Charlotte Philosophy Discussion Group Message Board › Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book

Dialogue between Derik and Bill (but others are welcome) related to the book on the Mind-Body Problem and other matters

Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 156
Is the following a satisfactory summary of this dialogue?

Bill’s book essentially says:

The solving of the mind-body problem is extremely important to our species because it underlies our inability to agree regarding some very basic beliefs, and to have what we agree to be accurate, and this inability to agree to a set of accurate basic beliefs leads to much tragedy. Solving the problem therefore may enable us to avoid much tragedy.

Derik:

Define “important.”

Bill:

Relevant to the presumed wish we all have to avoid unnecessary tragedy.

Derik:

No. “Important” can only refer to one person’s value, not to what we all value. Nothing can be important to us all. Bill, you can only say something is important to you; you cannot say that you believe that something is important to us all.

All satisfactory until the final "Derik" section. I'd restate as follows:

Derik:

Fine. You define "important" in a very specific way, a way that narrows the scope of things one could deem important to "avoid[ing] necessary tragedy". Can you explain why this is? What metaphysical beliefs do you have that underlie your own valuation of this specific thing so highly?
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,766
Ah, I see the mistake I made.

It was in referring to "relevant to the presumed wish we all have to avoid unnecessary tragedy" as a definition, namely, a definition of the word "important." It is strange that I did that.

So I would not define the word "important" as "relevant to the presumed wish we all have to avoid unnecessary tragedy."

The word "important" has a much broader definition than that (of course actually multiple definitions, that can be found in dictionaries). If I were to make up a definition of the word "important," as I have observed people to use the word, it would be something like "the label for anything about which there is a wish or desire (positive or negative). (By “negative desire” I mean “aversion.”) Also, I would say that the concept really requires a second word, “to,” either explicitly used or implied. Thus, the concept of importance implies “importance to.” So something is important to an individual or group if that individual or group has a strong (positive or negative) desire with regard to it. And by a group having a desire I of course mean that most or all of the members of the group have that desire. And the stronger the desire is regarding X, the more important X is.

Tragedy is that which is extremely strongly undesired (desired negatively). Pain, suffering, disability, and early death have implicit in their meaning “undesired.” I do not believe I have to, for the normal reader, explain that pain suffering, disability, early death, tragedy, etc., are undesirable. They are undesirable (to the person or people who experience them) essentially by definition.

And my use of “important” has not been that of “important to me,” as you have consistently tried to misrepresent it as, but instead “important to all of us, our species.” My effort is to help our species prevent preventable PSDED, even tragedy.

And I can have the belief that something is important to our species, even though others may not agree. Such a belief would be that I would predict that under certain circumstances, in which understanding became clearer, i.e., beliefs became more accurate, those who disagreed would change their minds and agree that the something was indeed important to all of us after all.

Of course, none of this is about the book.

In order for us to continue to have this dialogue without trashing the thread that is supposed to be about the ideas presented in the book regarding the mind-body problem, I am changing this thread to be just for our dialogue, which indeed is challenging and I think productive of increased clarity of thought, and am restarting the original thread for those who actually want to discuss the ideas in the book. Let’s keep our dialogue confined to this thread, where we can feel free to let our discussion go where it pleases.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 157
So after 5 pages of posts in which I returned time and again to the simple question, "Given the terms 'important' and 'most important' are in your bookk's title and preface, how do you define them?", you now reply with:
- My definition all along was a strange one
- I now define it as a label for a wish or aversion
- It is obvious that nearly all wish for less PSDED in our species
- The definitions of these words, though used heavily by me in the book, do not pertain to the book
- Derik's prompts that led me to realizing my mistake earn the designation of "trashing the thread"
- I unilaterally decide to move our discussion to another thread without discussing it first with Derik

Could you imagine I might find myself a bit frustrated by some or all of the above? And all of this culminates in the last paragraph, in which you share the viewpoint that the 5 pages it took to bring you around to this mistake has been "productive"? If I may say, sir, we may say much to describe the dialogue thus far, but "productive" would not be a description I would use.

My wish for your other thread is now the same as yours--that someone would read your book and faithfully fill your ego, post by post, to the very brim with the affirmation you so desparately seek. And may he/she do so cleverly, not merely by stopping at celebrating the completion of the book, as I tried to, or even by agreeing at the outset that all in the book is perfectly conceived and articulated in every way, which you would be unable to savor. No, let him/her go dutifully point-by-delicious-point through your book, question each point with a deferentially-toned, easy-to-answer question, and then agree with your retort with the utmost approbation, agreement, and praise. May all of your other readers be so, and may they be many!
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,769
Derik,
So after 5 pages of posts in which I returned time and again to the simple question, "Given the terms 'important' and 'most important' are in your bookk's title and preface, how do you define them?", you now reply with:
- My definition all along was a strange one
No, Derik. That is not at all what happened and it is not what I said. I was referring only to one statement in my previous post, in which I called something a definition which was not a definition. I was correcting only that one error, in which I misspoke by saying that something was a definition when it was not.

- I now define it as a label for a wish or aversion
That is another oversimplified inaccuracy, a misrepresentation of what I said.

- It is obvious that nearly all wish for less PSDED in our species
Yes, I think most people would say that they wished that there was less preventable pain, suffering, disability, and early death.

- The definitions of these words, though used heavily by me in the book, do not pertain to the book
The definitions of what words?? We have only been talking about the word “important.” And it is not part of the mind-body problem, but instead is my designation of my belief about the value to our species of solving the problem.

- Derik's prompts that led me to realizing my mistake earn the designation of "trashing the thread"
The thread had become useless (i.e., trash) for the purpose for which I started it.

- I unilaterally decide to move our discussion to another thread without discussing it first with Derik
I certainly can start a thread without discussing it with others first, just as you can. I did not do anything to this thread other than re-label it more accurately so that others would know it was just for us and could know where to find the thread that was for the purpose that I originally started the thread. I have not moved our discussion, just re-labeled it more accurately.

Could you imagine I might find myself a bit frustrated by some or all of the above?
I would hope you would understand that the dialogue we have been having, as I have repeatedly indicated, defeats the purpose of the thread, and perhaps even stands in the way of others understanding what is actually in the book. If anyone should feel “frustrated,” why would it not be I?

And all of this culminates in the last paragraph, in which you share the viewpoint that the 5 pages it took to bring you around to this mistake has been "productive"?
Another misrepresentation. I shared no such viewpoint. I indicated that one statement of mine was mistakenly worded, and I was correcting that one mistake. It had nothing to do with “five pages” of dialogue.

If I may say, sir, we may say much to describe the dialogue thus far, but "productive" would not be a description I would use.
It has helped me to understand more clearly the process of misrepresentation, and how to clarify it. It has led to some sharpening of my thinking. So I have gained something from it, even if not what I have been hoping for. And I assume that you have been engaging in the dialogue because it was in some way productive for you. I certainly agree that it has not been productive with regard to the purpose for which I began the thread. That did not mean to me that nothing could be gained by persisting in this dialogue with you. My hope was that the dialogue would improve, as time went on.

My wish for your other thread is now the same as yours--that someone would read your book and faithfully fill your ego, post by post, to the very brim with the affirmation you so desparately seek.
Another misrepresentation of me. Nor do I believe you are speaking accurately regarding your wish.

And may he/she do so cleverly, not merely by stopping at celebrating the completion of the book, as I tried to, or even by agreeing at the outset that all in the book is perfectly conceived and articulated in every way, which you would be unable to savor. No, let him/her go dutifully point-by-delicious-point through your book, question each point with a deferentially-toned, easy-to-answer question, and then agree with your retort with the utmost approbation, agreement, and praise. May all of your other readers be so, and may they be many!
You have portrayed me as having certain motivations (desparately wishing praise, deference, agreement, etc.). I naturally subjectively have impressions regarding your motivations, as anyone automatically would, but I am not offering my speculations. However, I have repeatedly pointed to your misrepresentations of my viewpoints and meanings, and to no avail. The thread had become worthless (trash) as far as understanding anything about what is written in the book regarding the mind-body problem. I believe you know that. My effort has been to derive some value from our dialogue, but also to have the original thread available for anyone who should be interested. In order to do the latter, I had to start it over. This would be the prerogative of anyone in our group. I didn’t want to delete any of what you posted, so the only way I could do what I initially intended was to start over.

Do you think it is impossible that a person could have in mind trashing another person’s efforts? Do you think it is possible for that to happen? How could you tell if that were happening? What would be the signs? What would you recommend someone do if he or she believed that was going on?

I wish to give you the benefit of the doubt, even if the effect of what you were doing was indeed to trash the thread (render it unusable for the purpose for which it was begun). I know of no other response I could have made. I do not feel confident that I made the best response, but it was the best I could think of to do. Maybe you have some suggestions.

It should be noted that what was happening in this thread had happened previously in another thread, so it had a very familiar feeling to it. But I know that from your standpoint you would say that the problem rests with me and my desparate, vain personality. I would say that neither of us is in a position to come up with a definitive answer regarding what has been happening, because it could always be said of either of us that we were blind to what we were doing and to why we were doing it. So I guess it will have to be left to the judgment of others as to what they believe has been happening.

As for me, I still intend to attempt to answer all of your questions and look for whatever truth is there, and to acknowledge the recognition of error when I see it, as I did with that one statement. I hope that you will continue our dialogue, whatever your motivation may be, and I will try to explore everything that we are saying with the goal of greater understanding and clarification of ideas. That, I maintain, is what I am looking for, not the things you have portrayed me as looking for.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,770
Derek,

I will respond now to your last post.


And so, concerning the book, my remaining lack of clarity stems from:
- Not having defined "important" in the above way in the book itself
I believe the two sentences following the one you have bolded adequately imply what I mean by important to our species, especially “we have simultaneously become able to make extremely influential, and even tragic, mistakes, that will impact the whole future of our development as a species on this planet.” If you don’t think so, please explain why.

What can I say, really? There is certainly no scientific rigor I can employ to counter what you "believe the two sentences... adequately imply". One and only one person has read your book, that person found it curious that the author decided to "adequately imply" what a critical word means instead of define it, and the author doesn't see an issue. So I suppose there is nothing more to say!
According to you, I am being dismissive of an important issue. According to me, you are, partly through misrepresentation of my ideas, deflecting discussion away from what the book is really about.

In the preface, I am essentially saying that solving the mind-body problem is important to our species because the problem stands in the way of our ability to agree (producing paralysis of decision-making) and stands in the way of our ability to have what we agree to be as accurate as possible (producing mistakes), this in turn leading to much pain, suffering, disability, and early death. In response to this, you have said that I should define the word “important,” and you have also misrepresented my meaning of it by repeatedly saying that the word as I am using it really just means what is important to me rather than to our species, despite my demonstration of this being a misrepresentation of what I have stated. And here it is again. And none of this has to do with the mind-body problem, which is what the book is about and what the thread was about. Why are you doing this?



- Not having articulated in the book why "the effort to avoid preventable tragic PSDED" sits at or near the top of your "value hierarchy" (your words)--this is one form of the concealed metaphysics underlying the book I referenced earlier
I believe that most readers will have a strong wish to avoid, if possible, preventable tragic pain, suffering, disability, and early death. I don’t know what concealed metaphysics you are referring to. If you believe it is there, please state what you believe it is.

"...most readers will have a strong wish..." What does that have to do with the point at hand? My lack of clarity is around why you place it at or near the top of your value hierarchy. The reader never learns why you value this at all, much less why you value it so highly?
And once again, you portray my stated belief that something is important to all of us as a statement only that something is important to me, a misrepresentation.

This evaluative rationale is metaphysical in nature, and concealed from your audience.
You've asked me to speculate as to what these metaphysical beliefs of yours might be, but doing so would be just that--speculation. It would be much more expedient and clarify a great deal if you would do that yourself here or, even better, in the book.
To take just the class of value-assigning beliefs, they might include...
- A pleasant (JCA-enhanced and/or PSDED-free) moment in any given human life is valuable
- An unpleasant (JCA-free and/or PSDED-enhanced) moment in any given human life is less valuable than a pleasant moment
- The value of a pleasant moment is equal from human life to human life, independent of race, ethnicity, age, time of occurrence (now or in the future), etc.
- Over a given time period and a given group of human lives, the aggregate value of the sum of pleasant moments is worth proportionally more than that of one pleasant moment (e.g., 5 pleasant moments is worth 5 times more than 1 pleasant moment)
- An action that creates one or more pleasant moments for another is valuable
- Any collection of actions that creates many pleasant moments is more valuable than an alternate collection of actions that creates few pleasant moments

You can see how fruitless this is for me to try to guess. Who better qualified to state your metaphysical beliefs than you yourself?
But it is you, not I, that claim that there are lurking “metaphysical beliefs” underlying my use of the word “important.” Thus, you continue to fill the pages of the thread with material that is totally irrelevant to the purpose of the thread. Why are you doing this?

If you really wish to know what my “metaphysical beliefs” are, then reading the rest of the book, and reading my first book, will enable that. You say that you have read this book, that the thread was about, but a statement that you made in a previous post seems to be evidence that you did not read it carefully. So I cannot have the confidence that you are really interested in and trying to understand what the book is about. The effect of what you have been posting in this thread is to have trashed the thread, that is, made it unusable for the purpose that the thread was created. That is why I have started that thread over, and have re-labeled this thread to reflect more adequately what is in it.

But now, independent of what this thread was originally about, and independent of what the book is about, there is indeed an interesting issue that we might pursue. You could indeed ask me why I care at all about the welfare and future of our species, and thus why I would be devoting my time and effort to helping others, now and in the future, to have a better life.

(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,771
(Continued from previous post)

Why do I care? I believe this is built into me by my genetics and developed in me by my specific life experiences. It is not legitimated by any set of “metaphysical beliefs.”

The capacity to care for others is not limited to our species, and it does promote the tendency for the species to continue to exist. A bear that is protective of its offspring is not doing that because of having studied metaphysics or because of having any metaphysical beliefs. We humans are a group animal, and care about our fellow humans, this promoting our tendency toward survival.

I think we could and should ask the question as to whether this natural tendency has become interfered with because of circumstances that have developed as our species has developed psychosocially (as an outcome of our having acquired genetically certain capabilities not nearly as developed in other species). Anger interferes with caring. Anger destroys empathy and leads to “dehumanization,” most evident in our ability to go to war and kill the other person. So what are these circumstances?

Punishment and revenge are a part of our basic animal nature, just as are reward and affection. But punishment produces anger (among other things), this anger being a side effect. Anger leads to cruelty, opposition, and lack of empathy, all of which interferes with the very basis for cooperation in the service of making life better for everyone.

But we humans have constructed a highly unnatural physical and psychosocial environment, to which we have to modify our naturally-occurring behavior, especially of our children. Therefore, we do that which seems natural and which we naturally believe in, namely, punish and punish our children (and each other) to make behavior change from what is natural to what is adapted to this unnatural physical and psychosocial environment. Punishment, as stated, produces anger (and fear). So our children, and therefore we, are filled with anger that is just below the surface (at least usually), kept below the surface and manifested in devious rather than direct ways (usually) because we have punished the direct expression of it. Thus, our children become prone to engage in cruelty toward living things, destructiveness toward nonliving things, and rebellion (cruelty toward parents), manifested by overt defiance, passive aggression, and sneakiness. So this underlying anger hinders us from having the kind of ethics that would indeed foster our working together in behalf of everyone, to provide as good a life as possible for everyone.

Some have more of this anger than others. But also, some have more of the experiences in life that foster empathy, cooperation, and benevolence. With our standard model of child rearing, we produce saints, monsters, and all in between. If we could learn non-punitive child rearing, in my opinion, we could minimize our tendency toward anger and maximize our tendency toward working together to make the world a better place for everyone.

I have had much to do to partially overcome the effects of the standard model of child rearing that my conscientious parents used in rearing me, and I guess it is partly having overcome to some extent some of the negative effects of such child rearing within me, combined perhaps with my particular adaptation to social anxiety that has led to my willingness to go down a somewhat lonely path, and combined with a strong intellectual curiosity obtained through identification with my father (who was interested in amateur science), that has led me to be where I am in this effort to be of help to us all.

I am not alone in such effort. I hope that my contribution is valuable. Whether it is will be determined by the response of others. If I'm not successful, I at least feel good about having tried. It does bother me to see the hopeless, cynical, sometimes destructive attitude of others, but I certainly understand it. I am glad that I don’t have it, or that it does not predominate over the other side of me.

And I am calling out to others to explore with me the answers I have come up with, that seem quite encouraging to me, in order to evaluate them and improve on them and, if valuable, advocate for them.
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,775
So, Derik, that is my best guess as to why my effort with regard to the book and this thread are important to me. Why has your contribution to this thread been important to you? Does it have to do with your metaphysiscal beliefs? In what way?

Edit: I left out "important" - error corrected. Thanks Derik for calling it to my attention.
Derik T.
user 23955602
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 158
So, Derik, that is my best guess as to why my effort with regard to the book and this thread are to me. Why has your contribution to this thread been important to you? Does it have to do with your metaphysiscal beliefs? In what way?

Did you mean to use the word "important" in the first sentence, saying "...why my effort with regard to the book and this thread are important to me"? I assume so, but wanted to confirm.

Also, I don't see a need to constrain your posts or even the title of this thread to just you and I. Could we rename the latter to merely say, "Dialogue related to the book on the mind-body problem and other matters"? Might also make the overall message board look more inclusive to a new browser.

- - -

You asked why I consider my contribution to this thread as important to me. I'll interpret your use of the phrase "important to me" as referring to my higher valuation of this activity over many others given scarce resources, most notably time.

As a Christian, I live with a joy unspeakable that I've been reconciled, wretched as I am, to a holy and perfect God through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. I spend my life seeking out ways to express that joy. More specifically, I seek out ways to live as my Savior did while on this earth, to love others and to see them reconciled to God.

This discussion group has been important to me because it has given me an opportunity to do both of these, to love others and to strive to see them reconciled to God. The discussion on this thread is part of that opportunity in so much as you are the object of these two goals. My objective is to show love to you and to share the truth of God's free gift of grace.

Per the former objective, love, I recognize that you've poured a tremendous amount of work and effort into your books (this latest one seemingly more than others), but I get the sense that you do not enjoy a readership commensurate with that colossal amount of work. My hours of reading the book and dialogue with you is my attempt to show love to one who, like all of us, needs it. It's not my place to speculate on the relationship you have with your family and close friends, extended or otherwise, but I do know there is a bigger family, the family of Christian believers, who stand ready to welcome you and love you fiercely as a brother, father, uncle... and I am one of them.

Per the latter objective, to share God's free gift of grace, I am doing as Paul did with the Athenians as recorded in Acts 17:

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)"

As you know from our meetings, this is a group that, like the Athenian philosophers, enjoys debating. Perhaps some comment of mine will plant the seed of a new tree of beliefs in your mind. And, in keeping with my comments in meetings and threads past, perhaps a comment of yours will touch on the things-I'd-have-to-believe-to-change-my-­worldview list.

All of the above follows from two simple metaphysical beliefs: a Pascalian faith that there is a God, and a subsequent faith in the Christian God of the Bible as the outcome of an exhaustive, multi-year assessment of the diaspora of theistic worldviews. There may be a third, much more complex, metaphysical belief that I'm only now vaguely beginning to make sense of: "I exist", with both "I" and "exist" presupposing a raft of other, subordinate metaphysical beliefs (e.g., human existence is comprised of making humanly-free choices, humanly-free choices are corrupted by sin, etc.).
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,780
Derik,
So, Derik, that is my best guess as to why my effort with regard to the book and this thread are to me. Why has your contribution to this thread been important to you? Does it have to do with your metaphysiscal beliefs? In what way?

Did you mean to use the word "important" in the first sentence, saying "...why my effort with regard to the book and this thread are important to me"? I assume so, but wanted to confirm.
As you can see, I corrected it. Thanks for calling it to my attention.

Also, I don't see a need to constrain your posts or even the title of this thread to just you and I. Could we rename the latter to merely say, "Dialogue related to the book on the mind-body problem and other matters"? Might also make the overall message board look more inclusive to a new browser.
Good point. I changed the title. But my best bet is that almost all dialogue, no matter what the title, will be between you and me. It would be good if others joined in, though.

- - -

You asked why I consider my contribution to this thread as important to me. I'll interpret your use of the phrase "important to me" as referring to my higher valuation of this activity over many others given scarce resources, most notably time.
Yes.

As a Christian, I live with a joy unspeakable that I've been reconciled, wretched as I am, to a holy and perfect God through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. I spend my life seeking out ways to express that joy. More specifically, I seek out ways to live as my Savior did while on this earth, to love others and to see them reconciled to God.
You know, this is one of the more unfortunate components, in my opinion, of many varieties of Christianity, namely, the necessity to induce a state of "wretchedness" in an individual in order to obtain the joy of somehow getting free from it. I don't see us humans as being "wretched" in our basic nature any more than cats and dogs are. Making children feel wretched is indeed prominent within our species, called "punishment." And we indeed have a very strong belief that the only answer to becoming better is to feel wretched and then do something to remove the wretchedness. I see people in tears because they feel wretched but don't know why they do, and they indeed sometimes associate it with a worry about being tortured for all eternity after dying. I believe this part of Christianity can easily go in a bad direction.

The whole idea of being "saved" has some unfortunate aspects to it. If we consider that becoming socialized is the learning of increasingly sophisticated skills, by virtue of our predominant prefrontal cortex and its capabilities, and then look at some of our best examples of efforts to attain increasingly sophisticated skills, we have to ask how people training for the Olympics would do in their efforts if those efforts were somehow perceived by their coaches as the effort to be "saved" from being so wretched.

I of course am not able to regard Jesus as a God, nor am I able to regard his being tortured to death as a good thing. I see him as having given his life in an effort to help us become better than we had been, and I believe he did contribute quite a bit in that direction. Our making him into a God that had the intention to get himself tortured to death, something that we could not therefore avoid, certainly relieves us of the feeling of guilt for having engaged in such a thing. I believe, however, we would get more out of his crucifixion if we really saw it for what it was and learned from it, that is, learned what Jesus was trying to convey to us, and what our response to it was, in such a way as to be able to say that some good had indeed come from something that was very, very bad. (That is no different than trying to do something to avoid a repetition of the Connecticut school shooting.)

This discussion group has been important to me because it has given me an opportunity to do both of these, to love others and to strive to see them reconciled to God. The discussion on this thread is part of that opportunity in so much as you are the object of these two goals. My objective is to show love to you and to share the truth of God's free gift of grace.
I think it is questionable that in most Christian traditions God's grace is really perceived as being given free. It seems to be contingent upon being compliant with certain things, which may or may not include tithing. There appears to be a necessary compliance with regard to certain beliefs that apparently are easy for some people and almost impossible for others. And despite the fact that doubt, or the ability to have it, is perhaps one of the very important, high-level skills that we can learn to have, some varieties of Christianity tend to inflict substantial suffering in association with such doubt, such as feelings of guilt and unworthiness. My understanding is that Mother Theresa suffered in this way.

(Continued in next post)
Bill Van F.
wvanfleet
Group Organizer
Charlotte, NC
Post #: 1,781
(Continued from previous post)

Per the former objective, love, I recognize that you've poured a tremendous amount of work and effort into your books (this latest one seemingly more than others), but I get the sense that you do not enjoy a readership commensurate with that colossal amount of work. My hours of reading the book and dialogue with you is my attempt to show love to one who, like all of us, needs it. It's not my place to speculate on the relationship you have with your family and close friends, extended or otherwise, but I do know there is a bigger family, the family of Christian believers, who stand ready to welcome you and love you fiercely as a brother, father, uncle... and I am one of them.
The implication is that it is by virtue of the "family" being one of "Christian believers" that such love is extended to me, whereas I might not easily find it outside of that "family." My general impression is that I am more likely to be "loved" by people who are not "believers" in some particular belief system, but instead find meaning in exploring alternative ideas as deeply as possible. There is a tendency for people to avoid any in-depth discussion with someone who has different beliefs about central "philosophical" or "religious" issues.

Per the latter objective, to share God's free gift of grace, I am doing as Paul did with the Athenians as recorded in Acts 17:

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)"

As you know from our meetings, this is a group that, like the Athenian philosophers, enjoys debating. Perhaps some comment of mine will plant the seed of a new tree of beliefs in your mind. And, in keeping with my comments in meetings and threads past, perhaps a comment of yours will touch on the things-I'd-have-to-believe-to-change-my-­worldview list.

All of the above follows from two simple metaphysical beliefs: a Pascalian faith that there is a God, and a subsequent faith in the Christian God of the Bible as the outcome of an exhaustive, multi-year assessment of the diaspora of theistic worldviews. There may be a third, much more complex, metaphysical belief that I'm only now vaguely beginning to make sense of: "I exist", with both "I" and "exist" presupposing a raft of other, subordinate metaphysical beliefs (e.g., human existence is comprised of making humanly-free choices, humanly-free choices are corrupted by sin, etc.).

That list of those things you would have to believe might be useful to look at. The whole concept of some particular belief resulting in a complete change in a large set of beliefs is an interesting one. We can ask what does indeed happen when an individual changes a significant set of beliefs. For instance, do the beliefs that the person had before just vanish from the brain, or do they remain there, but just in a diminished state compared to the strength of the new beliefs? It is quite interesting to me to observe a person getting over having a delusion. It seems quite apparent that it is not true that the person, on a particular day, experiences the disappearance of the delusion, and its replacement by a belief consistent with evidence. One can see delusion fading into the background, but rebounding if thought about too intensively. And there is also the interesting question as to what the defining difference is between a delusion and any of the thousands of different specific religious beliefs that people have had, held to quite firmly despite the fact that there are so many other people who do not have the same belief. So the issue of how belief gets to be changed may not be one of the use of logic but instead one involving brain hygiene, including some care about the environment that one places one's brain in, both chemical and interpersonal/educational.

I know you see me as an old guy that has unfortunately buried himself in a non-productive delusional preoccupation with ideas that carry him further and further away from the free gift of grace of God, and that your effort to save him from his wretched state is to try to convince him to come into the family of Christian believers. And I thank you for your concern, but would like to reassure you that even if it turns out that my efforts have flaws in them, and even if it turns out that indeed no one reads what I have written, I do feel like I have done a good thing and have made a contribution to my species, toward whom I have much appreciation. When I first started writing Book1, quite a few years ago, I firmly put in my mind that I might never see any recognition of what I have written, and that perhaps nothing will ever come of it, but that if indeed I am on the right track, the value of that track is so great that I cannot in good conscience refrain from continuing on it. And it remains quite interesting and impressive to me as to the resistance that seems to be present in reading such material, at least reading it conscientiously in the order in which it is written with the effort to understand each of the sentences in the context in which they are written. (I have found the tendency to misrepresent what I have written to be very strong.) There is a strong need to be cynical about any possibility of becoming drastically better than we have ever been, despite the fact that we can see a wide range of pro-human, ethical behavior, "from saints to monsters and all in between," and can recognize that what we do to each other, especially our children, can have a drastic effect on who we become and what we do in turn.

I think it is helpful to regard Christianity as developing and growing, just as we who created our religions are developing and growing, and that we can improve Christianity just as we can improve ourselves. That improved Christianity can in turn help us with further improvement. And I believe this applies to our other religions, also. I think Yahweh has already learned a lot, and has even changed his name in order to get beyond his sordid past.
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