Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Michael Egnor offers his proof of god(s)

Michael Egnor is a proponent of Intelligent Design Creationism. He's a neurosurgeon practicing on Long Island (New York, USA) and a frequent contributor to creationist blogs. He also likes to comment on Sandwalk from time to time even though it makes him look foolish.

Speaking of looking foolish, he recently got upset about the idea that science and religion are in conflict. He decided to explain how science shows us that God exists. Read it on his blog at: God, in Larry Moran's nose.

This is not comedy or satire. He really believes what he writes.
The proof of God's existence is in Larry Moran's nose, and everywhere, in every atom.

The fact that any subatomic particle moves in a predictable fashion-- let alone in a fashion as mathematically elegant as quantum mechanics-- is straightforward evidence for God's existence. It is, in fact, God's handiwork, manifest everywhere and always.


57 comments :

  1. So if particles moved in an unpredictable fashion would he accept that as evidence against God?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would like very much for Egnor to produce the equations from quantum mechanics that he thinks model the paths of subatomic particles with sufficient precision that they are predictable.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is the Michael Egnor who wrote, regarding the politically motivated firings of Canadian scientists who presented accurate evidence embarrassing to political and corporate interests, responded by gloating:

    I'm not ranting. Gloating is closer to it.... I personally think that defunding is a very effective way to deal with assholes. If I had my way, the whole evolutionary biology project would be defunded like yesterday. [Michael Egnor, Jan. 10, 2014]

    and

    Hmm... should we spend $500,000 funding an evolutionary psychology lab, or should we spend $500,000 funding a pediatric neurosurgeon at a Children's Trauma Center?
    There's a critical shortage of pediatric neurosurgeons. Is there a critical shortage of evolutionary biologists? How should we best spend our money, to protect patients?
    [Michael Egnor, Jan. 10, 2014]

    In fact, we have Egnor on video reading his comments above. It's a must see, trust me.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wonder how these thought experiments work in there head.
    1. If there's something about nature that only be explained by God's hand, then God exists.
    2. Fact X about nature can only be explained about God's hand.
    3. Checkmate, atheists.

    It's hardly going out on a limb...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Egnor is also a global warming denier, even though he knows nothing about the subject matter. Here's a link to Phil Plait's blog where he provides some evidence as to the paucity of articles in peer reviewed journals on global warming denial. Here's a few statistics on the issue.

    13, 926 articles present evidence that supports global warming.

    15 articles that refute global warming

    Between November 2012 and December 2013, 2258 articles that present evidence that supports global warming, 1 article that refutes it.

    http://goo.gl/895QOw

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's still a lot compared to the proportion of ID/Creation Research articles in peer-reviewed journals. Once you gain practice in denying reality, believing six impossible things before breakfast becomes your daily routine.

      Delete
  6. Larry,

    I thought I'd see something in the way of refutation in your reply. Surely you have something intelligent to say about Aquinas' Fifth Way?

    How is it that nature follows natural laws? How is it that an inanimate particle behaves in accordance with a partial differential equation? Damn smart little electron, huh?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How is it that nature follows natural laws?

      You're putting the cart before the horse. "Natural laws" represent our attempts to follow nature.

      How is it that an inanimate particle behaves in accordance with a partial differential equation? Damn smart little electron, huh?

      If you have two baskets, five apples in one of them and six in the other, it turns out they make a total of eleven apples. Damn smart, those apples: how did they learn addition?

      Delete
    2. How is it that particles behave with regularities?

      Whence the regularities?

      We don't know and you don't either, you just made shit up. "Goddidit".

      Any idiot can sit down and just assert what "makes it so", what matters is what you can demonstrate with evidence (and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence), not how good you are at ad-hoc rationalization of the observed behavior of matter.

      The whole idea that god "explains" these regularities is question-begging all the way down. Giant metaphysical castles floating in the clouds, resting on hot air.

      God makes it behave regularly! How do you know?
      God wants order! How do you know?
      God has that power through his nature! How do you know? How do you know what god's nature is to begin with? Prove it without begging the question.

      All you can do to answer these questions is pile more question-begging assertions on top regarding god and it's supposed nature. But how do you know these things in the first place? They're all just assumed, made up.

      God is this, god can do that! HOW DO YOU KNOW?

      We don't have to know(even though we certainly want to, we're a curious species... well, some of us are), in fact we don't even claim to know, "why" it is that electrons have certain specific behaviors. Now, we would of course want to know whether there really is an answer to that question, maybe there's a deeper causal structure to the behaviors of elementary particles, maybe there's an infinite regress of such causal structures.

      I don't know, and that's okay. It's okay to not know, it's not a crime or a damning shortcoming. We can try to find out about it. But simply declaring into thin air that "god made it so" and in the process beg the question isn't actually answering the question and finding out. It's making shit up to satisfy a hunger for answers.

      Thanks but no thanks, I actually want to find out, and I'd rather live with not having found out all the way to the grave, than making shit up to satisfy a real intellectual curiosity with empty assertions.

      Delete
    3. Three cheers and one sparkling internet is on its way!

      Delete
    4. Dr. Egnor,

      I don't think it is extremely difficult to rationalize about an existence of a superior intelligence (God) with rationally thinking human-beings, unless they claim to be just hairless monkeys, which many on this blog do....

      Fortunately...most of the hairless monkeys lost their hair and developed a larger brain, but without thinking ability; that is rational thinking ability. Why? Most of ignorant monkeys have something to lose and they would rather die than admit to the obvious. Pride, accountability, glory, family or IDGAS syndrome.....

      Delete
    5. Just ask these morons about abiogenesis...They have no clue.... It is so pathetic, that they don't even teach it at many reputable universities. But, the morons don't what to hear what is obvious. I don't get it so-called science based on shit. Why would anyone lie to himself??? Well, monkey says monkey lies....


      What difference is there between this propaganda and North Korean?
      They have nice clothes, food and drinks on display, but you can't buy it. I have a comparison I can relate to.....

      Delete
  7. What is asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence.

    In reality, of course, the fact that any subatomic particle moves in a predictable fashion is straightforward evidence for the existence of the invisible pink unicorn, sparkles be upon it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. Something does something, why? X makes it so.

      Any idiot can answer any concievable question in this way. And Egnor thinks this is "proof" of god.

      I don't know whether to laugh or cry, it's so unbelievably ridiculous.

      Delete
    2. So funny. I ask a simple, yet important, question: how does it come to be that nature acts in accordance with regularities?

      None of you have a naturalistic answer, of course.

      Because the answer is not naturalistic.

      Philosophical naturalism is an impoverished superstition.

      Delete
    3. mregnor,

      Well, I don't have the answer but the thing is, neither have you. You just chose the one you liked best without any rational reason to prefer it over others.

      Why couldn't it be the invisible pink unicorn? If that is too silly, why couldn't it be Allah? There is no satisfying answer to these questions, so we have to conclude that none of us knows why there are regularities in nature.

      I would further say that gods are not a god explanation because they raise bigger problems than the ones they are invoked to explain, but there you go.

      Delete
    4. So funny. I ask a simple, yet important, question: how does it come to be that nature acts in accordance with regularities?

      This is not the original question. What you were quoted for is, in your own words, the following:

      The fact that any subatomic particle moves in a predictable fashion-- let alone in a fashion as mathematically elegant as quantum mechanics

      Which is plain stupid and reveals a profound misunderstanding of the subject matter

      Delete
    5. Mr Egnor, if we were espousing philosophical naturalism, we'd make up a naturalistic answer. For example, I could simply assert(in the same way you do with the god-placeholder) that "regularity is a property of nature". You might be tempted to respond "Why is it a property of nature?" - but the exact same question can be asked of your made up answer(god) "Why is that a property of your god?". So your "solution" doesn't actually solve anything more than naturalism would. Not that I'm claiming nature is all there is, I simply acknowledge that I cannot and do not know. I'm not in the business of making shit up and calling it proof.

      "I don't know" isn't to espouse philosphical naturalism, it's being honest. Try it some time.

      It is quite noteworthy how you've failed to answer the "how do you know?" questions I posed above.

      Delete
    6. The fact that any subatomic particle moves in a predictable fashion-- let alone in a fashion as mathematically elegant as quantum mechanics-- is straightforward evidence for God's existence.

      What Georgi Marinov said. Quantum mechanics isn't elegant, it is, to use a description from the folks involved in working it out, "weird." And it is precisely the fact that subatomic particles do not move in a predictable fashion that is one of the central counterintuitive, "weird" conclusions of quantum mechanics.

      Strange God who would embarrass his follower Newton by requiring the particles in His universe to go beyond Newtonian mechanics (now elegance and predictability for you!), and follow laws laid down by a bunch of European atheists, a few of whom went on to work on developing a nuclear weapon for the Nazis. Lends a whole new meaning to Gott mit uns!, don't you agree?

      Delete
    7. Y'know, it strikes me that religious folk have been doing this for a very long time. The Church thought it was evidence of God that He had put the Earth in the center of the Universe with the Sun and all the planets revolving around it, and that He made everything in the Universe work in Aristotelian fashion.

      Don't see much Aristotle or pre-Copernican celestial mechanics taught in physics courses these days.

      Delete
    8. judmarc: a bunch of European atheists, a few of whom went on to work on developing a nuclear weapon for the Nazis. Lends a whole new meaning to Gott mit uns!, don't you agree?

      Totally false. The only smart guys, in their prime, that the Nazis had working for them were Heisenberg and Werner von Braun, and they were Christians!

      The Nazi von Braun was an anti-Darwinist old Earth creationist, who after he moved to the USA wrote forewords for creationist books.

      We had more atheists on our side-- Einstein, Szilard, Oppenheimer, Turing etc.-- so we could design the atom bomb, crack the ENIGMA code, invent radar etc. (By "our" I mean Allies not just USA.)

      Wikipedia on Heisenberg: “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” -W.Heisenberg [143] [144]

      In his autobiographical article in the journal Truth, Henry Margenau (Professor Emeritus of Physics and Natural Philosophy at Yale University) pointed out: “I have said nothing about the years between 1936 and 1950. There were, however, a few experiences I cannot forget. One was my first meeting with Heisenberg, who came to America soon after the end of the Second World War. Our conversation was intimate and he impressed me by his deep religious conviction. He was a true Christian in every sense of that word.” [145]

      Delete
    9. P.S. Our atheists beat those Nazi Christians!

      Delete
    10. Oh, and to the above list of German scientists, Heisenberg and von Braun, I must add Nobel Prize winner Johannes Stark, a Catholic and a fanatical Nazi. He was the author of Nationalsozialismus und Katholische Kirche, ("National Socialism and the Catholic Church") 1931, and a supporter of anti-Semitic "Aryan Physics" which rejected quantum mechanics, relativity etc. as "Jewish."

      By the time Stark went for the Nazis, he was way past his prime scientifically, over the hill, but still quite evil.

      William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, on so-called "Aryan Physics.": The hallucinations of these Nazi scientists became unbelievable, even to a layman. "German Physics?" asked Professor Philipp Lenard of Heidelberg University, who was one of the more learned and internationally respected scientists of the Third Reich. " 'But,' it will be replied, 'science is and remains international.' It is false. In reality, science, like every other human product, is racial and conditioned by blood." Professor Rudolphe Tomaschek, director of the Institute of Physics at Dresden, went further. "Modern Physics," he wrote, "is an instrument of [world] Jewry for the destruction of Nordic science…True physics is the creation of the German spirit… In fact, all European science is the fruit of Aryan, or, better, German thought." Professor Johannes Stark, head of the German National Institute of Physical Science, thought so too. It would be found, he said, that the "founders of research in physics, and the great discoverers from Galileo to Newton to the physical pioneers of our time, were almost exclusively Aryan, predominantly of the Nordic race."” [William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p.250]

      Compare the Nazi Catholic Stark's words above to those of Catholic Michael Egnor:

      Egnor: “Essentially all great scientists were Christians" [ here]

      No similarity there!

      Delete
    11. "So funny. I ask a simple, yet important, question: how does it come to be that nature acts in accordance with regularities?

      None of you have a naturalistic answer, of course. "
      I'm curious why this wouldn't mean that we simply do not know, rather than thinking it some proof of a God. This is an argument from ignorance, akin to 200 years ago asking how it is an eye could form.

      What would, however, constitute an argument for a non-natural ordering for electrons is to show that the natural theory of electrons is inconsistent with the observations of elections. That is, whatever processes give rise to electrons would be inconsistent with our observations of electrons. Thus something outside of the natural order of things would best explain it.

      Otherwise, how are we meant to tell whether or not we are just labelling our ignorance God?

      Delete
    12. @judmarc

      The Church thought it was evidence of God that He had put the Earth in the center of the Universe with the Sun and all the planets revolving around it

      It wouldn't surprise me in the least that this is a position held by Egnor. There seems to be something about geocentrism that fascinates those wackaloon catlicks, they are attracted to it like flies to shit.

      Delete
    13. "I'm curious why this wouldn't mean that we simply do not know, rather than thinking it some proof of a God."

      The problem is simple: these are people who see the existence of God as axiomatic. And if God exists, and is responsible for everything, then it's all God's will. And that's basically what Christian theology is about - an attempt to explain why the universe appears materialistic, amoral and forged by random processes.

      It's heads they win, tails you lose. If a footballer prays and wins, God scored that touchdown. If he loses, then he was wearing his faith too prominently, or guilty of pride.

      Here's my religious belief: I do not believe the existence of God to be axiomatic. Ask any theist whether they believe that before you start. If they don't understand, don't bother. If they say yes, don't bother. If they say no, then ask what it would take to convince them that God didn't exist, then supply them with that evidence.

      But if they really think 'God exists' is a non-negotiable, there's no negotiation possible. Containment and mockery are the only options.

      Delete
    14. Totally false. The only smart guys, in their prime, that the Nazis had working for them were Heisenberg and Werner von Braun, and they were Christians!

      Sorry for being unclear. Many of the leading early quantum physicists (Bohr, Einstein, Schrodinger...) were at the time or wound up being atheists. A handful of these early quantum physicists wound up working for the Nazis, Heisenberg being the most famous. I did not mean to say that the quantum physicists who wound up working for the Nazis were atheists. (Though I'm sure "true" Christians would disavow them, eh?)

      Delete
  8. its true that science and religion are not in conflict.
    There is just a few conclusions in a few subjects touching on origins where contending sides disagree about the quantity and quality of evidence.
    Evolutionary biology claims to have explained biological origins in its complexity and diversity by a certain method.
    They claim this has reached the right to be called a theory of science. A big threshold.
    This is questioned on every level.
    Its not true. Not a theory.Not likely. not biblical and so not true. no supported by excellent evidence. some say not supported by scientific biological evidence.
    We are in the fight now and somebody is wrong and since all claim to be doing science here then someone soon will fail in their status of confidence in their assertions.
    The fact of the threat of ID/YEC being the talk of the town shows a hint of the side prevailing despite being the outsider and having to assail the walls.
    Michael egnor seems to be a good sample of intelligent people who newly are paying attention to subjects they never put their mind too before.
    On all sides intelligent people are thinking hard about these things. However one can see a incoming tide. I see this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. """"not biblical and so not true""""

      How "scientific" of you.

      Delete
  9. There's a new post on Egnorance. It contains such gems as:

    When you toss the coin, it lands on one side or the other, roughly 50/50. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God. What then would not be evidence for God? If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.

    In brief, everything that happens normally is evidence for God; only miracles are not. There are no miracles, therefore God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unbelievable. Just when you think he couldn't get more stupid.

      I wonder why he didn't include "or if a guy walked on water without sinking, or if water transformed into wine, or if someone came back to life after being dead for three days..."

      Delete
    2. Quite interesting. If physics can be used to describe the natural world based on math and knowable natural laws, then that's evidence of god. Miracles, which cannot be materialistically described by physics and don't obey naturalism, are also evidence of god. So no matter what the evidence is, it's always attributed to god.

      This folks, is ID "science" in a nutshell.

      I guess it explains why medical doctors had to come up with the concept of Evidence-Based Medicine, something Egnor must experience major difficulties with.

      Delete
    3. He must be the last thinker on earth who believes that unfalsifiable = invincible. Forsooth, a great metaphysician (or metasurgeon?).

      Delete
    4. At Egnor's first post on the topic, he was getting clobbered, and was asked questions he refused to answer-- e.g. he refuses to express his premises clearly, or define them syllogistically, or support them with evidence.

      So Piotr pointed out, Egnor started a second post on the topic, and again he is getting more clobbered, and again he refuses to answer simple questions or support his premises with evidence.

      He knows he can't win an argument with atheists, but he thinks he can exhaust them.

      Delete
    5. I wonder why he didn't include "or if a guy walked on water without sinking, or if water transformed into wine, or if someone came back to life after being dead for three days..."

      It would seem that Jesus did not work any miracles, since the resulting states were quite natural, though somewhat improbable in the circumstances. For a real miracle, he would have had to transform himself into a pink kangaroo with three kaleidoscope eyes, playing "Raggle Taggle Gypsies" on a banjo with the tip of its tail.

      Delete
    6. The fact that it lands on one side or another and that it falls in a gravitational field is a manifestation of teleology, and evidence for God.

      This is indistinguishable from the burblings of that other great catholic "thinker", "Tide Goes In, Tide Goes Out" Bill O'Reilly.

      Egnor sounds like a natural for Fox news. I can just imagine the O'Reilly/Egnor interview, 2 bloated benighted behemoths of bewilderment spiralling around each other to finally form the black hole of ignorance from which hopefully no information can escape.

      If the coin randomly went up instead of down, or turned into a lute, or began shooting purple laser beams at Mars, without rhyme or reason.

      Those behaviours all sound like miracles to me. So it would seem, according to Egnor, that miracles are not evidence for his god or perhaps even evidence that disproves his god. Egnor should share this astounding discovery with his good friends who lurk in the Vatican.

      Delete
  10. As Shakespeare wrote: 'All the world's a stage', and waiting in the wings of history is the measure of literal Proof that is going to blow Michael Egnor and two thousand years of Christian history right out of the water. And it will be a humbling experience for secular skepticism. I'm testing it now for myself. But for anyone who wants to join these trials, more at http://www.energon.org.uk

    ReplyDelete
  11. And on and on he goes, asserting shit, never providing answers.

    Egnor: God is transcendent.
    How do you know?

    Egnor: He can only be understood by analogy.
    How do you know? How do you know that your analogy has a referent?

    Egnor: His essence is existence itself
    How do you know?

    Egnor: He is metaphysically simple
    How do you know?

    Egnor: and He is Good
    How do you know?

    Egnor: and Truth itself.
    How do you know?

    All these statements are question begging bare assertions. Please demonstrate that they have actual referents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Egnor: He can only be understood by analogy.
      How do you know? How do you know that your analogy has a referent?


      And if he can only be understood by analogy, then no referent even if it did exist, could be directly understood by any means. Hmm, I wonder how one sorts out the bad analogies from the good?

      Delete
    2. As far as I can see, people like Egnor "understand" science, including biology and physics, also only by analogy (with the help of metaphors, allegories and parables).

      Delete
  12. This thread seems the most appropriate for this U-turn-

    I am from the point of view that a God put everything in motion but does NOT interfere with any of the natural processes. I don’t hold that this God intervenes or guides these natural processes. In this sense I am a deist. In the sense I also agree with all the sciences.

    Darwin even has left behind notes stating he believes in a God of first cause, that he does not have problem with theism and evolution coexisting.

    However, I do think this God intervenes with human begins in the mind, in dreams, in intuitions, in feelings and in life experiences. In this sense I am a theist. But this part has NOTHING to do with science.

    Yet, many Theist evolutionists are labeled as saying this is an alternative to science. I don’t really know who says what, but when I say I am a theist evolutionist, I do so to identify my beliefs, NOT science. I know many theist evolutionists who do the same.

    So, I think one needs to be careful in lumping every person in one group as if they are such and such. There are likely many Intelligent Designers who fall under theist evolution and in that sense they push an agenda.

    I have no agenda, as neither do many other theist evolutionists.

    BUT In my view, God(s) have no place in a science classroom and that includes the Gods of deism which also often go to a first cause.

    Which was the other point I wanted to bring up. Deist evolution is no more compatible than theist evolution in science. When is the idea of a God ever ok in a science classroom? Are we going to now prove this God? Be it a first cause or not? Really?

    Science and religion are compatible as long as you are talking about one’s BELIEFS. Which is why when asked what you believe someone says theist evolutionist or deist evolutionist. But this has nothing to do with science. This has to do with one’s identity of thought.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Writing is my drug wrote: "However, I do think this God intervenes with human begins in the mind, in dreams, in intuitions, in feelings and in life experiences. In this sense I am a theist. But this part has NOTHING to do with science."
      Well so you say, but how much have you actually thought about the implications of thinking god interferes and intervenes with our dreams and intuitions with regards to the question of the behavior of matter? The interactions between matter and "souls" or other supernatural stuff like "the will of god"?

      Religious people who think we are more than just the otherwise mindless behavior of matter must believe that at some stage, there's something going on inside the physical human body/brain which that matter would not have done if it was not part of an "ensouled/god-manipulated" body. Carbon atoms do what they do no matter where the are, but should you put them inside an "ensouled" human body with it's "free will" and all that other stuff(like being manipulated by god somewhere in the brain, or the soul is manipulated which subsequently causes certain dreams and intuitions to appear), sooner or later the soul should/would decide to do something contrary to what normal carbon chemistry outside the "maniplated/ensouled" human body would have resulted in. Otherwise, the theist/deist who argues for interventionism/souls/free will beyond the mere behavior of atoms and matter - would have to concede we'd be "just chemistry". Yet such behavior of matter in human bodies has never been detected, and as far as we can tell, doesn't exist. The chemistry is still just chemistry both inside and outside human bodies. We still obey all the known laws of physics.

      So I submit, to believe some kind of supernatural intevention takes place, is to posit that sooner or later science should be able to detect the behavior of physical and chemical reactions inside "ensouled/manipulated" physical bodies that cannot be explained by the mere properties of that matter. Otherwise it is "just matter" and physical laws.

      As a corollary I submit that the view that intervention takes place by god, or that souls exist, is in conflict with our scientific knowledge of human bodies.

      How would a free-will-immaterial-soul/divine-interventionist who otherwise concedes we are made of atom, resolve this conondrum?

      Delete
    2. You pose a good question.

      To answer you...

      "Carbon atoms do what they do no matter where they are" -Agreed.

      I don't believe a God (spirit realm) manipulates matter -including the brain- in any way. Your brain matter is not changing.

      "Free will" =is another topic entirely.

      A spirit would not manipulate matter...it would leave impressions on thought itself.

      Not really sure what you mean by the soul would decide to do something contrary to normal carbon chemistry. A soul as I would define it would simply be the emotions and thoughts of a person and all living animals.

      If you think to walk, and your body can, you walk.

      I'm not arguing for an intervention of the spirit realm beyond the mere behavior of atoms and matter.

      A spirit is a spirit and matter is matter.

      I'm not even talking behavior.

      You walk outside and see a tree. A blind man walks outside and doesn't see a tree. Another man walks outside and sees an impression of his dead son in the tree.

      Maybe chemistry played a trick on him, maybe he saw something you did not.


      Delete
  13. "A spirit would not manipulate matter...it would leave impressions on thought itself.

    Not really sure what you mean by the soul would decide to do something contrary to normal carbon chemistry. A soul as I would define it would simply be the emotions and thoughts of a person and all living animals."

    You are assuming there is something supernatural about thoughts and emotions. So far neuroscience has discovered no evidence for that. Force damage to the brain and brain tumors have been known to:

    a) destroy memories
    b) change personality
    c) destroy the ability to reason logically
    d) remove the ability to feel emotions

    (Sources: Oliver Sachs, Antonio Demascio, Steven Novella. Books by the first two are available via any public library, the third has a blog called "Neurologica Blog".)

    So case studies and experimental data indicate that thoughts and emotions are brain functions, involving the physics of chemistry and electricity. Also, as Dr. Sean Carroll (the cosmologist) will tell you, the physics which matter to everyday life are well know down to sub-microscopic orders of magnitude by very precise experiments which leave no room for unknown forces which could support such notions as ESP or souls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim wrote: "Dr. Sean Carroll (the cosmologist) will tell you, the physics which matter to everyday life are well know down to sub-microscopic orders of magnitude by very precise experiments which leave no room for unknown forces which could support such notions as ESP or souls."

      Yet we do not have a materialistic account for consciousness and intentionality...

      Delete
    2. LOL- I'm not assuming there is something supernatural about emotions and thought. I don't believe there is anything supernatural about either.

      Yes, I agree with your case studies.

      What does any of this have to do with whether a spirit -outside of your own material- exists?

      Anyway- far more interesting to me is this recent discovery

      http://www.biology-blog.com/blogs/animal-science-blog.html

      In nature, one toxic butterfly species may mimic the wing pattern of another toxic species in the area. By using the same signal, they send a stronger message: DON'T EAT US! .

      Now several research teams that include Smithsonian researchers in Panama, have discovered that Heliconius butterflies mimic each other's red wing patterns through changes in the same gene.

      Not only does this gene lead to the same red wing patterns in neighboring species, it also leads to a large variety of red wing patterns in Heliconius species across the Americas that result when it is turned on in other areas of the wings.

      Because different butterfly species evolved red wing patterns independently, resulting in a huge variety of patterns we see today, scientists thought that different genes were responsible in each case.

      "The variety of wing patterns in Heliconius butterflies has always fascinated collectors," said Owen McMillan, geneticist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, "People have been trying to sort out the genetics of mimicry rings since the 1970's. Now we put together some old genetics techniques and some newer genomics techniques and came up with the very surprising result that only one gene codes for all of the red wing patterns. The differences that we see in the patterns seems to be due to the way the gene is regulated".........

      Delete
    3. Andy Wilberforce wrote: "Yet we do not have a materialistic account for consciousness and intentionality..."

      ... so we should believe there's an immaterial and supernatural spirit-entity that "does it"? (Supernaturalism doesn't have one either, beyond the mere incomprehensible claim that we're conscious because a supernatural person with magic powers "made us that way"). If that's what counts as an "account" for consciousness, then materialism sure as fuck can account for it too. "The brain makes consciousness".

      Anyway, with respect to the whole "we don't know..." the same could have been said for the mechanism of inheritance in the 18th century(amon countless millions of phenomena materialistic science has eventually "accounted" for). As an argument for thinking something supernatural and immaterial is the explanation, it commits the fallacy of an appeal to ignorance.

      Also, it's not even true. We do have materialistic accounts of consciousness(and I'm not thinking of my ironic statement of such an account above), we just don't have any idea which, if any of them, are true yet.

      Delete
    4. I haven't read it, but doesn't Daniel Dennett provide a materialist account of consciousness in this book?

      http://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Explained-Daniel-C-Dennett/dp/0316180661/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390226060&sr=1-1&keywords=dennett+consciousness+explained

      Delete
    5. "Yet we do not have a materialistic account for consciousness and intentionality."

      We have, by this point, a big pile of things that theologians told us were caused by gods that we know aren't. Disease, the sun coming up, the weather, speciation. And absolutely no traffic the other way. Every branch of science has made great strides the moment they abandoned top-down, theistic thinking.

      We might be unable to solve the problem of consciousness, but there's just no sensible reason to do anything but ignore religious wibbling on the subject.

      Delete
  14. Your assuming a spirit would be a force for one, and second if it is a force, your assuming it is a force you can measure.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I wasn't even thinking about ESP- but that is a good question. This is what I'd have to say on that issue for now.

    If we had this discussion when I was in my twenties I’d agree with you….but now much older I would say I don’t.

    ESP could simply be a higher level of intuition

    The consciousness simply a higher level of emotion and thought

    Maybe some people evolved these higher levels, some people did not.

    Have you actually tested all the brains of people who claim to have ESP? Would a difference be found in their brains? I’d be curious to know. And if no difference in their brain matter can be found…what about their brain chemistry? If no difference in either, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were lying. Simply because you measure the material/matter inside the brain and what it is doing doesn’t mean you fully understand the energies there.

    I personally don't have ESP, but I've seen far too much in my life now to rule anything out just because you can't measure it.

    To be clear, I define the soul as emotions and thoughts. I don't hold the soul is supernatural in and of itself.

    I do see a difference between the soul and a spirit though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Yet we do not have a materialistic account for consciousness and intentionality..."

      Here's mine: consciousness is the operating system of our brains. Just as Windows reads external inputs such as a click on the Excel icon and activates the Excel program (without itself understanding how Excel works), and conveys the applications results externally via the screen, our consciousness activates groups of neurons to process visual information (a big effort which takes a lot of processing), play the guitar, et cetera, and receives the results without understanding how they were obtained (since there are no nerves which monitor neuron activity). Intentionally to the extent it exists (I am guessing at what you mean by it) is part of the brain function of emotion (mentioned above) which is what motivates us to survive. (If it did not exist evolution would have had to invent it, so it did.)

      Why divide brain functions into an operating system and applications? Because it is an efficient setup which evolution found to be conducive to survival and reproduction. Humans have (belatedly) come to the same conclusion with respect to their computers.

      As to why conscious and emotions "feel" the ways they do, they had to feel like something and that is the way such things feel in this particular universe, just as a rose smells like a rose instead of an orange. Scent chemicals and the olfactory sensory process are well-understood, but why a rose smells like a rose instead of something else is not an answerable nor an important question. Nor does it imply there is something supernatural about the process.


      What is the supernatural account for consciousness and intentionality? God did it?

      "Your[you're] assuming a spirit would be a force for one, and second if it is a force, your[you're] assuming it is a force you can measure."

      No, I am assuming since thoughts are brain functions that work through the physics of chemistry and electro-magnetism, and since those mechanisms cannot be detected or influenced from outside the skull without using very powerful equipment and a lot of energy, that in order for a spirit or soul or whatever to influence thoughts it has to interact with those physics by some means, whether it is new forces, particles, or something else. If such means have real effects, those effects should be detectable, i.e., measurable. If they don't exist, of course they can't be detected.

      ESP, psychics, faith-healers, etc., have been exposed as fakes or delusional many times, to the point where that is the default assumption. They are free to apply for Randi's Million Dollar prize and prove their abilities by statistically-significant results in controlled experiments. Until then, or until someone wins a Nobel Prize for producing good evidence of them, I am not interested in discussing them. Those who do take them seriously should propose and study possible mechanisms for them, because none are known to exist. (Except for the placebo effect and the body's natural immune system, in some cases of faith healing.)(And yes, there is an explanation for the placebo effect which is consistent with known physics.)

      Delete
    2. I wrote: "Yet we do not have a materialistic account for consciousness and intentionality..."

      Jim wrote: "Here's mine: consciousness is the operating system of our brains."


      Ok, so you have stated what you think consciousness is, but how did it come to be? Why does human consciousness and intentionality distinguish us in a unique way from the rest of the animal kingdom?

      Can a purely materialistic process like evolution explain the existence of mind or is it at least a likely bi-product? I think not. If minds were only materialistic then they would be like the hardware of a computer. No matter the processing power it will never gain consciousness. No matter how sophisticated the software we load it with, it will never gain intentionality.

      Delete
    3. Why does human consciousness and intentionality distinguish us in a unique way from the rest of the animal kingdom?

      Easy: It doesn't.

      If minds were only materialistic then they would be like the hardware of a computer. No matter the processing power it will never gain consciousness. No matter how sophisticated the software we load it with, it will never gain intentionality.

      You don't know this to be the case. It's just part of the fable you have constructed around the idea of "consciousness."

      Delete
  16. "Why does human consciousness and intentionality distinguish us in a unique way from the rest of the animal kingdom?"

    You mean, of course, 'consciousness', not 'human consciousness'. Otherwise your question is extremely silly.

    We're unique now. Around three dozen hominid species existed, and there's reason to believe several had language and ritual. It's beyond serious doubt that the Neanderthals had language.

    So the answer to your question is 'we're unique now because the other species were wiped out'. There may be issues of 'human intentionality' behind that.

    If anyone wants a really, really good laugh, ask a Christian theologian about Neanderthals and Adam and Eve. Poor theologians: reality does have a habit of making them look like idiots.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I've been busy preparing to leave for Thailand and plan to do some work with Orangutans as well as visit the Northern Tribes for some anthropological interests...so I'm pretty busy. But had a moment.

    @ Jim

    "What is the supernatural account for consciousness and intentionality? God did it?" I'm not sure who you were asking?

    I never stated their was a supernatural account for consciousness and intentionality. I believe both evolved naturally. What I did say was Consciousness-using my intuition on this- is the result of higher levels of emotion and thought processes. All primates have consciousness as well as do other animals.

    My question would be to what point did it evolve?

    We can see that all of life went from simple to complex (arguably because of nature's persistence toward diversity -and in my view because of energies persistence toward entropy)

    From this we see life evolving

    (don't care what you insert here... God/Chance/Aliens/Natural patterns/ -I just care what I can see about what NATURE is doing and what I observe in my own EXPERIENCE which differs from your own)

    Life evolving from fish, into amphibians, into reptiles, into birds, into mammals, into primates, into human primates.

    From this we see pain increasing from the simply physical, to the physical and emotional, to the physical, emotional and intellectual (thought), to the physical, emotional, intellectual (thoughts) and mental (illness).

    Each level (and I don't view humans as being somehow supreme. Just look at the Chameleon or the virus that controls the brains of insects)

    Each level increases this level of pain. Each level increases -in my intuitive view- a higher state (by higher I am not implying Gods).

    Emotions -continuously evolving- serve a function as well as thoughts. What is this function? for the most part it seems for survival.

    I care about my child so I take care of her. I have a bad feeling about that guy so I avoid him. I have a feeling my loved one is now dead, and he is (no rational reason why I would feel this). Does this mean hocus-pocus/supernatural? No. To me this is simply the natural evolutionary result of the energy of emotions.

    Emotions can tell you all kinds of things that can't be exactly charted and measured currently by scientific method.

    As far as the spirit and force... I don't disagree with much of what you said in terms of the brain; however in my view you are not really understanding my point. I'm not talking about the brain, but the spirit.

    To influence something, yes the means itself could be measurable (this doesn't mean the entity doing the influencing is measurable) Because a spirit would not be made of material. A alien sentient form of light that pops in and out of our reality might not be measurable either, but its effects might.

    Just as in a different dimension (postulated by sting theory) or a different plane of existence (postulated by quantum) or virtual particles which can appear out of a nothing vacuum only to quickly disappear back into the vacuum, or before the big bang -

    There are some things that are not completely and directly measurable. The virtual particle itself is not measurable, but its contributions are measurable.

    In this same sense, a spirit itself would not be measurable, but its contributions might be.

    Example: While you are asleep I (or an alien/or a ghost/or God or a gorilla for that matter) whispers words into your ear. Put ideas into your mind. These ideas spiral round in your dreams.

    What is a sound wave? It is not a particle - it is a mechanical wave (force) that results from the vibration of particles.

    Is this force measurable? Yes. Were you there to measure it, no.

    http://www.livescience.com/38181-soundwaves-levitate-objects.html

    I'm not saying I think this is what happens...I'm simply stating how this could happen.


    But words are not just sound waves, they also hold meaning and tone...meaning only a brain with linguistic intelligence can understand. An animal brain.






    ReplyDelete