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Author Topic:   Can't ID be tested AT ALL?
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1543 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 256 of 304 (374032)
01-03-2007 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 248 by TheMystic
01-03-2007 12:15 PM


Ok, one of the great minds of the 20th century, maybe any century, but you... I don't know what to say, I'm speechless.
He's not that good, though. No, really.
And it really leaves you "speechless" to be confronted by an opinion that is different than your own? Seriously? You must be pretty sheltered.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 248 by TheMystic, posted 01-03-2007 12:15 PM TheMystic has not replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 257 of 304 (374033)
01-03-2007 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 255 by PaulK
01-03-2007 1:36 PM


Hi PaulK,
PaulK writes:
I'd say that there was pretty strong evidence that any simple dualism which allows that an ordinary human mind can exist apart from a brain is probably false. The so-called "split-brain" operation, by severing most of the connections between the two hemispheres produces a split in consciousness. The human mind is apparently dependant on physcial connections in the brain to keep itself integrated. Obviously a disembodied human mind would lack those connections and so would presumably have the same problems - at least. And that's before we consider issues like memory or the fact that physical damage to the brain can apparently produce personality changes.
There is no doubt that well-functioning brains are necessary for human consciousness - and one doesn't need to turn to split-brain experiments to see that (try a knock on the head). On the other hand, we have no good reason to believe that any particular physical mechanism (as we currently understand physics) is sufficient for conscious awareness.
PaulK writes:
Presumably a dismebodied mind would split into two, have no memory and likely a completely different personality than if it were embodied. Dualism (or more properly substance dualism) is not exactly looking healthy from where I'm sitting.
There is actually a bit of a resurgence in non-physicalist theories within philosophy of mind. Aside from Chalmers (whose arguments I'm partial to) people like Jaegwon Kim are starting to admit that supervenience is a meaningless cop-out and there really is an explanatory gap.
But I'm afraid we're straying too far from the topic. Vis-a-vis ID, none of this helps. The experiments that have been done to show how conscious awareness can direct our voluntary actions have - rather remarkably - shown just the opposite (cf. Benjamin Libet). All of Dembski's speculations about how disembodied mind might be causal in the physical world are laughably incoherent. There is simply no science at all upon which to base a theory of "intelligent causation" that enacts contra-causal will in the physical world.
ID's credibility (and even its meaning) relies upon people's intuitive and unscientific folk psychological concepts of dualism and libertarian free will. One would think that if ID was actually a scientific discipline, they might offer some consideration of current theories of mind and the related scientific research, and even try to contribute something. But no, they avoid all serious discussion of mentality, instead relying on lay folk's popular opinions about "mind over matter" and such.

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 255 by PaulK, posted 01-03-2007 1:36 PM PaulK has not replied

crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1543 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 258 of 304 (374035)
01-03-2007 2:25 PM
Reply to: Message 250 by aiguy
01-03-2007 1:09 PM


It would certainly appear that well-functioning human brains are necessary for human consciousness, but presently we have no scientific explanation for subjective mental experience.
Nonsense. The brain is the explanation. It's a pretty simple explanation - "brains are the organs that produce sensations of consciousness."
Consciousness research consists of trying to find neurological correlates of conscious experience, and there is movement on that front, but there is no guarantee that once we do pin down the neural structures and systems that are correlated with consciousness, we will be any closer to a material explanation of qualia.
Of what?
There is no scientific evidence for dualism, but neither is there compelling reason to dismiss it.
Actually the lack of evidence is a pretty compelling reason to dismiss it, at least until there's some evidence. Why wouldn't it be? Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, after all.
In other words, the fact of our conscious awareness is the single aspect of the world that may speak against materialism, and if materialism is false, ID theory gains a modicum of credibility.
Now you're just repeating his assertion, and still the question I've asked is being ducked. Why is conscious awareness evidence against materialism? The fact that consciousness is only observed to exist under a specific, narrow set of material conditions seems to indicate the exact opposite. The ephemerality of consciousness is excellent evidence for materialism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 250 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 1:09 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 259 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 2:46 PM crashfrog has replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 259 of 304 (374041)
01-03-2007 2:46 PM
Reply to: Message 258 by crashfrog
01-03-2007 2:25 PM


Hi crashfrog,
crashfrog writes:
Nonsense. The brain is the explanation. It's a pretty simple explanation - "brains are the organs that produce sensations of consciousness."
Wow - that's a very dogmatic statement. Honestly, there is no science that explains consciousness. We really have no idea why we are not "zombies" (in the way philosophers of mind use the term). If you believe that physicalist theories explain consciousness, perhaps you could cite the relevant papers, and give us a brief summary of how physical interactions in the brain give rise to conscious awareness?
crashfrog writes:
AIGUY: we will be any closer to a material explanation of qualia.
CRASHFROG: Of what?
"Qualia" are the subjective components of our perceptions. One of the essential aspects of the mind/body problem is to explain why we have subjective experience of our perceptions, rather than simply behavioral responses.
crashfrog writes:
Actually the lack of evidence is a pretty compelling reason to dismiss it, at least until there's some evidence. Why wouldn't it be? Absence of evidence is evidence of absence, after all.
The evidence for something that transcends physicalism is that our conscious awareness doesn't seem to be part of the physical world. Rather than go too deeply into it in this thread, I would suggest you read some of the arguments that go against your views (my recommendation would be to start with Nagels' classic paper here http://members.aol.com/NeoNoetics/Nagel_Bat.html, then read a book by David Chalmers).
crashfrog writes:
Now you're just repeating his assertion, and still the question I've asked is being ducked. Why is conscious awareness evidence against materialism? The fact that consciousness is only observed to exist under a specific, narrow set of material conditions seems to indicate the exact opposite. The ephemerality of consciousness is excellent evidence for materialism.
The brief answer is that there seems to be no way to reduce phenomenology to objective descriptions of physical events. The longer answer has been debated for, oh, going on about three thousand years or so.
Read what I said again, crashfrog - I'm very, very much against the notion that Intelligent Design can be viewed as a coherent scientific theory. I just like to remind materialists that the constraints of science apply to both sides of the argument, and there is certainly no settled science that shows how conscious awareness arises from brains. (Remember - the fact that neurological processes are necessary for consciousness doesn't mean that they are sufficient).

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 258 by crashfrog, posted 01-03-2007 2:25 PM crashfrog has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 260 by crashfrog, posted 01-03-2007 2:59 PM aiguy has replied

crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1543 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 260 of 304 (374044)
01-03-2007 2:59 PM
Reply to: Message 259 by aiguy
01-03-2007 2:46 PM


Honestly, there is no science that explains consciousness.
Yeah, you said that already.
I gave you the reasons why I disagreed. I don't find consciousness all that mysterious.
We really have no idea why we are not "zombies" (in the way philosophers of mind use the term).
Like most of the questions of philosophy, whether or not we're "zombies" is completely irrelevant, since "zombie" is not defined in any detectable sense. You seem to think that it's settles among philosophers that we aren't zombies; that doesn't seem to be the case.
At any rate, philosophy is essentially irrelevant to this discussion. Philosophy as a field largely exists to undermine knowledge, not increase it. They held back cognitive research for centuries, simply as a result of their assertions that it was impossible to study cognition. Good thing they turned out to be wrong. (They're pretty much wrong about everything that isn't obvious.)
"Qualia" are the subjective components of our perceptions. One of the essential aspects of the mind/body problem is to explain why we have subjective experience of our perceptions, rather than simply behavioral responses.
I still don't understand what you're talking about. And having "experience of our perceptions" doesn't seem to be something that most people spend a lot of time, having. I would venture to say that the majority of the average human's waking time is spend doing nothing but behavioral responses.
The evidence for something that transcends physicalism is that our conscious awareness doesn't seem to be part of the physical world.
But that's exactly what it seems to be. The evidence for this is that our conscious awareness does not extend beyond the physical world, and is completely dependent on a convergence of required physical criteria.
Rather than go too deeply into it in this thread, I would suggest you read some of the arguments that go against your views
I'm not impressed with the level of argumentation produced in the Nagels paper. For instance:
quote:
Conscious experience is a widespread phenomenon. It occurs at many levels of animal life, though we cannot be sure of its presence in the simpler organisms, and it is very difficult to say in general what provides evidence of it.
Wait, what? Is this how it works in philosophy? First you make a sweeping, universal statement, and then you admit that you don't have any evidence to support it?
Well, then why should we take Nagels seriously when he says consciousness is so widespread, since he admits in the very same sentence that he has no evidence that consciousness even exists? Or any metric for detecting it?
He's just making stuff up. Why is that something worth taking seriously?
The brief answer is that there seems to be no way to reduce phenomenology to objective descriptions of physical events.
No way, or no way yet? And doesn't the progress made in the past hundred years in terms of doing exactly that constitute evidence that it isn't impossible?
The longer answer has been debated for, oh, going on about three thousand years or so.
Just because people hold wrong ideas doesn't mean that their ideas are wrong. Just because something is debated doesn't mean one side isn't right. You seem to have a pretty low bar for what constitutes evidence. Is that common in philosophy?
(Remember - the fact that neurological processes are necessary for consciousness doesn't mean that they are sufficient).
The necessary/sufficient dichotomy is not one that I find meaningful.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 259 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 2:46 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 261 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 3:07 PM crashfrog has not replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 261 of 304 (374045)
01-03-2007 3:07 PM
Reply to: Message 260 by crashfrog
01-03-2007 2:59 PM


Crashfrog,
If you believe that physicalist theories explain consciousness, perhaps you could cite the relevant papers, and give us a brief summary of how physical interactions in the brain give rise to conscious awareness?

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 260 by crashfrog, posted 01-03-2007 2:59 PM crashfrog has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 262 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 3:30 PM aiguy has replied

Percy
Member
Posts: 22604
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 262 of 304 (374055)
01-03-2007 3:30 PM
Reply to: Message 261 by aiguy
01-03-2007 3:07 PM


aiguy writes:
If you believe that physicalist theories explain consciousness, perhaps you could cite the relevant papers, and give us a brief summary of how physical interactions in the brain give rise to conscious awareness?
It almost sounds like you're arguing that because we can't presently explain how consciousness emerges from brain activity that it could therefore have a non-natural origin. Sounds identical to the God-of-the-gaps argument.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 261 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 3:07 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 263 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 3:42 PM Percy has replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 263 of 304 (374060)
01-03-2007 3:42 PM
Reply to: Message 262 by Percy
01-03-2007 3:30 PM


Hi Percy,
Percy writes:
It almost sounds like you're arguing that because we can't presently explain how consciousness emerges from brain activity that it could therefore have a non-natural origin. Sounds identical to the God-of-the-gaps argument.
No, not at all, because I am making no argument for dualism (or any explanation based on "non-natural" cause) at all. My point is simply that we have some reason to doubt that material reduction accounts for our subjective experience, and that we have no theory that explains it. All that means is that we currently have no scientific understanding of consciousness, nothing more or less.

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 262 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 3:30 PM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 264 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 3:53 PM aiguy has replied

Percy
Member
Posts: 22604
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 264 of 304 (374064)
01-03-2007 3:53 PM
Reply to: Message 263 by aiguy
01-03-2007 3:42 PM


aiguy writes:
All that means is that we currently have no scientific understanding of consciousness, nothing more or less.
Then it sounds like you should be agreeing with Crash when he says that consciousness is based upon physical activity in the brain. He isn't saying we know how consciousness emerges from that activity, only that it must and does. Scientifically there is no other possibility. But from spiritual or religious or hokum perspectives there are, of course, a raft of other possibilities.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 263 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 3:42 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 265 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 4:15 PM Percy has replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 265 of 304 (374074)
01-03-2007 4:15 PM
Reply to: Message 264 by Percy
01-03-2007 3:53 PM


Hi Percy,
Percy writes:
Then it sounds like you should be agreeing with Crash when he says that consciousness is based upon physical activity in the brain. He isn't saying we know how consciousness emerges from that activity, only that it must and does. Scientifically there is no other possibility.
This is just what I'm talking about. ID folks - and the backlash against science in general - accuse scientists of dogmatically adhering to materialism. This charge is sometimes warranted. The scientific response to a question for which there is currently no well-supported answer is "We do not know", and not "It must be explainable in terms of physics, because everything just must be."
There are lots of people who have speculations about what might be going on inside our heads. For example, Roger Penrose (Nobel physicist) thinks that a very weird aspect of quantum physics (including a "universal platonic logic" that somehow exists in the universe) may be implicated in consciousness. Now, there is no sense in saying this is "physical" or "natural" or "non-physical" or "non-natural". It is something beyond our current understanding, and someday we may - or may not - have an empirically-based understanding of it.
Percy writes:
But from spiritual or religious or hokum perspectives there are, of course, a raft of other possibilities.
Sure, and I find these completely boring. My point is that we all ought to be willing to say "WE DO NOT KNOW" rather than cleaving to physicalist dogma on one hand, or mumbo-jumbo on the other. There is a fantastic amount of scientific knowledge that we've gained - justified true beliefs about the world that we all can experience and verify. This is a very special type of knowledge. But not everything has been explained, and for those things that haven't been, we must remain comfortable in our ignorance.

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 264 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 3:53 PM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 266 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 4:51 PM aiguy has replied

Percy
Member
Posts: 22604
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 266 of 304 (374081)
01-03-2007 4:51 PM
Reply to: Message 265 by aiguy
01-03-2007 4:15 PM


aiguy writes:
This is just what I'm talking about. ID folks - and the backlash against science in general - accuse scientists of dogmatically adhering to materialism. This charge is sometimes warranted.
Hopefully it's always warranted. Science adheres to methodological naturalism, believing that all phenomena are amenable to study through their effect on the material world that is apparent to us through our senses. Phenomena that are only apparent via other avenues, such as revelation or visions, are not amenable to scientific study.
The scientific response to a question for which there is currently no well-supported answer is "We do not know", and not "It must be explainable in terms of physics, because everything just must be."
Science has no problem delivering a "we do not know" answer, but ultimately all science does reduce to physics. Perhaps consciousness is based upon physical principles not currently known or understood, but if we do eventually know and understand them then they'll at some level be part of the field of physics. Anything that doesn't ultimately reduce to physics cannot be part of the natural universe and so is not open to study by science.
When you say that consciousness may not necessarily emerge from physical (i.e., natural) activity in the brain, then what else is left but the supernatural. This is the God of the gaps argument of the creationists. You've accepted the creationist argument that scientists are arrogant for adhering to methodological naturalism, and you've attempted to deflect this criticism by parting ways with methodological naturalism, thereby conceding to organizations like ICR and the Discovery Institute want they want most. In fact, the defeat of methodological naturalism is a key component of the strategy outlined in DI's wedge document.
If you want to be scientific then your methods and thinking have to be consistent with methodological naturalism. There's no way around it.
--Percy

This message is a reply to:
 Message 265 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 4:15 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 267 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 5:16 PM Percy has replied

aiguy
Inactive Member


Message 267 of 304 (374089)
01-03-2007 5:16 PM
Reply to: Message 266 by Percy
01-03-2007 4:51 PM


Hi Percy -
Percy writes:
Hopefully it's always warranted. Science adheres to methodological naturalism, believing that all phenomena are amenable to study through their effect on the material world that is apparent to us through our senses.
First, you've muddied the difference between methodological and epistemological naturalism. Yes, science holds that all phenomena are amenable to study via materialism, but that does not mean that currently unexplained phenomena will necessarily be explainable within what we view as "natural" or "physical" today.
Percy writes:
Phenomena that are only apparent via other avenues, such as revelation or visions, are not amenable to scientific study.
Obviously.
Percy writes:
Science has no problem delivering a "we do not know" answer, but ultimately all science does reduce to physics.
Of course that is not true. Reductionism is in high disrepute, if you haven't heard, from scientists and philosophers of science alike (and I'm not talking about anti-science folks and IDers here). The truth is we simply cannot cash out most phenomena in the world in terms of physics, even in principle, and there are many reasons for this.
Please don't get me wrong (again): I am a scientist, both professionally and in my personal frame of mind. I value scientific knowledge most highly, and I do not believe that religion or "spirituality" explains anything.
I am also very aware that science does not explain everything either.
Percy writes:
Perhaps consciousness is based upon physical principles not currently known or understood, but if we do eventually know and understand them then they'll at some level be part of the field of physics. Anything that doesn't ultimately reduce to physics cannot be part of the natural universe and so is not open to study by science.
I almost agree with you here, but not entirely, and you've said something different this time. If we do eventually know and understand consciousness, then it will be an empirically-grounded scientific understanding, yes (so much is just our definition of "know and understand"). But that is not the same as saying we are sure that physics will eventually explain it, nor that we know now that all mental phenomena will reduce to physics.
Percy writes:
When you say that consciousness may not necessarily emerge from physical (i.e., natural) activity in the brain, then what else is left but the supernatural.
I have no idea what you mean by "supernatural". What else is left is this: WE DO NOT KNOW.
Percy writes:
This is the God of the gaps argument of the creationists. You've accepted the creationist argument that scientists are arrogant for adhering to methodological naturalism, and you've attempted to deflect this criticism by parting ways with methodological naturalism, thereby conceding to organizations like ICR and the Discovery Institute want they want most. In fact, the defeat of methodological naturalism is a key component of the strategy outlined in DI's wedge document.
I have done nothing remotely like what you say. I reject dogma on all sides of the debate. Saying "WE DO NOT KNOW" is simply not the same as saying "GOD DID IT" or "AN INTELLIGENT DESIGNER DID IT" - both of which constitute no explanation at all.
I'm afraid that you, Percy, have made a "physics of the gaps" argument when you say that consciousness must be reducible to physics. There are a great many scientists who disagree with that - and again I'm taking about real, red-blooded, methodological naturalist, empiricist, verificationalist scientists.
Percy writes:
If you want to be scientific then your methods and thinking have to be consistent with methodological naturalism. There's no way around it.
Once again: Methodologically, we assume naturalism (=physicalism) because that is the only aspect of the world we can investigate empirically and gain objective (or inter-subjective) verification for. Epistemologically, we concede that there may be real things that exist in the world that transcend what we currently understand as "physical".

Science is not simply reason - it is much less than that. It is reason constrained by empiricism.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 266 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 4:51 PM Percy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 268 by crashfrog, posted 01-03-2007 5:57 PM aiguy has replied
 Message 270 by Percy, posted 01-03-2007 6:51 PM aiguy has replied

crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1543 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 268 of 304 (374109)
01-03-2007 5:57 PM
Reply to: Message 267 by aiguy
01-03-2007 5:16 PM


Yes, science holds that all phenomena are amenable to study via materialism, but that does not mean that currently unexplained phenomena will necessarily be explainable within what we view as "natural" or "physical" today.
If it can be studied naturally, then how could it have a non-natural explanation? Your argument isn't coherent.
Reductionism is in high disrepute, if you haven't heard, from scientists and philosophers of science alike (and I'm not talking about anti-science folks and IDers here).
And I don't know if you've heard, but philosophy of science isn't exactly a science. And just because simple explanations generally leave little room for whatever woowoo you're interested in, doesn't mean that "reductionism" - that is, a snarky name for finding out how things work - represents something that undermines our arguments.
If you think that philosophers have the influence to cause scientific techniques to simply fall out of "vogue", just because they say they should, you're drastically overestimating the influence of philosophy in science. I work intimately with scientists in a few different fields, and let me assure you - philosophical concerns couldn't possibly be any more remote from the day-to-day prosecution of science. Most scientists have never even heard of people like Popper.
The truth is we simply cannot cash out most phenomena in the world in terms of physics, even in principle, and there are many reasons for this.
What reasons?
I have no idea what you mean by "supernatural".
Used as a syononym for "that which isn't explainable in natural terms", it's actually up to you to tell us what "supernatural" is supposed to mean, since you're the one who brought the concept into the discussion.
I'm afraid that you, Percy, have made a "physics of the gaps" argument when you say that consciousness must be reducible to physics.
He hasn't said that. I've come the closest to saying that, but obviously I can't see the future. I can only make guesses based on what we know now, and I think I've been making a good case (that you've been ignoring) that the explanation for consciousness will be physical, because we've made progress in that direction.
Epistemologically, we concede that there may be real things that exist in the world that transcend what we currently understand as "physical".
There may be. I don't see any reason why there couldn't be. There don't seem to be any, though. None that have ever stood up to any kind of scrutiny.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 267 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 5:16 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 271 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 6:54 PM crashfrog has replied

Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5948 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 269 of 304 (374140)
01-03-2007 6:36 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by TheMystic
01-03-2007 8:13 AM


Let's start here since that's the most interesting point. What it does show is that you have a sex drive. You don't dream of spending a weekend with Frederick Hazzalschneider, because there is no such person.
Umm - weren't you the one who claimed that having a concept = reality of that which the concept describes? In any case, you seem to have shifted your focus a bit. Now you appear to be asserting that one can only have a concept of something that actually exists. Just as my previous example invalidated your point 4, so any concept concerning a non-real person, thing or phenomena would invalidate your new point. If you are personally unable to concieve of something that doesn't exist, I feel sorry for you - you must live a very boring existence.
Re: all that other stuff about tree distributions or whatever; ok, I'm impressed with your knowledge, but it seems like a perfect example of "baffle 'em with bullshit". You see, every layman can tell that life, including our own bodies, are extraordinary pieces of work. I as a layman in biology have great suspicion about someone who claims to be an expert but doesn't recognize that simple point.
In the first place, it isn't "bullshit" as you so eloquently put it. Those are direct observations of reality. If you are trying to imply that the observations are irrelevant - I think you need to take another look at what they were about. The two examples I gave - actual, verifiable, concrete examples from the real world - directly contradict your assertion that
quote:
1) Life seems very ordered and works extremely well.
...
2) Life seems very ordered - that is, I perceive it as such.
In fact, the examples show clearly that life is NOT ordered - it contains a tremendous amount of randomness. Species distributions are merely one example of this. IF the system was designed, there should be predictable regularities and/or patterns. The point about species distributions is that they simply aren't predictable. Oh, of course, there are deterministic factors that affect the distribution (topography, micro-scale variations in humidity, soil, substrate, etc), and there are some pretty firm macro-scale constraints (the species/area curve, for instance). We've even been able to gin up some nifty equations describing aggregate system behavior. However, and this is the key point, it is literally impossible to predict the precise distribution of species and/or individual organisms. It is anything BUT ordered.
The problem, I think, is that you *want* to find this disorder in order to fit your need to bolster the theory of evolution. This is part of why evolution is so destructive - it makes people try to find problems with a system that should instead be studied with awe.
What I think you are probably missing is the way God uses, shall we say, chaos theory in his work. For instance, if you take a look at a zip file on your hard drive it will look like garbage, but of course it is not. God seems to code the bare minimum of information into DNA.[/qs]
I assuredly don't want to find disorder. Humans are pattern-using and pattern-making individuals. We seek - and often find - patterns everywhere, even when they don't actually exist. Being technically human, then, I'm as prone to pattern-finding as anyone else. I'm actually simply surprised when all my (and many MUCH smarter people's) efforts to detect patterns in the details I work with every day quite simply aren't there. In spite of my personal desire to the contrary.
Secondly, I don't have a "need" to bolster evolutionary theory. Way more intelligent people than I am work directly in that arena. On the other hand, I find that aspects of evolutionary theory -developed and studied by others - are quite useful in my work. Evolution provides both a framework for understanding the things I see, and a practical means of problem-solving. I quite simply couldn't do what I do without it. I don't set out to "prove evolution". I simply use the results in my work.
What I think you are probably missing is the way God uses, shall we say, chaos theory in his work. For instance, if you take a look at a zip file on your hard drive it will look like garbage, but of course it is not. God seems to code the bare minimum of information into DNA.
Except that chaos theory - originally derived from studies of the randomness inherent in natural systems, btw - would instantly obviate the need for a designer, whether god or anything else. After all, chaos is basically the opposite of design/order, right? Beyond that, I'm afraid I don't see the connection in your reference to zip drives and DNA. If you think it relevant, please clarify.
It's interesting in fact, it occurs to me, that you should consider life 'messy'. Have you ever pondered how remarkable it is that a product of this messiness should consider it messy?
Not really. I'm ordinarily not given to that kind of metaphysical navel-gazing. On the other hand, I do - daily - find the life around me absolutely fascinating. Remarkable, as you would say. The complexity of the interactions, the sheer exuberance (if I may be permitted a bit of anthropomorphizing) it manifests, and the awe-inspiring variety of forms it takes from nematodes and springtails to giant kapok, are where I find my personal satisfaction. Indeed, I find it ever so much more interesting as a purely natural phenomenon than I would if it was the product of some deity's manipulation.
One final point - about being conscious: You either accept the reality you find there or not. If you want to reject that in order to prove you are no different than an animal, in my opinion you have committed spiritual suicide and that line of thinking can just go no further.
In point of fact, I think it is you who "fail to accept the reality". The reality that while there are substantial differences between humans and most other species, they are differences in degree rather than kind. I highly recommend Donald Griffin's Animal Minds: Beyond Cognition to Consciousness (Uni Chicago Press, 2001).
And on a closing note, since so far as I know no one has actually demonstrated the existence of "spirit", committing "spiritual suicide" would seem to be an empty threat. For your statement to have any validity, you must first show that the thing "suiciding" actually exists. And as for that, I actually take comfort in the thought that I am a card-carrying member of the family of life, that includes every other living organism on the planet.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 236 by TheMystic, posted 01-03-2007 8:13 AM TheMystic has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 287 by TheMystic, posted 01-04-2007 11:08 AM Quetzal has not replied

Percy
Member
Posts: 22604
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 4.9


Message 270 of 304 (374146)
01-03-2007 6:51 PM
Reply to: Message 267 by aiguy
01-03-2007 5:16 PM


aiguy writes:
First, you've muddied the difference between methodological and epistemological naturalism. Yes, science holds that all phenomena are amenable to study via materialism, but that does not mean that currently unexplained phenomena will necessarily be explainable within what we view as "natural" or "physical" today.
This doesn't just imply that in the future we'll find surprising natural phenomena, but that what we actually define as natural will change. It won't. It can't and remain scientific. If it's apparent to us via its effect on the world around us, then it is natural and is amenable to scientific study. This will never change, because we can't study things which have no effect on the natural world.
Debates about philosophy are as relevant to the practice of science as arguments about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Use whatever labels you like, the fact of the matter is that science studies the natural world. Everyone concedes that we don't know everything, and there may be enormous unknown realms out there yet to be explored, but if they are detectable by us then they are natural. It can be no other way.
At heart all science reduces to physics, but I think you've misinterpreted what I mean when I say this (and Crash said it first, of course, at least in this thread). At one point you said, "I almost agree with you here, but not entirely, and you've said something different this time." I didn't say anything different, I said the same thing in two different ways hoping to increase the chance my meaning would be clear. Let me try again.
I don't mean that all science will be explainable via the equations of particle physics, for that obviously isn't true, most phenomena are simply too complex. In other words, when you say, "But that is not the same as saying we are sure that physics will eventually explain it," I was never claiming that physics would explain it. What I mean is that at heart all natural phenomena are the result of physical interactions of matter and energy, i.e., physics. It can be no other way. That is still my response to your claims about consciousness, where you appeared to be saying that it transcended the physical. It doesn't. It can't. The natural is all that is and can be apparent to us by its effect on the natural world. Anything that has an effect on the natural world is natural. Anything that has no effect on the natural world is not of this world and is supernatural and cannot be studies by science. It can be no other way.
I'm afraid that you, Percy, have made a "physics of the gaps" argument when you say that consciousness must be reducible to physics. There are a great many scientists who disagree with that - and again I'm taking about real, red-blooded, methodological naturalist, empiricist, verificationalist scientists.
I doubt that there are many scientists out there who think consciousness involves more than interactions between matter and energy.
I have no idea what you mean by "supernatural". What else is left is this: WE DO NOT KNOW.
We agree about the "We do not know" part. Where we disagree is when you go on to conclude from "we do not know" that there may be more to the natural world than science can study.
I am also very aware that science does not explain everything either.
I can only grant that science is not capable of understanding everything. I'm sure there are many things in the universe beyond the scope of human scientific understanding. But if something is natural then it can be studied by science, even if we ultimately fail to figure it out. If it isn't natural then it can't be studied by science.
Epistemologically, we concede that there may be real things that exist in the world that transcend what we currently understand as "physical".
If all you're really saying is that we'll learn many amazing things in the future, then fine, no argument. But despite your many statements rejecting religion and spiritualism, the phrase "transcend the physical" sounds very much like spiritualism to me.
--Percy
Edited by Percy, : Fix grammar.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 267 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 5:16 PM aiguy has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 275 by aiguy, posted 01-03-2007 9:14 PM Percy has replied

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