Home » Cosmology » There is a bill for Alan Guth’s free lunch after all

There is a bill for Alan Guth’s free lunch after all

In “Existence: Why is there a universe?” (New Scientist, 26 July 2011), Amanda Gefter asks,

Might something similar account for the origin of the universe itself? Quite plausibly, says Wilczek. “There is no barrier between nothing and a rich universe full of matter,” he says. Perhaps the big bang was just nothingness doing what comes naturally.

This, of course, raises the question of what came before the big bang, and how long it lasted. Unfortunately at this point basic ideas begin to fail us; the concept “before” becomes meaningless. In the words of Stephen Hawking, it’s like asking what is north of the north pole.

Even so, there is an even more mind-blowing consequence of the idea that something can come from nothing: perhaps nothingness itself cannot exist.

Indeed, she quotes cosmologist Alan Guth, “Maybe a better way of saying it is that something is nothing.” And yet, Gefter asks,

None of this really gets us off the hook, however. Our understanding of creation relies on the validity of the laws of physics, particularly quantum uncertainty. But that implies that the laws of physics were somehow encoded into the fabric of our universe before it existed. How can physical laws exist outside of space and time and without a cause of their own?

At this point, a waiter discreetly approaches with a narrow, classy black folder with a single piece of paper inside, bypasses Gefter and offers it to Guth …

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61 Responses to There is a bill for Alan Guth’s free lunch after all

  1. The Big Bang could probably just as well refer to the sound of atheists repeatedly banging their heads on the wall every time they are faced with a timeless, spaceless, massless, creation of the universe. i.e. Genesis 1:1, With The Transcendent origin of the universe!!!

    To help our atheists friends deal with the Big Bang more effectively, I’m linking a downloadable picture to hang on their wall every time the Big Bang is brought up to them:

    Bang Head Here
    http://ifevolutionworks.com/wp.....adHere.gif

    ===================

    notes:

    Beyond The Big Bang: William Lane Craig Templeton Foundation Lecture (HQ) 1/6 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esqGaLSWgNc

    The Scientific Evidence For The Big Bang – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323668

    Evidence Supporting the Big Bang
    http://www.astronomynotes.com/cosmolgy/s7.htm

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “,,,the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world,,, the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    ,,, ‘And if your curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video

    “The Big Bang represents an immensely powerful, yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time. All this is accomplished within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constants and laws. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human mental capacity by multiple orders of magnitude.”
    Prof. Henry F. Schaefer –

    The Creation Of The Universe (Kalam Cosmological Argument)- Lee Strobel – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993987/

    Hugh Ross PhD. – Evidence For The Transcendent Origin Of The Universe – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347185

    What Contemporary Physics and Philosophy Tell Us About Nature and God – Fr. Spitzer & Dr. Bruce Gordon (Dr. Gordon speaks for the last 25 minutes) – video
    http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/32512834

    ===============

    If evolution really works,,, how come mothers only have two hands???

    ====================

    God of Wonders by Third Day
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CBNE25rtnE

  2. 2

    The point. That mathematical singularity that exists in equations of general relativity representing the interface between the natural, (our laws of physics), and the supernatural, (the obliteration of our laws of physics) digs in like a thorn just under the skin of the atheist which they have been digging and scratching at it in a frantic attempt to remove for decades.

  3. It seems to me that if something came from nothing, nothing is not nothing; “it” is something. And it cannot be nothing, otherwise it would not be an it.

    Therefore, it seems logical that the universe came from something, but that something must transcend space, time, matter, and energy, which all came into existence at the birth of the physical universe (i.e., that something must be “super” natural by definition — outside of nature).

    The famous physicist Freeman Dyson has commented: “The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.”

    But the universe (physical reality) could not have “known” we were coming. Physical stuff doesn’t “know” anything. The universe does not have a mind. Only that which caused the universe to come into existence could have “known” this, and this entity must have planned it for a purpose.

    Therefore, simple logic leads me to conclude that the universe was designed and instantiated by a mind that transcends physical reality and is outside of space and time — a mind of extraordinary creative power that had humanity in mind as a goal — the ultimate goal as far as we know, because no other living thing has remotely reached humanity’s level of comprehension and investigative potential.

    It is for the reasons mentioned above — and many more, too numerous to mention — that I was finally forced to abandon a lifetime of Richard Dawkins-style atheism.

    I was forced by intellectual and scientific integrity to follow the evidence where it led, no matter how painful. It was painful in the short term, but indescribably rewarding in the long term.

  4. 4
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Gil: how do you know that the universe doesn’t have a mind?

    I’m not saying it does – but by what reasoning do you infer that it does not?

  5. Liz,

    The universe is physical stuff. Physical stuff doesn’t think, only minds do. Did time, space, matter, and energy — immediately after the big bang, at which point time itself came into existence — have a mind, and plan its own existence before* it existed?

    *Of course, “before” the origin of time has no meaning, since “before the origin of time” implies a “time” when time did not exist. But you get the idea.

  6. 6
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, thanks Gil. So your inference follows from the premise that minds are independent of brains?

    And – this is not a trick question, I’m interested – how do you account for findings that brain changes lead to mind changes? In stroke, for example?

  7. Liz you ask:

    ‘And – this is not a trick question, I’m interested – how do you account for findings that brain changes lead to mind changes? In stroke, for example?’

    And how does the fact that a TV may be malfunctioning relate to the fact that TV signals do not arise from the TV in the first place???

    A Reply to Shermer Medical Evidence for NDEs (Near Death Experiences) – Pim van Lommel
    Excerpt: For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories (information) inside the brain, so far without success.,,,,So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.
    http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel.....sponse.htm

    ================

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The Extremely ‘Monitored’ Near Death Experience of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    The Scientific Evidence for Near Death Experiences – Dr Jeffery Long – Melvin Morse M.D. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4454627

    ====================

    It is very interesting to note that quantum entanglement, which conclusively demonstrates that ‘information’ in its pure ‘quantum form’ is completely transcendent of any time and space constraints, should be found in molecular biology on such a massive scale, for how can the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ in biology possibly be explained by a material (matter/energy) ’cause’ when the quantum entanglement ‘effect’ falsified material particles as its own ‘causation’ in the first place? (A. Aspect) Appealing to the probability of various configurations of material particles, as Darwinism does, simply will not help since a timeless/spaceless cause must be supplied which is beyond the capacity of the material particles themselves to supply! To give a coherent explanation for an effect that is shown to be completely independent of any time and space constraints one is forced to appeal to a cause that is itself not limited to time and space! i.e. Put more simply, you cannot explain a effect by a cause that has been falsified by the very same effect you are seeking to explain! Improbability arguments of various ‘special’ configurations of material particles, which have been a staple of the arguments against neo-Darwinism, simply do not apply since the cause is not within the material particles in the first place! Yet it is also very interesting to note, in Darwinism’s inability to explain this ‘transcendent quantum effect’ adequately, that Theism has always postulated a transcendent component to man that is not constrained by time and space. i.e. Theism has always postulated a ‘eternal soul’ for man that lives past the death of the body.

    The ‘Fourth Dimension’ Of Living Systems
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Gs_qvlM8-7bFwl9rZUB9vS6SZgLH17eOZdT4UbPoy0Y

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    etc.. etc.. etc..

  8. 8
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, good answer, ba77. So your model is that the brain acts as a receiver of mind?

    Doesn’t quite work, though, because when the brain is damaged, you don’t just get a fuzzy mind, you actually have altered thoughts. In other words it isn’t that signal to noise ratio goes down so much as the signal changes.

    What do you make of Phineas Gage?

  9. Liz: OK, thanks Gil. So your inference follows from the premise that minds are independent of brains?

    Precisely, because it seems to me that logic dictates that a mind caused the universe with intent and purpose. Obviously, that mind could not have had a physical brain.

    My inference and conclusion is that my mind is not just chemistry, but a manifestation of self which also transcends time and space. Should my brain cease to function, I fully expect my mind to exist outside of space and time, where it was conceived.

  10. Elizabeth, I would argue the finer points of where the analogy breaks down, but lets just cut to the chase and show why you have no foundation in physical science to postulate consciousness arising from a material basis in the first place:

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579/

    The immediate question is, “What does conscious observation have to do with anything in the experiments of quantum mechanics?” and thus by extrapolation of that question, “What does conscious observation have to do with anything in the universe?” Yet, the assertion that consciousness is to be treated as a separate entity when dealing with quantum mechanics, and thus with the universe, has some very strong clout behind it.

    Quantum mind–body problem
    Parallels between quantum mechanics and mind/body dualism were first drawn by the founders of quantum mechanics including Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli, Niels Bohr, and Eugene Wigner
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q.....dy_problem

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    i.e. In the experiment the ‘world’ (i.e. the universe) does not have a ‘privileged center’. Yet strangely, the conscious observer does exhibit a ‘privileged center’ in the universe. This is since the ‘matrix’, which determines which vector will be used to describe the particle in the experiment, is ‘observer-centric’ in its origination! Thus explaining Wigner’s dramatic statement, “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.”

    This following experiment extended the double slit experiment to show that the ‘spooky actions’, for instantaneous quantum wave collapse, happen regardless of any considerations for time or distance i.e. The following experiment shows that quantum actions are ‘universal and instantaneous’:

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    And of course all this leads us back to this question. “What does our conscious observation have to do with anything in collapsing the wave function of the photon in the double slit experiment and in the universe?”, and furthermore “What is causing the quantum waves to collapse from their ‘higher dimension’ in the first place since we humans are definitely not the ones who are causing the photon waves to collapse to their ‘uncertain 3D wave/particle’ state?” With the refutation of the materialistic ‘hidden variable’ argument and with the patent absurdity of the materialistic ‘Many-Worlds’ hypothesis, then I can only think of one sufficient explanation for quantum wave collapse to photon;

    Psalm 118:27
    God is the LORD, who hath shown us light:,,,

    In the following article, Physics Professor Richard Conn Henry is quite blunt as to what quantum mechanics reveals to us about the ‘primary cause’ of our 3D reality:

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html

    Professor Henry’s bluntness on the implications of quantum mechanics continues here:

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-designer/

    As Professor Henry pointed out, it has been known since the discovery of quantum mechanics itself, early last century, that the universe is indeed ‘Mental’, as is illustrated by this quote from Max Planck.

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944)

    Colossians 1:17
    “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

    (Double Slit) A Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser – updated 2007
    Excerpt: Upon accessing the information gathered by the Coincidence Circuit, we the observer are shocked to learn that the pattern shown by the positions registered at D0 (Detector Zero) at Time 2 depends entirely on the information gathered later at Time 4 and available to us at the conclusion of the experiment.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....ly-web.htm

    It is interesting to note that some materialists seem to have a very hard time grasping the simple point of the double slit experiments, but to try to put it more clearly; To explain an event which defies time and space, as the quantum erasure experiment clearly does, you cannot appeal to any material entity in the experiment like the detector, or any other 3D physical part of the experiment, which is itself constrained by the limits of time and space. To give an adequate explanation for defying time and space one is forced to appeal to a transcendent entity which is itself not confined by time or space. But then again I guess I can see why forcing someone who claims to be a atheistic materialist to appeal to a non-material transcendent entity, to give an adequate explanation, would invoke such utter confusion on their part. Yet to try to put it in even more ‘shocking’ terms, the ‘shocking’ conclusion of the experiment is that a transcendent Mind, with a capital M, must precede the collapse of quantum waves to 3-Dimensional particles. Moreover, it is impossible for a human mind to ever ‘emerge’ from any 3-D material particle which is itself semi-dependent on our ‘observation’ for its own collapse to a 3D reality in the first place. This is more than a slight problem for the atheistic-evolutionary materialist who insists that our minds ‘emerged’, or evolved, from 3D matter. In the following article Professor Henry puts it more clearly than I can:

    The Mental Universe – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: The only reality is mind and observations, but observations are not of things. To see the Universe as it really is, we must abandon our tendency to conceptualize observations as things.,,, Physicists shy away from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental universe is to invoke “decoherence” – the notion that “the physical environment” is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in “Renninger-type” experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The universe is entirely mental,,,, The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual. Live, and enjoy.
    http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/The.mental.universe.pdf

    etc.. etc..

  11. Hi Elizabeth,

    It may interest you to know that the case of Phineas Gage has already been discussed in a post on Uncommon Descent. There are a lot of popular myths associated with this case, as Denyse O’Leary revealed in her post of 25 March 2009:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....sychopath/

    Follow-up here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-goes-on/

    My own take is that while traumatic brain injury may change aspects of your personality, the important thing is that you cannot control the propositional content of a person’s thoughts by altering his/her brain. For instance, you cannot make a theist think the thought, “There is no God,” by stimulating his/her frontal cortex, or for that matter, Wernicke’s area or Broca’s area. If you could do that, then materialism would certainly be true.

    All right. Now, why can’t drunks think straight? Simple enough. Thinking logically is a higher-level activity which presupposes the occurrence of a host of lower-level activities in the brain (e.g. memory retrieval, holding information in short-term memory, forming associations between memories, executing mechanical steps in a sequence, etc.). Drunkenness interferes with the brain’s ability to perform these lower-level activities, so it takes a long time for drunks to do things that they could do much faster while sober. Brain injury can do the same.

    You might be inclined to simply identify higher-level activities with the ensemble of the lower-level activities that I perform while engaging in logical thought. I would respectfully disagree. Choose any of these activities, or choose all of them if you wish. The statement, “Tom is performing mechanical operation(s) X” will still not be equivalent in meaning to “Tom is thinking about Y.” And that holds no matter what your choice of X or Y is. The latter activity is inherently meaningful; the former activity is not. A mechanical operation can be performed without any understanding of its meaning; logical thinking on the other hand requires the thinker to advert to the meaning of the terms used. (For that reason, I wouldn’t say computers think. They are just devices that simulate thought, by executing mechanical steps very quickly and outputting a result that intelligent users can interpret in a way that is meaningful to them.)

    By the way, what do you think of J.R. Lucas’s mathematical arguments against identifying minds with machines? See http://www.angelfire.com/linux.....soul-godel

    I’d be interested to hear your opinion of his views.

  12. Elizabeth,

    I think bornagain77 put forward a powerful case in his latest post for the view that mind, rather than matter, is what is fundamental in our cosmos. The universality of form, and the fact that every material phenomenon we observe can be described in the language of mathematics – and very elegant mathematics at that – strongly suggests that the universe is “a great thought” as the British astronomer Sir James Jeans put it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.....s#Idealism

    If the universe is written in the language of mathematics then it is hard not to see a Mind behind it. The fact that it appears fine-tuned for life – a fact that even a “multiverse generator” cannot explain away, as I have argued in a recent post, also suggests that the Mind had a purpose in making the universe as it is.

    As I’ll argue in a forthcoming post, the vast size and great age of the universe do nothing to weaken this inference, and the evil we observe in Nature, while senseless at times, does not mar the perfection we observe in the laws of Nature.

    To those who don’t like our universe because of the natural evils it contains, I would say: build a better one! Or at the very least, demonstrate that a better one can be built, with different laws that are at least as elegant as the ones that obtain in our own universe.

  13. Re the mind/brain discussion: Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroscientist who had a very serious stroke from which she almost died, but from which she miraculously fully, or nearly fully, recovered. After her recovery, she wrote a book, My Stroke of Insight, describing the experience and her recovery. What is practically unique about this case is that she is able now to communicate about the event, whereas for some time subsequent to it, her capacity for speech was nearly obliterated. And the point is that if you read the book carefully, you will see that her mind was fully functioning throughout the entire experience, although often on a higher spiritual plane than that on which she or most of us operate during ordinary waking consciousness. She was fully capable of thought while at the same time her ability to use language to express that thought was absent. To me, the obvious conclusion is that the mind exists independently of the brain, but the capacity to express ourselves linguistically IS a function of the brain.

    Bornagain: you quote Richard Conn Henry as follows: “And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the ‘illusion’ of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism…”

    He is clearly saying that matter has no independent existence, an idea you vehemently argued against when I put it forth in an earlier thread. What gives?

    You also quote Bruce Gordon on a different topic. I pointed out in one of my arguments that Bruce Gordon, in an article from The Nature of Nature agrees with me, Jonathan Edwards, and Bishop Berkeley that the world is basically virtual reality. So is Gordon right when he agrees with you and wrong when he agrees with me?

  14. 14
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Hi, Gil:

    Just to press you on this (and thanks to others for their substantial responses, to which I will return!) – here is my puzzle.

    You originally said:

    But the universe (physical reality) could not have “known” we were coming. Physical stuff doesn’t “know” anything. The universe does not have a mind. Only that which caused the universe to come into existence could have “known” this, and this entity must have planned it for a purpose.

    Therefore, simple logic leads me to conclude that the universe was designed and instantiated by a mind that transcends physical reality and is outside of space and time — a mind of extraordinary creative power that had humanity in mind as a goal — the ultimate goal as far as we know, because no other living thing has remotely reached humanity’s level of comprehension and investigative potential.

    In other words, starting from the premise that “The universe does not have a mind”, you conclude, logically, that “the universe was designed and instantiated by a mind that transcends physical reality and is outside of space and time”. So I asked you about your premise, and you replied, as follows:

    Me:

    Gil: how do you know that the universe doesn’t have a mind?

    I’m not saying it does – but by what reasoning do you infer that it does not?

    Gil:

    Liz,

    The universe is physical stuff. Physical stuff doesn’t think, only minds do. Did time, space, matter, and energy — immediately after the big bang, at which point time itself came into existence — have a mind, and plan its own existence before* it existed?

    *Of course, “before” the origin of time has no meaning, since “before the origin of time” implies a “time” when time did not exist. But you get the idea.

    To which I replied:

    OK, thanks Gil. So your inference follows from the premise that minds are independent of brains?

    And – this is not a trick question, I’m interested – how do you account for findings that brain changes lead to mind changes? In stroke, for example?

    To which you replied:

    Precisely, because it seems to me that logic dictates that a mind caused the universe with intent and purpose. Obviously, that mind could not have had a physical brain.

    My inference and conclusion is that my mind is not just chemistry, but a manifestation of self which also transcends time and space. Should my brain cease to function, I fully expect my mind to exist outside of space and time, where it was conceived.

    Now it seems to me that this can be reduced to, given the premise that the universe was created by a mind (which I will accept for now):

    A mind is not a property of physical stuff.
    The universe is physical stuff.
    Therefore the universe was created by by something that transcends physical stuff.
    Therefore minds transcend time and space.
    Therefore my mind transcends time and space.
    Therefore mind is not a property of physical stuff.

    Which is of course circular!

    Can you tell me where either I have misunderstood you, or you might have missed a step?

    Because given your premise that the universe was created by a mind, another potential conclusion, if minds were properties of physical stuff, is that the universe was self-created.

    cheers Gil

    Lizzie

  15. Elizabeth, regardless of whether or not you think the argument is circular ‘philosophically’, SCIENTIFICALLY it is shown that consciousness/observation must precede wave collapse to 3-Dimensional ‘material’ particle. You simply have no SCIENTIFIC basis to postulate ‘bottom up’ emergence of consciousness from a material basis. If you wish to maintain integrity towards the scientific evidence, or credibility towards us, you must effectively deal with this evidence and not simply pretend as if this presents no problem to your atheistic materialism!!! I hope I’m wrong, But how come I have a strong hunch that your philosophical bias is much more important to you than acknowledging the simple truth in this matter?!?

    =================

    Miracle of the Moment – Steven Curtis Chapman – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rResKXjKqjQ

    ============================

    Bruce David, Are you a Theist now instead of a pantheist?

    ==================

  16. 16
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ba77:

    Elizabeth, regardless of whether or not you think the argument is circular

    Yes, I agree that the circularity is secondary to a more important issue.

    ‘philosophically’, SCIENTIFICALLY it is shown that consciousness/observation must precede wave collapse to 3-Dimensional ‘material’ particle.

    Well, not really, ba77.

    You simply have no SCIENTIFIC basis to postulate ‘bottom up’ emergence of consciousness from a material basis.

    Can you explain why you think that “consciousness…must precede wave collapse”?

    I’m not even sure what that is supposed to mean.

    If you wish to maintain integrity towards the scientific evidence, or credibility towards us, you must effectively deal with this evidence and not simply pretend as if this presents no problem to your atheistic materialism!!!

    Well, I’d like to see the evidence you mention that consciousness precedes wave collapse (whatever that means).

    I hope I’m wrong, But how come I have a strong hunch that your philosophical bias is much more important to you than acknowledging the simple truth in this matter?!?

    I’m not sure why you have that hunch, ba77, but I don’t think that there is a “simple truth” here. Consciousness is complicated!

    Plus, simply, I’m not sure why you would think I have a “philosophical bias”. Can you say why you think so?

  17. Elizabeth, your response, for lack of a better word, is simply pathetic!

  18. 18
    Elizabeth Liddle

    In what way, ba77?

    You suggested that I was ignoring crucial evidence.

    I asked you to provide that evidence.

    I cannot very well take into account evidence that has not been presented to me!

  19. I don’t know Elizabeth, perhaps post 1, 7 and 10, is the evidence you are ignoring?!? Not to mention the evidence Dr. Torley presented at 12 and Bruce David presented at 13?!?

    But perhaps I can see where you are so confused as to think material particles, within space-time, can actually produce transcendent entities which are not constrained by space time, you do have that nifty little Lenski e-coli experiment that showed the five ‘beneficial’ mutation getting in each others way towards building functional information/complexity. Why by-golly Elizabeth how could I possibly have been so naive as to think that the transcendent origin of the universe, revealed in the Big Bang, and that the transcendent ‘sustaining’ of the universe, revealed in quantum mechanics, could possible compete with five ‘beneficial’ mutation getting in each others way towards building functional information/complexity??? Hopefully you will overlook such a grievous error in logic on my part and continue to me show which evidence matters and which does not. I’m a slow learner but I’m fairly certain, with your guiding hand, one day I may be so wise as to think that transcendence may be purchased by that which is temporal!

  20. 20

    To me this is a strange reverse version of “god of the gaps.” Those who believe in design (as I do) are typically in awe of the intricacy and foresight we see. And experience shows that as technology enables us to look closer, we usually see even more intricacy. We don’t even know where it’s going to stop.

    So why would we conclude that an organ can’t contain our mind?

    For those theologically inclined (as I am again) that’s also consistent with the Bible. Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that because the scriptural debate is not what I’m addressing (which is why I don’t quote anything.)

    But we’ve already seen enough that we should hesitate before placing limits on what can and can’t be designed. And how many of us have said that of all designed biological forms, the human brain is the most amazing?

  21. 21
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ba77: you specifically mentioned evidence that consciousness…precedes wave collapase.

    That is what I hoped you would cite for me, as you seemed to think it was crucial.

  22. Elizabeth Liddle:

    In other words, starting from the premise that “The universe does not have a mind”, you conclude, logically, that “the universe was designed and instantiated by a mind that transcends physical reality and is outside of space and time”.

    haha. omgowd. now she wants to use logic. Try to subject her own statements to logical analysis and see what happens.

  23. I thought I had made my concession clear Elizabeth. You sold me,,, temporal things within space-time can produce permanent transcendent things like logic, information, mind etc.. etc.. etc.. and permanent transcendent things are not required to bring temporal things into existence! But you had to bring up that pesky wave collapse from the transcendent realm to the temporal realm. This does not help my new atheistic faith Elizabeth!!! I’m a newbie to this whole atheistic materialism thing and you have to be careful not to mention things like instantaneous quantum wave collapse to uncertain temporal particle until I can handle such counter-intuitive materialistic things!!! You know I might just revert to my old ways of thinking God had a hand in creating, and sustaining, the universe, and all life in it if you are not careful!!!

  24. 24
    Elizabeth Liddle

    vjtorley:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    It may interest you to know that the case of Phineas Gage has already been discussed in a post on Uncommon Descent. There are a lot of popular myths associated with this case, as Denyse O’Leary revealed in her post of 25 March 2009:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..sychopath/

    Follow-up here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com…..t-goes-on/

    Well, I wasn’t talking about “popular myths”, although I did select Gage as a well known example. I’m actually talking about the entire field of neuropsychology.

    My own take is that while traumatic brain injury may change aspects of your personality, the important thing is that you cannot control the propositional content of a person’s thoughts by altering his/her brain. For instance, you cannot make a theist think the thought, “There is no God,” by stimulating his/her frontal cortex, or for that matter, Wernicke’s area or Broca’s area. If you could do that, then materialism would certainly be true.

    I disagree with your last sentence, vjtorley, which is just as well, because I suggest that the rest of your statement is wrong! Now traumatic brain injury, and stroke, though devastating, tend to be local in effect (though not always), and the brain often has ways of bypassing, if inefficiently, the damaged regions. However disorders like schizophrenia, though more subtle, are also devastating, and non-local, and they do indeed lead to changes in “propositional content”. Indeed delusions are exactly that – deviant propositions. And although schizophrenia probably has a developmental aetiology in most cases, it can also, rarely, be triggered by traumatic brain injury, and delusions can also be triggered by other pathological processes.

    All right. Now, why can’t drunks think straight? Simple enough. Thinking logically is a higher-level activity which presupposes the occurrence of a host of lower-level activities in the brain (e.g. memory retrieval, holding information in short-term memory, forming associations between memories, executing mechanical steps in a sequence, etc.). Drunkenness interferes with the brain’s ability to perform these lower-level activities, so it takes a long time for drunks to do things that they could do much faster while sober. Brain injury can do the same.

    Well, this seems to me like simplification to the point of falsification! For a start, what you list as “lower-level activities” include what are generally considered “executive functions” and denoted “high level” (although the words “high” and “low” being metaphorical, need proper unpacking in either context). Yes, working memory is affected by alchohol, but so is behavioural inhibition. And although traumatic brain injury can sometimes produce symptoms of drunkenness, that is relatively rare.

    You might be inclined to simply identify higher-level activities with the ensemble of the lower-level activities that I perform while engaging in logical thought. I would respectfully disagree. Choose any of these activities, or choose all of them if you wish. The statement, “Tom is performing mechanical operation(s) X” will still not be equivalent in meaning to “Tom is thinking about Y.” And that holds no matter what your choice of X or Y is. The latter activity is inherently meaningful; the former activity is not. A mechanical operation can be performed without any understanding of its meaning; logical thinking on the other hand requires the thinker to advert to the meaning of the terms used. (For that reason, I wouldn’t say computers think. They are just devices that simulate thought, by executing mechanical steps very quickly and outputting a result that intelligent users can interpret in a way that is meaningful to them.)

    There are quite a lot of assertions in this paragraph that I would seriously question! And I’d start with your division of “activities” into “higher-level” and “lower-level”. I’m not sure you are cutting in the right plane.

    By the way, what do you think of J.R. Lucas’s mathematical arguments against identifying minds with machines? See http://www.angelfire.com/linux…..soul-godel

    I’d be interested to hear your opinion of his views

    Thanks for asking!

    I am not (obviously) a trained philosopher, but as I understand that paper, the key paragraph is this:

    Gödel’s theorem must apply to cybernetical machines, because it is of the essence of being a machine, that it should be a concrete instantiation of a formal system. It follows that given any machine which is consistent and capable of doing simple arithmetic, there is a formula which it is incapable of producing as being true—i.e., the formula is unprovable-in-the-system-but which we can see to be true. It follows that no machine can be a complete or adequate model of the mind, that minds are essentially different from machines.

    And I am not sure that I understand it. He seems to be saying that all machines are concrete instantiations of a formal system (I’m not sure if this is true, but maybe it is), and therefore there must be propositions that we can see to be true but which the machine cannot prove. Therefore “we” (the entities that can see a proposition to be true) cannot be the same thing as machines.

    Do I have that about right?

    But my problem with his essay starts in the next paragraph. The machine-model he makes of a brain-machine is nothing like any brain-model I have ever seen, because he omits probably the most famous things we actually know about brains which is that what fires together wires together. So when he says:

    When we {45} consider the possibility that the mind might be a cybernetical mechanism we have such a model in view; we suppose that the brain is composed of complicated neural circuits, and that the information fed in by the senses is “processed” and acted upon or stored for future use. If it is such a mechanism, then given the way in which it is programmed—the way in which it is “wired up”—and the information which has been fed into it, the response—the “output”—is determined, and could, granted sufficient time, be calculated. Our idea of a machine is just this, that its behaviour is completely determined by the way it is made and the incoming “stimuli”: there is no possibility of its acting on its own: given a certain form of construction and a certain input of information, then it must act in a certain specific way.

    (my bold)

    In other words he has missed an entire dimension; he regards as static the “certain form of construction”, when in fact it is dynamic – the “form of construction” is a function of prior inputs, and those inputs are a function of prior outputs!

    He presents us with a non-chaotic brain, whereas what we have is a profoundly chaotic brain. And it is that chaos (poor term, but it’s the one we’ve got) which, IMO, hold the clue to both mind and the answer to the Gödel question. To mind, because what we have is a recursive loop, providing the dimension along which experience can occur, and to the Gödel question because just like the feedback-oscillation we get in trying to determing whether a Gödel proposition is provable in the system, so we get just that in the brain.

    And the brain has its solution which is that decision making turns out not to be based figuring out absolute what the correct answer is to a problem but in making a Bayesian estimate of the likely correct answer, given the data, and given the time limit for the answer.

    I’m sure the above sounds like gobbledly gook, because I’m trying to condense a lot of thoughts, some of which are still somewhat fuzzy, into a very short post, but I thought I’d give you my take on the piece before it scrolls away!

    And, not wanting to just pimp by blog here, but to offer an alternative venue for the kind of slower-moving reflective discussion that is a bit difficult on such a fast moving site, if you would like to visit:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/

    I’d be delighted to add you to the list of contributors, and you could perhaps write this as an OP?

    Not that you can’t do that here of course, but at least I wouldn’t lose the bookmark!

  25. 25

    jvtorley,

    For instance, you cannot make a theist think the thought, “There is no God,” by stimulating his/her frontal cortex, or for that matter, Wernicke’s area or Broca’s area. If you could do that, then materialism would certainly be true.

    How about instead of “there is no God” we have “I must shop till I drop” or “I must gamble”?

    All behaviors that are just as complex as a belief in a supernatural being.

    Just take some Mirapex:

    Gambling is only one of the pleasure/reward-seeking activities that can increase in patients taking Mirapex. Other obsessive behaviors include:

    Excessive shopping
    Overeating
    Hypersexuality
    All these obsessive behaviors stop immediately when patients are taken off of Mirapex or given a reduced dose.

    Does that prove materialism is true then? The compulsion to “gamble” is not in the pill is it? The “information” is not in the pill itself. Yet specific thoughts are generated and acted upon, as if there were the patients own thoughts. And, of course, they were.

  26. 26
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ScottAndrews:

    To me this is a strange reverse version of “god of the gaps.” Those who believe in design (as I do) are typically in awe of the intricacy and foresight we see. And experience shows that as technology enables us to look closer, we usually see even more intricacy. We don’t even know where it’s going to stop.

    So why would we conclude that an organ can’t contain our mind?

    For those theologically inclined (as I am again) that’s also consistent with the Bible. Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that because the scriptural debate is not what I’m addressing (which is why I don’t quote anything.)

    But we’ve already seen enough that we should hesitate before placing limits on what can and can’t be designed. And how many of us have said that of all designed biological forms, the human brain is the most amazing?

    Interesting point (I think – unless I am reading you upside down!)

    I would certainly agree with your last sentence. It seems churlish to me, even as a non-design-advocate, to deny the brain credit for the thing we call mind!

    As for the brain-as-mind-receiver model – it just doesn’t work, on so many levels. All the evidence suggests that mental events and neural events are so close-coupled as to be best conceived of as different aspects of the same thing – the mental aspect being the subjective experience of the objectively observable neural aspect (well, fairly objectively observable, anyway).

    Or, if you like mental activity being the output of neural activity that is fed back in as input to the neurons.

  27. Elizabeth you state:

    All the evidence suggests that mental events and neural events are so close-coupled as to be best conceived of as different aspects of the same thing – the mental aspect being the subjective experience of the objectively observable neural aspect (well, fairly objectively observable, anyway).

    Perhaps you can help me with my new found atheistic faith Elizabeth, but when you state ALL EVIDENCE, does this mean that now as a atheist I can call the cherry picked evidence, such what you have chosen to consider, ‘ALL EVIDENCE” and that I am free to ignore ANY EVIDENCE that may falsify my atheistic presuppositions, such as what you have chosen to do??? Boy if so this is going to make debates a breeze!!!! ,,, As well another question that is nagging the new religious zeal I have for my new atheistic faith is that I, as atheist, must hold that chaos is the ultimate creator of everything since there is no Almighty God, yet in my desire to win new converts to my atheistic faith of chaos as creator I have to use the unchanging transcendent entity of logic, yet, in the chaos as creator model, unchanging logic is but a mere illusion since absolute unchanging truths do not exist in the first place but merely chaos from which the ‘illusion’ of truth emerged!!! Do you see my problem here Elizabeth, I’m faced with the problem of convincing people the truth of my claims win in reality I deny that truth exists in the first place. Frankly Elizabeth, this newly found atheistic faith of mine is not fairing to well if in order to believe it is absolutely true I must deny that absolute truth exists. Oh well I’m sure you have it all worked out in your imagination.

  28. Elizabeth, this short video bears just about exactly the same insurmountable dilemma as quantum wave collapse presents to the mind-brain question:

    Why Couldn’t the Universe Just Create Itself?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OQAbF0ZB7s

  29. 29
    Elizabeth Liddle

    OK, ba77, I accept that there is evidence that suggests to some people that mind and brain are not close coupled. I think this evidence is potentially interesting, but whenever I have looked into it, it has appeared to that the interpretation depends on the assumption that we cannot project back our sense of having been aware through a time when our brains were not functioning.

    I think this is a very dubious assumption, and goes against all the evidende we have from other sources, including EEG, TMS and other data, which suggests that we construct reality “on the fly” as we go.

    And this is why I do not find your links to videos reporting various bizarre experiences at all convincing as evidence that what the experiencer reported mapped on to any kind of reality.

    But I do understand that people find this interpretation of how consciousness profoundly counter-intuitive.

    In particular, I have not yet an account of an NDE that cannot be readily explained once we drop the assumption that what we remember experiencing in the past is necessarily a report of what we actually were experiencing at the time.

  30. Elizabeth Liddle:

    AHe seems to be saying that all machines are concrete instantiations of a formal system (I’m not sure if this is true, but maybe it is), and therefore there must be propositions that we can see to be true but which the machine cannot prove. Therefore “we” (the entities that can see a proposition to be true) cannot be the same thing as machines.

    Almost, but not quite.

    It follows that no machine can be a complete or adequate model of the mind, that minds are essentially different from machines.

    Do you see how this has to be true, given that the premises are true?

    If so, then you must attack one or more of the premises.

    Which premise are you disagreeing with?

  31. Well Elizabeth you almost convinced me what you said is absolutely true, save for the fact that now, as a atheist, I must deny that absolute truth exists.

  32. 32
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Why must you?

  33. 33
    Elizabeth Liddle

    I’m not sure that “all machines are concrete instantiations of formal systems”.

    I’m not sure that it is true, and, if true, that it applies to brains.

    It’s possible that brains aren’t machines under that definition of a machine.

    But there is also equivocation between brains and minds. A brain is not a mind.

    But first of all, let’s see if brains are machines.

  34. 34
    Elizabeth Liddle

    ba77, thanks but could you actually supply some kind of evidence for your actual claim, that consciousness precedes wave collapse? Even a video? I’m not at all sure what you mean.

  35. 35

    Elizabeth,

    Interesting point (I think – unless I am reading you upside down!)

    No, you read me right side up. I think that ID is God-friendly science, but mind/brain dualism, near-death experiences, etc. looks like anecdotes and philosophy packaged as science.

    I’m admittedly biased. I believe that the separation of people into material and immaterial components looks more like Greek philosophy and runs counter to the Bible.

    I guess that means I get to see what it looks like from the other side, when it looks like religion is getting framed as science. But ultimately, while I doubt the scientific point of view, my beliefs don’t originate with science. I reject mind/brain dualism because of the Bible.

    Maybe I’m also not hearing it right. It sounds like everyone is hinting at the presence of an invisible spirit within people. If I’m oversimplifying, sorry, I don’t mean to. (It can be really irritating when people sum up your beliefs and get them all wrong.)

  36. Elizabeth you ask:

    ‘Why must you?’ (as a atheist reject all claims for absolute transcendent truth?)

    ,,, Oh OK I see how this all works Elizabeth, as a atheist, I am now free to pick and choose, regard and disregard, whatever Theistic precepts I want, whenever I want, because,,, because??? Well by-golly just because I can do it. Man this atheist stuff is a breeze once you get the hang of it.

  37. Elizabeth Liddle:

    But first of all, let’s see if brains are machines.

    Why? He is talking about mechanical models of the mind, and talking about brains isn’t going to change that.

    In talking about brains you’re not addressing the argument.

    But there is also equivocation between brains and minds. A brain is not a mind.

    Right. But do you think Lucas is equivocating? It seems to me that you’re the one that is trying to substitute talk of minds with talk of brains, not Lucas.

  38. 38
    Elizabeth Liddle

    Mung: we are, I assume,talking about whether mind is independent of brain.

    If not, then I don’t know what we are talking about.

    But if we are, then if the argument is that the brain is a machine, and machines can’t state certain things are true, but minds can, therefore minds are not brains, then it’s important, I think to establish whether a brain is a machine.

  39. As to the evidence man is now shown to have a soul (and mind). It is now found that quantum information resides on a massive scale in molecular biology,,,

    Quantum Information In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    ,,, Yet quantum information cannot be destroyed,,,

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    ,,,Thus upon death the quantum information that resides in the body must continue on somewhere in the ‘universe’ once it is ‘decoupled’ from the body. And indeed there is fairly strong evidence that upon death the highest level of functional quantum information in the body leaves the body suddenly,,,

    The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings – Steve Talbott
    Excerpt: Virtually the same collection of molecules exists in the canine cells during the moments immediately before and after death. But after the fateful transition no one will any longer think of genes as being regulated, nor will anyone refer to normal or proper chromosome functioning. No molecules will be said to guide other molecules to specific targets, and no molecules will be carrying signals, which is just as well because there will be no structures recognizing signals. Code, information, and communication, in their biological sense, will have disappeared from the scientist’s vocabulary.
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

    ,,, Well where does this highest level of functional quantum information go??? Well, we now also have fairly strong evidence to show that there is a ‘transition’ to a eternal realm for the ‘soul’ of man,,,:

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    Experimental confirmation of Time Dilation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....nfirmation

    It is very interesting to note that this strange higher dimensional, eternal, framework for time, found in special relativity, finds corroboration in Near Death Experience testimonies:

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as an observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences:

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Here is the interactive website (with link to the math) related to the preceding video;

    Seeing Relativity
    http://www.anu.edu.au/Physics/Searle/

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    Speed Of Light – Near Death Experience Tunnel – Turin Shroud – video
    http://www.vimeo.com/18371644

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

  40. It is also interesting to note that quantum information/entanglement is also found to be necessary for Smelling, Hearing, and Vision;

    Quantum explanation for how we smell gets new support – March 2011
    Excerpt: According to Turin’s theory, the additional criteria are the vibrational frequencies of odorant molecules. A molecule’s vibrational frequency can cause electrons in the nasal receptors to tunnel between two energy states if the vibrational frequency matches the energy difference of the two states. Tunneling is a quantum mechanical phenomenon, since the electrons do not have enough energy to move between the two states by classical means.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....ation.html

    Quantum Noise and the Threshold of Hearing
    Excerpt: We argue that the sensitivity of the ear reaches a limit imposed by the uncertainty principle. This is possible only if the receptor cell holds the detector elements in a special nonequilibrium state which has the same noise characteristics as a ground (T=0 K) state. To accomplish this “active cooling” the molecular dynamics of the system must maintain quantum mechanical coherence over the time scale of the measurement.
    http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v54/i7/p725_1

    QUANTUM COHERENCE AND THE RETINA – April 2011
    http://www.ghuth.com/2011/04/2.....he-retina/

    ,,which fits very well with this “anomaly”,,

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their Near Death Experiences (NDEs). 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth. (of note: This ‘anomaly’ is also found for deaf people who can hear sound during their Near Death Experiences(NDEs).)
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience (NDE) – Pim von Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    As well, as to quantum coherence in the brain:

    Quantum coherence in ion channels: resonances, transport and verification – 2010
    Excerpt: Ion channels are protein complexes that regulate the flow of particular ions across the cell membrane and are essential for a large range of cellular functions [19]. Besides their role in neuronal communications, in which voltage-gated channels and ligand-gated channels are involved in the generation of action potentials and mediating synaptic release, more generally ion channels play a key role in processes that rely on fast responses on the bio-molecular scale. Examples include muscle contraction, epithelial transport and T-cell activation [19, 20],,, A closer look at the involved dimensions and energetics of the process reveals that the underlying mechanism for ion transmission and selectivity might not be entirely classical.
    http://www.vaziria.com/pdf/Qua.....annels.pdf

  41. as well;

    Quantum computation in brain microtubules: Decoherence and biological feasibility
    S. Hagan,1 S. R. Hameroff,2 and J. A. Tuszyn´ski3
    http://www.quantumconsciousnes.....erence.pdf

  42. Elizabeth (#24)

    Thank you as always for a thought-provoking response. I’d like to begin with an observation on beliefs made by Aristotle in his De Anima, Book III, chapter 3: that we are capable of being persuaded of their truth by the use of reason, and that this rational persuasion can make us convinced that they are true.

    I think this is an important point, because the examples you provided in your last post lacked these distinguishing features. You wrote about delusions. Following Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, who has done a lot of valuable work on obsessive compulsive disorder, I would suggest that a delusion is simply a false message from the brain. Although it may be said to have a propositional content of sorts, it does not qualify as a rational thought. Where rationality enters the picture is when we respond to that delusion. Schwartz has designed a four-step procedure for treatment of OCD. I don’t want to generalize by claiming that his treatment would work for all kinds of delusions; my purpose here is simply to show that the way in which we can deal with some delusions illustrates how they differ from beliefs.

    The four steps in Schwartz’s procedure for treating OCD are as follows:

    Step 1: Relabel
    Call an obsessive thought or compulsive urge what it really is: a false message from the brain.

    Step 2: Reattribute
    “It’s not me – it’s my OCD.” Reattribute the intensity of the thought or urge to its real cause, to recognize that the feeling and the discomfort are due to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. It is OCD – a medical condition.

    Step 3: Refocus
    In Refocusing, the idea is to work around the OCD thoughts and urges by shifting attention to something else, if only for a few minutes. Early on, you may choose some specific behavior to replace compulsive washing or checking. You learn that even though the OCD feeling is there, it doesn’t have to control what you do. You make the decision about what you’re going to do, rather than respond to OCD thoughts and urges as a robot would. By refocusing, you reclaim your decision-making power.

    Step 4: Revalue
    Revalue those thoughts and urges that, before behavior therapy, would invariably lead you to perform compulsive behaviors. After adequate training in the first three steps, you are able in time to place a much lower value on the OCD thoughts and urges. In this step, you learn to become an impartial spectator or a disinterested observer: you learn to witness your own actions and feelings as someone not involved. People with OCD must strive to maintain awareness of the Impartial Spectator, the observing power within that gives you the capacity to fend off pathological urges until they begin to fade.

    To sum up: I would suggest that delusions are not beliefs, even though they possess a content. It is when we critically evaluate our delusions that we learn to acquire true beliefs.

    In case you think I have been focusing too much on one disorder (OCD), let me cite the example of mathematician John Nash, the subject of the movie A Beautiful Mind. This is what he said in an interview, on hearing voices:

    Initially I did not hear any voices. Some years went by before I heard voices and – I became first disturbed in 1959, and I didn’t hear voices until the summer of 1964 I think, but then after that, I heard voices, and then I began arguing with the concept of the voices.

    And ultimately I began rejecting them and deciding not to listen, and, of course, my son has been hearing voices, and if he can progress to the state of rejecting them, he can maybe come out of his mental illness.

    The consequence of rejecting the voices is ultimately not hearing the voices. You’re really talking to yourself is what the voices are, but it’s also parallel to a dream. In a dream it’s typical not to be rational.

    I had some philosophical ideas that were involved. I found myself thinking in political terms, but then I found myself able to criticize this thinking – that it wasn’t very valuable to think in political terms. Even now, I sometimes have a new realization that it can be not so good to think in political terms about some of the current issues. One can leave that to others.

    So in rejecting some of the political ideas, that had a relation to the voices, so I could think of a voice maybe as presenting what was analogous to a political argument, and then I could say, I don’t want to listen to that. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    Regarding my remarks on drunkenness: I would certainly agree with your assertion that the condition can interfere with behavior inhibition by deactivating the frontal cortex. Behavior inhibition is a certainly higher-level mental activity, as you rightly point out – although I would add that it presupposes an ability on our part to remember and closely monitor our actions, and compare them to normal responses in those circumstances, which one has learned from regular interactions with others. This is what the frontal cortex does; the task of unembodied reason is to critically evaluate the appropriateness of the action one is about to perform, and decide to halt the action is it is deemed inappropriate.

    My example with the drunk concerned a person performing a cognitive task. I had in mind something like an act of mental multiplication, which I happen to be good at. Alcohol can certainly impair this ability, and I put this down to its interference with the brain’s ability to retrieve memories, hold information in short-term memory, form associations between memories, and execute mechanical steps in a sequence.

    These tasks I would describe as “lower-level” tasks, relative to the higher-level executive activity of managing the entire process, shepherding it towards the goal of arriving at the right answer. The distinction between “higher” and “lower” which I am proposing is a context-sensitive one.

    Thus in the context of behavioral inhibition, the activity of the frontal cortex is “high-level” relative to the regions which feed into it, but “low-level” relative to the unembodied task of critical evaluation which reason performs after the frontal cortex detects a sequence of behavior which is abnormal in a specific context.

    Regarding your comments on J.R. Lucas’ paper on Godel: I’m quite sure that his model of the brain is a relatively simplified one (he wrote his paper a few decades ago). However, I’m not at all persuaded that feedback loops and oscillations can account for the mind’s ability to recognize as true certain propositions which machines cannot.

    It seems to me that all Lucas is saying, in the quote you cite, is that the brain operates in a deterministic fashion when it produces its output. And whether you want to add in recursive loops or not, you would surely agree, as a materialist, that for a given input acting on the brain when it is in a given state, there can only be one output. In that sense, you would hold that the brain is a machine. You might want to add that the brain’s output can itself serve as subsequent input, but it seems to me that all you are saying here is that it alters the subsequent state of the brain, from S1 to S2. The point is that when a new input come along, the brain may no longer be the same as it was before, but it will still process information deterministically. In that sense, it is still a machine in Lucas’s sense, if materialism is correct. So I would say that his argument is a valid reductio ad absurdum.

    That’s all for now – I’ll be back later.

  43. When you die, you enter eternity.

    This is a myth.

  44. Elizabeth Liddle:

    Mung: we are, I assume,talking about whether mind is independent of brain.

    If not, then I don’t know what we are talking about.

    I’m talking about J.R. Lucas’s mathematical arguments against identifying minds with machines, of course.

    But since you seem to be talking about something else entirely, I’m really not interested, so I’ll let you and vjt hash it out.

    cheers

  45. mung you state entering eternity is a myth, yet you cite no evidence, whereas I cited Einstein’s special theory of relativity to show that ‘eternity’ is a physical reality, and I cited testimony from a Near Death Experiencer and a researcher that testified to ‘entering’ eternity is a common feature upon death, as well I cited the fact that quantum information cannot be destroyed and that our bodies have quantum information residing in them on a massive scale. Thus I have definitely provided sufficient evidence for the physical reality of ‘eternity’ as well as evidence for plausibility of us entering it, Whereas you have not shown any reason why it should be considered implausible as far as the physics is concerned.

  46. John 3:36

    John 5:24

    John 6:47-51

    John 8:51

    John 11:26

    The myth is that physical death is the way to enter life.

    If you don’t have eternal life now, you’re not going to gain it just because you pass away.

  47. Mung, that is all theology, and while that is certainly important in its own right, I’m not concerned with a theological argument right now,,, I am first and foremost concerned about physical reality and how it conforms to such a ‘eternal’ view and the scientific plausibility of such a view that a ‘soul’ might enter therein. and I believe I have made a fairly coherent case evidence-wise in that regards. i.e. other than your personal theological concerns, why do you think it is implausible as far as physics of reality is concerned? I certainly think the physics of reality provides all the necessary elements for ‘eternal’ life.

  48. Elizabeth:

    I’ve had a bit more time to review your objection to J.R. Lucas’s mathematical arguments against identifying minds with machines. The crucial premise which you object to is Lucas’s claim that the brain is a concrete instantiation of a formal system. I think the point Lucas is making here is that he’s trying to be as generous as possible to his material opponent. If the brain is anything less than a concrete instantiation of a formal system, then its reliability is automatically undermined: brain chemistry alone (i.e. material as opposed to formal properties) may dictate some of the “conclusions” it reaches, in certain circumstances – e.g. when it succumbs to an overpowering craving. The point of Lucas’s argument is that even if we make the generous assumption that the brain functions like a computer at all times (which it almost certainly doesn’t), it will still be vulnerable to Godel-type arguments.

    Feedback loops won’t help the brain either. For even if it has feedback loops galore, there will still be formulae that we can construct which elude the brain’s ability to assess as true, at any given time.

    Moreover, in his essay, Lucas seems to anticipate the kind of objection you raise when he writes:

    A second objection will now be made. The procedure whereby the Godelian formula is constructed is a standard procedure – only so could we be sure that a Godelian formula can be constructed for every formal system. But if it is a standard procedure, then a machine should be able to be programmed to carry it out too. We could construct a machine with the usual operations, and in addition an operation of going through the Godel procedure, and then producing the conclusion of that procedure as being true; and then repeating the procedure, and so on, as often as required. This would correspond to having a system with an additional rule of inference which allowed one to add, as a theorem, the Godelian formula of the rest of the formal system, and then the Godelian formula of this new, strengthened formal system, and so on. It would be tantamount to adding to the original formal system an infinite sequence of axioms, each the Godelian formula of the system hitherto obtained. Yet even so, the matter is not settled: for the machine with a Godelizing operator, as we might call it, is a different machine from the machines without such an operator; and, although the machine with the operator would be able to do those things in which the machines without the operator were outclassed by a mind, yet we might expect a mind, faced with a machine that possessed a Godelizing operator, to take this into account, and out-Godel the new machine, Godelizing operator and all. This has, in fact, proved to be the case. Even if we adjoin to a formal system the infinite set of axioms consisting of the successive Godelian formulae, the resulting system is still incomplete, and contains a formula which cannot be proved-in-the-system, although a rational being can, standing outside the system, see that it is true. We had expected this, for even if an infinite set of axioms were added, they would have to be specified by some finite rule or specification, and this further rule or specification could then be taken into account by a mind considering the enlarged formal system. In a sense, just because the mind has the last word, it can always pick a hole in any formal system presented to it as a model of its own workings. The mechanical model must be, in some sense, finite and definite: and then the mind can always go one better. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    Lucas continues:

    This is the answer to one objection put forward by Turing. He argues that the limitation to the powers of a machine do not amount to anything much. Although each individual machine is incapable of getting the right answer to some questions, after all each individual human being is fallible also: and in any case “our superiority can only be felt on such an occasion in relation to the one machine over which we have scored our petty triumph. There would be no question of triumphing simultaneously over all machines.” But this is not the point… What is at issue is not the unequal contest between one mind and all machines, but whether there could be any, single, machine that could do all a mind can do. For the mechanist thesis to hold water, it must be possible, in principle, to produce a model, a single model, which can do everything the mind can do. It is like a game. The mechanist has first turn. He produces a – any, but only a definite one – mechanical model of the mind. I point to something that it cannot do, but the mind can. The mechanist is free to modify his example, but each time he does so, I am entitled to look for defects in the revised model. If the mechanist can devise a model that I cannot find fault with, his thesis is established: if he cannot, then it is not proven: and since – as it turns out – he necessarily cannot, it is refuted. To succeed, he must be able to produce some definite mechanical model of the mind – anyone he likes, but one he can specify, and will stick to. But since he cannot, in principle cannot, produce any mechanical model that is adequate, even though the point of failure is a minor one, he is bound to fail, and mechanism must be false. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

    I think the ball is in the materialist’s court.

  49. 49
    Elizabeth Liddle

    vjtorley: I have bookmarked this thread, and will try to get back to your interesting responses later.

    In case the thread has been locked by then, I invite you to discuss at my new blog (which is not designed to poach traffic from UD, but, in part, to collect its trash ;) – or at least to provide a retirement home for topics who can’t cope with the frenetic pace of UD news….

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/

    Just let me know if you want to post an OP.

    I plan to do one on the Mind/Body problem in the near future anyway.

  50. vjtorley:

    I’ve had a bit more time to review your objection to J.R. Lucas’s mathematical arguments against identifying minds with machines. The crucial premise which you object to is Lucas’s claim that the brain is a concrete instantiation of a formal system.

    Did Lucas claim that?

  51. BA:
    I cited testimony from a Near Death Experiencer and a researcher that testified to ‘entering’ eternity is a common feature upon death

    How does one report in the past tense on having entered eternity? How do they know it was eternity? Maybe they just didn’t give it enough time.

  52. Well Scott, I’m sorry to make you think it was only ‘one’ report,,, people testifying to a drastic ‘restructuring of time’, into eternity, is one of the most commonly reported things that happen to people who have a Near Death Experience:

    The NDE and Time – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    http://www.near-death.com/expe.....rch13.html

    And though I have several gripes about some of the ‘looseness’ in NDE studies, for me the completely surprising, and compelling, thing for ‘eternity’ is how this all lines up with what know to be true for Special Relativity. i.e. from a-priori atheistic materialistic perspectives, there is absolutely no reason to expect such congruence, but yet once again Theism finds strong congruence.

  53. BA,

    What’s odd to me is that if what they actually did experience eternity, how would they know to call it that? Wouldn’t they just say, ‘I experienced something really weird, I wonder what it was?’

    Eternity is rather precise. It’s as if they had said that during their NDE they moved exactly at the speed of light. How do they know whether it was eternity or just a really long time?

    It’s not my intention to mock it. But people can have very similar experiences from similar trauma.

    Take sleep paralysis. Each person will swear that they were paralyzed. The experience is terrifying, real, and accompanied by nightmares that seem more like waking hallucinations. Google “sleep paralysis demon possession” and you’ll see that many people draw the same conclusion. But it’s really just something that goes wrong in the wiring.

  54. Well Scott, as I said, for me the ‘proof’ comes from the contrasted a-prioris of materialism and Theism,, i.e. from what the physics of reality itself is telling me is plausible. I simply see no reason why physical reality itself would preclude these testimonies from being genuine. For me this is very strange to find that physical reality would be structured so as to be in congruence! Thus if you have an objection from physics, I will consider it, but if you, like mung, are mainly concerned with personal theological objections, then I feel the objection simply misses the deep and profound mystery as to why this congruence between physical reality and the NDE testimonies should even exist in the first place.

  55. As well Scott, eternity is not so much a ‘really, really long time’ as it is a ‘folding in of the past and the future into now’; i.e. it is a ‘higher dimensional time’; This higher dimension, ‘eternal’, inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

    and yet even this ‘esoteric’ point of the higher dimensional ‘folding in’ of time is captured in NDE testimonies;

    When you die, everything stops and you enter eternity. It is like finally getting to the nanosecond, where time stops. Like a watch, our body stops at that time. Yet our spirit and consciousness continue to live on in a dimension beyond sequential time. We go beyond nanoseconds into a space-time measurement we cannot know here on Earth. It is the eternal now where past, present, and future are all merged into one. Eternity is the present, the now that never ends.’ – NDE testimony

    Scott, you can write it off to hallucinations if you want, but, as for myself, I am seriously impressed by the congruence!

  56. 56

    I won’t beat it to death. I have no objection based on physics.

    But one more question: :)

    eternity is not so much a ‘really, really long time’ as it is a ‘folding in of the past and the future into now’; i.e. it is a ‘higher dimensional time’; This higher dimension, ‘eternal’, inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    Is that what they said when they woke up?

  57. Scott, the passage you quoted is referring to what we know directly from Special Relativity itself of a ‘higher dimensional folding in’ of time, plus not only does special relativity reveal a higher dimensional ‘folding in of time’ to us, but special relativity also reveals a ‘higher dimensional folding in of space’!

    Scott, Please note the optical effect at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as an observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light,

    Traveling At The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Here is the interactive website (with link to the math) related to the preceding video (the video was done by two professors of Physics);

    Seeing Relativity
    http://www.anu.edu.au/Physics/Searle/

    OK Scott now please note ‘the tunnel’ reported in NDE’s;

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    And once again Scott I point out, ‘the tunnel’ is a consistent and common feature of Judeo-Christian NDE’s

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    Thus Scott, once again I say, you can write this all off as hallucination if you want, but as for myself, I am seriously impressed!

  58. 58

    BA,

    I actually watched the Traveling at the Speed of Light video. (That’s all I really have say about it.)

    But what does the world folding and collapsing on itself have to do with people dying? Assuming these people were floating off to heaven, why would they see an artist’s conception of infinity or a depiction of space collapsing?

    It’s interesting that Barbara Springer interpreted her vision as being of heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I believe the Bible and I have beliefs based on what one person says that another person saw in a vision. But these experiences are anecdotal.
    There were eight resurrections recorded in the Bible, and not one mention of lights or tunnels.

  59. 59

    Nine, actually, but one was different.

  60. Scott, so your concerns are Theological once again? Well, if you want to argue theology that is all fine and well, but once again I point out that I am primarily concerned with, and defending, the fact that there is a stunning correlation between what we mathematically know will happen at the speed of light, with Special Relativity, and with what people consistently report in their Judeo-Christian NDE’s. If you have any objections to the actual physics, as to their not being an accurate description of reality, then, as far as the science is concerned, you will have a legitimate objection to the point I have made. For me Theological arguments are quickly lost in personal prejudices that is why, from the outset, have made clear the point I am defending is a scientific point of physics conforming to NDE’s, NOT a theological point of whether NDE’s conform to scripture! It is just much easier to defend reality with actual evidence from physics, than it is to defend a theological point of view that is much more subtle to discern.

  61. 61

    BA,

    I agree that debating theology is a waste of time 95% of the time, except on the internet when it’s 100%.
    So I’ll just be quiet now.
    I’ll try to stick to the ID and darwinism where it’s not so irreverent to have fun with it.

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