Home » Intelligent Design » Intelligence Arrives Later In Some Cases Than Others…

Intelligence Arrives Later In Some Cases Than Others…

In the extreme, it never arrives at all. A case in point below.

Dawkins says

Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.

In Dawkins’ case intelligence appears to have never arrived at all. What does he base his claim on that intelligence (among other things) come late into the universe? A sample size of one. In typical Darwinian fashion he takes one thing that he knows in the present (intelligence in the form of humanity appearing some billions of years into the history of the universe) and extrapolates it backward through all of time and space to arrive at a conclusion that intelligence only came lately. Is it possible Dawkins has actually deluded himself into believing what he is saying, which implies he’s not very bright, or whether he knows how baseless it is, which implies he’s not very honest.

Let’s move along to complexity. There is nothing at all in science that would cause us to presume the universe had a simple beginning. The axiom of cause and effect tells us that the universe must have been just as complex at its beginning as it is now. It’s form has changed but not its complexity. It if was as simple as Dawkins stupidly and/or dishonestly posits then by virture of cause and effect we wouldn’t be here and the universe would be a perfectly homogenous distribution of matter and energy.

As far as statistically improbable things, the appearance of a singularity containing all the matter and energy in the universe at the instant of the big bang is the mother of all statistical improbabilities.

It’s no wonder he made the essay disappear where this and other similar brainfarts have been pointed out. Its removal is evidence he’s not as dense as he appears. Its appearance in the first place is evidence he thinks his critics are too dense to not easily demolish it.

Let’s hear from the readers – is Dawkins stupid, dishonest, or both? My vote is for both.

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57 Responses to Intelligence Arrives Later In Some Cases Than Others…

  1. I’m sorry, but there has got to be something better we can do with our time than Dawkins-bashing.

    There’s so much attention lavished on the man on this blog, one would think that if he didn’t exist, the intelligent design movement would have had to invent him.

    I know, I know, no one is forcing me to come here and post. But c’mon, guys! There’s work to be done here! You can bash Dawkins on your coffee break!

  2. There’s so much attention lavished on the man on this blog, one would think that if he didn’t exist, the intelligent design movement would have had to invent him.

    Ahhhhhhh, but he does exist and we don’t have to invent him.

  3. Well, I honestly don’t think that labeling him as “stupid” will do any good for Darwinisn skeptics.

    Secondly, the belief that inteligence is a by product of evolution is a curious one. The question is: how do we falsify it? Is it even falsifiable? What experiment can we do to refute such a position?

  4. Carlos, I concur – however, while we’re on the subject… :)

    Knowledge without wisdom is folly. My perception of Dawkins brings this to mind.

  5. How many of us need to complain about Dave Scott’s posts before he is banned outright from this blog? I do not see his posts as anything but highly inflammatory. Sometimes I wonder if he’s actually a NDE in disguise just trying to make us all look bad in a subversive way.

  6. Mats,

    Your question: “Secondly, the belief that inteligence is a by product of evolution is a curious one. The question is: how do we falsify it? Is it even falsifiable? What experiment can we do to refute such a position? ”

    First for a definition from Wiki:

    “Intelligence is a property of mind that encompasses many related mental abilities, such as the capacities to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn.”

    So, this gets right back to the naturalist argument. Intelligent Design certainly would seem to argue for a “mind” that precedes the existence of biological organisms that also possess a mind. What we seem to say is that “mind” is necessary to explain both the structure/fine tuning of the cosmos and the “development” of living organisms. In other words, it required planning and certainly solving problems, for example. Problems like abiogenesis.

    Translated, life as we observe it is simply not possible without the intelligence to have planned it. Undirected, with time and chance, simply could not get us to the finish line.

    But, back to your question, how do we prove it? Once again, through inference? Through no other plausible explanations? Through analogy, i.e., we start with a design in our minds and translate that into material reality.

    Maybe, without “proof” either way that is demonstrable in the lab or test tube, we go with the direction reason points us, which is certainly Intelligent Design, rather than believing that it can all be one big accident.

  7. GiP,

    Yeah, ds can be a firebrand, but I don’t believe you can point to an example where his flames are not contained within a larger argument, such as this thread. While I agree a focus on Dawkins is largely distracting, I understand a level of hostility from his critics, considering his own contemptuous words directed at them.

    When I read this post, I was more reminded of Dawkins’ rhetoric toward theists with false either/or choices such as ‘evil or stupid’ and assumed ds was sort of turning the tables …

  8. Neither Stephen Jay (intelligence was an evolutionary accident) Gould nor Richard (the blind watchmaker climbing mount improbable) Dawkins nor Ernst (dyed -in-the-wool Darwinian) Mayr are stupid. They were all three “prescribed” eons ago to be atheist, egomaniacal mystics. We are each a victim of our destiny. Some of us have been luckier than others.

    Don’t take my word for it.

    “Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their THINKING, FEELING AND ACTING are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their action.”
    Albert Einstein, my emphasis

    “EVERYTHING is determined… by forces over which we have no control.”
    ibid

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  9. I think you are making too big a deal of what he said. Sure, he should have said something along the lines of “intelligence as we know it in the form of humanity arrived late, although it’s possible it arrived early elsewhere”.

    And even if arrive earlier somewhere else, it would have been presumably at least a few billion years to allow time for galaxies, solar systems and planets to form (at least for the kind of conditions that we believe are conducive to life).

  10. Carl Sachs,

    What is the work to be done here? It would be interesting to hear from someone who supports NDE on this topic.

  11. Dr Davison
    EVERYTHING is determined… by forces over which we have no control

    Is this Einstein quote an argument from authority? Has your determinism been proven empirically?

  12. So, fight fire with fire. Yeah, that’s always produced good results. :(

  13. 13

    Todd

    I am a great admirer of the wisdom of Albert Einstein, in my opinion the greatest mind this world has ever produced or probably ever will. His wisdom also just happens to be in full agreement with my Prescribed Evolutionary Hypothesis.

    I hope you can understand but whether you do or not is of no consequence as my convictions are now published. Are yours and if so where may I find them?

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  14. Dr. Davison and todd,

    Good point. Note the illogic: ““Our actions should be based on the ever-present awareness that human beings in their THINKING, FEELING AND ACTING are not free but are just as causally bound as the stars in their action.”
    Albert Einstein, my emphasis

    If our thinking, feeling and acting are not free, how do we “choose” anything as a basis? How do we ever use the word “should”, as loaded with contingency as it is. The basis of our thoughts and actions are therefore chosen for us, there is nothing prescreptive in the world, only descriptive.

    This no free-will thing is yet another concept that sounds great in theory (to some), but contradicts plain old actual experience. Oh yes, I know, we are deceived into thinking we have free will, just an illusion, of course. Hmmmm. Well, I will exercise my free will to end this rant, lucky for the rest of you.

  15. Dr Davison,

    Do you agree we are all entitled to our own opinions but not our own facts?

    Is being published a prerequisite to being correct?

  16. How many of us need to complain about Dave Scott’s posts before he is banned outright from this blog?

    Just one. Bill Dembski.

  17. I don’t think Dawkins is stupid. The question of whether he’s stupid or dishonest was rhetorical.

  18. 18

    “as causally bound as the stars ”

    Given the reality of quantum level indeterminancy, that isn’t very bound… as Einstein well knew.

  19. davescot:
    I don’t think Dawkins is stupid. The question of whether he’s stupid or dishonest was rhetorical.

    So you think Dawkins’ pants on fire? Heh, heh. :p

  20. 20

    ds:
    I don’t think Dawkins is stupid. The question of whether he’s stupid or dishonest was rhetorical.

    Dawkins was guilty of the kind of scenery chewing rhetoric usually left to Jonathan Wells, so he deserves to get tagged for it.

    OT – new site design is a big improvement!

  21. DvK

    QM and General Relativity are at once two of the most well tested theories in science and incompatible with each other. The elusive theory of everything that reconciles the subatomic world described by QM with the macroscopic world described by GR remains elusive.

    There are various QM interpretations not all which take the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle as axiomatic. I call your attention to the Bohmian Interpretation.

    The popular Copenhagen Interpretation which posits wave functions collapse upon observation (measurement) fails to clearly define what constitutes an observer or a measurement. The well-known thought experiment Schrodinger’s Cat neatly reveals the paradoxes inherent in the Copenhagen Interpretation.

  22. DvK

    If it’s any consolation I believe the universe is deterministic only up to a point. That point being the free will of sentient life. As an experiment (granted it’s subjective) stand up and decide to take a step to either the left or the right or forward or backward. Change your mind a few times. Do you think, as a subjective observer, that your ultimate decision was predetermined based on inexorable laws of physics? Now take a sharp stick, balance it on its point as well as you can, observe the direction it takes when it falls, and tell me if you think that was not predetermined based on the inexorable laws of physics. Or even more to the point, would the stick have remained balanced forever if there had been no observation of it?

  23. 23

    DS – thanks for the link to the Bohmian interpretation.

    A QM aphorism that I find relevant to a lot of ID/evo discussion is that the universe is not only stranger than we do imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. Our conception of intelligence must be so incredibly parochial and naive, and yet we impute it to God. “My thoughts are not your thoughts” also springs to mind… If God designed the universe, He certainly was not limited by our ideas of intelligence or design.

  24. ‘The axiom of cause and effect tells us that the universe must have been just as complex at its beginning as it is now.’

    Could you please expand on this axiom? I’m not sure that I’ve encountered it before, but it seems interesting. Does it tell us that complexity cannot increase over time? If so, what precisely is meant by ‘complexity’ here – and how is the axiom discovered?

    Or is it postulated, rather than discovered? I’d always thought that axioms were presuppositions of systems – the Peano axioms for arithmetic being examples. These are posited rather than discovered.

  25. DaveScott
    Appreciate the humor but please cut the ad hominum gutter journalism. e.g. “brainfart” demeans UD.

    Dawkins:

    Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.

    at least recognizes the challenge of intelligence, complexity, and their statistical improbability.

    He then begs the origin question by assuming evolution and assuming no intelligent causation.

    More important is his other statement that:

    the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science

    This implies the essential assumptions that for this to be a scientific hypothesis, we must allow intelligent causation (or “God”) as a testable hypothesis and therefore must make the assumption that such can be examined. The ground rules necessary to make and test this “scientific hypothesis” are now beginning to be recognized.

    Dawkins then asserts evolution without testing for ID. That can be remedied!

    The task now is to posit hypoheses and tests for them and examine them against empirical evidence.

    In Creation as Science 2006, Hugh Ross throws down the gauntlt of making many testable hypotheses. He lays out 22 for “simple sciences” and 52 for “complex sciences”.

    Let the Tournament proceed.

  26. 26

    Todd

    As far as I am able to ascertain, I am the only scientist now posting on the internet who has published a new hypothesis for organic evolution. In fact most if not all of the other posters have published absolutely nothing on the only thing that remans to be determined which is the MECHANISM for organic evolution. To deny organic evolution is UNTHINKABLE as far as I am concerned. It is only the MECHANISM by which it took place that is still not established. It will be very soon I am certain and chance had absolutely nothing to do with it. Of that I am equally certain.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  27. David vun Kannon,

    “Our conception of intelligence must be so incredibly parochial and naive, and yet we impute it to God.”

    True, when I gaze upon the Mona Lisa painting, I do not understand nor appreciate all the artistic nuances. However, I recognize genius when I see it. It is the genius that we sense and recognize that is so awesome. Now for the $64 million dollar question — if we are merely products of blind evolution, how can we sense genius beyond our own capabilities, and why should we care? It would be uncharted territory that would be irrelevant to us. Yet here we are, pondering such things.

  28. John

    The Jean Staune paper I asked you to read, which you didn’t, mentions a number of scientists who have proposed alternate theories of evolution. Just off the top of my head there’s also Rick Sternberg, a fellow target of Darwinian persecution, who holds to a non-Darwinian mechanism – that of structuralism which is compatible with the PEH. Structuralism posits that the laws of nature work in such a way that evolution was inevitably driven to produce what we see today.

  29. Dr Davison: As far as I am able to ascertain, I am the only scientist now posting on the internet who has published a new hypothesis for organic evolution.

    I do not wish to argue with your hypothesis. Your papers and your posts speak with authority and the fact that DaveScot (and by extension, Dr Dembski) have linked your papers on the side bar is enough for me to take you seriously. I have read your posts here and in other forums (ICSCD, for one) and have respect for the breadth and depth of your knowledge of biology and related -ologies. So know that I look up to you (among many other bright and well informed people posting here and elsewhere).

    However, philosophy is for everyone and publications are not needed to grasp or analyze philosophical statements. For the sake of argument in light of my own scientific ignorance I can accept your PEH. I have trouble with your philosophical inferences (eg “God died”) which may follow PEH, but may not. And the answer to that does not depend upon academic pedigree or publications.

    Dave’s position makes sense – the universe is deterministic up to the point of sentient will – and his examples illustrate the point well.

  30. 30

    I deeply resent the way some of you clowns are picking on DaveScot. I am far more obnoxious than he has ever been and frankly I resent not being taken to task for it. Could it be that you folks, some of whom I suspect of being habitues of the Slippery Floor Bar and Grill, aka Elsberry’s Alamo, are afraid to take me to task ?
    That is how it looks from here. Post this one over at the Bunker, if you are not afraid of bannishment that is.

    I love it so!

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  31. It also seems like complexity, unless of the measurable kind, which it isn’t clear that is the kind Dawkins wrote about, is relative. For example, a bunch of C++ code looks complex to me, even a bit of it, whereas it might not to a programmer. A ton of mathematical formulas might look complex to my grandma, but not to me. Etc.

  32. 32

    Ekstasis,

    Slipping into Just So Story mode for a minute, it’s easy to cobble together a hypothesis that our sense of awe at genius is an outgrowth of a sense of caution about the unknown which most complex animals possess from shortly after birth.

    However, my comment was really a caution that we might find the evidence of galaxy spanning genius hard to distinguish from random 3K background noise hissing from a TV tuned to no station at all. As an example, I know of avante garde musicians who have “designed” the relationships of the tones and durations in their musical score to some pattern. When played, the piece sounds like a child banging randomly on the keyboard of a piano. Anyone’s ability to perceive “design” or “genius” from the performance is extremely unlikely.

    What we would like to think is “obvious” design is unfortunately very relative and culturally determined. I can accept the possibility that “there is an extra-Universal being, and the first billion digits of the Fine Structure Constant are his symphony” or equally “there is an extra-Universal being, and the first billion digits of the Fine Structure Constant are his doodle on a cocktail napkin”, but symphony or doodle, I don’t expect it to be obvious to me.

  33. DaveScot: “I don’t think Dawkins is stupid.”

    I don’t either. I just think he’s pushed around by his emotions like everyone else. His particular emotive impulses leads to some pretty stupid assertions, IMO.

  34. DLH

    It’s difficult for me to conceive of someone so uptight they’re offended by brainfart. Take a pill.

  35. DaveScott
    Its a matter of what standards and goals you aspire to:

    Establishing ID as sound science
    – or winning a spitting match.

    Recommend The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn, 2003.

  36. ezra

    Cause and effect

    Causality is the centerpiece of the universe and so the main subject of human knowledge; for comprehending the nature, meaning, kinds, varieties, and ordering of cause and effect amounts to knowing the beginnings and endings of things, to uncovering the implicit mechanisms of world dynamics, or to having the fundamental scientific knowledge.

    If every effect has a cause then the universe we are looking at today, and everything in it, is a set of effects that had an equally complex setof causes at the beginning of time. In other words, every bit of matter and energy in the universe today is like it is because a cause at the beginning of time led to a falling domino chain of causes and effects. It’s also called determinism and it’s an axiom in classical physics. In quantum physics causation gets a little hazy.

    Click on the link “Main article: Causality (physics)” in the wiki article above which goes into more depth about causality in physics. I can’t post the link because wordpress chokes on any url’s with embedded % characters in it.

  37. He’s not stupid but neither is he a deep thinker. Some of his recent remarks are pretty lucid, tho.

  38. DLH

    You’ve misspelled my name twice in a row now. Brainfarts?

    Establishing ID as sound science
    - or winning a spitting match.

    False dichotomy. Both can be done. I bet no one ever called you the life of the party did they?

  39. 39

    #28 DaveScot

    Don’t tell me what I have or haven’t read. I stick to my statement that no other published proponent of a new hypothesis for organic evolution is currently posting on the internet and most certainly not in this forum. Correct if I am wrong. I think I must be the only one dumb enough to think he could ever communicate with homozygous ideologues of whatever persuasion in the ephemeral world of cyberspace. That is about all one encounters in this highly questionable venue. Thank God for for hard copy publication in referreed journals.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  40. 40

    DS:
    equally complex set of causes at the beginning of time

    I’m not sure that conclusion is warranted. If we take complexity in an “edge of chaos” sense, then the universe was far hotter (and simpler) at the beginning.

    As it has cooled over vast amounts of time, some small parts are now at a temperature that will support complexity. In this view, the cause of complexity today was higher temperatures in the past.

    As the great mass of the universe slides down the temperature scale, a statistically insignificant portion of that mass eddies around in the complexity comfort zone long enough to ask “What am I doing here?”

  41. David vun Kannon:
    As the great mass of the universe slides down the temperature scale, a statistically insignificant portion of that mass eddies around in the complexity comfort zone long enough to ask “What am I doing here?”

    David, I’m sorry to ask, but the above quote set off my mumbo-jumbometer (pronouced: jum-bom-eh-ter) – I’m curious to know upon what observation or evidence is such a notion based?

  42. 42

    hey Todd,

    3K background radiation, models of solar system formation, Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, etc.

    Thinking about the temperature of the atoms in my body, they used to be hotter. They were quite a bit hotter just after the big bang, when they were just quarks and other bits and bobs. They got cold for a while as hydrogen atoms, then heated up again when they cooked up inside a star that went supernova, creating the iron in my hemoglobin. After another cold snap floating around space, they hooked up with some others and formed this planet which was originally a molten blob.

    The big trend for my atoms over the last 13 billion years is that they have gotten colder. But they’ve also built up levels of complexity, from quarks to hydrogen to iron to hemoglobin to me, that they couldn’t have acheived earlier at higher temperatures. If they’re lucky, my atoms will continue to inhabit this complexity comfort zone (outer skin of planet, just far away enough from star) for another billion years, cycling through complex associations with other atoms. Occaisionally one of these complex associations will ask “Why am I here?” or at least “When do we eat?”

    However, the long term trend for my atoms is Colder Weather Ahead. An expanding universe guarantees that the average temperature will drop, local aberrations like stars notwithstanding.

    So observations that the universe used to be hot and will become cold – Big Bang and 2nd Law related evidence. Observations of current but transient complexity – personal communication with the author. Observations of statistical insignificance – see Copernican Revolution, we’re just not that big.

  43. vun Kannon

    In other words you’re saying a fast moving object is inherently less complex than a slow moving one. That’s just silly. Is your computer more complex when it’s frozen solid and nothing going on it or when it’s warm and toasty and computing like a madman? Velocity and temperature has nothing to do with complexity.

    Given determinism, here’s the scoop. Due to conservation of matter/energy every particle extant today existed at the beginning of time. No more and no less. At the beginning of time each particle had position and momentum. The exact value of position and momentum at the beginning of time prescribed a causal chain of events that inevitably ended with each particle today in its present position and momentum.

    Therefore, the complexity inherent in the arrangement of matter/energy today has always been present in an exactly equal amount at each instant in time since the beginning of time.

  44. David,

    So were the atoms in the pickles and ice cream your expecting mother ate hotter than those in you now?

  45. 45

    todd – lol, they do share the same trend!

  46. 46

    DS – I’m sure you understand the difference between fast and hot, so I’ll let that pass.

    Please remember that I characterized complexity as the edge of chaos state that sits on the cusp of the phase transition between frozen and uninteresting and random and uninteresting. That use of the word complexity is therefore very related to the idea of temperature. Certainly our “life as we know it” kind of complexity only exists within a narrow and low band of temperatures. I think this is the kind of complexity that Dawkins was originally speaking of, and the fact that it comes late to the universe is directly related to having to wait for the universe to cool down sufficiently to allow it.

    That is somewhat to the side of any question of determinism. Was one quark in the primordial soup destined to play a part of me? Perhaps, but what of it? Follow an atom that is currently part of me backwards in time along its predestined path, and measure the temperature of the cubic centimeter surrounding it on that path. For most of that path, the temperature has been too hot or too cold to allow that atom to be part of anything complex.

    I can see that this is not the way you are defining complexity. However, I’m having trouble coming to an understanding of what complexity means to you.

    I completely agree on the conservation of mass and energy, there is no more or less in the universe today than there was at the first instant. What I hear you saying, going on from there, is that the complexity of the universe as a whole is constant also. I’m not sure how to jibe that with the 2nd Law.

  47. DaveScot,

    So, cooling off only permitted the complexity we observe today to be demonstrated in the form we now see it. And, inherent in what you say, is the question as why every particle had the position and momentum it had, i.e., why the particular configuration, presumably at some point following the initial point of singularity?

    Or, given an initial point of singularity, was it not the finely-tuned laws of nature that determined all the complexity? But, whether through the determination of the laws of nature or the initial position and momentum, or both, the existing complexity was there in one form or another, making it far different from von Kunnon’s view that ” the cause of complexity today was higher temperatures in the past. As the great mass of the universe slides down the temperature scale, a statistically insignificant portion of that mass eddies around in the complexity comfort zone long enough to ask “What am I doing here?” ”

    Implied by what he is says is that, once again, it is all just happenstance, sheer luck, never mind the mind-boggling improbability of the whole thing. Oh yes, according to him, just finding ourselves in that little zone where complexity is possible is all that is needed to explain how we now get to the point of asking “what am I doing here?” Yep, you and I, mindless molecules in motion, just asking these questions, right before we once again leave the complexity zone for our frozen death. Or something like that.

  48. Bwooop, bwooop, bwooop says my mumbo jumbometer.

  49. Are the water molecules in my ice cubes are more complex than those in my whistling teapot?

  50. David vun Kannon,

    Of course the material that our bodies consist of must be in a particular temperature range. But, reaching that range is not itself sufficient to explain the complexity.

    Saying “Follow an atom that is currently part of me backwards in time along its predestined path, and measure the temperature of the cubic centimeter surrounding it on that path. ” seems fairly irrelevant to complexity in the same way that I don’t look at the fender of my automobile and spend a lot of time evaluating what the components of the steel were doing before reaching the assembly line. No indeed, I am more wondering what the engineer had in mind, what the vehicles offers in terms of horsepower, braking, navigation system, etc. I must ask you, did you ever gaze intently into the steel in your car in a search for complexity?

  51. DvK

    I’m sure you understand the difference between fast and hot, so I’ll let that pass.

    I’m not sure you do so I’m not going to let it pass.

    You said hot. I said fast. Here’s why.

  52. DvK

    A simple mind experiment for you.

    Say we have an ordered crystal where all the molecules are equidistant from each other. Now say we melt that crystal and the molecules are all at different distances from each other, moving around and bumping into each other.

    If we define complexity as the amount of information needed to perfectly describe something, which requires more information to perfectly describe – the ordered crystal or the liquid?

    The answer of course is the liquid requires more information to perfectly describe it. It is the more complex.

    However, the example we were considering was the entire universe. Because matter (and energy per e=mc^2) can neither be created nor destroyed (it can only change form) the total complexity of the universe is equal at all instants in time since time began. At any instant in time it takes exactly the same amount of information to perfectly describe the universe.

    While it is true that localized areas of higher complexity are possible, the tendency is always for areas of high complexity to diffuse into areas of low complexity until the distribution of information is homogenous (equilibrium).

  53. 53

    Ekstasis:
    Of course the material that our bodies consist of must be in a particular temperature range. But, reaching that range is not itself sufficient to explain the complexity.

    Nor did I say it was sufficient, only necessary.

  54. 54

    DS – going with your thought experiment, I think you need to work in a closed system. Include the energy that you’re going to use to melt the ice cube and then examine the relative complexity of “energy+ice” and “water”. Given that you are aiming for a “perfect” description of positions and vectors, I think the complexity is going to be the same for both.

    Isn’t that what you’d expect? The other closed system under discussion (the entire universe) also has constant complexity.

    I think we are on the same page that the universe is heading for an ever more uniform (and ever more diffuse) distribution of heat and information. All the more reason to cherish and celebrate our small bucking of the trend.

  55. On the subject of belief in God or religion being “the root of all evil”, which is what I think Dawkins writes, Theo Hobson wrote in the Spectator an essay DON’T BLAME RELIGION on August 2005, wisely I think:

    But let us be logical about it, say the atheists. If a religion teaches that there is another world beyond this one, that paradise is waiting, it cannot be healthy. Surely such a creed does, by definition, undervalue the actual world. If the Muslim really believes in his religion, then he is potentially dangerous, for his mind is full of the dream of paradise, and he might choose to kill us in order to get there. Real religious belief is scary, they say. And they might accuse liberal Christians such as myself of being useful idiots: we make religion seem relatively harmless. Because we are sentimentally attached to a weak form of religion, we obscure the intrinsic danger of supernatural belief, of the rhetoric of God. The occasional and recreational users of religious language are as bad as the addicts.

    What the atheist case boils down to is this: those who claim to believe in irrational things should be held to account, be shown that their habit is dangerous. They should not hide behind liberal theologians who explain that there are various interpretations, that life after death might be a metaphor, or a semi-joke. Don’t use this language, they say, whether literally or metaphorically. It is all guilty.

    These critics of religious language are lacking in a certain form of imagination. They cannot imagine that it is possible to believe in paradise, or the Kingdom of God, in a mature, non-fanatical way. They cannot imagine having a sophisticated relationship to religious rhetoric; they cannot imagine sitting loose to such language, being in a sort of dialogue with it — finding it absurd as well as serious. They cannot imagine half-meaning it. This is not just a failure of imagination; it is a failure of self-knowledge. In fact, it is a failure of self-observation.

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/

  56. 56

    Potentially we have millions of years left as inhabitants of the earth. Why, oh why, must we insist on doing everything in our power to shorten that stay to less than 200 years which is my conservative estimate. It could very well be much shorter than that. You can’t have monocultures of 7 billion humans and 7 billion chickens and a couple of billion cows, sheep, goats and other mammals dominating the fauna of the earth and realistically expect the situation to continue at the same time that we are destroying the primary sink for the CO2 which those creature produce, the tropical rain forests. The primary source of CO2 is industry and the automobile which is probably the only thing that I have ever agreed with Al Gore about. The CO2 levels increase yearly with increments that also increase yearly and no one is even remotely concerned as near as I can tell. CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas and if something isn’t done about it, the polar ice caps will continue melting with dire consequences for us all.

    I predict the most probable solutions will be pandemic disease and nuclear holocaust. It is a miracle that the only two times that atomic bombs were ever detonated as weapons were Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Islamic terrorists would use one in a heartbeat if they could and I am convinced they will. It is just a matter of time.

    I realize this is a departure from the thread but I felt compelled for some reason to present it. It was probably my “prescribed” fate don’t you know.

    “For the sixth extinction, however, we do know the culprit. We are.”
    Richard Leakey, The Sixth Extinction, page 254.

    “A past evolution is undeniable, a present evolution undemonstrable.”
    John A. Davison

  57. Is everyone as sick of Dawkins now as I am? OK, sorry to contribute to more intellectual indigestion, but this article in the (left wing) sister publication of the British Guardian, The Observer is of interest because it has not only Dawkins but Paul Davies, Templeton Prize winner.

    Note that Davies too is an establishment “big banger” and the highly perjorative view of “Intelligent Design”, i.e., American Taliban.

    Give me a break!

    As we have seen, the proponents of “establishment” dogma are the ones who discourage free inquiry, who act as “law giving” preisthood whose authority is beyond question, and the Helots must shut up and toil to subsidize their beliefs. Well, they let us watch Madonna and MTV, who could ask for more out of life?

    In seriousness, perhaps less “philosophy” and more “engineering” is needed.

    At any rate, I think the United Kingdom has more pressing concerns than Dawkins view of religion, and again I reference the writing of Dalrymple.
    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1873989,00.html

    Speaking to Dawkins you have the sense that religion has become a persistent kind of affront to him. When I put this to Paul Davies on the phone in Arizona, where he now works, he suggests that part of that is no doubt a fact of Dawkins’s discipline: ‘Biologists have a particular problem with the crazy Intelligent Design people [the 'American Taliban' as Dawkins has it, who persist in believing that nature is the work of a Creator] because the argument goes to the core of their subject, and it has become so politicised that it has to be constantly shot down.’ Davies is not sure about the wisdom of such books as The God Delusion, however. ‘It can sometimes look shrill and defensive to try to refute religion point by point,’ he says. ‘I tend to turn it around and just say, “Tell me why I should believe in the Bible, a book of poetry which we know was put together by committee in the third century?”‘

    Despite this, Davies can see a point where scientific theory of the universe and religious faith might meet, though he draws a very clear distinction between what he calls religious practice and religious philosophy. He is happy to sit down and talk with professors of theology, or accept the highly lucrative Templeton Prize (to Dawkins’s scorn) which seeks to reward ‘research or discoveries about spiritual realities’.

    But, he says, he has no need of religion himself, beyond his sense of life-affirming laws: ‘Sentient beings have a certain meaning and that lies in interpreting the observable world,’ he says. ‘And for me that is purpose enough. We have a partial understanding at least of how it all works. We are not the pinnacle of creation but neither are we completely insignificant either.’

    I wonder whether the greater his understanding of the universe becomes the smaller he feels?

    ‘Not really,’ he suggests, ‘because the universe is expanding in both directions. We are poised somewhere between the very, very large and the very, very small.’

    He agrees with Dawkins that perhaps the biggest question currently facing science is whether life is easy to make or something extremely difficult, a one-in-a-billion-billion chance. Both men believe it possible that a form of life will be created in the laboratory in the next few years. By temperament Davies would like to believe that the universe is teeming with life, but of course he possesses no evidence that it is. ‘Rather than looking for life on Mars,’ he believes, ‘we might be better off looking for evidence of a second or subsequent genesis on earth with the help of gene mapping.’

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