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Everything posted by Improbability

  1. NZ atheists are too hardcore for Americans to compete with.
  2. This launched today and runs through 11/22. It aims to produce insights about secular Americans that could be used to improve advocacy. https://www.secularsurvey.org/
  3. As a great theologian from the 23rd century put it, "what does god need with a starship"?
  4. They're all tragic. Even success stories have to look back on years of wasted potential and private mental struggle and suffering.
  5. I think that gets you in trouble with Zeno's Paradox if you try to use it as a physical explanation. An event horizon may be an apt metaphor for this conceptual barrier that we can't imagine the other side of, and in my own mind I don't have a better image for it, but it can't be a physical thing without breaking our intuition of time; not that such an intuition does us much good on a cosmic scale. I just want to be able to lounge in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and ogle the annihilation of the cosmos while sipping something fruity. That elevation to godlike status g
  6. You might be on to something. It's probably important to distinguish between contextual nothing and absolute nothing. Contextual nothing is defined relative to the lack of something. It requires an observer to make that distinction which implies a context where there is not nothing. Absolute nothing on the other hand is total nihility. This is less useful for finding a basis for understanding because it precludes us or anything resembling us; even a single atom is not absolute nothing. Contextual nothing is the only nothing we have a hope of bending our minds to r
  7. It's just the classic head scratcher of how you could ever get to "now" if time recedes infinitely back into the past. From our time-bound perspective, there has to be some kind of "beginning", but even if such a transcendental event occurred, it's still not something we're really equipped to understand.
  8. This is the fundamental question of the human condition. There isn’t a perfect answer. In religion, there are doors to open, but they don’t lead anywhere. Outside of it, there’s only the sky above your head, but you’re free to find your own purpose. Time helps. Relationships help, but it can be hard to find the same sense of community outside of faith which is more self-organizing. What satisfies you is going to be individual. It may be an intellectual pursuit or just a set of comforts and distractions. It’s okay, because it’s yours, and that growing, unapologetic identity w
  9. Perhaps for some definitions of time and nothing. The interior of a black hole is effectively lost to our frame of reference, its contents trending asymptotically towards nothingness, but that’s a different kind of nothing than nothing at all. Verses like Rev. 10:6 are evocative (though it requires some cherry picking from the surrounding lunacy). If time can end by divine fiat just like it supposedly began, then so called eternal life is nothing like our mortal conception. But there’s no evidence that the universe works that way.
  10. That was tongue in cheek, but it’s true that we can’t even conclude that there was a prior state, let alone what it might have looked like, or whether it’s even something that could be considered past tense according to our mortally bound conception of time. But we can’t extrapolate what we know about where we are without paradox either, so I don’t know what to suggest other than some kind of exotic state change or that there’s something fundamental that we still don’t understand about the nature of space and time. I’m a lot happier with the theories of modern physics than the millennia old
  11. So convenient! In the analogy I stubbed out earlier (was traveling), the fallen tree is the something we can perceive. The forest is nothing, or more specifically what is outside our possible frame of reference. We can’t rationalize the achievement of existence in our own terms; it’s an unreachable temporal paradox, but we can put in a placeholder for that thing we can’t express and treat it abstractly. The question is not whether the falling tree made a sound (could be observed without an observer); it’s how it came into that state to begin with. If there is a god, then it is
  12. This reminds me of the “if a tree falls in the forest” question, though I’m not sure offhand if there’s a useful way to phrase it in those terms.
  13. I don’t think this is a question we as a species have the capacity to answer. We are temporal beings, but time is about frame of reference, and that implies the contrasted something. If there’s nothing, then there’s no time, and there’s no us. Just being there to observe it violates the definition. We can imagine a higher dimension than our own, but we can’t access or even perceive it. So we can fantasize about outside mechanisms and causality, but it’s unlikely to ever be a matter of provable science. I can’t say what we can’t know, and wouldn’t discourage the purs
  14. It's a memed clip from a 2004 debate. Hovind gish gallops through some pseudoscientific gibberish where the central point is that god is bigger than the perceivable universe...because he says so. Q.E.D.
  15. I relate to some of this. I think it's important to remember that Christianity has a pretty grim perspective of the human condition and fatalistic view of civilization. I was raised in it and have remained in its shadow long into my adult life. My ability to orient and relate in the world has been compromised by this upbringing, and I have compassion for anyone dealing with the same thing. Sociopathy isn't the answer, but it can be hard to see how anything matters until you've gotten some distance and matured in your own post-religious identity. After years of being broken down by manipul
  16. Again, thanks for the encouraging replies. I tried to give some more detail mid-week because I didn't want to completely ghost, but it's hard to make the time to think about difficult things amid the stress of day-to-day life, and though quiet introspection can also be very difficult, I've been looking forward to the opportunity this weekend to continue to mull things over because it does feel like progress even if it's slow. I appreciate the "pull the ripcord" responses because that's eventually going to be the impetus I need. But it's not in my nature to make hasty decisions, and there
  17. Hey all, thanks for the replies. There are things I've been vague about because my story is unusual enough that I don't think someone in this sphere would have much trouble putting it together. It's probably delusional, but part of living this life is an outsized fear of discovery. ("Your sin will find you out.") The day will come when I'll be able to be more open about it, and hopefully look back on all of this with a very different perspective. Writing this out is absolutely a therapeutic exercise. I won't go into detail, but there's a precipitating factor I became aware of a few w
  18. I've struggled with writing (and rewriting) this post. I'm not sure that I should. I'm not sure how specific I can be. I'm not sure this is the right place or the right time. I'm not sure if there's much point to it. I'm embarrassed and discouraged by my own failure and inadequacy, even as I wish I could avoid having to change. I know I don't belong in my current life, but it's hard to imagine finding a place of belonging outside of it either. I don't have a story of deep trauma or abuse or misfortune, but I'm living a stilted half-life of wasted potential. It feels self-indulgent to e
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