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Statistical Sprirtuality posted 26 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Ok, a while ago I made the mistake of mentioning a vague collection of ideas I had cobbled together over the last couple months within Scott's proverbial hearing. I called it Statistical Spirituality, and Scott quite rightly demanded some sort of explanation. I spent the intervening time thinking about how to convey these concepts, and here it is, though I make no claim it is necessarily comprehensive or entirely accurate. It is where I currently am in my exploration of the concept.

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Statistical Spirituality
Jack Brown
07.26.04

Statistical Spirituality is the belief that the random twists of the world can be recognized spiritually, particularly as pertaining to beauty and fate. Thus, events such as rainbows, spectacular sunsets, and natural disasters may be explained statistically and scientificaly yet also retain a spiritual nature undiminished by their explanation. Some examples:

A beautiful rainbow directly after a loved one dies. This is not a message or sign from anything, it is the random occurance of a rainbow and simultaneous death of a loved one. A pure statistical chance. However, this does not lessen the awe or wonder one may feel when witnessing such a beautiful sight after a tragedy. After all, what are the chances? We see the juxtaposition of improbable statistical events and the emotion of spirituality. Does this demean the emotion felt? No. Does it demean the surprise of the event? No. This is the first permution of Statistical Spirituality, that of events.

The second permutation is closely related, and is that of fate. Statistical fate is similar but different to traditional fate. Statistical fate holds that you and the world determine your fate through that actions taken by every piece of matter on the planet, but is fundamentally random. I have a true story a friend told me about neighbors who dated in high school, married other people, got divorced, and ran into each other years later and got married. Sounds like fate, but it can be explained by their actions and those of the people around them. They broke up for some reason, say losing touch or percieved incompatibility. They married someone else because they thought they loved them. Theygot divorced because it turns out they didn't. They randomly ran into one another and hit it off, we hear about it and call it traditional fate. But what if they hadn't run into one another? We never would have heard of it. The problem with traditional fate is that we only see the evidence for and never against.

We often say 'What are the chances?,' and here we have hit fate on its proverbial head. 'What are the chances?' Not very good. Not very statistically high. Only when we witness a chance improbability influenced by the compounding of past actions or inactions do we perceive fate. What many fail to comprehend is the significance of this. Far from detracting from fate, these principals serve to illustrate the importance of our daily activities to the future of not only ourselves but of those around us.

These two permutations combined form the frame of statistical sprituality, serving as a model illustrating our world.

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Feel free to comment. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 26 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Grantaire, Moderator

Hm...definately a very interesting concept..

We seem to only give that exclamation of "what are the odds of that!" when, well, when that is the case- when it's obvious, and staring us in the face that it is a very unlikely event. But when we have always lived with certain...events...and we don't know otherwise really, we don't think of it as unprobable. What is the exact chance that a sperm and egg with the exact right genetic information could combine at the exact time to create each of us exactly as we are? What are the chances that a solar system and planet could exist to facilitate life such as we know it? Questions such as those. They're the larger things, that because they don't spring out and smack us in the face, we don't really give thought to just what the odds were.

My random thought <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 26 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Actually, that's sort of opposite of my thought, but I don't have time to go into that. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 26 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Grantaire, Moderator

Er...my bad. Oh well, when I read it, I started thinking about that. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 27 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

Very interesting, Jack!

If I understand you right, what you're suggesting is an alternative understanding of the 'miraculous.' Everything that happens is miraculous in the 'what are the chances' sense. Heavy stuff!

But you seem to imply there's some kind of consolation to be had in this. What might that be specifically? view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 27 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Aldarion, Sorcerer-of-Rank

Very interesting, but how does that relate to multiple meanings that might be derived from the same type of event? For example, what if that rainbow were to shine after a rainfall following the downfall of say a dictator? I know it's an extreme example, but how does your proposal deal with those who look at the world in completely different ways? view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 27 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Sovin Nai, Site Administrator

Thank you for the responses, and no one has ripped me apart yet! Wil pointed out to me that the post above really should discuss the influence of the universe on our fate, not just the world. Of course, I think that at some point the changes become so general that they may not have any direct bearing on our futures.

Grantaire (and somewhat Scott): Regarding events, what I meant is not that everything is miraculous, but that we only notice the statistical abnormalities, which we label as miracles, signs, what-have-you. You are right about fate, sorry about that last post Grantaire, I should have explained.

Larry: My point is that there really is no meaning beyond the improbablility of events happening. If a rainbow occurs after the fall of a dictator, it defies the odds of there being a rainbow after a world-witnessed death. Because there is no meaning, everyone may interpret it in their own way. What if the rainbow is the world's way of rejoicing in the death of a tyrant? It doesn't matter, because all it is is rather unlikely for the rainbow to be there.

Scott: I see a couple points of consolation. First, with regard to 'fate,' that you determine your own fate yet have one. I would like to be able to say to my loved one 'we are fated to be together.' But are we? I think yes, but only because of the many small decisions we have made over the course of our lives. People often, when discussing traditional fate, say things like 'could you imagine if I'd just been a minute later' or 'what if I hadn't gone to the party,' but the point is that if they hadn't done whatever that was, they wouldn't even realize that there was anything going on. So the answer to the what-if is this: you wouldn't wonder. However, in all likelyhood they never would have been a minute later or decided not to go, because their prior fate led them to that point in their lives. I like this concept of self driven fate. It gives you a fate to be proud of instead of rail against.

The second point of consolation is the elimination of certainty this brings about. If we acknowledge that events only have the significance we give them, then we no longer have the bolstering of one's own argument by way of events.

Now, interestingly, to my mind this model still leaves room for a deity, simply not one involved in human affairs. More like the guy (or gal) kickstarted the planet and is having a nice long 3D movie. Personally, I don't believe this, but I am not arguing such a lack necessarily with this theory, which is what I wanted to get across.

I believe that the concept of god sprang up through a desire to explain incredible events. Why has god not performed any worldwide miracles lately? Because we now call those hurricanes, tornados, meteors, floods, earthquakes, and forest fires. That is my belief. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 27 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Replay, Auditor

Thank you for the responses, and no one has ripped me apart yet!


/rubs hands togethor, grins, and thinks Right, where to start?

Nah only joking, was some interesting stuff in there. Was an article in the paper not long ago about this sort of thing. It showed that more often than not, even though things seem improbable, the odds for them to happen were not all that great. For instance, at a party there is actually a fairly good chance that two people will have the same birthday. Not only that, but having dreams about someone dying is not as improbable as youd first think (they even had a lot of maths that showed--due to the amount of people in a country--how often it actually should happen). view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 28 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Grantaire, Moderator

Replay, would you mind posting a link to that article, or the article itself here? Not that I don't believe you, I just want to read it (presuming that your paper has an online archives of course). Thanks. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 28 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Cu'jara Cinmoi, Author of Prince of Nothing

I see a couple points of consolation. First, with regard to 'fate,' that you determine your own fate yet have one. I would like to be able to say to my loved one 'we are fated to be together.' But are we? I think yes, but only because of the many small decisions we have made over the course of our lives.


I'm not sure how this works, because if everything is random, then there's no real such things as 'decisions' - or anything intentional - is there?

The second point of consolation is the elimination of certainty this brings about. If we acknowledge that events only have the significance we give them, then we no longer have the bolstering of one's own argument by way of events.


This actually strikes me as an argument against consolation, since we humans seem to be hard-wired to find comfort in certainty and to be anxious when uncertain (which explains why there's so much faux certainty out there).

And more, there's a vicious circularity here as well. In a sense, what you're trying to do is to give what are essentially meaningless occurances the patina of human significance - in other words, the very thing you saying your view allows others to do, so offering the consolation of uncertainty! By your very own lights, it seems, you have no real way to argue your position.

The knives were there all along, Jack! <!-- s:twisted: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_twisted.gif" alt=":twisted:" title="Twisted Evil" /><!-- s:twisted: --> view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 28 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Replay, Auditor

Grantaire: You can try searching the [url=http&#58;//www&#46;dailymail&#46;co&#46;uk:39nv9drv]Daily Mail[/url:39nv9drv] site, though am unsure whether the article is on there (had a quick look myself but found nothing).

Other than that, you could always put 'coincidence', 'chance', 'odds' etc in to Google as I'm sure that would bring up a fair few articles on such things. view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 28 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by Grantaire, Moderator

Thank you, I'll check it out <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 30 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by saintjon, Auditor

Reminds me of Tao of Pooh. No sense pondering what would have happened if you'd been 5 minutes earlier, you weren't and the best that could have happened did, because it always does, because it's what happened after all lol.

The bit about no meaning beyond what we attach to things reminds me the Tao too. In Tao it's a source of comfort because it's supposed to free you up to appreciate things for what they are, instead of what you think they should mean (good advice for some people who have been unhappy with LoTR I think <!-- s:D --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_biggrin.gif" alt=":D" title="Very Happy" /><!-- s:D --> ).

I'm not sure if that really contributes anything, I just saw a simlarity so I thought I'd point it out. Well, I thought maybe some of the reasons Tao brings comfort might be a bit of an answer to Scott's wondering how looking at the world like that can be a consolation (although now that I think of it you guys could be using that word in a different way than I understand it, seems to happen a lot around university types <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? -->) view post


Statistical Sprirtuality posted 30 July 2004 in Philosophy DiscussionStatistical Sprirtuality by drosdelnoch, Subdidact

But thats the whole thing with a statistical spirituality, I think most people have had some sort of experience with this, for example my better half goes to her best friends grave and I sit with the Radio on, she only stays for about 10 minutes at a time and usually within that timespan either her friends fav RHCP track comes on or her fav Nirvana track. Now people would take that as a sign but according to statistics you'd think well it has to happen at some point. The interesting point of this is she only goes rarely and as such the bookies wouldnt give you odds on it.

I myself have been sitting and thinking about past relatives and lo and behold a familiar scent strikes my nostrils, now my better half could be sitting nearby and smell the same thing, odds are it doesnt happen. yet again it could be the wind blowing stirring up carpet fibres with a similar scent yet I associate it with something else.

Add onto that yes you do have things like rainbows that make you think or remembering things such as fishing trips and yet you think that you can hear them. The whole thing is, is it just statistics playing off or is it something more. Thats the question that more science based thinkers believe but technically it could be a sign. Such portents in ancient times depicted for either good or ill the fate of people. Could it also be that in modern times we try to write this off as a "one in a million chance" or is it a case that we've just lost our spirituality. That perhaps is the more important question. view post


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