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God's Debris

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  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    If you are in the mood for some light to medium philosophy and you like the writing style of Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame), he's giving away a free e-book of his fiction/non-fiction book:

    God's Debris

    Enjoy, I did.

  • User profile image
    Devils​Rejection

    Downloaded, will check out later.

    EDIT: Could you give a summary/review? More detailed then "I liked it" lol

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    DevilsRejection wrote:
    Downloaded, will check out later.

    EDIT: Could you give a summary/review? More detailed then "I liked it" lol


    It's a quick read that involves the socratic method (I think) where 2 people have a discussion and over time, new ideas are presented.

    The interesting parts for me are:

    1) If god exists/existed and he is omniscient, then the only thing that would interest him would be "what happens if I die?".  Everything else would be known and as such could not hold 'god's interest for very long.

    2) Our reality is the end result of a 'god' finding out "what happens if I die?".

    3) God is really probability; omniscient, timeless, and able leap tall buildings in a single bound.

    4) Probability on the micro scale (quantum leaps) explains gravity, evolution, and a number of other unknowable ideas.

    5) Science is nothing more than another form of religeon.  Both are trying to explain what the heck is going on. 

    I especially liked the idea of how gravity works through probability.

    It's not a 'deep' book in the sense that the concepts are easy to grasp and it isn't a 'dilbert' book either...it appears to be a serious attempt at making you think.

  • User profile image
    Cairo

    Did any of you hear Penn Gillette on the "This I Believe" segment on NPR this morning?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557




  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Cairo wrote:
    Did any of you hear Penn Gillette on the "This I Believe" segment on NPR this morning?

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5015557






    Yes!  Quite excellent and it make the ride to work much more entertaining Smiley

  • User profile image
    Karim

    ScanIAm wrote:
    1) If god exists/existed and he is omniscient, then the only thing that would interest him would be "what happens if I die?".  Everything else would be known and as such could not hold 'god's interest for very long.


    I'll have to read this so I can comment intelligently on it, but that argument doesn't hold much water for me... people are interested in LOTS of things, the outcome of which is either fixed or highly probable.  I've watched Star Wars about 97 times in my life and guess what, the ending hasn't changed...  what's more, Star Wars isn't even about REAL PEOPLE, and I'm still interested in it.

    The New Testament suggests that God is interested in details most humans wouldn't even notice.  Jesus said that all the hairs on our heads were counted.  He said that even a sparrow doesn't drop dead without generating some kind of Event Notification for God.  (Paraphrasing here.)  This seems to clash a bit with the idea of God as being ultimately kind of bored because He knows how everything's going to turn out.

    Will read the PDF and let you know...

  • User profile image
    Wil

    Without reading the actual text, the summary seems to boil down to an assumed answer to the question, "If God is all-powerful, then could he create a universe that's so interesting that even an all-knowing God wouldn't be bored by it?"  The answer to that question is in fact not so obvious.  After all, who's to say that God doesn't in fact have a very low threshold of excitement?  The question of what God finds interesting is closely related to the issue discussed by St. Augustine, "If God is eternal, then what did he spend his time doing before he created heaven and earth?"

  • User profile image
    SlackmasterK

    Just read it; thought it to be a wonderful read.  I think I'm a level 4.  There were mixed reviews online; it appears to be designed for the open-minded (Free as in software). It attacks many convictions of the closed-minded, but it does so in a roundabout way that doesn't come off as condescending.  Yet the "attack" is entirely fiction.  Or is it?

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    I suspect that most of us on the site are Level 4, but you never know about Scoble Smiley  He's a bit too charismatic...

    And, Karim, if you get a chance, give it a read.  I probably didn't do a very good job of presenting the thesis in the way that it was meant to be presented.  If I might make another attempt:

    Omniscience implies that the future and past are known so even if the number of hairs on one's head are interesting, the answer isn't novel in any way.  The only novelty for the omniscient is what happens if one is destroyed.  The novelty comes from not knowing the answer and it would be the only question that an omniscient being could not know. 

    And, it's an interesting read Smiley

  • User profile image
    Karim

    SPOILER WARNING -- SPOILER WARNING!!!

    Do not read this post if you don't want huge sections of the book to be spoiled.

    Ugh.  Well, it wasn't the worst book I've ever read, but...

    It comes across as Philosophy for Dummies.  The goal seems to be to challenge all conventional thinking -- "everything you know is wrong" -- but in doing so, some of the alternatives to conventionality he offers are just plain dumb.

    Adams writes in the preface:

    The central character states a number of scientific “facts.”  Some of his weirdest statements are consistent with what scientists generally believe. Some of what he says is creative baloney designed to sound true. See if you can tell the difference.

    In other words, "Some of this is just B.S. I made up to challenge the orthodoxy, and I'm not going to tell you what's B.S. and what isn't."

    That reminded me of the opening lyrics from a They Might Be Giants song:

    A man came up to me and said
    "I'd like to poison your mind
    with wrong ideas that appeal to you,
    though I am not unkind."


    The book is full of "wrong ideas" intended to appeal to you.

    First off he gets rid of free will by saying, “If God knows what the future holds, then all our choices are already made, aren’t they? Free will must be an illusion.”  (i.e. God's omniscience and free will are mutually exclusive)

    The non-B.S. answer would seem to be, "No, they are not mutually exclusive."  Knowing how something will turn out doesn't mean the Universe is 100% deterministic.  Neither does knowing how EVERYTHING will turn out.  But Adams breezes right past that point.

    Next he goes on to say that God isn't anything like us, it's human arrogance to assume that God has desires for things, that He loves things, etc.

    There's a good chapter in which he says that most people who profess a religious belief don't act like they should if they really believed.

    The next chapter starts off with the valid idea that God doesn't value what people value; Adams then says that "importance" (i.e. worth) is a delusion; to God, a rock would have as much worth as a tree, or an animal, or a human being.

    So, he basically took a great idea (God values things differently than Man) and DRIVES IT OFF A CLIFF by equating rocks with people.

    Then he basically says reality doesn't exist because the past is in the past and the future hasn't happened yet.  Nothing is real.  Everything is either stuff you remembered, or stuff that hasn't happened yet.

    Sigh.

    Yeah, the book is full of that stuff.  Stuff that Hegel and Kant and Wittgenstein all might have put down on paper before Scott Adams, if only marajuana had been more widely grown in Europe.

    Then he gets back around to God, says it's boring to be God, God has no human desires, wants or wishes.  God does have a challenge, though:

    “I can conceive of only one challenge for an omnipotent being—the challenge of destroying himself.”

    So yeah -- God's not that interested in His creation, He doesn't care about you, He doesn't care about the kids starving in Africa, He doesn't want people to live and be happy -- according to Adams, God's just curious about what it would be like to commit suicide.

    Yes, apparently the same God who isn't tainted by "human" desire or need or emotion is, alas, All Too Curious.

    Or rather, was.

    He never says it in so many words, but apparently "The Big Bang" was actually "God" offing Himself, and, well... here we are! all the matter and energy in the Universe being nothing but... you guessed it, "God's Debris."

    Cannabis should not be abused, people.

    Only the Good News (Glory, hallelujah) is that Mankind is slowly becoming aware of the situation... and one day we'll all be hooked into a hyperfast Internet and have instant, "Godlike" abilities to know things (Omniscience at Your Fingertips?) and create things... and then we'll all be "God," God having re-assembled himself from his own debris.

    You see?  Don't you see?  Mankind + Google + Nanotechnology = GOD.

    He then goes on to trash General Relativity, evolution, the scientific method, Special Relativity (stating that the speed of light is different for all observers?  WTF?), and Light.  The part on light is fun.  He claims light "is not a physical thing, it's a boundary." 

    "Photons have no mass, the scientists tell us. That is another way to say they do not exist except as a concept."

    Yeah!  Because photons are massless, they don't exist!  They're not real!  I'm sure I saw that in a physics book somewhere...

    "Light can be thought of as zones of probability that surround all things."

    Ok, ok, STOP.  Stop this book.  NOW.  Before he starts talking about rainbows and chakras and healing energy.  Or give me a Dramamine so I can finish.

    There ARE some good parts of the book.  In particular his section on interpersonal relationships (i.e. "Socializing for Geeks") seems mostly true and helpful, if not especially "challenging."  But you'd expect the author of Dilbert to understand interpersonal relationships.

    The whole book is done as a dialogue between a Wise Old Master and a Young Seeker of Wisdom.  It doesn't work to the extent that the Wise Old Master spends most of the book pontificating, and the Young Seeker of Wisdom tends accept all absurdities with the reply, "Gee, I guess I never thought of it that way."

    Mostly, I came away with impression that the book was almost all B.S. with a few shiny nuggets of truth here and there.  

    For me, reading it was like panning for gold in a septic tank.

    I'm going to take a shower now... and wash off the debris of this book.

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    Surprisingly enough (or not), I totally agree with Karim.

    An Eternal Golden Braid was a lot more compelling.

    And written by somebody with about 5 times the IQ of mr. Adams (no offense, Dilbert is great, but...)

  • User profile image
    PeterH

    An interesting read, but I also have to agree with Karim.

    ScanIAm mention that it involves the socratic method, I agree but I think that it doesn't really achieve the full capabilities of the method.

    Reading through books like The Republic by Plato the argument is so much more powerful and meaningful.

    Still, thanks for the link, I did enjoy reading it.

  • User profile image
    bluvg

    ScanIAm wrote:


    It's a quick read that involves the socratic method (I think) where 2 people have a discussion and over time, new ideas are presented.

    The interesting parts for me are:

    1) If god exists/existed and he is omniscient, then the only thing that would interest him would be "what happens if I die?".  Everything else would be known and as such could not hold 'god's interest for very long.


    I haven't read the e-book (it sounds like it may not be worth the time), but in addition to what has been mentioned already, I'll throw in that the foreknowledge of God is a topic with a wide range of theological views.  As it is with many of these "everything you know is wrong" (as Karim puts it) discussions, many assumptions are taken for granted, and that which is challenged often doesn't even make the claims that are "refuted." 

  • User profile image
    SlackmasterK

    (unrelated, I guess) www.skepticsannotatedbible.com - very helpful when JW's come over uninvited. Good for hours of fun.

  • User profile image
    Cybermagell​an

    Karim I hate you and your inspiration...

  • User profile image
    Deactivated User

    Comment removed at user's request.

  • User profile image
    Karim

    Cybermagellan wrote:
    Karim I hate you and your inspiration...



    LOL!  I am saving that one.  Big Smile

    You made me go look up the original reference.  It's a scene where Jesus is sending out his disciples and giving them a pep talk:

    Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
       -- Matthew 10:29-30

    This is in sharp contrast to a lot of philosophical thought that admits the possibility of the existence of God, but suggests that He just kind of set the Universe in motion, like spinning a top, but then grew disinterested and walked away from it -- i.e. God abandoned His creation.  You see that kind of fashionable nihilism in pop culture -- e.g. movies like Fight Club, and now, I guess, Scott Adams "philosophy" books.  LOL

    Thanks for the laugh... hopefully God isn't using Windows XP... LOL

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Karim wrote:

    In other words, "Some of this is just B.S. I made up to challenge the orthodoxy, and I'm not going to tell you what's B.S. and what isn't."



    Erm...most philosophy is BS, it's meant to make you think, but it isn't neccessarily an absolute truth.

    That said, it's good to hear both sides,

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