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Wed May 7, 2014, 12:12 PM

 

Beautiful Web Comic Illustrating Perhaps The Nicest Thing Richard Dawkins Has Ever Said

Not much more on than the comic at the Upworthy link.

I was a Catholic for nearly 20 years (well, longer, but was a believer for about 20 years) and what Dawkins says here is much more comforting to me than anything that the RCC told me about the purpose of life or the afterlife.


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Reply Beautiful Web Comic Illustrating Perhaps The Nicest Thing Richard Dawkins Has Ever Said (Original post)
Goblinmonger May 2014 OP
DreamGypsy May 2014 #1
rug May 2014 #2
DirkGently May 2014 #3
calimary May 2014 #4
okasha May 2014 #6
Humanist_Activist May 2014 #13
Rob H. May 2014 #14
okasha May 2014 #15
Act_of_Reparation May 2014 #16
cleanhippie May 2014 #18
cpwm17 May 2014 #5
AtheistCrusader May 2014 #7
cpwm17 May 2014 #9
AtheistCrusader May 2014 #10
cpwm17 May 2014 #11
BrotherIvan May 2014 #12
Goblinmonger May 2014 #8
arely staircase May 2014 #17

Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 12:31 PM

1. To Live at All Is Miracle Enough...

...from Richard Dawkins, xcerpt from Chapter I, "The Anaesthetic of Familiarity," of his 1998 book Unweaving the Rainbow.

After the text presented in the comic, Dawkins continues:

Moralists and theologians place great weight upon the moment of conception, seeing it as the instant at which the soul comes into existence. If, like me, you are unmoved by such talk, you still must regard a particular instant, nine months before your birth, as the most decisive event in your personal fortunes. It is the moment at which your consciousness suddenly became trillions of times more foreseeable than it was a split second before. To be sure, the embryonic you that came into existence still had plenty of hurdles to leap. Most conceptuses end in early abortion before their mother even knew they were there, and we are all lucky not to have done so. Also, there is more to personal identity than genes, as identical twins (who separate after the moment of fertilization) show us. Nevertheless, the instant at which a particular spermatozoon penetrated a particular egg was, in your private hindsight, a moment of dizzying singularity. It was then that the odds against your becoming a person dropped from astronomical to single figures.

<snip>

This is another respect in which we are lucky. The universe is older than a hundred million centuries. Within a comparable time the sun will swell to a red giant and engulf the earth. Every century of hundreds of millions has been in its time, or will be when its time comes, 'the present century'. Interestingly, some physicists don't like the idea of a 'moving present', regarding it as a subjective phenomenon for which they find no house room in their equations. But it is a subjective argument I am making. How it feels to me, and I guess to you as well, is that the present moves from the past to the future, like a tiny spotlight, inching its way along a gigantic ruler of time. Everything behind the spotlight is in darkness, the darkness of the dead past. Everything ahead of the spotlight is in the darkness of the unknown future. The odds of your century being the one in the spotlight are the same as the odds that a penny, tossed down at random, will land on a particular ant crawling somewhere along the road from New York to San Francisco. In other words, it is overwhelmingly probable that you are dead.

In spite of these odds, you will notice that you are, as a matter of fact, alive. People whom the spotlight has already passed over, and people whom the spotlight has not reached, are in no position to read a book. I am equally lucky to be in a position to write one, although I may not be when you read these words. Indeed, I rather hope that I shall be dead when you do. Don't misunderstand me. I love life and hope to go on for a long time yet, but any author wants his works to reach the largest possible readership. Since the total future population is likely to outnumber my contemporaries by a large margin, I cannot but aspire to be dead when you see these words. Facetiously seen, it turns out to be no more than a hope that my book will not soon go out of print. But what I see as I write is that I am lucky to be alive and so are you.

We live on a planet that is all but perfect for our kind of life: not too warm and not too cold, basking in kindly sunshine, softly watered; a gently spinning, green and gold harvest festival of a planet. Yes, and alas, there are deserts and slums; there is starvation and racking misery to be found. But take a look at the competition. Compared with most planets this is paradise, and parts of earth are still paradise by any standards. What are the odds that a planet picked at random would have these complaisant properties? Even the most optimistic calculation would put it at less than one in a million.


I like it. Enjoy every sandwich.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 01:36 PM

2. “I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.” - Oscar Wilde

 

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Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 02:17 PM

3. We are lucky particles.

Had a very similar thought to this the other day. Whatever else is going on, we are the lucky bits of matter who get to think and feel and BE, for a little while.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 03:02 PM

4. Gets me choked up.

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Response to calimary (Reply #4)

Wed May 7, 2014, 06:53 PM

6. Got me choked up, too.

Because without the quote, it looks like "pro-life" apologetics.

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Response to okasha (Reply #6)

Thu May 8, 2014, 03:25 AM

13. It has to take a deliberate misunderstanding on an unprecedented level to post what you just...

 

posted. Why the fuck are you shitting in this thread? What the fuck is your purpose on this board?

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #13)

Thu May 8, 2014, 11:27 AM

14. To imply that if religious beliefs were to suddenly disappear

some atheists would transition [strike]over[/strike] back to being nothing but a bunch of racist, anti-choice homophobes. (The anti-choice thing is a recent addition, but still.) I mean, duh, that's totally what would happen. Because reasons.

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Response to Humanist_Activist (Reply #13)

Thu May 8, 2014, 12:28 PM

15. Nope.Ii

It just takes the references to the "potential people who will never be born"and "poets greater than Keats" to set off the alarm bells.






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Response to okasha (Reply #15)

Thu May 8, 2014, 12:52 PM

16. Yeah, it would set off alarm bells...

... if you were sick the day they taught Punnett Squares in your Bio 101 course.

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Response to Act_of_Reparation (Reply #16)

Thu May 8, 2014, 07:34 PM

18. I don't think Bio 101 was even in the curriculum.

Which would explain a lot about her posts.

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Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Wed May 7, 2014, 05:07 PM

5. Richard Dawkins is probably not correct

 

In an infinite multiverse with infinite time everything that is possible will happen an infinite number of times. So in an infinite multiverse with infinite time every potential consciousness must exist an infinite number of times.

Richard Dawkins' way of thinking has the effect of making my conscious existence (and everybody else's existence) at this moment almost impossible in a finite universe with finite time. And with an infinite universe or multiverse with infinite time, Richard Dawkins' way of thinking makes my conscious existence right now impossible.

Let’s say that our Universe is the only universe and time will soon end. With only our Universe and one life, someone’s chances of existing at a particular time (with a 75 year life span & our 13.8 billion year old Universe) are 1 in 13,800,000,000/75 = 1 in 184,000,000. Lotteries have much better odds than that.

But Richard Dawkins claims that the odds are much less than one for each potential consciousness to ever exist. For the sake of argument, let's say that the odds are 1/1000 for a potential consciousness to ever exist, then the odds of my consciousness existing right now would be 1 in 184,000,000,000. Richard Dawkins has made my current consciousness almost an impossibility.

But the odds get much worse. Our Universe will likely be around extremely far into the future, many times its current age – if not forever. Imagine an infinite time-line to the future representing all of time that will probably ever exist. Let's say that we each get only one life. What are the chances that I would be alive at a particular moment if I had only one life on the infinite time-line? It is zero, since (one life time)/(total time Universe will exist) = finite#/infinity = infinitely small number = zero, which would be the odds of me living right now with only one life and our Universe exiting forever into the future.

So it would be impossible for me to be conscious right now if I only got one life and time is infinite. Since my consciousness existing right now is very important for my consciousness, my existence right now is the equivalent of me winning the lottery with zero odds of winning. So it seems with infinite time my consciousness must be recreated an infinite number of times for it to be possible for me to exist right now.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #5)

Wed May 7, 2014, 07:31 PM

7. So, you're saying in some universe somewhere...

i'm taking a shit right now, huh?


Deep.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #7)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:14 PM

9. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says: nature doesn't make things in ones

 

I think that applies to consciousness also as it applies to universes as Neil deGrasse Tyson intended.

Consciousness is a natural process of the brain, so why would a particular consciousness become impossible after it has existed once? There is no invisible sky ledger that keeps track of such things.

I like to think that my consciousness only exists in one body at a time. It's easier to think of it that way. It's hard to escape the concept of the soul.

The concept of the soul is partly why many people seem to think that once a body dies its particular consciousness dies and can never return.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #9)

Wed May 7, 2014, 11:38 PM

10. Well, I don't believe in a metaphysical soul at all.

That said, if you had two identical copies of a person/consciousness, they would immediately begin to diverge into distinctly different persons, if for no other reason than their experiences are slightly different, not viewing the world from the same physical position.

We are, to a large extent, also the sum of our experiences.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #10)

Thu May 8, 2014, 12:36 AM

11. I'm an atheist and I don't believe in a metaphysical soul either

 

It is currently unknowable what biological processes create each individual conscious self. It might be true that our brains acquire different conscious selves through our experiences in life. Our experiences might change the connections in our brains such that that the conscious self becomes completely different.

At each moment each of our conscious brains create a particular conscious self. I find it much more than just an impossible coincidence that I am experiencing my conscious self right now. Time is likely infinite. The math doesn't work if I only get one life. Requiring each conscious self to get only one chance and not allowing it to ever return is not necessary. There is no reason for that.

Consciousness is amazing and I'd consider it impossible if I didn't know it was possible. But by being conscious I know consciousness is possible and all evidence is that consciousness is a natural process of the brain. In nature, once something is proven possible that same something is assumed to happen again. Consciousness isn't special. We are all likely reincarnated (no memories from past lives since there are no souls and the previous brains have died) an infinite number of times though infinite time in what is likely our huge multiverse.

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #11)

Thu May 8, 2014, 03:19 AM

12. Very interesting argument

I have nothing to add other than I will think on it. Thanks for taking the time to write it out!

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Response to cpwm17 (Reply #5)

Wed May 7, 2014, 08:13 PM

8. Dude, pass the J.

 

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Response to Goblinmonger (Original post)

Thu May 8, 2014, 06:53 PM

17. i really like that, gob

really.

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