Home » Intelligent Design » Does the Idea of “Autopoeitic” Include Self Organization; If So How?

Does the Idea of “Autopoeitic” Include Self Organization; If So How?

In another post Mung points out this interesting quote to Kantian Naturalist (an atheist):  “That crude matter should have originally formed itself according to mechanical laws, that life should have sprung from the nature of what is lifeless, that matter should have been able to dispose itself into the form of a self-maintaining purposiveness – that [is] contradictory to reason.”  Immanuel Kant  

Kantian Naturalist replies:  

[Recently] I read “Bio-agency and the problem of action” by J. C. Skewes & C. A. Hooker (Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):283-300, 2009). I won’t get into all the details right now; suffice it to say that the way they set up the problem in what I find to be a deeply compelling fashion. Namely, the Aristotelian-Kantian notion that organisms are centers of their own causal activity is not compatible with linear effective causation — what you might call a “domino” theory of causation. So, what they propose to do is reject the domino theory of causation. Put otherwise, they reject mechanism. In its place they argue that dynamical systems theory can explain how autopoeitic systems arise. Anyway, that’s why I agree with Kant.

 ”Autopoeitic” is from the Greek“self” and “creation,” and literally that which creates itself.  The term was coined by biologists Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.  From Wikipedia:  

A canonical example of an autopoietic system is the biological cell. The eukaryotic cell, for example, is made of various biochemical components such as nucleic acids and proteins, and is organized into bounded structures such as the cell nucleus, various organelles, a cell membrane and cytoskeleton. These structures, based on an external flow of molecules and energy, produce the components which, in turn, continue to maintain the organized bounded structure that gives rise to these components (not unlike a wave propagating through a medium).

 Here’s the interesting part of the Wiki article for our purposes today:  “Though others have often used the term as a synonym for self-organization, Maturana himself stated he would ‘never use the notion of self-organization, because it cannot be the case… it is impossible. That is, if the organization of a thing changes, the thing changes.’” 

Are Skewes, Hooker and Kantian Naturalist using “autopoeitic” in a different way than Maturana or do they just disagree with Maturana’s statement?  And what does it mean to reject “domino causation”?  Is that just another way of spewing the nonsense of “emergence”?  See “Materialist Poofery” for what I think of that nonsense.  

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78 Responses to Does the Idea of “Autopoeitic” Include Self Organization; If So How?

  1. “”Autopoeitic” is from the Latin “self” and “creation,” and literally that which creates itself.”

    ‘creates itself’,,, Hmm,,, that must be the ultimate ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ smokescreen. ,,, Somebody notify Krauss and Hawking! :)

  2. I never fully understood Varela and Maturana, because they seemed to leave too many details unexplained. However, autopoesis is generally understood to include self-organization.

    “Though others have often used the term as a synonym for self-organization, Maturana himself stated he would ‘never use the notion of self-organization, because it cannot be the case… it is impossible. That is, if the organization of a thing changes, the thing changes.’”

    It is also hard to work out what “self-organization” is supposed to mean. And I take that to be part of Maturana’s point.

    A snow crystal forms out of the condensing water vapor. And some would call that “self-organization.” But the self (the snow crystal) does not even exist at the beginning of that process, so we cannot credit the non-existent crystal with doing that organizing. And that is probably what Maturana is getting at.

    I suppose the term “self-organization” is something of a slogan. It is a term we might use but, like all slogans, it is an oversimplification and is often misleading.

  3. An auto-poetic system? Organized by meter and rhyme?

  4. 4
    Kantian Naturalist

    That seems like a reasonable interpretation, Neil.

    Not to be belabor the point, but although I’m an atheist*, I’m not a materialist. I trust I’ve made my reasons for that sufficiently clear by now.

    * Though “atheism” is a term I’m not really happy with. I prefer to think of myself as a secularist, humanist, and naturalist. Not that it matters what labels I apply to myself.

  5. And what does it mean to reject “domino causation”?

    I read KN to be saying he rejects ‘linear efficient causation’ as the only valid form of causation.

    A causes B causes C as a sequence in which each cause is only construed as an efficient cause. That’s what I think he meant by domino causation.

  6. I love this line from Life’s Ratchet.

    How complicated a simple snow flake is!

  7. I missed this on first reading:

    That crude matter should have originally formed itself according to mechanical laws…that [is] contradictory to reason.

    Which came first, crude matter or mechanical laws?

    Did mechanical laws bring the crude matter into existence?

    Did crude matter bring the mechanical laws into existence?

    How can it be the case that either one could be true?

  8. as to:

    I read KN to be saying he rejects ‘linear efficient causation’ as the only valid form of causation.
    A causes B causes C as a sequence in which each cause is only construed as an efficient cause. That’s what I think he meant by domino causation.

    But if one removes cause and effect relationship how does one reason within science? This seems to me to be a severely misguided corruption of science on the atheists part. Take for instance the snowflake that was given for an example. Now the example of the snowflake that was given, in its seemingly endless variety around its basic structure, is certainly a thing of beauty to behold and argues, from that beauty alone, against random causation, but there is also much more evidence besides beauty to suggest, very strongly, that the water molecules from which the snowflakes form are designed and are not the result of some random processes. For instance when we look at water, the most common substance on earth and in our bodies, we find many odd characteristics which clearly appear to be designed. These oddities are absolutely essential for life on earth. Some simple life can exist without the direct energy of sunlight, some simple life can exist without oxygen; but no life can exist without water. Water is called a universal solvent because it has the unique ability to dissolve a far wider range of substances than any other solvent. This ‘universal solvent’ ability of water is essential for the cells of living organisms to process the wide range of substances necessary for life. Another oddity is water expands as it becomes ice, by an increase of about 9% in volume. Thus, water floats when it becomes a solid instead of sinking. This is an exceedingly rare ability. Yet if it were not for this fact, lakes and oceans would freeze from the bottom up. The earth would be a frozen wasteland, and human life would not be possible. Water also has the unusual ability to pull itself into very fine tubes and small spaces, defying gravity. This is called capillary action. This action is essential for the breakup of mineral bearing rocks into soil. Water pulls itself into tiny spaces on the surface of a rock and freezes; it expands and breaks the rock into tinier pieces, thus producing soil. Capillary action is also essential for the movement of water through soil to the roots of plants. It is also essential for the movement of water from the roots to the tops of the plants, even to the tops of the mighty redwood trees,,,

    Towering Giants Of Teleological Beauty – October 2010
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....al-beauty/

    ,,,Capillary action is also essential for the circulation of the blood in our very own capillary blood vessels. Water’s melting and boiling point are not where common sense would indicate they should be when we look at its molecular weight. The three sister compounds of water all behave as would be predicted by their molecular weight. Oddly, water just happens to have melting and boiling points that are of optimal biological utility. The other properties of water we measure, like its specific slipperiness (viscosity) and its ability to absorb and release more heat than any other natural substance, have to be as they are in order for life to be possible on earth. Even the oceans have to be the size they are in order to stabilize the temperature of the earth so human life may be possible. On and on through each characteristic we can possibly measure water with, it turns out to be required to be almost exactly as it is or complex life on this earth could not exist. No other liquid in the universe comes anywhere near matching water in its fitness for life (Michael Denton: Nature’s Destiny).

    Here is a more complete list of the anomalous life enabling properties of water:

    Anomalous life enabling properties of water
    http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/anmlies.html

    Water’s remarkable capabilities – December 2010 – Peer Reviewed
    Excerpt: All these traits are contained in a simple molecule of only three atoms. One of the most difficult tasks for an engineer is to design for multiple criteria at once. … Satisfying all these criteria in one simple design is an engineering marvel. Also, the design process goes very deep since many characteristics would necessarily be changed if one were to alter fundamental physical properties such as the strong nuclear force or the size of the electron.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....42211.html

    Surely all these coincidental properties of water are enough to make one wonder as to causation. Well it turns out that if one follows cause and effect down far enough in the water molecule then finally one reaches the ‘final quantum cause’ which must, because of the non-locality of quantum actions, reside outside of time and space:

    Water’s quantum weirdness makes life possible – October 2011
    Excerpt: WATER’S life-giving properties exist on a knife-edge. It turns out that life as we know it relies on a fortuitous, but incredibly delicate, balance of quantum forces.,,, They found that the hydrogen-oxygen bonds were slightly longer than the deuterium-oxygen ones, which is what you would expect if quantum uncertainty was affecting water’s structure. “No one has ever really measured that before,” says Benmore.
    We are used to the idea that the cosmos’s physical constants are fine-tuned for life. Now it seems water’s quantum forces can be added to this “just right” list.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....sible.html

    The atheist simply does not have a coherent non-local, beyond space and time, quantum cause to appeal to, whereas Theists have always maintained God as ‘final cause’.

    Verses and music:

    Revelation 21:6
    And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

    Genesis 1:7
    And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

    Alison Krauss – Down in the River to Pray
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvYadad-x5Y

  9. Here is ‘Down In The River To Pray’ as it was done in the movie ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

    Down In The River To Pray
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qw6Hon013E

  10. 10
    Kantian Naturalist

    In re: (7), Mung, here’s the paragraph from the Guyer and Matthews translation of the Critique of the Power of Judgment

    No one has done more for the proof of this theory of epigenesis as well as the establishment of the proper principles for its application, partly by limiting an excessively presumptuous use of it, than Privy Councillor Blumenbach. He begins all physical explanation of these formations with organized matter. For he rightly declares it to be contrary to reason that raw matter should originally have formed itself in accordance with mechanical laws, that life should have arisen from the nature of the lifeless, and that matter should have been able to assemble itself into the form of a self-preserving purposiveness by itself

    In context, I take it that “formed itself” means “become an organized, purposive whole”, bearing in mind that form, or morphe, is that which, in Aristotelian and Scholastic ontology, confers systematic and purposiveness wholeness on something. The classical conception of matter, from Democritus and Epicurus down to Hobbes and Boyle, is that matter is just that which doesn’t have “form,” and so is a mere aggregate, without any unity or wholeness to it. (This emphasis on aggregation vs. wholeness or unity is also crucial to Leibniz’s critique of materialism, and Leibniz’s impact on Kant is difficult to underestimate.)

    So Kant is attributing to Blumenbach, but also endorsing, the view that it is contrary to reason to suppose that raw matter could, in accord with mechanical laws alone, give rise to organisms.

  11. 12
    Kantian Naturalist

    I read KN to be saying he rejects ‘linear efficient causation’ as the only valid form of causation.

    A causes B causes C as a sequence in which each cause is only construed as an efficient cause. That’s what I think he meant by domino causation.

    Thank you for cashing out that metaphor!

    I was describing how Skewes and Hooker try and resolve the problem. It’s not really a problem about the origins of life, so much as its a problem about how to think about the distinctive kind of causality that living things display. Their point is that one obstacle to thinking about this lies in an overly simplistic model of efficient causation. So the key, they argue, is to abandon that overly simplistic model without abandoning efficient causation tout court. And they think that the way to do that is to treat living things as dynamical complex systems.

    Now, they don’t reintroduce “final causes”, and so they’re not really teleological realists. I would say that, on their view, there is something real about what teleological describes, but that a genuine explanation of that reality is cashed out in terms of how efficient causation functions in dynamic, complex systems, as distinct from static or simple ones.

  12. But if one removes cause and effect relationship how does one reason within science? This seems to me to be a severely misguided corruption of science on the atheists part.

    But no one is talking about removing cause and effect relationship. We’re considering that there is more to causation than just efficient causes.

    …whereas Theists have always maintained God as ‘final cause’.

    I think you’re confused about the role of the word ‘final’ in final cause.

    http://www.mathpages.com/home/.....ath581.htm

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....causality/

  13. thanks Mung, I think I had confused ‘final cause’ with the ultimate ‘uncaused cause’ of Aquina supon which all causes must ultimately rest:

    Not Understanding Nothing – A review of A Universe from Nothing – Edward Feser – June 2012
    Excerpt: A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional philosophical theology, we know it isn’t going to end well. ,,,
    ,,, But Krauss simply can’t see the “difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one.” The difference, as the reader of Aristotle or Aquinas knows, is that the universe changes while the unmoved mover does not, or, as the Neoplatonist can tell you, that the universe is made up of parts while its source is absolutely one; or, as Leibniz could tell you, that the universe is contingent and God absolutely necessary. There is thus a principled reason for regarding God rather than the universe as the terminus of explanation.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ng-nothing

  14. as to:

    ‘We’re considering that there is more to causation than just efficient causes.”

    I know I may regret asking this mung, but since I can’t decipher his reasoning, exactly what cause does KN propose to remove the necessity of reasoning to the ultimate ‘uncaused cause’ within science. ,,, Seems to me that any sort of reasoning that refused to look for ultimate causation would be as fruitless as a dog chasing its tail in a circle! Definitely not satisfying to me but I can see where someone who wanted to hold on to his atheism would be attracted to such self deception.

  15. 16
    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t see why it’s “self-deception” to think that some questions are beyond our finite, all-too-human capacity to answer, or at least to provide empirically-grounded answers.

    One thing I like about the Skewes and Hooker article is that it provides a model for “naturalizing teleology”, and putting some much-needed flesh on that skeletal phrase. (Notice, though, that this is not a phrase they use.) The idea now amounts to explaining in terms of a special kind of efficient causation (that of dynamic, complex systems) what is described in terms of final causation.

  16. “as fruitless as a dog chasing its tail in a circle”

    The tail is wagging the dog!

  17. as to:

    I don’t see why it’s “self-deception” to think that some questions are beyond our finite, all-too-human capacity to answer, or at least to provide empirically-grounded answers.

    And I can see why someone not given to the Theistic philosophy would be predisposed to such a ‘hopeless’ position of thinking that he, in his puny state of being compared to the cosmos, shall not ever be able to reason to ultimate causation for reality. In fact it is such ‘hopelessness’ that is found in other worldviews that prevented modern science from ever coming to fruition in those other cultures in the first place:

    The Origin of Science
    Jaki writes: Herein lies the tremendous difference between Christian monotheism on the one hand and Jewish and Muslim monotheism on the other. This explains also the fact that it is almost natural for a Jewish or Muslim intellectual to become a patheist. About the former Spinoza and Einstein are well-known examples. As to the Muslims, it should be enough to think of the Averroists. With this in mind one can also hope to understand why the Muslims, who for five hundred years had studied Aristotle’s works and produced many commentaries on them failed to make a breakthrough. The latter came in medieval Christian context and just about within a hundred years from the availability of Aristotle’s works in Latin..
    As we will see below, the break-through that began science was a Christian commentary on Aristotle’s De Caelo (On the Heavens).,,
    Modern experimental science was rendered possible, Jaki has shown, as a result of the Christian philosophical atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Although a talent for science was certainly present in the ancient world (for example in the design and construction of the Egyptian pyramids), nevertheless the philosophical and psychological climate was hostile to a self-sustaining scientific process. Thus science suffered still-births in the cultures of ancient China, India, Egypt and Babylonia. It also failed to come to fruition among the Maya, Incas and Aztecs of the Americas. Even though ancient Greece came closer to achieving a continuous scientific enterprise than any other ancient culture, science was not born there either. Science did not come to birth among the medieval Muslim heirs to Aristotle. ….
    The psychological climate of such ancient cultures, with their belief that the universe was infinite and time an endless repetition of historical cycles, was often either hopelessness or complacency (hardly what is needed to spur and sustain scientific progress); and in either case there was a failure to arrive at a belief in the existence of God the Creator and of creation itself as therefore rational and intelligible. Thus their inability to produce a self-sustaining scientific enterprise.
    If science suffered only stillbirths in ancient cultures, how did it come to its unique viable birth? The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church. The first was the definition at the Fourth Lateran Council in the year 1215, that the universe was created out of nothing at the beginning of time. The second magisterial statement was at the local level, enunciated by Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris who, on March 7, 1277, condemned 219 Aristotelian propositions, so outlawing the deterministic and necessitarian views of creation.
    These statements of the teaching authority of the Church expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature and so God was free to create this particular form of world among an infinity of other possibilities. Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

    In fact the Christian presupposition of the universe being created by a rational Creator, and of us being made in the image of God, and that we can therefore rationally understand the universe, which was so instrumental in the founding of science,,,

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

    ,, has some very stunning empirical confirmation behind it. A couple of points are noted here:

    In this following video, Dr. Richards and Dr. Gonzalez reveal that the universe is ‘suspiciously set up’ for scientific discovery:

    Privileged Planet – Observability/Measurably Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5424431

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    - Jay Richards

    Extreme Fine Tuning of Light, and Atmosphere, for Life and Scientific Discovery – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/7715887/

    These following videos are in the same line of thought as the preceding videos:

    We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History – Hugh Ross – video
    http://vimeo.com/31940671

    Hugh Ross – The Anthropic Principle and Anthropic Inequality – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8494065

    But, as impressive, suspicious, and persuasive, as the preceding ‘hints’ are that the universe was created by the infinite Mind of God and can therefore be understood by the mind of man, since we are made in God’s image (as Christianity makes abundantly clear), the deepest correlation, of our mind to the Mind of God, finds its most concrete proof of correlation from looking at consciousness itself through the lens of quantum mechanics.,,, Due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either precedes all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    But as audacious as it may seem to someone who has no a-priori reason to believe that the universe may be thoroughly intelligible, as the christian Theists a-priorily believed, I’m given to go one step further and audaciously hold that not only was Christianity necessary for the foundation of modern science but that modern science will find its ultimate completion and authority in the person of Christ! (How’s that for stepping on a few atheistic toes? :) )

    Centrality of Each Individual Observer In The Universe and Christ’s Very Credible Reconciliation Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/17SDgYPHPcrl1XX39EXhaQzk7M0zmANKdYIetpZ-WB5Y/edit?hl=en_US

    verse and music:

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth.”

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Brooke Fraser – Hillsong: “Lord Of Lords” (HQ)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB4Tc5zJMUc

  18. And what does it mean to reject “domino causation”?

    I’ll comment on that, because the meaning seems obvious to me. Of course, KN can correct me if this is not what he means.

    I take “domino causation” to refer to the idea of a sequence of events, each causing the next. However, the world is more complex than that. Every event has infinitely many contributing causes, and in turn contributes to infinitely many other events. That’s why physicists use differential equations, rather than simple propositional logic. But even the differential equations are simplifications. To make matters worse, some of the contributory causes are random quantum events.

    The effect of all of this is that there is a fluidity to nature that does not fit the way that we think about mechanism. And this fluidity is particularly relevant to biological systems.

    Is that just another way of spewing the nonsense of “emergence”?

    “Emergence” is not nonsense, though the term is often thrown around too casually. Gas pressure is an emergent property of vibrating molecules. There’s nothing nonsensical about that.

    The problem arises when people seem to use “emergence” as if it were a magical explanation. Generally speaking, we should see emergence as something to be explained, rather than as an explanation.

  19. This “autopoeitic” idea was referred to us (by Nick or Lizzy, if memory serves) several months ago as an attempt to explain something about how life came about. There was a specific paper referred to, which I took time to track down and read. Bottom line, it was rather much nonsense and just another attempt to redefine away the problems with a mechanistic origins story by introducing this autopoeitic idea that complex functional systems were kind of destined out of biochemistry itself.

    If I get time later tonight, I’ll track down the paper and post the link.

  20. Found the reference. It was Nick referring us to life as some kind of “kinetic” state based on some “autocatalytic” property. The (long) skinny is here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-421718

  21. Bornagain posted this, among other things:

    In fact the Christian presupposition of the universe being created by a rational Creator, and of us being made in the image of God, and that we can therefore rationally understand the universe, which was so instrumental in the founding of science

    In order to support common understanding, can you (or anyone) provide a simple way sensibly to parse this sequence of words?

  22. as to:

    can you (or anyone) provide a simple way sensibly to parse this sequence of words?

    Sorry for any lack of clarity on my part. I think Dr. Meyer explains the basic idea much more clearly than I did:

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

  23. Sorry but do I have this right:

    Christians presuppose the existence of a rational creator, and can therefore rationally understand the universe.

    Is that your argument?

  24. Neil states:

    I take “domino causation” to refer to the idea of a sequence of events, each causing the next. However, the world is more complex than that. Every event has infinitely many contributing causes, and in turn contributes to infinitely many other events. That’s why physicists use differential equations, rather than simple propositional logic.

    Yet Dr. Bradley states,,

    Only in the 20th century have we come to fully understand that the incredibly diverse phenomena that we observe in nature are the outworking of a very small number of physical laws, each of which may be described by a simple mathematical relationship. Indeed, so simple in mathematical form and small in number are these physical laws that they can all be written on one side of one sheet of paper, as seen in Table 1. – Dr. Walter Bradley

    How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe – Dr. Walter L. Bradley – paper
    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9403/evidence.html

    The Five Foundational Equations of the Universe and Brief Descriptions of Each:
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc.....#038;hl=en

    In this following video,,,

    The Underlying Mathematical Foundation Of The Universe – Walter Bradley – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4491491

    Dr. Bradley states:

    “Occasionally I’ll have a bright engineering student who says, “Well you should see the equations we work with in my engineering class. They’re a big mess.”, The problem is not the fundamental laws of nature, the problem is the boundary conditions. If you choose complicated boundary conditions then the solutions to these equations will in fact, in some cases, be quite complicated in form,,, But again the point is still the same, the universe assumes a remarkably simple and elegant mathematical form.” – Dr. Walter Bradley

    And if we ask the question, ‘What is the cause of these simple mathematical equations that govern the universe?’ we find ourselves, once again, at the profound epistemological mystery as to why we should even be able to comprehend reality at such a deep level in the first place,,,

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Mario Livio, or the Poverty of Atheist Philosophy: A Review of “Is God a Mathematician?”
    Excerpt: In short, Wigner committed a treason against science. He didn’t, in an Einsteinian fashion, just declare a personal faith in a God that had only marginal relevance to his scientific studies. He went farther than that: he implied that science was impossible and inexplicable without accepting a higher reality, transcending the mind of man and its capabilities for reasoning and experimentation. The short and ostensibly innocent article faced some really violent reactions; some objected to the conclusions in it, others to the premises, and still others refused to even deal with it, pretending it had never been written. But Wigner remained right about one thing: Despite the many attempts, no one could give a rational explanation for what Wigner described as the “uncanny ability of mathematics to describe and predict accurately the physical world.”
    http://americanvision.org/4333.....ematician/

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8462821

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Godel and Physics – John D. Barrow
    Excerpt (page 5-6): “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49
    http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0612253.pdf

    Taking God Out of the Equation – Biblical Worldview – by Ron Tagliapietra – January 1, 2012
    Excerpt: Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) proved that no logical systems (if they include the counting numbers) can have all three of the following properties.
    1. Validity . . . all conclusions are reached by valid reasoning.
    2. Consistency . . . no conclusions contradict any other conclusions.
    3. Completeness . . . all statements made in the system are either true or false.
    The details filled a book, but the basic concept was simple and elegant. He summed it up this way: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove.” For this reason, his proof is also called the Incompleteness Theorem.
    Kurt Gödel had dropped a bomb on the foundations of mathematics. Math could not play the role of God as infinite and autonomous. It was shocking, though, that logic could prove that mathematics could not be its own ultimate foundation.
    Christians should not have been surprised. The first two conditions are true about math: it is valid and consistent. But only God fulfills the third condition. Only He is complete and therefore self-dependent (autonomous). God alone is “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28), “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 22:13). God is the ultimate authority (Hebrews 6:13), and in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).
    http://www.answersingenesis.or...../equation#

  25. As to Neil’s quote here,,

    To make matters worse, some of the contributory causes are random quantum events.

    Actually tracing out the ultimate cause for randomness in quantum mechanics reveals some very interesting things,,

    In the following video, at the 37:00 minute mark, Anton Zeilinger, a leading researcher in quantum teleportation with many breakthroughs under his belt, humorously reflects on just how deeply determinism has been undermined by quantum mechanics by saying such a deep lack of determinism may provide some of us a loop hole when they meet God on judgment day.

    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Personally, I feel that such a deep undermining of determinism by quantum mechanics, far from providing a ‘loop hole’ on judgement day, actually restores free will to its rightful place in the grand scheme of things, thus making God’s final judgments on men’s souls all the more fully binding since man truly is a ‘free moral agent’ as Theism has always maintained. And to solidify this theistic claim for how reality is constructed, the following study came along a few months after I had seen Dr. Zeilinger’s video:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    So just as I had suspected after watching Dr. Zeilinger’s video, it is found that a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics is what necessarily drives the completely random (non-deterministic) aspect of quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    of note:

    What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Needless to say, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, ‘free will observation’ which is indeed the driving aspect of randomness in quantum mechanics, is VERY antithetical to the entire materialistic philosophy which demands that a ‘non-telological randomness’ be the driving force of creativity in Darwinian evolution! Also of interest:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiments, “Since you ultimately believe that the ‘god of random chance’ produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?”

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    You must measure your choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity

  26. as to:

    Christians presuppose the existence of a rational creator, and can therefore rationally understand the universe.

    Is that your argument?

    Well, I might add that we are made in the image of God and can therefore understand the universe, but basically yes, that is the argument, indeed, that is the state of mind, attitude, of the Christians who founded modern science:

    Founders of Modern Science Who Believe in GOD – Tihomir Dimitrov
    http://www.scigod.com/index.ph.....File/18/18

  27. Some quibbles:

    1. The terms “auto-” and “-poetic” come from Greek, not Latin.

    2. To speak of matter and the laws of nature as separable things is to speak from a design viewpoint, and rather a straw-man viewpoint at that, as if God first devised the electron, the proton, etc., and then decided what those particles would do. To draw an analogy, this is like saying that a computer programmer wrote a program and then, when the program is finished, decided what the program was going to do (insert your favorite Microsoft joke here).

    The laws of nature should not be regarded as separable from the entities of nature; the laws are merely our conclusions about the properites of those entites.

  28. In further response to Neil on ‘randomness’, (being that randomness is suppose to the ultimate causation of creativity in the atheistic mindset), it is interesting to point out that the ‘entropic’ randomness of the ‘particles’ of this material universe is bounded by a constant, whereas, as pointed out before, the randomness in quantum mechanics is unbounded by any constant and in fact the randomness in quantum mechanics is found to be driven by a ‘free choice’ assumption.

    notes:

    Boltzmann’s equation:
    An important equation in statistical mechanics that connects entropy (S) with molecular disorder (W). It can be written:

    S = k log W

    where k is Boltzmann’s constant.

    The Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann first linked entropy and probability in 1877. However, the equation as shown, involving a specific constant, was first written down by Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics in 1900. In his 1918 Nobel Prize lecture, Planck said:This constant is often referred to as Boltzmann’s constant, although, to my knowledge, Boltzmann himself never introduced it – a peculiar state of affairs, which can be explained by the fact that Boltzmann, as appears from his occasional utterances, never gave thought to the possibility of carrying out an exact measurement of the constant. Nothing can better illustrate the positive and hectic pace of progress which the art of experimenters has made over the past twenty years, than the fact that since that time, not only one, but a great number of methods have been discovered for measuring the mass of a molecule with practically the same accuracy as that attained for a planet. (Of note: Max Planck was a Christian Theist who remained active in his church throughout his life)
    http://www.daviddarling.info/e.....ation.html

    And if we trace out the ultimate source/cause of entropic randomness in the ‘material’ universe, entropic randomness which is suppose to be the ultimate creative engine in the Darwinian mindset, we find out some very interesting things:

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! – January 2010
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

    Thermodynamics – 3.1 Entropy
    Excerpt:
    Entropy – A measure of the amount of randomness or disorder in a system.
    http://www.saskschools.ca/curr.....rgy3_1.htm

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”
    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?

    Indeed, blackholes are certainly destructive:

    Scientists gear up to take a picture of a black hole – January 2012
    Excerpt: “Swirling around the black hole like water circling the drain in a bathtub, the matter compresses and the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to ‘glow’ – and radiate energy that we can detect here on Earth.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....-hole.html

    What Would Happen If You Fell into a Black Hole? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMiJQXsmkc

    Although atheists may want to replace God as the creator with some ill defined notion of randomness, all I can say is, after looking at the destructive power noted in the ‘entropic randomness’ of Blackholes, Thank God that He has bounded the entropic randomness of this universe with a constant so that it is not unlimited in its effect!

    Romans 8:18-21
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    Also of note to the ‘entropic randomness’ of the material universe is the fact that,,,

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)
    http://www.ws5.com/Penrose/

    Roger Penrose discusses initial entropy of the universe. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo

    This number is gargantuan. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, even if a number were written down on each sub-atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 sub-atomic particles in it.

    Dr. Gordon discusses the initial entropy at the beginning of this video:

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory & The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

  29. In further response to Neil on ‘randomness’, (being that randomness is suppose to the ultimate causation of creativity in the atheistic mindset), it is interesting to point out that the ‘entropic’ randomness of the ‘particles’ of this material universe is bounded by a constant, whereas, as pointed out before, the randomness in quantum mechanics is unbounded by any constant and in fact the randomness in quantum mechanics is found to be driven by a ‘free choice’ assumption.

    notes:

    Boltzmann’s equation:
    An important equation in statistical mechanics that connects entropy (S) with molecular disorder (W). It can be written:

    S = k log W

    where k is Boltzmann’s constant.

    The Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann first linked entropy and probability in 1877. However, the equation as shown, involving a specific constant, was first written down by Max Planck, the father of quantum mechanics in 1900. In his 1918 Nobel Prize lecture, Planck said:This constant is often referred to as Boltzmann’s constant, although, to my knowledge, Boltzmann himself never introduced it – a peculiar state of affairs, which can be explained by the fact that Boltzmann, as appears from his occasional utterances, never gave thought to the possibility of carrying out an exact measurement of the constant. Nothing can better illustrate the positive and hectic pace of progress which the art of experimenters has made over the past twenty years, than the fact that since that time, not only one, but a great number of methods have been discovered for measuring the mass of a molecule with practically the same accuracy as that attained for a planet. (Of note: Max Planck was a Christian Theist who remained active in his church throughout his life)
    http://www.daviddarling.info/e.....ation.html

    And if we trace out the ultimate source/cause of entropic randomness in the ‘material’ universe, entropic randomness which is suppose to be the ultimate creative engine in the Darwinian mindset, we find out some very interesting things:

    Evolution is a Fact, Just Like Gravity is a Fact! UhOh! – January 2010
    Excerpt: The results of this paper suggest gravity arises as an entropic force, once space and time themselves have emerged.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....fact-uhoh/

    Thermodynamics – 3.1 Entropy
    Excerpt:
    Entropy – A measure of the amount of randomness or disorder in a system.
    http://www.saskschools.ca/curr.....rgy3_1.htm

    Entropy of the Universe – Hugh Ross – May 2010
    Excerpt: Egan and Lineweaver found that supermassive black holes are the largest contributor to the observable universe’s entropy. They showed that these supermassive black holes contribute about 30 times more entropy than what the previous research teams estimated.
    http://www.reasons.org/entropy-universe

    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”
    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?

    Indeed, blackholes are certainly destructive:

    Scientists gear up to take a picture of a black hole – January 2012
    Excerpt: “Swirling around the black hole like water circling the drain in a bathtub, the matter compresses and the resulting friction turns it into plasma heated to a billion degrees or more, causing it to ‘glow’ – and radiate energy that we can detect here on Earth.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....-hole.html

    What Would Happen If You Fell into a Black Hole? – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLMiJQXsmkc

    Although atheists may want to replace God as the creator with some ill defined notion of randomness, all I can say is, after looking at the destructive power noted in the ‘entropic randomness’ of Blackholes, Thank God that He has bounded the entropic randomness of this universe with a constant so that it is not unlimited in its effect!

    Romans 8:18-21
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

    Also of note to the ‘entropic randomness’ of the material universe is the fact that,,,

    The Physics of the Small and Large: What is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: “The time-asymmetry is fundamentally connected to with the Second Law of Thermodynamics: indeed, the extraordinarily special nature (to a greater precision than about 1 in 10^10^123, in terms of phase-space volume) can be identified as the “source” of the Second Law (Entropy).”
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    How special was the big bang? – Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.
    (from the Emperor’s New Mind, Penrose, pp 339-345 – 1989)

    Roger Penrose discusses initial entropy of the universe. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhGdVMBk6Zo

    This number is gargantuan. If this number were written out in its entirety, 1 with 10^123 zeros to the right, it could not be written on a piece of paper the size of the entire visible universe, even if a number were written down on each sub-atomic particle in the entire universe, since the universe only has 10^80 sub-atomic particles in it.

    Dr. Gordon discusses the initial entropy at the beginning of this video:

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory & The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

  30. And what does it mean to reject “domino causation”?

    Whatever happened to good old billiard ball causation?

  31. Neil:

    Gas pressure is an emergent property of vibrating molecules.

    Is it? I think it’s an emergent property of a volume!

    What does it mean to say that A is a property of B, or that be has property A, regardless of whether that property is ‘emergent’ or not?

    Can a single entity have an emergent property, or does emergence always require a community (e.g., gas molecules) of entities?

    I guess another way I could put that is to ask whether a single molecule has an emergent property that we can call pressure?

    If there is a large number of molecules, can we say they have an emergent property, large number of molecules?

    Needless to say, I don’t think you’ve given us a valid example of an emergent property. I think that pressure can be explained without recourse to something “else in addition to” molecules in motion inside a volume with a surface.

  32. timothya:

    Christians presuppose the existence of a rational creator, and can therefore rationally understand the universe.

    Is that your argument?

    Does that even remotely resemble the argument that Jaki was making?

  33. EvilSnack:

    The laws of nature should not be regarded as separable from the entities of nature; the laws are merely our conclusions about the properties of those entities.

    Demonstrating that the laws are indeed separable from the entities. And thus the problem with mechanism.

  34. 35

    In re: Neil’s (19), yes, you understood my meaning just fine. Whereas I talked about “the domino picture of causation,” Skewes and Hooker are more precise:

    The causal-thread model essentially pictures causality as a sequence of causally connected events (a thread), with each event in the sequence causing the next. Causal threads can multiply intersect,so that several preceding events may contribute to causing any one event and any one event may contribute to causing several succeeding event. Correlative to this conception is the causal box model of an agent, where an agent is considered a site (the box) into, through, and out of which pass congeries of causal event-threads. In this conception a causal action by an agent is an event-thread of caused changes extending from within the box to a change of states in the external world.

    As this makes clear, the causal-thread picture of efficient causation leads to conceiving of agents as ‘causal boxes’, and that impedes our appreciation of the basic Aristotelian/Kantian point that organisms are self-determining, self-causing to some degree or other.

    We thus need to look beyond the box for a model of agent powers. In doing so we must give up the widespread post-Humean assumption that causes are events or conditions and treat organisms as genuine holistic loci of causal(-like) power.

    In other words, instead of rejecting efficient causation as insufficient to explain organismal agency, they reject a particular conception of efficient causation — though one that has a widespread influence, thanks to Hume and others. So they are not really friends of teleology. But on my reading, there’s a distinction between descriptions and explanations, such that “naturalized teleology” explains in terms of efficient causation what is described in terms of final causation.

    That said, I haven’t really thought much about causation in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of physics . . . it occurs to me that the 17th-century standard old model of “efficient causation” might not capture what philosophers today think about causation . . . so all of a sudden I don’t know what to say.

    Before reading this article, I had independent reasons for thinking that simple, linear efficient causation impedes our understanding of living things, but I didn’t have quite the right vocabulary for describing the problem.*

    While we’re on the topic, I also got a lot out of “Life After Kant: Natural purposes and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality” by Webber and Varela.

    * Those independent reasons stemming from reading Donald Davidson about animal minds.

  35. 36

    Also, I just found “A move beyond Kant? – The Autopoiesis School on Life and Cognition” by Annett Wienmeister — looks very interesting, clearly written, and sets out a cogent critique of the autopoiesis approach.

  36. I haven’t really thought much about causation in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of physics . . . it occurs to me that the 17th-century standard old model of “efficient causation” might not capture what philosophers today think about causation . . . so all of a sudden I don’t know what to say.

    It’s the causal-box theory of philosophy!

    I know what you mean. Every time I start down one trail I come to another that also needs to be explored.

    More reading, less internet. ;)

    Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy

    The Causation Debate in Modern Philosophy, 1637-1739

    http://spot.colorado.edu/~tooley/Causation.html

  37. Minimal living systems are thus the first entities in nature that constitute some sort of semiotic relation to their milieu in the sense that a substance (i.e. sucrose) attains a specific meaning (nutrition) for a subject (organism). Autopoietic systems thus give rise to intentionality” (Varela 1992, 7) or, as Evan Thompson puts it, “living is a process of sense-making, of bringing forth significance and value.” (Thompson 2007, 158).

  38. Does the Idea of “Autopoeitic” Include Self Organization

    Apparently the answer to this question is yes.

    But also in the sense in which autopoeisis applies to living organisms, not inanimate matter.

    Living organisms are the cause of their own organization and maintenance. They form themselves.

  39. KN mentions a paper “Life after Kant: …”. However, the link he gives seems to be for temporary access that has already expired. Here’s an alternative link. That probably gets you to a brief abstract and a pay wall to see the full paper. I accessed it from my university campus, and was able to get to the full paper (the campus has presumably paid the subscription for electronic access to this journal).

    And a note to KN: I have several posts at my blog which explore a basis for natural teleology.

  40. HMM,

    Theist:
    How did life start?

    Atheist:
    Autopoeitically!

    Theist:
    Can you demonstrate life originating autopoeitically?

    Atheist:
    Nope.

    Theist:
    Well how do you know that life started autopoeitically?

    Atheist:
    Because the only other alternative, i.e. God, is unthinkable!

    Theist:
    Did you autopoeitically come to that conclusion? :)

  41. 42
    Kantian Naturalist

    Mung, thanks for those links about the history of the concept of causation!

    Neil, I’ll take a look at your posts later on today or sometime soon. Thanks for the alternative link to the paper.

    Bornagain77, autopoeisis is not a theory of abiogenesis. It’s an account of what it is for something to be alive, and it’s perfectly compatible with both theistic and naturalistic metaphysics.

  42. “autopoeisis is not a theory of abiogenesis. It’s an account of what it is for something to be alive, and it’s perfectly compatible with both theistic and naturalistic metaphysics.”

    I see, basically since it can’t even differentiate the completely different views of life that naturalism and Theism have, autopoeisis really is as useless as a dog chasing its tail in a circle! :)

    note:

    Is the Soul Immortal? (J.P. Moreland) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7nqB7SH-7s

  43. 44
    Kantian Naturalist

    Here’s a way of thinking about the contrast between descriptions and explanations that bears on the notion of “emergence”.

    When we say that something (e.g. salt or sugar) is “soluble,” we can describe solubility in relational terms: “X is soluble in L” means that if X were placed in L, it would, given various background conditions, dissolve. That gives a description of solubility, but does not explain it. The explanation lies the attraction and repulsive of differing electrical charges across the molecules of the substances involved. So solubility is an “emergent property”, because whether X is soluble in L depends on the entire system of electrical properties of X-molecules and L-molecules.

    A few other books I keep on meaning to get around to reading:

    The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth-Century German Biology

    Nature’s Purposes: Analyses of Function and Design in Biology

    Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System

    Divine Machines: Leibniz and the Sciences of Life

    Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind

    In short, what I’m slowly groping for here is to reconstruct a philosophical and scientific tradition in which Aristotelian teleology ‘evolved’, as it was revived by Leibniz and Kant to correct the extremism of Descartes and esp. Spinoza, continued to influence biology well into the 19th-century (as well as speculative philosophy of nature, Naturphilosophie), went ‘underground’ in response to the rise of Darwinism, and which is now making an intriguing sort of comeback.

    This is not to say, obviously, that design theory is irrelevant to the conversation — rather, it is to say that Nagel is right in thinking that there’s a tertium quid between reductive materialism (“chance” and “necessity”) and intelligent design. With respect to the dialectic of our arguments here, it means that the following argument won’t work:

    (1) Either intelligent design is true or reductive materialism is true;
    (2) But reductive materialism is false because (a) it fails on empirical grounds and (b) it fails on conceptual grounds;
    (3) Therefore, intelligent design is true.

    I agree with (2), and especially with (2b), but I reject (3) because I think that (1) is false, because it’s a false dichotomy — natural teleology is a tertium quid. That was true when Aristotle proposed it as a tertium quid between Democritus’ reductive materialism and Plato’s intelligent design, and it remains true twenty-three hundred years later.

  44. 45
    Kantian Naturalist

    I see, basically since it can’t even differentiate the completely different views of life that naturalism and Theism have, autopoeisis really is as useless as a dog chasing its tail in a circle!

    This assertion rests on an equivocation about two different senses to the word “life”.

    Naturalism and theism may have different views about the existential significance of life, or human life in particular (as in “the meaning of life”), but that’s completely different from the task of describing what it is for something to be a living thing, as opposed to dead or inanimate matter. On that point — providing a theory of what it is for something to be alive — autopoeisis has a great deal to say (though of course it’s not the only game in town).

  45. Naturalism and theism may have different views about the existential significance of life, or human life in particular (as in “the meaning of life”), but that’s completely different from the task of describing what it is for something to be a living thing,

    That is not correct, naturalism holds that life ‘emerges’ from some configuration of material particles and that life will cease to exist if that configuration is sufficiently disrupted, whereas theism holds that life, i.e. the soul, of a living organism (any living organism, not just man) existed prior to the living organism and will continue to exist afterwards. Dr. Moreland commented on that particular distinction at the 9:20 mark of the video I listed in my previous post.,, Moreover, whereas I can’t make heads or tails out of any of your reasoning, I can find evidence precisely for that distinction. i.e. Do we have scientific evidence for something that transcends time-space, matter and energy in living organisms?

    notes:

    In fact it is found that a ‘non-local’ quantum, beyond space and time, cause is needed to explain protein folding:

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.

    Finding the ‘quantum transition model’ to be a ‘universal law’ of protein folding is no small matter since a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause must be supplied to explain quantum entanglement within proteins (and DNA). Theism has always postulated a beyond space and time cause for life. Reductive materialism, upon which neo-Darwinism is built, has no beyond space and time cause since it postulates that material particles are self-sustaining from which life simply ‘emerges’:

    supplemental notes:

    Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight – 2009
    Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible.

    Coherent Intrachain energy migration at room temperature – Elisabetta Collini & Gregory Scholes – University of Toronto – Science, 323, (2009), pp. 369-73
    Excerpt: The authors conducted an experiment to observe quantum coherence dynamics in relation to energy transfer. The experiment, conducted at room temperature, examined chain conformations, such as those found in the proteins of living cells. Neighbouring molecules along the backbone of a protein chain were seen to have coherent energy transfer. Where this happens quantum decoherence (the underlying tendency to loss of coherence due to interaction with the environment) is able to be resisted, and the evolution of the system remains entangled as a single quantum state.
    https://www.scimednet.org/sapphire/main.php?url=%2Fquantum-coherence-living-cells-and-protein%2F

    Quantum states in proteins and protein assemblies:
    The essence of life? – STUART HAMEROFF, JACK TUSZYNSKI
    Excerpt: It is, in fact, the hydrophobic effect and attractions among non-polar hydrophobic groups by van der Waals forces which drive protein folding. Although the confluence of hydrophobic side groups are small, roughly 1/30 to 1/250 of protein volumes, they exert enormous influence in the regulation of protein dynamics and function. Several hydrophobic pockets may work cooperatively in a single protein (Figure 2, Left). Hydrophobic pockets may be considered the “brain” or nervous system of each protein.,,, Proteins, lipids and nucleic acids are composed of constituent molecules which have both non-polar and polar regions on opposite ends. In an aqueous medium the non-polar regions of any of these components will join together to form hydrophobic regions where quantum forces reign.
    http://www.tony5m17h.net/SHJTQprotein.pdf

    Further note:

    Does Quantum Biology Support A Quantum Soul? – Stuart Hameroff – video (notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/29895068

    Being the skunk at an atheist convention – Stuart Hameroff
    Excerpt: When metabolic requirements for quantum coherence in brain microtubules are lost (e.g. death, near-death), quantum information pertaining to that individual may persist and remain entangled in Planck scale geometry.
    http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/skunk.htm

    i.e. quantum information is ‘conserved’ and cannot be destroyed!

    further note:

    Case for the Existence of the Soul – JP Moreland, PhD – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SJ4_ZC0xpM

  46. Of related interest:

    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

    The predominance of quarter-power (4-D) scaling in biology
    Excerpt: Many fundamental characteristics of organisms scale
    with body size as power laws of the form:

    Y = Yo M^b,

    where Y is some characteristic such as metabolic rate, stride length or life span, Yo is a normalization constant, M is body mass and b is the allometric scaling exponent.
    A longstanding puzzle in biology is why the exponent b is usually some simple multiple of 1/4 (4-Dimensional scaling) rather than a multiple of 1/3, as would be expected from Euclidean (3-Dimensional) scaling.
    http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/~dre.....18_257.pdf

    “Although living things occupy a three-dimensional space, their internal physiology and anatomy operate as if they were four-dimensional. Quarter-power scaling laws are perhaps as universal and as uniquely biological as the biochemical pathways of metabolism, the structure and function of the genetic code and the process of natural selection.,,, The conclusion here is inescapable, that the driving force for these invariant scaling laws cannot have been natural selection.” Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, What Darwin Got Wrong (London: Profile Books, 2010), p. 78-79
    http://www.uncommondescent.com/evolution/16037/

    4-Dimensional Quarter Power Scaling In Biology – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5964041/

  47. 48
    Kantian Naturalist

    naturalism holds that life ‘emerges’ from some configuration of material particles and that life will cease to exist if that configuration is sufficiently disrupted, whereas theism holds that life, i.e. the soul, of a living organism (any living organism, not just man) existed prior to the living organism and will continue to exist afterwards.

    A disagreement about certain metaphysical views regarding the soul — whether it exists and whether it is the sort of thing that survives the death of the body — seems to me to quite different from a disagreement about autopoiesis as a theory of what makes something an organism, as opposed to inanimate matter.

    Also, “non-local” does not mean “beyond space and time”. It just means, “not restricted to particular spaces and particular times”. A physical variable can be non-local in that sense without being transcendent to all space and all time. One might, just conceivably, construe non-local physical variables as lending support to pantheism, but that’s a long ways away from lending support to a transcendent deity.

    I’ve only skimmed “The Unbearable Wholeness of Beings” but I didn’t see anything I objected to. What I saw is pretty much how Kant explicates the difference between teleological systems and mechanistic systems, and on my reading, lends aid and comfort to autopoeisis.

    Now, there’s an interesting debate going on amongst design theorists and their supporters as to whether design theory treats organisms as machines. Dembski acknowledges that design theory uses mechanistic analogies but seems to construe that as a heuristic tactic for arguing against Darwinism (which he seems to regard as fully committed to a mechanistic biology). Steve Fuller, on the other hand, is completely explicit about this (in his Science v. Religion? Intelligent Design and the Problem of Evolution): on his view, design theory just is the claim that “biology is divine technology”, and technology is mechanistic if anything is.

    My point is that if we accept the views of Kant, Talbott, and Varela — that there’s at least an epistemological difference between organisms and machines (Kant) and perhaps also an ontological difference as well (Talbott, Varela) — then design theorists should resist Fuller’s way of explicating design theory more strongly than they have (to my knowledge, anyway).

  48. The author of Life’s Ratchet cites The Strategy of Life: Teleology and Mechanics in Nineteenth-Century German Biology and credits the author of that book with coming up with “teleomechanism.”

    I wouldn’t then be surprised to find that the quote in the OP was borrowed from The Strategy of Life.

    But really, teleomechanism? Aren’t mechanisms inherently teleological?

    …but that’s completely different from the task of describing what it is for something to be a living thing, as opposed to dead or inanimate matter.

    All those authors on “what is life?” I want to read What Does It Mean to be Dead?

    Depending on how far back you want to go, here’s another:

    Cause and Explanation in Ancient Greek Thought

  49. The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility is the sequel to Stephen Gaukroger’s acclaimed 2006 book The Emergence of a Scientific Culture. It offers a rich and fascinating picture of the development of intellectual culture in a period where understandings of the natural realm began to fragment.

  50. 51
    Kantian Naturalist

    Mung, how about this? :)

  51. as to one of many incoherent points:

    “non-local” does not mean “beyond space and time”. It just means, “not restricted to particular spaces and particular times”.

    I suggest you catch up on just how deeply locality has been violated by entanglement before you make such declarations:

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    And to further solidify the case that ‘consciousness precedes reality’ the violation of Leggett’s inequalities were extended:

    Nonlocal “realistic” Leggett models can be considered refuted by the before-before experiment – 2008 – Antoine Suarez Center for Quantum Philosophy,
    Excerpt: (page 3)
    “nonlocal correlations happen from outside space-time, in the sense that there is no story in space-time that tells us how they happen.”
    http://www.quantumphil.org/SuarezFOOP201R2.pdf

    A simple approach to test Leggett’s model of nonlocal quantum correlations – 2009
    Excerpt of Abstract: Bell’s strong sentence “Correlations cry out for explanations” remains relevant,,,we go beyond Leggett’s model, and show that one cannot ascribe even partially defined individual properties to the components of a maximally entangled pair.
    http://www.mendeley.com/resear.....relations/

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,”
    says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

  52. (1) Either intelligent design is true or reductive materialism is true;

    But what if the debate is not over ID and reductive materialism, but over teleology and reductive materialism?

    What if the actual world we inhabit is one from which teleology cannot be excised?

    What if reductive science isn’t the be all and end all of what can be known?

    I think I would agree with you that (1) is a false dichotomy. But what would be the proper dichotomy over against reductive materialism?

  53. “Mung, how about this?”

    Do I look like I have time to read another book!?

    ;)

    Is that one better than The Egyptian Book of the Dead?

  54. Trying to steer a path between mechanism and vitalism, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and his friend, biologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), created a new approach to the study of life: teleomechanism.* In 1790, Kant wrote to Blumenbach: “Your recent unification of the two principles, namely the physico-mechanical and the teleological, which everyone had otherwise through to be incompatible, has a very close relation to the ideas that currently occupy me.”

    Life’s Ratchet

  55. 56
    Kantian Naturalist

    In saying that (1) above is a “false dichotomy,” I meant to leave open that there could be a trichotomy: reductive materialism, teleology, and design. Though I’m sure that the correct explanation, should we ever discover, would contain certain elements of each.

    And no, I doubt you do have time to read any more — nor do I. And this stuff isn’t even germane to my teaching or current research.

  56. KN:

    In saying that (1) above is a “false dichotomy,” I meant to leave open that there could be a trichotomy: reductive materialism, teleology, and design.

    But that’s a false trichotomy.

  57. 58
    Kantian Naturalist

    It could be, if there’s a fourth option. I can’t think of one off the top of my head, though.

  58. Or it could be that teleology and design are not mutually exclusive.

  59. 60
    Kantian Naturalist

    Yes, that’s quite reasonable.

  60. I try.

    What would be the proper dichotomy over against reductive materialism?

  61. Mung posted this:

    timothya:

    Christians presuppose the existence of a rational creator, and can therefore rationally understand the universe.

    Is that your argument?

    Does that even remotely resemble the argument that Jaki was making?

    According to the Jaki quote that was included upthread, the acceptance of ex-nihilo creation, and the suppression of various necessitarian postulates was essential to the flowering of science in a Christian society (and conversely prevented in other societies).

    I can see why this mindset might be sufficient to guide scientific thinking into fruitful channels (though it doesn’t explain why scientific progress was also retarded by Christian authority’s insistence on other, clearly nonsensical presuppositions). But I can’t see that it is necessary. Unless you want to argue that, since it happened this way, it could not have happened any other way.

    In any case, Jaki’s argument only holds so long as one is prepared to devalue any and all scientific and technological developments that manifestly did occur in non-Christian societies. If so, the argument boils down to, “we won, therefore we must have been right”.

  62. as to:

    the argument boils down to, “we won, therefore we must have been right”.

    No, I beg to differ. The argument is far more nuanced than that. There is something within Christian thinking, besides the correct framework for thinking about reality as ‘contingent and rational’, which sets it completely apart from other worldviews, a ‘something different’ that enabled, and continues to enable, the breakthroughs of modern science. I hold that ‘something different’ to be the guiding hand of the ‘Spirit of Truth’ which proceeds from God the Father.

    “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,

    as for a few tantalizing pieces of evidence along this line:

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    List of multiple discoveries
    Excerpt: Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of “multiple independent discovery”. Robert K. Merton defined such “multiples” as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.,,, Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....iscoveries

    I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily…. All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time

    Inventors – George Washington Carver
    Excerpt: “God gave them to me” he (Carver) would say about his ideas, “How can I sell them to someone else?”
    http://inventors.about.com/od/...../a/GWC.htm

    . The following video gives deep insight into how serious the problem of ‘knowledge acquisition’ is to the worldview of atheistic materialism:

    Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in description of video)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note:
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    What Lies Behind Growing Secularism by William Lane Craig – May 2012 – podcast (steep decline in altruism of young people since early 1960′s)
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org.....secularism

    You can see the dramatic difference, of the SAT scores for private Christian schools compared to public schools, at this following site;

    Aliso Viejo Christian School – SAT 10 Comparison Report
    http://www.alisoviejochristian.....at_10.html

    The following article points out the flaw in a 2007 study that found equality in education between public schools and private schools by artificially ‘correcting’ the test scores upwardly for public schools:

    Do private schools educate children better than public schools?
    Excerpt: The results of education testing seems to show mixed results on the question of whether private schools educate children better. The results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed that private school students achieved higher scores at all three grade levels tested. However, a 2007 Center on Education Policy study found that once socioeconomic factors are corrected when assessing test results, private school students didn’t perform any better than public school students. Basically, this study says that students who did well on the standardized tests would have done well regardless of whether they attended a private or public school. However, moving past the dueling tests and studies, what’s clear is that private school students have better SAT scores, and better college admission and graduation rates, regardless of socioeconomic level.
    http://curiosity.discovery.com.....ic-schools

    It is also very interesting to point out that even though Christianity has a incredible track record of being very conducive for scientific progress, and also being very helpful to the education of children, Christianity is, in spite of this unmatched track record, treated with severe prejudice in higher education.

    Majority of American University Professors have Negative View of Evangelical Christians – 2007
    Excerpt: According to a two-year study released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 53% of non-Evangelical university faculty say they hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians – the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty.
    Only 30% of faculty hold positive views of Evangelicals, 56% of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments hold unfavorable views. Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at over 700 four-year colleges and universities. Margin of error is +/- 3%. ,,,
    Only 20% of those faculty who say religion is very important to them and only 16% of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals; the percentages rise considerably for faculty who say religion is not important to them (75%) and among Democrats (65%).,,,
    “This survey shows a disturbing level of prejudice or intolerance among U.S. faculty towards tens of millions of Evangelical Christians,,,,
    One-third of all faculty also hold unfavorable views of Mormons, and among social sciences and humanities faculty, the figure went up to 38%. Faculty views towards other religious groups are more positive: Only 3% of faculty hold cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews and only 4% towards Buddhists. Only 13% hold cool/unfavorable views of Catholics and only 9% towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18% hold cool/unfavorable views towards atheists.
    A significant majority – 71% of all faculty – agreed with the statement: “This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics.” By comparison, only 38% of faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ne.....y/07050808

    Apparently tolerance in academia only means tolerating those who are no real threat to your preferred worldview of atheistic materialism.

  63. Tim you state,,,

    the argument boils down to, “we won, therefore we must have been right”.

    No, I beg to differ. The argument is far more nuanced than that. There is something within Christian thinking, besides what has turned out to be the correct framework for thinking about reality as ‘contingent and rational’, which sets it completely apart from other worldviews, a ‘something different’ that enabled, and continues to enable, the breakthroughs of modern science. I hold that ‘something different’, as strange as it may sound to someone of the naturalistic mindset, to be the guiding hand of the ‘Spirit of Truth’ which proceeds from God the Father.

    “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me,

    as for a few tantalizing pieces of evidence along this line:

    Bruce Charlton’s Miscellany – October 2011
    Excerpt: I had discovered that over the same period of the twentieth century that the US had risen to scientific eminence it had undergone a significant Christian revival. ,,,The point I put to (Richard) Dawkins was that the USA was simultaneously by-far the most dominant scientific nation in the world (I knew this from various scientometic studies I was doing at the time) and by-far the most religious (Christian) nation in the world. How, I asked, could this be – if Christianity was culturally inimical to science?
    http://charltonteaching.blogsp.....-wife.html

    List of multiple discoveries
    Excerpt: Historians and sociologists have remarked on the occurrence, in science, of “multiple independent discovery”. Robert K. Merton defined such “multiples” as instances in which similar discoveries are made by scientists working independently of each other.,,, Multiple independent discovery, however, is not limited to only a few historic instances involving giants of scientific research. Merton believed that it is multiple discoveries, rather than unique ones, that represent the common pattern in science.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....iscoveries

    I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily…. All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time

    Inventors – George Washington Carver
    Excerpt: “God gave them to me” he (Carver) would say about his ideas, “How can I sell them to someone else?”
    http://inventors.about.com/od/...../a/GWC.htm

    A atheists may claim those are just coincidences and mean nothing, yet the following video gives deep insight into just how serious the problem of ‘knowledge acquisition’ is to the worldview of atheistic materialism:

    Kurt Godel – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video (notes in description of video)
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/8516356/

    The following video is far more direct in establishing the ‘spiritual’ link to man’s ability to learn new information, in that it shows that the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    AMERICA: To Pray Or Not To Pray – David Barton – graphs corrected for population growth
    http://www.whatyouknowmightnotbeso.com/graphs.html

    United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2010 (Please note the skyrocketing crime rate from 1963, the year prayer was removed from school, thru 1980, the year the steep climb in crime rate finally leveled off.) of note:
    http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

    The following article points out the flaw in a 2007 study that found equality in education between public schools and private schools by artificially ‘correcting’ the test scores upwardly for public schools:

    Do private schools educate children better than public schools?
    Excerpt: The results of education testing seems to show mixed results on the question of whether private schools educate children better. The results of the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress tests showed that private school students achieved higher scores at all three grade levels tested. However, a 2007 Center on Education Policy study found that once socioeconomic factors are corrected when assessing test results, private school students didn’t perform any better than public school students. Basically, this study says that students who did well on the standardized tests would have done well regardless of whether they attended a private or public school. However, moving past the dueling tests and studies, what’s clear is that private school students have better SAT scores, and better college admission and graduation rates, regardless of socioeconomic level.
    http://curiosity.discovery.com.....ic-schools

    It is also very interesting to point out that even though Christianity has a incredible track record of being very conducive for scientific progress, and also being very helpful to the education of children, Christianity is, in spite of this unmatched track record in education and scientific progress, treated with severe prejudice in higher education.

    Majority of American University Professors have Negative View of Evangelical Christians – 2007
    Excerpt: According to a two-year study released today by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR), 53% of non-Evangelical university faculty say they hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelical Christians – the only major religious denomination to be viewed negatively by a majority of faculty.
    Only 30% of faculty hold positive views of Evangelicals, 56% of faculty in social sciences and humanities departments hold unfavorable views. Results were based on a nationally representative online survey of 1,269 faculty members at over 700 four-year colleges and universities. Margin of error is +/- 3%. ,,,
    Only 20% of those faculty who say religion is very important to them and only 16% of Republicans have unfavorable views of Evangelicals; the percentages rise considerably for faculty who say religion is not important to them (75%) and among Democrats (65%).,,,
    “This survey shows a disturbing level of prejudice or intolerance among U.S. faculty towards tens of millions of Evangelical Christians,,,,
    One-third of all faculty also hold unfavorable views of Mormons, and among social sciences and humanities faculty, the figure went up to 38%. Faculty views towards other religious groups are more positive: Only 3% of faculty hold cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews and only 4% towards Buddhists. Only 13% hold cool/unfavorable views of Catholics and only 9% towards non-Evangelical Christians. Only 18% hold cool/unfavorable views towards atheists.
    A significant majority – 71% of all faculty – agreed with the statement: “This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics.” By comparison, only 38% of faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ne.....y/07050808

    Apparently tolerance in academia only means tolerating those who are no real threat to your preferred worldview of atheistic materialism. This severe prejudice against professing Christians simply should not be so. Indeed, colleges should be fighting over recruiting the brightest Christian high school students instead of despising them.

  64. of related note:

    The History of Christian Education in America
    Excerpt: The first colleges in America were founded by Christians and approximately 106 out of the first 108 colleges were Christian colleges. In fact, Harvard University, which is considered today as one of the leading universities in America and the world was founded by Christians. One of the original precepts of the then Harvard College stated that students should be instructed in knowing God and that Christ is the only foundation of all “sound knowledge and learning.”
    http://www.ehow.com/about_6544.....erica.html

  65. 66
    Kantian Naturalist

    What would be the proper dichotomy over against reductive materialism?

    I’m not sure there is one! Does there need to be? Perhaps some version of emergentism (bottom-up) or emanationism (top-down) — so, is there a larger class of theories that includes both emergentism and emanationism? Perhaps both might be regarded as varieties of holism — one can plausibly regard holism as anti-reductionist.

    But in general, I try to avoid oppositional and “Manichean” approaches to how I configure the intellectual and practical options. I’m more interested in how opposed positions are partially internally constituted by that opposition, and how they feed off each other, and becoming increasingly polarized with every iteration of the feedback-loop between them.

  66. Bornagain posted this:

    No, I beg to differ. The argument is far more nuanced than that. There is something within Christian thinking, besides what has turned out to be the correct framework for thinking about reality as ‘contingent and rational’, which sets it completely apart from other worldviews, a ‘something different’ that enabled, and continues to enable, the breakthroughs of modern science.

    Continues to enable? Have you seen the statistics on the proportion of US scientist who subscribe to a Christian worldview? Please. There must be some point where reality penetrates your hermetic mental crust.

  67. Tim, appealing to consensus of atheist in academia to support your position is similar to a bigot pointing to all white neighborhoods in the south as proof that blacks did not in fact build those neighborhoods in the first place!:

    EXPELLED – Starring Ben Stein – Part 1 of 10 – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIZAAh_6OXg

    Slaughter of Dissidents – Book
    “If folks liked Ben Stein’s movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed,” they will be blown away by “Slaughter of the Dissidents.” – Russ Miller
    http://www.amazon.com/Slaughte.....0981873405

    Of note:

    The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case against Scientism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPeyJvXU68k

  68. Tim. let’s take a bit closer look at the fruit of your preferred atheistic worldview and see exactly what it has brought us in science and society:

    Matthew 7:15-20
    “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

    Neo-Darwinism’s negative effect on science and society

    Materialists like to claim evolution is indispensable to experimental biology and led the way to many breakthroughs in medicine, Yet in a article entitled “Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology”, this expert author begs to differ.

    “Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming’s discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.
    Philip S. Skell – (the late) Professor at Pennsylvania State University.
    http://www.discovery.org/a/2816

    Podcasts and Article of Dr. Skell
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....40981.html

    Science Owes Nothing To Darwinian Evolution – Jonathan Wells – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4028096

    ‘It might be thought, therefore, that evolutionary arguments would play a large part in guiding biological research, but this is far from the case. It is difficult enough to study what is happening now. To figure out exactly what happened in evolution is even more difficult.’
    - Francis Crick – co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953 – atheist

    Intelligent Design and Medical Research – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/7906908

    Darwinian Medicine and Proximate and Evolutionary Explanations – Michael Egnor – neurosurgeon – June 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47701.html

    In fact, as to the somewhat minor extent evolutionary reasoning has influenced medical diagnostics, it has led to much ‘medical malpractice’ in the past:

    Evolution’s “vestigial organ” argument debunked
    Excerpt: “The appendix, like the once ‘vestigial’ tonsils and adenoids, is a lymphoid organ (part of the body’s immune system) which makes antibodies against infections in the digestive system. Believing it to be a useless evolutionary ‘left over,’ many surgeons once removed even the healthy appendix whenever they were in the abdominal cavity. Today, removal of a healthy appendix under most circumstances would be considered medical malpractice” (David Menton, Ph.D., “The Human Tail, and Other Tales of Evolution,” St. Louis MetroVoice , January 1994, Vol. 4, No. 1).
    “Doctors once thought tonsils were simply useless evolutionary leftovers and took them out thinking that it could do no harm. Today there is considerable evidence that there are more troubles in the upper respiratory tract after tonsil removal than before, and doctors generally agree that simple enlargement of tonsils is hardly an indication for surgery” (J.D. Ratcliff, Your Body and How it Works, 1975, p. 137).
    The tailbone, properly known as the coccyx, is another supposed example of a vestigial structure that has been found to have a valuable function—especially regarding the ability to sit comfortably. Many people who have had this bone removed have great difficulty sitting.
    http://www.ucg.org/science/god.....-debunked/

    Moreover, besides evolutionary reasoning NOT ‘producing any new discoveries or increasing understanding’, and besides the medical malpractice that evolutionary reasoning has led to, is the fact that it can be forcefully argued that evolutionary reasoning, the more dogmatically it has been clung to, has in fact inhibited the ‘producing of new discoveries and of increasing understanding’. This is clearly illustrated in the junk DNA fiasco that evolutionary reasoning has foisted off on biology. Indeed imposed on it prior to investigation for any functionality in the non-coding regions of DNA;

    Is Panda’s Thumb Suppressing the Truth about Junk DNA?
    Excerpt: Dr. Pellionisz sent me an e-mail regarding his recent experiences at Panda’s Thumb. Pellionisz reports that Panda’s Thumb is refusing to print his stories about how he has personally witnessed how the Darwinian consensus rejected suggestions that “junk” DNA had function. Dr. Pellionisz’s e-mail recounts how some rogue Darwinian biologists have believed that “junk” DNA had function, but it also provides historical proof that this went against the prevailing consensus, and thus such suggestions that “junk”-DNA had function were ignored or rejected by most Darwinian scientists.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....03947.html

    International HoloGenomics Society – “Junk DNA Diseases”
    Excerpt: uncounted millions of people died miserable deaths while scientists were looking for the “gene” causing their illnesses – and were not even supposed to look anywhere but under the lamp illuminating only 1.3% of the genome (the genes).”
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-357177

    Moreover the supposed Junk regions, once they were looked at more closely, were, amazingly, found to be ‘more functional’ than the protein coding regions:

    Astonishing DNA complexity update
    Excerpt: The untranslated regions (now called UTRs, rather than ‘junk’) are far more important than the translated regions (the genes), as measured by the number of DNA bases appearing in RNA transcripts. Genic regions are transcribed on average in five different overlapping and interleaved ways, while UTRs are transcribed on average in seven different overlapping and interleaved ways. Since there are about 33 times as many bases in UTRs than in genic regions, that makes the ‘junk’ about 50 times more active than the genes.
    http://creation.com/astonishin.....ity-update

  69. ENCODE recently blew a gaping hole in the whole JUNK DNA argument of atheists:

    Junk No More: ENCODE Project Nature Paper Finds “Biochemical Functions for 80% of the Genome” – Casey Luskin September 5, 2012
    Excerpt: The Discover Magazine article further explains that the rest of the 20% of the genome is likely to have function as well:
    “And what’s in the remaining 20 percent? Possibly not junk either, according to Ewan Birney, the project’s Lead Analysis Coordinator and self-described “cat-herder-in-chief”. He explains that ENCODE only (!) looked at 147 types of cells, and the human body has a few thousand. A given part of the genome might control a gene in one cell type, but not others. If every cell is included, functions may emerge for the phantom proportion. “It’s likely that 80 percent will go to 100 percent,” says Birney. “We don’t really have any large chunks of redundant DNA. This metaphor of junk isn’t that useful.”"
    We will have more to say about this blockbuster paper from ENCODE researchers in coming days, but for now, let’s simply observe that it provides a stunning vindication of the prediction of intelligent design that the genome will turn out to have mass functionality for so-called “junk” DNA. ENCODE researchers use words like “surprising” or “unprecedented.” They talk about of how “human DNA is a lot more active than we expected.” But under an intelligent design paradigm, none of this is surprising. In fact, it is exactly what ID predicted.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....64001.html

    Incredibly, many leading evolutionists (Ayala in 2010; Francis Collins in 2010) still, before the ENCODE findings of 2012, insisted that most of the genome, which does not directly code for proteins, was useless ‘Junk DNA’ even though levels upon levels of complexity were recently being discovered in the genome.

    Francis Collins, Darwin of the Gaps, and the Fallacy Of Junk DNA – Wells, Meyer, Sternberg – video
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....40361.html

    Some materialists have tried to get around the failed prediction of Junk DNA by saying evolution never really predicted Junk DNA. This following site list several studies and quotes by leading evolutionists that expose their falsehood in denying the functionless Junk DNA predictions that were made by leading evolutionists:

    Functionless Junk DNA Predictions By Leading Evolutionists
    http://docs.google.com/View?id=dc8z67wz_24c5f7czgm

    Here is quote that succinctly denotes this very anti-scientific stance of neo-Darwinism;

    ‘Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause!’
    Robert B. Laughlin, A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (New York: Basic Books, 2005), P.No.168-69. – Received The Nobel Prize in Physics 1998

    Moreover Darwinism, despite delusional denialism from atheists that would put chronic alcoholics to shame, has in fact had horrendous consequences for society in America and the world;

    Documentary Ties Darwin to Disastrous Social Consequences – What Hath Darwin Wrought? – Sept. 2010
    http://www.creationsafaris.com.....#20100926a

    And let’s not forget the horror of the holocaust. Although atheistic Darwinists are also in complete denial of this fact of history, Richard Weikart has done a excellent job in tying evolutionary reasoning directly to the supposed ‘scientific justification’ behind the holocaust:

    From Darwin To Hitler – Richard Weikart – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_5EwYpLD6A

    Can Darwinists Condemn Hitler and Remain Consistent with Their Darwinism? – Richard Weikart -October 27, 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....52331.html

    How Evolutionary Ethics Influenced Hitler and Why It Matters – Richard Weikart: – January 2012
    http://www.credomag.com/2012/0.....t-matters/

    How Darwin’s Theory Changed the World – Rejection of Judeo-Christian values
    Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide.
    “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75).
    Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.).
    http://www.gnmagazine.org/issu.....-world.htm

  70. The unmitigated horror visited upon man, by state sponsored atheism, undergirded by the pseudo-scientific precepts of neo-Darwinism, would be hard to exaggerate,,, Here’s what happens when ‘enlightened’ Atheists/evolutionists/non-Christians take control of Government:

    “Christian” Atrocities compared to Atheists Atrocities – Dinesh D’Souza – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmrRC6zD4Zk

    “169,202,000 Murdered: Summary and Conclusions [20th Century Democide]
    I BACKGROUND
    2. The New Concept of Democide [Definition of Democide]
    3. Over 133,147,000 Murdered: Pre-Twentieth Century Democide
    II 128,168,000 VICTIMS: THE DEKA-MEGAMURDERERS
    4. 61,911,000 Murdered: The Soviet Gulag State
    5. 35,236,000 Murdered: The Communist Chinese Ant Hill
    6. 20,946,000 Murdered: The Nazi Genocide State
    7. 10,214,000 Murdered: The Depraved Nationalist Regime
    III 19,178,000 VICTIMS: THE LESSER MEGA-MURDERERS
    8. 5,964,000 Murdered: Japan’s Savage Military
    9. 2,035,000 Murdered: The Khmer Rouge Hell State
    10. 1,883,000 Murdered: Turkey’s Genocidal Purges
    11. 1,670,000 Murdered: The Vietnamese War State
    12. 1,585,000 Murdered: Poland’s Ethnic Cleansing
    13. 1,503,000 Murdered: The Pakistani Cutthroat State
    14. 1,072,000 Murdered: Tito’s Slaughterhouse
    IV 4,145,000 VICTIMS: SUSPECTED MEGAMURDERERS
    15. 1,663,000 Murdered? Orwellian North Korea
    16. 1,417,000 Murdered? Barbarous Mexico
    17. 1,066,000 Murdered? Feudal Russia”

    This is, in reality, probably just a drop in the bucket. Who knows how many undocumented murders there were. It also doesn’t count all the millions of abortions from around the world.
    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/NOTE1.HTM

    footnote: the body count for abortion is now over 50 million in America since it was legalized, by judicial fiat not by public decree, in 1973 (legislation by liberal justices from the bench who basically view the constitution of the United States as ‘evolving’!):

    Abortion Statistics
    http://www.voiceofrevolution.c.....tatistics/

    Related note:

    Chairman MAO: Genocide Master
    “…Many scholars and commentators have referenced my total of 174,000,000 for the democide (genocide and mass murder) of the last century. I’m now trying to get word out that I’ve had to make a major revision in my total due to two books. I’m now convinced that that Stalin exceeded Hitler in monstrous evil, and Mao beat out Stalin….”
    http://wadias.in/site/arzan/bl.....de-master/

    In fact Charles Darwin, in his classic Origin of Species which is still venerated by the evolutionary elites of today, stated that…

    ‘At some future period … the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous [Having or suggesting human form and appearance] apes … will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope … the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla”

    If Darwinists want to insist that all these murderous consequences, and ethical implications, and hindrance of scientific progress, of Darwinism are just a mistake of the past will someone please inform Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, of that???:

    Australia Awards Infanticide Backer Peter Singer Its Highest Honor – 2012
    Excerpt: Singer is best known for advocating the ethical propriety of infanticide. But that isn’t nearly the limit of his odious advocacy. Here is a partial list of some other notable Singer bon mots:
    - Singer supports using cognitively disabled people in medical experiments instead of animals that have a higher “quality of life.”
    - Singer does not believe humans reach “full moral status” until after the age of two.Singer supports non-voluntary euthanasia of human “non-persons.”
    - Singer has defended bestiality.
    - Singer started the “Great Ape Project” that would establish a “community of equals” among humans, gorillas, bonobos, chimpanzees, and orangutans.
    - Singer supports health-care rationing based on “quality of life.”
    – Singer has questioned whether “the continuance of our species is justifiable,” since it will result in suffering.
    – Singer believes “speciesism” — viewing humans as having greater value than animals — is akin to racism.
    http://www.lifenews.com/2012/0.....est-honor/

    Related notes:

    The Population Control Holocaust – 2012
    Excerpt:,,, the belief that the human race is a horde of vermin whose unconstrained aspirations and appetites endanger the natural order, and that tyrannical measures are necessary to constrain humanity. The founding prophet of modern antihumanism is Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), who offered a pseudoscientific basis for the idea that human reproduction always outruns available resources. Following this pessimistic and inaccurate assessment of the capacity of human ingenuity to develop new resources, Malthus advocated oppressive policies that led to the starvation of millions in India and Ireland.
    While Malthus’s argument that human population growth invariably leads to famine and poverty is plainly at odds with the historical evidence, which shows global living standards rising with population growth, it nonetheless persisted and even gained strength among intellectuals and political leaders in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Its most pernicious manifestation in recent decades has been the doctrine of population control, famously advocated by ecologist Paul Ehrlich, whose bestselling 1968 antihumanist tract The Population Bomb has served as the bible of neo-Malthusianism. In this book, Ehrlich warned of overpopulation and advocated that the American government adopt stringent population control measures, both domestically and for the Third World countries that received American foreign aid. (Ehrlich, it should be noted, is the mentor of and frequent collaborator with John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor.),,,
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-holocaust

    Malthus – Overpopulation: The Making of a Myth – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZVOU5bfHrM

    quote:

    “for, as we have just seen, the ways of national evolution, both in the past and in the present, are cruel, brutal, ruthless, and without mercy.,,, Meantime let me say that the conclusion I have come to is this: the law of Christ is incompatible with the law of evolution as far as the law of evolution has worked hitherto. Nay, the two laws are at war with each other; the law of Christ can never prevail until the law of evolution is destroyed.”
    Sir Arthur Keith, Evolution and Ethics (1947), p. 15. (Note the year that this was written was shortly after the German ‘master race’ was defeated in World War II)

    Music:

    Evanescence – lies
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxHP9-fEuRk

  71. timothya:
    Have you seen the statistics on the proportion of US scientist who subscribe to a Christian worldview? Please.

    What does that have to do with anything?

    There must be some point where reality penetrates your hermetic mental crust.

    There must be some point at which you can offer a rational, cogent, relevant argument.

    Modern scientists operate in a culture. Their personal beliefs don’t impact much on that culture, and that culture was there before they arrived on the scene.

  72. 73
    Kantian Naturalist

    For some data on the religious identity of scientists, Scientists and Belief looks pretty good.

    Modern scientists operate in a culture. Their personal beliefs don’t impact much on that culture, and that culture was there before they arrived on the scene.

    That’s perfectly true, and maybe a good response to timothya’s objection, but there’s another way of posing the problem.

    Given that modern science arose within a background informed by certain metaphysical assumptions, such as progressive revelation (as Stark emphasizes), does it follow that science is only intelligible, only makes sense, given those or similar metaphysical commitments?*

    Believe it or not, I really am trying to be fair here. But the problem as I put it above is the best I can do, for right now, to make sense of what the claim is under discussion. And I have to say, I just don’t see why one should accept it.

    *For what it’s worth, my knowledge of the emergence of science is based on Funkenstein, Dupre, and Toulmin.

  73. …does it follow that science is only intelligible, only makes sense, given those or similar metaphysical commitments?

    Yes.

    Science isn’t just about what, but also very much about why. Which assumes there is a why to be discovered.

  74. 75
    Kantian Naturalist

    Mung,

    I’m glad we at least established some conversational framework, so we understand what we’re talking about here. Now for some further refinements: is the claim that the intelligibility of scientific inquiry presupposes some metaphysics or other, or is that claim that the intelligibility of scientific inquiry presupposes the metaphysics of Christian theology? The former does not strike me as objectionable (though of course many philosophers disagree with it), whereas I’m highly skeptical about the latter.

    Put otherwise: I think it’s true that scientific inquiry, successful and unsuccessful, necessarily presupposes that there is an intelligible reality to be investigated. But that doesn’t establish very much!

    It certainly leaves wide open all sorts of questions as to how exactly that intelligible reality is to be characterized, and every characterization of that reality will draw upon scientific results, whether Aristotle’s, Newton’s, Darwin’s, Einstein’s, etc. (So there’s some circularity here which is neither avoidable nor vicious.)

    Now, it seems to me that you want to establish a stronger claim here, namely something like:

    (1) The metaphysical commitments shared by the originators of modern science explain the intelligibility of nature better than other metaphysical commitments; or perhaps

    (2) Only the metaphysical commitments shared by the originators of modern science explain the intelligibility of nature.

    What I’d like to know is, have I done a fair job of articulating what’s at stake here? Do (1) or (2) at all capture your position? And what’s the argument for (1) (or (2)) in contrast to the weaker claim,

    (3) All scientific inquiry necessarily presupposes some metaphysics of some sort or other which explains the intelligibility of nature,

    and more radical claim,

    (4) All scientific inquiry necessarily presupposes some metaphysics of some sort or other which explains the intelligibility of nature, but for every stage in the history of science, the explication of that intelligibility draws upon the results of scientific inquiry at that stage.

    I think we can agree on (3) to some degree, but it seems to me that you want to argue from (3) to either (1) or (2), whereas I want to argue from (3) to (4).

    How am I doing so far?

  75. 76

    Kantian Naturalist,
    “I don’t see why it’s “self-deception” to think that some questions are beyond our finite, all-too-human capacity to answer, or at least to provide empirically-grounded answers.” KN

    Do you ever consider the natural reasonableness that this is meant to be?
    I mean if we reason with all carefulness and the progression leads step by step to a door of faith that we must choose to open or knock at or knock down, built up from strict reasonings that are empirically grounded to the heady heights of the classical metaphysical then I see no good reason to reject or spurn this except as a wilful unfounded bias. It seems to be a simple natural and justified progression that leads from the visible to the invisible all in accord with reason. To at that point put an emphasis on empirical grounding strikes me as the thing that is ungrounded but introducing or perhaps re-introducing a step that is out of its logical progression and order. This is where choice does indeed matter more than as a mere subjective predilection or desire but rather it is summoned and commanded to account.

    ref. Romans chapter 1: 20

  76. 77
    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t have as good an answer for you as you may wish, Michael, but here it is:

    I just don’t think there is any “progression [that] leads step by step . . . [from] strict reasonings that are empirically grounded to the heady heights of the classical metaphysical”. I just don’t think that there’s any way of getting from the visible to the invisible, or in Kantian terms, from the conditioned to the unconditioned.

    Why do I think this? Let’s consider the Big Three — the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the freedom of the will — and let’s call “theism” the affirmation of the Big Three and “naturalism” the denial of the Big Three. Now, there are all sorts of “proofs” that purport to establish theism on the firm ground of experience. But, there are also all sorts of “proofs” that purport to establish naturalism on the basis of experience, too!

    On my view, Kant was right about two very important points: (a) experience cannot arbitrate between theism and naturalism, and (b) reason cannot arbitrate between theism and naturalism.

    Regarding (a) in particular: I don’t think that Darwinian evolution lends support to naturalism, and I don’t think design theory lends support to theism. Theistic evolution and natural design (e.g. by aliens) are as well-supported by evidence as unguided evolution and supernatural design (whatever supernatural intelligences did the designing).

    To summarize, both theism and naturalism are equally consistent with experience and with reason. You say you can reason from experience to theism; others say they can reason from experience to naturalism. And both lines of thought are just as rational as the other, so it seems that reason is divided against itself, and skepticism the only reasonable response.

    Hence — I regard this point as always bearing repeating on this board — I myself do not regard naturalism as more reasonable than theism — nor vice-versa. As I often say here, from where I sit, it’s a “leap of faith” either way. (I guess you could call my view “faitheism.”)

    That’s one big point I’ve been stressing in my conversations here. The other big point I’ve been stressing is that naturalism (conceived of as the denial of the Big Three) is no threat to such things as a liberal polity, respect for human rights, and other achievements of modern Western democracies (and others modeled after ours, such as contemporary India).

  77. Kantian Naturalist:

    (1) The metaphysical commitments shared by the originators of modern science explain the intelligibility of nature better than other metaphysical commitments;

    My claim is much more modest. I hope you’re not disappointed. :)

    Modern science developed and grew because of a particular metaphysical climate that was conducive to it’s growth. It found fertile soil, as it were, and flourished.

    It’s not as if science never existed before. But it is also true that science didn’t flourish in just any climate.

    There can be no doubt that Christianity in general and Scholasticism in particular played a leading role in the development of that climate.

    Do (1) or (2) at all capture your position?

    I think those two are a false dichotomy, to take a page from your own playbook. I don’t mean to be coy.

    I think (2) is much too strong for my tastes, and (1) sort of misses the point in putting the emphasis entirely on metaphysical commitments. What were the competing metaphysics?

    (3) All scientific inquiry necessarily presupposes some metaphysics of some sort or other which explains the intelligibility of nature,

    As you say, this should be non-controversial. Not just in science, but in any system of enquiry.

    (4) All scientific inquiry necessarily presupposes some metaphysics of some sort or other which explains the intelligibility of nature, but for every stage in the history of science, the explication of that intelligibility draws upon the results of scientific inquiry at that stage.

    On one sense yes but in quite another sense no.

    The philosophers (metaphysicians) of the day seemed to be very familiar with the science of the day and in many cases you probably could not even tell them apart. It wasn’t called natural philosophy for nothing. The metaphysics fed the science and the science fed the metaphysics.

    Sorry it took so long to get back to you, but you had an excellent post and I didn’t want to just toss off a response off the cuff. It’s been a joy having you here.

    p.s. By the way, are you familiar with Neal Stephenson’s trilogy, The Baroque Cycle? Masterful historical fiction. If you enjoy the history of science you might want to check it out.

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