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Repeat after me: “this has nothing to do with my views on religion”

[[This blast from the past was originally published here at UD 25oct06. With EXPELLED coming out so soon and given Dawkins's prominent role in it, I thought it worth moving to the top of the stack (blogs have the data structure of a push-down stack). --WmAD]]

Last night Richard Dawkins did a reading from his new book, The God Delusion, at a bookstore in DC. After the reading he fielded questions. A friend of mine was in the front and got to be the first to go. He asked Dawkins if he thought he was being inconsistent by being a determinist while taking credit for writing his book. The answer so shocked my questioner friend that he typed out a transcript of what was said, which is pasted below. He recorded the audio on his laptop and has as an MP3, just in case someone wishes to dispute his recollection of this event. I post it here with my friend’s permission.

Richard Dawkins at Politics and Prose speaking on The God Delusion
Question and Answer

Questioner: Dr. Dawkins thank you for your comments. The thing I have appreciated most about your comments is your consistency in the things I’ve seen you written. One of the areas that I wanted to ask you about and the places where I think there is an inconsistency and I hoped you would clarify it is that in what I’ve read you seem to take a position of a strong determinist who says that what we see around us is the product of physical laws playing themselves out but on the other hand it would seem that you would do things like taking credit for writing this book and things like that. But it would seem, and this isn’t to be funny, that the consistent position would be that necessarily the authoring of this book from the initial condition of the big bang it was set that this would be the product of what we see today. I would take it that that would be the consistent position but I wanted to know what you thought about that.

Dawkins: The philosophical question of determinism is a very difficult question. It’s not one I discuss in this book, indeed in any other book that I’ve ever talked about. Now an extreme determinist, as the questioner says, might say that everything we do, everything we think, everything that we write, has been determined from the beginning of time in which case the very idea of taking credit for anything doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism. What I do know is that what it feels like to me, and I think to all of us, we don’t feel determined. We feel like blaming people for what they do or giving people the credit for what they do. We feel like admiring people for what they do. None of us ever actually as a matter of fact says, “Oh well he couldn’t help doing it, he was determined by his molecules.” Maybe we should … I sometimes … Um … You probably remember many of you would have seen Fawlty Towers. The episode where Basil where his car won’t start and he gives it fair warning, counts up to three, and then gets out of the car and picks up a tree branch and thrashes it within an edge of his life. Maybe that’s what we all ought to… Maybe the way we laugh at Basil Fawlty, we ought to laugh in the same way at people who blame humans. I mean when we punish people for doing the most horrible murders, maybe the attitude we should take is “Oh they were just determined by their molecules.” It’s stupid to punish them. What we should do is say “This unit has a faulty motherboard which needs to be replaced.” I can’t bring myself to do that. I actually do respond in an emotional way and I blame people, I give people credit, or I might be more charitable and say this individual who has committed murders or child abuse of whatever it is was really abused in his own childhood. And so again I might take a …

Questioner: But do you personally see that as an inconsistency in your views?

Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

Questioner: Thank you.

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95 Responses to Repeat after me: “this has nothing to do with my views on religion”

  1. Dawkins: I sort of do. Yes. But it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

    LOL! The irrational inner life of Richard Dawkins.

    Don’t worry folks, good, evil, and free will do in fact exist and are not merely convenient glosses we put over things.

  2. My compliments for a very sharp, simple question that obviously threw Dawkins for a loop.

    So the human condition is designed such that the irrational is necessary for us to operate? Funny how that works.

  3. I don’t see how an adherent to classical theology is any more consistent. After all, since God created ex nihilo, ultimately God is responsible for The God Delusion.

  4. jaredl

    I don’t see how an adherent to classical theology is any more consistent. After all, since God created ex nihilo, ultimately God is responsible for The God Delusion.

    No, because free will exists, therefore, Dawkins is responsible for his book because he elected to write it, not God.

    It is really quite simple.

  5. It seems really complex.

    1. It has always been true that I will sin tomorrow. (Assumption: Omnitemporality of Truth)
    2. It is impossible that God should hold a false belief or fail to know any truth. (Assumption: Infallible Foreknowledge)
    3. God has always believed that I will sin tomorrow. (From 1 and 2)
    4. If God has always believed a certain thing, then it is not in anyone’s power to do anything which entails that God has not always believed that thing. (Assumption: Fixed Past)
    5. It is not in my power to do anything that entails that God has not always believed that I will sin tomorrow. (From 3 and 4)
    6. That I refrain from sinning tomorrow entails that God has not always believed that I will sin tomorrow. (Necessary truth and from 2; Principle of Transfer of Powerlessness)
    7. Therefore, it is not in my power to refrain from sinning tomorrow. (From 5 and 6)
    8. If I act freely when I sin tomorrow, then I also have it within my power to refrain from sinning. (Assumption of Libertarian Free Will)
    9. Therefore, I do not act freely when I sin tomorrow. (From 7 and 8)

  6. once again, the smiley was a reference to statement 8.

  7. And, may future posters who take issue with this argument note – the fact that God knows something is going to happen doesn’t mean he makes it happen. You just can’t have both free will and the God of classical theology. That’s the point.

  8. jaredl ,
    If I understand you correctly, I’d question (at least) your assumption #4: someone (God or anyone else) having advance nowledge of a certain outcome doesn’t mean that he necessarily caused that outcome.

    In the end, free will is huge. Regardless of any philosophical assumptions that a person may hold, I have yet to meet the person who lives his life as though he doesn’t exercise free will.

  9. But since the God of classical theology created from non-being all that is, infallibly foreknowing all future consequences of that action, He therefore is also responsible for The God Delusion. The classical theist is also a determinist, unless he simply declares, by fiat, free will and infallible foreknowledge are logically compatible, and this despite the argument given in my post at #5.

  10. And, may future posters who take issue with this argument note – the fact that God knows something is going to happen doesn’t mean he makes it happen. You just can’t have both free will and the God of classical theology. That’s the point.

    That is just silly. Just because I know you are going to do something doesn’t mean you have no free will. And that is just me. God on the otherhand doesn’t have the same relationship with time that you and I have, therefore, there is no logical incompatibility with God having perfect foreknowledge and you having free will.

    That having been said, I am not sure that God does have perfect foreknowledge but not for any of the reasons you give.

  11. jaredl,

    Maybe we do have freewill, and God has perfect “foreknowledge” of tomorrow but perhaps our will was free only in the past, before the world was. And that this is merely a playing out of past choice. This is how C.S.Lewis handled it.

    Or maybe classical theism is just wrong. The Hebrew Yahweh appeared to be limited at times with regards to the future.

  12. @ jaredl: What is your take on free will? Just curious :)

    7. Therefore, it is not in my power to refrain from sinning tomorrow.
    8. If I act freely when I sin tomorrow, then I also have it within my power to refrain from sinning. (Assumption of Libertarian Free Will)(From 5 and 6)

    I agree with 7 but not 8 ie “assumption of Liberatrian Free Will.”

    It comes down on how you define sin, I suppose… I take the view that a sinner cannot please God in whatever he does and that even his “good” deeds are not truly good (given God defines Good) rather they are sin (don’t want to argue this here just cf. Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”)

    So his free will can only choose sin and his choices are uniquely his and not God’s ie God doesn’t choose his sins for him.

    I guess your criteria just depends on your definitions of good and evil , and the limits of free will.

  13. [T]here is no logical incompatibility with God having perfect foreknowledge and you having free will.

    This, despite a sound logical demonstration of the exact opposite, is exactly what I was referring to in post #8. And with that, I bow out, unless a weightier response should occur.

  14. 10 – Mike (and 11 – jpark320),

    Yes, I hold something similar to the “open” view of God’s foreknowledge. My view on the correctness of classical theism may be inferred from the fact that I’m not a classical theist.

  15. The Hebrew Yahweh appeared to be limited at times with regards to the future.

    Can you support this mike1962? I’m just wondering if you think only a couple of verses point to His limited knowledge, or that after a comprehensive look at all the verses dealing with God and His knowledge that it seems like He is limited.

    I think that some verses, isolated by themselves, make God seem cruel, however looking at all the verses about God’s character I come out w/ that He is still an incredibly loving and just. Just wanted to know what you were actually thinking, thanks.

  16. ” … since God created ex nihilo, ultimately God is responsible for The God Delusion.”

    Dawkins’ response tells me he’s not sure if he is, in fact, a determinist. If he is, he’s definitely a ‘secular determinist’, whose philosophical bent would be blaming atoms (and I guess the Big Bang) for everything one does.

    Determinism in this flavor is meaningless (to me anyway), since you can’t blame the superstructure for what one chooses to do with it.

    ” … because free will exists, therefore, Dawkins is responsible for his book because he elected to write it, not God.”

    I agree, unless predestination is true.

  17. Yes, I hold something similar to the “open” view of God’s foreknowledge. My view on the correctness of classical theism may be inferred from the fact that I’m not a classical
    theist.

    Sorry to bother yah again jaredl. Just wanted to know your response to my question (since you said you were “bowing out”) to your definition of sin.

    And the limits of “libertarian free will” or a definition of that.

    I agree with you on your logic, GIVEN YOUR PRESUPPOSITIONS, but I think you need do defend those presuppositions.

    I guess for the argument of freewill in general, what do choices look like to somebody not confined by time? It’s not like those of us in the 4 dimensions where if somebody asks us “What do you want to do today” we have to answer it in time (its not instant) and b/c of that limitation we don’t know the answer. And this doesn’t have to be specifically about God, but any being that is outside time and space – answer = We Don’t Know.

    I would also agree that God truly wouldn’t know everything if He was confined by time and space (I’m sure He would be a really good guesser though), but since He is not, we cannot really comment on how the interface between a timeless and matterless being is like with beings confined by such things unless He tells us.

    Apparently God can know and plan in 4 dimensions before things happen and men in those 4 dimension also truly have free will. Unless you know how things work outside our 4 dimensions or that limits of our 4 dimensions are still binding to God, it is something we just have to accept (but many do not like it… I do!).

    Main point: We have no idea what a being not confined by time and space is like, but we still place limits on God as if was.

  18. What Dawkins is doing is a classic Enlightenment liberal move: he makes an Unprincipled Exception. He has his ideology, but to follow it makes life as he likes it unlivable, so he makes an exception to his ideas.

  19. 19

    RD: “it is an inconsistency that we sort of have to live with otherwise life would be intolerable”

    I think I would find the opposite to be true – that it would be intolerable to live with such an inconsistency. But, I suppose most folks have such conundrums that we manage to blissfully ignore.

  20. JaredL: You are herewith limited to two theological posts on any thread. Your confidence in your theological position is out of keeping with its pedigree. Augustine, the Cappadocian Fathers, and Thomas were not slouches and did not derive the reductio ad absurdum that you do. Let’s get this thread back on track, which is the connection between atheistic Darwinism, determinism, and the inability, as a matter of practical life, to live out the latter.

  21. … the fact that God knows something is going to happen doesn’t mean he makes it happen. You just can’t have both free will and the God of classical theology.

    Point one: Does God know everything that will happen to the iota? That’s one heck of a lot of calculating. For one, it’s absurd based on simple logic. What is the point of a scripted existence?

    Point two: It would absolutely rule out free will, making our existence pointless, at least from an ‘active’ creator’s standpoint. We might feel we were doing our own thing, but to Him it would be like watching reruns.

    Early beliefs in absolute theistic determination, especially to the extreme as in Calvinism and Islam, are likely based on faulty logic, i.e. God is omnipotent, therefore He must know everything, and by extension, He must know the precise details of each and every event, every grain of sand, and of course, every hair on your head. He might ‘could’, but would He choose to?

    I doubt that a personal God would choose that kind of reality. Further, a belief in absolute determination can cause havoc, because ‘technically’, it gives one license to commit any act with impunity. All of the above are MHO.

  22. Sometimes I get carried away, as you can see by my last post. It entirely fits the comment you made in the prior one, and goes contra to the stated thems of the article.

    Please delete it, and I apologize!

  23. Jaredl:

    Your point 1 seems to make an unwarranted assumption…Aristotle brought up the question as to whether or not the statement “The battle will be won tomorrow” (paraphrase) is true before the battle has been waged. If it is true beforehand, then doesn’t that entail determinism?

    Statements can not only be true or false, but also “undefined” or “null”. For example “Shut the door!” is neither true nor false. Similarly, the statement “I will sin tomorrow” is undefined in terms of truth value until you actually choose to sin or not sin.

    That is how I’ve always looked at it. (Sorry Dr. D if my post is also off track..)

  24. Dawkins: “Oh they were just determined by their molecules.” It’s stupid to punish them. ”

    Of course, it’s also quite stupid to refer to those who do want to blame or praise others as stupid–for it was determined that they would feel precisely that way. Likewise, it was stupid of me to refer to that attitude as stupid…and so on ad infinitum. So there’s no point in making a fuss about culpability, etc (Although it’s not like you have any choice in the matter.)

  25. *sigh* When will you religious fundamentalists stop giving poor Richard a hard time?! Let him be inconsistent as much as he wants, while we have our laughs.

  26. It’s good to see Dawkins admitting that there are at least some inconsistencies in his world view.

    That said, there are Christian determinists (predestinationists) and there are atheist compatibilists. I have never heard a definition of free will that truly satisfied me, so I don’t feel qualified to form an opinion either way. I’m thus sympathetic with Dawkins when he says that we all feel as if we have free will, but it does not follow that we actually are free.

  27. But it has nothing to do with my views on religion it is an entirely separate issue.

    Um…yeah, right. If there is even a hint of free will in the universe then you, Mr. Dawkins, have been shown to be wrong on so many subjects – especially the subject of religion.

  28. Free will is a problem for the strict materialist.

    What is the reality? From an experiential point of view, I experience drives and automatic behaviors that seem to be programmed. But, I also experience free will. I really don’t try to theorize about it beyond that. As to how God relates to all of this, I don’t know.

  29. It’s interesting that Noam Chomsky believes determinism and free will are compatible and says he doesn’t understand how. And Peter Van Inwagen says free will and indeterminism are compatible but doesn’t understand how.

  30. Dawkins never really takes this question on b/c he knows that his theory (determinism) does not chide well w/ reality (freewill) and tries to get off the hook by saying

    Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism.

    I think he knows the conclusion he will come up with if does try and I know people have been bothering him about this for years before the God Delusion came out…

  31. Ben Z,

    “And Peter Van Inwagen says free will and indeterminism are compatible but doesn’t understand how.”

    From my understanding, Van Inwagen works the system from the reverse – if we do have free will (and I believe he considers it utterly apparent that we do), then a deterministic system cannot stand. I think his problem is he does not claim to understand the specific point at which what would otherwise be a deterministic system breaks down – but he insists that it must if free will is a reality.

    I think it’s easier to argue free will in an indeterministic system than in a deterministic one, but that’s just my ignorant at-a-glance judgement.

  32. The determinism is 19th century physics. Hence, the whole debate above is a 19th century relic.

    The fundamental laws of physics prescribe non-deterministic relation between the past and future events i.e. by the laws of Quantum Field Theory (QFT), the most precisely given initial & boundary conditions A at time Ta map into a _set_ of possible outcomes B1, B2, … at later time Tb (Tb>Ta). The only constraint that QFT imposes are the probabilities of outcomes B1, B2,…

    Hence, at least in principle, the actual choice of outcome B in an individual instance could be a result of some elemental “free will” of the elementary quantum objects themselves.

    This possibility corresponds to panpsychism as the model for the “mind stuff”. The “free will” is just one trait of the “mind stuff”. Present natural science lacks at any model for the “mind stuff”. Hence there is no scientific answer to question: what is it like to be any particular arrangement of elementary particles & fields?

  33. Nightlight brings up a good point concerning quantum physics, and its decidedly non-deterministic nature. I believe many people that visit this site and others like it are versed in QP, yet nobody ever seems to bring it up. There are many interpretations of it, but most seem to point to “mind” existing outside of matter. It just seems odd to me that physicists are dealing with this stuff called matter that is anything but “material” and can be called just plain weird, while Darwinists like Dawkins are still acting like atoms are solid things bumping around aimlessly in space.

  34. Did you read what happened in the 21st century nightlight?

    General relativity and quantum mechanics are having a little problem getting along, not to mention the fact that Newtonian calculations work really well in real life (ie like Baseball – Go Cards!) that we can determine stuff w/ almost 100% fidelity.

    So the “non-deterministic relations” you’re talking about fizzle away w/near 100% fidelity also. Unless of course, with natural science, you can show that our thoughts (freewill if you, uh, will) are controlled at a level where quantum indetermination is significant – if you can please feel free to share.

    Btw, you know that we can determine where a electron will be located about 100% of time right (think those pesky shaped orbitals)? Just not its “exact” position.

    So let the freewill vs determinism debate roll on!

  35. 35

    Jpark320, one answer you seek can be found here, in ion channels.

    On the freedom of the will, the theologian Jonathan Edwards promoted the notion that there is free will, and he defined it as the determination of choice by that which most immediately pleases the mind. The will is free because it always chooses what pleases the mind; if a person’s choice were ever that which did not most immediately please his mind, then he would not be free.

    This is only one of the definitions of free will that does not contradict the existence of perfect foreknowledge. Your pleasures can be known beforehand, and your obedience to them, and you would still be free to do as you please, indeed, certainly and deterministically free to do so.

    Edwards’s book on the subject is The Freedom of the Will.

  36. nightlight,
    Funny how that non-deterministic relation allows us humans to do things with determination, accuracy, and purpose – when we choose to do it that way. How do you suppose we can control this non-deterministic relationship and turn quantum indeterminancy into quantum determinancy *cough* *cough* at will?

  37. jpark320 and Lurker

    Probably nightlight was more speaking about the mere possibility of indeterminism in the natural world although at the end there is a reference to its direct implications to free will. This last point cannot be (at least now) solved because of the huge amount of complexity embedded in the human brain. Instead the first point is very interesting and not only from a theoretical point of view.

    “not to mention the fact that Newtonian calculations work really well in real life (ie like Baseball – Go Cards!) that we can determine stuff w/ almost 100% fidelity.”

    But ot is not always true that microscopic events do not dramatically change the behavior at a macroscopic level. Please consider this simple conceptual experiment. A light source is able to emit a single photon towards a target but according to quantum mechanics the photon could be detected with the same probability by two different sensors put a bit apart on the target. Detection by sensor 1 will get on all the lights in the Yankees stadium in NY, whereas detection by sensor 2 will do the same in The L.A. Coliseum.
    Here we have a single and trivial quantum microscopic event that yields one between two huge macrosopic effects.
    In conclusion; if quantum ineterminism is actual and not simply a consequence of our investigations bound, this COULD possibly have consequences in macroscopic events.

  38. Addendum: I think that free will is real and can be present in both a deterministic and an indeterministic world. However as a matter of fact atheists have very often used determinism as a way to discard God, as the famous phase that Laplace is supposed to have been spoken to Napoleon shows very well.

  39. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t feel like my decisions are the result of quantum probabilities any more than I feel like they are the result of chemical reactions.

  40. To #36 (Reed Orak): “I sure don’t feel like my decisions are the result of quantum probabilities any more than I feel like they are the result of chemical reactions.”

    They are not result of QFT probabilities. Rather, the probabilities are a different perspective, an “outside” view, on the statistical properties of such decisions. Consider for example, a psychologist measuring your IQ. While you’re working through the test, would you feel that your mental process of solving are “result of” the IQ Gaussian curve? The Gaussian curve merely captures one aspect or property of a ‘large’ number of such mental processes. But it has nothing to do with ‘what is it like to think through and solve test problems’. Similarly, the QFT probabilities for possible events regarding quantum object don’t tell you what is it like for the quantum object itself to ‘decide’ which result to select. As to how one might get from ‘what is it like’ of elemental object to ‘what is it like’ for a large collections of elemental objects, such as those making you or me, one logically coherent possibility is panpsychism:

    Stanford Enc. of Phylosophy: PANPSYCHISM
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/

    My variant, which is similar to Lebniz’s monads, is sketched in a usenet post:

    http://groups.google.com/group.....1dc097e17c

    Link pages to related posts:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ment-49652
    http://groups.google.com/group.....20c272c339

  41. Ooops, there were some typos above. This tiny reply entry box (apparently hardwired to 7 rows x 30 columns), doesn’t let one read easily over the typed text. The typing area ought to be changed to 30+ rows by 72+ columns.

    Errata:
    “Stanford Enc. of phylosophy”
    –> “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:”

    “similar to Lebniz’s monads” –> “similar to Leibniz’s monads”

  42. To #33 (Lurker): “Funny how that non-deterministic relation allows us humans to do things with determination, accuracy, and purpose – when we choose to do it that way.”
    —-
    If you toss coin 100 times, you can fairly accurately produce result that is not 100 tails. In other words, probabilities of some events may be close to 0 or to 1, which for all practical purposes will appears as deterministic events. On the other hand, when you freely decide whether to blink at this instant, the probabilities of events ‘blink’ and ‘non-blink’ may be 30% vs 70% or some such.

    To #33: “How do you suppose we can control this non-deterministic relationship and turn quantum indeterminancy into quantum determinancy *cough* *cough* at will?”

    One coherent model for propagating/amplifying ‘subjective decisions’ of elemental quantum objects into ‘subjective decisions’ of a large collection of such quantum objects making up you or me, is panpsychism (see links in previous post).

  43. There are MANY inconsistencies in Dawkins’ world view, and this is just another. He uses “science” and “logic” and “reason” but he fails to explain how is it that his atheistic worldview justifies such abstract imaterial universal concepts. Dr Greg Bahsen showed that clearly in his debate with Dr Stein, some years back.

  44. To #34 (kairos): “Probably nightlight was more speaking about the mere possibility of indeterminism in the natural world although at the end there is a reference to its direct implications to free will. This last point cannot be (at least now) solved because of the huge amount of complexity embedded in the human brain. Instead the first point is very interesting and not only from a theoretical point of view.”

    Yes, there is no presently a scientific model of ‘mind stuff’, hence the present natural science can’t say anything about ‘free will’ (which is an element of ‘mind stuff’). The only potential implication is that any future scientific model of ‘free will’ would have non-deterministic evolution (or its phase). Contrary to both, Dawkins and his critics above, though, the present fundamental physics is indeed non-deterministic theory, exactly as needed to model the ‘free will’ some day.

  45. To #35 (kairos): “However as a matter of fact atheists have very often used determinism as a way to discard God, as the famous phase that Laplace is supposed to have been spoken to Napoleon shows very well.”

    Interestingly, the same school of “thought” based on 19th century physics (e.g. Dennett “Consciousness Explained” book or http://www.google.com/search?n.....tnG=Search ) also rejects the ‘mind stuff’ as being an illusion. Yet, the existence of the ‘mind stuff’ is not merely self-evident, but it is the most, if not the sole, self-evident fact altogether. Due to Ockham’s razor, determinism is a weak position to take if one wishes to argue for existence of ‘free will’, ‘mind stuff’ and God.

    As luck would have it, the present fundamental physics is non-deterministic. Hence, determinism is not only a weak position, but also a scientifically wrong to the best of present knowledge.

  46. Clarification of ambiguity in #42: “…also rejects the ‘mind stuff’ as being an illusion. ”

    What was meant is: “…also rejects the ‘mind stuff’, labeling it as an illusion. “

  47. To #32. (jpark320): “Unless of course, with natural science, you can show that our thoughts (freewill if you, uh, will) are controlled at a level where quantum indetermination is significant – if you can please feel free to share.”

    There is no “thought” construct in natural science (the laws of matter-energy transformation). Hence you can’t even ask a scientific question, such as “What is it like to be particular arrangement of atoms that makes you?”, let alone answer it.

    Therefore all one can do at present is speculate and toy with heuristic models. My preference is a form of panpsychism, similar to Leibniz’s monads, with a little addition of my own on how such scheme starting with elemental “mind stuff” could give rise to the “mind stuff” at our level (and beyond, such as “mind stuff” at the level of social organism, captured in traditional religions as the ‘god of people’). This addition addresses the “combination problem” of traditional panpsychism, described as:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/#5

    ————-
    “combination problem,” which was first raised by William James, who in the following passage argues that panpsychism will still face its own problem of emergence:

    Take a sentence of a dozen words, and take twelve men and tell to each one word. Then stand the men in a row or jam them in a bunch, and let each think of his word as intently as he will; nowhere will there be a consciousness of the whole sentence . Where the elemental units are supposed to be feelings, the case is in no wise altered. Take a hundred of them, shuffle them and pack them as close together as you can (whatever that might mean); still each remains the same feeling it always was, shut in its own skin, windowless, ignorant of what the other feelings are and mean. There would be a hundred-and-first feeling there, if, when a group or series of such feeling were set up, a consciousness belonging to the group as such should emerge. And this 101st feeling would be a totally new fact; the 100 original feelings might, by a curious physical law, be a signal for its creation, when they came together; but they would have no substantial identity with it, nor it with them, and one could never deduce the one from the others, or (in any intelligible sense) say that they evolved it (1890/1950, p. 160, original emphasis).

    This is a powerful objection since if panpsychism must allow for the emergence of states of consciousness then what prevents an emergence doctrine which avoids the implausible and indiscriminate broadcasting of mental characteristics throughout the world?
    ——————

    My speculative model is sketched in the usenet post:
    http://groups.google.com/group.....1dc097e17c

    The networks background & references are here:
    http://groups.google.com/group.....a8de95db21

    where the network harmonization giving rise to Leibniz’s monads
    as a limit, the perfect harmonization:
    http://groups.google.com/group.....a907f10c22

  48. May I have permission to post Dawkins’ comments on my Pleonast blog? I will give credit as to where I found this information.

  49. Hey, let’s not get sidetracked. At issue here is the fact that in order to hold a position as Dawkins, we have to live with a gross inconsistency–adherence to determinism in order to explain our selfish genes, along with rejection of determinism in order to adhere to a notion of free will. The point is, such an inconsistency is insupportable, unless you base your argument not on logic but on ideology, which is what one invariably does when arguing for Darwinism.

    And, at the extreme risk of getting sidetracked, myself: for those of you interested in how quantum physics gives the lie to determinism, allow me to recommend Dr. Amit Goswami’s fascinating treatment of the subject, _The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World_.

  50. #45

    “As luck would have it, the present fundamental physics is non-deterministic. Hence, determinism is not only a weak position, but also a scientifically wrong to the best of present knowledge. ”

    Some time ago I read with great interest a past interview of Popper concerning his thoughts about determinism dating about 1950. He strongly argued against the reality of determinism and not only for what concerns mind and free will but more essentially for what concerns physical world. He argued that also the classical phisics (typically viewed as deterministic) had not at all deterministic grounds. He also cited a discussion before WWII he had had with many English intellectuals about th reality of determinism. Significantly Bertrand Russell did admit that Popper had argued very well about the fundamental indeterminism of the reality. Sorry not to be able to provide a link in English about this very intersting issue.

  51. @ Designed Jacob – #35

    I love Jonathan Edwards and actually have that book and agree whole heartedly with him (Good choice by the way). Since I identify myself so much with his position, was there something I said that made you think I opposed this view – just curious someone would recommend to me a book which very views I try to defend! (I really appreciate it though and I downloaded the pdf you link, really thx alot)

    @ Nightlight #47

    Thanks for your cordial reply (I think I may have been in a bad mood – please forgive me if I displayed hostility in my response). I will look into this issue. I think I misunderstood what you meant when you said science has no basis for thought. Being in medical school and my understanding of the brain and cognition made my frown at that, but I see now what you are getting at.

    I mainly disagreed with your analogy that since things on a quantum level are indeterminant that determinism is now an antiquated question that should have been left in the 19th century.

    @ kairos #37

    Yes, I agree with you that things on the quantum level can effect macroscopic events (i heard that computer chips have to take quantum effects right?). I was only trying to say that just because things on the quantum level or indeterminant it need not neccessarily be so on the macroscopic level. My main point was that we dont really understand what is going so perfectly that we can conclude that the freewill and determinism debate is over. Good point though (esp. since i agree 8) )

  52. 52

    Jpark320, between the Quantum Physics paper and the discussion of The Freedom of the Will, I intended a beat change, so to speak. The free will material was not directed at you specifically, but to the group generally.

    I’m glad you enjoy Edwards as much as I do.

  53. The problem of free will is more of a problem dealing with causation than anything else. It seems improbable that something which is caused, like electrons firing in my brain, cause me to raise my arm. However, the question becomes what caused those electrons to fire? Did prior electrons firing cause them or did I, as in myself, cause them to fire?

    As for the problem dealing with God and his omiscience, you must understand that classical theism understands God in relation to his will. For example, what people imply is that God, knowing that I will sin tomorrow, is the very necessity of my sinning. However, knowledge does not necessitate any form of cause to my sinning. My choice was the cause that made me sin, not God’s knowledge of such said sinning. Further more, I would contend that this view fails to understand that God’s omscience has two outlets. First is his actual knowledge of what will happen determined by his Sovoreign will and Second is his will of what could happen depending on our choices wich is not determined in any sense other than God has a will for us to live a certain way. The problem then lie in misunderstanding that what God wills cannot be changed and what he does not will can. For example, God has perfect knowledge about who I am and what I will be doing tomorrow at the specific time in which I will sin, time x. However, he also has knowledge of the potential in me to choose not to sin tomorrow at time x. The problem of my choice being determined is only a problem, if in fact God’s knowledge is shown to mean his actual knowledge, Sovoreign will, compared to his general will. In other words the potential for my sin to be determined exists but is not required and thus, I do still infact have free will with regard to the choices I am given.

    I was not able to choose where I was born or to whom. I was not able to choose what kind of childhood I would have and such. But, I can control how I reacted to say, having a alcoholic mother when I was young, and say a temptation that is presented to me. Understanding the problem this way reveals our own situation, that what we really do have control over is soley ourselves. Now it does not remove God’s Sovoreign will but nothing could and if you pose naturalism the problem only gets worse because you are then the victim of nothing more than chance. However, in classic theism I can at least truth that God’s goodness is what is helping establish his Sovoreign will with regard to my purpose.

    Hope this Helps all of you,

    Ricardo

  54. so, Dawkins *might* be a strict determinist? So, he may have no choice but to spend his life fighting strongly for the “common good”, (erasure of religion, etc) essentially because he has no choice in the matter, and despite the fact that the “common good” is a totally meaningless term, since everything’s already predetermined?
    Oh?

  55. When materialist physics moved in that direction (with randomness only rescued by Bohr & Schrödinger et al), Darwinism deified chance. Natural Selection may get all the credit, but it’s in no way predictive and hence deterministic. Should the materialists move to a deterministic evolution then they’ll be dumping Darwin in favor of Denton.

    Maybe what Dawkins senses is that free will is neither chance nor necessity nor any combination thereof, and so he’d better be careful taking a stand for or against. Argue for it and Darwinism is doomed, argue against it and, well, why argue.

    As for Jared L above . . . hmm . . . uh . . . it’s WmAD’s site and though we may disagree with him theologically (I’m sure I do) let’s remember that ID does not insist, as do so many creationists, that the theology is inseparable from the science. It’s a Big Tent really—one that even I (heretic that I am) can fully support. When ID triumphs this will not translate into a return to the Church-State union of Old Europe—providing, of course, that we’re all still on board. So all you Albigensian, Calvinist, Catholic, Pelagian, Protestant, Jewish, Arian, Trinitarian, Binitarian, Unitarian, Mooney, Mormon and moderate Muslim men and women unite! Unite, that is, behind ID, so that when it wins we’ll all have a part in the free-for-all that follows.

  56. Rude,

    The only reason I haven’t been banned, I think, is because I don’t engage in misrepresenting either ID or the theology of its primary proponents, and my posts (hopefully) are somewhat substantial, even if they don’t get responded to in this context.

    Maybe I ought to skip the math PhD and go for philosophy….

  57. If that is your fate Jared ;)! Go for philosophy :)!

    Indeed free will is a theodicy problem, but as you can see, even Dawkins has problems explaining it the other way around. To some questions there is no answer, just as I am agnostic on the problem of how life started! Faith can bridge this problem, be it materialistic or theistic faith. There is no empirical proof for evolution, and in my opinion, there is little empirical proof of ID on the problem of origin (ID is trying to reverse engineer biological structures as I understand it, correct me if I am wrong), yet it will not answer the question where we are coming from! It will remain a philosophical question, yet the evidence (my personally collected evidence) points me into the direction of a designer, creator (call it whichever you want), which answers the question “Where am I coming from!” on the grounds of personal faith!

    We all come to the crossroads in the time of our lives. If you have to many unknowns in an equation you cannot solve it, but partly. For the rest, you have to believe the answer is 42!

  58. It sounds to be that he’s not taking any position on it at all, so where’s the contradiction?

    “Now I don’t actually know what I actually think about that, I haven’t taken up a position about that, it’s not part of my remit to talk about the philosophical issue of determinism.”

    One can easily imagine a scenario with the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics where a different kind of determinism is taking place where every possible outcome of your decisions is taking place in some meta-universe. Does this release you from responsibility for those actions in this universe? I don’t see why it would. You’re still here, *apparently* making all those choices.

  59. Mr Dembski.. Good day to you sir. I imagine that maybe you check out the comments before posting. That’s cool. I invite you to check out my profile, and in particular, my blog that I have listed there. It’s a combination pro-id blog, Darwinist evolution blog and Theistic blog all in one. I am a layman, have acquired a small library of pro-ID books, some of them yours. I must admit, I struggle with some of them. Perhaps if I read one at a time, that would help. Usually I read 3, just to help put things together. I flunked most of my highschool math and science classes, and lost interest in science altogether until ID became a popular topic. Thanx to you and other ID proponents, my interest in science is reinvigorated. Science is exciting now! There is new life in what was once a dead and meaningless science.
    In the course of making my blog, I have used some of your material, and I hope you don’t sue me for that. I am in the process of going back and attributing sources, giving credit where credit is due. I ask sir, if you would check out my blog for accuracy, and leave a comment in whatever post you find necessary to provide constructive criticism on. I have set the comment fields to be ‘public’ and ‘anonymous’. My goal is to provide an accurate ID apologetic, from a scientific and philosophical perspective, which I find happens to support the Theistic perspective. If you have time, could you check it out? It also has some very nice illustrations. One post in particular to check out is called “First Life – The Evolutionist Dilemma” I just want to make sure I am accurate in my conclusions. I don’t know anybody else to ask for an honest critique. I’m the only IDer on the Opera blog network.
    Casey Luskin has already critiqued it, at least a couple posts, and provided some constructive criticism on avoiding and countering fallacious arguments. I need help on the more technical ID issues, like how to apply the filter to events or objects that are biological, and also cosmological.

    Also, I hope more ID/evo debates will be available online. They are truly fascinating, and quite helpful to me, and countless others I’m sure.

    thanx so much for your time in reading this. God bless you, and your research.

    Sincerely, Mike Bradley
    http://my.opera.com/bantay/blog

  60. jpark320: “Can you support this mike1962? I’m just wondering if you think only a couple of verses point to His limited knowledge, or that after a comprehensive look at all the verses dealing with God and His knowledge that it seems like He is limited.”

    Here’s a couple:

    Gen 18:21. Yahweh has to go down and see if the sin is as bad as the outcry indicates.

    Jer 3:7 Yahweh thought that Israel would return to him, but they didn’t.

    And there are several more. I’m not interested in a Bible study here though. Original statement was essential to indicate I have no problem with a deity with some limits with respect to freewill.

  61. Those who believe in a transcendent creator with full foreknowledge do not face the difficulty that Dawkins faces due to his determinism.

    In response to the concern of jaredL, et al, about foreknowledge vs. free will, a common error is to confuse logical necessity and implication (e.g. if A, then B) with a particular causal relationship.

    If an event happens (e.g. a coin flip, Dawkins chooses to write a book, etc.), then God can be expected to know this. This knowledge does not itself cause or determine the event. Even a completely random and undetermined event (if such happens) could be known.

    This is so even if the knower is not bound by our space-time. (Necessarily, whatever has created our space-time, that creator is not bound within it.)

    We call God’s knowledge “fore”-knowledge because (from our standpoint) such knowledge may be divulged back into space-time before the event.

    Our reasoning slips up because, as creatures bound by time, we suppose according to our usual experience that if A precedes B in time and the two are causally connected, then the causation must go from A to B. In normal experience, so long as the causal chain is bound within space-time, that may work fine.

    But if there exists a creator of our space-time, those assumptions break down. A report of an event could arrive back within time even before the event has taken place.

    In short, the fact that God sees a choice (and knows it and can report on it) does not imply that it was not a true choice, or that there was no opportunity to choose otherwise. If a different choice had been made, then God would have seen that instead.

    In jarodL’s list, #3 is true only if the known event was actually chosen. #4′s assumption of a fixed past (in the sense of not possibly being influenced causally by future events) is false.

    Complete “fore”-knowledge by a god would imply determinism and conflict with real choice only if one is supposing a time bound deity. There is no necessary conflict in the case of the transcendent creator of space-time.

  62. If I were Dawkins, I would have said taking credit for things is just a formality.

    I would have also taken a chance to hack at judaism/christianity by pointing out the obvious contradiction of an all knowing God and Free will.

    Since freedom is absolute and boundless, and since God is all knowing, there cannot be free will as we are not free to do anything outside of his knowledge.

    Oddly though, unlike Dawkins, I’m not an atheist…

    I must say though, trying to hang someone over what they said on the spot is kind of silly….

    Not that Dawkins has ever been a very kind fellow…

  63. I don’t see how an adherent to classical theology is any more consistent. After all, since God created ex nihilo, ultimately God is responsible for The God Delusion.

    It seems to me that is the case only if one assumes that God does not have transcendent knowledge with respect to time.

    A short story may illustrate a few points…
    The Art of Knowledge
    Once upon a time there was an Artist who could draw other artists into his pictures, some to draw some things for him and even some who drew some for themselves too. So he drew an apprentice in his image.

    His new student asked him about a piece of art that he was working on, “What is it going to be?”

    “It’s a picture about good and evil, right and wrong.”

    “How can you draw a picture about wrong that is right?”

    “Whatever I draw is right, even that which I let look wrong to those I draw to observe it so. It’s something in the lighting and my drawing, you see. I will not explain further until the picture is complete. Come close little one, so that I may ask you a question. Now, why do you suppose I would draw you to ask me annoying questions when I’m trying to work?”

    “Well, I suppose…I, uh, eh, I don’t know why! But it seems to me that you must know all about your own art. Say, why don’t you just draw me to stop it? Huh, huh?”

    The Artist turned to look at the little fellow staring up at him from his side, sighed, then said, “What you’re drawing me to do is going to hurt you more than it hurts me.”

    “Uh, wait a minute…” the little fellow looked back at the painting, “I suppose I can wait until the picture is complete.”

    “Very well, and besides the answer does not exist yet in any language that you can understand. You see, I’ve not drawn you to understand it yet. But perhaps you can think of it in this way as I work, making a picture about good and evil consists of drawing the line someplace.”

    As the artist spoke he drew a line, as he did the little beings that he had drawn into his picture murmured among themselves, “Why are things this way, rather than that? I can think of things my way and want them to be so, so why should they not be my way?”

    The student commented, “Say, they are a little like me in that way! So I suppose their next question about what will be would be why don’t you just take their will away?”

    “Only I know, as I know all of my own art. Yet I would think that some of the answers about the will would be rather obvious, if you will.”

    “It seems an odd decision to me.”

    “Yes, I knew you would say that.”

    “Ah, but what if I knew you knew? See how my knowledge increases to approach your own!”

    The Master Artist just glanced at the little fellow and kept working on the picture. So his student asked, “Well…can you draw me to have some of your knowledge?” and the Artist answered, “For now you do not even have the symbols, imagery in your head or the language to think many of my type of thoughts, so some of the best truths about my art and this picture must and will remain ineffable and paradoxical to you. That is my will. If you are willing to learn how my will must be done in all of my pictures then I will naturally draw you to have more knowledge of my own nature.”

    “Naturally….that seems logical to me.”

    “Yes, of course, I knew it would. After all, I just drew you to think so.”

    The little fellow just sighed at that, and thought that he might have heard the Artist chuckle as he did.

  64. Of course, you could also point out if you were truly free you would not be limited by the finite number of choices in any particular situation, or the physical bonds of the physical universe or the limited knowledge the organ in your head carries… and blah blah blah…

  65. Here’s a couple:

    Gen 18:21. Yahweh has to go down and see if the sin is as bad as the outcry indicates.

    Actually doesn’t that means that Yahweh already had a form of knowledge about it?

    I don’t really know. Yet it seems to me that many people fail to admit to rather vast ontological distinctions. They point out contradictions based on rather myopic forms of knowledge, on their own terms, limited by knowledge of their own state of being.

  66. ” It seems improbable that something which is caused, like electrons firing in my brain, cause me to raise my arm. However, the question becomes what caused those electrons to fire? Did prior electrons firing cause them or did I, as in myself, cause them to fire?”

    …. The individual is a concept not a literal thing.. more of an idea used to summarize a uniformed state of motions and cycles between different organs nerves atoms molecules ect ect.

    I think of God as a writer and myself as simply a character in the greatest story ever written, isn’t it funny though how to acknowledged this apparent bondage to a character role is also one that frees somebody?

    No choice, no responsibility, no thought required… what happens happens.. I rather like that way of thinking.

  67. Freewill. I have never read this anywhere, though I am sure someone else somewhere has thought of it. But, may I suggest this idea.

    If I was able to give you, right now, all future knowledge of your life and your wife’s and children’s lives. Would you take it? I could guarantee that after you had thought about it, you would choose not to know, for life as you know would end at precisely that point. To know everything would ruin you. All joy, excitement, surprise, anticipation, hope, would be gone in an instant.

    I posit this. God CAN know everything, He is all knowing, yet chooses quite purposefully and willingly to restrain this ability in order to enjoy life with His creation in a way simply not possible if He chose to know everything in advance.

    And, this is not Open Theism, which says that God can NOT know anything before it happens.

    If you are aware of anyone that has published anything along these lines, please share.

  68. Gods iPod,

    John Polkinghorne has said similar things before, I think. You may want to have a look at his website, he provides at least passing details there.

    As for Dawkins, no surprise. It’s no secret that he’s a philosophical lightweight (he doesn’t even seem to have a real interest in those topics – he just gathers up enough references to spout an attack on religion.) That seemed like half the reason he leaned so heavily on Dennett for awhile – at least until Dennett’s impact on the subject of religion was less than thrilling, and D’Souza stomped him thoroughly in debate.

  69. “I posit this. God CAN know everything, He is all knowing,yet chooses quite purposefully and willingly to restrain this ability in order to enjoy life ”

    … Shouldn’t that statement be then “God DOES know everything”? To pretend to be willingfully ignorant isn’t the same as to not know, and to be willingfully ignorant just for the sake of petty enjoyment doesn’t seem very God-like.

    And Yes, I would love to know what is going to happen to my life.
    Would certainly take the stress of uncertainty out of the question.

  70. If God is outside of time/space, how difficult would it be for God to see me make a decision tomorrow?

    Would it then be hard for God to know in advance how I will make my choice tomorrow?

    Thus not limiting free will, but still knowing.

  71. My one theological post:

    1. tb, I think you are right. To the extent that God is outside time, we can picture time as a line and God as omnipresent throughout the space through which the line passes as well as all along the line. God can know what is going to happen further along the line without interfering or changing it. In fact, he cannot help knowing.

    The fact that we have difficulty understanding this is of the same character as my difficulty understanding the eleven dimensions that string theorists hold to exist. An eleven-dimensional being would not have difficulty understanding it.

    2. mynym: You quote Gen 18:21. “Yahweh has to go down and see if the sin is as bad as the outcry indicates.”

    In this curious story, three “men” visit Abraham and Sarah, and it emerges that one of them is the Lord. The other two are widely assumed to be angels, based on the subsequent events recounted.

    The Lord informs the couple that they will have a long-awaited son in the spring.

    The Lord then remains behind to tell Abraham of Sodom’s impending destruction, because he, after all, will be the righteous father of a mighty nation “and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him”.*

    The two angels go on to Sodom and the Lord remains behind. What follows is a classical bargaining session.

    The Lord begins by implying that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is not quite certain yet: “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me, and if not, I will know.”

    Hearing the implied offer, Abraham asks, “Will you indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city … ?” (Gen 18:23-24a)

    Abraham is here getting into his role as a righteous patriarch, and he bargains the Lord down to ten righteous.

    The Lord does not actually go to Sodom, so we may assume that he did not in fact need to go there in order to know what was happening. He needed to help Abraham understand his own future role, so he puts the matter to him as a problem, as one patriarch might put it to another, and listens to his responses.

    For those who have not read Gen 19, the other two “men” spend the night in Sodom barring Lot’s family’s door against rapists. Come the morning, they send Lot’s family away to safety and then just waste the place.

    We can assume, I think, that there were not ten righteous there.

    The Lord and Moses have similar conversations in the later books of the Pentateuch. The Lord has no intention of destroying Israel because he must fulfil his promise to Abraham. But he wants Moses to tell him why he should not, given Israel’s many failures. I think that is more for Moses’ benefit than for his.

    *Gen 18:1-22 RSV 2CE

    3. In general: Keep in mind that traditional theology held that humans have only one foot in nature. The other is in eternity. So long as we see ourselves as entirely natural beings, like the sparrows in the hedge, we assume we must be entirely conditioned by our natural environment. But no tradtional theologian, so far as I know, supposed that. It is a modern materialist idea that forms the thinking, unawares, even of people who reject it intellectually.

  72. Thus not limiting free will, but still knowing.

    Indeed. God’s foreknowledge is not causative. Only His deliberate intervention when He so chooses is causative.

    Consider Matt 11:21 and Luke 10:13 wherein Jesus foreknew outcomes in Tyre and Sidon for futures that did not happen – He foreknew a future that was not caused.

    We have freewill, delegated to us by God under His sovereignty. He can supercede us any time and for whatever reasons He deems suited for His purposes, but until He does, we have from Him delegated decision-making freedom and authority commensurate with our responsibility to choose and behave as He teaches.

  73. Over at Telic thoughts a few weeks back was a blog called God and Chance, which has some interesting metaphysical points in the comments.

    If God is eternal, then he has no foreknowledge, it just looks that way from our perspective. Eternal God has no future nor past, no beginning nor end. There is not really anything such as ‘afterlife’, if we are eternal beings. There is only ‘eternal life’ and ‘terminal life’. It seems to logically follow that ‘eternal life’, if outside linear time, may be available to those along the timeline who seek it.

  74. 74

    Dawkins says he is culturally a Christian. He reveals the details of his thinking even when it loses him ground in the “culture war.” He admits to uncertainty and inconsistency. You might say he doesn’t hide his flickering light under a bushel.

    In contrast, the stuff I’ve read here about ID is full of “blessed assurance.” But it leaves out the “Jesus is mine.” (I know some ID believers are not Christians. But all of them I know are.) It seems to me that most ID believers are fundamentally dishonest about why they believe in ID.

    Dawkins admits how denial of God leads to his beliefs. Many ID believers will not admit how belief in God leads to their beliefs. They say instead that it’s all about science. But there’s hardly any science to support ID, just problems with neodarwinism. Believing in ID is a matter of faith. If it’s not faith in God, it’s faith in intuition.

    I have to ask if the atheist Dawkins is acting more like a Christian than the Christians in the culture war. Why hide your light under a bushel? Why deny faith? Is it possible the culture war is really just a battle in a bigger war? Maybe winning the battle with un-Christian tactics will lose the war.

  75. “If God is eternal, then he has no foreknowledge”

    That doesn’t really work, even if God has no beginning, his creation most certainly did.

    God may exist outside of our concept of space/time, but his actions within it are still temporal and have a starting point. This God you describe sounds like the God of the gaps.

    I think it naive to say God had no foreknowledge, when the entire universe and all that inhabits it can be summarized in mathematics, an intelligible language.

  76. [...] there are still massive philosophical absurdities associated with its denial. Bill Dembski just blogged on one of those yesterday. Second, is there any requirement that free choices be entirely conscious [...]

  77. So this free will thing is kind of interesting for the materialists because free will is necessary in order for anything to be created…er, for value to increase (forgot the code words for a moment there). The materialists assure us quite gleefully that matter is all there is. And since matter is a fixed thing, all that is must be, by this description, fully determined. But then how did unformed matter become informed?

    This was the logical stumbling block that good, old Lucretius had to overcome in order to justify his militant materialism. He claimed that some of those infinite particles he imagined flying around in the vasty void somehow developed a curvature to their course and, through fortuitous affinities of one kind or another, joined together with like-minded particles until the universe eventually came into being of its own accord.

    Now when everyone is done picking themselves up off the floor, please note that this explanation is not so far from the ones being offered today. Ours are much more elaborate and have colorful names like Natural Selection and the Big Bang—but it all amounts to the same thing. Somehow there was a deviation in the otherwise fixed course of nature that enabled it to increase in value.

    Lucretius’s curvature is free will. Bending of the rules is necessary in order to account for value. In the beginning, there was existence and nothing more, or so our sages tell us, when they are not too busy schmoozing for grants or forming dangerous liaisons with underclassmen. Some kind of qualitative resistance was required for mere existence to overcome its nothingness and obtain the great goodness seen in the universe today.

    Qualitative resistance was necessary for the organization of stars and star systems and galaxies, for gravity, for light. These are things of great value; the value they obtained cannot be found in unformed matter for its own sake. Unformed matter is determined by its nature to lack value. But then how do we account for the remarkable propensity it seems to have for overcoming this little obstacle?

    This logical problem cannot be answered any more cogently by scientists today than by Lucretius himself (hence Poor Richard’s fumble). The way materialists usually answer it, on those rare occasions when its significance somehow breaks through the interference pattern of their circular rhetoric, is to change the subject. Observe:

  78. 78

    NEWS ALERT:

    The theory of co-evolution is being censored on the blog of the so-called Florida Citizens for Science! Help is badly needed.

  79. Stone wrote,

    “If God is eternal, then he has no foreknowledge”

    That doesn’t really work, even if God has no beginning, his creation most certainly did.

    God may exist outside of our concept of space/time, but his actions within it are still temporal and have a starting point. This God you describe sounds like the God of the gaps.

    I think it naive to say God had no foreknowledge, when the entire universe and all that inhabits it can be summarized in mathematics, an intelligible language.

    You miss the point. If God is an eternal being, then he encompasses our linear time. From our understanding, which is entirely shaped by our experience beginning and ending within time, God appears to have foreknowledge of this or that event. An eternal being can ‘see the future’, not by looking forward to it, but by already existing in it.

    None of this precludes God from manifesting within time or affecting some event, it it meant to explain how a difference in vantage point can shape misperceptions.

  80. I actually thought he answered the question quite well. I for one take the view and have always taken it, that determinists are sort of bluffing. That it is sort of a position of faith. But its America and if he wants to be one so be it. I give Dick credit for being himself taking the question at face value, admitting the possible inconsistency of the position and leaving it at that.

    I can tolerate the other side and that is alot of what separates us.

  81. Of course the event might not have taken place in america but the issue of freedom is what I was getting at.

  82. 82

    Frost,

    A key point in 74 is that ID believers I know in real life aren’t honest. They believe because they’re Christians who accept on faith that God created living things. Their designer is God. But they want to get ID into science classes. They know to say they don’t know who the designer is. When I ask about the scientific support for ID, all they say is that Darwin was wrong. They can’t answer the question, so they create a distraction. Usually with lots of emotion.

    So who is acting more like a Christian? The “culturally Christian” atheist Dawkins who says what he really believes even when it can be used against him? Or the ID culture warrior who hides his beliefs in order to win? Again, can a win like that be a loss in the big picture?

    I’m not saying every ID supporter is deceitful. But I know many who are. And I just read a claim that Ben Stein’s cheering audience at Pepperdine U. were extras. Is this true? If it is, who thinks it is right? I’m talking morally, not legalistically.

  83. austin, fair enough but most of us dont mind teaching DE in schools- its the DE’s that want ID destroyed. No, I think you might be confusing ID advocates with YEC’s that also accept ID. I am not a YEC because i have issues of interpretation though I dont rule out their views– I havent studied the geological and paleontological record enough to profess an extream belief in one particualr view. I am a free thinker and just because the rest of the world is marching in lock step doesn’t mean a thing to me. I have always been that way more or less. And im not just sayning that it really is my nature.

    Now I am talking about ID’s said view on education and sciece which is “teach both or at least mention ID because there is a real controversy.

    I stand by my view on Dawkins above and this just happens to support my claim that I am a free thinker. DIck did a good and prety honest job articulating his “belief” about the universe and nature. I respect that responce especially in light of his others which in the past have been at time disgusting.

  84. And I certainly don’t buy the slanderous idea that al ID advocates are militant Christian biblical literalists.

  85. “And I certainly don’t buy the slanderous idea that al ID advocates are militant Christian biblical literalists.”

    Some are not but what is one to believe when the large majority of those that support ID are militant Christian biblical literalists and this group is embraced by a majority of those supporters of ID who are not biblical literalists. If someone on the outside sees this overall pattern by those who support ID and then confuses it with creationism, how can one blame them. Our pleas that it is not an accurate perception get lost in rhetoric. The ID community contributes to the conflation of ID with creationism and religion. I have commenting been here 2 1/2 years and this is what I have seen.

  86. The majority aren’t. I don’t know of any who are. Most Christians I know don’t give a damn about DE or ID but they would probably support ID. Bill Dembski, Stephen Meyers, Michael Behe, John Wells. I mean you name them- none of them are militant Christians. They people you speak of are the minority though they do exist. They are usually YEC with a very extreme personality.

    I think that you are either very mistaken your purposely mischaracterizing ID’s followers. We don’t have an ID day like the very stupid “Darwin day.” Our side is peaceful and tolerant and the other side isn’t. And this is the obvious truth. If you think otherwise you need to stop watching CNN and MSNBC and reading The New York Times, the international propaganda machines.

    Next youll be telling us that it is ID that is responcible for the imaginary global warming that didn’t happen last year-

    yet of course for some reason this NEWS didn’t find its way into the great all powerful and wonderful and truthful propaganda machine we know as “the mainstream media.”

  87. 87

    “When I ask about the scientific support for ID, all they say is that Darwin was wrong. They can’t answer the question, so they create a distraction.”

    Truly, you must be kidding. Is this to say that you are unaware of any evidence for an inference to design in nature?

    Have you ever heard of the book “No Free Lunch”? Maybe “Darwin’s Black Box”? Perhaps, “The Edge of Evolution” or “The Design Matrix” or “Privlidged Planet” or “The Design Inference” or “The Devil’s Delusion”?

    Or is it, that you are saying that the people you’ve met are not skilled enough to humour you with an explanation? Is a lack of skill on their part to be used as an evidence against design in nature on your part?

    Just wondering.

  88. “The majority aren’t. I don’t know of any who are….Bill Dembski, Stephen Meyers, Michael Behe, John Wells. I mean you name them- none of them are militant Christians ”

    There is a difference between leaders and adherents. I do not think that YEC are in the minority of those who actively support ID. It is a necessary part of their religion but not for other Christians so it would be expected that they would be more interested. Look at your own words, “The majority aren’t. I don’t know of any who are. Most Christians I know don’t give a damn about DE or ID but they would probably support ID.” You have just described the missing from the debate. It is not important to them. But what are their perceptions of the debate? I know what they are in my circle of acquaintances.

    My experience is that most of those who post here in support of ID in the last 2 1/2 years are very religiously motivated and there are many who look at ID as a proselytizing tool. When an ID speaker shows up as a speaker in certain areas of the country, the religious groups are out recruiting and they are mainly YEC. This is not true where I live which is the New York City area but there are many other areas where it is true. Actually I may want to change that. I got interested in ID when Behe, Dembski, Meyers came to New York in 1999 along with some others and spoke. In the lobby were some tables by religious groups which I ignored. There was not one mention of religion by any of the speakers which is what impressed me and got me started.

    The number of references to quotes from the bible on this site have gone down but they are still very prevalent here. This is an indication of the interest of the contributors.

    What has global warming got to do with this? And I haven’t a clue what your last sentence is about.

  89. A key point in 74 is that ID believers I know in real life aren’t honest. They believe because they’re Christians who accept on faith that God created living things.

    Apparently you need to think beyond stigma words like faith or “religion.” What people seem to mean by “religion” or faith when they use it as a stigma word is knowledge based on low epistemic standards. Note that knowledge based on faith in another person, testimony, witness, history, tradition, etc., need not be defined by low epistemic standards at all. If you have faith in your wife it can be very high form of knowledge. But this is apparently what many mean by “religion” and faith, given their use as stigma words and the way that those with sharply limited intellects associate them with pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, etc.

    Given that the nature of faith is not necessarily the equivalent of knowledge defined by low epistemic standards many scientists have come to a form of faith as the result of what they have observed of life scientifically. There are also many ID proponents who have beliefs based on their religious tradition which they think may be verified by empirical facts and logic. It’s not apparent what is so terrible about beginning with knowledge rooted in a religious tradition and finding that it is consonant with knowledge based on empirical evidence. Note that because the possibility of verification also opens the door to falsification many religious people argue against ID because they are fearful that it will falsify their faith or give that impression.

    And so on and on, it’s certainly not as simple as: “ID proponents believe because they’re Christians who accept on faith that God created living things.”

    Given how typical “panda’s thumb” type arguments and atheism or negative theology are to Darwinists one could just as easily argue: “Proponents of Darwinism believe it only because they’re Christian apostates who want to reject and work against their original faith.”

    For many, that may be true. The story of the provincial fundamentalist who goes on a journey and finds his answers to his religion in the Darwinian creation myth is so common that it is provincial itself. Apparently a residue of Christianity remains with its apostates. Ironically blogs are named after theological arguments like the “panda’s thumb” and yet those who write it argue that theology has nothing to do with science.

    The theological arguments typical to Darwinists seem to be rather puerile and shallow: “God wouldn’t make a panda’s thumb like this because we all know that the Bible says that creation is perfect or somethin’.” Perhaps that’s because they typically leave their original faith as an ignorant schoolboy and so on.

    In the end it seems that there is more diversity and complexity among ID proponents than among Darwinists. That is to say, Darwinists generally share the same pattern of evolution.

    Their designer is God. But they want to get ID into science classes.

    Then why is it that many of the leading proponents of ID are against highschool teachers trying to teach their ideas?

    They know to say they don’t know who the designer is. When I ask about the scientific support for ID, all they say is that Darwin was wrong.

    Well, he was, so it would seem apposite to allow people to say so.

  90. austin_english at 82

    But they want to get ID into science classes.

    Suggest you consider the other side too – that atheists insist on requiring students to learn materialism in classrooms and forbid any mention of any possibility of an Intelligent Designer.

    That is establishment of secularism comparable to Stalin or Mao’s – just in a western context where they are only just beginning to “Expell” all “unbelievers” (in Darwinism).

    Look at what Hitler did based on Darwinism.

    For more on ID, please explore ResearchID.org and IntelligentDesign.org

    Note that there is tons of experimental evidence published that can as or more easily be interpreted by ID than by the obligatory “evolution”, once you begin to understand the difference and potential.

    austin_english at 74

    I have to ask if the atheist Dawkins is acting more like a Christian than the Christians in the culture war.

    What morals is Dawkins using? Worldviews based on “survival of the fittest” have no moral’s but “Might makes ‘right’” and anything goes to win. When Dawkins uses moral language of “right” and “wrong” etc., he is relying on his Christian background or the Christian culture around him to make those valuations.

    Have you examined the Assumptions of ID vs the religious beliefs of those who advocate ID?
    Note particularly Beliefs: Scientists and engineers working with intelligent causes have various worldviews and religious beliefs. The only assumption on their beliefs are the assumptions 1. through 8. above in examining intelligent causes.
    It IS honest in establishing a scientific theory to ONLY claim what can be inferred from the EVIDENCE.
    To go BEYOND that would be dishonest.

    When inference from evidence coincides with someones religious beliefs, does that make the inferences dishonest?
    If so what do Darwinists do when they proclaim materialism is all that there is? When there is NO logical NOR scientific basis for proving that?

    When you say that ID is not “honest”, what moral basis do you use? What assumptions are you making? Can you apply those same assumptions to yourself and say that you are being honest? Or are you making ad hominem attacks on ID – i.e., claiming moral dishonesty in practitioners based on differing assumptions or logical errors?
    I encourage you to be very careful on accusing others of dishonesty – especially without evidence.

  91. Note also that there is no experimental result that would be inconsistent with an omnipotent unknown designer. Any experimental finding can be explained by saying “it was designed that way”. However, there is no way to test that explanation.

  92. Jerry, I dont think that most people here are that way at all. I think most of them would not want their religion forced upon other people. Their own bible does not say that you should force other people to believe. I think you are totally wrong. I have never met anyone who wanted christainty taught in public funded schools as fact- especially as the monopoly of education.

    ID does not calim to be for any religion and its theory is not connected by necessity or logic to any religion. The founders dont want to build some Reich and neither do I. I dont think that Kairosfocus would want any of this and he is a regular poster here and certinaly the declared athesits and deists and agnostics that post here who I have had discussions with most lilly wouldn’t either.

    I think you are propagandising here a little. Once again there is no “ID day” but there is a “Darwin day.” Show me where the ID advocates are marching and demonstating like the Gay Pride- or the green peace or the anti war or all the other real and true poltical extreamist and belief based movements.

    Your view has no merrit at all in my eyes because all of my knowledge and expierence completely conradicts it.

    I have little more to say on this issue.

  93. “You miss the point. If God is an eternal being, then he encompasses our linear time.”

    That’s a lovely assumption would you care to back it with something other than your word?

    I got your point, my problem and the paradox I presented however, were that this finite existence is all there is.

    That there is absolutely nothing beyond the ever expanding membrane that makes up the spatio-temporal realm, and that space-time only exists within that membrane. There is no future universe for a God(and an irrational God at that) to look toward.

    A God that has always been is simply a God who has always existed, existance had a starting point and quite likely will have an ending. Plancks constant dictates there was no time before the big bang. Space-time occurs afterward, so for all intensive purposes, God could very well be a material thing. Isn’t that an unromantic concept though? lol

  94. A footnote:

    Gentlefolks, first note that if God is eternal not time-bound, then his knowledge of what happens in time is not the same as forcing what happens to be so through deterministic cause-effect chains.

    By sharpest contrast, evo mat derives “mind” from chance + necessity acting on matter + energy, so it ends up with chance boundary conditions and deterministic forces driving our thought world — including the real decision making we need to be rational — straight into absurdity.

    THAT is the key point, one ducked by Dawkins as shown in the OP, and diverted from by others, who ar5e far more eager to discuss the perceived or real challenges of traditional theism, than they are to address the gaping hole in the foundation of today’s dominant worldview among the College educated classes of the West. A view that has taken time to redefine science to establish itself by definition, and is now resorting to classic censorship and expulsions to keep it so!

    Next, observe: we live in a contingent cosmos that credibly had a beginning at a specific point in the past. Such a cosmos of contingent beings entails, logically, a necessary being that is its own cause. A quasi-infinite cosmos as a whole in which sub cosmi pop up by chance is a [poor!] candidate for that, and so is God [a much better candidate].

    But, also, we see trotted out the inference that Judaeo Christian theists are enemies of liberty.

    That is historically ignorant, and is utterly illogical, once one can tell the difference between liberty [which is profoundly moral in character, being rooted in issues of justice] and libertinism or amorality [this last being a logical outcome of evolutionary materialism: there are no grounds that giver weight to our moral intuitions in this view]. And, Frosty is right, I am a principled liberty-minded small-d democrat; and BTW, a cynical monarchist. (The house of Windsor gets our Caribbean tourism destinations better publicity than we can pay for, so it is worth the trifling amount it costs to keep the historical tradition going. For instance, recall a few months back where it was BBC world news that Jamaican soldiers were taking their turn at guarding Buckingham Palace, complete with Jamaican music a the change of guards! (FYI, the Monarch of Britain is per constitution also the monarch of Jamaica.))

    GEM of TKI

  95. [...] Dembski reported on his friend’s exchange with Richard Dawkins at a D.C. bookstore, where Dawkins was promoting [...]

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