Problem of Evil has been solved

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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#101  Postby Macdoc » May 05, 2012 5:58 am

Not having fun??? First sensible thing we've heard.

Not reading up on the science of the wonders that ARE out there.....no wonder you are tired - I'd be bored out of my mind.

Try some real wonders....not imaginary nonsense...

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Cali comprehends the real world with a trained appreciative mind, you don't.

Pity that..

A mind is a terrible thing to waste'


think about it. :coffee:
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#102  Postby Paul Almond » May 05, 2012 6:09 am

I think the idea of "free will" in the way the term is used in arguments like this is actually incoherent, but ignoring that and accepting for the purposes of argument that it exists...

Also, accepting for the purposes of argument that a world with free will is more valuable than one without it....

This does not explain why God does not allow everyone the free will to commit morally good or morally bad actions, but with the world being manipulated or having been previously arranged to stop the worst effects of those actions.

For example, we might say that free will means that people like Nazis exist, and that Nazis will want to gas Jews, but is a world in which gas chambers work when used by Nazis really more valuable than one in which they don't? What exactly is supposed to be added to the world by the gassings or any number of other activities that might not be possible if the world were arranged differently? A good God, for example, could presumably arrange it so that the random decisions of quantum mechanics made the world develop in such a way as to frustrate the actions of evil-doers, or that some strange laws of physics happened to work against evil-doers. Now, Christians may claim that God actually does this - but this should be regarded as clearly nonsense, as we could easily imagine it being done to a greater extent than any extent to which it is currently being done.

For an argument like Plantinga's to work, you have to commit yourself to something quite monsturous - that not only is the freedom to commit good and bad acts valuable, but the consequences of bad acts are valuable in themselves, and that a world where they were edited out would be poorer for it. Try saying that to someone whose family got gassed.

Further, an argument based on free will does nothing to answer natural disasters.

A further problem is this: it is fine to say that humans are "free", but there is clearly a statistical relationship between the behaviour and moral development of humans and their environment. For example, many German people supported Hitler in the 1930s for a number of different reasons - some of them economical and some of them based on the defeat in World War I. How can we really say that everyone has free will when statistics applies? For example, suppose some economic and political situation means that a sociologist could predict in advance that most people will support a particular (evil) political party. is that really fair to the people exercising their free will in this way? God has made each of them with free will, yet each is parachuted on birth, through no fault of his own, into a situation which, according to how human behaviour works, is likely to make him behave badly. To argue against this by saying that he has free will is ridiculous: the statistics of the situation say that whatever free will he has is compromised by the way in which the situation into which he has been dropped creates a statistical bias towards particular behaviour. We might say that everyone who voted for Hitler could have voted for someone else - but this ignores the fact that on a large scale, statistics takes over. I think this conflict between individual action and statistics could create a lot of problems for people making free will arguments.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#103  Postby Agrippina » May 05, 2012 6:14 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Calilasseia fails to understand that she is using logical positivism (scientism) to defend her position. Where is the scientific evidence that minds other than your own exist?

If i can offer you one piece of advice. Listen and learn. Cali is one of the most brilliant minds in the world, and having access to him the way you have hear, is not a small privilege.

If you are keen to learn more, don't fight Cali, learn from him.

It's a philosophical justification. It PROVIDES why an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God to allow evil. It doesn't have to be true. Philosophy is much more different than science.

It's not philosophy. People who believe God exists, are not arguing from a philosophical point of view, they are arguing from a point of view that is biased towards believing in things that make them feel secure and comforted. Believing in, particularly the god of the Bible, justifies the behaviour of hating people who don't believe in that god, and allays the fear of death, which is present in most people who can't conceive of a world without them in it. It's a psychological bandaid, not a philosophical one.

Also, why are people judging God's morality? On what objective basis can you judge God? None. Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Objectivity is exactly what we all ought to employ when evaluating anything. Most people who haven't been trained from childhood to be objective in their judgments tend to look at everything from their personal, i.e. subjective point of view. You can't imagine that the universe existed for almost 14 million years before you were born, but you can imagine that there was some time before your grandmother was born when you didn't exist, and 5,000 or 6,000 years sounds like a nice big number that fits into your frame of reference (and I mean people in general when I say "you" not you personally). From the point of view of psychology, people like comfort zones, and the god of the Bible is a lovely comfort zone. And like we accept that our fathers are strict and sometimes unreasonable, they are our fathers and we love them, warts and all. Also we take exception when someone criticizes our fathers. Which is why people who believe that their god is the only god take exception when people who don't believe he exists, criticize him. It's a subjective point of view because God is your personal god.

But just like I have no emotional attachment to your physical father, I also have no emotional attachment to your metaphysical one. I might meet another person's dad, who they love, very dearly, and judge him to be a complete ass, that is my subjective judgment, and as a free member of society, I'm entitled to do that. In the same way that as an indifferent observer of your attachment to your metaphysical father, i.e. God, I'm entitled to judge him from the evidence presented to me for his existence, and for his, for example, attitude towards children:

Lev 26:27 If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.
Numbers 14:33-34 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
Deuteronomy 21 18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard. 21 Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
Deuteronomy 28:53:And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD they God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straightness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee
Deuteronomy 28:57:And toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.
2 Kings 6:28-29 This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him.
2 Kings 6:28-29 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. So we boiled my son, and did eat him and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him and she hath hid her son....
2 Kings 6:28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow.
2 Kings 6:29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him and she hath hid her son.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13: Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Isaiah 9 19-20 By the wrath of the LORD Almighty the land will be scorched and the people will be fuel for the fire; no one will spare his brother. On the right they will devour, but still be hungry; on the left they will eat, but not be satisfied.
Isaiah 13:15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished.
Jeremiah 19:9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them. '
Ezekiel 5:10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds.
1 Timothy 3:4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect
Revelation 2:22-23:..And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#104  Postby AtheismIsIrrational » May 05, 2012 6:22 am

I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.

I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#105  Postby Agrippina » May 05, 2012 6:30 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.


If you're having a crisis of belief, this is the right place to discuss it. We judge bad ideas, we don't judge the people behind them.

I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.


Please do come back. We will help you figure your way out of whatever it is that's bothering you. :cheers:
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#106  Postby Macroinvertebrate » May 05, 2012 6:32 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Calilasseia fails to understand that she is using logical positivism (scientism) to defend her position. Where is the scientific evidence that minds other than your own exist?

It's a philosophical justification. It PROVIDES why an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God to allow evil. It doesn't have to be true. Philosophy is much more different than science.

Also, why are people judging God's morality? On what objective basis can you judge God? None. Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Why would it? Still waiting on that evidence for your claims that you can feel god (sexually?), and that you have a personal relationship with god. Regarding philosophy.....

Philosophy is dead - Stephen Hawking
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#107  Postby AtheismIsIrrational » May 05, 2012 6:35 am

Macroinvertebrate wrote:
AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Calilasseia fails to understand that she is using logical positivism (scientism) to defend her position. Where is the scientific evidence that minds other than your own exist?

It's a philosophical justification. It PROVIDES why an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God to allow evil. It doesn't have to be true. Philosophy is much more different than science.

Also, why are people judging God's morality? On what objective basis can you judge God? None. Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Still waiting on that evidence for your claims that you can feel god (sexually?), and that you have a personal relationship with god. Regarding philosophy.....

Philosophy is dead - Stephen Hawking


I should address this before I'm off to bed. "Philosophy is dead" is a philosophical statement itself!
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#108  Postby Macroinvertebrate » May 05, 2012 6:41 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:
Macroinvertebrate wrote:
AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Calilasseia fails to understand that she is using logical positivism (scientism) to defend her position. Where is the scientific evidence that minds other than your own exist?

It's a philosophical justification. It PROVIDES why an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God to allow evil. It doesn't have to be true. Philosophy is much more different than science.

Also, why are people judging God's morality? On what objective basis can you judge God? None. Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Still waiting on that evidence for your claims that you can feel god (sexually?), and that you have a personal relationship with god. Regarding philosophy.....

Philosophy is dead - Stephen Hawking


I should address this before I'm dead. "Philosophy is dead" is a philosophical statement itself!


It's more a statement of fact. How about you address the questions I've posed to you instead of continuing on with these pedantic evasion tactics.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#109  Postby stijndeloose » May 05, 2012 6:43 am

Give him some time, mate. Let's see what he says after he has spent some time alone. :)
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#110  Postby Rumraket » May 05, 2012 6:46 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:
Macdoc wrote:Image

thought most people got past this nonsense at puberty. :coffee:


What's wrong with the free will defense?

It ignores gratuitous evil and unnecessary suffering, for one thing.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#111  Postby Rumraket » May 05, 2012 6:47 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:
Nebogipfel wrote:How does free will account for the suffering caused by natural disasters?

If God gives us free will in the knowledge that some of us will use it to not comply with his commands, why does he punish us for doing so?

In short, why does he give us free will and then expect us to forego its use?


Natural evil is via demons and he wants to test us.

Alright, stop. This guy is a troll. Noone believes this.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#112  Postby ginckgo » May 05, 2012 6:53 am

Logical Fallacy Bonanza!
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Mystical explanations are thought to be deep; the truth is that they are not even shallow. Nietzsche
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#113  Postby The_Metatron » May 05, 2012 7:02 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:
[Reveal] Spoiler: content on which I am not commenting
CdesignProponentsist wrote:
AtheismIsIrrational wrote:No, it's for YOU to prove that demons don't exist. It explains why there is natural evil.

So you make an unfounded claim and it is the responsibility of others to prove it wrong, otherwise it should become the established explanation.

Okay, so i contend that it isn't demons at all. It is leprechauns.
Image

The ball is in your court.

I'll say it again: Unless, you can prove why demons are illogical or evidence that don't exist. It can explain why there is natural evil without hurting God's all-lovingness.

Leprechauns could also acceptable to why there is evil without going against God's all-lovingness.

Except this cunt of a god created the demons and leprichauns. Oh, what an all-loving asshole.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#114  Postby Ironclad » May 05, 2012 7:15 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.

I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.


Take care buddy, see you when you are rested. :)
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#115  Postby Calilasseia » May 05, 2012 7:33 am

Agrippina wrote:You have to give him credit for being brave enough to dip his toe into these waters.

For "God" to be all-loving, he would to first of all exist. We haven't yet been given proof of that. So no all-loving god. If we go along with what the Bible says about him, if that is love, thanks I'll pass.


Indeed, I'm minded to note that the entity described in the relevant mythology is, on the basis of the assertions contained therein, a raving psychopath. We are told that this entity purportedly dispensed the Ten Commandments back in Exodus, yet, after those Ten Commandments were purportedly dispensed, one of which was "thou shalt not kill", the same mythology goes on to describe, in suitably gory detail, how the same people purportedly bound by this "commandment" were then told, by the same entity that purportedly dispensed this commandment, to go out and commit genocide. Apparently this purportedly all-knowing and all-powerful entity forgot to enforce a little consistency in the compilation of this work, and as a result, we have the wonderful spectacle of a people purportedly being told not to kill on the one hand, then exhorted to kill on a large scale on the other. Indeed, in one instance, the mythology in question gleefully describes how these people were purportedly ordered, by the same magic man who dispensed the purported "commandment", to slaughter one group of unfortunates, right down to newborn babies and even their livestock. The first instance of instructions to do this can be found in Deuteronomy 13:15-18. When this instruction was issued with respect to the Amalekites, and the warring hordes decided to keep the cattle, we are told that the invisible magic man was not best pleased about this (1 Samuel 15:3-31).

Then of course, there's another example of the same inconsistency in Numbers - Num. 31:1-54 gleefully describes how the same people purportedly bound by the "commandment" not to kill, were duly instructed to go and slaughter the Midianites, only on this occasion, they were told that they could keep all the nubile young virgins to be carried off as sex slaves. In the case of the unfortunate people ruled by Sihon, King of Heshbon, they didn't even bother keeping the virgins (Deuteronomy 2: 33-37), they made do with the livestock and other material plunder.

Now of course, you and I, not encumbered by any latent desire to treat made up shit as fact, read this litany of gleeful descriptions of slaughter, pillage and trafficking of under-age girls for what it is - the after-the fact attempt by backward, bloodthirsty and avaricious nomads to provide some form of "justification" for their mass homicide and other malfeasance, by claiming that their magic man authorised this. It's merely one of many instances of history being written by the victors. It's a blatant example of the art of putting spin on one's misdeeds, in order to posture as being "moral" whilst engaging in all manner of heinous mendacity. We saw the same duplicitous art in practice, when George W. Bush announced that his god had told him to wage war on Iraq. In the case of the mythological accounts, they are nothing more than a fairly crude post hoc rationalisation for pursuing a spot of Lebensraum, though said rationalisations are not only wonderfully baroque in their presentation, but manifestly made up on the spot. Presumably because in each instance, they didn't have a consistent plan for implementing their campaign, and as a corollary, decided more or less on the spur of the moment that in different instances, they were going to enjoy different levels of butchery in pursuit of their land-grabbing. Again, a telling clue both to the backward nature of the mindset that compiled this mythology, and the fairly crude mechanics of fabrication involved in the compilation thereof.

The difficulties that this collection of accounts poses for would-be inerrantists and fundamentalists, who have to try and reconcile the manifestly unreconcilable, is the driving force behind such absurdities as William Lane Craig's farcical apologia for genocide. Part comedy of the absurd, part revolting instance of how preference for doctrine over reality corrupts and destroys one's inner humanity, Craig's apologia involves erecting yet more blind assertions, to the effect that the unfortunate victims somehow "deserved" to be slaughtered in this manner, and that being thus slaughtered was purportedly "good" for them. However, he lets the cat out of the bag, with respect to the fact that his apologetics is nothing more than a litany of blind assertions, presented as if they constituted made up fact without any real supporting evidence, when he exhorts his audience to feel sorry for the perpetrators of these instances of genocide, on the basis that they were being called upon to do something that was wholly in violation of their consciences. If this assertion is true, then it destroys at a stroke his other assertions that morality arises from his magic man, because these people were, according to mythological assertion, being called upon to do what their magic man commanded. Craig routinely peddles the line that morality consists of obeying his magic man's orders, and that whatever his magic man orders is purportedly "good", regardless of whether those orders contradict previous orders, but if this were the case, and the genocidal hordes believed this as he tells us he does, then why would following the orders of their magic man result in any "distress"? We are told, according to this collapsed intellectual soufflé of apologetics, that doing what is moral should make us feel good, therefore doing what the magic man of mythology tells us should make us feel good. The fact that, according to his genocide apologia, this didn't make the perpetrators feel good (though how he presumes to know this is merely another addition to the huge list of unanswered supernaturalist questions), blows apart any pretence that his other apologetics, about morality arising from his magic man, is anything other than another piece of post hoc made up shit.

But then, we all know that even the most dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist picks and chooses what parts of is mythology to accept. It would not surprise me in the least, for example, to learn that Pat Robertson and the other rich, white Republican members of the 700 Club, enjoy a decent lobster thermidor at a suitably luxurious five star restaurant (at about $400 a head), despite the fact that the consumption of crustaceans is described in Leviticus as an "abomination". Likewise, I bet the $10,000 suits these people wear contain mixtures of fibres, something else that Leviticus describes as an "abomination" to the magic man they purportedly believe in. Which, as Dan Savage recently and presciently observed, makes homophobic ravings from these people utterly absurd, but that is properly a topic for another thread.

As if that were not enough, the manifest ignorance about the basic workings of the world that litter this mythology, again make claims that it was "divinely inspired" ring completely and utterly hollow. Such as that nonsense we find in Genesis 30:37-39, where we are told that it is possible to change the genomes of living organisms on a grand scale, simply by arranging for the parents to shag alongside different coloured sticks. This absurd nonsense was demonstrated to be so, back in the 19th century, by a certain Austrian monk, and his diligent experiments with peaflowers, and anyone who routinely engages in the breeding of various living organisms, plant or animal, and who observes Mendelian genetics in action, is well placed to know that this nonsense in Genesis is nonsense. That the purported "divine" inspiration behind this collection of myths, was apparently unable to foresee the advent of modern science, and the advent of people who find the real underlying mechanisms behind a host of phenomena, once again provides us with much amusement, as does the fact that the mythology in question makes absolutely no mention of entire classes of entities and phenomena that scientists have not only placed upon an evidentially supported footing, but have made subject to precise quantitative laws that are in accord with observational reality to fifteen decimal places, an achievement that renders this mythology an intellectual eunuch by comparison.

Which all inexorably leads to a conclusion that no one who actually thinks about these issues can avoid, which is probably why enforcers of conformity to doctrine have been so keen to prevent people thinking for themselves. That conclusion is, quite simply, that far from being the product of some massively powerful and knowledgeable magic entity, this mythology is the product of backward Middle Eastern nomads, who were ignorant of vast swathes of knowledge about how the world actually operates, and indeed, demonstrate with their farcical attempt at taxonomy in Leviticus, that they could not even count to six properly. Yet the diseased scribblings of these people continue to be held up as purportedly the last word in knowledge, by assorted figures of varying degrees of stupidity, dishonesty or hilarity, and what is all the more pants-wettingly funny, is that quite a few of the charlatans who peddle this nonsensical notion, do so on a continental land mass whose existence was unknown to the authors of said mythology, a land mass currently playing host to a nation, which owes its current position as a superpower not to that mythology, but to the wholesale importation of scientific expertise from outside.

Of course, I don't expect our newcomer for one moment to contemplate any of the above, nor do I expect him to do anything other than skim through my previous post (if he bothers to read it at all), in order to erect entirely specious and synthetic apologetics pseudo-objections (he would hardly be setting a precedent with respect to this). The saddest part of all, is that by so doing, he will be missing the point entirely, namely that I provide this for his education, should he choose to take advantage thereof, but given his posting track record to date, I am not optimistic with respect to the reception of my efforts on his part. It's not as if I lack past experience upon which to base such a judgement - supernaturalists have come and gone here before, exhibiting precisely the behaviour I have just described, including demonstrating that they prefer mythological fantasy over reality at all costs, to the point of committing a whole range of instances of discoursive criminality, in response to my exposition of the canards underpinning their beliefs. It will be no surprise to me at all, if those past precedents are duly repeated.

Anyway, I shall leave everyone with this little exposition, and watch the response it elicits. :)

Oh look, just as I was about to post this, it turned out that my above prediction came true even before I posted it. Which probably constitutes something of a record. let's take a look at this shall we?

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Calilasseia fails to understand that she


Apparently, you cannot even be bothered to read my contributions sufficiently, to notice the little male symbol next to my posts, denoting that I am indeed an individual with XY chromosomes. This does not bode well for your ability to address my arguments.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:is using logical positivism (scientism) to defend her position.


No, I am not using any "ideology", and your attempt to misrepresent my exposition in this manner is wholly and tiresomely predictable. Once again, what part of the elementary principle "blind assertions do not equal fact" do you not understand? Allow me to illustrate with an example so simple, even an infant can understand it. I can erect the assertion that the sky abovethe Earth's surface is pink. It does not matter how often I parrot this assertion, it does not constitute established fact. Indeed, if numerous repeated measurement of the actual colour of the sky continue to tell those who take the measurements, that the sky is in fact blue, then my repeated parroting of the assertion that the sky is pink will simply make me look foolish. As I said, this is an example even an infant can understand, and I suggest that you acquaint yourself with the elementary operating principle behind this, if you do not wish for your posts to be regarded as point and laugh material.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Where is the scientific evidence that minds other than your own exist?


Neuroscience is not my specialist remit, but I'll happily point you in the direction of those who do consider this their specialist remit. And point you in addition to the fact that neuroscientists havep ublished research papers, documenting their use of fMRI scanning technology to read thoughts. The research is still in its infancy, but I've presented a couple of relevant papers here in the past. One that is apposite here is this one:

Visual Image Reconstruction From Human Brain Activity Using A Combination Of Multiscale Local Image Decoders by Yoichi Miyawaki, Hajime Uchida, Okito Yamashita, Masa-aki Sato, Yusuke Morito, Hiroki C. Tanabe, Norihiro Sadato & Yukiyasu Kamitani, Neuron, 60: 915-929 (11th December 2008) [Full paper downloadable from here]

Miyawaki et al, 2008 wrote:SUMMARY

Perceptual experience consists of an enormous number of possible states. Previous fMRI studies have predicted a perceptual state by classifying brain activity into prespecified categories. Constraint-free visual image reconstruction is more challenging, as it is impractical to specify brain activity for all possible images. In this study, we reconstructed visual images by combining local image bases of multiple scales, whose contrasts were independently decoded from fMRI activity by automatically selecting relevant voxels and exploiting their correlated patterns. Binary contrast, 10 × 10-patch images (2100 possible states) were accurately reconstructed without any image prior on a single trial or volume basis by measuring brain activity only for several hundred random images. Reconstruction was also used to identify the presented image among millions of candidates. The results suggest that our approach provides an effective means to read out complex perceptual states from brain activity while discovering information representation in multivoxel patterns.


Oh look, a research paper covering an experiment aimed at determining what image a human being has seen, and picking out the correct image seen from a large possible data set, by decoding read brain signals.

Let's look at this in more detail, shall we?

Miwayaki et al, 2008 wrote:INTRODUCTION

Objective assessment of perceptual experience in terms of brain activity represents a major challenge in neuroscience. Previous fMRI studies have shown that visual features, such as orientation and motion direction (Kamitani and Tong, 2005, 2006), and visual object categories (Cox and Savoy, 2003; Haxby et al., 2001) can be decoded from fMRI activity patterns by a statistical ‘‘decoder,’’ which learns the mapping between a brain activity pattern and a stimulus category from a training data set. Furthermore, a primitive form of ‘‘mind-reading’’ has been demonstrated by predicting a subjective state under the presentation of an ambiguous stimulus using a decoder trained with unambiguous stimuli (Kamitani and Tong 2005, 2006; Haynes and Rees, 2005). However, such a simple classification approach is insufficient to capture the complexity of perceptual experience, since our perception consists of numerous possible states, and it is impractical to measure brain activity for all the states. A recent study (Kay et al., 2008) has demonstrated that a presented image can be identified among a large number of candidate images using a receptive field model that predicts fMRI activity for visual images (see also Mitchell et al., 2008, for a related approach). But the image identification was still constrained by the candidate image set. Even more challenging is visual image reconstruction, which decodes visual perception into an image, free from the constraint of categories (see Stanley et al., 1999, for reconstruction using LGN spikes).

A possible approach is to utilize the retinotopy in the early visual cortex. The retinotopy associates the specific visual field location to the active cortical location, or voxel, providing a mapping from the visual field to the cortical voxels (Engel et al., 1994; Sereno et al., 1995). Thus, one may predict local contrast information by monitoring the fMRI signals corresponding to the retinotopy map of the target visual field location. The retinotopy can be further elaborated using a voxel receptive-field model. By inverting the receptive-field model, a presented image can be inferred given the brain activity consistent with the retinotopy (Thirion et al., 2006).


For those unfamiliar with the concept of retinotopy, this describes the fact that the spatial arrangement of neurons in the visual cortex is related to the spatial position of viewed objects in the visual field. Early work determining this was first undertaken by noting the correlation of spatially specific visual cortex lesions to specific areas of visual field loss, in, for example, cases of brain damage arising from battlefield injury. However, the above paper seeks to use this interesting fact as a means of determining the nature of a perceived image, by reading the activity within the retinotopic neurons, and correlating that activity to different areas of visual contrast. Indeed, there exists scientific literature noting that there is a correlation between retinotopy mapping and the nature of the folding of the visual cortex, but I digress.

Basically, what the scientists set out to do in this paper, was to determine if it was possible to use the differential activity arising in different parts of the neuronal retinotopy map, to elucidate the nature of an image seen by a human being, without prior knowledge on the part of the experimenters of the actual image perceived.

It's also of note that even this early in the paper, the authors cite a number of prior papers covering work devoted to elucidating basic information about the thoughts present within the brains of human experimental subjects, using appropriate signal detection and processing means.

There is, of course, a complication in the use of this information, as the authors outline below, but, note, they also present a potential solution.

Miwayaki et al, 2008 wrote:However, it may not be optimal to use the retinotopy or the inverse of the receptive field model to predict local contrast in an image. These methods are based on the model of individual voxel responses given a visual stimulus, and multivoxel patterns are not taken into account for the prediction of the visual stimulus. Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of the activity pattern, in particular the correlation among neurons or cortical locations in the decoding of a stimulus (Averbeck et al., 2006; Chen et al., 2006). Since even a localized small visual stimulus elicits spatially spread activity over multiple cortical voxels (Engel et al., 1997; Shmuel et al., 2007), multivoxel patterns may contain information useful for predicting the presented stimulus.


A little later on in the paper, the authors continue with:

Miwayaki et al, 2008 wrote:Here, we present an approach to visual image reconstruction using multivoxel patterns of fMRI signals and multiscale visual representation (Figure 1A). We assume that an image is represented by a linear combination of local image elements of multiple scales (colored rectangles). The stimulus state at each local element (Ci, Cj, .) is predicted by a decoder using multivoxel patterns (weight set for each decoder, wi, wj, .), and then the outputs of all the local decoders are combined in a statistically optimal way (combination coefficient, li, lj, .) to reconstruct the presented image. As each local element has fewer possible states than the entire image, the training of local decoders requires only a small number of training samples. Hence, each local decoder serves as a ‘‘module’’ for a simple image component, and the combination of the modular decoders allows us to represent numerous variations of complex images. The decoder uses all the voxels from the early visual areas as the input, while automatically pruning irrelevant voxels. Thus, the decoder is not explicitly informed about the retinotopy mapping.


So, basically, the technique that was used, consisted of reading signals from a range of retinotopy neurons, treating them as voxels in a state space, and determining a means of combining the signal data in such a manner, as to reproduce in a reliable and repeatable manner, the image perceived by the human subject.

I'll let everyone here read the rest of the paper themselves, as it's a fascinating read.

Additionally, from another thread,we have this post:

MattHunX wrote:*cough*

On a perhaps more or less related note,

Scientists use brain imaging to reveal the movies in our mind: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2011/09/22/brain-movies/

BERKELEY — Imagine tapping into the mind of a coma patient, or watching one’s own dream on YouTube. With a cutting-edge blend of brain imaging and computer simulation, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, are bringing these futuristic scenarios within reach.

Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experiences – in this case, watching Hollywood movie trailers.

As yet, the technology can only reconstruct movie clips people have already viewed. However, the breakthrough paves the way for reproducing the movies inside our heads that no one else sees, such as dreams and memories, according to researchers.

[CONTINUES]


I'd say that's pretty close to observing "thoughts". And who's to say how many steps it takes from that to also simulate sensations in the viewer. :dunno:


Now I replied to that with the presentation of a relevant scientific paper, namely this one:

Reconstructing Visual Experiences From Brain Activity Evoked By Natural Movies by Shinji Nishimoto, An T. Vu, Thomas Naselaris, Yuval Benjamini, Bin Yu, and Jack L. Gallant, current Biology, 21: 1641-1646 (11th October 2011) [Full paper downloadable from here.

Nishimoto et al, 2011 wrote:Summary

Quantitative modeling of human brain activity can provide crucial insights about cortical representations [1, 2] and can form the basis for brain decoding devices [3–5]. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have modeled brain activity elicited by static visual patterns and have reconstructed these patterns from brain activity [6–8]. However, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals measured via fMRI are very slow [9], so it has been difficult to model brain activity elicited by dynamic stimuli such as natural movies. Here we present a new motion-energy [10, 11] encoding model that largely overcomes this limitation. The model describes fast visual information and slow hemodynamics by separate components. We recorded BOLD signals in occipitotemporal visual cortex of human subjects who watched natural movies and fit the model separately to individual voxels. Visualization of the fit models reveals how early visual areas represent the information in movies. To demonstrate the power of our approach, we also constructed a Bayesian decoder [8] by combining estimated encoding models with a sampled natural movie prior. The decoder provides remarkable reconstructions of the viewed movies. These results demonstrate that dynamic brain activity measured under naturalistic conditions can be decoded using current fMRI technology.


Heh, not only are scientists reconstructing still images, they're now reconstructing movies played in the brain. Yet according to your tiresomely parroted assertions, Andrew, this is supposed to be impossible, and an instance of "ignorance and denial". The web page for the Gallant Laboratory, which conducted the research, is here, and as an aside, the scientists at that laboratory cite as prior art informing their work the Miwayaki et al paper from 2008 I presented in a previous post.

Let's take a further look at this paper, shall we?

Nishimoto et al, 2011 wrote:Results

Many of our visual experiences are dynamic: perception, visual imagery, dreaming, and hallucinations all change continuously over time, and these changes are often the most compelling and important aspects of these experiences. Obtaining a quantitative understanding of brain activity underlying these dynamic processes would advance our understanding of visual function. Quantitative models of dynamic mental events could also have important applications as tools for psychiatric diagnosis and as the foundation of brain machine interface devices [3–5].

Modeling dynamic brain activity is a difficult technical problem. The best tool available currently for noninvasive measurement of brain activity is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which has relatively high spatial resolution [12, 13]. However, blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signals measured using fMRI are relatively slow [9], especially when compared to the speed of natural vision and many other mental processes. It has therefore been assumed that fMRI data would not be useful for modeling brain activity evoked during natural vision or by other dynamic mental processes.

Here we present a new motion-energy [10, 11] encoding model that largely overcomes this limitation. The model separately describes the neural mechanisms mediating visual motion information and their coupling to much slower hemodynamic mechanisms. In this report, we first validate this encoding model by showing that it describes how spatial and temporal information are represented in voxels throughout visual cortex. We then use a Bayesian approach [8] to combine estimated encoding models with a sampled natural movie prior, in order to produce reconstructions of natural movies from BOLD signals.

We recorded BOLD signals from three human subjects while they viewed a series of color natural movies (20° × 20° at 15 Hz). A fixation task was used to control eye position. Two separate data sets were obtained from each subject. The training data set consisted of BOLD signals evoked by 7,200 s of color natural movies, where each movie was presented just once. These data were used to fit a separate encoding model for
each voxel located in posterior and ventral occipitotemporal visual cortex. The test data set consisted of BOLD signals evoked by 540 s of color natural movies, where each movie was repeated ten times. These data were used to assess the accuracy of the encoding model and as the targets for movie reconstruction. Because the movies used to train and test models were different, this approach provides a fair and objective evaluation of the accuracy of the encoding and decoding models [2, 14].

BOLD signals recorded from each voxel were fit separately using a two-stage process. Natural movie stimuli were first filtered by a bank of neurally inspired nonlinear units sensitive to local motion-energy [10, 11]. L1-regularized linear regression [15, 16] was then used to fit a separate hemodynamic coupling term to each nonlinear filter (Figure 1; see also Supplemental Experimental Procedures available online). The regularized regression approach used here was optimized to obtain good estimates even for computational models containing thousands of regressors. In this respect, our approach differs from the regression procedures used in many other fMRI studies [17, 18].

To determine how much motion information is available in BOLD signals, we compared prediction accuracy for three different encoding models (Figures 2A–2C): a conventional static model that includes no motion information [8, 19], a nondirectional motion model that represents local motion energy but not direction, and a directional model that represents both local motion energy and direction. Each of these models was fit separately to every voxel recorded in each subject, and the test data were used to assess prediction accuracy for each model. Prediction accuracy was defined as the correlation between predicted and observed BOLD signals. The averaged accuracy across subjects and voxels in early visual areas (V1, V2, V3, V3A, and V3B) was 0.24, 0.39, and 0.40 for the static, nondirectional, and directional encoding models, respectively (Figures 2D and 2E; see Figure S1A for subject- and area-wise comparisons). This difference in prediction accuracy was significant (p < 0.0001, Wilcoxon signed-rank test). An earlier study showed that the static model tested here recovered much more information from BOLD signals than had been obtained with any previous model [8, 19]. Nevertheless, both motion models developed here provide far more accurate predictions than are obtained with the static model. Note that the difference in prediction accuracy between the directional and nondirectional motion models, though significant, was small (Figure 2E; Figure S1A). This suggests that BOLD signals convey spatially localized but predominantly nondirectional motion information. These results show that the motion-energy encoding model predicts BOLD signals evoked by novel natural movies.


I'll let those interested in real science devour the rest of the contents of that paper for themselves, as it makes truly compelling reading to those of us who find reality interesting.

This is how it's done, by the way. Namely, presenting evidence to support one's statements. Care to follow suit with respect to your numerous assertions?

Oh, by the way, when those "philosophical" papers you claim to be "reading up on" contain evidence of the level of the above scientific paper, as opposed to yet more erected assertions presented as if they constituted established fact, I'll sit up and take notice. Only I've noticed how quite a few supernaturalists keep wibbling about "philosophical" issues, presumably because facts are too hard for them. Indeed, one has admitted as much in the past here.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:It's a philosophical justification.


Translation: "Let's make up some shit, then pretend that reality rearranges itself to conform to said made up shit". Learn quickly that the real world doesn't work like this.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:It PROVIDES why an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God to allow evil.


No it doesn't. Once again, it merley asserts this. Learn the difference between a mere assertion and a real explanation.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:It doesn't have to be true. Philosophy is much more different than science.


HA HA HA HA HA!!!!

Excuse me, but the WHOLE POINT of your posting your assertions, is to try and persuade the rest of us that your assertions constitute established fact. If you're now saying that your assertions don't even have to be true, then we're well and truly in the land of "anything goes". This is farcical in the extreme.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Also, why are people judging God's morality? On what objective basis can you judge God? None.


First of all, you have to provide real evidence that this entity exists, otherwise, all subsidiary assertions about this entity are nothing more than fantasy.

Second, we can judge the purported "morality" of your purported god very easily. Namely, by taking the assertions contained in the relevant mythology about this, and testing what happens when we treat those assertions as true. When those assertions contain internal contradictions, we are entitled to point this out.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Actually, we don't need "atheism" to do this, we simply need to test what happens when the assertions in your mythology are treated as true by way of hypothesis, and determining whether or not this leads to absurdity. Which frequently transpires to be the case, courtesy of the fact that your mythology erects mutually contradictory assertions. Such as the assertions I've covered above at length, on the one hand claiming that your purported magic man purportedly commanded people not to kill, then on the other hand claiming that your purported magic man purportedly ordered these people to go out and kill on a large scale. That you find no problem with this speaks volumes about the vacuity of the entire supernaturalist enterprise.

Oh, and it's manifestly obvious from the above assertion you've posted, not to mention your frankly hilarious choice of user name, that you don'tknow what atheism actually is. Allow me to educate you on this.

Atheism, in its rigorous formulation, consists of a refusal to accept uncritically unsupported blind supernaturalist assertions. That is IT. At bottim, it consists of "YOU assert that your magic man exists, YOU support your assertions". It doesn't pretend to be an over-arching "theory of everything", unlike supernaturalist doctrines (which is probably why supernaturalists keep misrepresenting it as such - they can't comprehend something that isn't a doctrine), it simply consists of a refusal to treat made up shit about magic men as fact, just because enthusiasts for said made up shit insist that we should. Now, do learn this elementary principle, unless you wish your future posts to be treated with well deserved scorn and derision, when you erect the tiresome and previously destroyed canards that we've seen time and time again from supernaturalists with respect to this matter.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't know. Maybe God wanted to have other free creatures beside men?


Once again, where is the real evidence that this entity actually exists? Please provide some.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.


We were aware of this from the start.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.


I suggest you put it to profitable use. You can start by addressing the issues I present properly, and demonstrating that you have paid diligent attention thereto. I shall be setting examination question with respect thereto, specifically for your benefit.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#116  Postby chairman bill » May 05, 2012 7:37 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:... Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Of course atheism can't do this - atheism is just an absence of belief in god(s). However, Odin tells me that killing a nation's babies is a fucking twisted, cuntish act, far below what any self-respecting god would do. And he should know, 'cos he's the top god (unless you can prove otherwise*). But according to the bible, your pissant godling told 'his people' to completely destroy the Canaanites, and leave not even a woman or child alive when they killed the followers of king Og of Bashan. He told them to slaughter every man, woman & child of Jericho. When they fought the Midianites, God told them to kill all the men, and through Moses, to kill all the male children, and enslave the women who were virgins, but kill the rest. Then there were the people of Ai, all of whom were killed at God's command. All of them. Men, women & children.

Your evil bastard of a god is hereby charged with being a murderous, baby-killing cunt, and therefore evil.


* It has been raised previously on this thread, yet you've so far proven unable to offer evidence against the supremacy of Odin. He is therefore still top god.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#117  Postby MrFungus420 » May 05, 2012 7:42 am

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:Also, why are people judging God's morality?


Because God fails to meet the moral standards of mere humans.

So much for god being morally superior and a moral authority.

AtheismIsIrrational wrote:On what objective basis can you judge God? None. Atheism cannot provide an objective reason why the God of the Old Testament is evil.


Christianity cannot provide an objective reason, either. The only thing that you can do is to say that something is moral because God says so. And that leads to the Euthryphro Dilemma.

Is something good because God commands it to be good? In this case, then morality is completely subjective based on what God says...no objective morality.
Or does God command things because they are intrinsically good? In this case, then God is not the arbiter of morality and morals are objectively good for no reason other than they are good. That means that they apply equally to all people and should be discoverable by people with the application of reason and empathy.

God does not supply objective morals. He either dictates whatever he wants (making it subjective) or has no part in the process (making him useless).

And, if you want to try that it is the first one (that God commands what is good) BUT he can only command what is good because it is his nature, then you have to ask where God got his nature. Did God give himself his nature? Then we are back to subjective declaration. Is his nature intrinsic (beyond his control)? Then we are back to God being absent from the determination of morality.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#118  Postby chairman bill » May 05, 2012 7:49 am

If someone claims that whatever God does, or commands, is moral & good, then baby-killing is moral & good where God does it or commands it. It would therefore be immoral to oppose someone acting at God's command to kill babies. God clearly wouldn't allow anyone to act under the impression that they were commanded from God, unless they were in fact doing so. We must therefore conclude, that any person claiming to be acting in accord with God's will or command, even where they are intending to kill babies, is behaving in a moral & good way.

The alternative to this, is to say that killing babies is simply wrong & wholly immoral. Therefore God was wrong & acted immorally in his commands to Moses, and in his direct actions when he personally brought about the violent ends of children & babies.
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#119  Postby Nebogipfel » May 05, 2012 8:01 am

Agrippina wrote:
AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.


If you're having a crisis of belief, this is the right place to discuss it. We judge bad ideas, we don't judge the people behind them.

I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.


Please do come back. We will help you figure your way out of whatever it is that's bothering you. :cheers:


Seconded :cheers:
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Re: Problem of Evil has been solved

#120  Postby stijndeloose » May 05, 2012 8:21 am

Nebogipfel wrote:
Agrippina wrote:
AtheismIsIrrational wrote:I don't think my justifications for believing in God are good.


If you're having a crisis of belief, this is the right place to discuss it. We judge bad ideas, we don't judge the people behind them.

I'll be back tomorrow. I need some time alone.


Please do come back. We will help you figure your way out of whatever it is that's bothering you. :cheers:


Seconded :cheers:


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