agrees with this view than it would be nearly impossible to argue what God cannot do. If one believes God can do anything logically consistent, then this is when paradoxes of time arise.