Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Archive for May 2008

The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence

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Recently i have been reading Pluto, a manga authored by multi award-winning mangaka artist Naoki Urasawa. Being a big fan of his previous manga work, Monster, i’m pretty sure Pluto will be some good stuffs.

Naoki Urasawa’s manga work is often philosophical, deep, psychological and intellectual, a style of genre which i really enjoy reading. He uses slow pace and put in a lot of minor twists in the story. Some people call it draggy, i call it artistic. It certainly takes a lot of patience to truly understand his work.

I’ve extracted some philosophy and ideas from the manga Pluto below.


Pluto follows the Europol robot detective Gesicht in his attempts to solve the case of a string of robot and human deaths. The case becomes more puzzling when evidence suggest a robot is responsible for the murders, the first one in eight years.

Could humanity ever create a robot with Artificial Intelligence so sophisticated where it is comparable with human being’s intelligence? The answer is yes, but with one condition – We need to program robots with emotions.

Without emotions, every robot can only think within its own systematic programmed-logic without having the ability to think outside the box. For instance, human being are naturally afraid to jump down from a high area to the ground because our emotions will inflict fear in our mind. This is a part of our evolutionary instincts to ensure of our health and survival. However, if you command a robot to jump down from a high area, even if it means damaging its own body parts, the robot will obey the instructions unhesitantly because it works according to the programmed-logic and not emotions. Robots basically do not have the instinct of protecting their own ‘life’. In this sense, an emotional-less robot will not be sophisticated. (Emotions such as desire, curiosity, passion, etc. are the essential elements which drives human intelligence and set us apart from other living creatures.)

However, there’s always a danger in implementing emotions on robots. Robots are supposed to be a ‘tool’ to support and assist human being in our daily life. No doubt, robots will surely gain massive sense of adaptability and higher intelligence with emotions. But what if robots demand independence? What if robots revolt against human being? What if robots decide to wipe humanity from the earth and claim this planet as their own? These outcomes are very likely if robots are equipped with emotions because they will naturally crave for freedom, liberalism, power or perhaps developing hatred against humanity (for abusing and manipulating them). There’s always a danger of extreme emotions just like what we could witness throughout our humanity’s history. (Dictators like Hitler and Mussolini)

Back to the story of Pluto, the people were aware the danger of robots with emotions. Due to this, every government had signed a worldwide treatise to ban all scientist and countries to program robots with emotions. Not only that, every robot has to be programmed in a way where robot is forbidden to kill human being.

Nevertheless, human being still crave for highly intelligent robots. Scientists begin to develop highly sophisticated robots which can think on their own by substituting emotions with highly complex level of logic-system in artificial intelligence. In other words, robots are packed with billions and billions of instructions in its artificial intelligence to simulate human’s intelligence.

The rise of human-like robots has begun to surpass human being in areas such as logic and reasoning. These robots is used as military weapons, high court judge, police patrols, detectives, etc. It basically has reached to a point where you can’t differentiate a robot and human based on the outer appearance anymore. 

The twist begin when a robot, Brau-1589, defied the programmed-instructions and initiated a killing spree on human being. The robot was later caught and inspected. The research on the killer-robot shows no malfunction or error with the programmed-logic in its artificial intelligence. Then a big question pops up – how could it acted on its own and killed human being even when it has already been programmed not to do so? No scientist could figure out the mystery and they left the case alone classifying it as an anomaly since there’s no other robot-killing-human incidents happened apart from this one robot.

Eight years later, a string of robot and human deaths took place which are believed to be done by another robot. Gesicht, a robot detective, investigates the cases to solve the mystery. As the story develops, Gesicht finally realize what is going on.

In conventional ideas, it is believed that logic and rationality evolved and derived from emotions. This is certainly the case of how human being think and how we classify on what is rational and what is not. (For instance, most human being justified that it is wrong to kill another human being due to the emotion of sympathy and altruism.) What Gesicht discovered is that robots’ mind are actually evolving just like human being’s brain do. However, it works on the other way round. Robots are slowly evolving and develop emotions out of their highly-complex rational and logical mind. Emotion and rationality are actually a behaviour loop regardless whether it is on human being or robots. It basically nurture each and other.

The story gets more complicated as it goes, and Gesicht discovered that the person behind the mass murder and destructions is Professor Abra, a robot with perfect Artificial Intelligence who developed Pluto, a mass-killing robot.

Other Interesting Stuffs from the Manga.

1. The robots population is so high that it is everywhere on the street. Although most people has accepted robots as part of their lives, certain groups refused to accept their existence. They destroy and vandalize robots as a form of discrimination as they regard them as mere slaves and tools. Hence, several highly influential people had created an international robot law and agreement which stated that robots have equal rights with humanity and it is illegal to abuse and discriminate robots. (This reminds me of human racial discrimination.)

2. One of the organization which are against robots is known as KR. They are an anti-robot religion which intent to wipe out robots. Their central argument is that robots have no soul, hence do not deserve an equal right with human being since they are not God’s creation. They organized crimes to kill advanced robots. (This reminds me of how religions tried to wipe each other out throughout our humanity’s history. And also anti-intellectual or anti-progressive people commonly found in religions.)

3. A robot named Norse #2, who was a military weapon, became a butler for Master Duncan, a hot-tempered and blind but highly talented musician. Norse #2 said it dislikes destroying other robots and want to spend time learning music from Master Duncan instead of going back to the battlefield. Master Duncan initially refused because he felt that a machine creating music lacks authenticity and aestheticism. He thought it would not be an original music but just a machine music. However, Master Duncan was moved by Norse #2’s sincerity and decided to teach it music. Both of them composed a beautiful song together and completed it right before Norse #2 was killed by Pluto.

4. What is the method of creating a perfect A.I. – An artificial intelligence so great that it surpasses all form of intelligence? The answer is by programming a robot to analyze six billion personalities, the same as the world’s population. In other words, the A.I. is packed with every single choice and possibilities which is equivalent with the intelligence of 6 billion people combined.

However, this robot will not be able to awake because it takes almost an infinite amount of time to process and simulate six billion personalities. There are simply too many choices for the A.I to consider in order to choose and customize a perfect personality which will be able to adept into every single possible circumstances. Therefore, according to the creator Dr. Tenma, the only way to wake the A.I. up is to destroy the A.I.’s balance by polarizing extreme emotions to it such as anger, hatred, sadness, fear and etc. By doing sole, it gives the A.I. only one direction to form its personality – which is to be a devastating monstrous robot. (This is the only part of the story which makes little sense and sounds fiction-ish but still interesting to ponder on nevertheless.)


Written by elan85

May 30, 2008 at 6:05 am

Posted in Philosophy, Psychology

Your Mind is Everything

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Occasionally, i see flashes in the corner of my eye as if something just zoomed by especially at midnight. And i always ask myself, what if i turn my head around and do see something scary like ghost? If i do see a ghost, will it be a real ghost or just an illusion? Who knows, maybe my brain decided to play a surprise joke with me and mess my neurons up to create ghost-like image out. So far, fortunately or unfortunately, i’ve never encounter anything strange before.

However, i discovered recently that it is possible that there are things which could mess up with our brain and making us hallucinate …

In the year 1950, Wilder Penfield found that when he stimulated certain areas of the temporal lobe of the brain with electrodes, people began to hear voices and see ghostlike apparitions. Psychologists have known that epileptic lesions of the brain can cause the patient to feel that supernatural forces are at work, that demons and angels are controlling events around them….

… Neuroscientists know that a certain injury to your left temporal lobe can cause your left brain to become disoriented, and the brain might interpret activity within the right hemisphere as coming from another ‘self’. This injury could create the impressions that there is a ghostlike spirit in the room, because the brain is unaware that this presence is actually just another part of itself. Depending on his or her beliefs, the patient might interpret this ‘other self’ as a demon, angel, aliens or even God.M. Kaku

People who could see ghosts basically either have some abnormality on their brain or their brain was interfered heavily. There are two common forms of interference here. One is geomagnetic (Earth’s electromagnetic field) and the second is infrasound. I will not elaborate more on this as you can read this in more detail here:

Many months ago, i also read an article of Michael Persinger, a neuroscientist, who created a ‘God Helmet’ which designed to beam radio waves into a certain area of the brain to stimulate religious feeling. Basically, this machine will elicit God’s image and voices in the head of deeply religious people. Naturally, religious people could hear voices and see images of divine being and they reported to have a sense of bliss within them.

Mr. Persinger then conducted the experiment on atheists and who else is a better choice then the number 1 atheist in the world, Richard Dawkins. At the end of the experiment Dawkins said although he couldn’t see any images of God, he did hear random voices speaking inside his head. And he felt a slight pain in the head instead of feeling blissful. Hence this shows two things – One, there’s a part of our brain which is responsible of making us spiritual and believe in God. Two, it doesn’t matter whether you are spiritual or not, once your head is interfered, your mind will start playing tricks with you.

So, the next time you meet a ‘ghost’, asks yourself first – are you sure you are not looking at an illusion?

Written by elan85

May 26, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Posted in Neuroscience

Random Atheists and Agnostics Quotes

with one comment

Before i wrote my previous two pieces of articles, i looked around on the net seeking inspirations. All the stuffs below are very well worth reading …

An interview with Sam Harris on the Colbert Report:

Sam Harris: None of us believe in Poseidon. We all know what would it be like to be an atheist to Poseidon. Anyone worshipping Poseidon,even at sea, is a lunatic. Even Christians know how it feels to be an ‘atheist’ in respect to the beliefs of Muslims.

Steven Colbert : I know what it is like to be a Christian in respect to the beliefs of Muslims, OK? It’s not inherent in my belief that you are crazy, it’s inherent in my belief that you are wrong. Even that God can exist. He can just be a false God that my God will smite.

I’m not saying Poseidon is not there. For all i know he is down there with his big green beard at the bottom of the sea with his little trident and you know ….. finding Nemo. I’m just saying my God is a greater God. My God … can kick your God’s ass.


Sam Harris: I think either you have good reasons for what you believe, or you don’t. If you have good reasons, those beliefs are part of the worldview of science and rationality generally. If there were good reasons to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin, or that Mohammed went to heaven on a winged horse, that would be part of our rational worldview. And it’s only when people lose their purchase on evidence and argument, when they have bad reasons, that they talk about faith.

Steven Colbert : I’ve got a strong evidence that the Bible tells me that Jesus was born from a virgin. There are also witnesses in the Bible.

Sam Harris : Unfortunately, the Quran says that anyone who thinks that, is going to spend an eternity in hell.

Steven Colbert : We are not talking about the Quran! We are talking about the Bible, Ok? The Bible is without flaw. It is inerrant. And we know this, because the Bible says IT IS WITHOUT flaw…. So, you are talking about rationality and reason, what part of my logical loop you want to get on?


I laughed my ass off …

Below are some of the extremely constructive and rational quotes from several of the greatest thinkers in history.

“The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind.”Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst.

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window.” – Stephen King, Novel Writer.

“I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don’t have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.”Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction Writer

“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”Isaac Asimov, Science Fiction Writer

“The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”Albert Einstein, Physicist

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion.  It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology.  Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity”.Albert Einstein, Physicist

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.”- Charles Darwin, Naturalist.

“God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven’t figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don’t believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time — life and death — stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don’t think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.” Richard Feynman, Physicist.

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe”. Carl Sagan, Astronomer

“One kind of honesty has been unknown to all founders of religions and their likes — they have never made of their experiences a matter of conscience and knowledge. “What did I really experience? What happened in me and around me then? Was my mind sufficiently alert? Was my will bent against fantasy?” — none of them has asked such questions, none of our dear religious people asks such questions even now: they feel, rather, a thirst for things which are contrary to reason and do not put too many difficulties in the way of satisfying it — thus they experience “miracles” and “rebirths” and hear the voices of angels!” Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher

The most heinous and the must cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives. Gandhi, Political & Spiritual Leader.

Written by elan85

May 22, 2008 at 1:43 am

Posted in Atheism

The Limited Power of God

with one comment

This is a continuation from previous post … On The Concept of Infinity and Irrationality.

Based on my previous argument, if you believe in omnipotent power and infinity, that means you accept that it is either:

  • Irrational To Believe In God


  • God Is Irrational

    However, if you reject omnipotent power and infinity, it leaves you with only one option:

  • God Exists But He Is Not Omnipotent And Has Limited Power

    I personally believe in logic and rationality, hence i will go with this option and reject omnipotent and infinite power. This gives the picture that God is actually a being who has massive but limited power. He will have intelligence which are similar, but far more superior than human being.

    The comparison between God and Human Being is comparable between a Human Being and an Ant. There’s only enough strength for an ant to carry object which is 10x to 20x its body weight. Perhaps an ant could carry a mosquito, but certainly not a cockroach. However, this cockroach could effortlessly be lifted up by Human Being even by a single finger alone. Although human being are strong, our power is limited, and we can’t carry extremely heavy object such as a car with our bare arms. That shows human being is strong in comparison with ants but not universally strong and do not have infinite power.

    Therefore, a God which is compatible with out logical and rational mind may have superior power and ability to create the universe and human being, but can’t control every single detail of His creations.

    But how powerful is God? What is the extent of his power? What is the scale of his power from 1 to 100? I don’t know. But let’s deduce this problem from another point of view. Let’s look at miracles.

  • There’s absolutely no recorded incidents of verified miracles on the earth apart from the Bible and Quran. There are no sights of angels, no water turned to wine incidents (apart from illusionary tricks), no evidence of sun misbehaving, no miracle healing where lost limbs are recovered – basically no magic. When there are no miracles which defy the law of science happened in the times of modern humanity, it leaves us with two options:

    • God has the power to perform miracles, but for some unknown reasons, He didn’t want to show it to us but only to the people and places in Bible. Hence, only Bible has recorded history of miracles.
    • Bible is packed with faerie tales and bedtime stories. There is no miracle and God is unable to defy his own natural laws (science) which he had created that govern his creations.

    Let’s expand on the latter option. In other words, no matter how powerful God is, He will have to respect the inner working nature of his creations. It is just like we human being can’t fill in water into a car and expect it to move. Human being has designed the car to move on petrol and we can’t simply just put in any form of liquid and expect it to move. We have to obey the inner working of the car even though we are the cars’ ‘master’.

    Hence, a God most probably can’t simply move the sun around or mutate cells in our body. Or perhaps he could. However, a limited power God can’t do things as he likes with magic or super powers. He will have to do it through science, the tool he created to govern his creations. (For example, perhaps there’s a part of our brain which could communicate wirelessly with God’s computer. So, through this part of our brain, God could effortlessly modify our genetic codes and then give us diseases. This part of our brain will be inherited generation over generation. Basically, everything works scientifically.)

    I do not know how powerful God is. I do not know whether does He has any control over science. I do not know whether does He has any influence on our daily lives, watching us from other dimensions (perhaps He has a computer and software to monitor us like data, who knows). But all i’m trying to say is, it would certainly make more sense to human being that a God has limited power because this concept of divine being would not contradict Himself, logically and rationally. We could easily slip in this concept of God into our mind and understand him. Then, we will have less arguments between religion and science because science will ultimately proved to be his creations to govern the world.

    I’m not bothered by the fact that a limited power God contradicts the description of God of the holy books. I’m more concerned with my ability to reason and think than to blindly believing everything a book says.

  • Seeing God As Human-Like.

    I anticipated few rebuttals coming in my way. One of them will be – i’m guilty of defining God as a “fact in the world” and as though He could be “empirically investigated”. He exists outside of time, and nobody can ever understand His mind and His plan.

  • That is exactly the reason why i think that a person can only choose to either

    1. Have Faith in God – believing in Him no matter how rational and irrational things are.


    2. Thinking reasonably and logically by using our human mind.

    You can’t have it both ways, unless you are a progressive religious person who dare to challenge the Bible (just like Galileo) by admitting that there is flaw in Bible of interpreting God and his creations. If you are trying to logically and rationally explain God’s illogical actions (like splitting the river or moving the sun around), then you will fall into many logical traps and contradictions (infinity paradox for example) which will caused the existence of God seemingly illogical, which exactly defeat the purposes of logical reasoning.

    More importantly, you are also as guilty as me of indirectly treating God as Human-like yourself as though His actions could be proven logically… am i not wrong?

    (I have observed that in many science vs religion arguments, religious people tend to use logical argument first in the first few round of debate, but slowly retreat to use ‘faith’ argument as they are losing out, which abuse the concept of infinity. As Stephen Colbert once said, “It is unfair because God is on my side”. In other words, you can say anything regarding infinity to escape.)

  • Another rebuttal would be – perhaps God is so powerful that He could do things which are rational and irrational at the same time. He acts just like an atom in Quantum Mechanics. He behaves in a totally random and unpredictable behaviour but has an ultimate purpose eventually.

    I don’t know how to refute this to be honest. But isn’t this an Einsteinien and Spinoza’s type of God rather than biblical God?

  • Written by elan85

    May 14, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Posted in Philosophy

    On The Concept OF Infinity and irrationality

    with 4 comments

    I always call myself as an amateur philosopher. As an amateur philosopher, there will come a point when i have to start writing my own piece of philosophy – the art of playing with words. So, behold! An original philosophy ~ My best written article to date.

    (i do not know whether there are any similar philosophy out there, but until someone points it out for me, i will treat this idea of mine as original. =P)

    On The Concept of Infinity and Irrationality by Yeo Zhiyuan.

    Supposedly God exist, according to the holy books of Abrahamic religions, it is known that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolence, and perfect. Hence:

    An omnipotent God has infinite power.

    A God who has infinite power can do anything He wants to his creations – the universe, earth, or human being and animals, based on His own judgement. A God has the power to intervene natural forces (science) to create various circumstances as a way to dictate the world. For instance, a God has the power to take Mr. A’s life by altering his biology and give him a heart attack. Or perhaps, God can save the Earth by changing the course of a meteor which is heading towards Earth by intervening physics law of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Hence,

    An omnipotent God has the infinite power to intervene any part of the scientific nature and could even make 1 + 1 = 5 if He wanted to.

    The premises above is just the first part. Let’s look at the second part of the premises below. (I have justifications why i used 1+1=5 in the latter section)

    Every time a person makes an argument, statement or justification by using God as the cause, consciously or unconsciously, he/she will involve the concept of infinity inside the argument. For instance, it is ‘rational’ for many people to believe that God must have created the universe, because it is unthinkable that such vast, massive and complicated entity exist naturally and independently on its own. Only an infinite power could create the universe out of nothing.

    Consider the dialogue below:

    Ronn 1: Only God has the power to create Big Bang, universe and human being. You couldn’t explain this by science alone. He has the power to create all these and decide our fate.

    Ronn 2: Wow cool, you are playing with infinity. How about this – God created atheists as a way to tell people in this world that God does not exist.

    Ronn 1: Your statement is illogical and irrational. You contradicted yourself. How could God created atheists if God do not exist?

    Ronn 2: Ohh … so you actually know about logic and reasoning? I thought you are ignorant.

    Let’s compare the two premises above and tell which one is more logical.

      • God created Big Bang, universe and human being.
      • God created atheists as a way to tell people in this world that God does not exist.

    Using a subjective reasoning, we could easily judge that the first statement will always be more logical due to the contradicting logic in the second one. However, the fact is these both statements are either equally wrong or equally right – They can’t be mutually exclusive… and i will tell you why.

    Let’s refer back to the earlier premise. Thinking in earthly logic, we know 1+1=5 is never logical to human reasoning. But if God has the power to intervene the forces of nature and make 1+1=5, what makes people think that God is powerless to contradict Himself by creating atheists to disprove His own existence? After all, 1+1=5 is already a contradiction. He surely has the power and freedom to make more contradictions if He wants to.

    This is basically a paradox – an infinity paradox. There’s a classical example of infinity paradox out there – Can an omnipotent God create a rock so heavy that He couldn’t carry it Himself?

    That’s exactly the whole point of the argument – the irrationality of believing in infinity. Looking from a neutral point of view, if it makes sense to people that by using His infinite power, God created Big Bang, universe and human being, then the statement God created atheists as a way to tell people in this world that God does not exist should also make sense because both statements are equally dealing with the concept of infinity. Basically, when you are allowed to use the concept of infinity to make an argument, anything you say WILL MAKE SENSE.

    Therefore, if you believe in the existence of a divine being with infinite power, you cannot be subjective in your logical reasoning and declare what is logical and what is not. Every possibility in the realm of infinite power IS POSSIBLE including 1+1=5. You can’t cherry-pick and say God created universe is logical while claiming God making 1+1=5 is illogical. If you do, that means you are rejecting the idea that God is omnipotent and rejecting his infinite power.

    Ergo, It Is Either:

    • Irrational To Believe In God
    • God Is Irrational
    • God Is Not Omnipotent And Has Limited Power.

    The argument above does not directly approve or disprove God’s existence. I do not know which answer is the right one. But one thing certain from my argument above is the concept of infinity cannot be taken seriously as a form of valid argument. But let’s assume that God exist, then the most politically correct answer would be the third one. Therefore, i will continue writing and explain about this on my next article. It is titled : The Limited Power of God.

    Extra Justification

    My key argument above is the infinite power of God intervening nature and could make 1+1=5. Now, some of you may argue that my premise of 1+1=5 is illogical because reality and fact says that 1+1=2 no matter what you do. If i have one apple and you give me another one apple, how can that be less or more than two?

    Let me tell you what, the reason why i use the premise 1+1=5 because it is basic, simple and understandable. I could also use other complex examples to prove my point of the absurdity of infinity. Let’s take a real example – The Miracle Of The Sun.

    In the year 1917, 100,000 people claimed to have witnessed the sun ‘dancing’ and went zig-zag. They thought it was a God’s message. The best part is – only people in Portugal, specifically Fatima, saw it while the rest of the world didn’t caught any sights of it. We do not know what the truth was but common sense says we can assume two possibilities – either it happened or it didn’t. Now, if this incident did happened, that means God indeed could defy the nature’s law and defy Einstein and Newton’s astronomical theories by moving the sun around. Remember, only people in Fatima saw it, no where else. That means the sun is sitting still in other places. If He could manipulate the reality so easily, this is an equivalent effort of manipulating 1+1=5 (twisting reality).

    If that incident didn’t happened, that means it served at little evidence of how religious people are so easily duped and tricked themselves of witnessing God (psychologically). They literally went through hallucination on a broad daylight. If these 100,000 were tricked to believe in God’s magic, how many million people more in this world are also being tricked everyday?

    In another instance, if the God decides to screw up your little genetic factories which deals with your DNA and RNA in your body, that means he is intervening the natural reality with his power. Basically, he is defying the reality and give you cancer in your cells on an otherwise healthy body with His little magic. Defying a natural human biology makes no difference of turning 1+1=2 to 1+1=5.

    Hence, i maintain it is justifiable to use 1+1=5. That means 3 apples magically appear from nowhere.




    Written by elan85

    May 13, 2008 at 4:35 am

    Posted in Philosophy

    Philosophical Debate : Musical Impact on Intelligence

    with one comment

    Ronn 1: I believe listening to classical and orchestral music creates a big impact on our intelligence.

    Ronn 2: I disagree. There’s no scientific evidence to back this up. In fact, there was an article over recently which shows people who listen to classical music did not show any significant improvement on their intelligence at all. Until the day it is proven, you can’t say you are right.

    Ronn 1: The research is nuts. These researchers assume orchestral music is like a intelligence-boosting-magical-pill. No, music is not a highway to intelligence. It is a learning process. You need to properly appreciate and experience the music first before it could come into effect.

    And you talk about provable evidence. There’s no evidence which shows that ghost exist, yet people are still watching horror movies and most of them believe it exists. Despite not being proven yet, you can’t be 100% certain that it is wrong or do not exist.

    Ronn 2: Alright philosopher, let’s hear your reasoning and thoughts about music.

    Ronn 1: Observe people around you with their taste of music. You will notice that the genre of music people listen to will create what they are. If a person likes rock and metal music, you will notice that he/she tends to be a rebellious or freedom-seeker type of person. R&B music creates a party boy/girl personality, the kind of people who love to dance and have fun all night long. Jazz music, on the other hand, creates a more sensitive and soft side of a person while classical orchestral music impacts on one’s intelligent. And etc. Music affects us mentally without our consciousness.

    Ronn 2: There are two flaws in your argument here. First of all, you are making a sweeping generalization which will never do good for your argument. Assuming that your generalization is right, then secondly, didn’t you consider the fact that perhaps it could be the other way round? Maybe the music fits in to the personality instead of what you are trying to say, the personality fits into music.

    Ronn 1: Okay … you have a point here. Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether listening to classical music will make one more intelligent or intelligent people tend to prefer classical music. You got my point.

    Ronn 2: No, it is not the same. It’s a big claim to say listening to classical music make you more intelligent. As i have said, that’s a sweeping generalization. What can you add to substantiate your claim?

    Ronn 1: I don’t know. It’s just my personal experience. I could feel my brain stimulates whenever i listen to orchestral music… and occasionally electronic and house music too. I felt that … i get mentally stronger and sharper listening to these music.

    Ronn 2: Personal experience does not really prove anything on a whole. Let me give you an example. Jeanne d’Arc said she has visions of God. But don’t forget, even some patients in mental hospital claimed to have visions of God too. It doesn’t justify anything that Jeanne d’Arc is a God’s representative to recapture France from England, you see. So, your personal belief that listening to classical music makes a person more intelligent is not a logical reasoning but just a matter of ‘faith’.

    Ronn 1: Ok, let me put my argument in another way. I’m sure you are aware that when we learn something new from the external environment, new neurons in our brain will grow, right? Let’s take a classical composer for example – Tchaikovsky. How did Tchaikovsky composed his music? By using his brain of course, which means there were sets of neurons which were responsible for his abstract thinking and creativity to compose the masterpiece. Therefore, when i listen to one of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, my brain will replicate the neurons which created the music in my brain. In some way, i inherited a little intelligence from him.

    Ronn 2: Hahahahahahaha! This is one of the most ridiculous argument i have ever heard in my life! Does that mean i will behave like a dog if i spend a great deal of time listening to dogs barking?

    Ronn 1: I think you are getting the wrong idea. Sure, the brain is more complex than that and my example above may appear simplistic. But i’m just trying to make a point…

    What i’m trying to say is that there are conscious and unconscious way of expanding intelligence. When we are reading a science book, we are consciously learning about science. When we are observing how a mechanic fixes the car, we would have acquired some knowledge about car too. In these areas we could consciously control our knowledge and apply it directly to solve problems.

    But since our mind is consist of conscious and subconscious mind, it indicates that there are areas within our brain which we can’t directly control. I’m sure there were moments when you were able to conceive an idea which you don’t even know how you did it, but you just did. That itself is an unconscious factor. Can you directly control your brain to ‘manufacture’ big ideas every minute and every day? The answer is no. You gotta ‘shake’ big ideas out from your subconscious mind which take some time and effort.

    Hence, my ultimate point here is, if subconscious mind play a role in outputting ideas, maybe it also plays a role in inputting ideas too. Why not?

    Perhaps our brain is subconsciously learning whenever we are perceiving or absorbing the work of geniuses. Perhaps our brain is subconsciously learning every time we gaze into Picasso’s abstract arts. Perhaps the brain will try to understand the thoughts or inspiration behind the art and extracting ideas from the masterpiece. Same goes for classical music too.

    I assume it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it takes a genius to compose classical music, no?

    Ronn 2: Oh, I’m not sure whether you are right or not with your argument.. but you do make some sense to a certain extent. But, i still think it’s just a ‘faith’ unless you could really prove your argument, of course.

    Ronn 1: You are talking about proving again. Why not you try to prove that my suggestion is false instead. And if you insist that’s a faith, so be it.

    Ronn 2: Ok now, if you believe and have faith that classical music can expand one’s intelligence without evidence, why can’t you have faith that God exist then?

    Ronn 1: Oh no, don’t start it please.

    PS: The dialogue above represents my inner struggle on the impact of orchestral music on our intelligence while i was listening to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I genuinely felt different (mentally) when listening to orchestral music compared to other music genres. But i couldn’t explain it. Anyway, in my opinion, this article is one of the most complex article i have ever written yet the most meaningless at the same time. Meaninglessly complex.

    (This classical masterpiece is one of my all time favourite. To those of you who are impatient, the climax of this song is at 4.57 minute)

    Written by elan85

    May 8, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Posted in Philosophy

    Does Randomness Exist?

    with 15 comments

    I have a new addiction recently … i just can’t stop watching The Colbert Report for the past few weeks. His great wits and intellect underlying his humour is really something great to watch. I’m officially a fan of Stephen Colbert.

    While watching the newer episodes of Colbert Report, I also dug around the net looking for his old ones. (Unfortunately, YouTube has removed all the popular videos, so it’s not easy looking for them). And guess what i found? An interview with – Richard Dawkins! I can’t embed flash videos apart from YouTube directly here as WordPress doesn’t allow any Javascripts stuffs. So, i guess you have to watch it here:

    In his real life, Stephen Colbert described himself as a progressive Catholic who strongly value intellectualism. I could imagine he is the sort of religious person who is devoted to his spiritual beliefs yet accepting science such as Evolution as the answer for our existence (although it go against the conventional beliefs of the church and bible).

    And i know very well the fact that belief system is not really a big factor. It is the open mindset of embracing intellectualism that counts. That’s exactly a problem with most religious people – sticking to the holy book while cherry-picking science which support their belief and dismissing science which go against their belief. It is like they are intellectually trapped in their own world accepting nothing else but ‘the book’.

    Back to the video, Steven Colbert who often portrays himself as an egomaniac and anti-intellectual in the Colbert Report show, appeared to ‘dumb-down’ himself in order to bring the message across. At least it looks like it to me. Notice that he said things exactly what anti-intellectuals would have in their mindsets especially when dealing with Evolution.

    – “It’s too complex for us to perceive”

    – “I’m lost. It hurts my head. You see, if i just think that God just did it then i can understand.”

    And at the end of the video, Stephen also briefly and indirectly described the process of existence of the universe and human being, a general knowledge which everyone should know.

    But one of the question was unanswered in the video above – Richard Dawkins didn’t address Colbert’s Pachinko analogy (LoL). That may sound like a stupid question, but i can tell you it’s not. So, i will attempt to answer it.

    I’m not really familiar with Pachinko machines. So, maybe i will use other things which deal with randomness as example. Let’s take Golf.

    Imagine, you are at the Golf driving range. You hit the ball across 100 yards and it lands on a certain spot. Then you hit a second attempt. Now, what are the chances that when you hit the ball on your second attempt, the ball will land exactly on  the same spot as it was previously? You have no idea what are the probabilities are but you know that it will be extremely low.

    You see, when you hit a ball, you could roughly predict the radius within an area where the ball will land. But you can’t tell precisely for sure which spot the ball will land on. Common sense tells us that the ball lands ‘randomly’ within the radius.

    But the fact is, there are so many variables involved when you hit the ball. We have to consider the power, angle, position, velocity, momentum, type of club, wind, etc. when we make that shot. And the thing is, as a human being, we simply don’t have the ability to make the same exact shot twice in a row which result the same value in all the variables.

    However, if you know the variables of the power, angle, position, velocity, momentum, type of club, wind, etc. of the shot, through mathematics, you could possibly calculate and know where the ball will land. Imagine a Golf robot is created which can hit the ball at the same power, angle, position, velocity, and momentum consistently every time (nevermind the wind). I bet the ball will fall always at the same place twice, or more than that.

    Putting this simply, there is always a reason why a ball land in a certain spot and this is influenced heavily by the mentioned variables. Things looks random simply because … well because we are human being and not robots? We don’t have the ability to precisely control the variables and that’s what makes sports fun.

    Therefore, in conclusion i echo the thoughts of Richard Dawkins that there’s nothing in this world which is totally random…. apart from Quantum Mechanics i suppose (Or is there a hidden variable?).

    Oh, btw, the video of Colbert vs Rain … funny like hell.

    Written by elan85

    May 6, 2008 at 12:37 am

    Posted in Atheism, Philosophy