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Author Topic:   At what point should we look for a non-materialistic explanation?
Posts: 5992
Joined: 05-02-2006
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Message 12 of 160 (537699)
11-30-2009 10:31 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by cavediver
11-30-2009 10:18 AM

Obviously, Buz' answer is "when you start feeding exclusively on creationist pap." Such as the source that he quoted.

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 Message 10 by cavediver, posted 11-30-2009 10:18 AM cavediver has not replied

Posts: 5992
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1

Message 103 of 160 (538265)
12-04-2009 11:18 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by New Cat's Eye
12-02-2009 11:31 AM

Sorry for just bringing an anecdote, but I saw a TV show on out of body experiences where a guy had a surgery that he flat-lined during but was brought back. Afterwords, he asked the surgeon why he was doing the chicken dance during the surgery. The surgeon explained that sometime during surgery, when his hands are tied up, he'll point to things with his elbows and that he could see how it might look like the chicken dance. But the guy was not conscious during the surgery which is besides the fact that his head was covered during the whole thing. There was no way the guy could have actually seen the surgeon and it convinced the surgeon that the guy might have had an out of body experience. I think that was a legitimate place for the surgeon to look for a non-materialistic explanation.
Or to learn that someone on the surgical team, such as the anesthesiologist (AKA "gas passer" as per the original book, "M*A*S*H" by Dr. "Richard Hooker" -- back in 1981 in the extreme emotional situation of my wife delivering our first child, I wanted to ask for an anesthesiologist, but I could not remember that term, so I called out for a "gas passer"), had muttered a comment about the surgeon looking like he was doing the "chicken dance". Eyes may be covered or taped shut (cannot speak from personal experience here, since I very suddenly fell asleep the instant I had positioned myself in the center of the table), but not the ears. While the patient could not have seen anything, he could still hear.
Doesn't mean that that has to have been what had happened, but it is a very reasonable and likely non-non-materialistic explanation. The point is that the doctor would have jumped to assuming a non-materialistic explanation very prematurely, without having investigated all possible natural explanations. It would be like my coming to the conclusion that my car keys aren't where they should be because a Poltergeist had hidden them, when actually I had absently-mindedly put them somewhere else, or someone else had moved them.
To the original question, we start looking for non-materialistic explanations when we have completely given up on ever learning the truth. It's just that some of us give up a lot sooner than others.
Indeed, part of the creationist approach is to give up almost immediately, in order to invoke the "God of the Gaps" so that any "mystery" can be equated with evidence for "God" -- while this is only one of several creationist tactics, it appears be the entirety of ID's approach. Not only does jumping to this conclusion put an immediate halt to any further investigation, but once that leap has been taken then it becomes imperative to prevent any further investigation. To indirectly quote Wakefield, when a scientist sees a mystery, he wants to solve it. But since a creationist equates that mystery with "God", when a creationist sees that mystery he wants it to remain a mystery. And since any "evidence" for his "God" is vitally important to a creationist, we can count on that creationist to do everything in his power to obstruct any attempts to solve that mystery. This has recently been demonstrated quite well by Buzsaw's providing a link to typical PRATT-filled creationist nonsense (Debunking Evolution - Scientific evidence against evolution - Clash between theory and reality) basically taking the position of "the author and I don't understand, nor do we want to, so the rest of you must all give up trying", the subsequent attempts to discuss it with him, and Arphy's attempts at obfuscating the discussion in the current great debate.
Edited by dwise1, : added "PRATT-filled" adjective
Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.

{When you search for God, y}ou can't go to the people who believe already. They've made up their minds and want to convince you of their own personal heresy.
("The Jehovah Contract", AKA "Der Jehova-Vertrag", by Viktor Koman, 1984)
Humans wrote the Bible; God wrote the world.
(from filk song "Word of God" by Dr. Catherine Faber, No webpage found at provided URL:
Of course, if Dr. Mortimer's surmise should be correct and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling back upon this one.
(Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles)
Gentry's case depends upon his halos remaining a mystery. Once a naturalistic explanation is discovered, his claim of a supernatural origin is washed up. So he will not give aid or support to suggestions that might resolve the mystery. Science works toward an increase in knowledge; creationism depends upon a lack of it. Science promotes the open-ended search; creationism supports giving up and looking no further. It is clear which method Gentry advocates.
("Gentry's Tiny Mystery -- Unsupported by Geology" by J. Richard Wakefield, Creation/Evolution Issue XXII, Winter 1987-1988, pp 31-32)
It is a well-known fact that reality has a definite liberal bias.
Robert Colbert on NPR

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-02-2009 11:31 AM New Cat's Eye has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 140 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-10-2009 1:43 PM dwise1 has replied

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Joined: 05-02-2006
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Message 105 of 160 (538271)
12-05-2009 1:59 AM
Reply to: Message 98 by Buzsaw
12-04-2009 8:06 PM

Re: The Non-Materialistic Explanation
With all due respect (my absolute favorite Woody Allen quote), do you really know absolutely nothing about traditional Arabic art? It's all geometric! No images of anything! Hello???
It's almost expected that Christians would be pig-ignorant. But shouldn't you at least make the most minimal attempt?

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 Message 98 by Buzsaw, posted 12-04-2009 8:06 PM Buzsaw has not replied

Posts: 5992
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.1

Message 143 of 160 (538960)
12-11-2009 9:34 PM
Reply to: Message 140 by New Cat's Eye
12-10-2009 1:43 PM

Anesthesiology is not an exact science and maintaining the correct dosage can be tricky. Patients have been known to wake up in the middle of a surgery -- not a common occurance, but it has happened. There are also cases of patients regaining consciousness during a surgery but still being paralyzed so that they were powerless to signal anyone that they could feel everything being done to them.
Also, there have been other cases mentioned in which patients could repeat things that were said during the surgery while they were out. That would indicate that the sense of hearing does indeed still work while we are unconscious; the only question would be whether the brain is able to process and store that sensory input.
Now, please consider this inexplicable event. Several times in dance classes or at dances, my partner (whom I had seen before, since you end up seeing a lot of the same people at different events) would ask why my wife or girl friend hadn't come there with me. Since I have neither, I couldn't understand whom she was talking about. So I would try to find out more, but couldn't get any answers. I was wondering who this mysterious woman could be, someone whom everybody else kept seeing with me but of whom I was not the least bit aware. Finally, I mentioned it to a friend and she explained to me that it's a sneaky trick that women will use to determine a man's relationship status. There was no mysterious woman.
Similarly, what the patient thought had happened (the surgeon doing the "chicken dance") might not have been based on any actual events, but was either dreamed or hallucinated by the patient. It was the surgeon himself who, taking the patient's question seriously, assumed that the patient had to have seen how he'd have to point to things with his elbow. Mentalists and psychics do the same thing all the time, leaving it up to their clients to make the associations between vague images and their own lives.
But we know, a priori, that it couldn't have been an out of body experience, right? Your scenario is just a post hoc rationalization for materialism, isn't it?
No, the two scenarios I've offered are to demonstrate that there are possible explanations that had not been explored and that therefore jumping to a non-materialistic explanation was premature and unjustified. A more thorough investigation would have to have been conducted before just throwing up his hands -- er, his elbows -- and giving up and blaming it all on ghosties.
You see, I have an explicable phenomenon right here in my own condo. For days I've been trying to find my father's SeaBee cruise book, but I can't find it. I don't know what has happened to it, so you would want me to jump to a non-materialistic explanation. OK. Obviously, it was stolen by the troll that lives in the basement under my condo that that basement is where the book is. Unfortunately, since my condo is built on a slab, that basement is also non-materialistic and so I am unable to gain entry to retrieve that book.
OK, now that I know what happened to that book, I just have to give up ever finding it. I can now stop looking. Especially not in those boxes in the corner that I hadn't checked yet. Thank you very much!
Or maybe I should look inside those boxes.
The other day, I started thinking about the ID and creationist approach of finding in every mystery the answer of goddidit! Just think if we all adopted that approach. Murder mysteries on TV and in the movies would no longer last 1 to 2 hours. The moment the detectives hit a point where they couldn't think of how the murder was committed, then they would just throw up their hands and say "Goddidit!" Those shows wouldn't even last long enough to get to the first commercial break. And if the real homicide detectives were to employ the same techniques! In almost every homicide case, the answer would be immediately known, "Goddidit!", and they could close the case right on the spot. Their entire backlog of cases would be eliminated. In these hard financial times, that means that we would no longer have to fund police efforts, saving us a lot of money. And since all previous murder cases had wrongly convicted all those people, we could release them from prison, bringing the prison population down and allowing us to stop spending so much on prisons. What a God-send -- quite literally! And the old mysteries, like who really killed Kennedy, would be solved with a swift "Goddidit!"
As long as a mystery remains, it needs to be solved. Blaming it all on gods and ghosties just will not cut it, because resorting to the wrong explanation, whether materialistic or non-materialistic, before arriving at the correct explanation will just keep us from ever solving that mystery. The big difference between a materialistic wrong explanation and a non-materialistic one is that you can at least later test and reject the materialistic one, whereas there is simply no way to test the non-materialistic one. That is why a non-materialistic explanation is quite literally giving up forever.
Now, with OBEs and NDEs, there does appear to be something happening. If there is interest in investigating such phenomena, then there should be research into it, rather than just giving up and attributing it all to "ghosties".
For example, there was "der Kluge Hans" ("Clever Hans"), a horse whose owner had taught to perform arithmetic. The owner would write the problem on a slate and show it to Hans, who would clop out the answer with his hoof. And Hans was right, every time! Everybody who saw it was amazed, except for one man who realized what was really going on and through a few simple experiments, he verified his hypothesis. Without knowing it, the owner was giving Hans the answer each and every time. Whenever he presented a new problem to Hans, he would look expectantly at Hans, who would start clopping and then would stop the moment his owner appeared satisfied. That is why we now conduct double-blind experiments, so that an experimenter in the know can't unintentionally influence the subject's actions.
The point there is that what appears to be going on might not be what's really going on -- it looked like the horse was doing arithmetic, whereas Hans was only clever about reading his owner's body language. The people presenting OBE and NDE stories see them as evidence for such events, whereas what's actually happening is likely something else -- eg, something really interesting having to do with brain chemistry and activity as it's starting to shut down. So by jumping immediately to the non-material non-explanation, you (plural) are giving up on ever learning the truth.
I say we look for a non-materialistic explanation when current theory is violated.
And I say that your statement is so incredibly wrong.
When a theory is found to be wrong, then the last thing we would ever want to do would be to jump immediately to a non-materialistic explanation. If rejecting science every time that any theory was found to be wrong were Standing Operating Procedure (SOP), then we would have plunged back into abject ignorance and superstition a few centuries ago.
For one thing, very few theories are complete and perfect (personally, I would say that none of them are, but I didn't want be make an absolutist statement). Test any theory rigourously enough and under extreme-enough conditions and you will find problems. Which is a good thing, because it's only by testing a theory that we do find where it fails. And we want to know where a theory fails so that we can correct it. It's an iterative process (if you've had any computer science, then you would know about iterative approximation methods). We work out an explanation of how something works, a conceptual model. Then we test it and find where it has some problems. Then we correct those problems and test it again. And again, and again, correcting and refining the theory each time with each new problem showing us where we need to direct our research. And as some scientists' research shows them a different explanation, then a new theory is developed and undergoes the same process of testing and refinement.
Competing theories can and do exist at the same time. For one thing, the new theory that eventually wins out can start out inferior to the older, more refined theory. The Ptolemaic geocentric system had had centuries to be refined; every time it was found to be off, they just added some more epicycles and fixed it right up. The Copernican heliocentric system, the newcomer, made more sense, but it suffered serious problems. Like the Ptolemaic system, Copernicus assumed circular orbits (perhaps in part because the Church taught that had to be the case), which made it decidedly less accurate at predicting planetary positions. Whereas you would have thrown heliocentrism out immediately and opted for bringing back the angels moving the planets around (hey, that's the non-materialistic explanation for the solar system, isn't it?), that was not SOP. Instead, astronomers continued to work with the system and made their observations and tried to work it out. Inheriting the observations of Mars by his boss, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler used them to develop his Three Laws of Planetary Motion, the first of which made the most fundamental correction to the Copernican system: the planets' orbits are not circular, but rather elliptical. That is what finally brought about the replacement of the Ptolemaic system by the Copernican, since until Kepler could make that principal correction the Ptolemaic system still served well and continued to be used even though it had a strong contender.
Corrected and refined, the Copernican system has worked extremely well for us. However, in the early 19th century, it was found to be in error. Or rather, in predicting the positions of Uranus, observations showed those predictions to be wrong. The theory had been violated! Now, you would demand that we immediately look for a non-materialistic explanation! What, an angel got a DUI? But fortunately, you had no say in the matter. Astronomers hypothesized that there was another planet beyond Uranus and calculated where it should be. Then when they looked on 23 Sep 1846, that's where they found it. Whereas you would have just thrown the theory out, they applied it and found the correct materialistic explanation for the violation of the theory.
Oh, another question: when you abandon a scientific theory and jump onto a non-materialistic explanation, how do you know which one to use? How can you tell which non-materialistic explanation explains that which you don't even understand? And how can you test when later events violate that non-materialistic explanation, which would then prompt you to jump to yet another non-materialistic explanation. Though that could never happen because you could never possibly test the first non-materialistic explanation. In fact, the only thing that a non-materialistic explanation can be demonstrated to violate is particular groups' theologies. At which point you start to get into some extremely nasty business.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 140 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-10-2009 1:43 PM New Cat's Eye has not replied

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