Sunday, February 10, 2008

Stu Kauffman in Toronto

 
I went to hear Stu Kauffman on Friday night [see Reinventing the Sacred].

Before the talk we had a little chat about blogging and some other topics. He wondered what the bloggers were saying about him and I told him that many don't understand what he's trying to say. I explained that I fell into that same category. I can't figure out what it is that he's trying to promote. He promised to try and explain in his talk.

It didn't work. I'm not much further ahead than I was before I heard him talk. Here's a brief summary of some things he said. I'm sorry if I can't put it all together into one big picture but I just can't.

The New Atheists: Kauffman thinks that Dawkins and his "New Atheist" friends are preaching to the converted. According to Kauffman, they will never convince the believers. Kauffman describes himself as a secular humanist and a non-believer. He thinks we should try to reach out to the religious community by adopting spiritual language. Hence the title of his talk. I don't really know what he means by this. He gave one example of having a reverence for some trees growing on a hill top near his house but I'm not sure if this is relevant. (See photograph, is that the hill top?)

I don't agree with his position on the so-called New Atheists and I don't agree with his proposal that it's the atheists who need to move towards the theists by adopting the sacred.

Reductionism: Kauffmann is very much opposed to reductionism. He spent some time describing how the laws of physics just don't work when you try and predict the structure of complex things. This does not mean they don't obey the laws of physics and chemistry, it means those laws aren't sufficient. This is because of emerging properties.

The discussion about reductionism and emergent properties is interesting but Kauffman makes it too complicated, for me, by going off on all kinds of tangents. In talking about it with him afterwards, he seems to be thinking that life is somehow special. It's different than the physical world. He takes pains to point out that he's not talking about vitalism but it sure sounds like that to me.

The other interesting thing about his anti-reductionism is that it doesn't apply in the same sense that Lewontin means when he talks about gene-centric biology. Before the lecture we were discussing the reason why human siblings don't mate and Kauffman was quite eager to offer an evolutionary psychology explanation. He suggested there was selection for an anti-incest gene in our ancestors to prevent inbreeding. That's the worst kind of reductionism but it's not the sort of reductionism that Kauffman disputes.

Determinism: Kauffman doesn't like determinism. He pointed out that quantum mechanics has ruled out the Laplace version of determinism. I don't think this is particularly controversial but I do think there are versions of determinism that don't require strict predictability. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't think Kauffman was trying to make a case for free will and I don't think he was using his anti-determinism to argue against materialism, but I'm not sure.



Somehow these topics, and several others, were supposed to weave together to form a new way of looking at science. And a new way of reaching out to theists. That's the part I didn't get. A lot of what he was saying was true, but hardly profound. What was supposed to be profound didn't seem to be true.

Stu Kauffman took down the URL for Sandwalk and he promised to read my comments on his lectures. I hope he will respond in the comments. He seems like a pretty cool guy even if he's a bit baffling.

The dominant impression I have from talking to members of the audience—there were 65 people at the talk—is that people think he's saying something important but they just can't put their finger on what it is. At least I'm not the only one.


30 comments :

  1. "According to Kauffman, they [new athiests] will never convince the believers."

    I don't agree with his position on the so-called New Atheists

    That depends on what you think the nature of their belief is. If you subscribe to the 'delusion' school of thought, then no, by definition they won't be convinced. That's not to say that there aren't some 'rational theists' who have simply been misinformed/misguided and who can be convinced by evidence but in the case of delusional ones Kauffman is right.

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  2. "He suggested there was selection for an anti-incest gene in our ancestors to prevent inbreeding. That's the worst kind of reductionism but it's not the sort of reductionism that Kauffman disputes"

    True. It's like he were completely ignorant of the entire conflict of "developmental" (systems) vs. "evolutionary"(ultradarwinian-reductionist) psychology.

    Sexual gene exchange is lost many times in evolution, even in higher-grade clades that speciate and evolve like any other (example: phylum Rotifera). Several species in very diverse clades have evolved the exclusive use of incest, self-fertilization or parthenogenesis.

    It seems to me rather funny to adopt "the keeping of genetic diversity" as an "adaptive explanation" that has preserved some genetically determined behavioral bias against incest.n fact I understand there is data about greater incidence of incest in fathers that did not raise their child; I think many observations on the incidence of incest will fall along the prediction of whether kids were raised together or not.

    Kaufman should be a bit more aware before just eating up a hypothesisof human behavior like that, with french fries and ketchup.


    I certainly do think that Kaufman is not toguh enough on darwinism!!! I've said so many times , and I think this can reveal an actual misunderstanding of kauffman, who has allowed himself to believe natural selection is much more than what it actually is, and there is actually true, unresolved conflict between a more systemic- structuralist way of thinking and a genetic-darwinian view will not go away simply because kauffman panders to darwinism; and posed with the conflict, many will just consider the genetic darwinian view "right" or "Better" , and the structuralist-systemic view, "wrong" or even "fluffy".

    I think Kauffman is, like Gould and West-Eberhardt, a transitional character , with many still too heavy an influence of darwinian orthodoxy,and thus some acknowledged or unacknowledged contradictions.
    Further, his refusal to negate "Darwinian knowledge" I think impedes him form further elaborating on his systemic insights; too many a phenomenono is considered "already explained" by natural selection. How can Kauffman be anything but a footnote unless he pushes ALTERNATIVE explanations?
    I myself am convinced that many darwinian explanations are overrated and insufficient or simply wrong and in bad need for replacement.

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  3. I think this is mistaken. I have been an atheist for quite some time but only found that there were significant numbers of people like me when Sam Harris released The End of Faith. And I know several people who have been swayed to a less conciliatory tone towards the claims of even moderate religion by Harris. I also know people who are unmoved.
    In short, I think Kauffman has some work to do in the demographics.
    Reductionism is an easy thing to attack. How deep did his criticism go and what was its extent? I didn't get a good sense from your blog.

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  4. Speaking just for myself, I think there's a huge value in the supposed preaching to the converted. I grew up in a fairly secular household yet I'd never been exposed to anyone that was critical of religion until I was well into my 20s. I naturally adopted the respect for religious belief and even took the arguments for Christianity somewhat seriously (I wasn't persuaded, but if the claims about data were correct, I saw no reason why the conclusions shouldn't be valid). This wasn't because of the strength of the arguments so much as the fact everyone accepted them.

    When Dawkins et al speak out, they first give support to self-aware atheists (an important role) but also speak to people who have previously only been exposed to people who buy into all of the religious claims.

    Again, just for myself, people who are openly critical of religion like Dawkins are what really helped my thinking. The wishy-washy "sacred" talk that Kauffman seems to use (I haven't read his books, just watched his video from Beyond Belief) just seem to support all of the nonsense that religions claim. How is this supposed to help? Has anyone been helped by him? I don't get it.

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  5. Kauffman thinks that Dawkins and his "New Atheist" friends are preaching to the converted. According to Kauffman, they will never convince the believers.

    I agree with this view. Only Deists have any chance of getting some attention of entrenched believers, any mention of Atheism turns them off immediately.

    In social terms, Deism is a stronger and more defensible position than Atheism.

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  6. Lim Leng Hiong says,

    I agree with this view. Only Deists have any chance of getting some attention of entrenched believers, any mention of Atheism turns them off immediately.

    Deists have been around for several hundred years. In terms of getting the attention of fundamentalist Christians, they don't have a very good track record, do they?

    In less than two years the "New Atheists" have not only got their attention, they've begun to rattle them significantly. Five years ago the local pastor could spout just about any kind of nonsense from the pulpit on Sunday morning. Not any more. Chances are there are more than few people in the congregation who know that some fundamental beliefs are being challenged.

    The seeds of skepticism and doubt have been planted. We will reap the rewards in the next generation when America catches up to Europe.

    For decades deists and moderate theists had absolutely no success in dealing with the problem of irrational fundamentalism in America. They failed, and it's about time we recognized that they were part of the problem and not part of the solution.

    Even today, the moderate theists are often happy to get under the bit tent of anti-evolutionism and "teach the controversy" in order to appease their more fundamentalist Christian brothers and present a united front against the heathen atheists.

    I'll be damned if I'm going to let deists and moderate theists take credit for what atheists have done. They had their chance and they blew it.

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  7. According to Kauffman, they will never convince the believers

    Convince them of what? If they don't convince everyone to become an atheist, but advance progress in eliminating bigotry against atheists, I would consider that to be concrete progress. Meanwhile, here in the U.S. a candidate for a major political party nomination wants to change the constitution to make it more Biblical.

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  8. I haven't read Kauffman, but what the post relates feels like some physicists that propose emergence as a solution for problems that they see. IIRC at least one solid state physicist that feel uncomfortable with the non-deterministic parts of quantum mechanics. Kauffman OTOH seems uncomfortable with the deterministic parts.

    Unfortunately there isn't much arguing for a replacement of QM and much arguing against. (Nonlinear theories fail; QM is the minimal theory (no hidden variables) that maximizes resulting information (uncertainty relations).)

    Walking through the post, on the misnomer "New Atheists" I side with the ones who feel earlier longterm strategies have failed, and that it fills an important social function as a shortterm strategy.

    On reductionism I agree that biology is different from physics. :-P But IMHO using parsimony as a research program can't be "the worst kind of reductionism", but leaving out the alternatives is. I suspect biologists know this "in their bones" - optima et cetera changes while in physics they stay put, the environment is an important part of the system, et cetera. If everything were genes in populations and modules in brains, life would be simpler. Alas,...

    quantum mechanics has ruled out the Laplace version of determinism

    Certainly, QM results have genuine stochasticity for a local observer. OTOH, if manyworld QM is correct the theory itself is genuinely deterministic. [Beware of simpleminded reduction! :-P] This makes the concept of an unobservable "free will" even more vacuous IMHO.

    But it is problematic even in a classic world. As long as we can't tell pseudorandom numbers from random, and I'm told we can't always do that, how do we, and the agent himself, observably distinguish controlled vs uncontrolled ("free") behavior in all cases?

    Seems to me biology (at least evolution) can live with both outcomes. The day "free will" stops being a philosophical problem and becomes a science question, I would be surprised.

    But I am certainly curious about Kauffman's work and ideas in biology. Any chance some of his talk were on that?

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  9. I see "reductionism" as simply a fancy word for "explaining something in terms of something else". It just so happens that the universe is structured in such a way, so that macroscopic interactions are local, and hence the tendency to exlain larger things in terms of smaller things. But there is nothing in principle preventing science from explaining something in terms of something larger or millions of miles away, if such an interaction were actually observed. Is just that they aren't observed, hence the word "reductionism".

    I don't think Kauffman was trying to make a case for free will and I don't think he was using his anti-determinism to argue against materialism,


    Free will has nothing to do with determinism or randomness, but rather with one's philosophy of mind. If one takes the functionalist view of mind (as most scientists do), then neither determinism or randomness will allow for free will. Free will requires a model of mind beyond the functionalist view. That is probably not possible, although there are tantalizing holes in our lack of knowledge with regard to QM. BTW, a few of the top QM scientists feel that QM is not fundamental and will be explained in terms of something else within a few hundred years (I think Bell also believed this).

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  10. Larry Moran says:

    Deists have been around for several hundred years. In terms of getting the attention of fundamentalist Christians, they don't have a very good track record, do they?

    Classical Deism has been in decline for a long time. I agree that they haven't made much impact lately, but the upside is that the label of "Deism" has not been viewed as negatively as "Atheism" by fundamentalist believers.

    In less than two years the "New Atheists" have not only got their attention, they've begun to rattle them significantly. Five years ago the local pastor could spout just about any kind of nonsense from the pulpit on Sunday morning. Not any more. Chances are there are more than few people in the congregation who know that some fundamental beliefs are being challenged.

    I am not disputing the social impact of the New Atheists, especially for more rational believers and moderates. However I doubt they have much positive impact on the rest, especially fundamentalists and extremists, the very people who are poised to become the cause of suffering and disunity in this new century. I suspect that it will trigger further polarization and radicalization among these groups.

    Rather than oppose the efforts of the New Atheists, I would like to see the emergence of outspoken "New Deists". Just as the discovery of biological evolution makes New Atheism rationally compelling, the inception of systems science makes New Deism at least plausible, if not equally compelling.

    The seeds of skepticism and doubt have been planted. We will reap the rewards in the next generation when America catches up to Europe.

    I feel that you are underestimating the immense momentum of the social forces behind huge religious groups. As someone once said, "It's simple numbers - they have more." For the seeds of skepticism to grow, you will need an environment that supports them within the existing social structure of religious systems.

    Otherwise you will be left with a field of withered seedlings.

    For decades deists and moderate theists had absolutely no success in dealing with the problem of irrational fundamentalism in America. They failed, and it's about time we recognized that they were part of the problem and not part of the solution.

    Perhaps, but this should change. We need "militant" Deists who can articulate the madness of dogma.

    I cannot predict whether such an effort will succeed, but I believe the Deism is the only practical common space between huge, adversarial religious groups that are deeply entrenched in history. Without common space, there can only be war.

    Even today, the moderate theists are often happy to get under the bit tent of anti-evolutionism and "teach the controversy" in order to appease their more fundamentalist Christian brothers and present a united front against the heathen atheists.

    Then these moderate theists should be strongly condemned by the New Deists. I should emphasize that appeasement is pointless because only True Believers (TM) believe that they are on the way of the truth, and all other denominations and people of other religions will suffer a similar fate as nonbelievers anyway.

    Thus appeasement is doomed to failure, but I also believe from the lessons of history that "wall-building" is equally doomed.

    I'll be damned if I'm going to let deists and moderate theists take credit for what atheists have done. They had their chance and they blew it.

    I don't see Atheists and Deists as distinct and certainly not as opposing social groups, since they both advocate the primacy of Science, the importance of evidence, abhor dogma and blind faith. The initial social impact of the New Atheists must evolve into something of wider appeal in order to gain momentum.

    Personally I cannot see the triumph of reason over irrationality in the global context without the transitional form of some kind of Deism.

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  11. Anonymous said:

    I see "reductionism" as simply a fancy word for "explaining something in terms of something else".

    Using reductionism in this sense, then I agree that it is conceivable that everything doesn’t reduce to physics with its a largely local conception of interaction (a concept whose generality is actually challenged by some interpretations of the EPR experiment). It may be that spatially extensive concentrations of matter actually involve the operation of as yet unknown laws.

    However, even if all that is untrue and the standard reductionist view of ‘local’ physics as ‘king’ explainer holds good, complex working configurations of matter nevertheless open up new vistas of study, for the simple reason that when it comes to structural realizations, physics only tells us what is possible rather than what actually is. For example a computer is a configuration consistent with physics, but the arrangement of the physical parts of a computer can be abstracted as a formal mathematical disciple called ‘computation’ and can be studied as a separate domain with little regard to physics. Biology is another case in point: it deals with structure and configuration; that is, the way standard particles of matter have been arranged. A physicist may know no more about biology than an oil paint manufacturer knows about art and its possibilities.

    In fact structure and configuration, can conceivably be realized on physical media obeying entirely different laws and this challenges the notion that all one needs to know is a bit of physics. Even if one takes a strong reductionist position that assumes there is a physics out there which is so deterministic that it is possible, in principle, to explain every event and structure from first principles, it is likely to be way beyond our powers to make such computations, and consequently partitioning knowledge into levels and departments - physics, chemistry, biology, psychology, sociology, philosophy, theology (!!!) will always be a human cognitive convenience.

    Good news is: Larry will always be in a job!

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  12. The atheists need not adopt the sacred. At the same time, I don't think you will disagree that different approaches work with different people. It's just human nature. Some people are put off by aggressive atheistic stances. On the other hand, some need a healthy dose of disapproval and belligerence to convince them. We need to adopt a multi-pronged approach for atheism that adapts to the specific needs.

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  13. I just want to clarify that emergent properties, anti-reductionism and systems theory has nothing to do with deism or atheism more than evolution, the big bang, etc. That these facts are touted as arguments for philosophical-metaphysical discussions does not mean the are any doubts as to the reality of emergent properties, evolution, or the big bang.
    There is no such thing as vitalism (entelechy)What is true is that what is specific to organisms is their dynamic organization (arrangement). Like the operating of any machine with an internal organization, the operating of the cell does not violate any laws of physics. It relies on them, but they do not explain anything about any specific cell (or machine). Only by studying the arrangement, the internal organization, can we understand how the machine works.

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  14. I don't know if I'd use words like "sacred", which to me convey mindless veneration of that which is simply declared sacred (for instance, a saint's tooth). Rather, we must work on providing new rationalizations and solutions to human needs that rely the least possible on arbitrary definitions ("sacred" rules, for instance), but rather offer themselves as self-evident solutions to people capable of reason and of any belief (and disbelief!).

    Rather than scientists adopting the language of the religious, smart religious people must adopt science's ways, and justify themselves rationally beyond mere " because god says so". Lots of suffering in the world is caused by mindlessly appealing to the "sacred" nature of religious law. If smart religious people fail to fill in and conquer the sympathy of their churches, then you have the likes of pat robertson, hypocrites who merely act pious with the bible (dogmatic and literal) and think this justifies anything (as in the many inhuman things Robertson has said)

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  15. I just want to clarify that emergent properties, anti-reductionism and systems theory has nothing to do with deism or atheism more than evolution, the big bang, etc. That these facts are touted as arguments for philosophical-metaphysical discussions does not mean the are any doubts as to the reality of emergent properties, evolution, or the big bang.

    Quite so, though the very reality of emergent properties makes a strong case for a God that is not "revealed" by revelation or faith, but discovered by observing Nature. Since this systems concept of God is not related to the dogma of current institutionalized religion, it will not in principle run counter to scientific evidence.

    In fact it is hypothesis-generating. For example, we know for a fact that component level behaviour can be affected by signals from higher organizational levels through feedback/feedforward loops. If this is seen at the scale of the observable Universe, then it lends support to a systems God of this scale.

    Needless to say, such a God is generally indifferent to human endeavours, unless human beings fulfill some critical function in the Universe (analogous to the cells in the brainstem of a person).

    There is no such thing as vitalism (entelechy)What is true is that what is specific to organisms is their dynamic organization (arrangement). Like the operating of any machine with an internal organization, the operating of the cell does not violate any laws of physics. It relies on them, but they do not explain anything about any specific cell (or machine). Only by studying the arrangement, the internal organization, can we understand how the machine works.

    True - a systems God cannot violate the laws of physics. Since this concept of God is constrained by physical reality, we can actually learn something, far more than the "mysterious" religious version. Studying the dynamic organization of complex systems will help advance science. Even if people never agree that the label "God" is appropriate for this, it is still a fruitful direction.

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  16. "Quite so, though the very reality of emergent properties makes a strong case for a God that is not "revealed" by revelation or faith, but discovered by observing Nature".

    Why? What would be particulary "godly" about emergent properties?
    I don't get it.

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  17. I heard Kauffman speak at the Beyond Belief conference, and it sounds like it was the same story. I think he's got a good point in there, but unfortunately, he wraps it up in a woolly-eyed mysticism at the end.

    I should hope that isn't what it takes to win over believers. I have a little more optimism in the ability of people to think.

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  18. It doesn't help either when atheists with plenty of loudspeaker reach make posts with titles like "I'm proud of being inhuman"

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  19. Why? What would be particulary "godly" about emergent properties?
    I don't get it.


    Emergent properties are at the higher organization level than component level properties. We've heard for ages that people feel that they are part of something "greater" and call that higher being as God. The reality is that people are in fact part of immense social networks and the huge biosphere on Earth and they may have emergent properties that are not currently known.

    I am suggesting that this concept of God is more fruitful and unifying than a god who is defined by dogma and a bunch of unsupported infinitives.

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  20. Feeling that we are part of something greater, the universe, is not a sytems derived notion. Some people say everything is god, the "supreme reality". The existence of the universe in itself or the big bang are realities that someone may draw divine inspiration from; it is not something particular to emergent properties. Sure, there ARE indeed lots of emergent properties that we do not understand, but that is just the ole "god of the gaps" argument.
    Higher level architecture and organization has nothing more truly "beyond" about it than a car or any machine with an internal organization, which is also full of emergent properties. If people think this leads to godliness...well, they can also achieve that kind of conclusions contemplating the perfect beauty of snow crystals.
    All of the "science-based" religious notions are not well, science-based, even if the refer to observations of the natural world, anyone can do that. They can combine scientific observations with religion to produce reasons to believe, but these are not truly scientifically justified ever. Indeed, the temptation of presenting religious belief as if "scientific conclusion" will always produce phoniness and problems such as the ID movement, who procalim exactly such scientific inpiration of their faith, but easily obliterate the scientific componet for the relgious here and there.

    Indeed, if you ask me, any true religion requires for it to work that it be able to show itself capable every now and then of wiping its ass with the scientific data. And, it WILL.

    As a major enthusiast of emergent properties and a systems approach to biology, it is a annoying to see some are using it as some kind of spearhead to religiosity and spirituality, when we have not eve developed scientifically and there is so much more understanding to do yet at much more basic levels. I feel this is a bad distraction and gives out all the bad signs

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  21. Feeling that we are part of something greater, the universe, is not a sytems derived notion. Some people say everything is god, the "supreme reality". The existence of the universe in itself or the big bang are realities that someone may draw divine inspiration from; it is not something particular to emergent properties. Sure, there ARE indeed lots of emergent properties that we do not understand, but that is just the ole "god of the gaps" argument.

    True, but people are generally not impressed by isolated features that are not integral to a intricate, complex organization. For example, cdesignproponentsists don't use the examples of sand and interstellar dust in their argument for God, although they believe that God made everything.

    Systems science makes it plausible to have a concept of God as the sum emergent property of the Universe. This is vastly different from the "god of the gaps" because this concept is built from the ground (evidence) up, not from top (dogma) down. The concept of a systems God will become better understood with more scientific investigation, as opposed to a god of dogma who can only survive by "mystery".

    Higher level architecture and organization has nothing more truly "beyond" about it than a car or any machine with an internal organization, which is also full of emergent properties. If people think this leads to godliness...well, they can also achieve that kind of conclusions contemplating the perfect beauty of snow crystals.

    Perhaps I'm too easily impressed. Cars and snowflakes are fascinating. The intricacy of their internal organization is interesting, especially feedback mechanisms in the car, and fractal iterations in the snowflake.

    That this Universe permits the assembly of components into successively more complex organizations, and that higher level organizations can still be easily understood due to the emergent properties at that level, indicates to me that systems science is the only rational path to discover any higher powers in the Universe.

    All of the "science-based" religious notions are not well, science-based, even if the refer to observations of the natural world, anyone can do that. They can combine scientific observations with religion to produce reasons to believe, but these are not truly scientifically justified ever. Indeed, the temptation of presenting religious belief as if "scientific conclusion" will always produce phoniness and problems such as the ID movement, who procalim exactly such scientific inpiration of their faith, but easily obliterate the scientific componet for the relgious here and there.

    Indeed, if you ask me, any true religion requires for it to work that it be able to show itself capable every now and then of wiping its ass with the scientific data. And, it WILL.


    That is the salient shortcoming of dogma-based religions, but if a "religion" is based de facto on science then such a problem cannot in principle exist.

    I should emphasize that the systems God is not an omni-everything creator-of-everything sky daddy who loves every little child yet promises eternal hellfire for those who disbelieve in him. Such an outdated concept of God is utterly refuted by logic and scientific evidence and should be left in the realm of cultural history.

    As a major enthusiast of emergent properties and a systems approach to biology, it is a annoying to see some are using it as some kind of spearhead to religiosity and spirituality, when we have not eve developed scientifically and there is so much more understanding to do yet at much more basic levels. I feel this is a bad distraction and gives out all the bad signs.

    I am also fascinated by systems biology (though the cries for the end of reductionism is way premature).

    In addition, I see systems science as a good opportunity for a common space to emerge between theists and atheists, and more importantly, for adversarial theists to coexist.

    I don't think I'm specifically advocating religiousity and spirituality, though there are many people who have an innate need for these - that should remain a personal matter.

    What disturbs me is the apparent inability of "New Atheist" supporters to see the social reality of the world.

    The reality is that theists have massive, deeply entrenched social structures that have persisted, and thrived for centuries under fire.

    And that opposing theists always say that their religion is peaceful while openly building up arms to fight the other side.

    And that theists vastly outnumber atheists.

    Considering the fact that "New Atheist" supporters also accept evolutionary theory I'm surprised they don't seem to realize that religion will not disappear overnight and transitional alternatives must be available to support the slow, stepwise crawl of humanity towards rational thinking.

    Do you really believe that this can be achieved in a single step?

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  22. God-talk is nothing but mental onanism, but here we go....

    "Systems science makes it plausible to have a concept of God as the sum emergent property of the Universe. This is vastly different from the "god of the gaps" because this concept is built from the ground (evidence) up, not from top (dogma) down. The concept of a systems God will become better understood with more scientific investigation, as opposed to a god of dogma who can only survive by "mystery".

    No. I'm sorry, emergent properties do not provide any argument for "evidence", "ground up" (or as you may wish to call it) about "systems god". Let's be be extra clear about this as it is no detail and THE mistake in your way of thinking. Any argument of a "scientific pathway" to god (or no god!!) is never going to be an 100% scientific argument. This bad confusion is what got the ID'ers to believe they have "scientific" arguments for the existence of god. Simply bad compertamentalization. You just don't mix science and religion like that!!!!

    Remember: There are many rationalizations that say science leads to the conclusioon taht there is no god. I'm nt an neatheist and I don't agree with that statement, though I can understand and even sympathize with some aspects of the argument, I think you can never sya you have scientifically proven or disproven something like god. Period. All you can do is nice, suggestive parguments. But not science: Philosophy. Meta-physics, perhaps?

    "Perhaps I'm too easily impressed. Cars and snowflakes are fascinating. The intricacy of their internal organization is interesting, especially feedback mechanisms in the car, and fractal iterations in the snowflake"

    It's OK to be impressed, but by being impressed you do not prove any scientific point. No matter how impressive, these are hardly "miracles" but commonplace phenomena and indeed quite within the realm of scientific inquiry.
    In the case of machines we build, we know perfectly well that nothing occurs in them that violates physics or is of any kind of miraculous nature, no matter how impressive the machine's performance. It's all "mechanical".

    "That this Universe permits the assembly of components into successively more complex organizations, and that higher level organizations can still be easily understood due to the emergent properties at that level, indicates to me that systems science is the only rational path to discover any higher powers in the Universe"

    Well, congratulations, but don't expect many to carry you on their shoulders and follow on your path of enlightment. I find your argument no better than others such as the anthropic principle. You are free to think god set up the laws of the universe and emergent properties for things to be just the way they are. But don't think other people will accept your conclusion as scientific. When you say stuff like systems theory is "the only rational pathway to god", you'll an automatic gag response from me. I think you are on a bad track that will more probably sterilize rather than expand your scientific perspectives.

    "That is the salient shortcoming of dogma-based religions, but if a "religion" is based de facto on science then such a problem cannot in principle exist"

    In my opinion, any religion worth it's salt has a sense of adopting the irrational, defying of physical reality, the "miracle". I think these notions are essential to any true mysticism. Guys whipping their backs and crucifying themselves perhaps can explain this point to you better than I can.

    By the way, many modern cultures are hardly mystical, but rationalist. Even if most people declare themselves religious, they are not ruled by theocracies, but a fairly secularized state

    "I should emphasize that the systems God is not an omni-everything creator-of-everything sky daddy who loves every little child yet promises eternal hellfire for those who disbelieve in him. Such an outdated concept of God is utterly refuted by logic and scientific evidence and should be left in the realm of cultural history"

    Yet such a concept of god is indeed very popular, even quite natural I'd say (for "freudian" reasons, if you wish). This simplistic vision of god will persist , regardless of your ambitions.

    "I am also fascinated by systems biology (though the cries for the end of reductionism is way premature)

    No, they are way overdue. We need more people thinking more about systems science ( and less about god)
    .
    "In addition, I see systems science as a good opportunity for a common space to emerge between theists and atheists, and more importantly, for adversarial theists to coexist"

    I'm sorry to break this to you but any intellectual current of this color will be at most marginal, more likely, completely ignored. It is irrelevant to the more immediate interests of the majority of religious people, AND the more immediate interests of the majority of scientists.

    "I don't think I'm specifically advocating religiousity and spirituality, though there are many people who have an innate need for these - that should remain a personal matter.
    What disturbs me is the apparent inability of "New Atheist" supporters to see the social reality of the world."

    I'm not an neoatheist and I agree religion will never disappear. Further, I have no goal of "no religion". I only want to keep the adequate compartmentalization of scientific vs metaphysical notions.

    At the same time I think your ideas, like some of those of neoatheists, are clashing against some social realities of the world. Maybe you give
    religion too much credit. For instance, as a provider of social structure, It CAN be replaced by some other ideology. In most democratic countries it is the state, not religion, that holds the true power in society.

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  23. No. I'm sorry, emergent properties do not provide any argument for "evidence", "ground up" (or as you may wish to call it) about "systems god". Let's be be extra clear about this as it is no detail and THE mistake in your way of thinking. Any argument of a "scientific pathway" to god (or no god!!) is never going to be an 100% scientific argument. This bad confusion is what got the ID'ers to believe they have "scientific" arguments for the existence of god. Simply bad compertamentalization. You just don't mix science and religion like that!!!!

    I take it that you are a supporter of Gould's NOMA idea. Clearly, I am not. I do not believe that a God that is relevant to human life can only be confined within the realms of metaphysics.

    And what is a "100% scientific argument"? If the testable prediction pans out I don't have any reservations to believe that invisible forces that travel at the speed of light keep the planets orbiting.

    Remember: There are many rationalizations that say science leads to the conclusioon taht there is no god. I'm nt an neatheist and I don't agree with that statement, though I can understand and even sympathize with some aspects of the argument, I think you can never sya you have scientifically proven or disproven something like god. Period. All you can do is nice, suggestive parguments. But not science: Philosophy. Meta-physics, perhaps?

    I disagree. Science can and has disproved some concepts of God (omni-everything, all-loving, prayer-answering etc.) We should move on and examine other plausible characteristics.

    It's OK to be impressed, but by being impressed you do not prove any scientific point. No matter how impressive, these are hardly "miracles" but commonplace phenomena and indeed quite within the realm of scientific inquiry.
    In the case of machines we build, we know perfectly well that nothing occurs in them that violates physics or is of any kind of miraculous nature, no matter how impressive the machine's performance. It's all "mechanical".


    I don't understand why you can't seem to get it - for a systems science enthusiast you appear to be non-plussed by these very systems. God doesn't have to violate physics or resort to miracles or be completely inexplicable in order to be relevant to human life.

    Oddly enough, you insist on the sky daddy version of god, just like the theists. Why?

    Well, congratulations, but don't expect many to carry you on their shoulders and follow on your path of enlightment. I find your argument no better than others such as the anthropic principle. You are free to think god set up the laws of the universe and emergent properties for things to be just the way they are. But don't think other people will accept your conclusion as scientific. When you say stuff like systems theory is "the only rational pathway to god", you'll an automatic gag response from me. I think you are on a bad track that will more probably sterilize rather than expand your scientific perspectives.

    No, God didn't "set up" the laws of the Universe and emergent properties, God "is" the sum emergent property of the Universe.

    And what I actually wrote was "systems science is the only rational path to discover any higher powers in the Universe" which postulates that there are higher level organizations in the Universe than our biosphere alone. Since you equate "higher powers" with "god", I assume you don't see too much of a leap in my definition of God.

    So why gag?

    Maybe you gag everytime you hear the word "God". Then think of how theists react when they hear the word "Atheist".

    In my opinion, any religion worth it's salt has a sense of adopting the irrational, defying of physical reality, the "miracle". I think these notions are essential to any true mysticism. Guys whipping their backs and crucifying themselves perhaps can explain this point to you better than I can.

    You can start by explaining to me what you mean by a religion that is "worth its salt".

    By the way, many modern cultures are hardly mystical, but rationalist. Even if most people declare themselves religious, they are not ruled by theocracies, but a fairly secularized state.

    These cultures constitute the minority of the world population today. Are you not aware of the phenomenal growth rate of religions in the third world?

    Yet such a concept of god is indeed very popular, even quite natural I'd say (for "freudian" reasons, if you wish). This simplistic vision of god will persist , regardless of your ambitions.

    I absolutely agree, such that even some atheists cling on this concept of God.

    Maybe there will be less people willing to believe in this concept if they knew of an alternative to dogmatic religion and atheism.

    And I didn't invent Deism or systems science - my ambition is to become a space pirate, so you're right that it should not be regarded in this discussion.

    No, they are way overdue. We need more people thinking more about systems science ( and less about god)

    Agree.

    I'm sorry to break this to you but any intellectual current of this color will be at most marginal, more likely, completely ignored. It is irrelevant to the more immediate interests of the majority of religious people, AND the more immediate interests of the majority of scientists.

    For the first point, you are probably right; it is a pity that they fail to comprehend the dangers of having no common ground between large, adversarial theistic groups. Do they believe that the "other side" is really as peace-loving as they claim to be?

    As for the immediate interest of the majority of scientists, I have insufficient knowledge to speculate on that.

    I know that I'll need dinner soon.

    I'm not an neoatheist and I agree religion will never disappear. Further, I have no goal of "no religion". I only want to keep the adequate compartmentalization of scientific vs metaphysical notions.

    I disagree with the strategy of "wall building" to compartmentalize the scientific from the metaphysical. Theists want to believe in a God who affects human life and interacts with our Universe - any aspect of God that is relevant to human beings is therefore subject to scientific investigation, like any other physical phenomena.

    Dogmatic religions may never disappear, but I hope to see more rationality and less antiscientific fervour, especially among the rapidly growing religious groups in developing nations. I suspect that even maintaining the status quo would be an uphill task.

    At the same time I think your ideas, like some of those of neoatheists, are clashing against some social realities of the world. Maybe you give
    religion too much credit. For instance, as a provider of social structure, It CAN be replaced by some other ideology. In most democratic countries it is the state, not religion, that holds the true power in society.


    It is also true that for most democratic countries there is no formal separation of state and religion (though it didn't seem to help the US much anyway). Then there are the "not-so democratic" countries, of which some are incubating grounds for future extremism and violence.

    Besides, the replacement of dogmatic belief by force or ideology is doomed - history has shown in the case of communist giants like the ex-Soviet Union that what results is the rise of the personality cult. A brutal, superhuman god is merely replaced with another brutal, human being raised to the status of godhood.

    I hope to see a stepwise crawl towards rationality, not to see one angry god get replaced by another angry god amidst bloodshed and war.

    If you can think of a better way to do this in just one simple step I'm glad to hear it.

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  24. "I take it that you are a supporter of Gould's NOMA idea. Clearly, I am not. I do not believe that a God that is relevant to human life can only be confined within the realms of metaphysics"

    I have not read gould on NOMA but I seriously doubt that NOMA implies God must be irrelevant to human life. Sounds like an invented strawman argument.

    "And what is a "100% scientific argument"? If the testable prediction pans out I don't have any reservations to believe that invisible forces that travel at the speed of light keep the planets orbiting"

    I thought that was just gravity; but in any case, what is not 100% scientific about that explanation? talking about orbits and light speed particles is still WAY different than talking about god , you know. No matter how "weird" you think orbiting is or how impressed you are by it. You will have considerable more problems talking "scientifically" about god than about physics.

    "I disagree. Science can and has disproved some concepts of God (omni-everything, all-loving, prayer-answering etc.) We should move on and examine other plausible characteristics"

    Really? Briefly explain to us how "science" has discarded the omni-everything or the all-loving god. Any experiments?

    "I don't understand why you can't seem to get it - for a systems science enthusiast you appear to be non-plussed by these very systems. God doesn't have to violate physics or resort to miracles or be completely inexplicable in order to be relevant to human life"

    You're wrong. I am very impressed by systems, but for themselves, not because I see in them the promise of godliness. That is not love of systems, that is love of god.

    "God doesn't have to violate physics or resort to miracles or be completely inexplicable in order to be relevant to human life"

    That just doesn't sound like god to me. More like just nature.

    "No, God didn't "set up" the laws of the Universe and emergent properties, God "is" the sum emergent property of the Universe"

    Hehehe. Whatever you say. Sorry I didn't , ehem, "see" that. Is that another of your "only rational" ideas?

    "And what I actually wrote was "systems science is the only rational path to discover any higher powers in the Universe" which postulates that there are higher level organizations in the Universe than our biosphere alone. Since you equate "higher powers" with "god", I assume you don't see too much of a leap in my definition of God. So why gag? Maybe you gag everytime you hear the word "God". Then think of how theists react when they hear the word "Atheist"."

    No, I d onot gag at the mention of god. I gag at the travesti of scientific justification of faith. I do not gaga at the mexican religious festival and procession of the day of the dead, I gag to ID creationism. It's like watching a cross of horse and chicken. Ugly. Gag!

    "You can start by explaining to me what you mean by a religion that is "worth its salt"."

    A religion with faith. A religion without faith cannot be called a religion, to my taste. Faith requires the capacity to "perforate" reason.

    "These cultures constitute the minority of the world population today"

    I guess I mean the western (and westernized) world, which proves that a society can work just fine without theocracy.

    "Are you not aware of the phenomenal growth rate of religions in the third world?"

    What do you mean? Religion is the plesiomorphic state. Most of the third world has always had religion. Maybe you are thinking of ex-soviet nations.

    "As for the immediate interest of the majority of scientists, I have insufficient knowledge to speculate on that"

    I do. I predict "Systems god" is not going to be a big hit at the level of scientific academia. Think about it.

    "I disagree with the strategy of "wall building" to compartmentalize the scientific from the metaphysical"

    This is not wall-building. There is a clear ontological distinction between the framework utilized in scientific explanatiosn, and that for religious explanations. You are free to move if you wich form one to the other, and to mix them. But don't expect me or anyone to think it's all scientific.

    "Theists want to believe in a God who affects human life and interacts with our Universe - any aspect of God that is relevant to human beings is therefore subject to scientific investigation, like any other physical phenomena"

    No. The notion that god controls fate, for instance, is not scientifically testable. Yet such a god is indeed relevant. Indeed it is a common concept f god.

    "Dogmatic religions may never disappear, but I hope to see more rationality and less antiscientific fervour, especially among the rapidly growing religious groups in developing nations."

    You have an excessively bleak picture of the developing world

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  25. I have not read gould on NOMA but I seriously doubt that NOMA implies God must be irrelevant to human life. Sounds like an invented strawman argument.

    Gould's NOMA states the magisterium of science is concerned with the factual character of Nature, while the magisterium of religion is concerned with the meaning of life and morality.

    He considers them non-overlapping which implies that science cannot investigate matters of religion. I disagree with this view because matters of religion that are relevant to human life in this Universe can be studied like any other physical phenomena. For example, moral behaviour is not unique to humans and can be studied scientifically.

    The only way for god to escape the scrutiny of science is for theists to declare that god is purely metaphysical by fiat.

    I thought that was just gravity; but in any case, what is not 100% scientific about that explanation? talking about orbits and light speed particles is still WAY different than talking about god , you know. No matter how "weird" you think orbiting is or how impressed you are by it. You will have considerable more problems talking "scientifically" about god than about physics.

    So if a hypothesis arises that mentions "God" in it, you would discard it because it is not 100% scientific?

    Unfortunately, Isaac Newton attributed gravity to a divine cause, which by today's standards would make his theory less than 100% scientific.

    No matter how supernatural, flaky-sounding, the true test of the mettle then as now, is the testable prediction, which gravity passed.

    Really? Briefly explain to us how "science" has discarded the omni-everything or the all-loving god. Any experiments?

    The omni-everything god is not logically consistent thus impossible (eg. omniscience indicates predestination and precludes omnipotence. Omnibenevolence is refuted by any single case of suffering)

    In addition, infinite-anything is overkill in our finite-but-unbounded Universe anyway. Imagine an Alien race with merely 10 times more technological superiority than human beings - for many people, these Aliens would be practically gods.

    As for prayer-answering, Templeton Foundation's huge prayer study did not demonstrate significant effect on the clinical outcomes of heart patients. Of course, insurance companies already know this, if not then theists should have drastically less premium to pay.

    And Norway would be one of the most miserable places on Earth.

    Which it isn't, thank God.

    You're wrong. I am very impressed by systems, but for themselves, not because I see in them the promise of godliness. That is not love of systems, that is love of god.

    You said: "Higher level architecture and organization has nothing more truly "beyond" about it than a car or any machine with an internal organization, which is also full of emergent properties."

    That sounds rather ho-hum; higher level organization "is" beyond the bag of metal parts and rubber than make up the car. Moving, breathing, interacting components that together produce the process of "vehicular travel". Just as the bag of carbon compounds and water that produce the process of "human life".

    The emergent property is much more than the material components that make it. It isn't a miracle, but I find it impressive, not only individual systems, but also how systems are nestled within higher order systems in a iterative chain. At the top of the chain I define the sum emergence as "God", if you really hate that label you are certainly free to call it "sum emergence of the Universe".

    That just doesn't sound like god to me. More like just nature.

    "Just" Nature?

    Hehehe. Whatever you say. Sorry I didn't , ehem, "see" that. Is that another of your "only rational" ideas?

    To believe that God MUST necessarily be a universe-creating, law-giving, baby-loving and hellfire-dealing sky daddy is to be thoroughly entrenched in the religious tradition of Abrahamic faiths.

    Oh, you're an atheist?

    No, I d onot gag at the mention of god. I gag at the travesti of scientific justification of faith. I do not gaga at the mexican religious festival and procession of the day of the dead, I gag to ID creationism. It's like watching a cross of horse and chicken. Ugly. Gag!

    If science is used as the justification for a certain belief, than it ceases to be a faith. It is belief supported by evidence. Of course I gag at ID creationism. Repeatedly.

    A religion with faith. A religion without faith cannot be called a religion, to my taste. Faith requires the capacity to "perforate" reason.

    Then don't call it a "religion". I use quotation marks around it.

    What do you mean? Religion is the plesiomorphic state. Most of the third world has always had religion. Maybe you are thinking of ex-soviet nations.

    I'm refering to Abrahamic faiths. Look at South Korea today.

    I do. I predict "Systems god" is not going to be a big hit at the level of scientific academia. Think about it.

    Actually I started discussing about how Deism would provide a better common space to nudge entrenched believers towards rationality, in comparison to the New Atheist movement. I can't remember when I claimed to turn this into a big hit in academia, but thanks for the suggestion.

    This is not wall-building. There is a clear ontological distinction between the framework utilized in scientific explanatiosn, and that for religious explanations. You are free to move if you wich form one to the other, and to mix them. But don't expect me or anyone to think it's all scientific.

    Actually Tiktaalik is all fish. Or maybe it's all amphibian.

    In the slow crawl towards more rationality, does it really matter?

    You say that there is a "clear ontological distinction" between the two types of explanations. Does that mean the there are no rational explanations in religion?

    No. The notion that god controls fate, for instance, is not scientifically testable. Yet such a god is indeed relevant. Indeed it is a common concept f god.

    If God controls fate, and we can learn the mechanism, then the notion is both relevant and testable. If God controls fate, and we can never learn the mechanism, then it is untestable and largely irrelevant.

    Theists believe that "God controls fate, so all we can do is pray" - indicating that they believe that fate can be changed by prayer. The mechanism is accessible.

    If they say that "God controls fate, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it" that isn't a particularly meaningful belief.

    You have an excessively bleak picture of the developing world

    Perhaps, but do you live in the developing world?

    My nightmare is to witness "peaceful" theist groups suddenly attack each other with devastating ferocity while denying the central role of religion at every round. Many people would say that "they didn't see it coming."

    I just hope to see deists play a greater role in communicating the importance of rationality and common discussion space to the theists. Of course if the New Atheists really succeed in achieving this entirely by themselves, I would also be very happy.

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  26. "So if a hypothesis arises that mentions "God" in it, you would discard it because it is not 100% scientific?"

    Youe mean "the sum emergent propertiy of the universe" or something with some actual conscience to it? this is why godytalk quickly gets so boring. Just use the word god with more than on sese: the original conveyed by the word, and then any woo justification you wish, as well.
    In the real world, buddy, it indeed IS very difficult to publish any hypothesis that mentions god. It's because it's a flaky subject and thus very difficult to bring to the terms of true scientists.

    "Unfortunately, Isaac Newton attributed gravity to a divine cause, which by today's standards would make his theory less than 100% scientific"

    No. Thal belief of newton is precisely the part that is scientitfically irrelevant. You can understand gravity whether you may believe or not in that divine cause; it is not relevant. As Feinman said: "imagine a little angel pushes the moon with a f=m x a"

    "No matter how supernatural, flaky-sounding, the true test of the mettle then as now, is the testable prediction, which gravity passed."

    Are you silly enough to think Newton testably proved the theological part of his thinking? Pfffft. You need to compartamentalize your thinking better

    "The omni-everything god is not logically consistent thus impossible (eg. omniscience indicates predestination and precludes omnipotence. Omnibenevolence is refuted by any single case of suffering)"

    Rubbish. If I have faith I can easily prefer to believe that god is everything, even if it seems "logically incosistent" to you. Indeed the "omni" gos is yet another popular concept of god that your thinking can't deal with.

    "As for prayer-answering, Templeton Foundation's huge prayer study did not demonstrate significant effect on the clinical outcomes of heart patients. Of course, insurance companies already know this, if not then theists should have drastically less premium to pay"

    These prayer studies would only convince squarish neoatheist cretins like dawkins and are absolutely irrelevant to most religious people. I think I'm juts wasting my digit muscles if I type out all the reasons why. Boooring!!
    As I said, a little faith in religion is enough to override a thousand prayer studies.


    "That sounds rather ho-hum; higher level organization "is" beyond the bag of metal parts and rubber than make up the car. Moving, breathing, interacting components that together produce the process of "vehicular travel". Just as the bag of carbon compounds and water that produce the process of "human life"."

    Thta's fine. Al I'm saying is that you must take the car, side by side with the cell to argue for your systems god. Nothing from out of this world happening in a car. It's all mechanical. Your use of the notion of "beyond" to end cobbling up notions of god is...bullshit.

    "The emergent property is much more than the material components that make it. It isn't a miracle, but I find it impressive, not only individual systems, but also how systems are nestled within higher order systems in a iterative chain. At the top of the chain I define the sum emergence as "God", if you really hate that label you are certainly free to call it "sum emergence of the Universe".

    Which is a notion of god no religious person gives a a crap about. Any "God" a religious person will care about must be conscious and care about personal lives.

    "Just" Nature?

    Exactly. The god of religious people is better, and more, than nature, which is his creation. He is "super-natural"

    "To believe that God MUST necessarily be a universe-creating, law-giving, baby-loving and hellfire-dealing sky daddy is to be thoroughly entrenched in the religious tradition of Abrahamic faiths"

    If some faiths have been sensible enough to discard not only a paternalistic god, but even the notion of god itself (as in buddhism), then why in the hell do you aim to a lower level of making science converge into the "god" notion?

    "Oh, you're an atheist?"

    Would you like me more or would you like me less depending on my answer to that question?

    "If science is used as the justification for a certain belief, then it ceases to be a faith"

    Quite true. You are getting it.

    "Then don't call it a "religion". I use quotation marks around it"

    pffft. Then, don't simply call it "religion with quotation marks". Call it something else. It's just fair.

    "I'm refering to Abrahamic faiths. Look at South Korea today"

    Looks better than communist north korea, I'll tell you that.

    "I can't remember when I claimed to turn this into a big hit in academia, but thanks for the suggestion"

    You said something like you did not know if scientists would be interested. What I point out can help you figure it out. Remember, your "systems god" is not really science. It's metaphysics.

    "Actually Tiktaalik is all fish. Or maybe it's all amphibian. In the slow crawl towards more rationality, does it really matter? "

    Do you really want to pull that one on a paleobiologist? You're wrong at so many levels answering is completely out of the question. I pass.

    "If God controls fate, and we can learn the mechanism, then the notion is both relevant and testable. If God controls fate, and we can never learn the mechanism, then it is untestable and largely irrelevant."

    If god controls fate, it is relevant, even if it is scientifically untestable. It takes just a little faith to believe that.

    Theists believe that "God controls fate, so all we can do is pray" - indicating that they believe that fate can be changed by prayer.

    NO, fate may or may not be changed by god in response to prayer. Anyway these "prayer" discussions are sooo stupid... they are completely boring. I pass again.

    "If they say that "God controls fate, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it" that isn't a particularly meaningful belief"

    What are you saying!!! That is a very impresssive god indeed. Actually this kind of beief incides importantly in the religious person's psyche, and can lead to the justification of barbaric dogmatism in some cases. You are "powerless" to go against god's will.

    "Perhaps, but do you live in the developing world?"

    My entire life until 2005 , when I moved to the US.

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  27. Youe mean "the sum emergent propertiy of the universe" or something with some actual conscience to it? this is why godytalk quickly gets so boring. Just use the word god with more than on sese: the original conveyed by the word, and then any woo justification you wish, as well. In the real world, buddy, it indeed IS very difficult to publish any hypothesis that mentions god. It's because it's a flaky subject and thus very difficult to bring to the terms of true scientists.

    Looks like you have no objection to the concept of the "sum emergent property of the Universe" (Sepotu?); you don't like the label of "God" with its historical and cultural baggage.

    Then it's a minor quibble. In fact it's beginning to feel like a heated Leica vs Zeiss debate.

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  28. NO. I don't consider it minor that you mix the word "god" with systems theory.
    I reject it. Emphatically.

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  29. Sepotu would be a cosmological issue, like the big bang or the question about the limits of the universe or multiple universes. Whether godly, or ungodly, that as usual, is the scientifically irrelevant part.

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  30. FWIW, catching up on old threads:

    @ Anonymous:


    I see "reductionism" as simply a fancy word for "explaining something in terms of something else".


    AFAIU in parts of science such as neuroscience, it is a fear to assume too much parsimony without testing. As in my example, missing out on the possibility of "deterministic" (in a bird's view) QM.

    @ LLH:


    I am suggesting that this concept of God is more fruitful and unifying than a god who is defined by dogma and a bunch of unsupported infinitives.


    Still falls for Dawkins' observation that it is natural selection that makes the organization into function, not emergence as such.

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