The Laugh

I’ve already presented theories about crying, sneezing, but what about laughing? 
Why do we laugh? What makes things funny? 

In a typical joke, expectations are set in a certain line. The joke deviates from the line of expectation in a humorous way. But what makes it funny? I think it’s a contrast between the expectation and the reality of the joke.

So instead of what may be a negative line of thinking, the story takes a turn, to something unexpected, to something lighter.

As a listener, the expected stress of the story grows. So in looking forward there is value in having more time to react. Comparing future realities is paramount. So the slower time is for the listener, the more they can compare. So the body physiologically adapts to a stressful situation. But as it turns out, there was no need. The story allowed for an easy out.

The air that was trapped to compare realities is no longer needed. And thus, is released. Time is slow, then fast. Unpleasant, then pleasant. The sudden change of future, from negative to positive, from dark to light, gives the listener relief, in an audible adaptation to a better future.

Justified True Belief

I read the other day that the common epistemological definition of knowledge is justified true belief. Let’s take a look at atheism through this definition.

Atheism is a ‘lack of belief.’ Therefore if knowledge is belief, atheism can’t be knowledge, because it constitutes no belief. So we start off 0/1. 

Justified means having valid reasons to believe. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But as an atheist, you don’t actually believe, you simply ‘lack belief’. If you had reasons to lack belief, your position would be that God doesn’t exist, not that you simply lack belief in God.

‘True’ would only be applicable if the atheist position was ‘God doesn’t exist.’ Or that the claim ‘God exists’ is false. The only sense where you could consider the atheist position as true is by looking at it as self-affirming. Something like ‘it is true that this atheist doesn’t believe in God.’ But that just doesn’t get us any closer to whether or not God exists.

So if we can define knowledge as justified true belief, atheism fails on all counts. If atheism is framed as a rational pursuit of knowledge, it fails to answer the only question that it attempts to answer.

Paradox of the Heap and Ship of Theseus

How many straws do you have to remove from a bale of hay before it becomes something other than a bale of hay? At some point, you have a single straw. And after that, nothing. So clearly it is not always a bale. 

In my opinion, working from nothing. You have nothing, a single straw, then some straw. The real question is when some straw becomes a bale. I think the bale is the form of the straw. And once you can realize that the straw has a form, that form is a bale.

Of course, we all wouldn’t recognize this straw at the same time as being a bale. That’s where the paradox gets subjective. The straw only becomes a bale when the observer can recognize the form of the straw as being a bale. So the ‘baleness’ of the hay depends on the ability to observe the form of a bale.


sunset-ship-boat-sea-37730

If a ship is made of 100 pieces and each piece has a replacement piece on board. Over the course of the voyage, each part that makes up the ship is replaced. Is it the same ship? If not, when did it become a different ship?

For the sake of your journey, you will make a single trip on a single ship. And I think it would be useful to just assume that these replacement parts, although not operational, are part of the original ship. That way, the ship is always intact. You are always on the ship you started on, although at the end of your journey, different parts are operational.

The ship is the vehicle of the voyage. And the voyage is singular. Thus the ship is singular. The pieces replaced had the potential to be replaced once the voyage began. Realizing that potential changed nothing about the vehicle itself. Potential was only realized.

In the same way, our bodies change as we age. Cells are replaced every so often, so that we truly are physically different people throughout our lives. But our form has a name, and that name does not change. We are a compilation of these changes.

Potential does not require action

I recently finished Aquinas by Ed Feser, and was introduced to some levels of metaphysics that I had never considered. As always, I tried to apply the concepts to my current struggles. 

My current fears lie not in my belief but my ability to do things. I have been scared of suicide because it is a logical possibility, not because I want to commit it. I have been scared of murder because I have the ability to commit it. Not in the same same way that I have the ability to eat breakfast, but I know that it is possible. I am aware of this freedom. And it terrifies me.

So how did Aquinas [and Feser] shed any light on my current struggles? They helped me to realize that any thing that I have the ability or freedom to do, I also have the ability to refrain from doing. Potency does not require action. If potency required action, if potential meant act, then we couldn’t refrain. We couldn’t not do anything. And that’s not freedom. If we are truly free, and we can do something, we can also not do that same thing.

The Trolley Problem

Optional reading: Trolley Problem Wiki

A trolley is hurtling down a track towards five people. You are on a bridge under which it will pass, and you can stop it by putting something very heavy in front of it. As it happens, there is a very fat man next to you – your only way to stop the trolley is to push him over the bridge and onto the track, killing him to save five. Should you proceed?

In the Bible, sin is sin. So I think the only way for me to look at these examples with any sort of new lens would be with the morality of the Bible. So in my opinion, you commit a crime when you push someone off the bridge. Not to mention, there is no way to actually know for a fact that the push will work until after you send him off the bridge.

To me, that’s the problem: the assumptions. Not because they are wrong. Of course we can design hypotheticals to make us think. But in these hypotheticals, we seemingly know the outcome of our decisions. And that’s not how life works.

To know the context of the entire situation, as well as what would happen if this or if that, is necessary to make this type of decision. But in reality, we never know all the possible outcomes of a given decision. And in this one, our knowing about it has no basis in reality.

I think this line of reasoning is better applied to someone who does have future knowledge of events, like God. I’ve argued a good deal online about it, and this foreknowledge or omniscience is, in my opinion, one of the only ways to justify such an act.

Perhaps through the lens of this moral dilemma is how we should view the God of the Old Testament. What may seem like evil acts in our eyes, could be justified in the foreknowledge of what would happen on each set of decisions. So while some may judge the God who flooded the earth [or part of it] and ordered the slaughter of the Canaanites, it’s certainly possible that these events were acted upon with all other options in mind. And if the end game is something that is known for multiple scenarios, you can see why murder or flood could be the path toward the greatest good. 

 

Prepare for the Inevitable

The corona virus has taken over the fear of the world. It’s hard to go an hour without hearing something about it, or without taking an action with it in mind. In fact, the responsible people are basing their lives around the pandemic. We probably should. It’s a very scary thing. But it’s not the scariest thing.

I think times like these are good times to think about death. If the early passing of Kobe Bryant didn’t get you thinking about your mortality, this virus certainly should. You were always mortal, but these events bring it to the surface. Make it real. 

The virus may kill you. But it may not. What you can be certain of is that something will kill you. So instead of basing your life around something that kills somewhere between one and six percent of those who are infected, perhaps it is worth thinking about the thing that kills everyone.

So while I’m not going to recommend that anyone ignore the news have a party indoors or go to a concert or sporting event, I think we should be careful not to allow one particular flavor of death control our lives. 

So wear a mask, keep your social distance, but remember that one day your life will end-Corona or not. And that’s what you should be prepared for. 

Rethinking the Bachelor

Preliminary Reading: Defining Love

Every week, my wife sits down to watch the Bachelor. Sometimes I can convince myself to watch with her. Sometimes it takes alcohol. Regardless, I have watched more of the Bachelor than I care to admit.

You probably know the drill: there is one guy courting over twenty women. Basically, the future for the bachelor is completely uncertain. He has no idea going in which of these women he is going to pick. So when he looks forward to the finale of the show, it could be anyone. Or any of the group at least.

the bachelor

The girls, on the other hand, have one guy in mind, presumably. Each of them eventually imagines a future with the bachelor. But, of course, only one wins. Everyone else goes home angry and confused.

So while they all hope for a future with the bachelor, realistically, their chances are small. But more importantly they are living with conflicts. If one sees the bachelor as her future partner, the next girl probably does as well. But both of these futures cannot be true at the same time. True love is impossible.

The only way for a potential future with one girl to be real is for other potential futures to be false. So any true love between the bachelor and anyone else must be false. Essentially, if one girl has found true love, all the others have not.

If everyone was realistic, the bachelor and contestants would all be uncertain. Uncertain about their chances, their love, and the bachelor’s love of them. The only certainty comes when people are eliminated. So that the maximal confidence in any relationship is fifty percent, when we expect to see proposals. The only thing that is certain is heartbreak. 

Fear of Public Speaking

Public speaking is more feared than death, and apparently could effect 75% of the population.   But why? It’s simply speaking in front of other people. Maybe it’s because of judgment. In a room of a hundred people, some people will certainly not like whatever you have to say. Some will disagree with you. But why is this different than talking to one hundred people one on one?

It shouldn’t be. It’s the same talk and the same audience. But why does the group make it scary? It makes the weight of the situation more important. Instead of getting 100 chances to deliver the same speech, you have one chance to deliver one speech to 100 people.

There is only one speech. That’s the scary part. You only get one go. With a hundred times the influence. But not only that, there are obviously different people and personalities in the audience. When given separately, you may deliver your message differently. But now, you only get one chance.

You could hedge your bets and speak to different facets of the audience. Or you could speak to the largest percentage. No matter what, the speech is not the same as it would be one-on-one.

Unless, it’s just the truth. Not dependent on the audience. A speech delivered with no care of perception or judgment. So in that way, it would be the same speech that you would give one-on-one. There’s no difference. The audience simply means 99 less conversations that you have to have.

So as long as you’re speaking truth, it shouldn’t matter how many people are listening. There is no reason to be nervous if the truth is on your side. 

Gratitude [Continued]

Preliminary Reading: Finding Gratitude

Along the same lines, there is a cell in hell with my name on it. But it’s empty. And will continue to be. Just like Jesus’ tomb. And for that reason I am grateful.

I am grateful only because I know that my cell will be empty. Knowing that I deserve hell makes me grateful for what Jesus did for me on the cross. My absence in hell means my presence in heaven. And I can’t think of anything more worth being grateful for.  

I don’t believe in Atheists

I want to see evidence that they exist. Everyone seems to know one, but there is simply no good reason to believe that they exist. Science has shown that the universe can operate just fine without them.

I wouldn’t say that I actually know for a fact that they don’t exist. I just personally lack belief in them. I’m really not positive about it, but if you believe in atheists, I will be quick to tell you that you are wrong. 

It’s just that people who believe in atheists are irrational. Clearly they don’t exist. So what if science cannot falsify them. Science has given us all that we need. Sure there are some question marks here and there, but they will all be filled in soon.

It’s really what they stand for that makes them especially hard to believe in. I’m really not sure what it is. With so many conflicting reports, I think it’s more likely that all versions don’t exist than say that some do and some don’t.

I even know some people who claim to have personal experience with atheists. How ludicrous! It’s clearly impossible to have a personal relationship with something that science cannot prove.

There is even a book that says that atheists exist. And that you can talk to them. At some point people will see that once you realize that they can’t exist you can easily conclude that they don’t exist. You don’t even need science or reason. It’s truly child’s play.