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preyer
03-25-2005, 01:43 PM
does artificial intelligence constitute a personality? does a personality mean it's got a soul? can its feelings ever be anything other than a collection of microchips, programming and the conversion of observed feelings? (this being the basis of a whole lot of sci-fi, it's got literary merit.)

veinglory
03-25-2005, 03:25 PM
I don't think we're there yet, but why not. My favourite book looking at this is 'Silver Metal Lover' -- At least I think that's what it was called.

Jamesaritchie
03-25-2005, 05:55 PM
does artificial intelligence constitute a personality? does a personality mean it's got a soul? can its feelings ever be anything other than a collection of microchips, programming and the conversion of observed feelings? (this being the basis of a whole lot of sci-fi, it's got literary merit.)

I certainly wouldn't think so, but it's beginning to look like it may never be an issue. Leading experts in the field of AI are now saying we're nowhere close to developing true AI, even though it all looked promising just a couple of years ago.

bluejester12
03-25-2005, 06:22 PM
Are you asking our opinion or looking for an actual answer?

victoriastrauss
03-25-2005, 08:17 PM
My favourite book looking at this is 'Silver Metal Lover' -- At least I think that's what it was called.I liked this book too. There's a long-awaited sequel due out in the next couple of months, called Metallic Love.

- Victoria

HConn
03-25-2005, 09:25 PM
If people have a soul, maybe robots could have them, too. It depends on how you define soul in your WIP.

Is a soul made of organized "life energy?" Is the soul karmic grace bestowed by a universe that rewards a life well-lived (iow, not something you're born with, but something you create by exercising virtue)?

Or, maybe people themselves are simply meat machines, and there's no such thing as a soul.

What works best for the story?

Moondancer
03-25-2005, 10:50 PM
If people have a soul, maybe robots could have them, too. It depends on how you define soul in your WIP.

Is a soul made of organized "life energy?" Is the soul karmic grace bestowed by a universe that rewards a life well-lived (iow, not something you're born with, but something you create by exercising virtue)?

Or, maybe people themselves are simply meat machines, and there's no such thing as a soul.

What works best for the story?


I agree with this. First you have to define what you mean by a soul. It means different things to different people.

AI can basically be anything you want since it's still underdeveloped in present time and the full ramifications of it are as yet unknown.

fallenangelwriter
03-25-2005, 11:28 PM
it depends on what you mean by "soul".


i belive that sophisticated enough robots could have genuine thoughtys and emotions and be real "people". however, i wouldn't expect them to have souls in a spiritual sense, though they certainly could in an Sci-fi or fantasy story.

preyer
03-25-2005, 11:59 PM
jester, either opinion or facts are good. both can be thought-provoking and/or lead to storyline tangents. naturally, it's a question that could be from a technological standpoint and also a philosophical one, so if you're inclined, have at it from any angle ya want. :)

does everyone pretty much agree that at some point in robot evolution there will likely be a point where asimov's robot laws come to fruition (in real life or fiction)? so, even if your robot has true AI, his programming will limit his freedoms, and without freedom to act on its opinions and 'emotions,' does that negate any kind of karmic soul? and if that's the basis of your 'soul,' the creators are effectively, though unwittingly, being bad gods by withholding the potential to be a soul? or something like that? lol. that's to say if you're programmed to excercise virtue, or even incapable of committing sin, a robot has no choice other than to be 'virtuous,' which you really can't be that without the opportunity to be sinful, so the robot really doesn't have the ability to earn its soul, eh? (unless, of course, you write it to where a robot either breaks its bonds of programming or isn't programmed like that to begin with.)

for the sake of argument, let's say a robot or supercomputer can develop a soul. naturally, a soul implies emotions. how would a super-intelligent soul reconcile all it knows about history, psychology, etc. (where 'etc' depends on your story)? in a lot of sci-fi, these souls come to the conclusion that the human race has to be destroyed. is this a natural conclusion, do you think, or a result of a soul having gone unsane due to its overwhelming smarts? for that matter, what would be the results of instilling the whole of human knowledge into a regular human brain? isn't it rather cynical for writers to arrive at the conclusion that if you pulled all facts together that the conclusion would be humans are too corrupt and/or weak to survive?

Pthom
03-26-2005, 12:07 AM
there's a story by Greg Bear, Slant (http://www.sfreviews.net/slant.html), in which he has a major character Jill, a super computer, who most definitely has a personality...complete with joys, anxieties and anger.

Then, of course, there was HAL . . .

Stories that involve machines with soul (either real--and what does that mean?--or imagined) is fairly common, I think.

whitehound
03-26-2005, 03:46 PM
I'm not sure about soul neccessarily implying emotion - wouldn't that mean that people with severe autism or sociopathy didn't have souls? Or had smaller souls than the rest of us?

Whatever the soul is, if it is, if humans and other living things have them I can see no reason why sufficiently complex machines shouldn't have them - after all, the human body is just a complex machine made of organic electrical wiring and chemical pumps.

If you belong to one of those Christian sects that believe that humans have souls and other living things don't, then you would probably believe robots didn't either. But if you believe that anything which has thoughts and feelings and self-awareness has a soul then a developed AI ought to have one too.

Bonus point for 10 - if reincarnation exists, would a robot with a soul have a special, separate, robot-type soul which only incarnated into other robot bodies - or would you find robots inhabited by souls which had been human last time around and vice versa?

Alphabeter
03-26-2005, 04:36 PM
Johnnie Five is A-L-I-V-E.

Short Circuit is a good movie of this premise. Machine is struck by lightning and seems to develop a soul. It wants to learn and stay alive while its programmers (and their bosses) hunt it down to kill it.

robeiae
03-26-2005, 05:06 PM
I agree with this. First you have to define what you mean by a soul. It means different things to different people.

AI can basically be anything you want since it's still underdeveloped in present time and the full ramifications of it are as yet unknown.

One of the problems with AI research is that no one knows for sure how an AI would manifest itself. Thus, we do not even know if we could identify an AI if one existed or was created. The question of a soul is, I think, of the same nature.

If you are speaking about the tradtional robot of Sci-Fi literature, you would have to assume a soul for a robot if you assume a soul for all animals, but not if you only assume a soul for people.

Rob

fallenangelwriter
03-26-2005, 07:44 PM
The laws of robotics wouldn't prevent the development of soul. everyone has intrinsic limitatios of some sort.

i see no problem with robots being every bit as alive and sentient as people. if writing a fantasy story in which "souls" really existed as some kind of magical energy or whatever, i wouldn't think that robots would have them. then again, they might- perhaps bestoweed by some robot god at the moment tey became sentient.

now i'm picturing an entire society of hindu or maybe buddhist robots. their "ghost in the machine" returns to animate the parts of other fallen robots, or new ones from the factories...

preyer
03-27-2005, 12:29 AM
is freedom an intrinsic ingredient towards having a soul? by limiting its freedom, you limit its ability to have a soul? and is having a body necessary? can the internut develop self-awaredness, for instance?

CACTUSWENDY
03-27-2005, 12:43 AM
:Wha: I have met several people that have AI. But so far have not met any bots that are anything more than someone's own ideas, thoughts and personality. But since fiction books/movies are nothing more than pretend I think you can have what ever you want. Just make sure you explain how 'this' happens in a way that might make sense. I look to the book/movie arena to entertain me not with true facts all the time. If I wanted real true facts I would read school books and research books. So go ahead and take me one step into the world of pretend. Could be a very interesting concept to take on.:poke: (IMO)

Jamesaritchie
03-27-2005, 08:08 PM
One of the problems with AI research is that no one knows for sure how an AI would manifest itself. Thus, we do not even know if we could identify an AI if one existed or was created. The question of a soul is, I think, of the same nature.

If you are speaking about the tradtional robot of Sci-Fi literature, you would have to assume a soul for a robot if you assume a soul for all animals, but not if you only assume a soul for people.

Rob

I don't think a robot would qualify as an animal, either. If you assume soul for biological creatures, this still leaves out robots.

I think a robot with a soul is a good plot for a story, but I don't think it's ever going to happen. At best, it falls along the lines of FTL travel and "May the force be with you."

We may not know how true AI will manifest, but we do know it hasn't happened yet, and shows no indication of ever happening in the forseeable future. So far, the best AI we have is 100% smoke and mirrors with 0% actual intelligence or personality.

whitehound
03-27-2005, 11:04 PM
I don't think a robot would qualify as an animal, either. If you assume soul for biological creatures, this still leaves out robots.
I don't see why, unless you're assuming there's something magical about carbon-rings. The body is a machine, made of self-replicating chemicals - would you assume, for example, that a silicon-based alien couldn't have a soul?

Zane Curtis
03-28-2005, 05:36 AM
What's a soul? What does it look like? Would you recognise it if you saw it lying in the street? How would you measure it?

whitehound
03-28-2005, 06:36 AM
You could take it either to mean simply having self-awareness, consciousness and a conscience of some sort - or you could take it as having an immortal soul, in the mystical sense.

If the latter, it's only testable if you believe in/postulate reincarnation and/or mediumship, because to know whether a robot's personality could survive death you'd have to be able to talk to it after death, or it would have to have memories of somewhere/one it had been before birth.

Actually I suppose you could do it without mediumship... suppose you wiped a robot's or AI's memory completely, set it right back to the defaults and let it build itself up again from scratch, and it it came back just as it had been including memories which you knew you'd erased, that would suggest that it had mind and memory somewhere outside its physical form (or had access to some sort of hole in time). I might use that in a story some day!

preyer
03-28-2005, 12:02 PM
for that matter, do humans develop a new soul when full-blown alzheimer's happens? or if it's possible to completely erase a person's memories, does their 'new life' merit a new soul?

i think a robotic soul implies, like it's implied above, that there would be the possibility of a robot ghost. it's kinda hard to know when a robot is self-aware or is just programmed to say that, or with unlimited knowledge convinces itself it is but is really just a function of circuits cranking out blather.

watcher
03-30-2005, 07:11 AM
Just out of curiosity Preyer, how do you define your soul? How do you know what it is? and what is it? I think you've got a lot of research ahead of you on this one!

DaveKuzminski
03-30-2005, 07:34 AM
More importantly, how would you resolve the problem if you had a robot with free will that then professed a belief in god? That might be part of the critical thinking necessary in determining whether a robot has a soul.

While we typically ascribe the existence of a soul within every human being, it may not be a universal belief. Yet, a significant number of people who believe in the existence of a soul and a significant number who do not will agree that there is a god. So, is it the belief that's more important?

Rather than try to reach a definitive answer here, which may be impossible, it might be more important to put some of those thoughts into your writing where it can reach and influence others.

preyer
03-30-2005, 11:36 AM
that's true, dave. i pose the question (and a lot of others) *as* a way of research, a food-for-thought type of exploration.

watcher, i'm not a spiritual person at all, really. i'm as likely to equate 'soul' and 'personality' and leave it at that. being agnostic, i'm not going to aver a soul does or doesn't exist, though some people's theories seem to be ridiculous to me based on research, the type of people who believes in their version, and last but not least the argument's pros and cons. i'm more than willing to listen to someone's anecdotal 'evidence,' but at the same time still have to put it into perspective.

a lot of people will swear animals won't go to heaven because they have no soul. 'they're not self-aware,' is one big argument, i think. how self-aware are *we* really, though? 'animals merely react based on their environment, needs, and genetic disposition, therefore they don't have a *true* personality.' oh, like humans are sooo much different in this respect, eh? lol. at the same time, i can't find much of a con to 'their' argument the further down the foodchain i go. at some point i have to wonder if a worm has a soul, and if i go that far, why not plants? why not atoms? why not abstracts like the wind and sea and gravity?

so, when it comes to what constitutes a soul, i'm conflicted. that's why i explore it in some of the things i write about. 'soul' appears to have everything to do with having faith. add to that the fear of death, of there being no life after the ones we piss away on earth. and being at the top of the food chain and supposedly intelligent, there's possibily an egotistical side to being a human that we use to further elevate us to the ultimate creatures. i mean, God created us in 'our' image (not specifically His as it's often quoted as saying), but i have to wonder if the writer/s of that made Him in *our* image. from a 'pagan' standpoint, that's certainly unusual to have god be like us. indeed, to have the main god be male wasn't the basis of a lot if not most of early paganism (based on my research, at least ~ yours might contradict that).

so, if someone wants to worship treebark, good for them. personally, i think it's ridiculous, but so are a lot of things the majority of the world takes for fact. i'm more than willing to, at the very least, be educated.

i'll offer a definition of what a 'soul' is based on the story's implications, but i'll typically stop before it gets to be a dialogue defining what it is and its finer points. in the situations is where i'll do the exploring, though often i find the character reacting to the philosophies of his 'religion' based on research than coming out with explicit arguments for or against. i've had characters have religious epiphanies which lead to their 'self-discovery.' how it happens and how it affects them depends on the needs of the story. this is where my question in the political thread about how writers might instill their own afflictions, i mean, affiliations in their writing has a cross-over -- do writers often put their religious beliefs in a story? if so, by the process of writing, how do direct conflicts with their personal belief get resolved?

to me it seems a given that if you have your robot develop a true soul that that necessarily implies there's a religion behind it. how, i wonder, would a robot in a muslim household consider his soul as opposed to one in a christian household? and is it possible for an atheist robot to have a soul? (in as far as it has to do with traditional, i.e. mass-market appeal, ways of thinking as opposed to being a part of a cosmic life force belief.)

whitehound
03-30-2005, 01:54 PM
a lot of people will swear animals won't go to heaven because they have no soul. 'they're not self-aware,' is one big argument, i think. how self-aware are *we* really, though? 'animals merely react based on their environment, needs, and genetic disposition, therefore they don't have a *true* personality.' oh, like humans are sooo much different in this respect, eh?
Absolutely. And most experiments to determine whether other animals are self-aware seem to be based on whether they can recognize themselves in a mirror - a test which is heavily biased towards sight-dominant species. A dog might just as well conclude that humans aren't self-aware because we can't recognize our own smell!

Some behaviourists say that the mere fact of territoriality and scent-marking in so many other species implies awareness of meum and teum, and therefore self-awareness. Some even say that a mouse, for example, is *more* self-aware than a human, because the brighter you are the less you have to think consciously. That is, someone who is very mathematically able can perform quite complex calculations more-or-less subconsciously, where someone who has poor numeracy has to put a lot of conscious effort into quite simple sums: and by the same token a mouse may well put more conscious effort into its everyday living than we do.

One of the damn silliest things I've ever seen was a debate about whether great apes should have human rights, which involved film of an ape working out a mechanical puzzle involving stacking boxes to get at something high up, and the pundits were all sitting round saying "Ah, but you can see that a lot of it's just trial-and-error" and - which was the silly part - nobody pointed out that that would also be true for most humans in the same situation.

[Btw, bright rats can also work out this sort of puzzle, with clear basic understanding of the problem, and trial-and-error only when it comes to the exact details of "Is this going to be high enough like this or do I need to adjust it?"]


lol. at the same time, i can't find much of a con to 'their' argument the further down the foodchain i go. at some point i have to wonder if a worm has a soul, and if i go that far, why not plants? why not atoms? why not abstracts like the wind and sea and gravity?
Well, animist-pagans would say, why not?


indeed, to have the main god be male wasn't the basis of a lot if not most of early paganism (based on my research, at least ~ yours might contradict that).
It's not the basis of Judaism either. Although the Jewish take on God is referred to as "the Father" it's also said to have a womb, so really it's an "It" - it's only "He" because there's no neuter tense in Hebrew. And whilst in Judaism the fixed, "I am that I am" aspect of God is normally thought of as male, the Shekina, the active, doing part of God - the thing Christians call the Holy Spirit - is female. [Interestingly, this is the same static vs. active, being vs. doing dualism as in the oriental idea of yin and yang - but the assumption as to which half is male and which female is different.]

As a pagan, I have to admit that the sexism which is so endemic in much of Christianity was actually something it contracted from Greek pagans, who were heavily male-oriented.

[And Ancient Greek male chauvinism seems to have come about at least partly because female prostitutes were expected to be educated, wise and witty - so upper-class women deliberately cultivated the appearance of being thick and ignorant because they thought clever, educated women were "common."]


to me it seems a given that if you have your robot develop a true soul that that necessarily implies there's a religion behind it. how, i wonder, would a robot in a muslim household consider his soul as opposed to one in a christian household? and is it possible for an atheist robot to have a soul? (in as far as it has to do with traditional, i.e. mass-market appeal, ways of thinking as opposed to being a part of a cosmic life force belief.)
Even in a religious context I think the soul has to be some sort of cosmic life-force, and not requiring the person to have a religion. I've never heard even the most loopy, fundamentalist Christian or Muslim suggest that unbelievers don't *have* a soul - they just think they're going to burn in hellfire for all eternity. And if souls exist, they exist - I don't think you *neccesarily* need a religious explanation for them. You can have one if you like: but you can equally well posit the soul as an immortal energy-being which bonds with and rides in a physical matrix for a while.

preyer
03-31-2005, 02:30 AM
good reply. :)

your points in the last paragraph rather illustrate what i was saying, that being in 'traditional' thinking as i put it, a soul implies a god/s, where souls based on 'life-force' isn't as embraced, there being no god, per se. i imagine the latter appeals to modern folk and will likely only gain members, because a lot of people i know really want to be spiritual, but can't for whatever reason by into traditional religion.

curious. i wonder if the catholic church would ever allow a robot priest? especially if that robot was gay. i assume with a soul comes urges and emotions, no? that may be part of why some don't think it's possible for robots to have soul, because of a robot's supposed inability to make anything less than perfect decisions based on their vast knowledge. minus out a sex drive, hunger, pain, indeed, remove mortality itself, and it's hard to see a robot as being truly a viable entity. having a soul also implies a life-force that survives after death, but if there's no natural death for a robot, there's not much to fear. that could be why having an organic body might be pivotal, eh?

whitehound
03-31-2005, 03:38 AM
curious. i wonder if the catholic church would ever allow a robot priest? especially if that robot was gay. i assume with a soul comes urges and emotions, no?
Probably not *those* urges, unless you're talking about a perfectly humanoid android designed to be able to have sex. Being gay is a variant on the sexual urge which is a miixture of drive to reproduce, drive to pleasure, drive to intimacy etc.. Unless it was an actual artificial vat-grown human a robot wouldn't reproduce by sex; unless it had been deliberately modeled that way it wouldn't get pleasure from sex; so I don't see how one could be gay per se. You could get one that found male humans more aesthetic than female ones; or one that prefered male human friends; but unless it had been deliberately designed so nearly human that it didn't really count as a robot anymore, I don't see how one could have sexual desire, for humans of any gender, unless it was artificial desire which had been programmed in.

Urges and emotions are things evolution gives us to encourage us to behave in advantageous ways: so a robot would be designed with urges to do useful robot things, like keeping its moving parts lubricated.


having a soul also implies a life-force that survives after death, but if there's no natural death for a robot, there's not much to fear. that could be why having an organic body might be pivotal, eh?
I don't see why - it would be in the same position as the organic immortals so often postulated in fantasy, except that unlike them it *would* age and decay and die, even if only over thousands of years. And like them it would still die if you e.g. dropped a large enough rock on it.

Why does it matter whether it has anything to fear or not?

preyer
03-31-2005, 04:34 AM
fear has everything to do with having a soul in the traditional sense, wouldn't you say? fear, love, hate, desire, greed, humour, courage... basic personality traits. that is, of course, saying again that this precludes the theory that anything and everything has a 'soul' merely because it exists, which is really defeating the purpose of *earning* a soul, which is generally the basis of a robot's soul in sci-fi, no?

interesting postulation there: do gods have souls?

whitehound
03-31-2005, 04:58 AM
I see what you mean - if it didn't have emotions it wouldn't have much of a personality. But there are plenty of things to fear apart from death, and indeed not everybody human fears death - personally I rather look forward to it, and the prospect of physical immortality would horrify me.

[This is another one of those cultural attitude things. I remember reading somewhere years ago that you could tell the difference between French and British "voices" in a story or whatever because a Frenchman would pray "Oh Lord, I don't care if I'm crippled, just so long as I don't die" and a Briton would pray "Oh Lord, I don't mind if I die, just so long as I'm not crippled."]

But again, if you're saying that if a robot isn't very emotional that means it can't have a soul, does that mean you think human beings with severe autism don't have souls?

Surely gods can't *have* a soul, because they are *all* soul - spirit without a matter-matrix to bond to.

Nateskate
04-03-2005, 09:00 PM
a lot of people will swear animals won't go to heaven because they have no soul. 'they're not self-aware,' is one big argument, i think. how self-aware are *we* really, though? 'animals merely react based on their environment, needs, and genetic disposition, therefore they don't have a *true* personality.' oh, like humans are sooo much different in this respect, eh? lol. at the same time, i can't find much of a con to 'their' argument the further down the foodchain i go. at some point i have to wonder if a worm has a soul, and if i go that far, why not plants? why not atoms? why not abstracts like the wind and sea and gravity?

.)

As far as a sci/fi fantasy, it's a question as old as Pinocchio and I-robot and AI. People like to think that it is possible. If you are asking if it's possible in real life, nah. In a fantasy, yeah.

Now, I'll go on a rabbit chase on the issue of animals in heaven, since it's an issue near and dear to the heart of animal lovers, who lose an animal "Will I ever see my pet again?" When I lost some pets, I sure hoped I'd see them again.

I've seen religious people make these emphatic statements regarding animals, and pretty much, implying animals don't have a soul. Having lost an animal or two, and having wondered the same thing, I pretty much looked for my own answers to the question. This is not any churches moral position, but being fairly familiar with the Bible, I tend to dismiss emphatic statements.

And I'll just sprinkle enough quasi-scripture (If anyone has a theological gripe they can look them up themselves because I'm just talking off the top of my head from memory)

Solomon was considered the wisest man in his time and in Ecclesiastes he asked a question, basically saying animals may share the same fate as man after death. In the context he said it, he was saying "Do we have any advantage over an animal. When we die we may share the same fate?" (Paraphrased, he actually says to the effect, "who knows if they go up (to heaven)"?

Speaking of eternity. In Isaiah, towards the end, there is a reference to either what is called the Millenium (thousand year Messianic reign) or Eternity, in which the lion lies down with the lamb, and the the child will play with a poisonous snake, and they will not harm each other. It says the lion will eat straw. When God created animals, he declared them to be "good", and a part of his eternal plan. They did not kill, and they did not die. They were intended to be immortal. In Romans 8 it says that the creation groans (because all things were subject to futility when man sinned), but only until God sets things in order. Then the rest of creation will also be set in order.

In the story of Balaam, we see that a donkey had more intelligence than the prophet riding on it's back. In a sense, he was spiritually aware and saved his master's life.

Every time Jesus spoke of animals, he always implied they had value. In fact the law of Moses commanded people to show compassion to their animals, a point that Jesus often made, "Who of you having an oxen fallen in a well on the Sabbath will not immediately pull him out..." Compassion towards animals wasn't suggested, it is commanded by the law, "Do not muzzle an ox while it is threshing the field...etc"

Jesus said in Matthew, "A sparrow does not fall to the ground apart from your father in heaven..." God knows the birds. He cares about the birds. In fact, it said in another earlier verse in Matthew, "Your father in heaven feeds them (referring to sparrows)" which means he is active in their lives, then he adds, "...will he not also feed you."

The point was contextual, "Are you not of more worth than many sparrows" and "Your father in heaven knows your needs...be anxious for nothing."

However, it's still clear that animals are not worthless to God and they were intended to be permanent fixtures, not temporary ones. I have no doubt there will be animals in eternity.

The question that some will ask though is this, "Are the ones who died raised from the dead, or does God just make new ones?"

Some would say, it's impossible, the world wouldn't be big enough to hold them all. But those who are familiar with scripture should know that God intends to make a new heavens and a new earth, and who's to say the new earth will be the same size as the old one? If God is able to make a world with a word, I suppose size wouldn't matter? Just my hunch.

Then others will point to the Garden of Eden and the fact that God breathed into man, imparting spirit. That doesn't happen to animals.

But I will say this to that, since I'm on the subject, the book of Genesis is a giant metaphorical story. Obviously people will have other opinions, but if Jesus spoke Primarily in Metaphor, "The kingdom of heaven is like...it's like a man having two sons...I am the Vine...I am the door..." it is not unreasonable to conclude that much of the Bible is actually Metaphor. My own opinion is that God speaks "Metaphor". So, when I look at Genesis, I read it as a giants series of metaphors. And as such, when something is in the book, I tend to look for the metaphorical meaning as opposed to the literal meaning.

Again, I'll look at Jesus quote, "I am the door" It has a great deal more meaning as a metaphor than literally.

In the context, I look at the deeper meanings in the book of Genesis, and although I won't give my opinion here, I believe God metaphorically explains his purpose for creating man in the first two chapters of Genesis. But concearning the oft quoted "Animals don't have a spirit yada yada yada." I have my own opinion. God did not breath "Man's" spirit into Adam. God breathed, "God's Spirit" into Adam, imparting himself into Adam.

Short version of deep theological concept. Man (as in mankind) is to God as woman is to Man. "It is not good for man to be alone..." It's not an after thought. If God created everything else in herds, he could have created mankind in herds. The fact that Genesis describes otherwise, "look for a metaphor." Hmm- not good man alone- man in image of God-Double Hmmm? God is looking for a companion? Hmmm?"

Oh, dear, this is getting long in the tooth. Before Jesus was crucified, he told his disciples to recieve the Holy Spirit. But he didn't just say "Receive the Holy Spirit," the Bible said, "He breathed on them and said "Recieve the Holy Spirit".
and "He (the Holy Spirit) is with you, and shall be (IN) YOU".

And if you read John chapter 17, he prayed, Paraphrased- One with us. Us in them and them in us. (Father Son and Holy Spirit) But this just get's deeper and deeper, because in context, mankind (each individual) were intended to be married to God, therefore references in the Old Testament where God referred to himself as Israel's husband. And in the New Testament, the church being the Bride of Christ. (Technically us and God being one for eternity)

Well, back to animals. The Genesis chapter does show that we have a special relationship with God, and that was the intention of the "breathing God's Spirit into man", but it didn't mean that animals did not have a soul or spirit. To make that hyper-jump is pure conjecture.

So, if someone wants to say "animals have no soul", and try to pawn it off as a "Biblical"- meaning Judeo/Christian-Perspective" I don't but it. At best, we can say like Solomon, "Who knows...?"

By the way, this is only meant as a reference to people who intend to make a case that Christianity or Judaism say animals have no soul. Generally I don't hear many Jews making this case, so it may just be that some Christians have this perspective. I'm just saying, "I'm familiar with the Bible, and if they are making a case from the Bible, I simply disagree with their theology." But it's not meant to argue one way or the other about what view is right, religious vs secular, literalists vs whatever. Obviously an atheistic perspective would likely differ, though an agnostic might agree with "We don't know".

preyer
04-04-2005, 09:18 AM
good reply.

is that why the priest breaths on the baby in a christianing? (i think i've got that right.)

i think it also says in there that animals were created to serve man, the implication supporting one viewpoint, no? like most things, i'm sure there are plenty of arguments to support any side, but if one is to write about it, it's best to have a theory about it, i think, and especially know the counter-argument.

hm, now *animal* robots have to have a soul, too? lol.

anyone feel free to deny this, but is it reasonable to say that those in favour of robots having a soul is based on the old philosophy that souls have to be earned? and i suppose an autistic child has as much of a soul as does one who dies in childbirth, that is, the absence of control or dying without opportunity to earn a soul or develop a personality suffices as having a soul.

Nateskate
04-04-2005, 03:54 PM
good reply.

is that why the priest breaths on the baby in a christianing? (i think i've got that right.)

i think it also says in there that animals were created to serve man, the implication supporting one viewpoint, no? like most things, i'm sure there are plenty of arguments to support any side, but if one is to write about it, it's best to have a theory about it, i think, and especially know the counter-argument.

hm, now *animal* robots have to have a soul, too? lol.

anyone feel free to deny this, but is it reasonable to say that those in favour of robots having a soul is based on the old philosophy that souls have to be earned? and i suppose an autistic child has as much of a soul as does one who dies in childbirth, that is, the absence of control or dying without opportunity to earn a soul or develop a personality suffices as having a soul.

I'm not sure, but that sounds right about the Priests?

As far as animals being made subject, animals do not have any command that I know of. Rather we have delegated authority.

God made man in his image and likeness, which meant he was made to have authority saying, "You shall have dominion over..." But that doesn't mean I can go to the swamp and tell an alligator to leave. Try it and see what happens. (Just kidding) Rather, I have the authority to put a fence to keep the alligators from the chickens. I have authority to train the animals, and if necessary, enlist their help in plowing the fields. But if you read the Law of Moses, compassion towards animals is commanded, (except obviously in the sacrifices- which is a more complex issue)

In a sense, God was making man the "god over lower creation". I don't mean "god" in the sense of being "worshiped", which is a bad thing to seek. But he made them with the same kind of authority to fashion the earth and rule over the animals.

The whole point, IMO, is that the whole story is a metaphor. Man=God Image. God made nothing as an afterthought (experimental). Why did God make man alone with nothing in creation in his "likeness" and his "image"? You know he didn't forget. You know he knew he'd be lonely with nothing else like him to share his thoughts and feelings.

It's obvious, at least to me, if man was like God, then God had no one in his image and his likeness. And even in the O.T- God conslulted with Abraham and Moses before taking action. Later, we see Jesus leaning on humans in the Garden of Gethsemane. Kind of awkward to think that we have that kind of power insofar as making or breaking God's day.

So, when God makes a "suitable helper", he has to take some part of man to make it. "Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." By the way, the term helper here isn't subserviant, and is actually in the image of God, in that God is our present "help in times of need". The same term "helper" is used countless times in the Bible to refer to God. So, the woman was also in God's image. Technically, they each displayed different degrees or different attributes of God: Tender vs Powerful.

So, it takes a part of a man to make a suitable helper. Now, look at the metaphor of God breathing into man. God breathed his Spirit into man. And if you follow the train of the NT, God again breaths his Spirit into man. God takes a part of himself and places it in man (as in mankind) and so we (having the nature of God) can be a suitable helper.

The point is that God didn't "need" man, in the sense of survival. But Adam didn't need Eve, in the sense of survival. However, and this is the lesson of the chapter. Man was left alone for quite a period of time in the Book of Genesis. God didn't make woman the next day. Why? God wants man to understand loneliness, because God desires us the way we desire another who can understand us.

My dog loves me in its bizarre little way, but it doesn't understand how I feel. It senses feelings, but it doesn't understand (why, how, for) Nor can it understand my creativity. It would just as soon eat or piss on a story I write, but it can't understand it. We were made like God, given delegated authority and creativity so that we can at least on some level, "understand" and therefore appreciate God more. All of life is an object lesson preparing humanity for eternity. At least in my opinion.

From the O.T, we saw that God felt ever possible human emotion. Jealousy, Loneliness, frustration, grief. It takes one to know one.

fallenangelwriter
04-04-2005, 10:06 PM
there are two separate parts to the issue. the first question is whether robotrs could be truly intellignet or conscious. i would say that yes, a robot could be built which would be sentient and therefore "alive", if it were sufficiently complex.

the belief in "soul" is trikier. if souls are bestowed by a god, than that god can bestow souls on whatever it feels like giving souls to. if sdouls come from having a mind, then robots could have them. if they come from "life" then we must think about our definition of life.

MadScientistMatt
04-05-2005, 01:14 AM
does artificial intelligence constitute a personality? does a personality mean it's got a soul? can its feelings ever be anything other than a collection of microchips, programming and the conversion of observed feelings? (this being the basis of a whole lot of sci-fi, it's got literary merit.)

"Artificial Intelligence" is often used rather loosely. Many systems these days that claim to have it are basically computer programs that are capable of self-learning or simply applying rules of thumb pre-programmed in. A good example that I've seen is a mechanical cockroach, controlled by a computer that could establish what patterns of moving the legs worked and which didn't. Such a program could be called an "artificial intelligence," but it did not have anything remotely resembling either sentience or personality.

On the other hand, a robot that was programmed with AI to interact with people and immitate a human could be said to have a personality even if it was not sentient. It could be programed to analyze human's responses and learn, and have imaginary levels of anger, pet peeves, and the like already programmed in. Such an entity would have a personality without any sort of sentience. Again from Short Circuit: "It doesn't get happy, it doesn't get sad, it just runs programmed." But even such a thing could behave like it had a personality. Reminds me of the old Eliza program...

whitehound
04-05-2005, 02:39 AM
Nobody yet knows what generates consciousness. I tend to go on the assumption that a living, conscious being is a sort of symbiosis between an energy component (the soul) and a matter component, and a sufficiently complex machine could play host to a soul.

To me the idea of a soul is all tied up with life after death (and before birth). If life after death is real then the test of whether a robot had a soul would be whether any part of its personality could survive the destruction of the physical component. If life after death isn't for real then in my terms humans don't have souls either.

I can't say the idea that a soul has to be "earned" is entirely new to me because I came across it recently in a very good SF comic called Finder - but certainly this is only the second time I've heard of this idea in 46 years, so it certainly isn't a general assumption.

whitehound
04-05-2005, 02:55 PM
But if you read the Law of Moses, compassion towards animals is commanded, (except obviously in the sacrifices- which is a more complex issue)
In Judaism you're allowed to kill animals if there is a pressing need, but you have to do it humanely.

Judaism is full of injuctions to be kind to other animals - that you must feed your animals before yourself, for example - and although most of these aren't in the OT they were still part of Jewish lore at that time (and would have been well-known to Jesus) - they form part of the oral law, the Talmud, which was passed down by rote-learning but not written on paper until about AD70.

As for whether or not other animals have souls, Judaism is open on this point - but Judaism is fairly open on whether humans have souls. Most Jews of Jesus' time believed in reincarnation (and it is fairly clear he did too) but on the whole Judaism has never particularly bothered itself with the afterlife. Some modern rabbis don't belive in life after death for *anyone*.

I strongly recommend a book called The Status of Animals in the Christian Religion by Major CW Hume (quite easy to get 2nd hand if you go on abebooks), produced in 1957 by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, which covers the theological debate in detail. It's a very well-written and amusing book, with illustrations by Fougasse.


Later, we see Jesus leaning on humans in the Garden of Gethsemane. Kind of awkward to think that we have that kind of power insofar as making or breaking God's day.
That leads into a whole other issue about whether Jesus ever claimed to be divine or whether that idea was invented by Paul - but certainly Jeses seems to have expected people to treat G_d like a family member.

[And speaking as a pagan/psychic my experience of the gods has certainly been that they are individuals with feelings and can be sad or bored or lonely and we can help them with that.]


So, when God makes a "suitable helper", he has to take some part of man to make it. "Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone." By the way, the term helper here isn't subserviant, and is actually in the image of God, in that God is our present "help in times of need". The same term "helper" is used countless times in the Bible to refer to God. So, the woman was also in God's image. Technically, they each displayed different degrees or different attributes of God: Tender vs Powerful.
That's a very interesting theological point (though a slightly sexist conclusion - in my experience the tenderest people are nearly always male). In Judaism the fixed, "being" part of G_d is normally seen as male (although it is also described as having a womb!) but the active, "doing" part, the Shekinah, the thing Christians call the Holy Spirit, the thing which actively comes to help you when you call for help, is female. So "I will make you a helper" could be read as "I will make you your own Shekinah" - now that mankind has got the hang of the sitting and being part and is ready to get out and do.


My dog loves me in its bizarre little way, but it doesn't understand how I feel. It senses feelings, but it doesn't understand (why, how, for)
Actually your dog probably understands most of how you feel - and better and more immediately than another human might, because it can *smell* how you feel. Emotions are there to motivate us to behave in advantageous ways and most if not all pack-living species will have most of the same emotions we do, because they need to motivate similar behaviour.

The dog won't understand the motivations behind culturally complex emotions such as existential angst, feelings of frustration with your career path etc. - but it will certainly know the basic fact that you feel confused and tired, or frustrated.


Nor can it understand my creativity. It would just as soon eat or piss on a story I write, but it can't understand it.A dog won't understand creativity, true, but that's because they're not a creative species - a bower-bird might well understand your creativity, at least if you were a painter/sculptor. Probably no non-human animal (except possibly one which had been taught to read in a laboratory) would understand the creativity involved in making little marks on paper - but then neither would a human from a totally non-literate culture.

If you established a common language with the non-literate human he or she would almost certainly understand the concept "story" even if they didn't understand "write," and most non-human animals don't have complex enough language even to understand "story" - but there's a case on record of a great ape who understands rhyme and she'd probably understand "story" if anyone bothered to explain it to her.

Nateskate
04-05-2005, 04:34 PM
In Judaism you're allowed to kill animals if there is a pressing need, but you have to do it humanely.

Judaism is full of injuctions to be kind to other animals - that you must feed your animals before yourself, for example - and although most of these aren't in the OT they were still part of Jewish lore at that time (and would have been well-known to Jesus) - they form part of the oral law, the Talmud, which was passed down by rote-learning but not written on paper until about AD70.

As for whether or not other animals have souls, Judaism is open on this point - but Judaism is fairly open on whether humans have souls. Most Jews of Jesus' time believed in reincarnation (and it is fairly clear he did too) but on the whole Judaism has never particularly bothered itself with the afterlife. Some modern rabbis don't belive in life after death for *anyone*.

I strongly recommend a book called The Status of Animals in the Christian Religion by Major CW Hume (quite easy to get 2nd hand if you go on abebooks), produced in 1957 by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, which covers the theological debate in detail. It's a very well-written and amusing book, with illustrations by Fougasse.


That leads into a whole other issue about whether Jesus ever claimed to be divine or whether that idea was invented by Paul - but certainly Jeses seems to have expected people to treat G_d like a family member.

[And speaking as a pagan/psychic my experience of the gods has certainly been that they are individuals with feelings and can be sad or bored or lonely and we can help them with that.]


That's a very interesting theological point (though a slightly sexist conclusion - in my experience the tenderest people are nearly always male). In Judaism the fixed, "being" part of G_d is normally seen as male (although it is also described as having a womb!) but the active, "doing" part, the Shekinah, the thing Christians call the Holy Spirit, the thing which actively comes to help you when you call for help, is female. So "I will make you a helper" could be read as "I will make you your own Shekinah" - now that mankind has got the hang of the sitting and being part and is ready to get out and do.


Actually your dog probably understands most of how you feel - and better and more immediately than another human might, because it can *smell* how you feel. Emotions are there to motivate us to behave in advantageous ways and most if not all pack-living species will have most of the same emotions we do, because they need to motivate similar behaviour.

The dog won't understand the motivations behind culturally complex emotions such as existential angst, feelings of frustration with your career path etc. - but it will certainly know the basic fact that you feel confused and tired, or frustrated.

A dog won't understand creativity, true, but that's because they're not a creative species - a bower-bird might well understand your creativity, at least if you were a painter/sculptor. Probably no non-human animal (except possibly one which had been taught to read in a laboratory) would understand the creativity involved in making little marks on paper - but then neither would a human from a totally non-literate culture.

If you established a common language with the non-literate human he or she would almost certainly understand the concept "story" even if they didn't understand "write," and most non-human animals don't have complex enough language even to understand "story" - but there's a case on record of a great ape who understands rhyme and she'd probably understand "story" if anyone bothered to explain it to her.

Wow, cool conversation. Maybe they'll move us into one of the "other" threads under religion. However, Sci-Fi/Fantasy is very much a religious topic. People realize that Fantasy is a "moral of the story" Genre, but Sci Fi can be one of the preachiest Genres known to man, in that Star Trek's first edition was primarily a political/religious statement on a variety of topics.

I'd love to discuss the divinity of Jesus, actually bypassing Paul, and the entire New Testament. By going into the O.T and looking at a variety of scriptures on the Messiah, and his names. Did the O.T show that the Messiah was actually God? Did God say he would be "Their King"? As in the Messiah is the eternal king...etc. We could go there if you'd like, but there wouldn't be enough gigabites to hold our conversation.

By the way, I love this discussion, and am not offended at all that you disagree with me. As far as the "Sexist" remark; It isn't meant to infer moral superiority to either sex. Adam was not created "Male". Adam was created fully in the likeness of God according to the story. God didn't make Adam and Eve separate and say, "They each got a part of my likeness." Adam was made first, containing both parts. In that phase, technically Adam was most "Like" God in his fullness. Then there was a little division and multiplication according to the story.

Adam was put to sleep and it doesn't translate "Rib" in the origional, but his "Side". Technically, God divided Adam into two parts, thereby dividing his nature into the two.

Now, pardon the fact that I won't speak as a moral relativist or apologist. My own take on making a point is speak it with conviction, and let others sort it out, because it tends to always come across less convincing. Not that my point here is to convince, but rather to say it the best I can.

In my own mind, I simply sorted this out, trying to ponder this whole thing. Why did God make two sexes in the first place? Is it to divide by "function", in terms of together the two genders compliment each other. Man's brain is better at some things, and women's brains are better at others? Well, one might make that argument. But I think there's more. I believe that males and females both have God's nature in varying degrees. And the reason (now) that I believe that, is that I see everything in nature as an object lesson. And in my mind, every object lesson has a purpose to give us a reference to understand eternity and God. If God could have simply populated the planet with countless people, make it as large as you want, and just let them at it, plopped out in cookie cutter fashion, we wouldn't have contrast. In a t.v set, when you remove contrast, you blurr. But contrast makes things stick out, so that we notice them.

Males and females are different. In terms of (Proportion) we aren't equally as nurturing, or sensitive...etc. I'm not saying man or woman is inferior. If both are created in the image of God, then that's a slight against God to malign the other's nature. (Sans the fallen aspect) . And when you factor in the fact that we have varying strengths (Tender 1-10/10), you'll find extremely tender men, and extremely tough as nails women. Since we have in some degrees, all of God's image, we have the capacity to be closer to one pole than the other. (Scripture says Jonathan (Saul's son) loved David more than any woman) I don't take that as a sexual thing, but a loyalty thing. And Jesus referred to himself in the feminine (How often would I have gathered you as a MOTHER HEN gathers HER chicks...but you would not) Well, Jesus (in my opinion) who was called "The second Adam", like the first, contained the "Fullness of Godhead bodily" according to the N.T, which meant he wasn't "divided", meaning he was the most fully balanced example mixing tenderness and strength. IMO.

I say "equally" for a point. God made us to understand each other, therefore ultimately understand him. So, by being aware of a male and female's nature, through "contrast", we each inwardly have a degree of that nature (in varying strengths) All men can understand nurture and tenderness. Every boy can learn to hold a chick in his hands without crushing it.

By the way, if we weren't so different, we'd never have romantic comedies and sit-coms. So, difference is part of the package. However, I will say this, the more balanced a person becomes, the more God-like, the less that person exists at either extremes, because God is neither male nor female, "I am not a MAN that I should lie..." God contains both characteristics in fullness (unblemished/unfallen).

Fallen nature is simply our strengths gone awry. I could write a book on this, and perhaps one day I will. But strength gone awry is beastly, demanding, controlling. Relational strength- intuition...etc, when fallen becomes manipulative, and a more subtle type of controlling through seduction...etc.

Well, this can go in a thousand different directions, can't it. By the way, I am really into the Torah. But to me the Talmud is simply the longest running human commentary on earth, and I see the Torah as inspired, but not the Talmud (man's opinion). I realize that is not likely your perspective, but I figure if we have a discussion, we might as well spell it out. By the way, I'm friends with many rabbis, and we have had some similar discussions, all without every taking it personally.

By the way, one of the most convincing things in this discussion, "Hardwired differences between males and females" vs "Learned behavior", is if you study dogs (asside from pack behavior). I've had two labs, one male, one female. The difference between the males and females is night and day. Females always want to stay close. Males always want to explore. Females generally will always stay within sight, males will bolt. (Untrained) So, you can let females off the leash with less worried. The male postured much more (barking- this is my turf behavior). The female constantly wanted contact. The male was more aggressive...etc. You can train "learned behavior" dogs to do either thing, but that's the nurture aspect rather than the nature aspect.

whitehound
04-06-2005, 02:13 AM
I'd love to discuss the divinity of Jesus, actually bypassing Paul, and the entire New Testament. By going into the O.T and looking at a variety of scriptures on the Messiah, and his names. Did the O.T show that the Messiah was actually God? Did God say he would be "Their King"? As in the Messiah is the eternal king...etc.
As in the Messiah was supposed to be a temporal leader (actually, *two* temporal leaders). A lot of confusion has resulted from misunderstanding the term "salvation" - which to Jews at the time simply meant getting free of the Romans!


In my own mind, I simply sorted this out, trying to ponder this whole thing. Why did God make two sexes in the first place? Is it to divide by "function", in terms of together the two genders compliment each other. Man's brain is better at some things, and women's brains are better at others?Because sexual reproduction is a simple way to maintain a healthy genetic variety. Vertebrates happened to end up with two main sexes (there's a scientific aphorism that "The law recognizes two sexes; biology recognizes seven" but the other five don't work very well) - the situation in plants, and in invertebrates, can be a lot more complex.


By the way, one of the most convincing things in this discussion, "Hardwired differences between males and females" vs "Learned behavior", is if you study dogs (asside from pack behavior). I've had two labs, one male, one female. The difference between the males and females is night and day. Females always want to stay close. Males always want to explore. Females generally will always stay within sight, males will bolt. (Untrained) So, you can let females off the leash with less worried. The male postured much more (barking- this is my turf behavior). The female constantly wanted contact. The male was more aggressive...etc. You can train "learned behavior" dogs to do either thing, but that's the nurture aspect rather than the nature aspect.Well, first off, if you've only had two labs, you don't know whether their behaviour differences were gender related or just individual. Even if they were gender related, that's *dogs*. In rats, on the other hand, males are generally placid, territorial, tidy and sexually relaxed; females are hyperactive, excitable, messy, sexually voracious and far more likely to run away. If you want a rat you can watch while it bombs round the room at 60mph, get a doe - if you want a rat to sit on your lap and cuddle, get a buck.

That is, in any given species there do tend to be behavioural differences between the sexes but what those differences are (and which gender is more active, aggressive, territorial etc.) varies from species to species. Primates are especially known for learned rather than innate behaviours, and e.g. in baboons sexual/gender-related behaviour varies from troupe to troupe.

Among humans, it's clear that gender roles vary enormously between cultures when you consider the simple fact that both Jewish and Chinese culture recognize a difference between male and female energies, between active and passive, between being and doing - but they differ as to which energy they assign to which gender!

In general, men are better at single concentration and women at multi-tasking. Men are better at sudden sharp bursts of energy and women at steady stamina. Young men tend to be more aggressive in our society - which I think is due to their extra muscle (if you have a very muscular dog and you don't exercise it enough, it goes a bit crazy). And men tend more to extremes - probably because the single X chromosome leaves them with a lot of unpaired alleles and therefore more prone to expressing recessive genes. It's well known that males produce both more geniuses and more morons than women: but I have found this to be true in other areas, so that, for example, most of the worst monsters in history are male, but so are most of the saints. Looking back, I think I can say that *all* of the truly gentle, caring, sincere, innocent-natured people I have met in life have been men. Women tend to be a lot more cynical and hard-boiled.

preyer
04-06-2005, 07:53 AM
difficult to equate dog traits to humans. we as pet-owners tend to infuse our pets with human attributes that simply don't exist. full-blooded dogs are bred for a specific purpose, too, part of which sometimes is their attitude. dalmations, for example, don't make good dogs for children. i say that and there's always that one person who had one and 'it was the best dog my children ever had!' lol. and while your retrievers may have acted in textbook fashion for their type, my female basset hound couldn't wait to break lose and explore the neighbourhood, nor was she overly clingy, pretty much doing her dog dance when i came home and five minutes later forgot i was there, dropping by to visit every now and then. that's probably very indicative of her stripe of critter. i've now got a shih-tzu and so does my bro-in-law and, wow, there's no comparison to their agression levels-- my female is by far more agressive than his male, which is generally (the key word here, eh?) the case according the dog book.

men tend to more extremes? in terms of actual action, i'd agree, but certainly not emotionally.

according to my bible, God made us in 'our image.'

whitehound
04-06-2005, 08:32 AM
Afaik a large part of the problem with dalmatians is that a lot of them have hearing difficulties, and are therefore hard to train and also probably frustrated and noisy.

I don't mean men tend to extremes in the sense of behaving in extreme ways - I mean they tend to be spread out more towards the edges of the bell-curve, and women are more concentrated in the middle. So for many characteristics both the people who have a huge amount of whatever it is, and the people who have very little, tend to be male.

Another example - most of the truly arrogant bastards one meets are male - but the meekest, most self-effacing and self-castigating people I've met have also all been male.

Muscle-power is another one of course. Most men are stronger than most women, and nearly all circus-weightlifter types are male - but so are most patients with muscular dystrophy.

Nateskate
04-06-2005, 07:51 PM
As in the Messiah was supposed to be a temporal leader (actually, *two* temporal leaders). A lot of confusion has resulted from misunderstanding the term "salvation" - which to Jews at the time simply meant getting free of the Romans!

Because sexual reproduction is a simple way to maintain a healthy genetic variety. Vertebrates happened to end up with two main sexes (there's a scientific aphorism that "The law recognizes two sexes; biology recognizes seven" but the other five don't work very well) - the situation in plants, and in invertebrates, can be a lot more complex.



If you look at criters, including humans, you see a relative balance through most living things. And if you look at humans specifically, and take their basic natures, sans (what I call fallen aspects), there is a rather beautiful harmony between the two. One is more relational, wherein multitasking-remembering which child needs what and when, vs the hunter gatherer who can't stop and worry if bambi's mother will have orphans, when the task requires single-mindedness, you have a balance that actually helps everyone.

So, every trait is potentially good. Where it's a negative, is when self-centeredness becomes the primary filter. Then strength becomes beastly, "It's my toy, it's my hill, I am the man..." And for thousands of years, in multiple cultures, you had women relegated to being property. Which is quite unspiritual, although through cultural Archetypes, even religion became a source of oppression. I point out the proverbs 31-perfect woman, had a husband that "Trusted her". She had her own money. She bough a field based on her own whim (worked outside the house, invested, made choices). It's a rather profound concept considering it was written during a rather barbaric time. So, in fact, the concept of subserviance was never by the grand design. It was a part of the "curse". "Your desire shall be for your husband...but he shall RULE OVER YOU..." Well, if that was a "curse", it was never an origional intent. By the way, "your desire" is actually a rare verb, in that it was only used as "Desire to master". In effect, it said that the impact of the curse was that a woman would desire to manipulate (control) her husband, but he would (being stronger) in a beastly way, rule over her. And that curse came to pass.

So, we have "Potential nature" where are strengths are good, and realized nature, where unless we have a higher standard, we tend to resort to beastly behavior.

As far as "Salvation" in Isaiah, it depends what chapters you read. Look at Isaiah chapter 54, which so happens to be next to the "Forbidden chapter". However, it implies the inheritance for the servants of the lord include freedom from emotional bondage. And if you read the Torah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, you know that God said that he would give a new covenant, "I will write my commands in your minds that you would know my will, and in your hearts that you would do them."

In Deuteronomy, God predicts that Israel will fail to keep the law, be scattered to the nations, and later he would make a law. The law is "a changed nature", not rules. Salvation incorporates that. He also predicts in Isaiah, "They shall be a nation of Priests..." which is later foretold in Zechariah, "and ten men of every nation will take hold of a single Jew...you know God..." So, also, there is the "spiritual realization of God's purpose". Salvation incorporates many things. But if you look at Isaiah 53, the forbidden chapter, the Messiah dies for sin. And I've read the Rabbinical footnote telling me how to interpret that passage. However, if you begin reading in Isaiah 52, the passage is referring to an Individual, not metaphorically to a nation, who suffers for the sins of the people. And he is marred beyond recognition according to the passage.

King David prophesied how that would take place in Psalm 22- "the pierced my hands and feet...etc." Written roughly 700 years B.C. Psalm 2- refers to the Messiah as "my Son". In Zechariah 12:10- God refers to himself as "me whom they have pierced..." But it says in fact, also, that God wounded him...for our sakes. So, it isn't laying the blame on Jews, saying it was God's intention. And in fact, God struck him. How can God strike God? Hmmm, we could discuss whether the O.T speaks of the Trinity. Is in fact, "The Spirit of the Lord", the very same "Holy Spirit" referred to in the New Testament?

Nateskate
04-06-2005, 08:03 PM
according to my bible, God made us in 'our image.'

It could be paraphrased? Many Bibles are. But also there is a second account in chapter 2, where it says, "He made man in his image; male and female he made them." Man as in Mankind = males and females, so yes, you could say "We" were made, and you'd be correct. But according to the New T, it implies we were no longer in his image. So, "he came in our likeness... became like us in all things, except sin...etc" Because it implies the goal is to be transformed back into his (God's) likeness.

So, in a sense, the second Adam (A name given to Jesus) was according to John chapter one, God being made in the image of man, somewhat of a role reversal, with the design to reintroduce God's nature and image. It's rather more complex than most people think.

But as far as the question: "Can a machine become a man, I read one of the posts that implied if it (a soul) comes from God, then it would take a "god" to make it happen (machine have a soul). That's really profound, and although some people might disagree, I tend to agree, although I don't see that happening. Refer to the Valley of Dry bones in Ezekiel, where God reforms men from the earth. God can turn dust into men. And take Jesus statement that "God could raise up children...from these stones..." (Meaning don't take God's love for granted, feeling irreplaceable- I'm doing God a great favor- rather take a humble posture, realizing the gift we're given) However, we technically come from dust, in that our matter is converted from things that come from the ground, synthesiesed.

The best men can do, is make a machine approximate behavior. Making a soul is beyond science.

watcher
04-07-2005, 09:56 AM
preyer

"a food-for-thought type of exploration.

watcher, i'm not a spiritual person at all, really. i'm as likely to equate 'soul' and 'personality' and leave it at that. being agnostic, i'm not going to aver a soul does or doesn't exist, though some people's theories seem to be ridiculous to me based on"

So...... basically you're just here to BS about something you're never going to write about? Is that about it?

My train of thought was that the story would not be believable to the readers out there who reading the word "soul" would expect that the writer would have looked into some of its more popular meanings.

But if you're not serious about this as a topic for a story and just have some time to kill, kill away.

I'm off to write a story about an agnotic robot... bye!

preyer
04-07-2005, 12:31 PM
so, if i'm just here to BS about the topic, does that matter? it's a good topic for sci-fi writing, be glad for that. these threads are almost always good for different viewpoints and offering up information, not to mention the theories involved. if you've not learned anything in these last two pages, well, yippee-skippy for you, i guess, but i have.

will i write a story about robots developing a soul? maybe, maybe not. if i do, it'll certainly incorporate things in this thread, and other threads, and research, and maybe some of my own opinion, who knows. i don't remember asking for help for a story wherein i'm trying to define my version of what 'soul' means, so i'm failing to see where you're getting that idea from (indeed, afair, i've sprinkled some story ideas based on the replies here and there). i'm not writing about 'perfect societies,' either, so is that a problem for you, too?

if i understand you right, your reply was ridiculous. what it's basically saying is, 'if you're discussing something you're not going to write about, you're just wasting everybody's time.' heaven forbid you talk about something interesting that you might learn something from, eh? hell, i just may be inspired to bang out a short story about it, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. i credit the people who've responded with great replies about behaviour, science, and religion as it relates to 'soul,' and, yeah, i like to think i've done my part in helping to draw out those great responses, which, up til now, have been remarkably congenial.

what i told you was my opinion in my most basic, barebones form. were i to write about it, i'd have to make a decision based on the story's needs, which may or may not represent how i actually feel about the subject. i feel if you're going to write about it, you need to take a stance for the sake of the story. is there even such a thing as a soul? how should i know? but, that i don't know doesn't mean i can be so slack in the writing, right? so, would i write that robots have souls? probably not, only because i think it's overdone, not because it's my opinion. were it meant to be a rather philosophically abstract story, maybe i'd consider it. i like to think the people involved in the thread have been able to talk about their own philosophy while taking something useful away from it, too. that can't possibly be a bad thing, can it? the best thing is this stuff isn't just applicable for 'do robots have a soul?,' but for other literary pursuits as well.

since you asked my opinion on it, i told you. i'm hardly going to apologize if it pissed you off -- next time don't ask. that's the safe bet, lol. you started off with what i perceived as a 'tone,' then followed that up with insinuating i've got absolutley no research in the 'popular' theories (that's the way i took it, at least, so please correct me if i'm wrong). not true, though i've got no proof, either, and i admit those who truly believe in having a soul will probably more naturally have done more homework to support their feelings. if you consider that abuse of these good people, well, you're an idiot, i reckon. :) if, on the other hand, you think i'm here to learn something and be entertained, kudos! you've hit the nail on the head, my friend. (btw, thanks so much for allowing me to continue 'killing time' in *my own topic*.)

good luck on your robot story... adios.

Nateskate
04-07-2005, 04:05 PM
so, if i'm just here to BS about the topic, does that matter? it's a good topic for sci-fi writing, be glad for that. these threads are almost always good for different viewpoints and offering up information, not to mention the theories involved. if you've not learned anything in these last two pages, well, yippee-skippy for you, i guess, but i have.

good luck on your robot story... adios.

You shouldn't have to appologize for having a creative idea. In a story, you can write about the love between two rocks, and if you are good at selling metaphors, you can pull it off.

In fact, if you'll remember, you have countless children's stories, from the little train that could, to my mother the car (an old t.v series in which a guy's mother is reincarnated as his car), the idea has not only been sold before, but sold well. And what was David Hasselhoff's car in that series??? It started with 2001 a space odessy, and a computur falling in love with a guy. But you have the robot in "Lost in space" who became a part of the family, with a will.

Then you have one of the first Star Trek movies, where you have a guy become one with a machine that has feelings for him.

It's not a matter of "could it happen", rather, it's the fact that you can sell it as a possiblity, that matters. Others have, so why not you?

preyer
04-07-2005, 09:12 PM
you're right, i think, nate, and i'm not apologizing, though i may have over-reacted. i'll leave that perception up to the individual.

you know, though, i'm probably average in that i go through some pretty outstanding lengths to research a very minour detail for a story. i believe writers go through phases of what they write, that is they have to get the old saws and cliches out of their system (usually not even realizing they're doing it) until you mature as a writer. it's not being a perfect writer, which i honestly believe some people strive for because they think if they're not the smartest or best wordsmith since shakespeare then people will think less of them as a person.

in a topic like this, even a layman has something good to offer sometimes. laymen can be the most interesting part of it, in fact, questioning things out of ignorance that 'experts' have to think about. you did it perfectly, NS, because you offered a theory based on scripture as opposed to saying 'this is what the bible says, therefore it must be true.' discussions like this have to go deep, even if i, personally, have a very simplistic definition of it... which is always based on a lot of research, lol. do animals have a soul? simple definition for me is 'if it can love, it's got a soul... if souls exist.' that in itself is very simple, but it's also got some fairly deep implications.

for my money, only in sci-fi can you being entertaining and pull off these kinds of philosophic stories. religious stories can be just too biased and lack a certain literary quality and ingenuity and creativity, things that don't rely on pulling heartstrings as hard. that's why it's important to discuss it here as opposed to the religious writing forum.

SF tends to love instilling robots with a soul. nate, you forgot one of the classics, 'bladerunner.' that movie did the best job of exploring the topic, i think. 'i, robot' was a complete hack job that failed on every single level for me. 'terminator II' brushed on the subject, but i came away unconvinced.

other than 'my mother the car' where the mother's soul had been implanted into the car, you're right about the little train that could and stories like that. i hadn't thought of those. not even those, but all the stories with talking animals. too numerous to list. i think 'beauty and the beast' would be an excellent one to discuss (if animals don't have a soul, does the prince lose his when he becomes an animal? did he have a soul to begin with? that he becomes capable of earning love earn him his soul, his 'soul,' back? lots of stuff there i'm sure the author probably never considered when he wrote it).

here's something to think about, nate, from 'media spotlight: a biblical analysis of religious and secular media' by albert james dager, the article titled, 'the force behind the force' (another anti-'star wars' diatribe):

'the force is not jesus; neither is jesus any kind of 'force.' he is the word of God who has existed *throughout eternity* (my astericks). whereas the force is spoken of as being 'created by all living things,' jesus was not created. rather, He is the creator of all living things -- in fact, of the entire physical universe (john 1).'

interesting, no? has anyone heard the idea that every soul that's ever going to exist has been made at the beginning of time? that, i think, plays heavily into reincarnation, which, i think, and i'm trying not to make lots of assumptions or huge leaps of logic here, plays right into the idea that robots can, indeed, have a soul. it's logical to me that someone who believes in reincarnation is more likely to believe in robotic soul. the idea that a soul is created at conception and ascends or descends to another plane of existance directly upon death could rather go either way with it, eh? i was surprised a bit by WH's statement of only hearing the notion of earning your soul since she'd mentioned reincarnation, which is pretty much based entirely on merit in a lot of religions/philosophies. i feel this very much tries to negate any notion of hell, that life will go on until all people reach nirvana or whatever, basically having endless do-overs, whereas clearly in christianity et al. you've got one shot at it, so there's a different slant to 'earning' your soul's next phase of existance. (as rather an aside, from what i understand, there's no concept of hell in the OT, rather a misinterpretation during translation of hebrew 'heil' (sp?), which means, asair, 'pit,' so that 'hell' means eternal nothingness as opposed to dante's popular version later used for scare tactics. anyone who's ever seen those awful little tracts knows what i'm talking about concerning modern fear-inducing 'fall in line else burn in hell'-type of propaganda methods. too, the heirarchy of angels is supposedly entirely man-made through artist imagination.)

whitehound
04-08-2005, 04:09 AM
from what i understand, there's no concept of hell in the OT, rather a misinterpretation during translation of hebrew 'heil' (sp?), which means, asair, 'pit,' so that 'hell' means eternal nothingness as opposed to dante's popular version later used for scare tactics. anyone who's ever seen those awful little tracts knows what i'm talking about concerning modern fear-inducing 'fall in line else burn in hell'-type of propaganda methods. too, the heirarchy of angels is supposedly entirely man-made through artist imagination.)As I understand it from my years of Jewish study sessions (raised vaguely Christian, intended to convert to Judaism, overtaken by pagan revelation, stuck with it), in Hebrew hell is simply where demons live, and if a person was said to have gone to hell that would mean they had a demonic personality and like attracts like, not that G_d had sent them there to "punish" them. The idea of a hell of eternal punishment got into Christianity from Greek and Roman paganism - it would have been foreign to Jesus.

Pthom
04-08-2005, 05:32 AM
...


The idea of machines with souls is interesting and definitely worthy of discussion in this forum. I am somewhat concerned, however, that a great deal of the foregoing discussion really belongs in the forum immediately below ours in the genre section.

Careful, folks. When I read the word "apology" in a thread in this forum, it's like a red alert in the Enterprise; I go looking for what prompted it. Let's keep our discussions to the process of writing and the ideas behind stories, without letting our discussions wander into personal philosophies.

Thanks.

preyer
04-08-2005, 12:33 PM
oh, i didn't mean to say hebrews had no concept of 'hell' two thousand years ago or whenever (maybe they did, maybe they didn't, i don't know), just that that word had been misinterpreted through translation according to one source i don't remember from years ago. without question, christianity borrowed much from pagan practices, though few devouts are willing to listen to specifics. probably just well: far be from me to try to dissuade someone's beliefs that's not going to change no matter what i say. i'm as likely to convince a hindu his belief in four billion year life-cycles may be a little extreme for practicality's sake. maybe if you had a four billion year old robot....

virtually all robots in SF earn their soul as were that a basic tenet. you might argue robbie the robot ('the forbidden planet,' 'lost in space') came preprogrammed with one, though i'd certainly argue against robbie as having one. he always seemed very much just a robot with good communication skillz. we assume artoo and threepio have been through enough to add layer upon layer of experiences that amounts to as having as close to a soul as a robot can have. so, robotic souls are predicated on at least the assumption the robots have garnered a lifetime of experience.

that said, what kinds of robots are most likely to develop a soul, or at least a close approximation? battle droids? rusty buckets of philosophy? nanny-oids? sex bots?maintenance robots? it seems that intelligence is of paramount importance. i doubt my scientific calculator, which is infinitely 'smarter' than i in its own way, will never fall in love with me (as an aside: scientific calculator for sale -- cheap). interesting to note that you could manufacture a robot intelligence far superior to a human's, and yet there's still the question of whether it's possible for there to be a soul there, while any dumb ol' human there's no question (if you believe in souls, of course). so, great intelligence isn't necessarily prime to having a soul for a human, but absolutely crucial for a robot to earn one in SF. seems one great divider there is simply having life, unless intelligence can be equated to being alive, so there's a contradiction there, no?

Nateskate
04-08-2005, 05:56 PM
oh, i didn't mean to say hebrews had no concept of 'hell' two thousand years ago or whenever (maybe they did, maybe they didn't, i don't know), just that that word had been misinterpreted through translation according to one source i don't remember from years ago. without question, christianity borrowed much from pagan practices, though few devouts are willing to listen to specifics. probably just well: far be from me to try to dissuade someone's beliefs that's not going to change no matter what i say. i'm as likely to convince a hindu his belief in four billion year life-cycles may be a little extreme for practicality's sake. maybe if you had a four billion year old robot....

virtually all robots in SF earn their soul as were that a basic tenet. you might argue robbie the robot ('the forbidden planet,' 'lost in space') came preprogrammed with one, though i'd certainly argue against robbie as having one. he always seemed very much just a robot with good communication skillz. we assume artoo and threepio have been through enough to add layer upon layer of experiences that amounts to as having as close to a soul as a robot can have. so, robotic souls are predicated on at least the assumption the robots have garnered a lifetime of experience.



The idea of these kinds of stories doesn't lie with "Kind/Type". Rather it's as simple as a child assigning intrinsic value to his doll. The doll is a tyle of comfort. Ultimately, the trick begins with making a robot/thing/ a sympathetic creature with a likable personality, to the point you "root" for him to be more than just a bunch of springs. So you cry if it is destroyed.

That's not hard to do, becuase you suspend logic. In a sense, you could program an engaging sense of humor. And in dozens of these movies you'll see, they always design a "loyalty chip". And in often the "Loyalty chip" goes awry, by the hand of an antagonist. And then that robot wrestles with it's loyalty, because it has gone beyond simply responding to a program. Now, it has genuine feelings. In one such story, the robot was programed to kill the family, but having feelings, it killed itself so it couldn't fulfill that desire.

By the way, I'm not trying to discuss comparative religions. I'm simply versed loosely in enough religious doctrine to see how it relates to the concept. Insofar as Hinduism is not monotheistic, in general, you have less of a "grand scheme of things", and even though there are laws, they are more subjective and more easily twisted.

In the Luke Skywalker Hindu (ish) thinking, the force is neither "good", nor "evil". Yet, they have very detailed rules. And they have one of the most absolute laws of any religion. "Kharma". It implies that the Universe punishes people on the basis of works. Yet, it is very non-specific on what the criteria is that they are judged by. So, in a sense, you have a vague notion of good and evil. But since you have conflicting dieties (Rhama-Shiva) with conflicting purposes, mildly like the Greek gods, in my understanding, rules are very subjective. You can feel you are paying for past sins in Kharma, and not only have no clue what you did to deserve suffering, but other than chanting, you have less of a proactive approach to avoiding whatever those sins are. You may still be doing the same wrong thing (philosophically) and not know it.

From a Hindu perspective, you could have one of the "gods" interviene, but then you have to now imply what motives that god has. One is a creator, One is a destroyer...etc. Plus, now you have to imply "Why does he even care- according to that philosophy".

Such a fantasy seems much more plausible in a monotheistic type of backdrop, because in monotheistic cultures, you have this general sense of an omnipotent who judges actions, and if (in fantasy) he saw virtue in a robot (obviously fantasy), he could reward it. But that's how Disney makes a living. Suspence of belief things.

triceretops
04-08-2005, 10:52 PM
Well, a hundred years from now computers sure have personality. In my sci-fi book, cars (vehicles) at a dealership actually converse with prospective customers and reject or accept them on their answers and personal profile. I think A.I. can really be taken to new limits in the near future. A soul? Why not an artificial soul.

Tri

Nateskate
04-10-2005, 08:19 PM
As I understand it from my years of Jewish study sessions (raised vaguely Christian, intended to convert to Judaism, overtaken by pagan revelation, stuck with it), in Hebrew hell is simply where demons live, and if a person was said to have gone to hell that would mean they had a demonic personality and like attracts like, not that G_d had sent them there to "punish" them. The idea of a hell of eternal punishment got into Christianity from Greek and Roman paganism - it would have been foreign to Jesus.

I'm not speaking dogmatically. I personally don't like quoting scripture on internet sites. But since we are talking about the etiology of ideas, since Jews, Protestents, Catholics, and some Muslims, reference the same Old Testament books, it isn't hard to see where the New Testament get's its ideas about hell from. I'm not saying you can't make some argument about other influences, however, the Old Testament is full of symbolisms that imply both eternal reward, and eternal punishment, and specifically eternal fire.

Again, I'm not speaking about a theological argument. Let everyone make up their own minds what to believe. But here are some Old Testament quotes. At minimum, I think you'd have to agree some can deduce a concept of hell from the Old Testament, so it wasn't simply an idea that sprung up from the GrecoRoman period.

Daniel 12:1-2 says that "And at that time shall thy people be saved, every one that shall be found written in the book...Some shall rise to everlasting life, and other's to "EVERLASTING contempt".

The implication is that there is some form of eternity for the good and the bad. And it is a different eternity. At least it looks that way from this verse.

Then there's the little comment in Isaiah about a place "And they shall go out and see....the men that have transgressed against me...where worm dies not..." and "fire shall not be quenched; they shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh." (Isaiah 66:24)

This is a more frightening picture. "worm dies not" implies some existance that is not consumed, but continues to exist in an unquencheable fire.

And Malachi "For behold the day shall come kindled as a furnace; and all the proud and all that do wickedly shall be stubble. And the day that cometh shall set them on fire, saith the Lord of hosts.." - This is quoted roughly 500 years later by John the Baptist, "His winnowing fork is in his hand..."

Whether or not you would take these as references to hell, would simply depend on whether you take these to be metaphorical, or literal. And I'm, again, certainly not telling anyone how to take this. I'm only saying this in the historical sense, that these texts pre-date Christianity. More compelling, they were also contained in the Dead Sea scrolls, which were in existence long before Christianity was ever formalized, and the Cannon was decided for either Protestants or Catholics. It was surmised the Dead Sea scrolls were written by Essene Priests before Romans ever razed the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. They were hidden in clay jars in caves, because as Josephus stated, righteous Jews feared the Romans would destroy the temple and their copies of the Torah. So they made secret copies.

Some Jewish scholars (I've known some) argued that Jesus was an Essene himself (Jewish Separatists that thought their culture was being corrupted by secularism and paganism- akin to Monks), although that is unlikely, or Josephus would have no doubt mentioned it in his writings, being that he was an Essene Priest. (Although some felt Josephus was a traitor because he surrendered to the Romans- which is why we still have his books)

Again, I'm not getting religious, telling anyone what to believe. I believe everyone has to make up their own minds about such things. However, I've spent quite a few years studying things, to obviously make up my own mind, but also out of curiosity. "Who borrowed from who...who made up what...do all religions speak of the same thing...etc." And yes, I even looked at Paganism. Frankly, before I looked at Hinduism, Budhism, Islam, Judaism, and lastly Christianity. By the way, that helps a great deal when coming up with material for Epic Fantasies, because generally speaking, the roots of every great Epic were religious in nature (in their earliest form) including all Pagan thought, which filtered through Norse, Greek and other mythologies, "Up to a point", and then you bring in the human drama perspective.

preyer
04-10-2005, 10:58 PM
just out of curiosity which can possibly be applied in world-creating, what differences, if any, have you found between mono and poly theistic societies?

Nateskate
04-11-2005, 04:26 PM
just out of curiosity which can possibly be applied in world-creating, what differences, if any, have you found between mono and poly theistic societies?

In terms of "goodness of people", not much. In terms of general philosophy of life, a good deal of difference.

What a person believes will impact actions. However, in general, there is somewhat of a "human religion", meaning, universal wisdoms, and universal beliefs. In many countries, if someone is hurt, people will offer assistance. If you are lost, they will help you. They don't need a spiritual code to do good. However, spiritual codes can refine what "good" means, and that may include "Do good to those who spitefully use you...love your enemies..." (Rarely practiced- but very nobel)

Sting wrote a song about the cold war, and the hopes that the Russians love their children too. And it applied to both sides of the cold war. Do people dehumanize other people because of language barriers and cultural customs? Sting was saying in effect, the greatest hope to avoiding a global nuclear holicost is taking a look at your children, and remembering "They have children too." Don't forget the most important issues.

That which separates people is less than that which binds people together. For instance, if you threw me into a group of seventy people from around the world, and none of us knew the other's ideologies, and we could all communicate, we could play soccar together, sans dietary beliefs, eat meals together. If one of their kids skinned his knee, most of the adults would run over to see how they are doing. If one cried over a lost love, we'd be moved to compassion, if two started to fall in love, we'd all be moved to root for them.

THis is the hope of the world, that people are sane enough to realize what they have in common. Take off turbans and all cultural distinctions, and we love alike. We nurture alike.

So, everyone of us can step out of our culture and be thrust into the culture of another, and find these people really do love, and nurture, and are hospitable.

Now, throw in beliefs. Beliefs are the greatest agent for both evil and good in the world. If I believe I should feed the poor, that can cause me to sell what I have, cross the world, and literally help a stranger who is starving. So, beliefs alone are not bad. But if my belief tells me to demean another, and devalue another, and punish another, who by nature is kind, hospitable, and tender-hearted, to go across the world and slay people percieved to be infidiles. A belief can cause someone to act against their own nature. They have to "harden their hearts" to stay true to their convictions. It's the "infidile must die" mentality. And I'm not singling about a religion, because many religions have fallen to this mentality.

Seeing that "belief" can cause so much good (often ignored) and so much evil (Can't be ignored) Some people want to do away with "belief" and substitute it with. However, you'll always have a vacuum of belief. Marxism was "anti-belief", but it was also a substitute belief. You can't simply "stop" belief. Some people are set on the concept of World-beliefs, which has been toyed with for coutless years. However, historically, beliefs dictated by a political body have become the cruelest beliefs. Between Communism and Fascism you simply had a different tyranny.

When you ask the question, are their philosophical differences in the way cultures are? You actually have to look beyond "monotheism" and "pantheism". What does the God/gods they believe in, tell them? "Lay down your life for one another, or bring about conformity through violence?"

Likewise, many pantheistic religions amount to no more than a philosophy of life. Others are more fatalistic, in the sense that you are at the fate of the gods, and any attempt to better your lot in life is futility, only prolonging grief, because if you don't pay up now, you'll pay up in another life. Whatever people believe impacts their actions, even whether to stand up and fight against injustices. So from a sociologic perspective, religions have tremendous impacts on politics of cultures, good and bad. However, many people fear telling what they see, and honestly speaking against deeply valued beliefs. In a sense, they are afraid of offending a cultural group.

whitehound
07-17-2005, 07:56 AM
bump

TMA-1
07-19-2005, 12:35 PM
does artificial intelligence constitute a personality? does a personality mean it's got a soul? can its feelings ever be anything other than a collection of microchips, programming and the conversion of observed feelings? (this being the basis of a whole lot of sci-fi, it's got literary merit.)
I do not believe that human brains are the only possible structures of matter to be able to have intelligence, consciousness and personality. Of course, only those who see themselves as intelligent can recognise intelligence elsewhere (with false positives being possible).

ETA: Btw, I do not believe in an immaterial soul.