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Flying Electric Spaghetti Monster

Reconciling Stoicism with contemporary physics
  [vote for,

Why this is an invention and not just philosophy: I am generally comfortable with physics as it stands and my philosophy of live is not Stoic.

Stoicism as a philosophy of life is OK, but because it's supposed to follow from its physics, it may seem difficult for people to adopt it. Nowadays, most people don't believe the Universe evolved from or that the human soul consists of fire. However, the theory of an oscillating Universe, also found in Stoicism, is quite popular.

I would remedy this in the following way:

Lightning was seen by the ancient Greeks as a refined form of fire, whereas we see it as a form of plasma, i.e. an ionised state of matter. Stoics also saw the human soul as consisting of fire. We can go with this and still be physicalist, because we can see consciousness as an emergent property of the processes going on in the central nervous system, and possibly elsewhere, involving ionisation, e.g. action potentials in neurones. Therefore, it's fair to say that in a sense, the soul really does consist of fire.

Here's a more controversial bit. God is also fire, i.e. there was a huge conscious entity which created the Universe which was composed of plasma. Some people hold that because plasma can have a cellular structure, among other things, it could constitute the basis of a form of life.

Rather than do this exactly, though, i would posit the possibility, for the purposes of Stoic philosophy, of a primordial conscious entity billions of light years across which is composed entirely of plasma. This resembles an enormous monster made of electric spaghetti (i.e. luminous plasma strands) flying through space, and rather than the Big Bang, which in this scenario never happened, this entity created the Universe as it is today. Ultimately, the Flying Electric Spaghetti Monster will be created again by the intelligent life in the Universe, and the cycle will repeat.

Whereas this is not in accordance with current scientific theory, it would be a useful way to defer the problems caused by Creationists and other anti-rational people to some realm of speculation where it doesn't matter. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it's actually true, just that it would be good for people to start believing in it. It would be particularly appropriate for Christians, since their religion is itself based philosophically on Stoicism.

nineteenthly, Dec 09 2007

Wikipedia: Flying Spaghetti Monster http://en.wikipedia...g_Spaghetti_Monster
Nineteenthly is riffing on Pastafarianism's central deity. [jutta, Dec 09 2007]

Wikipedia: Stoicism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoicism
3rd century BC, hence very unlikely to be an "outgrowth of Christianity". Deeper inside the entry is a fairly decent list of commonalities and differences of Christianity and Stoicism. [jutta, Dec 09 2007]

Overbaked http://groups.yahoo.com/group/overbaked
Just a splendid, splendid place to publicly declare your membership of groups X, Y, and Z, or discuss the relationship of Stoicism and Christianity. [jutta, Dec 11 2007]

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       Christianity based on Stoicism? bleh   

       what's the invention? It looks to me like you've got a theoretical scenario, not an invention.
dentworth, Dec 09 2007

       If I'm not allowed a big bang, I think I'd go for turtles over charged pasta.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2007

       The invention is the theory, in that it isn't actually a theory i believe in, but a useful model which people could adopt if they were attracted to Stoicism but the physics made them uncomfortable.   

       There are people out there who have big objections to various theories in biology, geology and astronomy because of their religious beliefs. This way, we could clear those out of the way with a theory which reserves all the weird stuff safely out of the way at the beginning of the Universe, aeons back, which isn't going to interfere quite as much with things like education while preserving something resembling Christian belief for the benefit of those who want to carry on believing it.   

       So, someone starts a religion with these cosmological beliefs in an (allegedly) sort of L Ron Hubbard type way, and it deals with the inconvenience of people having questionable ideas about the Universe to some extent, while preserving belief in some sort of God which is sufficiently weird and exotic to satisfy the desires of people who seem to want to believe in something like the Rapture.   

       I'm not alone in seeing a link between Stoicism and Christianity. They both have the concept of a Logos, a metaphor at least of fire for spirit (e.g. Pentecost), a link between divine and human and the emphasis on virtue and depravity. The Stoic God is impersonal and not immanent and there is no physical resurrection, trinity or incarnation as such, but there is nevertheless a strong link, i would say. Why do you see it as very different?
nineteenthly, Dec 09 2007

       actually I thought stoicism was an outgrowth of christianity. But I am not thinking any deeper than my own definition which is Christianity is the teachings of Christ who was in no way a Stoic. I won't comment any further.
dentworth, Dec 09 2007

       Speaking from a perspective of deep shallowness, can I ask why we are obliged to come up with a bogus story to help theists cope with reality?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2007

       It's what they're used to.
baconbrain, Dec 09 2007

       Precisely. Let them figure out their own set of myths. We have things to do.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2007

       If they are left to figure it out for themselves, they may end up with quite intrusive beliefs, which is what's happened recently. If, on the other hand, someone makes up a relatively innocuous religion and publicises it sufficiently, through some sort of memetic method, it might end up mopping up potential converts to much more harmful world views, and thereby distract others from the things they have to do, such as, for example, having same-sex relationships or pursuing stem cell research. It would be a labour-saving device.
nineteenthly, Dec 09 2007

       I think you'd be better off taking a Joseph Smith instead of L Ron Hubbard path to converting the Christians. Just go find a new book of the Bible that can redefine all the other books of the Bible in such a way that updates he Bible to present day knowledge of reality or maybe integrates string theory into a revised religion that still enslaves it's followers into an inescapable life of guilt and repentance. That way the Catholic Church will accept it, but now frees science to discover the real science since few will understand the old science, so no one will be able to tell the new science as any different and be able to complain about it. Highlight that God wants us to understand him not only by his book, but also by his Universe. We should feel guilty because we are flawed and fail to understand him, but should always try.
MisterQED, Dec 09 2007

       Hmmm. I see the motive, and at a pragmatic level it's fair enough. But my guts react against placating delusionists with a more convenient delusion.   

       Also, once this new religion catches on, some future person will unearth this site and realize it was all a plot.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2007

       Great, now I want to eat spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, thanks for the link Jutta.
quantum_flux, Dec 09 2007

       Ian, have you been at the Marmite again?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2007

       [MisterQED], i like it. In a way though, the books have already been written by the likes of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca.   

       [custard], the electric shocks thing would be fantastic. If the whole thing is based on ionisation, it would be utterly justified and quite easy to fit into the dogma.
nineteenthly, Dec 09 2007

       I believe that when Spaghetti Monster said, "Eat this spaghetti, for it is a symbol of my spaghettiness! And drink this red sauce for it is a symbol of my meatballs!", it was meant to be done in rememberence of his noodliness because dinner was excellent tonight! Ramen!   

       By the way, I blame the graven image of Spaghetti Monster on Wikipedia for my sudden and unexplainable spaghetti lust tonight! Wikipedia hath broken the 3rd law of the food cabinent that was given to rastaman on Mt. Spaghetti in the 50th century BSM.
quantum_flux, Dec 10 2007

       <swatting ineffectually at trolls>Where's the Big Billy Goat Gruff when you need him?</siat>
pertinax, Dec 10 2007

       From the Jargon File: Troll 1. v.,n. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting [...] designed to attract predictable responses or flames;   

       Surely a posting of the form '[group X] is so stupid we could mess with their heads like this...' fits that definition?
pertinax, Dec 10 2007

       No, I'm just in a grumpy mood. Never mind.   

       Actually, I'm wondering what sort of hidden agenda would include grumpy old men, trans-Atlantic pedantry and God-bothering. I'm tempted to go and invent one now.
pertinax, Dec 10 2007

       ... and then hide it.
pertinax, Dec 10 2007

       //people here who are whining about insolent youth and poor spelling.// Did it occur to you that maybe it's the insolent youths who are whining about poor spelling?
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 10 2007

       I know how to spell good.
dentworth, Dec 10 2007

       For future reference, [custard], I do urge you to re-read the Help file, in particular the sections on Advocacy and Stereotyping. In general, ideas or annotations where the basic sentiment is 'dontcha hate group X?' are frowned upon. This is site policy - it's not just me (is it, [jutta]?) It doesn't matter whether X is grumpy old people, cheeky young people, people who use overseas idioms or religious people.
pertinax, Dec 10 2007

       I don't think this idea falls under "Dontcha just hate group X" - it requires religious needs as something it tries to creatively fill, but it doesn't really say whether having them is good or bad.   

       As for the grumpy old man thing, that should probably be discussed on that idea, not here.   

       // People who think they know everything really annoy those who do.
jutta, Dec 10 2007

       I'd suggest that at least some of the annos - not the idea - were heading towards "aren't group X stupid", which would be trolling, or at least bad form. Unless, that is, they were honestly written without malice aforethought, rather than being barbed asnides.   

       And nope, this isn't a hidden agenda, I happen to be a member of group X.
david_scothern, Dec 10 2007

       I suppose i see religious-style beliefs as almost unavoidable in that people seem to need some kind of total world view, and as socially and personally useful, although it can also be harmful at the same time. Hence there's a problem with having a shaky world view as loss of certainty means losing these benefits. So, it might help to be able to adopt some kind of belief system which is less easily undermined than much conventional religious belief, but which still provides a philosophy of life. It seems to me that Stoicism might do this, but because it's a complete world view with the kind of physics and cosmology prevalent in Greek and Roman Europe, believing the whole lot is difficult in a world with particle accelerators, fMRI scans and the like. As a result, my proposal is to modify the physics and cosmology of Stoicism in such a way that it stays in the spirit of its original form but remains at least in the same general area as contemporary scientific theories.   

       Some people disbelieve the Big Bang theory for various valid reasons, for instance because of the dark matter issue. Some people also believe that plasma can become a self-organising system, and a sufficiently complex such system could be functionally equivalent to a conscious mind. It's a stretch, but it isn't anywhere near as inconsistent with contemporary science as scepticism about evolution, believing the planet is 6000 years old and in the physical resurrection millenia after the body has decomposed. My point is that if someone believed in this, they could still believe in evolution, an old Earth and the rest, and also hold less anachronistic ethical beliefs, but still have the benefit of religious belief to society and the individual. You get more of the positive aspects of religion and fewer of the negative ones if you believe in this updated form of stoicism.
nineteenthly, Dec 10 2007

       //Whereas this is not in accordance with current scientific theory, it would be a useful way to defer the problems caused by Creationists and other anti-rational people to some realm of speculation where it doesn't matter.//   


       //I'm not suggesting for a moment that it's actually true, just that it would be good for people to start believing in it.//   


       //Christians, since their religion is itself based philosophically on Stoicism.//   

nomocrow, Dec 10 2007

       Suppose you believe in incarnation. For it to have happened when it did, the world would have to have been ready for it at that time. If that is so, it might be that the philosophy of the time was amenable to the Christian faith, so from a Christian perspective, the appearance of Stoicism is not incompatible with believing in Christianity as a revealed faith.   

       Theory is never true, only corroborated. If God is omniscient and humans are not, they will not be capable of a full understanding of the nature of the world. Hence they will not have a true theory of the world, only a working model. The whole truth would be inconceivable to them in this view.   

       To some extent it does matter that cosmology and physics would be different and adhered to for religious reasons. However, it has fewer ethical implications if it involves views on a more arcane level. It does sort of suggest an imperative to invent a God, literally rather than just conceptually, i.e. literally to create a God. That does have ethical implications.
nineteenthly, Dec 10 2007

       //it requires religious needs as something it tries to creatively fill//
//people seem to need some kind of total world view//

       I think the flaw in this is that the idea here is really to do something *to* people, rather than *for* them.   

       For example, suppose you were to put this idea to a Buddhist. She might reply "You are just adding one more illusion to a world already full of illusions. How does that meet my need?" Suppose you were to put it to a Muslim. He might reply, "You are mistaken about my need. My need is not to find a total world view. My need is to find peace through submission to the will of God. Kindly take this away."   

       I think there is a factual mistake in //people seem to need some kind of total world view//. I think it is true only of some people and not of others (or at least, much more true of some people than of others). The people of whom it is more true can be found both among religious fundamentalists and among militant atheists. At the risk of being boring, I refer anyone who is wondering about the scientific basis of this opinion to the work of Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (and others) on brain structure. I'm afraid I don't know of any links to a good summary... and anyway, I'm getting far off-topic.   

       Just for the record, I *am* a member of "group X" (as I have mentioned previously on this site).
pertinax, Dec 11 2007

       [pertinax], for a horrible moment there i thought i'd split an infinitive, but then realised the person who'd done so was in the esteemed position of being a non-obsessive compulsive speaker of the noble German tongue.   

       Maybe for me, it's the zeal of the convert. I used to be a Christian and come from a Christian background. I don't mean to be insulting. My thoughts are partly influenced from having been an insider.   

       I agree that there's an ethical problem. However, if it so happened that someone came to this conclusion in good faith, presumably it would be OK. If i'd posted this idea as a cosmological perspective, how would it have been received?   

       Yes, not everyone feels a need for a total world view. Do the people who don't feel that need miss out or is it just the OCD people, who might be the kind of people who go on about split infinitives, that need one?   

       It's funny you should mention Baron-Cohen actually, because the thing about autistics having no theory of (other) mind(s) was a big factor in me losing my faith.   

       I think we should probably take this to Overbaked though.
nineteenthly, Dec 11 2007

       Amen to that.
RayfordSteele, Dec 11 2007

       I'm going over to overbaked this second (2007/12/11/1616 UT).
nineteenthly, Dec 11 2007

       Actually it was more like two hundred of them while i typed my message into the echoing void that is Overbaked.
nineteenthly, Dec 11 2007


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